Wednesday, February 13, 2013


CPU  : Intel Core i7-3667U (2.00 GHz, 4 MB L3 Cache, up to 3.2 GHz)
Chipset : Mobile Intel? QM77 Express Chipset
Graphic Chip : Intel HD Graphics 4000
Display : 14 inch WXGA (1366x768) LED
Memory : 4 GB DDR3
Hard Disk : 500 GB 5400 RPM + 32 GB SSD

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Friday, November 26, 2010

Why Dell Inspiron 17R is the best?

From :

The newly designed Inspiron 17R is the latest 17.3-inch desktop-replacement notebook from Dell. Equipped with the Intel Core i3 and i5 processors with Intel GMA HD graphics, this budget-friendly system is aimed at the masses. In this review we take an in-depth look at this new system and see how it performs.

Dell Inspiron 17R
(N7010) Specifications:

  • Intel Core i3 370M processor (2.4GHz, 3MB cache)
  • 17.3-inch 1600x900 display with LED backlighting
  • Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)
  • 4GB DDR3 memory
  • 500GB 5400rpm HDD
  • Intel HD integrated graphics
  • 10/100 Ethernet, 802.11n wireless, and Bluetooth
  • 6-cell Li-ion 48Wh battery
  • Dimensions: 16.54 x 10.87 x 1.24-1.38-inches
  • Weight: 6.67lbs starting
  • MSRP: $679

Build and Design
The newly redesigned Inspiron 17R offers a much cleaner and sleeker look and feel compared to past models. Similar to the Adamo-series, the layout has a hinge-forward design with the screen positioned just slightly in front of the back edge of the chassis. This has the added benefit of moving the screen closer to the keyboard and bringing the action to you. The outside appearance of the new 17R is very stylish, with a faux-brushed metal screen cover. The look gives the appearance of metal, although with an easier to clean painted surface. This look it also shared inside the notebook, with the palmrest and keyboard trim.

Build quality is great with a strong chassis and very durable feeling plastic. Even with its large footprint, the thin chassis resist flex and doesn't creak when you lift it up from the corners. The keyboard and palmrest both have more than adequate support, and don't sag under strong pressure. The screen cover has moderate protection for the LCD, with only strong pressure to the back of the panel causing ripples. The large 17.3-inch screen has no problem staying put with two strong hinges that get the display into position and hold it without any wiggle.

Users looking to upgrade the Inspiron 17R will find it easy through one access panel on the bottom of the notebook. With a few Phillips head screws removed, you gain access to the system memory and hard drive. Components like the wireless card and processor require more disassembly to get at.

Ports and Features

For a budget 17-inch desktop-replacement the Inspiron 17R offers plenty of inputs. We counted three USB 2.0 ports, one eSATA/USB connection, HDMI and VGA-out , audio jacks, and Ethernet. It also featured a SDHC-card reader, but an ExpressCard slot was missing.

Front: Activity lights

Rear: DC-input, one USB 2.0,
VGA-out, one USB 2.0

Left: One USB 2.0,
audio jacks, HDMI-out,
SDHC-card slot

Right: Optical drive, eSATA/USB
combo port, LAN, Kensington Lock slot

Screen and Speakers
The main attraction to the Inspiron 17R is its large and rather spacious 17.3" display. The display comes in 1600x900 resolution only, with a glossy or glare-type surface. We didn't find the reflections or glare to be as bad as all-glass style panels, but it was still greater than matte finishes. For a budget system the screen rates slightly above average with a strong backlight, measuring a peak of 215nit with our Gossen Mavo-Monitor light meter. The brightness was a bit low for outdoor viewing, but worked quite well under bright office lighting.

We also measured screen contrast as being 215:1 with an average darkness of 0.98nit and minimal backlight bleed around the edges. Color quality was good, although maybe not as vivid as more recent multimedia-oriented systems. Vertical viewing angles were good to about 15-20 degrees before colors started to sharply invert. Horizontal viewing angles were better, staying true to about 60 degrees off-center before reflections started to overpower the panel.

