MSI GT72 Dominator evaluation: a worthy successor to an excellent gaming pocket book

MSI GT72 Dominator review: a worthy successor to a great gaming notebook

The final time I noticed MSI’s Dominator laptop computer, I used to be sick of it. There wasn’t something mistaken with it, however on the time, the product identify belonged to the GT70: a powerhouse gaming machine that hasn’t advanced a lot since its introduction in 2012. Again then, I beloved the machine’s heavy chassis, excellent keyboard and wonderful sound — however over time, the machine’s aesthetic trappings started to bore me. Somebody at MSI should have felt the identical method: Earlier this yr, the corporate launched the GT72, a brand new Dominator with an entire new design. Quickly after, it relaunched the machine with NVIDIA’s newest graphics structure. OK, MSI, let’s examine if you can also make me fall in love once more.

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MSI GT72 Assessment

eighty five
MSI

GT72 Dominator

Execs

  • New, improved design
  • Screaming recreation efficiency
  • Nice audio system, keyboard and show
  • Respectable battery life (with GPU switching)

Cons

  • Annoying trial software program pack-ins
  • Trackpad has no tactile boundaries

Abstract

The GT72 take every thing that was nice about its predecessor and wraps it into a brand new, extra engaging package deal. The result’s a properly-constructed, ridiculously highly effective gaming rig that lives as much as the "Dominator" identify. 

Feel and appear

MSI GT72 Dominator review: a worthy successor to a great gaming notebook

On a conceptual degree, the brand new Dominator is not all that totally different from its predecessors: It nonetheless options a big 17-inch show and a large, heavy chassis, plus sufficient energy to make the typical gaming laptop computer blush. Nonetheless, its design feels much less dated. It is a research in matte black aluminum with few visible thrives. The entrance edge (and the highest of the display lid) involves a large-pointed peak with pink accents and a delicate crimson paint friends out from behind the speaker grille. LED lighting behind the keyboard provides somewhat non-compulsory shade, however general the Dominator does not overdo it within the aesthetics division, and that is a superb factor.

The GT72 nonetheless matches the overbearing profile of a 17-inch gaming laptop computer, however it’s a little smaller than the earlier Dominator. The brand new design’s sixteen.eighty five x eleven.fifty seven x 1.89-inch body is noticeably thinner than the GT70’s 2.17-inch chassis. It nonetheless weighs a strong eight.33 kilos, however no less than it makes good use of its measurement: 4 USB three.zero ports run down the left aspect of its body, accompanied by a quartet of audio jacks and an SD card reader. Two extra USB connections and an optical drive reside on the fitting fringe of the machine, adopted by all the opposite regular suspects on the rear: an influence adapter, Ethernet jack, HDMI output and two DisplayPort plugs, simply in case you need to rock a 3-monitor setup.

MSI’s unique Dominator featured a parade of bodily media keys that lived simply north of the keyboard. This switchboard went by way of a handful of overhauls because the years went on, crowding the sting of the chassis with WiFi toggles, disc-eject buttons, brightness controls and different pointless redundancies. The GT72’s management deck is easier. 5 buttons run down the left fringe of the machine’s keyboard, they usually’re all helpful. There is a energy key, in fact, but in addition a button that switches between discrete and built-in graphics (this requires a reboot); a “cooler increase” fan overdrive mode; a shortcut that launches the Dominator’s recreation-streaming software program; and a keyboard backlight toggle.

Keyboard and trackpad

MSI GT72 Dominator review: a worthy successor to a great gaming notebook

Talking of the keyboard, I am pleased to report that MSI continues to be utilizing SteelSeries to energy its backlit keys. It is a bodily satisfying keyboard, with easy, island-type key caps that fall with a brief, however smooth melancholy. Even so, most of its magic occurs behind the scenes. The included SteelSeries Engine software program suite permits the consumer to create customized macros, after which program these macros to any button on the keyboard’s floor, successfully making it a one hundred pc reprogrammable typewriter. You may also customise the backlight with numerous shade mixtures and even create statistical stories that spotlight which keys are used most steadily throughout a timed play session. Helpful options if you would like them, however invisible in the event you do not. I can not ask for rather more.

Technically talking, there is not something incorrect with the GT72’s touchpad. Its giant, clean floor precisely reads my finger’s actions and interprets them into the precise on-display motion I meant to execute. Its bodily buttons depress with a satisfying, tactile response. The pad’s boundaries are outlined by a skinny LED glow that properly matches the backlight of the machine’s keyboard — however nonetheless, I do not prefer it. It is a problem of type versus perform. Whereas technically useful, visually interesting and objectively advantageous, the Dominator’s pad is inconceivable to find by really feel alone. It isn’t simply flush with the palm relaxation; its floor is the floor of the palm relaxation. I by chance dragged my finger off of the contact floor on a number of events whereas utilizing the Dominator, and it was irritating each single time.

Show and audio

MSI GT72 Dominator review: a worthy successor to a great gaming notebook

Giant, beautiful shows are the saving grace of most outsized gaming laptops, and the Dominator has by no means been an exception to that rule. The GT72’s display is a robust LCD with few caveats. Sharp visuals and vibrant colours are the usual right here. Video games look nice; Blu-ray discs are a pleasure to observe; and there is little or no to complain about. If I have been to nitpick, I might say that it loses distinction when you view it from harsh, impractically low angles, however that is true of most shows.

