Hands On Use
I think overall the GT660R-004US is a decent performer after all the tests are done. I have a few issues with the machine in normal use. I am not a fan of the keyboard that MSI uses on this notebook at all. The keys are much smaller than they need to be considering the notebook has a 16-inch screen. The gaps between the keys are large and they could have been made larger without losing the number pad.
The right shift key is also much smaller than the left; another peeve I have with the machine. MSI does separate the WASD control keys that all gamers are familiar with from the other keys with a red font. The keyboard also isn't backlit, which I really expect in a gaming notebook today.
The track pad under the keyboard is well placed and sized. It has good sensitivity and accuracy. The buttons are easy to press and the trackpad has an undefined scroll area to the right side of the pad. Along the chrome bezel at the bottom of the track pad are indicator lights for power, Bluetooth, WiFi, sleep, and HDD activity.
The GT660R-004US has a very glossy 16-inch screen with 1366 x 768 resolution. The resolution is certainly one place where MSI saved some money with this machine. As I mentioned in the benchmark section, the resolution was too low to run 3DMark Vantage. The screen has enough resolution for 720p, which is nice for Blu-ray movies, but I would rather see a higher resolution screen. A 1080p screen couldn't add too much to the price of this notebook. The screen has noticeable pixilation in darker scenes of movies and TV. Colors are good and skin tones are realistic.
Streaming video from Hulu works smoothly in windowed and only has very slight and occasional stuttering in full screen mode. The thing that really bothered me with streaming video on this notebook was the poor contrast and pixilation in dark scenes. The machine has a nice amount of storage at 1TB and the GPU is powerful enough to handle Blu-ray and the streaming of video with the caveats I already mentioned. The storage space should mean you could get all the music, games, and digital content on the machine that you want.
The GT660R-004US is a capable gaming notebook and can play whatever game you want to. You will give up high-end features for playable frame rates, but that is common to just about every gaming notebook around. The heat vent on the left side of the computer feels like a hair dryer shortly after you start gaming; this machine sucks in a ton of power and puts out a lot of heat.
MSI uses a nice sound system on the GT660R-004US that is one of the best I have seen on a notebook to date. The small subwoofer on the bottom of the machine certainly doesn't feed my craving for booming explosions and lots of bass, but it is far above many notebooks on the market. The sound system has plenty of volume to watch without headphones or external speakers in all but the noisiest environments.
The GT660R-004US is one of the cheaper of the gaming/multimedia machines on the market right now. The big tradeoff here is that the screen is not that great. This machine would be a much better notebook if the screen had better contrast and more resolution. I can't see that a 1080p screen that functions better would have added much more to the cost of the notebook.
As it is, if you can live with the poor contrast and pixilation when watching movies and streaming content, this is a good machine. If you demand perfect video performance, the screen here will drive you crazy in short order. The machine does well for mid-range gaming on most titles and will serve the person wanting a gaming/multimedia machine on a budget well.
If you aren't much of a gamer and are really looking for a notebook mostly for media streaming, you can find better notebooks with screens that offer more performance in this price range. That said, most of those machines will lack the Blu-ray and gaming chops the GT660R-004US offers.