Keyboard and Touchpad
The keyboard on the Inspiron 17R is a cross between a Chilet and standard keyboard. The tops of each key are flat with sharp edges, but instead of an inner-bezel they broaden out to meet the sides of other keys. This design is comfortable to type on, although it lacks some of the cupping that is nice to have to center your fingers over each key as you type. The layout is full-size with numberpad, which doesn't feel in any way cramped with the large width of this laptop. The only complaint I have with this keyboard are the directional keys, which are micro-sized for a keyboard this big. They are roughly equal in size to the function keys on the top row. I am guessing it was done this way to maximize the size of the palmrest and get users to use the numberpad for direction keys.

The touchpad is a spacious Synaptics model, which thankfully doesn't incorporate buttons below the touch-sensitive surface. The response times of the touchpad were excellent, exhibiting no lag whatsoever in our testing. The surface texture was a light matte finish that was easy to glide over with a dry or slightly damp fingertip. The touchpad supported multitouch gestures which worked well and with the external buttons, didn't interfere with normal operation of the cursor. The touchpad buttons offered shallow feedback, but they did have slightly more travel than other short-throw buttons. When pressed they emitted a very soft click that didn't make your presence known in a medium to large-sized room.

Performance and Benchmarks
System performance on the Dell Inspiron 17R was great thanks to the Intel Core i3 and i5 processor selection, as well as Intel GMA HD graphics. While our review sample was a budget-oriented configuration, Dell does offer a dedicated graphics option with the ATI Radeon HD5470 and 1GB of VRAM. On compatible systems this option adds $100 to the purchase price.

Overall we were very pleased with the performance of the 17R in our tests. Our base configuration included the Intel Core i3 370M with 4GB of DDR3 memory, and a 500GB 5400RPM hard drive. After a partial cleaning of pre-installed software, the system was quick to respond and handled most of the tasks we asked of it. The Inspiron 17R handles office productivity applications as well as any web-browsing without a problem. Although playing most modern games is out of the question with the Intel integrated graphics, the 17R had no trouble streaming HD video or playing locally stored 720P and 1080P videos.  For a "budget" system the Inspiron 17R offered plenty of power.

wPrime processor comparison results (lower scores mean better performance):


PCMark05 measures overall system performance (higher scores mean better performance):


PCMark Vantage measures overall system performance (higher scores mean better performance):

3DMark06 measures gaming performance (higher scores mean better performance):


CrystalDiskMark storage drive performance test:

Heat and Noise
Throughout our testing the Inspiron 17R handled heat very well without excessive noise or hot spots. The large chassis handled the Intel Core i3 370M processor with its GMA HD graphics with ease, spreading out the thermal load over a large area. Under normal use the fan stayed off, only coming on in short bursts to cool the heatsink. The fan was very quiet at low speeds, and just above a whisper at high speed. Under a full load while performing benchmarks, the system reached a maximum of 88F on the top edge of the keyboard.

Battery Life
The Dell Inspiron 17R comes standard with a 48Wh 6-cell battery, which worked surprisingly well in our tests. An optional 9-cell 90WH battery is also offered with some configurations if you needed extended runtime. In our tests with the screen brightness reduced to 70%, wireless active and refreshing a webpage ever 60 seconds, and Windows set to the Balanced profile, the Inspiron 17R stayed on for 3 hours and 43 minutes. For a 17.3-inch notebook on a mid-sized battery this was a pretty good time and should easily get you through a few classes or meetings if you so desire.

For shoppers interested in an affordable 17-inch desktop replacement notebook, the Dell Inspiron 17R is a very good choice. Starting at $499, the 17R offers the latest Intel Core processors, Intel GMA HD integrated graphics, optional ATI HD4570 dedicated graphics, and optional Intel Wi-Di for viewing HD movies wirelessly. The new design looks great, with equally impressive build quality inside and out. The full-size keyboard was very comfortable to type on, with a design that crossed between standard and Chilet-style. Overall we were very impressed by all the features of the Inspiron 17R and highly recommend it if you are in the market for a large laptop.


