MSI GX60 Review: Radeon HD 7970M In A $1,200 Notebook!

Thirty Days With The MSI GX60

After all the cost cutting, MSI's GX60 offers almost as much gaming performance as the company's similar GT60 0NE, and for $700 less! A majority of the savings comes from swapping Intel's Core i7-3630QM for an AMD A10-4600M, and Nvidia's GeForce GTX 680M for an AMD Radeon HD 7970M. Most features, with the notable exception of keyboard backlighting, are still present. The build quality and cooling efficiency are still there. And although you do lose gaming performance in titles that rely on processor horsepower, the GX60 is nevertheless able to play any game we throw at it. In essence, MSI took a gamble here. It paired a very fast GPU with a very modest APU, counting on the Radeon's ability to play games at the display's native resolution. As you drop to less demanding settings, the fact that the Pitcairn-based module is severely processor-bound becomes very obvious. But because it's fast enough to game at 1920x1080, the bottleneck isn't as painful. What you do notice is how affordable the combination of hardware is.

The main choice you have to make is whether the GX60's focus is too narrow for your needs. This system has everything that a mobile gamer could want. It even makes a solid primary system for a college student. While it may not have enough processing power for an engineering major, anything optimized for OpenCL is going to run particularly well. If cost is a big consideration, you'll have a tough time extracting more value from a pricier notebook.

During one month of use, the GX60 also proved to be tough and reliable. We worried that the beveled ridge in the middle of the lid would scratch, yet it shows no signs of wear. The finish does collect fingerprints, but they wipe off easily. We never experienced a single lock-up or blue screen. The GX60 simply worked, whether it was gaming, streaming entire seasons of TV shows online, or simply browsing the Web. 

Part of my review process involves dropping laptops off in a computer support center staffed with 20 or so college-aged workers. I leave the machine open and running with a notepad and pen beside it. My goal is to get feedback from as many students as possible, who may see things differently. Here are some of the responses that I received:

  • “This thing boots and loads games incredibly fast”
  • “The palm rest stays cool when gaming”
  • “The sound quality is amazing; the speakers sound like wearing headphones”
  • “This machine is so responsive, tabbing in and out of games is almost instantaneous”
  • “The webcam is really good”
  • “Man, this thing is quiet”
  • “Wow, plays everything with graphics up all the way”.

It seems that our experiences with the GX60 are echoed by others. It is an absolutely solid 15” gaming machine, and at $1,200, MSI's GX60 is an excellent bargain. In our view, MSI accomplished what it set out to do: build a high-end gaming laptop with a very low price tag. We highly recommended this machine to mobile gamers on a budget, and therefore, we’re giving the MSI GX60 our 2013 Smart Buy award.

  • patrick47018
    Looks promising
  • yobobjm
    I own an MSI (with some weird number classification that I can't remember) but it has proved to be a dedicated and powerful gaming laptop. It also has had really no problems other than the glossy finish getting scratched (which doesn't even exist on this laptop) so I would recommend MSI products :D
  • flowingbass
    I also own an MSI, a GX660r with a 5870M and a Core i5 480m. The 5870M desktop equivalent is a HD5770. The GPU is quite struggling to play on high in current games, mid-high or sometimes medium (all low on crysis 3 except resolution and textures) is required to maintain playable frame rates.

    I might just upgrade to this and just swap GPU between the two. i5 480m > A10-4600M
    But does it fit a CableCard?
  • ASHISH65
    Looks good and helpfull review for laptop gamers!
  • acktionhank
    Hey Tom's run a few gaming tests again with PScheck forcing the CPU to run at a 2.5-2.7ghz so that it won't throttle itself so much.

    I'd like to see exactly what speeds we'd need to get an A10-4600 running at to reduce these severe bottlenecks.
  • Chewie
    Give this a 4 module APU, and keyboard backlighting, and it would really kick butt!
  • Madn3ss795-1283924
    AMD APU ruins the whole thing.
  • Chairman Ray
    Great build from Msi!
  • silverblue
    Very nice machine. It's a shame that AMD stopped with the A10-4600M and didn't look to produce a higher model as that'd help, however until the HSA initiative really kicks in, the Bulldozer architecture's FPU implementation is always going to be found wanting, and that's without even talking about the sharing issues which Steamroller looks to fix.