This is one of the first gaming laptops to feature the new fifth-generation Intel Core chip (also known as Broadwell). It probably will not be the last, even though most gaming notebook vendors appear to be giving this processor a miss.
The reason: Intel is expected to launch its sixth-generation CPUs, dubbed Skylake, in the second half of the year. Rumour has it that Skylake provides a more significant performance boost than Broadwell.
In any case, the CPU usually takes a backseat to the graphics chip when it comes to gaming performance.
Processor: Intel Core i7-5700HQ (2.7GHz)
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 970M 3GB GDDR5
Screen: 15.6 inches, 1,920 x 1,080 pixels
Connectivity: 3 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 2.0, HDMI, mini-DisplayPort, Ethernet port, SD card reader, audio jack
Battery: 60 watt-hour
Value for money 4/5
Battery life 1/5
In Crysis 3, the MSI scored around 41 frames per second (fps) at Very High setting. I got practically the same scores on the Asus ROG G751JT, which has an older Intel Core i7 processor.
Both laptops are equipped with the Nvidia GeForce GTX 970M graphics chip. It is not the fastest in the market but it is relatively affordable and is still capable of running the latest games.
The MSI performs better in some benchmarks. For instance, it scored 3,427 in 3DMark's Fire Extreme test compared with 3,346 for the Asus. The MSI also outperformed the Asus in Bioshock Infinite (86.95 fps versus 74.40 fps at UltraDX11 setting).
Of course, there are other hardware differences that could account for this. The MSI has a fast 128GB solid-state drive paired with a 1TB hard drive. The Asus uses a hybrid hard drive instead.
The MSI looks like a typical gaming laptop. The chassis is mostly plastic with a brushed metal palm rest and lid.
It is fairly chunky, although this 15-inch laptop is still relatively portable at 2.4kg.
The MSI logo at the back of its metallic lid lights up when the laptop is switched on. The backlit keyboard supports multiple colours.
This keyboard, designed by SteelSeries, has good key travel. The Windows logo has been relocated from its usual position so that it is less likely to be pressed accidentally. MSI's Dragon Gaming Center app lets you disable this key. Use this app also to monitor everything from CPU temperature to Wi-Fi speed, and tweak settings such as volume and screen brightness.
Like most gaming laptops, the MSI has plenty of connectors, including Ethernet, HDMI and mini-DisplayPort. It also has a DVD writer, which is going out of fashion even on gaming machines.
MSI claims that the laptop display has been calibrated for colour accuracy. To my naked eye, the screen does look balanced and not oversaturated. Viewing angles are excellent.
But do not forget the power adaptor. This laptop lasted just 2.5hr in our video-loop battery test.
A gaming laptop with an attractive price and which is good enough to play most modern titles.
By Vincent Chang