There are literally tons of reviews of this laptop on the web so there’s no reason for you to read another long and boring review of it so I will make this as quick as possible. I waited 6 months to write this, mostly due to procrastination and I don’t think anyone has used a product this long before writing a review, so this article is 100% from user experience. The only difference between my laptop and the standard spec sheet for it below is that I upgraded it with two 128 GB mSata SSDs in raid 0.
Model: MSI GS60 2PC-239TH GHOST – GS60 2PC-239TH
|CPU||Intel Core i7-4710HQ (2.50 GHz, 6 MB L3 Cache, up to 3.50 GHz)||USB||USB 3.0 x 3|
|Display||15.6″ WUXGA (1920×1080) Full HD LED||HDMI||Yes|
|RAM||16 GB. DDR3L||Card Reader||SD4.0 (XC/HC)|
|Storage||1 TB. 5400 RPM||Connection||Intel 7260 Wilkins Peak 2 (2×2 802.11 ac)+BT4.0
|Optical Drive||No||Battery||6-Cell 4840 mAh|
|GPU||nVidia GeForce GTX 860M (2GB GDDR5)||OS||Windows 8.1|
|Webcam||FHD type (30fps@1080p)||Weight||1.96 Kg 4 lbs|
This laptop is a dream. The GTX 860m graphics unit runs absolutely everything beautifully. For the hardcore gamers who want to run everything in 1080 resolution and ultra-high settings on everything you will run into a few issues since this is a laptop. It does get loud and hot sometimes but that is unavoidable with a body this small. For the mobile gamer the only main issue is its already short battery life is halved when the GTX 860m kicks in leaving only 1.5 hours of battery on average. The GS60 has an onboard Intel HD 4600 that takes care of the simpler tasks and giving a longer battery life of up to 4 and half hours if you conserve well. I will talk about the battery more below.
For Casual Users
Seriously? This is overkill for you. You don’t need it. Just kidding. This is a great laptop but it is an overkill for everyday use. Refer to the other sections if you have potential heavy use for it. You are better off with a cheaper ultra-book with a longer battery-life. Also it doesn’t come with a touch-screen or any of the fun new gimmicks so you might not like it.
For Workers/As a Workstation
Premiere Pro CC runs without a hitch on this, even with 4k footage. It just burns through it. Even though the GTX 860m isn’t a recommended card, CUDA acceleration in Adobe CC runs fine, although After Effects still lags for some reason. I can run Da Vinci Resolve on it as well, although it keeps asking for a gpu with openCL, which I haven’t figured out how to turn off, it still runs fine. As long as you keep in mind that the GPU isn’t workstation grade and that this is in fact a laptop with limitations, it a great piece of gear to have. It hasn’t disappointed me as of yet and I don’t think it will. I use it plugged in when I work so the battery life doesn’t affect me much, although I wouldn’t mind a longer battery life since I find myself working at coffee shops a lot. At 1.9kgs or 4 lbs there isn’t a lighter laptop with this kind of power, it’s insanely comfortable to carry around in my backpack, power adapter included.
Things that bug me specifically
Warning I will rant about quite a few things on this laptop that bug me, but I have learnt to live with. You may skip ahead to the conclusion if you wish since this is where it starts getting long. This is 100% from my usage experience.
I used a Lenovo Y550 before I switched over to this. Having dedicated volume keys was a great thing to have. This doesn’t have them. Luckily this was easily fixed with an App called SharpKeys. I binded them to a couple of the ‘Never Used’ F7 and F8 keys which is a good thing since you lose all other functionality of the keys when you bind. I couldn’t bind the brightness controls since SharpKeys doesn’t recognize the command. Sadly, SharpKeys doesn’t seem to be continued anymore. One other key or Fn key control I would like to have is to be able to turn off the display. It doesn’t exist. Currently you have to use a bundled piece of software called System Control Manager to do it. I have yet to find a work around to it.