  • Stylish looks
  • Very good build quality
  • Comfortable keyboard and touchpad


  • Some options not available on all configurations
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Saturday, September 25, 2010

Multimedia Laptop with Lenovo IdeaPad Y560d

The IdeaPad Y560d is a consumer multimedia notebook featuring a powerful Intel quad-core processor and ATI graphics. The most interesting aspect of this notebook is the 3D-capable screen. Does this feature make the notebook worth extra money? Read our review to find out.

The Y560d is a typical consumer-grade multimedia notebook with a high-performance core. Highlights of the machine include excellent overall performance (especially for gaming), a good keyboard and touchpad, a thin-and-light design, and fantastic speakers. The downsides of this notebook are significant. At the top of the list is the so-so build quality; the Y560d's flexible plastic construction does not inspire confidence. Furthermore, glossy plastic covers all visible surfaces and is impossible to keep clean. Another design issue is the gaudy-looking tattoo on the back of the lid – what is that all about? The sub-three hour battery life may be a turnoff for some. Last but not least, the low resolution (1366x768) screen hurts usability and productivity.

Despite being one of the least expensive 3D notebooks on the market, the Y560d still demands a premium. Unless you deem the 3D feature worth an extra few hundred dollars, the standard Y560 represents a better value; it is the same notebook minus 3D (and that lid tattoo). I find it tough to recommend the Y560d because of the aforementioned cons. Its small target audience (gamers looking for 3D) will likely be very pleased with this system; but average consumers can find more practical notebooks for less.


  • Excellent overall performance
  • Fantastic speakers
  • Good keyboard and touchpad
  • Thin and light
  • Runs cool
  • 3D is sorta-kinda cool


  • Low screen resolution
  • So-so build quality
  • Weird design on back of lid (why?)
  • Covered in glossy plastic
  • Sub-three hour battery life
  • 3D adds a few hundred over the base Y560

Our Lenovo IdeaPad Y560d review unit has the following specifications:

  • 15.6-inch 720p (1366x768) glossy panel with LED backlighting and 120Hz refresh rate
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
  • Intel Core i7-720QM quad-core processor (1.6GHz/2.8GHz Turbo Mode, 6MB L3, 2.5GT/s QPI, 45W TDP)
  • Intel PM55 chipset
  • ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5730 w/ 1GB GDDR3 video memory
  • 4GB DDR3-1333 dual-channel RAM (2x 2GB)
  • 500GB 7200RPM Hitachi 7K500 hard drive (HTS725050A9A364)
  • Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6200 AGN wireless
  • Built-in Bluetooth v2.1+EDR
  • DVD burner (Slimtype DVD A DS8A4S)
  • 1-year limited warranty
  • 6-cell Li-ion battery (11.1V, 57Wh)
  • Weight: 5.95 lbs
  • Dimensions: 15.1” (L) x 8.5” (D) x 0.8~1.30”” (H)
  • MSRP: $1,599

The specifications are enthusiast-grade; the most noteworthy components are theIntel Core i7 quad-core processor and 1GB ATI graphics card. The Y560d's screen has a 120Hz refresh rate, which is what allows it to produce the illusion of 3D when combined with the included special polarized glasses and TriDef software. The Manufacturer's suggested retail price is a bit steep; however this notebook can often be found for several hundred less online.

Build and Design

The Y560d has an aesthetically pleasing design. The notebook is quite thin and light for its class, coming in at six pounds and just over one inch thin. The chassis has a standard rectangular shape. All corners are generously rounded off, giving the Y560d a soft appearance compared to business notebooks. Numerous white status lights dot the chassis, including a backlit “IdeaPad” logo in the bottom right of the palm rest. The keyboard is flanked by two impressive-looking JBL-branded speakers.

