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


The GT780 is housed in a wedge-shaped black aluminum chassis that has some unusual angles. The cover has a brushed black aluminum panel emblazoned with the MSI logo and surrounded by smooth black aluminum borders and sawed-off corners.

The inside of the laptop presents you with more funky angles and contrasting textures. The keyboard deck is composed of brushed aluminum, while the touchpad is matte plastic; the keyboard is surrounded by a shiny plastic border, and the screen has a double border: an inner shiny plastic one and an outer matte aluminum one. Two silver speakers sit above the keyboard, and a plethora of touch-activated buttons surround the power button.

The touch keys include a programmable key (set to turn Turbo on/off), a Cinema Pro button, a fan boost button, and a keyboard light button, as well as toggles for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and the display. The Cinema Pro button is supposed to put you in Cinema Pro mode (for better video and audio playback), but I didn't detect a significant difference between the Cinema Pro mode and the non-Cinema Pro mode except that the sound was a little louder and the laptop's battery drained faster. You also get a touch-eject button for the GT780's slot-loading DVD drive, and a small touchpad on/off key below the keyboard.

The touchpad is small, unresponsive, and difficult to use. The two discrete buttons (both of which have angled, sawed-off corners, mimicking the laptop's overall design) are easy enough to press, but the touchpad itself is just bad. Because it's so small, you'll reach the edge and have to reposition your finger every couple of seconds. And because it's unresponsive, you'll likely get frustrated and start pushing harder and harder in an effort to make the input device register your gestures. Luckily, you can turn the touchpad off and use an external mouse.

The colorfully backlit, programmable gaming keyboard designed by SteelSeries, on the other hand, is beautiful and comfortable to type on, though the keys are a little stiffer than I consider ideal. The full-size keyboard has Chiclet-style keys and a 10-digit numberpad.