The very first thing you'll notice about the GT740 is that it's a beast, a huge laptop that won't feel too comfortable on your actual lap unless you're some kind of gargantuan giant with a lap of steel. It's got a black case with red outlinings, reminiscent of my standard go-to laptop the Acer Ferrari, which isn't a good thing.
However, it's quite thin with a size of 395 x 278 x 40 mm and weighs about 3000 grams, impressive considering the power it wields. The GT740 isn't too offensive to look at or touch. A different colour scheme would be nice, but hey, let's not judge a book by the cover here.
Booting the beast up, it loads admirably fast and logs you into Windows 7 with whirlwind speed. The 17" TFT-LCD widescreen display is crystal clear and the built in 5 SRS Premium Sound speakers pack an initial wallop when viewing the bizarre Asian American pro-voting demo video found on the desktop.
Stuff wot it has
This laptop is really kitted out. Connectivity wise, it's got all the bits and pieces, ports and plugs that a geek could hope for. So, that'sa 4-in-1 cardreader, a bunch of USB 2.0 ports, HDMI, VGA and DC-in at the back, a Kensington lock, RJ-45 LAN and a DVD burner.
There's also a built in webcam, the norm these days, but equipped with 2.0 megapixels. All behave as you'd hope for a machine that clocks in at over £1,000, and that is to say, well.
It's got a 500GB hard disk which means you shouldn't be running out of space any time soon, and 4096 MB of DDR3 memory. For graphics it's got the Nvidia GeForce GTS 250M and its main board is the Intel PM55. The processor is the Intel Core i7 820QM, running at 1.73 GHz.
The keyboard is less than perfect, with some peculiar spacing. The Fn key isn't where I'd expected it to be and occasionally I felt like I really had to hammer my fingers down hard on the keys for input. Not horrible, but took a bit of getting used to. Having the WSAD keys mapped out in red is a nice touch, but for anyone used to PC games (that is to say, the target market of this machine) that's probably where their fingers will lie automatically.
The touchpad is pretty good and responds sensitively, but not too sensitively. Though again, any gamers will be using a mouse for their geek-out sessions anyway. It's a good alternative to a mouse when using the machine on-the-go, unlike the Rock machine (more later).
Stuff wot it does
Intel's Core i7 Processor coupled with the huge RAM means that when you need to get things done, multitask or place a heavy load on the machine when not gaming it can handle it. As a work machine and desktop replacement, the GT740 performs exceptionally well with no noticeable slowdown.
Gaming though, of course what the machine is marketed towards, is where it stuttered and staggered. Not horribly, but enough to notice. We tested both machines on Mass Effect 2 and Crysis.
Mass Effect 2 ran beautifully for the first couple hours of play, with all the effects turned up to a billion. However, with extended play the machine began to free momentarily, there was lag on the mouse and the FPS dropped. It still looked beautiful and ran well for the most part, but there were some performance issues. We also noticed that occasionally the sound would lag and stutter. The machine got very hot underneath after longer sessions.
Crysis was a different kettle of fish. With the auto-detect video option in-game enabled, we noticed with play there was a lot of lagging, a dodgy FPS and was basically unplayable.
We had to stick the video and graphics settings to just-above-average to get it to look reasonably pretty with decent playability.
Sound on the GT740 was nice. We could push the volume up quite high without reasonable quality issues. It's got a tiny subwoofer built in underneath which works, not quite as much as we'd like it to, but works. This makes it painless to have a decent gaming experience on the go with reasonable sound, however if you're at home you'd still probably be better off investing in some speakers.