MSI GT70 Dominator assessment: every part it is presupposed to be, not a lot else

MSI GT70 Dominator review: everything it's supposed to be, not much else

Skinny and lightweight gaming notebooks could also be a brand new development, however they’re by and enormous the exception. Conventional gaming rigs look extra like MSI’s GT70 Dominator: giant, heavy and questionably moveable. It is an previous-faculty gaming laptop computer, one that really matches the time period “desktop alternative.” It is also the entire antithesis to the modern gaming notebooks which have swept the market in recent times. Is greater nonetheless higher? Let’s discover out.

eighty
MSI

GT70 Dominator

Execs

  • Extraordinarily highly effective
  • Nice audio system
  • Good mouse and keyboard 

Cons

  • Cumbersome and hulking
  • Brief battery life 

Abstract

The GT70 Dominator is every thing it guarantees to be: quick, highly effective and a real desktop alternative. However the one factor that units it aside from final yr’s mannequin is its new GPU.

Appear and feel

MSI GT70 Dominator review: everything it's supposed to be, not much else

Some issues by no means change: struggle, the protagonist of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Freebird” and the chassis of MSI’s GT70 Dominator. For those who’ve seen final yr’s GT70, you’ve got seen this yr’s mannequin too. Weighing in at eight.6 kilos and measuring sixteen.eighty five inches lengthy x eleven.34 inches vast and a couple of.17 inches thick, it is undeniably large. And it is presupposed to be — the Dominator is constructed for energy (extra on that quickly), not portability. That stated, the rig’s monumental body feels a bit much less forgivable each time I see it.

It is true that probably the most highly effective gaming machines want to be bigger than life to help their excessive-efficiency internals, however issues of reality do not make these units really feel any much less unwieldy. Pitted towards the Razer Blade or MSI’s personal GS60 Ghost, the GT70’s measurement is somewhat off-placing. These slimmer notebooks cannot rival the GT70 in efficiency, in fact, however I can not assist marvel if Moore’s Regulation might have helped slim the beast down just a bit. Then again, there’s an previous adage at play that is arduous to argue with: If it ain’t broke, do not repair it.

The additional room afforded by the GT70’s outsized chassis is the very factor that grants it an expensive, full-sized keyboard, two stellar stereo audio system (with a subwoofer!), a six-motion media bar and a beneficiant assortment of ports, plugs and connectivity choices. Particularly, it has three USB three.zero ports, 4 audio jacks and a multi-format card reader operating down the left aspect; two USB 2.zero plugs and an optical drive on the appropriate; and Ethernet, VGA, HDMI and Mini DisplayPort connectors on the again edge. Like I stated, it is virtually similar to final yr’s mannequin.

Keyboard and trackpad

MSI GT70 Dominator review: everything it's supposed to be, not much else

The GT70’s keyboard and mouse inputs have not modified a lot both, however that does not imply they have not improved. The laptop computer’s island-type keys are the identical properly-spaced, barely concave squares featured on the final two incarnations of the Dominator, besides now they’re backed by a extra superior software program suite: the SteelSeries Engine. It is the identical software program that made the GS60 Ghost’s keyboard extra versatile than your common typewriter, and it is no much less spectacular right here: It may possibly assign complicated macros, remap any key perform to some other key perform and even analyze what keys you employ probably the most. It controls the keyboard’s backlight, too, which could be colour-coordinated to determine customized profiles. General, it is a minor change, however large enough to make the brand new GT70’s keyboard barely higher than the technically equivalent enter we discovered on final yr’s mannequin. That is not a nasty factor, both: The GT70’s SteelSeries keyboard nonetheless feels nice.

No surprises disguise underneath the Dominator’s mouser, although: It is the identical trackpad MSI’s GT70 has had for years — not that there is something mistaken with that. It is nonetheless a nicely-sized, flippantly textured contact floor with giant buttons that reply with a satisfying “pop.” It isn’t a singular or spectacular mousepad, nevertheless it’s a great one nonetheless. There is not a lot else to say.

Show and audio

MSI GT70 Dominator review: everything it's supposed to be, not much else

MSI’s GT70 is large, it is true, however a minimum of it makes probably the most of its gargantuan measurement. The machine’s monumental chassis is topped with a 17-inch, 1,920 x 1,080 LED show panel. This stunningly giant show virtually justifies the machine’s measurement, providing a view into your digital world that simply cannot be matched by lighter laptops. Video games, films and net content material look nice on the colourful show, however it is not good — colours and distinction are likely to fade at sharper viewing angles, notably these of the vertical persuasion. Nonetheless, that is according to final yr’s GT70 show: It is nice, so long as you take a look at it head-on.

