MSI's ambitious attempt at a sub-£500 gaming laptop comes in the form of the rather attractive MSI FX600-007UK.
Available exclusively at Argos, this laptop sensibly eschews garish gamer-friendly go-faster stripes and flashing lights in favour of a smarter, sleeker look in textured black with silver trim. So unlike the Lenovo IdeaPad, it will remain impervious to unsightly fingerprint marks.
The Scrabble-tile keyboard sits above a textured left-of-centre trackpad incorporating a one-piece rocking mouse button and a row of seven indicator LEDs. Along the top of the keyboard we find another row of five keys incorporating the power switch as well as volume, WiFi, multimedia and one programmable key for your own use.
Processing power is provided by an Intel Core i3-330M which has the slowest clock speed of 2.13GHz of all the processors in this group test. This results in somewhat slower performance when running everyday tasks as predicted by our WorldBench 6 score of 93 points.
It is however considerably faster overall than the single-core AMD V140 favoured by Toshiba in the Satellite C660D.
Being aimed at gamers on a budget, MSI has instead placed more emphasis on the MSI FX600's graphics performance. The nVidia GeForce 325M comes with 1GB of onboard memory and is much faster than the GeForce 310M with 512MB you get in Lenovo’s IdeaPad Z560. So, while office applications will run a little slower, games will run a whole lot faster.
The GeForce 325M supports nVidia’s Optimus technology which switches seamlessly between the discrete GPU and the Core i3’s integrated graphics to enable increased battery life.
Unfortunately, in our MobileMark tests the laptop lasted for only 3.5 hours, the same as the Lenovo system which doesn’t have this technology. We double checked Optimus operation with the 'NVIDIA Optimus GPU State Viewer' program, which indicated the technology was installed and working.
The MSI FX600 comes with some useful extras often left out of budget designs, such as am SD/SDHC card reader, a large 500GB hard drive and Bluetooth built in.
It delivers good gaming results and satisfactory overall performance combined with high-build quality and decent ergonomics, but fails to match up to the fearsome performance and specification of Medion’s Akoya P6624.