Mobile gaming with Intel Core i7 720QM: MSI GT640 Review
Being restricted to gaming on a desktop doesn’t really apply nowadays; the Core i7 packing MSI GT640 lets you game, while offering you mobility. How does the GT640 stack up then?
Sitting in our labs today is one of MSI’s G-series gaming laptops, the GT640. There is a larger version of the GT640, known as the GT740 which sports a larger screen that is 17-inches. Having reviewed the MSI GX620 gaming laptop (which is powered by an Intel Core 2 Duo processor) quite some time back, we can’t help but notice that it looks just about the same as the GT640.
But there’s where the similarities end. Under the bonnet, we mean keyboard, lies a completely different set of hardware. The GT640 is powered by Intel’s Core i7 720QM mobile processor. The mobile Core i7, also known as Clarksfield, is the mobile version of the desktop Core i7 800 series processors, known as Lynnfield. Clarksfield is part of the next-generation Capella Centrino platform, just for information.
A bit of tech talk here: Unlike the previous generation of processors, the mobile Core i7 (and also the mobile Core i3 and i5) features an integrated memory controller, allowing the processor to communicate directly with your RAM. In addition to that, the processor features 16 PCI Express lanes, connecting directly to a discrete graphics option. As a result, the northbridge, present in previous platform designs has been removed. The southbridge is now known as the Platform Controller Hub (PM55 Express chipset in this case).
The laptop is black, with a red outline that runs along the edges and the display hinge.
The surface of the display lid is brushed aluminium (but it looks kind of reflective in the image below because the protective film wasn’t removed).
Wow that’s quite a lot of vents really. It’s a good thing because it allows for more unrestricted airflow and better cooling performance.
A lone fan sits at the top left corner, tasked to expel heat from the heatsink unit which cools the processor and graphics chip.
The battery compartment is empty when the picture was taken. A 6-cell battery would fit flush with the chassis, but the 9-cell option would protrude out (more on that in the next page).
We believe this would be the best way to list out what’s in this GT640 machine, so here’s a Device Manager screenshot.
The Intel Core i7 720QM is a native quad-core processor supporting Hyper-Threading technology. For every physical core, you get two logical cores, which results in a total of eight cores recognised by Windows in this case.
The 7xxQM processor series has 6MB of L3 cache, and a TDP of 45W. The older mobile Core 2 Quad has a TDP of 45W as well, but don’t forget that the previous generation had an extra northbridge that isn’t ‘accounted for’.
Graphics is handled by NVIDIA’ GeForce GTS 250M GPU. MSI has decided to use the older Intel wireless module (WiFi Link 5100) in this machine instead of the newer 6200 and 6300 though. Gigabit Ethernet is provided by Realtek, as well as the laptop’s audio.
In the storage department, this laptop comes with a Blu-ray capable drive. The hard drive is a 5400rpm Seagate 500GB SATA unit.