If you want to play new games with nice graphics on a laptop, be prepared to pay a lot. Because you’ll need high performance components to keep the frame rates high. MSI GP Series GP60 Leopard-836 might be a good choice for that task: it includes a speedy Core i5 processor, 8GB RAM and a dedicated GeForce graphics card. But let’s examine the laptop a bit more and figure out what it really has under its hood…
MSI GP Series GP60 Leopard-836 features a quick Intel Core i5-4210H processor. It has two cores and a basic clock rate of 2.9GHz. However, sometimes this chip is advertised as 3.5GHz which is true but only when turbo boost is activated. The Passmark benchmark gives this unit good 4700 points, making it clearly faster than average Core i3 (~2500) or even low-voltage i5 (~3500) you often see in modern laptops. For gaming purposes it should be more than enough, and all the daily tasks like web surfing are absolutely no issue for the i5-4210H processor.
The laptop has one 8GB DDR3L-1600MHz memory stick installed. There’s a free slot next to it, meaning you can double the RAM easily. If you ask my opinion, don’t do that yet. The 8GB should give you a great start with practically every game.
This time, the storage solution is a mechanical hard drive. It gives you 1024GB worth of space with 7200RPM rate. You’ll easily store all the games you’ll ever play there, although you might question the drive’s performance. I’ve seen tests indicating HDD and SSD are similar for gaming. However, if you’re doubtful, installing a faster drive should be possible: as far as I know, MSI GP Series GP60 Leopard-836 sports a free mSATA slot inside.
Screen and gaming
The notebook comes with a 15.6″ anti-glare display. Its 1920×1080 resolution should satisfy all the gamers. It’s not a touchscreen so you can’t use some new features Windows 8.1 has. However, for players this shouldn’t be a big problem.
The essential thing here is graphics performance. This laptop has some, it features a GeForce 940M (2.0GB GDDR3) dedicated gaming card. It’s not too fast an engine, but still much much better than integrated chips. For example, on medium settings and 1366×768 Grand Theft Auto 5 runs on 40-50 frames per second. Skyrim would work fine even on high settings. Games requiring less than these (Starcraft 2, Tomb Raider, Minecraft etc.) run no problem on high or even ultra details.
To connect your peripherals MSI GP Series GP60 Leopard-836 offers two USB 2.0 and two faster USB 3.0 ports. Also VGA and HDMI outputs are present, so you can plug in a real gaming monitor (or HDTV) and play through that.
Gigabit LAN (RJ-45) and 802.11 AC WiFi adapter are included to satisfy your networking needs. Bluetooth 4.0 is enabled as well.
This thing has a DVD burner, hence installing games from CDs and DVDs (but not BluRay) is possible. Also SD/MMC card reader is present, feel free to upload data from digital cameras and such.
Of course, a webcam is included too, offering 30FPS at 720p. Thus, you can video chat with your gaming pals on Skype.
Anything else to keep in mind?
MSI GP Series GP60 Leopard-836 weighs 5.3 pounds, not really more or less than non-gaming 15-inch notebooks. Its 6-cell battery should last up to 3 hours on web surfing, although gaming and other heavier activities will give only 2 hours and less. That’s however not unique to this model, all gaming laptops are like that.
For some reason, the keyboard is not backlit. Numpad is included on the right, inconveniently pushing the multi-touch trackpad to left.
Summing it up
One thing is obvious about MSI GP Series GP60 Leopard-836: it’s very affordable gaming laptop. To keep the price down, MSI decided to put a slower GT940M graphics engine in. It is decent enough to be able to run any game, but with many heavier titles (such as GTA V or Assassin’s Creed) you might want to keep eye candy at bay. Many people are fine with this, especially when the notebook price is so competitive. If that’s you, there’s a good reason to go for this budget gaming machine.