MSI GT627-216US Gaming Notebook Review
Design & Build Quality
Gaming notebooks often incorporate styling that alludes to the power within the machine. The GT627 doesn’t follow this tradition. Instead, the machine offers a more subdued look by incorporating anodized brushed aluminum on the lid and around the keyboard. Red accents surround the black body and hint at the GT627’s true target audience.
At initial glance, a person may get the impression that this is a business notebook with a splash of color. One thing is for sure: The GT627’s styling is definitely different from some gaming machines we’ve seen from other manufacturers. It’s pretty clear MSI was going for a sleek, rather than flashy, look with the GT627. For users who want to game but also need to carry this notebook to a business meeting and thus don’t want a flashy exterior, the GT627’s styling will work well. As an added benefit, the brushed finish holds up well against fingerprints.
The 14.1 x 10.2 x 1.1 inch, 5.6-pound unit feels solid overall even though the palm rest flexed some under pressure. The GT627’s keyboard looks cool but it is a bit flimsy while typing. You’ll notice the W, S, A, and D keys are highlighted in red. This is a nice touch for newbie gamers who are still learning keyboard movements. The GT627’s keyboard is not backlit.
Media controls are located above the keyboard and below the display. Among the buttons are the Turbo and Eco CPU clock settings, quick launch buttons for the webcam, Bluetooth settings, Wi-Fi settings, and a user-defined application button. MSI’s Turbo Drive Engine Technology lets you touch the Turbo button above the keyboard to increase the speed of your CPU by as much as 15%. This is a handy overclocking feature that can make a difference in some applications as you’ll see in the benchmarks later.
Even though the notebook’s native resolution is only 1280 x 800, the display was bright and colors popped. Because the screen is glossy, we did notice some reflections but they weren’t terribly distracting. Glare was most noticeable on dark scenes. The display lid showed some flex when pressure was applied, though it wasn’t so flexible that we worried about the display cracking.
The hinges that keep the screen lid closed are very strong; we often used two hands to pry the display open. Above the display, you’ll find the GT627’s 2MP webcam. This camera is fixed and cannot be rotated independently of the laptop lid.
Although our test model was theGT627-216US, it’s worth mentioning that MSI also offers the GT627-218US. This model costs about $200 more and provides a higher resolution, 1680x1050 WSXGA+ screen and a Blu-ray optical drive.
On the back of the GT627, you’ll find an HDMI port which makes it easy to hook the notebook up to a HDTV or larger LCD monitor. The back also has a VGA port and a TV tuner antenna connector.
The left side of the notebook contains the Kensington lock port, RJ-11 connector, optical drive, USB port, and audio ports.
On the right side of the notebook, you’ll find an RJ-45 connector, ventilator, eSATA connector/USB port, USB port, IEEE 1394 port, Express card slot, and a 4-in-1 card reader for SD, MMC, MS, and MS Pro memory cards.
When the GT627’s lid is shut, you’ll still be able to see a small edge of the notebook’s base. This edge has three indicator LEDs for Wi-Fi, battery power, and a sleep mode indicator.
For users who are accustomed to upgrading their machine regularly, it’s important to note that MSI puts a Warranty Void if Broken sticker across the main access panel and the hard drive bay on the underside of the machine. The GT627 comes with a three-year warranty, so if you want to take advantage of that full warranty, you won’t be able to upgrade the notebook for a full three years. On the upside, MSI doesn’t tack on an additional fee for this long warranty (unlike other manufacturers.)
MSI chose to ship the GT627 with Windows Vista Home Premium 32-bit installed. This is in contrast to many notebook manufacturers who have gone the route of 64-bit versions of Vista. With the 32-bit version, users can’t make full use of the system’s 4GB of memory, but for most applications it won’t make a difference. 64-bit operating systems really benefit the most when you’re using more than 4GB of RAM, so the standard memory and OS should be just fine for this system.