Now that all this testing is complete, is the MSI GE40 worthy of carrying the ‘Gaming’ moniker or is another budget attempt at a gaming laptop? Let’s see if it’s performance matches up and let’s see what I think about it.
It looks as though manufacturers entering this market of gaming laptops are having to increasingly play a balancing act between attempting to squeeze as much performance as possible into the smallest form factor at the lowest price possible and making a machine that’s usable without compromising on it’s operational ability. The compromise then lies in the the hardware that may or may not be included. The key then is having a reasonably balanced system, but still paying attention to the quality of components that will be used the most, namely the keyboard, the screen, and the touchpad. This balancing act becomes much harder as soon as you start to scale down the size of the laptop due to the inability to price the machine in a higher bracket. If you look around numerous laptop vendors online stores, it is obvious that it is possible to create a laptop that has great performance and looks, but it will cost you an awful lot of money. At any rate, let’s break this thing down properly.
One of the most noticeable positives of this laptop though was the battery life. The battery life with this notebook is simply excellent. It’s encouraging to finally see a gaming notebook manage nine hours of battery life, it’s very impressive. Obviously, this quickly drops as you put a heavier load on it, with around five and a half to six hours under moderate use and just 4 under a heavy load but the amount of battery life you can squeeze out of this is honestly very impressive. If you were wanting to watch a 1080p film off of it then that is also possible with it able to handle 5 hours of video playback.
Taking a look at the choice of solution for the CPU and GPU, MSI have decided to go with the 37W i7-4702MQ clocking in at 2.2Ghz. Whilst this is not the fastest CPU on the market, it is fast enough to keep up with the GTX 760M and not hold back its performance. The GTX 760M is also a good pairing with the 1600×900 LCD screen that MSI have chosen to implement with this laptop. I feel that if they had decided to use a 1080p screen, then some titles would push this setup too far and lead the user to turn some of the settings down to get acceptable frame rates. So while the screen isn’t the most optimal resolution, the hardware pairing actually fits in surprisingly well.
In the aesthetics department, the GE40 is not the best looking laptop in the world, more so when you compare it with other laptops in MSI’s range or even offerings from Alienware, but there are also much worse out there. I cannot help but feel that the overall color scheme is far too dark and black. If MSI had used a tad more silver, a brushed look on the back of the screen, then it would look much better. The glossy black finish they have used around the touchpad and keyboard area is also a huge dust magnet, I have found myself constantly having to brush dust off of it. Moving onto the keyboard, it is definitely one of the better I have used over the years. Having the navigation keys, those that would normally be on the right side of a normal keyboard, on the right hand side is a nice addition on a 14 inch laptop. When using it, it doesn’t feel alien because it would be on the right hand side as it would normally be. The only thing that would be a nice addition to this keyboard would be a backlight, which would then aid in using the laptop in the dark or poor light environments. The touchpad itself is not too bad. It is nice to see that MSI have implemented proper buttons for the mouse clicks rather than partitioning off the touchpad itself. Overall the aesthetics and the general usability is actually pretty decent.
Coming in at the £1000 mark, this laptop is very reasonable for the price, seeing as you are getting a very slim and capable, portable gaming system. In my opinion it really boils down to is a few key areas. Are you willing to sacrifice some of the more advanced game details to achieve playable frame rates? Do you consider temperatures of 80 to 90 degrees safe and acceptable? Can you live with an average quality screen after paying £1000? For the money you are paying it really is a shame that you need to ask yourself these questions. If MSI could go and at least sort the screen quality and cooling issues, then this would be an extremely good offering for the £1000 price tag. I may even go as far to say that it is going to be a few years yet before we really see a potent gaming system in such a slim and small, portable form factor
However, because it is able to perform above a good level in a relatively small and lightweight package I am happy to award the MSI GE40 our Design Award. I would like to thank MSI for this sample and hope to see more from them in the future.
The MSI GE40 is a very good notebook and I have fallen in love with it over the review period. It is a small package capable of delivering a potent gaming punch. If MSI could sort out the heat and noise issue from the cooler and improve the display then there is no doubt in my mind that this would be getting 5 stars across the board.
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