High performance without bankruptcy.
Screen, Mouse & Keyboard
The front side just has the status LEDs since the speakers are inside. So opening up the MSI GT780R we’re greeted with a full sized keyboard, a decently sized trackpad, and the speakers on the top with the additional features bar in between them.
The screen is an anti-reflective 17.3-inch LED panel with a resolution of 1920×1080. Strangely enough the matt finish of the screen is sharply contrasted by an extremely glossy black bezel surrounding it, which is often irritating when watching movies on the GT780R.
The camera on the top is literally surrounded with a diamond shaped glass which really is irritating.
Coming back to the keyboard, the MSI GT780R undoubtedly has one of the best keyboards on any gaming laptop I have used to date. The keyboard itself is designed by SteelSeries, so it’s easy to see how they bring in their expertise to the GT780R. Basically it’s a flat chicklet layout, with a slight indent in every key. Because the GT780R is raised on the rear end, they keyboard slopes downwards at an angle, making it quite ergonomic. Thankfully there’s no Windows key on the left side, so while playing games you won’t accidentally hit it.
Typing on it feels really good, just as good as a MacBook Pro. Apart from that, the entire keyboard is completely lit with full multiple colors. Three areas of the keyboard can be color controlled with different colors in each. Furthermore the entire lighting system can be set with various effects, like pulsing or wave glow, etc.
The mouse is fairly standard, nothing impressive. It’s good enough to get the job done, but more importantly, there’s a lock button for it. In all likelihood anybody using the MSI GT780R will have a mouse connected to it, so while using the WASD keys, it’s good to know an accidental hit on the touchpad won’t be registered since it can be locked out.
Battery life, Heat and Noise Levels
Since this is a gaming keyboard it doesn’t make much sense talking about battery life. However, for the enquiring minds, on medium settings, watching YouTube HD videos for 15 minutes and playing Team Fortress 2 unplugged, the MSI GT780R gave me just over 2 hours.
Given the large size of the MSI GT780R, there’s ample space for the heat to get pushed out without warming up much. While on the desk, I never felt anything more than just a touch of warmth from the keyboard and palm rest area. On the rare occasions when the GT780R was on my laps, the upper area would get quite hot while playing games; uncomfortably so. Not an issue really, since this is a desktop replacement laptop, and with the 4kgs of weight this is not a machine meant for your laps anyways.
As I mentioned earlier, on the useable surface the MSI GT780R hardly gets hot, and the reason for this is the large fan on the top left of the laptop. During normal use, i.e. just browsing the internet, the fan keeps it to a low hum. Start playing a game, however, and it kicks into full gear with an annoying whine. Still, you can drown out the fan noise by increasing the audio on the speakers, or better yet the headphones. Ultimately the sound isn’t as bad as I’ve heard on Alienware’s M11X and M14X machines, but nowhere near the whisper quiet of the ASUS ROG laptops either.