MSI GX630 Review
Are you in the market for a budget gaming laptop? A few years ago, an inexpensive notebook for gaming wouldíve run you at least $1,500. Even a year ago an entry-level gaming notebook with decent graphics started between $1,000-$1,200. But MSIís GX630 sells for just $799.99 and features solid gaming specs, including GeForce 9600M graphics with 512MB of graphics RAM, and 4GB of DDR2 system memory. With the mediaís fascination with netbooks that often sell for $500 or more, MSIís not only offering a fully capable notebook system, itís also considerably more powerful than a netbook for just a little bit more money. And weighing in at 6lbs with battery, itís pretty svelte too.
For the gamer on the go looking to save a little money, the GX630 looks like a winner. But is it too good to be true? Has MSI cut too many corners to get the price below $900? Thatís what weíre here today to find out.
|MSI GX630 Specs|
|CPU||AMD Athlon X2 QL-62 2.0GHz Dual-Core Processor|
|System Memory||4GB DDR2-667 (2x2GB)|
|Graphics||NVIDIA GeForce 9600M GT 512MB|
|Display||15.4" WXGA 1280x800 TFT LCD|
|Storage||250GB 5400 RPM Western Digital Scorpio HDD|
|USB 2.0 Ports||2|
|Video Outputs||1xVGA, 1xHDMI|
|Audio Ports||1xMic-in, 1xLine-in, 1xHeadphone|
|Card Reader||4-in-1 Card Reader (SD/MMC/MS/MS Pro)|
|Card Slot|| PCI Express Card X 1|
|Networking||10/100/1000 Mbps Gigabit Ethernet|
Built-in 802.11b/g/n WLAN Card and Bluetooth
|Battery||6-cell Li-ion standard, 9-cell optional|
|Dimensions||14.1\\"(L) x 10.24 \\"(W) x 1.07\\"~1.22\\"(H)|
One of the keys to the GX630ís low price point is their choice of CPU: MSI uses AMDís Athlon X2 QL-62 CPU. The QL-62 is a dual-core CPU with 512KB of L2 cache per core (1MB total), 1.8GHz HyperTransport (3.6GHz effective), and 25W TDP. While the QL-62 isnít as powerful as AMDís latest Turion X2 Ultra processors, it is based on the exact same Griffin core. The key difference is the Turion X2 Ultra CPUs sport higher clock speeds (2.1GHz and up) and also feature a larger 2MB L2 cache (1MB of L2 cache per core).
Because of these differences, the Turion X2 Ultras are more powerful, but they also consume more power, with TDPs ranging between 32-35W depending on the model number. The QL-62 is actually a pretty popular solution among system manufacturers. HP for instance uses it in a number of low-cost notebooks ranging in price from $450-$600.
Of course, as any gamer thatís well versed in hardware should know by now, itís the GPU plays the most vital role in actual gaming performance rather than the CPU Ė pair the latest quad-core mobile processor with a GeForce 8400M and see how far that gets you in Crysis Ė so we donít fault MSI for skimping a bit on the CPU in order to pair the QL-62 with GeForce 9600M graphics. And besides, with the GX630ís Turbo Mode, you can always OC the processor to run at 2.3GHz for those cases when you need a little more CPU performance.