MSI is a Taiwanese company best known for manufacturing components, laptops and netbooks. The GT640-030UK is from its latest line of gaming systems and is a smart-looking machine, but there's better performance to be found at a similar price.

Graphical performance is provided by a powerful Nvidia GeForce GTS 250M chip, backed by an impressive 1024MB of dedicated video memory. We found that games ran well and the laptop dealt with the latest titles without issue, albeit using slightly lower graphics settings.

Somewhat strangely, the laptop currently ships with a 32-bit version of the Windows 7. We would normally expect a laptop such as this to feature a 64-bit OS, as it is capable of handling larger amounts of memory and providing smoother performance.

64-bit question

We tested the laptop with both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows 7 and found that the latter provides significantly more power than the former. In fact, the laptop scored twice as high in the 64-bit test than it had done in the 32-bit test.

The GT640 isn't currently available with a 64-bit version of Windows 7, but when we contacted MSI we were told that the laptop would be shipping with a 64-bit version in the near future, so if you're not in a rush it may be worth the wait.

An Intel Core i7 quad-core processor is on board, and provides extremely fast everyday performance. You'll be able to run resource-intensive multimedia applications alongside office programs smoothly and without issue.

The 15.4-inch screen is exceptionally detailed and watching Blu-ray movies via the included drive is a pleasure. In contrast to many gaming systems, MSI has not gone for an overly garish look and the brushed aluminium and red finish looks great, with something of a retro look on display.

The keyboard is comfortable to use, although its mounting isn't as good as we would have liked, as it does creak a little when typing.

The W, A, S and D keys are all painted red to make them easier to locate during gaming. There is also a dedicated numeric keypad squeezed in.

Portability is a bit of a mixed bag and, while the 129-minute battery life isn't very good, the 2.8kg the machine weighs isn't very heavy for such a powerful laptop.

Ultimately, the GT640-030UK left us with contrasting opinions. It looks great, is surprisingly portable and has, potentially, a lot of power – but that's where the problem lies.

Without a 64-bit OS it doesn't realise its full potential, so we would be inclined to wait for MSI to add 64-bit support before buying.

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