There’s nothing to complain about in terms of the Dominator’s sound: Its Dynaudio-sourced audio system are loud, clear and wonderful. The GT70’s audio has all the time been among the many greatest I’ve heard on a gaming rig, and that hasn’t modified. That stated, they do carry the identical caveat as they all the time have: Half of their wonderful output comes from the machine’s Sound Blaster Cinema software program. Disabling the equalizer provides the drivers a extra muted, duller sound — however the software program is enabled by default. You must attempt to make these audio system sound dangerous.

Efficiency and battery life

PCMark7 PCMark Vantage 3DMark06 3DMark11 ATTO (prime disk speeds) GT70 Dominator (2.7GHz Core i7-4800MQ CPU, NVIDIA GTX 880M 8GB) 6,308 23,431 27,775

E11,433 / P8,344 / X2,877

1.four GB/s (reads); 498 MB/s (writes) Razer Blade 14-inch (2.2GHz Core i7-4702HQ, NVIDIA GTX 870M 3GB) 5,664 19,994 24,255

E9,533 / P6,541 / X2,236

542 MB/s (reads); 257 MB/s (writes) MSI GS60 Ghost (2.4GHz Core i7-4700HQ, NVIDIA GTX 860M 2GB) 5,909 22,602 22,898

E7,908, / P5,152 / X1,519

537 MB/s (reads); 495 MB/s (writes) Alienware 14 (2.4GHz Core i7-4700MQ, NVIDIA GTX 765M 2GB) 5,310 21,502 20,868

E6,529 / P4,211

507 MB/s (reads); 418 MB/s (writes) Alienware 17 (2.7GHz Core i7-4800MQ, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M 4GB) 5,647 22,114 27,137

E10,638 / P7,246

509 MB/s (reads); 420 MB/s (writes) Digital Storm Veloce (2.7GHz Core i7-4800MQ, GeForce GTX 765M 2GB) 6,107 21,379 20,340

E6,696 / P4,353

506 MB/s (reads); 196 MB/s (writes) 2013 Razer Blade 14-inch (2.2GHz Core i7-4702HQ, GeForce GTX 765M) 5,837 19,505 19,815

E6,364 / P4,161

546 MB/s (reads); 253 MB/s (writes) MSI GT70 Dragon Version (2013) (2.4GHz Core i7-4700MQ, GeForce GTX 780M) 6,111 20,250 N/A

E10,519 / P7,416

1.19 GB/s (reads); 806 MB/s (writes) Razer Edge Professional (1.9GHz Core i7-3517U, NVIDIA GT 640M LE 2GB) four,949 thirteen,536 10,260

E2,507 / P1,576

409 MB/s (reads); 496 MB/s (writes) Samsung Collection 7 Gamer (2.30GHz Core i7-3610QM, GeForce GTX 675M) N/A eleven,515 21,131

N/A

N/A

The GT70’s chassis is cumbersome, ugly and completely monumental, however inside that body — oh boy. An Intel Core i7-4800MQ CPU, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 880M graphics and 32GB of RAM lurk beneath the machine’s thick pores and skin. MSI affectionately calls it “the Dominator,” and it definitely conquered every thing I threw at it. The GT70 hardly flinched at excessive-efficiency video games like Crysis three or The Witcher 2, operating each at extremely excessive graphics settings (with ubersampling disabled within the latter title) at forty and sixty two frames per second, respectively. The mechanized warfare of Titanfall pushed eighty fps at most constancy, adopted intently by BioShock Infinite’s theocratic skyscape, which shined at seventy six fps. Operating at fifty eight fps, the darker streets of Thief took slightly extra out of the machine, however there wasn’t a single title in my library that the Dominator could not gown to the nines.

MSI GT70 Dominator review: everything it's supposed to be, not much else

Nonetheless, wanting good is not straightforward: The Dominator grunts beneath the pressure of its efficiency, and burns with the warmth of a taxed graphics processor. Benchmarking video games from my sofa was an initially painful expertise — a minimum of till I remembered MSI’s cooler increase function. A delicate button on the laptop computer’s media bar switches its inner followers into overdrive; the function is horrendously loud, however it’s completely essential. Flip it on for those who do not need to mild your pants on hearth.

Battery life

MSI GT70 Dominator (2014) three:21 Razer Blade 14-inch 6:24 MSI GT70 Dragon Version four:34 Razer Blade (2014) four:27 Razer Edge Professional three:forty Razer Blade 2.zero three:29 MSI GS60 Ghost three:thirteen Alienware 14 three:07 Alienware 17 2:fifty five Digital Storm Veloce 2:fifty three MSI GT70 2:forty nine MSI GT683DXR 2:forty Samsung Collection 7 Gamer 2:eleven 2011 Sony VAIO F Collection 2:07 Qosmio X775-3DV78 1:26

Sadly, screaming efficiency all the time comes at a worth, and that toll is often paid in longevity. MSI’s newest GT70 lasted a mere three and a half hours in our normal battery check, which includes looping a video at fastened brightness with WiFi on. It isn’t the worst runtime I’ve seen on a 17-inch gaming PC, however final yr’s mannequin lasted about an hour longer on the identical activity. I hate to see efficiency get worse yr over yr.

