MSI GT735 Notebook and Windows 7 64-bit

The MSI GT735 is a nice affordable gaming notebook computer currently going for around $1000 CDN. Here’s the issue though – the model we got from NCIX has 4GB of RAM, yet it comes with 32-bit Windows Vista. As most people are well aware, the 32-bit version caps out at a little over 3GB of usable RAM – the rest is wasted.

Unfortunately, as great as the GT735 is, MSI doesn’t offer up 64-bit drivers on their website – so even if you get Vista/7 x64 to take available of all 4GB of RAM, you may be worried about the driver issue.

Well worry no more. But first a small video for anyone interested – there aren’t instructions in the video (scroll down for the write-up) but it shows Windows 7 x64 running on the GT 735.

A short video showing Windows 7 64-bit working, and a shot of the keyboard, just because there aren’t many clear shots of the keyboard out there.

For the install, Windows 7 64-bit was used. For those without a Technet/MSDN subscription it’ll be available on Oct 22 2009. Until then feel free to use Vista 64-bit – the driver’s will be using are actually Vista x64 drivers anyway.

Warning: You should be fairly experienced when it comes to installing drivers from within Device Manager before continuing. If not, I’ve tried to explain driver installation thoroughly but you’re probably going to have a very difficult time if it’s something you’re not familiar with! If you think you may not be up to the task you may want to hire someone who’s done this sort of thing before.

Installing Win 7 x64

1) First of all, you’re going to want to create factory restore disks from the default Vista installation on the GT735. It should ask you to create them when you first start the machine, although there’s also a link on the desktop to do so as well. It would be a good idea to make a couple copies in case a disk gets scratched. This is very important! If things don’t quite work out (or if you decide to sell your computer in the future), it may be your only way to get things back to factory!

2) Next, pop in your Windows 7 x64 install DVD and restart the computer. It’ll ask you to press a key to boot from the CD/DVD. Do it.

3) The install’s very straightforward EXCEPT for choosing a hard drive / partition to install on.

There are 3 partitions…

You want to go into the advanced options and delete / erase the 3rd partition shown (the largest – around 250GB). Note that this will erase anything you may have installed/saved.

Next you can optionally delete the 2nd partion (the 2nd largest – around 40GB). This contains the Windows installation. If you don’t delete it, a menu will come up every time you start the computer asking if you want to boot into Vista (your old install), or Windows 7 (your new install), and you’ll be able to access both drives from within Windows 7 (this is called dual-boot). If you delete it, Vista will be completely wiped, and you’ll simply have more free space for your new install of Windows 7.

Do not delete the 1st partion (Recovery Partition – about 8GB). I repeat, DO NOT delete the first partition. This partition is like your newly-burned factory restore disks. It uses very little space, you’ll probably never see it, and it makes it as easy as pressing/holding the F3 key during startup to restore everything back to factory. If you decide to erase it, you can still use your recovery disks to restore to factory, but if your drive has any hiccups by that time or if the disks have degraded, you’re only option to restore to factory will be to contact MSI and hope they take some mercy on you by sending some disks. Again, don’t delete it!

In any case, regardless of which partition(s) you erased, you should now have an empty/unused partition with a lot of free space – somewhere in the neighbourhood of 250-300GB. Choose that partition, and continue the install.

4) Once the install’s completed, and you’ve set everything up, it’s time for the drivers.

The key thing to note is that while MSI does not have 64-bit drivers available on the website, they DO have the 64-bit drivers on the driver CD. The drivers are a little hidden away, but they’re there. You’ll find them deep within the Vista32 folder on the CD. For example, E:Vista32JMirco CardReaderDriveramd64 contains the 64-bit drivers for the JMicro Card Reader. Others are similar, you’re simply looking for amd64 or Vista64 at the end. If you’re a Guru when it comes to this stuff, you can probably figure out the rest on your own in which case, stop reading and have a nice day! Otherwise, continue on.