The back of the lid is where the design gets interesting. A gaudy-looking tattoo covers the entire surface; I am not sure what it is supposed to be. It will likely be a deal-breaker for some. Fortunately the standard Y560 non-3D notebook is available with a plain lid. The Y560d is constructed entirely of plastic. The chassis willingly flexes when twisted by the corners, which indicates the internal frame is not that strong. Surfaces around the keyboard also bend visibly when pressure is applied. The lid is again easy to twist, however no ripples appear on the screen when pushed in from behind; there is some measure of protection there. The display hinges are rather weak; I can move them around where they connect to the chassis. The hinges should also be stiffer than they are; the display wobbles for some time after abruptly letting go of the screen while opening/closing it.

The biggest problem I have with the Y560d is the fact that every visible surface is covered in glossy, smudge-prone plastic. It is nearly impossible to keep clean and is not all that durable. Overall, the build quality is below average for a notebook priced north of a grand. The glossy plastic and gaudy lid tattoo may turn off prospective customers.

Screen and 3D
The Y560d has a 15.6-inch screen with a 720p (1366x768) resolution and LED backlighting. Its glossy mirror surface allows colors to stand out but means lot of reflections from nearby light sources. This display is on par with displays in other consumer notebooks; nothing out of the ordinary, in other words. Brightness is good; even 3/10 is quite usable on battery. Colors are acceptable and do not look washed out; contrast measured 184:1 which is satisfactory, with ample black levels and stark whites. The backlighting is relatively even, measuring 214 nit at its peak. Side-to-side viewing angles are good however the vertical viewing angles are rather poor; the display can only be viewed about 10 degrees off-center in either direction before colors start distorting.

The fundamental problem with this display is the resolution (viewable area). 1366X768 might be acceptable on a 11” screen but is out of place on one as large as 15.6”. Such a low resolution hampers productivity – just 768 pixels of vertical space means only one-half of a page in a Microsoft Word document is viewable at a time. Using two windows side-by-side is impractical because not enough of each window can be seen, and lots of scrolling is needed on web pages. Lastly, forget about editing high-resolution photos – not enough detail can be seen without zooming excessively.

Now, the part everyone has been looking for – the 3D experience. The Y560d comes with special polarized glasses that work with the 120Hz screen to trick your brain into thinking you are seeing in three dimensions. This is passive 3D, which is not quite as good as active 3D like Nvidia 3D Vision-equipped notebooks. However, passive 3D is typically less expensive. No matter how much money you spend though, there is no getting away from wearing some kind of glasses.
How well does it work, you ask? It actually works just like it does in the movie theater (and I'm talking about modern 3D movies, not the 1970s red/blue nonsense). That is, the 3D effects are convincing. Image and videos have perceivable depth – but no, you can't touch them (I tried).

3D is only useful for entertainment purposes at this time. One of the problems with 3D right now is actually finding 3D content. All 3D content works through the included TriDef 3D software. Some newer cameras can take 3D photos and there are some videos floating around out there, but otherwise the audience is limited. 3D gaming – perhaps the reason to spend extra for the Y560d -- is another story; as of this review, 210 games have TriDef profiles. I tried Valve's Left 4 Dead 2, which was immersive and a lot of fun. There were some minor issues – for example, my aim was slightly off because the crosshairs location was not exact. I almost forgot I was wearing glasses while playing (read: almost). However, after about a half hour I started to get a headache.

Is the 3D feature worth extra money? It depends on how much money – as it stands, the standard IdeaPad Y560 is the same notebook sans the 3D screen and goes for a few hundred dollars less. For monetary reasons alone I'd say no. 3D is a controversial technology and I’m not totally convinced. While I was playing Left 4 Dead 2, for example, I can’t say I had more fun playing in 3D than in 2D. Additionally, I felt awkward wearing the glasses while looking at a computer screen, and I never quite forgot I was wearing them. Your experience may vary – my recommendation is to go see a movie in 3D and judge the technology for yourself.

