MSI GT640 (2010) Laptop Review by Digisirran

Discussion in 'MSI Reviews & Owners' Lounges' started by Vaardu, Mar 13, 2018.

  1. Vaardu

    Vaardu Notebook Enthusiast

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    This review is more or less a customer-orientated one from general day to day use rather than checking performance with benchmarks. And it might also be the only review for a machine older than 5 years. I might benchmark it for 2018 but we shall see. Used it for a good 5 years, and 2 and a half years later it's still kicking. I will add images of what it looks like today later on.


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    I've been a laptop gamer longer than a desktop gamer since 2008. Before the MSI, I had an old ThinkPad SL510 and the N200 before that. However, those two had the dreaded BGA chipset graphics. Those could run nothing more than Half-Life 1.

    The MSI GT640 was my upgrade. And it was a worthwhile upgrade. This was bought from Amazon back in October 2010, for around £1350. The most likely reason for this price are mostly the features and specifications. These days this is a legacy product, and not entirely supported by MSI anymore. I have seen a non-branded variant of this laptop from Novatech but forgot what it was called.

    Specifications and Overview

    The specifications (before upgrades and changes):

    • i7 720QM at 1.6GHz with 2.8GHz TurboBoost
    • NVidia GeForce GTS 250m DDR3 MXM (the bonus) Graphics card
    • 4GB RAM (now 8GB)
    • 640GB Western Digital Scorpio Blue HDD (Now 250GB SSD)
    • 15.4in 16:10 1680x1050 Glossy TN panel
    • Blu-Ray reader, DVD Rewriter and CDRW
    • Windows 7 Home Premium 32bit (now Windows 7 Professional 64bit)
    • Wireless N Intel 5100 A/B/G/N

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    On the rear of the machine; you get your power, HDMI, battery and VGA and oddly enough a TV tuner aerial.

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    On the right side of the laptop; you get 2 USBs, FireWire (1394), cooling vent and an SD Card reader.


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    The left side contains one line out, one line in, microphone and headphone. The line-in feature seems to have good quality if you're recording from another device that has a headphone jack. It also features the Blu-ray drive, a modem jack, another USB 2.0 and a Kensington lock slot for those to secure it onto a immovable object.

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    Other ports include oddly enough an infrared port. I wouldn't really know what it'd been used for, nor that I have even used it.


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    The display is pretty spacious for its resolution, as I've done Word and Chrome side-by-side perfectly many times and it's still a dream to look at. Anything higher than 1280x800 in a laptop display was a crucial requirement, as I've experienced 1366x768 on the SL510 (which looked a bit dreadful) and 1280x800 on the N200. The display is a bit dim in comparison, but still usable. I wouldn't recommend it under the bright lights because again, glossy is pretty reflective. It can be cheaply resolved with a matte screen protector (if there is a 15.4in one) or if you feel adventurous, you can swap out for a matte variant of the 1680x1050 display.

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    The keyboard was pleasant to type on after getting used to the odd layout. You don't get the full-size UK Enter key, as I reside in the UK, but it still shows some British layout. It looks cramped, because it comes with a numerical keypad. I had to replace it with a compatible one, as a key popped off broken and I had no choice but to install a new one. The new one isn't any different hardware-wise, apart from the colour (it made it less game-y) and it's heck of a lot cleaner too. It had the tendancy of getting moderately gross.


    The touchpad isn't terrible, and considering how much use the touchpad got certainly shows, it can be used. Accompanied with the laptop was the Gigabyte MSI-branded gaming mouse. I don't have it in my possession anymore, because while the mouse was brilliant, the rubber padding glue started to seep out. It got bad enough that I had to bin it.

    Bundled with the laptop was the official MSI backpack. I still have it in my possession, and it's still going strong and still using it. The only repairs done to it was for the right strap, and it's stronger than before.

    General Usage

    Now, general usage. Browsing the web with the 1680x1050 display was heavenly, with no lag and no slowdown in Chrome/Firefox or Internet Explorer. It was playing 1080p video just fine with no frame-drops.

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    As evident, the CPU is already at 47c. The GPU runs a bit cooler, however.

    Since the CPU is almost a decade old, it does get a bit hot. Although that can be remedied by replacing the paste. The fan does spin up time to time, even at the desktop, but it doesn't get annoyingly loud and there's no high-pitched whine like my current machine. The palmrests had the tendancy to get hot enough to almost burn my palms, and the keyboard itself also had the same tendancy although not as much.