A note for those who are new to Device Manager. To get to it, the easiest way is to click the Start button and then type “device manager” (no quotes). Then click on the result, a warning should pop up, and then you should be in Device Manager. To update a driver, you’ll be looking for the device, right-clicking on it, and choosing “Update Driver Software”. In the following section when I say to go to Device Manager, that’s how you do it. AGAIN, IF YOU’RE NOT COMFORTABLE IN DEVICE MANAGER, YOU MAY WANT TO GET SOMEBODY ELSE TO HELP YOU!

5) The first hiccup is that the wireless drivers included with Windows 7 won’t work, even when you press the “wireless” icon on the MSI GT 735 o light it up (above the keyboard – looks like a little satellite dish). UPDATE: If you make sure the wireless is turned on during install (light lit up), the drivers will be installed during Windows installation and the wireless will work fine. You can then skip the steps below.
-If you have a wired connection, simply plug it in to the laptop and then connect to Windows Update. It’s got a new, working wireless driver it’ll install.
-If you do NOT have a wired connection, you’ll have to pop into Device Manger, find the wireless controller under “Network adapters”, update the driver, and BROWSE/LET ME PICK FROM A LIST for it. You then choose “Have Disk”, browse to Vista32/WirelessLAN on the CD, and it becomes a guessing game from here. Depending on what adapter MSI installed, it’ll either be in AW-GE780/ndis5x64 or in MSI6890/x64 . For me it was the MSI6890/x64 and it was the one with 1T2R in the name after choosing “Open/OK”.

Make sure the wireless icon is lit up above your keyboard (press it if not to enable it) and connect to the wireless network to make sure it’s working – if it isn’t, you may have to try another driver.

6) Next is simply finding drivers for all the “Unknown Devices” in Device Manager. This is much easier.

-Right click an Unknown Device and choose “Update Driver Software”
-Choose “Browse my computer for driver software” (2nd option)
-Browse to the Vista32 folder on your CD (for example E:Vista32). Make sure “Include Subfolders” has a checkmark in the box, and then hit “Next”.
-It should search the CD and find drivers.

Do the above for EACH unknown device. Simple! You may want to go to ATI/AMD’s website to get the latest video card drivers (particularly if you play games), but everything should be at least working by this point.

Drivers are now done!

7a) Last thing left is the “extra” stuff. You’ll notice the Eco and Turbo buttons aren’t doing anything right now. The MSI System Control Manager has to be installed for this to work. If you don’t plan to use those buttons, you can stop here. Otherwise, you’ll have to grab the program from MSI’s website, as the version on the driver CD does not work. Head to MSI’s website, find the MSI735, and go to the Download/Utilities section. Right now, they don’t have a 64-bit version offered, but the newest 32-bit one they have happens to work on 64-bit Windows 7 anyway. Simply download, install, restart computer and your buttons should be functional.

7b) Dolby Control Center’s on the driver CD, but it doesn’t work in 64-bit. It doesn’t appear to be in the stock installation, but if it’s something you want/need, I’m afraid I haven’t been able to find a working versionn out there.

7c)  The Webcam viewer/recorder is next.  It’s optional – unless you want to record short audio-less clips of yourself on the cam, you probably won’t need/use it. You can simply install from the CD since it’s just an application (not a driver), and doesn’t care if it’s running under 32 or 64 bit. You’ll find it at E:APVISTA32Simple Camera (where E is your CD/DVD drive). Don’t forget to turn the Webcam on before running the program itself! To turn it on, it’s the button/light above the keyboard to the right of the “Turbo” button.

7d) There’s no need to bother with the other programs on the driver CD.

  • The version of AdobeReader on the CD is old (grab the newest from Adobe’s website).
  • 7zip is both free and superior to Corel Winzip & WinRAR.
  • Norton Internet Security’s a little bloated, and it’s only the 60 day trial. Avast! or AVG are good free anti-virus solutions, or, if you’re looking for a full anti-virus/firewall suite you should check out Kaspersky (though it’s not free).
  • The other programs (Dolby Control Center, SCM, and Simple Camera) you already have if you did the steps in 7a-c.

7e) There are other programs installed by default from factory, but they’re not included on the driver CD.

 


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That’s it! If you have comments/questions/suggestions, or found an easier way to get everything working under Windows 7 (or Vista) 64-bit, feel free to leave a comment below!