Can the Taiwanese manufacturer make play in the gaming market?

Can MSI cut it in the gaming laptop market?

Down the left-hand side of the chassis you'll find the DVD optical drive – cost cutting has ruled out a Blu-ray drive – two USB ports for attaching peripherals, a Gigabit internet connection (the GX740 also boasts 802.11n Wi-Fi, currently the fastest technology for connecting wirelessly to a router and then the internet) and a modem line also makes an unexpected appearance, which is useful for those looking to browse the web via dial-up.

MSI gx740

On the right-hand side of the GX740's chassis sits an ExpressCard slot where you can add a range of enhancements, from a GPS module to a digital TV tuner.

There's also a multi-card reader letting you transfer your photos from your digital camera onto the notebook, along with two more USB ports. One of which doubles as an eSATA interface, which allows you to transfer data at very fast speeds to a compatible external device, such as an external hard drive – great for those who regularly back data up.

Rounding out the right-hand side is a FireWire connection, commonly used to import large amounts of video off a camcorder, and also the GX740's fan, which remains surprisingly quiet during use.

On the back of the notebook's chassis, perhaps not so conveniently located, sit an HDMI connection and a VGA port. The former is great for hooking the GX740 up to an HD source, such as your TV to show off photos, while the latter is useful for connecting to older, analogue displays.

MSI gx740

We were very impressed by the speaker system built into the GTX740. Normally notebook speakers produce disappointingly poor sound quality, but the SRS patented technology works fantastically well.

The bundled software allows you to tweak the sound to very decent levels, and all but the most ardent audiophile will be content without even stand alone speaker system.

Performance wise we'd expect any gaming powerhouse to feature at least a dual-core Intel Core i7 processor, but the GX740 runs a less powerful Core i5 chip, again in a bid to keep costs down.

Nevertheless, the GX740 provides enough processing power for pretty much any task the average user could wish for, and the 4GB of DDR3 of RAM – the latest and fastest memory technology – meant all our test applications, from word processors to the latest games, ran without incident.

The GX740 does provide fantastic graphical punch, and the ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5870 is exactly the same as you'll find in an entry level Alienware M17x just, as mentioned before, for £500 less. Similarly, there's also 1GB of dedicated memory ensuring a smooth ride.

We had no problems playing the latest games with settings on high. The fact the screen isn't full HD makes the graphics card's job a lot easier, even if images aren't as razor sharp as they would be on a 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution screen.

This graphical prowess also means the GX740 lays waste to multimedia tasks such as HD video editing and, of course, photo editing. You'll be able to run the likes of Adobe Photoshop with very little issue at all.

A 500GB mechanical hard drive, spinning at the standard 5400rpm, will provide comprehensive storage well into the future, holding tons of games as well as all your photos, music and movies.

You could argue that a drive spinning at 7200rpm – providing faster access to your data – would be more suitable for a high-end multimedia machine, but they cost more, and the omission is another example of MSI saving costs where possible.

Finally, the sticky question of portability. The GX740 is actually one of the most carry-able gaming laptops we've ever come across. It weighs only 3.2kg, feather light compared to Asus' witheringly heavy 6.1kg W90, and at 43mm thick you won't feel like you're lugging a breeze block around. So all good there.

MSI gx740

The 83 minute battery life is horrific, however, and you can pretty much see the meter drop through the floor as soon as you power up the machine away from a wall socket.

Portability wise, therefore, you need to consider your options. As a desktop replacement system the poor battery life won't be a problem, if it is a priority – and you're looking to travel with your gaming machine – we'd highly recommend the fantastic Alienware M11x.