    It is a capable machine, even if it is still used in 2018. But things do change when gaming. And this is something that most laptops tend not to do well in.

    While it's a gaming laptop, it also doubled as a decent workstation. Provided you have the correct driver to run software such as Sony Vegas, you can render using the GPU. And provided you also tweaked Adobe software such as Premiere Pro to use the GPU for rendering, it can fare better than the Asus G752VT (GTX 970M). Since the internals reveal an MXM card, the user could replace it with an actual Quadro and will have a workstation at the ready. The only sacrifice in most cases will be gaming performance as drivers for workstation cards are not optimised for games.

    When on battery, though, it doesn't shine as much compared to portables. If the battery had not been worn to shreds, it would last about if lucky 2 and a half hours. In games, it's half that. When in gaming, it locks the FPS to 30fps, like a console.

    Gaming Usage


    In games, back in 2010 playing Half Life 2 and (yes, of course) Crysis did manage playable framerates. Half Life 2 had hovered around 80 to 120FPS with everything cranked to highest settings (barring antialiasing at 4x). Half Life 2: Episode Two had a little bit lower, but not too different to the naked eye in person. Most Source games could be played adequately.

    Crysis couldn't be maxed out too much, because although the GTS 250m could've been better with GDDR5; the DDR3 is where it struggled. Crysis managed at high settings, 1280x720 with 25fps to 40, or at maximum resolution on a mixture of high and medium.

    Borderlands (2009) ran at all high, at 1280x720 and fluctuated from 40 to 62FPS. Most Unreal Engine 3 games will still run, but as far as drivers go and the GTS 250m is deprecated; it might still struggle to keep up.

    It must be noted that when in games, especially since it has only one fan to keep the system cool. While its only one fan working, it does get loud. Referencing Notebookcheck, they state it can get as loud as 49dB. I consider laptops 45dB and less relatively quiet.

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    The only fan to cool the GPU and CPU, provided you regularly repaste it should sustain OK temperatures.

    After gaming, especially half an hour or so, the surface the laptop was on definitely got warm to the touch. Most extreme case of the laptop getting so hot gave the wooden table a minor tan. Other than that, it didn't shut down from overheating, nor did the heat damage the computer itself.


    Case quality and maintenance


    The case is mostly plastic, but it feels relatively sturdy. Not ThinkPad sturdy, but it should last. Some of the paint can be chipped off over time, and seeing how strong it is built, I doubt anything will break even after 8 years. The hinges are nice, too.

    Maintaining the laptop is really straightforward. You have 2 panels that you can remove if you have a Philips screwdriver on hand. One large panel that is held by two screws reveals the CPU, GPU, RAM, Wireless, modem card, the heatsinks and fan. The other panel held by two screw reveals the hard drive bay that uses SATA. This can be swapped out for a bigger drive or SSD.

    Verdict

    8/10: Very Good


    My verdict for this laptop, I would give it 8/10. 1 deducted for the noise, and another one for the heat. The lack of USB 3.0 can be easily solved with an Expresscard for USB 3.0. I wouldn't stray from a power outlet, as the i7 does not incorporate Nvidia's Optimus.


    There are also modders who still use these systems, and most can give advice. The fact that the GPU can be swapped out along with the CPU is a bonus and rarity. Parts are available online, such as fans and heatsinks and bezels, even displays like a matte 1680x1050 (I'm prepared to do this change).

    I will update this post with product images soon, and I mean my own camera images. The laptop has had good use, and provided that I am able to find new parts or replacements, I can expect it to last till the 2020s.


    Changes made: Added images too large (max 500x500, altho imgur offers thumbed at 640x640, which still isn't big) so added thumbed instead.
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2018
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  2. Kevin@GenTechPC

    Kevin@GenTechPC Company Representative

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    Do you still have this unit? These models GT640 & GT740 were great but their common issue were hinge problems.
     
  3. Vaardu

    Vaardu Notebook Enthusiast

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    Yes I do! The laptop has been used since 2010, and I have had no issues with the hinges since then. What were the hinge issues exactly?


    EDIT: Oh dear God I embedded images but they're bigger than I anticipated.
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2018
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  4. Kevin@GenTechPC

    Kevin@GenTechPC Company Representative

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    That's awesome, the hinges frequently broke off and then the whole screen could become detached. :)
     
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