MSI GT680 Sandy Bridge Gaming Laptop Review

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Design & Layout

MSI stuck with a black exterior for the GT680R, and that's fine with us. The GT680R's lid is attractive with its shimmery metallic black finish, glowing MSI logo, textured edge, and orange light bar. The exterior may not scream, "Hey, look at me," but since we prefer the more subdued, high-end look on this machine, we have no complaints. Unlike many other notebooks with a glossy exterior, the GT680R's lid did not appear to attract fingerprints, which is also appreciated.

You'll find a 15.6-inch display on this gaming notebook. More importantly, the display supports full 1080P HD resolution (1920x1080). It's truly a good-looking display with its high resolution and vibrant colors. The display does have a high-gloss finish, so you'll likely notice reflections, but it's no worse than other high-gloss displays we've seen.

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The GT680R has a numeric keypad in addition to the standard keyboard. The keys are pretty flat in comparison to some other notebook keyboards we've seen. Overall, the keyboard was very comfortable to type on and use. The keys are not backlit. MSI has provided access to several useful features directly from the keyboard using the Function key. You'll notice light blue icons on various keys throughout the keyboard that denote the various functions.

Above the keyboard, you'll find two speakers surrounded by red rings as well as various touch-sensitive control buttons (Cinema Pro, Turbo, Cooler Boost, Windows Start Up Hotkey, WLAN, Bluetooth, ECO Engine for power saving, and an LED Mode Switch). The power button is in the center just below the MSI logo.

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Click to enlarge

Around the edges of the GT680R's case, you'll find various orange lights. These lights are found on the back and on the edges of the display. They are also near the base of the palm rest on both sides of the laptop. If you don't like the lights, you can easily turn them off using the touch-sensitive LED Mode Switch.

The touchpad is located to the left of the center of the laptop. Below the touchpad, there are various LEDs to alert you of Bluetooth, Wireless, Battery, Sleep, and hard drive activity. On either side of the touchpad, you'll notice a grey, textured surface. This same texturing is also found above the keyboard near the touch-sensitive control buttons and on the back of the display. In both of these locations, the texture features a black finish instead of the grey finish near the base of the keyboard.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Above the display, you'll find the microphone and Webcam. On the right side of the GT680R, you'll find audio port connectors, a USB port, and the optical drive. The left side of the GT680R contains some vents, three USB ports (two of which are USB 3.0), and a card reader. On the back of the GT680R, you'll see the Kensington lock, power connector, RJ-45 connector, VGA port, eSATA connector, HDMI connector, and another set of vents.

The GT680R comes with a number of preinstalled programs. Although we're not fans of bloatware, some of the programs are helpful and useful, such as WinRAR. However, there are other preinstalled programs (such as Norton Internet Security) that we wish MSI would provide on a disc rather than load on the machine direct from the factory.

You won't find many accessories in the box, but that's ok—most users prefer to add their own anyway. You'll find a power adapter, various pieces of documentation, and a driver/utilities/manual disc in the box. The GT680R's power adapter is sizeable, though it's comparable to the adapters we've seen for other gaming notebooks.

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