Software program

MSI GT70 Dominator review: everything it's supposed to be, not much else

Open virtually any new gaming laptop computer, and you will find the identical factor: Norton Web Safety and NVIDIA’s GeForce Expertise software program. Naturally, they’re put in on MSI’s GT70 too, however the laptop computer’s different software program bundles are rather less anticipated. This principally consists of redundant MSI-branded settings managers and the aforementioned SteelSeries keyboard engine suite, however what actually caught me off guard lurked on the Home windows eight Begin Display: Wild Tangent. This model of packaged video games has been round for ages, nevertheless it’s not a platform favored by the goal market right here. Hidden away within the OS’ new UI, it is inoffensive and straightforward to disregard, nevertheless it’s nonetheless bizarre: No one is shopping for this laptop computer to play Fb-high quality mini-video games. MSI has additionally included a six-month trial of XSplit Gamecaster too, a boon for players who need to be a part of the Twitch streaming revolution.

Configuration choices and the competitors MSI GT70 Dominator review: everything it's supposed to be, not much else

The assessment mannequin MSI lent me is not low cost, nevertheless it nonetheless is not probably the most highly effective configuration obtainable. Operating a 2.7GHz (three.7GHz with Turbo Increase) Intel Core i7-4800MQ CPU with NVIDIA GeForce GTX 880M graphics, 32GB of RAM, a 1TB HDD and three 128GB SSDs in RAID zero configuration, the $2,800 machine is not any slacker — however players who demand the greatest obtainable specs have choices. For an additional $1,300, MSI will swap out that Core i7-4800MQ for an Intel Core i7-4930MX and… properly, that is it. Each different specification stays the identical. It looks like a minor change for the worth, however the granular variations are vital: the brand new processor idles at three.0GHz, and may attain three.9GHz with Turbo Increase. For those who’re dying to future-proof your subsequent behemoth laptop computer, you go forward and pay for it — MSI will reward you with an pair of headphones, a mouse and a backpack for the additional money.

Looking for out the baseline mannequin will save $800, however it replaces the graphics processor with a much less highly effective GTX 870M and cuts the machine’s RAM to 16GB. The baseline mannequin solely has a single SSD too, slicing again the primary drive’s space for storing considerably. Trimming the RAM in half once more and tossing out that last SSD (leaving you with simply the 1TB HDD) will prevent a further $500.

Love the thought of a 17-inch gaming monster with the above specs, however aren’t into MSI? You’ve got acquired an issue: NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 880M simply is not in that many giant-measurement gaming notebooks — no less than not with matching specs. The Alienware 17 passes over the GPU in all however its costliest mannequin, pairing it with an Intel Core i7-4940MX processor and 32GB of RAM for $four,049. Digital Storm’s Behemoth laptop computer options the GPU in any respect worth factors (and in twin-GPU configurations in some builds), however falls in need of the Dominator’s 32GB RAM capability by maxing out at 16GB. The 17-inch class simply is not that numerous — players in search of extra choices should accept a smaller display.

Wrap-up

MSI GT70 Dominator review: everything it's supposed to be, not much else

MSI’s GT70 Dominator is the whole lot a 17-inch gaming laptop computer is meant to be, nevertheless it’s nothing extra than that. It is a powerhouse in each sense of the phrase: a monster in each efficiency and measurement. Positive, it shrugged off every thing I threw at it, however so did final yr’s construct. It is a low-danger machine, a mere spec improve on a earlier mannequin. There’s nothing improper with that, however the world of gaming laptops is slowly evolving. In a market the place skinny, highly effective and lovely gaming portables exist, MSI’s GT70 is decidedly previous-faculty.

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<a href=”http://www.engadget.com/merchandise/msi/gt70/”> MSI GT70 </a>

  • Key specs
  • <a href=”http://www.engadget.com/merchandise/msi/gt70/” title=”MSI GT70 evaluations” goal=”_blank”> Critiques four </a>
  • Costs
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  • Sort Gaming
  • Display measurement 17 inches
  • Display decision 1920 x 1080
  • Bundled OS Home windows (7)
  • Processor velocity 2.three GHz
  • System RAM 12 GB
  • Dimensions 2.17 x sixteen.eighty five x eleven.34 in
  • Weight eight.6 lb

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eight.5common consumer score
  • Velocity and options 10
  • Design and type issue eight
  • Battery life 7
  • Show 9
  • Sturdiness eight.5
  • Expandability 9.5
  • Noise 6.5
  • Portability (measurement / weight) four.5

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