It is important to understand that 3D, as it pertains to consumer electronics, is brand new at this point and will take years to mature. There is no single 3D standard yet; early adopters will pay a premium and run the risk of investing in a 3D technology that loses to another (think HD-DVD vs. Blu-ray).

The Y560d has two large JBL speakers above the keyboard. They sound positively excellent for notebook speakers; there is ample bass and a good mix of mid and high frequencies. There is very little distortion at max volume.

Keyboard and Touchpad

Something Lenovo has historically done well is input devices; the Y560d is no exception. The full-size keyboard has great tactile feedback and is fun to type on. The Y560d's keyboard has a softer feel than other Lenovo IdeaPads I tested, but that is not a bad thing. Key travel is just right and the keyboard is very communicative as a result. The keys' matte surface firmly holds fingers in place. There is no flex unless abnormal pressure is used. I found it easy to type quickly and accurately on this keyboard. Another positive aspect of this keyboard is that it's quiet – there should not be any issues using this notebook in a library or classroom.

The touchpad has a glossy dimpled surface and two large buttons below. Even with damp fingers I was able to track my fingers across the surface with ease. The touchpad is appropriately-sized for a 15.6” notebook with large buttons that are easy to operate without looking down to see which buttons are in use. The touchpad buttons are quiet and have good multilevel feedback.

Ports and Features

The Y560d has an ample array of input/output ports, including three USB ports, a USB/eSATA combo port, and HDMI. The Y560d does not have USB 3.0 or ExpressCard. All picture descriptions are left to right.

Front: 6-in-1 reader (MMC/MS/MS PRO/SD Card/SDHC Card/, xD-Picture Card), wireless on/off switch

Back: Battery pack

Left: VGA, HDMI, cooling exhaust vent, RJ-45 Gigabit Ethernet, 2x USB 2.0, microphone and headphone jacks

Right: USB 2.0, USB 2.0/eSATA combo port, optical drive, AC power, Kensington Lock slot

Performance and Benchmarks
The Y560d is a high-performance notebook housing the latest technology. Key features include a quad-core Intel Core i7 processor, 4GB of memory, a fast Hitachi 500GB 7200RPM hard drive, and an enthusiast-level Radeon HD 5730 graphics card with 1GB of its own memory. We ran an extensive suite of benchmarks on the Y560d to demonstrate its performance capabilities. The Y560d is one of the faster 15.6” notebooks on the market as shown by the numbers below.

Wprime processor comparison results (lower scores mean better performance):

PCMark05 measures overall system performance (higher scores mean better performance):

PCMark Vantage (x64) measures overall system performance (higher scores mean better performance):

3DMark06 measures video and gaming performance (higher scores mean better performance):

CrystalDiskMark storage drive performance results:

Gaming Performance
Synthetic benchmarks like 3DMark only tell part of the story; what really matters is how well the notebook performs in actual games. For reference, 30 frames per second (FPS) is the minimum required for playability i.e. without stuttering.

The Mobility Radeon HD 5730 graphics card is quite powerful but is held back by the Y560D’s low resolution screen. Gamers should not have any problems running the latest games at high settings on the Y560D.

Battery Life
I measured two and a half hours of battery life from the Y560d's six-cell battery while surfing the Internet and typing this review. The test was conducted in power-saving mode with the screen at 30% screen brightness. Two and a half hours is on the low side for a typical 15.6” notebook, but not bad for a high performance machine like the Y560d. The powerful ATI Radeon HD 5730 graphics and quad-core Intel Core i7 processor draw a considerable amount of power and take their toll on battery life accordingly.

Heat and Noise
The Y560d makes a moderate amount of noise under full load; the sound is a combination of the fan motor and air escaping. The sound is not annoying; with conversations going on in the background, I doubt it will cause a disturbance. Nevertheless, the sound is not ignorable. At idle the sound is a different story; the fan seems to be on all the time but at a low speed; it is barely audible except in a silent room. For general usage, the Y560d should be suitable for use in any normal environment.

