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MSI GX723 review: MSI GX723

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The Good Instant overclocking button speeds things up.

The Bad Some important buttons on the keyboard are too small; slower than expected.

The Bottom Line There's nothing spectacular about the MSI GX723. It has a few notable flaws, such as a sub-par keyboard and slightly dim display, but it's a decent all-rounder, providing your expectations aren't too high

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6.5 Overall

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The GX723 is a slightly toned-down version of MSI's GT725 gaming laptop. It lacks its sibling's high-speed, quad-core CPU, but still sports an instant overclocking 'turbo' button, which, in theory, makes it faster than rival laptops with the same specification. It's available now for around £950.

Decent design
The GX723 uses the same chassis as the gaudy GT725, but it's nowhere near as unattractive as its sibling. Whereas the GT725 uses cheap-looking splashes of red to complement the brushed-metal wrist rest and the metallic, cheese-grater-like area above the keyboard, the GX723 relies on a less garish blue finish. As a result, it's easier on the eye.

The blue area above the keyboard frames a variety of media shortcut buttons, as well as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and webcam toggle switches. You also get a pair of buttons labelled 'eco' and 'turbo' in the centre. The first of these cycles through various display modes, optimising the brightness for watching films, showing presentations and so on, while the latter overclocks the CPU.

The shortcut buttons let you control media, toggle Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, and enable the 'turbo' overclocking feature

The GX723 is ostensibly a desktop-replacement laptop, so you'll need to be a regular in the gym if you intend to carry its 3.2kg, 395 by 27 by 278mm chassis for long distances. Should you need to ferry it to and fro, MSI bundles a fetching red rucksack that will make you the envy of the LAN party fraternity.

Once you get to your location, you'll find the GX723 easy to connect to surrounding devices. The HDMI port -- sensibly positioned at the rear, adjacent to a D-Sub VGA video output -- allows you to connect the laptop to a television, monitor or projector, while the four USB ports, memory card reader, mini-FireWire, and quad audio jacks cement its status as a machine that can replace your bulky home computer.

Behold the PC Card slot, memory card reader, USB, eSATA and four-pin FireWire ports, and a gang of audio jacks

One stumbling point is the GX723's odd keyboard. MSI has shoehorned a dedicated numerical keypad into the right-hand side, and some of the major keys, including return, the cursor keys and the right shift key, have been made smaller to accommodate this. As we found with the keys on the GT725, these buttons are a constant cause of typographical errors -- an almost unforgivable trait in a desktop-replacement laptop.

Average specs
The GX723 trades the quad-core Intel chip in the GT725 for a slightly more sedate, but still potent, Core 2 Duo P8600, alongside 4GB of RAM. The GX723's aforementioned turbo button can overclock the Intel chip by a fairly significant amount, although the actual figure will vary from machine to machine.

The GX723 ships with a gaming-capable, although ultimately middle-of-the-road, Nvidia GeForce GT 130M GPU, packing 512MB of DDR3 memory. The 17-inch display, to which it is attached, is fairly average, too. The general picture quality is good, but it's slightly too reflective and not quite bright enough in our opinion, meaning you may struggle to see what's going on in brightly lit rooms or outdoors. By the same token, its 1,680x1,050-pixel resolution is adequate, although media tarts will mourn the absence of a 1,920x1,080-pixel (or higher) panel.

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