MSI GX640-098US Gaming Laptop

It's speedy, affordable, and it has great speakers

If you're looking for a reasonably portable gaming laptop, the MSI GX640-098US is a 15.4-inch multimedia powerhouse that might just be for you. At a bit under three kilograms, it is easier to carry than similarly powerful laptops. Even so, it's still not the ideal, take-anywhere travel companion -- unless, of course, you just can't live without Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.

Our review model, priced at US$1159 (as of May 20,2010), features a 2.27GHz Intel Core i5-430M CPU, an ATI Radeon HD5850 graphics card with 1GB of GDDR5 memory, 4GB of system RAM, and a 500GB hard drive. It also has a 15.4in, 1680-by-1050-pixel LCD screen, as well as a nine-cell battery, an 8X DVD±RW combo drive, and a full-size keyboard complete with number pad. The GX640-098US supports Bluetooth connectivity and Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n, and has both a 1.3-megapixel Webcam and a microphone built in. If you want to pay a little extra, you have the option of upgrading the CPU (to a Core i7) or the optical drive (to a Blu-ray Disc player).

The MSI GX640-098US features a black, brushed-aluminum design with red accents. The cover is fairly simple, with a silver, mirrored MSI logo in the center and a thin red plastic strip at the bottom being the only details. The inside has a red plastic border around the keyboard and touchpad, plus a futuristic-looking red-and-black strip of touch-sensitive buttons above the keyboard. The buttons include rewind, stop, pause/play, and fast-forward media buttons, as well as an 'Eco' button (for cycling through a variety of modes, including gaming mode and office mode), a 'Cinema Pro' button, a Webcam button, a Bluetooth button, a Wi-Fi button, and a programmable button.

Though MSI touts the GX640-098US as a portable gaming computer, I don't recommend replacing your netbook with it just yet -- it still weighs 2.7kg with the nine-cell battery, and it measures a sizable 358x260x31mm. The power block is also pretty clunky, and carrying both the laptop and the power block around is enough to make your shoulder hurt after about 15 minutes.

As for ports, the GX640-098US is pretty well equipped. You get an ethernet port, headphone and microphone jacks, two line-in jacks, a VGA-out port, an HDMI-out port, two USB 2.0 ports, an eSATA/USB 2.0 combo port, an Express Card slot, and a four-in-one multiformat card reader.

The keyboard is a "raised Chiclet" style -- not quite regular, not quite Chiclet. It's easy to type on (the keys are springy and responsive) but it feels awkwardly placed, probably because it is. Remember, this is a full keyboard and number pad on a 15-inch laptop, so typing with your hands mostly on the left side of the keyboard will take a little getting used to.

The keys are lettered with a modern font (it reminds me a little of the Alienware M11x), which helps to contribute to the "futuristic" look of the laptop. The keyboard also caters, somewhat, to gamers: The W, A, S, and D keys are highlighted in red with the corresponding up, left, down, and right arrows on them, and the 8, 4, 6, and 2 keys on the number pad also have arrows. This is a nice touch, but probably not terribly useful if you're even a semiregular gamer. The Fn and Ctrl keys are swapped (the Fn key is in the lower-left corner, and the Ctrl key is to the right of that), which may cause typing mishaps (unless you're an avid Mac user). Mastering the layout doesn't involve a terribly difficult learning curve, but it is a little annoying.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Sarah Jacobsson

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?