Heat is handled by a single fan jetting exhaust out of the left side. The cooling system does a good job keeping the notebook cool; the only areas of the notebook that get warm are directly above and below the fan exhaust.

From :

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Performance review MSI GT660R

If you're someone who wants a high-performance gaming notebook packed with 1TB of storage, a 1GB Nvidia GTX 285M graphics card and one of the most powerfulIntel Core i7 processors currently on the market then you better be prepared to pay close to $2,500. Well, that was before the MSI GT660R arrived in stores. This 16-inch gaming notebook is packed with premium components, a fantastic speaker system and the ability to overclock the CPU and the GPU for $1,700. Keep reading to find out more.

The MSI GT660R is an impressive-looking gaming notebook with solid performance, great speakers and the ability to easily overclock the CPU and GPU at the touch of a button. The variety of ports including USB 3.0, the ability to upgrade to 12GB of RAM and the super-fast 1TB of storage make this an attractive choice for gamers looking for a strong system for $1,700 or less.

The weak battery and the thick and heavy chassis are par for the course when it comes to large gaming notebooks, but some consumers might not like the glossy plastics and the fact that the screen resolution is just 1366x768.

That said, when you consider than a similarly configured Alienware M17x costs more than $2,500 at the time of this writing it's hard to pass up a deal as good as the MSI GT660R.


  • Very good performance
  • Extremely impressive speakers
  • One-touch overclocking


  • Weak battery life
  • Glossy plastics
  • Thick and heavy

MSI offers multiple configurations of the GT660. Our review unit of the MSI GT660R comes with the following features:

  • 16-inch 720p (1366x768) display with LED backlighting
  • Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)
  • Intel Core i7-740QM (1.73GHz) Overclockable
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 285M (1GB DDR3) Overclockable
  • 6GB DDR3 RAM 1066MHz (2GB x 3)
  • 1TB of storage (two 500GB 7200rpm HDD in RAID 0)
  • Super-Multi/Blu-Ray optical drive
  • 802.11b/g/n wireless and Bluetooth
  • 9-cell Li-ion battery with 150W power adapter
  • Weight: 7.74 lbs
  • Dimensions: 15 x 10.25 x 1.78 inches
  • MSRP: $1,699.99

Build and Design

The MSI GT660 series was designed in partnership with Dynaudio to create a gaming notebook chassis that also offers a "true-to-life sound experience." The speaker housing structures, speaker circuits and overall position of the stereo speakers and subwoofer were designed to combine the extreme performance of a gaming notebook with the rich audio performance of a premium multimedia notebook.

Despite the heavy use of plastics, the exterior surfaces of the GT660R are covered in a scratch-resistant coating to improve durability. The screen lid itself is also covered in "MSI Color Film Print Technology" which is essentially in multi-layer printed image imbedded into the plastic. In this case you can see a faint honeycomb pattern in the lid similar to the texture used on the palm rests when you open the notebook.

The build quality of the MSI GT660R is a combination of good and bad. The solid main chassis doesn't squeak, creak, or flex even under significant pressure. Unfortunately, the keyboard suffers from quite a bit of obvious flex under heavy typing pressure and the screen lid flexes inward with ease. The screen hinges are nice and tight, but the heavy use of glossy plastics means that your fingerprints and smudges quickly cover every exposed surface of the notebook and make it look dirty unless you constantly clean your notebook with a microfiber cloth. The metal-reinforced main chassis offers a fair amount of structural rigidity for the plethora of high-performance components inside, but this also adds to the bulk and weight of the notebook.

The bottom of the notebook includes a single, massive access plate for the RAM, wireless cards and the dual hard drives. The battery also clips into the bottom of the notebook underneath one of the palm rests. The three RAM slots are stacked, making use of the extra chassis thickness necessitated by the high-performance graphics card. Despite the thickness and weight of this notebook, the internal layout helps keep the chassis design as thin as possible. My only complaint here is that you have to remove too many screws to get inside the GT660. Considering that the target audience for this notebook is likely upgrade the RAM or hard drives at some point (possibly as soon as they buy it) we would have appreciated it if MSI made it easier to get inside this notebook.

