MSI had all of their latest notebooks on display, along with some upcoming models that feature new designs and hardware. Most of the hardware and design elements remain the same for now, but one area that is receiving an update is the keyboard. Specifically, the SteelSeries keyboards are receiving updated software to allow improved control over the colored backlighting, but more importantly is that the keyboards are fully programmable –each and every key can be set to a macro.

That may not seem like a huge deal, but there are other benefits, for example being able to remap any of the keys to any of the other keys (which means people like me that like their Windows key on the left side can swap the Fn and Windows keys – or any other keys for that matter). The software also allows users to upload profiles for specific games, with individualized macros and mappings on each game. The software will detect which application/game is running and load the appropriate profile on the fly.

This doesn’t address every concern with the keyboards – I still want four keys to the left of the keyboard (CTRL, Fn, Windows, Alt) and I want a number keypad with a full-size [0] key in the bottom-left – but considering the overall feel of the SteelSeries keyboards is better than most other laptop keyboards, it’s yet one more benefit of MSI’s notebooks. MSI has also worked to improve the feel and backlighting of the keyboards.

Another item of note is that the existing branding for MSI’s notebooks is being phased out, to be replaced by more exciting names. Short-term, the GT, GS, GE, GP, and GX series will become the GT Dominator, GS Stealth, GE Apache, GP Leopard (they changed this, so the labels are wrong), and GX Destroyer. With the next update (Intel’s Broadwell CPUs and AMD Kaveri APUs), the G[x] prefixes will disappear and they will simply go with the main brand.

While we haven’t necessarily been big fans of the industrial design of some of the MSI notebooks (specifically, the GT and GX lines are looking a little long in the tooth), MSI is working to improve in this area as well. Their GS line is a great example of this, with a thinner, lighter chassis that still packs a punch. The designs have been tweaked slightly on some of the other lines as well, like the “muscle lines” on the metal lids of the upcoming GE60 and GE70. MSI also had a prototype laptop on hand with a hand-built chassis that continues the trend towards thin computing with good performance, and we’re looking forward to seeing what happens with the final hardware.

Finally, MSI will also be offering high-DPI 3K displays on several of the above laptops. The displays are still 16:9 aspect ratio (sadly, there doesn’t seem to be much hope at present for companies to buck the 16:9 trend in the Windows world, running at 2880x1620. High DPI display on Windows 8.1 are still a work in progress to be perfectly frank, and in many cases 1920x1080 at 100% scaling is more useful (in my experience) than 3200x1800 or 2880x1620 at 200% scaling. Most of this is just a software problem, however, and as more apps become high-DPI aware the situation should improve. We also noticed on at least one set of laptops that the 3K panel had much better color accuracy than the 1080p panel next to it. Let’s hope that’s not just a fluke and that all of the upcoming high-DPI displays will come with accurate color reproduction.

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  • DemBones79 - Monday, January 6, 2014 - link

    What about the fans? That's the only thing stopping me from getting a GT60 2OD-026US right now. That ridiculous single fan/turbo mode thing is super loud when its on and cools inadequately when it's off.
  • MykeM - Monday, January 6, 2014 - link

    "Let’s hope that’s not just a fluke and that all of the upcoming high-DPI displays will come with accurate color reproduction."

    According to reviews of HiDPI laptops from Apple (13" and 15" rMBP), Dell (the new XPS 15), Samsung (Ativ 9 Plus), Acer (S7), Lenovo (Yoga 2) and Asus Zenbook Infinity, the only ones that produce accurate colour out-of-the-box are the rMBPs. The 13" version, for example, not only covers the entire sRGB colour space but has DeltaE deviation of only 1.87. Compare that to the 4.89 on Asus infinity. The Yoga 2, for example, covers only 58% sRGB and to make it even worse, use pentile pixel arrangement. Even the much anticipated XPS 15 has a DeltaE value of 8.27 and covers less than 100% sRGB. The only other laptop that measures as well or better than Apple's retina (that's in the same price point) is the Chromebook Pixel.

    Here are couple of pre-calibration numbers:

    13" rMBP Saturation Sweep (pre-calibrated):
    Colour Check (pre-calibrated):
    SRGB Colour Space:

    Samsung Ativ 9 Plus Saturation Sweep:
    SRGB Colour Space:

    Asus Infinity sRGB Colour Space:

    Lenovo Yoga 2 sRGB Colour Space:

    Dell XPS15 Colour Check:
  • z0mgn0es - Tuesday, January 7, 2014 - link

    I really want to like MSI's current line notebooks. I really do, but some of the reviews I've read regarding the GE/GT series' thermals is rather concerning.

    I appreciate the departure of the plastic construction in favor of brushed aluminum like some of their older gaming notebooks. But I'm very curious to know about the thermals.. not to mention price.
  • inperfectdarkness - Thursday, February 6, 2014 - link

    At idle (no GTX 780M use) the fan on my GT60 20D-261 is whisper quiet. Even during a game, the fan does not get annoying loud. And for 2 grand, you really can't find a better gaming laptop. It might not be as svelte as an ultrabook, but for those of us who really just need a 15" desktop-replacement gaming-laptop..this is THE king.

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