Turbo buttons were all the rage 10-15 years ago. They allowed users of old 386 or 486 desktop PCs to enjoy a quick speed boost with the minimum of fuss. However, we can't ever remember seeing such a system on a portable machine -- until today that is.
The MSI Turbobook GX600 has a built-in turbo button that the manufacturer says can instantly increase its performance by as much as 20 per cent, and cut boot times by approximately 50 per cent. But does it work? Are there any drawbacks to this £849 machine? Is it ultimately pointless? Let's find out.
The Turbobook GX600 looks gorgeous with the lid closed. The glossy black finish gives it a modern aesthetic that is in line with what the rest of the industry seems to be doing at the current time. Unfortunately, it all goes to pot when you open the lid.
The main problem is the presence of two garish red 'vents' -- or speaker grilles -- on either side of the machine just above the keyboard. The right-most grille is surrounded by an equally vomitous aluminium panel that looks really out of place. It does, however, serve to highlight the presence of the power button, Wi-Fi switch and the aforementioned turbo button.
We have major reservations about the keyboard and mouse on the GX600. Most 15-inch laptops have decent keyboards, but that isn't the case here. The GX600 uses a US-style keyboard, which has a painfully small enter key, an even smaller right shift key and cursor buttons that are so miniscule they might as well not be there.
It's possible to get used to the rubbish keys with practice, but if you survive that, you'll then have to contend with the mouse trackpad. This, we felt, was too wide. It's all too easy to make contact with the trackpad with the heel of your palm as you type, which triggers a mouse button press. As you can imagine, clicking the cursor in the middle of a Word document causes text to go all over the place. It's possible to temporarily disable the trackpad, but this requires two separate keypresses and is a pain in the backside.
On a positive note, the GX600 does have a good array of input-output ports. We like the fact it has front-facing audio jacks, which makes it nice and convenient for connecting a mic and headphones; there are four USB ports -- two on the left and two on the right, and three separate video outputs: HDMI, D-Sub and S-Video.
The Turbobook GX600 uses an Intel T8300 CPU running at a default frequency of 2.4GHz. As promised, we were able to overclock the CPU to 2.8GHz at the press of a button -- but only while the laptop was connected to the mains. Unfortunately, the 3GB of DDR2 667MHz memory can't be overclocked in the same manner, nor can the mid-range GeForce 8600M GT graphics card.
The GX600 really doesn't make the most of its 15.4-inch screen. The quality of images is fine for the most part, but the viewing angle is rather limited. The display quality has a tendency to deteriorate if you're not looking at it from a dead central position. This is especially true along the vertical axis.
The GX600 uses a 15.4-inch display. Our review sample shipped with a panel running at a native resolution of 1,280x800 pixels, but MSI says final retail models will run at 1,680x1,050 pixels, which is good news. We can't talk about image quality on those final samples -- since we've yet to see one -- but we were pleased with the colour reproduction, contrast and speed of the panel used on our pre-production sample.