MSI TurboBook GX600
- Turbo mode, e-SATA, HDMI
- No draft-n Wi-Fi, easily smears with fingerprints
Until now MSI's notebook range had not really impressed us, but the GX600 is a fairly good performer with the added potential of the turbo mode. The inclusion of e-SATA and HDMI ports show that MSI has its finger on the pulse, which will help keep this notebook functional into the future.
Price$ 2,499.00 (AUD)
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MSI's TurboBook GX600 notebook injects a touch of nitro into the notebook performance. This piano-black offering includes all the usual perks, plus it offers a few extras, such as a HDMI and e-SATA port and last but not least, a turbo button.
The GX600 does remind us a lot of the ASUS G2S with its red highlighted WASD keys and the overall colour scheme, and in many ways they share a lot of features. However, MSI's Turbo Drive Engine (TDE) technology is a unique feature that deserves some kudos. Essentially it's a big black button with "Turbo" emblazoned in red writing. Pressing the turbo button temporarily overclocks the system for a theoretical performance boost of up to 20 per cent. We didn't get 20 per cent out of the TDE feature during our tests, but we did see performance increases of around 13 per cent, which is nothing to gawk at.
Even before hitting the turbo button this notebook runs well. At its heart the MSI GX600 offers an Intel Core 2 Duo T7500 2.2GHz CPU with an 800MHz front side bus and a 4MB L2 cache, plus 2GB of DDR2 667MHz RAM. An NVIDIA 8600M GT (512MB GDDR3 RAM) graphics chip takes care of the gaming side of things. Look past the raw hardware and gamers will also enjoy the full number pad, which joins the full-sized keyboard. MSI has done a good job of squeezing so many keys onto a 15.4in notebook, but there were some casualties. In particular the arrow keys and right shift key have been squashed like a cockroach at a boot convention.
The screen isn't anything special, providing fairly stock-standard image quality with decent brightness and contrast levels, but a typically poor viewing angle. As with most 15.4in screens this one offers a native resolution of 1280x800. The speakers will suffice for some soft background music or for watching a movie, but lack bass and have limited volume. Overall, we found the keyboard comfortable to type on and the touchpad is particularly nice to use. There is a wireless hotkey for turning the Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g (no draft-n), and a shortcut to the 1.3-megapixel webcam just above the keyboard near the turbo button.
We got good results in our tests when running at standard speeds, but we also ran some tests using the turbo feature. In WorldBench 6 the MSI X600 scored a solid 88, suggesting it can handle a good range of tasks from word processing and multitasking photo and video editing. We ran the more CPU intensive WorldBench 6 tests again, including the Adobe Photoshop test and Autodesk 3ds max rendering test to see how they performed in turbo mode. The Photoshop test improved by around 11 per cent, while the Autodesk rendering test improved by around 13 per cent.
We ran 3DMark 2006 to gauge the gaming performance. Using the default settings it scored 3680, enough to play some newer games with medium quality settings. Hitting the turbo button boosted the score to 3745, a minor improvement. In our MP3 encoding test it took 88sec to encode 53 minutes worth of WAV files to 192Kbps MP3 files using iTunes, then 122sec using Cdex. Using iTunes with turbo shaved the time down to 67sec. In the battery test we saw less impressive results; the MSI X600 lasted just 74min in our DVD rundown test. This test is a worst-case scenario, so you can expect this notebook to last longer under normal conditions.
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