Screen and Speakers

The 16-inch diagonal TFT display on the GT660R features LED backlighting and a 16:9 aspect ratio with 1366 x 768 resolution. This might just be the single biggest issue that serious gamers have with this notebook. Most 16-inch and 17-inch gaming notebooks have a minimum screen resolution of 1440x900 or 1600x900 ... unless it's equipped with a 3D screen. Since this GT660R isn't being sold as a native 3D gaming system MSI really should have included a higher resolution screen.

That said, we'd give this screen a "good" rating within the narrow vertical viewing angle sweet spot. The backlight in our review unit is even and bright, colors are good at default settings though contrast is a little low. Vertical viewing angles are just as narrow as we typically see with most laptops while the horizontal viewing angles (side view) are nearly flawless.

As previously mentioned, the MSI GT660 series features Dynaudio-branded premium speakers and a built-in subwoofer. For those readers who aren't familiar with Dynaudio, these are the folks who supply car speakers for Volvo, Volkswagen and Bugatti. Like many of the premium speakers on multimedia notebooks, Dynaudio tweaks the audio drivers and equalizer settings to deliver a high standard of sound quality. When I first opened the notebook and tested the speakers I was pretty impressed ... then I noticed that I had left the protective plastic covering the speakers. Once I removed the plastic blocking the speaker grills I was even more impressed. The large stereo speakers and subwoofer produce a fantastic range of highs, midtones and low frequencies that let you hear all the details in your favorite music and hear subtle sound effects in your favorite games.

Keyboard and Touchpad

The Chiclet-style keyboard on the GT660R offers a reasonably enjoyable typing experience and is also fine for hours of gameplay. Individual keys are a little mushy and the center of the keyboard flexes inward under heavy typing pressure, but the individual key action still delivers acceptable feedback when pressed. The typical gaming keys of W,A,S,D feature special red paint to help you quickly identify where your fingers need to be during a game (just in case you didn't already know). Each key is flat with a nice matte texture and a little extra spacing to prevent typos. I was a little annoyed that MSI didn't include an LED backlit keyboard considering that there are multiple decorative LEDs all over the exterior of the notebook. A backlit keyboard would have been far more useful than lights next to the touchpad or under the edges of the palm rests.

The touchpad itself offers a quality interface with a lightly textured surface and excellent responsiveness. The touchpad itself feels just the right size for the notebook: any smaller and it would have been too small and any larger would have made this notebook even bigger than it already is. The touchpad drivers provide excellent accuracy and minimal lag with a range of options. The touchpad buttons are hidden under a single "rocker bar" and have a shallow press with audible "click" when pressed. I really hate single touchpad buttons but at least MSI was wise enough to put a notch in the middle so you can feel the obvious separation between the left and right sides. Although separate buttons are idea, at least you can fell where the left touchpad button ends and the right button begins.

Ports and Features

The MSI GT660 chassis offers a fairly robust collection of ports even for a massive desktop-replacement notebook like this. This gaming notebook is packed with two USB 3.0 port, two USB 2.0 ports, eSATA port, ExpressCard slot, Ethernet, two video out ports, a media card reader and audio jacks. When so many 17-inch notebooks are starting to lose their ExpressCard slots and limit the number of USB ports to three, it's nice to see a notebook that offers as much connectivity and expandability as possible. That said, we would have liked to see a combo USB/eSATA port instead of a dedicated eSATA port since most people would rather have an extra USB port rather than just eSATA. While we might complain about the fact that the MSI GT660R weighs almost eight pounds it's hard to complain about all the stuff that is packed inside.

Here is a quick tour of the ports on this laptop:

Left side: Heat vent, two USB 3.0 ports, 4-in-1 (SD/MMC/MS/XD) card reader, one USB 2.0 port, and ExpressCard slot.

Right side: Audio jacks, one USB 2.0 port, and optical drive.

