MSI GT780DXR: Pretty Keyboard, but Everything Else Is Just Average

The MSI GT780DXR (let's just call it the GT780) is a monster of a machine, loaded with nearly everything you'll need to play games like a champion. This roomy laptop has a large amount of memory, plenty of hard drive space, and numerous extra features.

The GT780 doesn't skimp on the fancy specs that gamers and multimedia fans love. The 17.3-inch screen supports full HD (at 1920 by 1080 resolution), and MSI includes a built-in 720p webcam, USB 3.0 ports, HDMI output, and a pretty (though not especially useful) LED-backlit keyboard with full color-changing capability.

Our review model, priced at $1750, carried a second-generation Intel Core i7 2630M processor, a whopping 12GB of RAM, and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 570M graphics card with 1.5GB of RAM. It also came with 1TB of hard drive space, built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and the 64-bit version of Windows 7 Home Premium.

The GT780 performed well on our WorldBench 6 test suite, earning a mark of 146. Though this is a much higher score than most laptops achieve, it is only average for a system in the . If you're thinking of getting the GT780DXR instead of , don't expect to see a performance boost: The two laptops have virtually the same specs, and they collected the same benchmark score. What you pay extra for in the GT780 is the pretty, lit-up keyboard and the larger screen.

The GT780 also scored well in our games tests, thanks to its GTX 570M graphics card. On our Far Cry 2 benchmark, the GT780 managed a frame rate of 55 frames per second (at high quality settings and 1920 by 1080 resolution); the past few desktop replacements we've tested averaged about 42 fps on the same test. Still, the GT780 fell short of the less attractive, but more powerful Digital Storm x17, which delivered a frame rate of 78 fps on the same test, of some lower-end we've recently tested.

The GT780's design could use some work. Perhaps MSI didn't think that users would plan on toting an 8.6-pound desktop replacement around for all to see. But that hasn't stopped other makers from stepping up the appearance of desktop replacements such as the .