What constitutes a gaming notebook? High-end specifications and some fancy lighting? Well, at least that’s the general route companies take when designing one. But if you strip away the neon lights and aggressive styling, you’ll notice that many multimedia notebooks also make for good, if not great, gaming notebooks. MSI’s GE620 is one such example. Although it’s from their gaming series of notebooks, it lacks the extra ‘bling’ if you will, which is also why it’s quite a bit cheaper.
On Video: MSI GE620
Design and Build
Looking at it, there’s no way of telling if this is a gaming notebook as it looks really plain and ordinary. In fact, it looks similar to some of their budget series notebooks and in a way, even feels like one. The only thing that gives it away is the handful of stickers you’ll find on the palm rest. The plastics used don’t really scream quality and the lid, while sturdy, does suffer from flex issues. The rest of the chassis as well is mostly made up of plastic so don’t be fooled by the brushed metal look of the notebook. Overall, the design is pretty straight forward and simple but we wish the build quality and choice of plastics would have been better.
Plain and ordinary looks
The exhaust vents are placed on the left along with the charging point, HDMI, USB 3.0 (x2) and the microphone and headphone jacks. The third USB 2.0 port is placed on the right along with the VGA port and LAN jack. MSI throws in a DVD burner as well although a Blu-ray combo drive is an option. There are plenty of vents underneath GE620 for ventilation. You can pop open the bottom panel to access the RAM and hard drive. The keyboard is chiclet styled and you even get a Numpad.
The keys themselves have a extra soft feel which some may not find too comfortable when typing. Also, MSI doesn’t seem to have addressed the issue of the keyboard panel itself and just like their earlier models, it feels a bit flimsy. The trackpad is nice and wide but the ribbed design hinders smooth movement.
The GE620 comes with a 15.6-inch LED backlit screen and sports a resolution of 1366x768 so it’s not as sharp as a Full HD screen but at least it’s easy on the GPU for gaming. The notebook is powered by a Core i5-2410M Intel CPU that runs at a stock speed of 2.3GHz and Turbos up to 2.9GHz. Along with this, we have 4GB of RAM, 640GB hard drive and Nvidia’s GT 540M GPU with Optimus technology. MSI ships the notebook with Windows 7 Home Premium as well.
A good desktop replacement option
The notebook also features some of their own software like i-Charger which delivers more power to the USB port allowing you to charge the iPad as well. The ‘S-Bar’ application gives you quick access to certain programs like Windows Media Player, etc. but more importantly, it let’s you operate the row of shortcut buttons above the keyboard. Here’s where we ran into a small problem. The DVD drive can only be opened via the eject button on the notebook, which will only work if the software’s installed. In terms of software customizations, MSI’s approach isn’t as polished or refined as we’ve seen in other notebooks from Asus, Dell, Sony, etc.
Next, let’s see how the notebook performs in our benchmarks.
Given the specifications, we feel the MSI GE620 performs pretty well when compared to it’s more expensive cousins. It manages to beat the similarly priced Sony VAIO C in the gaming tests due to the faster GPU but then suffers a bit when it comes to CPU intensive tasks.
Not a bad performer
In real world games like Far Cry 2 and Dirt 2, the GE620 is easily able to manage playable frame rates with most of the settings maxed out. This is all possible due to the lower screen resolution as this same hardware on a Full HD screen wouldn’t have been a very pretty sight. The speakers are quite loud enough to fill a small room and the THX TruStudio Pro sound enhancements do help in music and movies. Since they face upwards, the sound is not blocked even if you place it on your lap.
Shortcut buttons come in handy
The keys are fairly comfortable to type on but they do feel little flimsy and we're not sure how long they will last. The trackpad should have been smoother instead of the ribbed pattern. The two mouse buttons are quite stiff and not very easy to press. Including two USB 3.0 ports was a great decision since 3.0 drives are only getting cheaper by the day.
The GR620 comes with a 49Wh 6-cell battery pack that manages to deliver an amazing 2.5hrs on Battery Eater Pro. This is very good for a 15-inch notebook with high-end specs. The reason this is possible is due to Nvidia’s Optimus, which shuts the discrete card when not required. It’s only during gaming that the fans are really audible and even then, it’s not too noisy. Over the course of the review, the notebook never over-heated once which is a sign of good ventilation.
MSI has priced the GE620 for Rs. 49,990 which is not a bad deal at all considering the configuration. Having said that, the Acer TimelineX 5830TG has similar specifications and is also a good 10K cheaper. However, the build quality is not as good as the MSI. Overall, the GE620 makes for a decent gaming notebook with a good battery life to boot.
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