Front: Activity lights

Back: Security lock slot, power jack, RJ-45 Ethernet, VGA, eSATA port and HDMI.

Performance and Benchmarks
When it comes to overall system performance, the MSI GT660R certainly doesn't fail to impress us. Starting with an Intel Core i7-740QM processor running at 1.73GHz and the Nvidia GeForce GTX 285M with 1GB of GDDR3 dedicated memory, this system easily ranks among the best gaming notebooks you can buy for less than $2,000. As impressive as that might sound, MSI wasn't going to stop there.

The GT660 series features a complete system overclocking feature called TDE+ which overclocks the CPU and the GPU simultaneously at the touch of a button. MSI claims this "Turbo mode" provides a "16% performance boost" but our own lab testing shows the exact percentage of improvement varies greatly depending on a variety of factors. Since this is intended to serve as a gaming machine, it's important to point out that different games will react differently to the CPU+GPU overclocking feature on this notebook. In most cases, such as when we tested Left 4 Dead, Left 4 Dead 2, Shattered Horizon and Resident Evil 5, there was an obvious increase in the frame rates while gaming at the native screen resolution with detail settings maxed out. That said, when we tested the overclocking feature with Mass Effect 2 we noticed an odd drop of several frames per second for the maximum frame rate. The bottom line is that the overclocking feature offers some added value for serious gamers but it isn't a magic bullet for all your gaming needs.

standard CPU and GPU speeds

overclocked CPU and GPU speeds

While the processor and graphics card are impressive in their own right, one of the features I appreciated most was the 1TB of super fast storage thanks to the use of two hard drives in a RAID 0 array. For those readers who aren't familiar with RAID 0, this is essentially a method whereby two hard drives are combined to become a single virtual drive that allows you to use the full capacity of both drives and boost the speed of the storage. As you can see in the CrystalDiskMark storage test below, the RAID 0 array in the GT660R provides exceptional read and write speeds that translates into faster game start up and faster level load times while playing.

The only potential down side of a RAID 0 setup is that if one of the two hard drives fail then you lose everything. Combining two hard drives in a RAID 0 array means that both drives rely on each other ... so you better have an external hard drive to backup your files.

The MSI GT660R also include 6GB of DDR3 system memory in three SO-DIMM slots inside the notebook. This means you can upgrade the laptop to a maximum of 12GB of RAM if you decide that you need every little bit of performance possible.

Wprime processor comparison results (lower scores mean better performance):

PCMark05 measures overall system performance (higher scores mean better performance):

PCMark Vantage measures overall system performance (higher scores mean better performance):

3DMark06 measures overall graphics performance for gaming (higher scores mean better performance):

CrystalDiskMark storage drive performance test:

Heat and Noise
The MSI GT660R does a pretty good job controlling the massive heat generated by a high performance processor, a high-performance graphics card, three RAM modules and two hard drives working overtime in a RAID 0 array. Most of the common external contact points remained in the "lap-friendly" zone with only a few hot spots. The self-adjusting fan speeds range from being barely noticeable to sounding like a jet engine when the system is working hard to push heat away from the internal components. The GT660 series notebooks also feature the "MSI Cooler Boost Technology" which is a dedicated button located above the keyboard that allows you to manually force the fan speed to the maximum setting, making the notebook cooler and MUCH louder.

Battery Life
Let's be perfectly honest: No one buys a high-performance gaming notebook and expects it to deliver great battery life. Between the high-performance CPU, the high performance graphics, the dual storage drives and the giant cooling fans, there is simply a ton of hardware to keep running on a battery. In the "balanced" power mode with 75% screen brightness, the MSI GT660 lasted for two hours and 31 minutes of non-stop use while surfing the Internet and using a word processor. This is pretty pathetic for a general use laptop, but since many gaming laptops deliver less than one hour of battery life we can't complain too much. You can also extend the battery life by dropping the screen brightness to the lowest useful setting. Still, if you need a notebook that can provide hours and hours of battery life this simply isn't it.

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