Number Pad Placement
If you look at the keyboard layout you will see that the Numpad is pretty much smushed in on the right side of it. As a direct result part of the arrow keys is mushed in with the numpad. I frequently use the number keys in my workflow and occasionally for games, so in my usage I frequently hit the ‘0’ key on the number pad instead on the ‘Right’ key. Maybe it’s because I’m an idiot but this probably the only thing I still have a hard time with. The rest of the keyboard is just perfect, well…maybe except for the thing I’m about to talk about.
The placement of the windows key on this laptop is quite different from most other laptops, gaming included. It is on the right side on the spacebar rather that than the usual left. Most gaming laptop simply opt to have it disabled while running full-screen applications or to be able to manual Enable/disable it. MSI has moved it completely. This bugs be because I frequently use the WIN+* shortcuts. Having the key where it is leaves me making a weird unnatural gesture every time I try to use on of them. This Laptop is label as for ‘Gaming’ so the decision is quite understandable, until I discovered the WS60, a professional mobile workstation version of the laptop. The keyboard is identical. I do not understand anymore. I will review the WS60 or the later model at some point.
Its Overall Size
It’s advertised at a 15.6 inch laptop and it is, just the screen though. The actual laptop itself is a lot larger, more like the size of a 17-inch laptop. It may be less than an inch thick, but at over 15 inches wide and 10 inches deep, it’s huge. A lot larger than most 15.6 inch laptops, which is probably they gave a laptop sleeve and bag with the purchase. Not the best designs, but definitely saves you the trouble of buying sleeve for a 15.6 inch laptop and finding out that your GS60 doesn’t fit. You really need to take it along if you want to go laptop bag/sleeve shopping
While it is a great trackpad it does have its quirks. Firstly they used Elan drivers instead of Synaptics. Elan is leagues behind Synaptics in features and smoothness of the usage. Secondly, it a united keypad, meaning the left and right clicks are part of the track surface. It looks sleeker but it takes some getting used to. The driver occasionally fail and the mouse gets stuck with no way to revive it other than it revives itself or sleep and waking up the laptop again. So a carrying a USB mouse incase is recommended. It’s good for what it is, but it isn’t anywhere close to the Macbook Pro’s trackpad.
Massive Air-intake disguised as a Sound Bar
Many review say the large grate of holes above the keyboard is a sound bar, while there are speakers in there that’s not what it is. It a massive air in-take to keep it cool. It works, it keeps the unit quite cool even while heavy gaming and rendering sessions. The only down side is that you can’t run the laptop for certain things such as downloading massive files, rendering, or any task that you do with the lip closed. Really, you can’t. I forgot about the in-take and did it once, it wasn’t pretty. The fans went mad, and it got really loud and hot, and it was the first day I got my hands on it. Don’t let it run with the lid closed.
As I have mentioned before the battery-life sucks. At 4 hours or less on average it’s no better than my last laptop or any laptop in the last 5 years for that matter. Most laptops now advertise at least 5 hours of battery. It is understandable with the hardware we’re running under the hood, but 4 hours is before the GTX 860m kicks in. With the high power GPU used, you’re left with half the battery life. If power with battery life is what you seek, this might not be for you. Having to be plugged in is something you will have to learn to live with. There are few that can match the battery-life and performance the Macbook Pros provide. If you seek a close PC equivalent look-up the Samsung 7 Chornos, while not as powerful as the GS60 it boasts a 10.5 hours battery-life.
To conclude, this laptop is for those who need power in a (relatively) small package and don’t mind having to plug in often. I had it 6 months now, and it has yet to disappoint me. All laptops have their strengths and quirks. This is no exception. There are things that I have intentionally left out since a lot of reviews have covered already. I wrote this since most other reviews lack actual user experience for the purposes I use it for. If you have any questions regarding the GS60 feel free to ask in the comments or send me a tweet (@eiknuMeht) and I’ll be more than happy to help. I hope you found something useful in this review.