The GT725 is available to buy now from Amazon.co.uk for around £1,200.
The GT725 is seriously ugly. MSI has taken what is a fairly inoffensive-looking laptop and ruined it by spraying its edges in red paint, creating an effect which, at best, is reminiscent of cheap red nail varnish. We presume MSI's logic is that buyers of powerful gaming hardware are drawn to bright colours. Perhaps nobody in its design team has noticed that the PlayStation 3 is black and the Xbox 360 is white.
Looks aside, MSI's done a fairly good job with the GT725's design. Its 395 by 35 by 278mm chassis is about as compact as 17-inch machines get, and it weighs just 3.2kg, so it's fairly easy to carry around. MSI tries to ram this point home by bundling the GT725 with a 'free' gaming rucksack. This, ironically, is more attractive than the laptop itself, so you needn't worry about beat-downs from the fashion police on your way to LAN parties.
Large gaming laptops tend to have great input-output connectivity, and the GT725 is no different. The left side is home to modem and Ethernet ports, two USB ports and a Blu-ray optical drive. The front edge has an infrared receiver, which lets you use third-party remote controls with the laptop. The right side gets the most loving, however. It packs two additional USBs (one of which doubles as an eSATA port), four-pin FireWire, ExpressCard/34, a four-in-one memory-card reader, and four separate audio jacks.
It's pretty hard to get the keyboard and mouse wrong on laptops of this kind, but MSI has tried its best to do just that. The keyboard itself is fine, and even includes a dedicated numerical keypad. However, the selector buttons aren't up to par. They're cut directly from the chassis in a sideways 'S' shape, where the semicircle sections of the S represent the buttons. It's a clever, and somewhat attractive, design, but each press causes your thumb to sink into the cut-away lines, which is quite an odd sensation. It's almost as if you're placing your digits directly into the chassis with each press, and that's unnerving. Thankfully, MSI has chucked in a 'free' 3200dpi USB gaming mouse.
Just above the keyboard, you'll find the GT725's crown jewel -- the turbo button. Hit this and the machine will, we're promised, get a 20 per cent boost in performance. To the left of this is the 'eco' button. Press this and the machine will cycle between five different operational modes: gaming, movie, presentation, office and turbo battery modes, each of which uses progressively less power. On either side of these, you'll find yet more touch-sensitive buttons for controlling playback of multimedia files; activating or deactivating the webcam, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi; or launching an application of your choice.
Much as unattractive people are forced to compensate for their facial shortcomings by having great personalities, the GT725 makes up for its horrid looks with some exciting components. Underneath its hideous facade is an Intel Core 2 Quad Q9000 quad-core CPU running at 2GHz. This works alongside a hugely generous 4GB of DDR2 memory, both of which provide the foundation for a machine that won't turn its nose up at any task -- big or small.
Games are the GT725's forte, so it's no surprise to find an ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4850 graphics card nestling inside. It's by no means top of the graphics-card food chain -- that honour currently belongs to the ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4870 X2, which packs twin graphics-processing units -- but the 4850 is no slouch. Although it's a single-GPU system, it'll more than hold its own against desktop gaming systems, whether it's gaming or high-definition video playback you desire.