The Dominator collection has a historical past of providing nice audio, and that custom lives on with the GT72. Like its predecessors, this machine boasts Dynaudio audio system and, as all the time, they sound nice. Loud, clear sound pumps from the laptop computer’s speaker bar. It is among the many greatest audio you will get on a laptop computer with out plugging in a pair of headphones. The machine’s sound is augmented by Sound Blaster Cinema software program as properly, with distinct modes for gaming, music, cinema and voice. That stated, you will not want to the touch it: The GT72’s equalizer just about manages itself.

Efficiency and battery life

PCMark7 PCMark Vantage 3DMark06 3DMark11 ATTO (prime disk speeds) GT72 Dominator (2.5GHz Core i7-4710HQ CPU, NVIDIA GTX 980M 8GB) 6,319 21,593 29,707

E13,867 / P10,734 / X4,203

533 MB/s (reads); 323 MB/s (writes) ASUS ROG G751 (2.5GHz Core i7-4710HQ CPU, NVIDIA GTX 980M 4GB) 6,191 23,861 29,752

E14,516 / P11,304 / X4,304

1.06 GB/s (reads); 775 MB/s (writes) 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)

To date, we have seen that the GT72 has stayed in line with each different machine that bears the identify “Dominator”: It has nice audio chops, a cushty keyboard, strong construct high quality and a display worthy of just about any media you’d need to watch on it. Is it ridiculously highly effective, too? In fact it’s.

The spec listing for my $2,four hundred evaluate unit is virtually a cheat sheet for constructing an overwhelmingly highly effective cellular gaming rig: a 2.5GHz (three.5GHz with Turbo Increase) Intel Core i7-4710HQ CPU, 16GB of DDR3L RAM, a 128GB boot drive, a second 1TB drive for recreation installs and NVIDIA’s newest GPU — an 8GB GeForce GTX 980M. It isn’t even MSI’s most tricked-out configuration, however it’s shut — and has greater than sufficient energy to shrug off something my recreation library might throw at it.

Fancy your self a spherical of Battlefield four? You will be clocking over one hundred frames per second on extremely excessive visible settings in case you flip V-Sync off. Extra of a Name of Obligation fan? No drawback: Superior Warfare runs at a gentle eighty one fps on “additional” element with 2x supersampling enabled. Not every little thing I performed pushed triple digits, however I could not discover a single recreation that did not run at a good clip. Maxing out the visuals in Titanfall will run the sport at forty four fps, however you possibly can simply kick that above 60 fps by tweaking the anti-aliasing settings. The Witcher 2, in the meantime, racked up 38 fps on extremely with Ubersampling enabled (and ninety fps with out). The one recreation that stuttered was Ryse, which truly ran at fifty seven fps on its most default settings, however typically fell into the low 20s with supersampling turned on.

MSI GT72 Dominator review: a worthy successor to a great gaming notebook

This type of efficiency often turns laptops into PC gaming hotplates, however the GT72 truly stays pretty cool beneath strain. It took virtually 20 minutes of quick-paced multiplayer motion earlier than I felt the warmth of the Dominator’s body on my lap, and it by no means reached the purpose the place I used to be uncomfortable. Turning the machine’s “cooler increase” perform on will kick its inner followers into overdrive and drive the temperature down a bit additional, too. I by no means reached some extent the place I wanted to make use of this function, however I typically did anyway: A cool laptop computer is a cheerful laptop computer.

Battery life

MSI GT72 Dominator

three:09 (discrete GPU)

four:38 (built-in GPU)

Razer Blade 14-inch 6:24 MSI GT70 Dragon Version four:34 Razer Blade (2014) four:27 Razer Edge Professional three:forty ASUS ROG G751 three:forty Razer Blade 2.zero three:29 MSI GT70 Dominator (2014) three:21 MSI GS60 Ghost three:thirteen Alienware 14 three:07 Alienware 17 2:fifty five

At first blush, the GT72 Dominator Professional appears to have brief run time: Our normal video-looping check drained the battery in simply three hours. That is a mediocre displaying for a excessive-finish gaming laptop computer with a beefy GPU — and never almost sufficient to justify utilizing the rig greater than six ft away from a wall outlet. Fortuitously, higher battery life is only a reboot away: Urgent the Dominator’s devoted GPU-change button (on the left) places an built-in Intel HD Graphics 4600 answerable for visuals. It will not be capable of play video games till you turn again to the discrete NVIDIA GPU, however now the machine can run for over 4 and a half hours unplugged. Good for net shopping and common computing duties.

Software program

MSI GT72 Dominator review: a worthy successor to a great gaming notebook

There’s nothing higher than booting up a brand new laptop computer to a clean, unmolested set up of Home windows. It is satisfying — no bloatware, no trial software program to uninstall and no rubbish apps — however it’s not an expertise you will get with the GT72 Dominator. The machine definitely is not the worst offender when it comes to pack-in software program, however an commercial to activate (learn: buy) Norton Safety will by no means be the very first thing I need to see once I begin a brand new machine for the primary time (and no, Norton, I do not actually need to get my “Norton Toolbar” again both).

A lot of the software program right here is not too dangerous. NVIDIA’s GeForce Expertise is of course put in as a part of the GPU’s software program suite and there are purposes for controlling the keyboard backlight, macro keys and an MSI-sourced app to trace system efficiency, temperature and hotkeys. There’s additionally a six-month trial of XSplit Gamecaster. Usually, a recreation-streaming trial would not hassle me, however the GT72 has a hardware button devoted to that trial software program. When you do not buy it, that button loses its utility. That is terrible.

Configuration choices and the competitors

MSI GT72 Dominator review: a worthy successor to a great gaming notebook

The $2,four hundred GT72 2QE I am reviewing right here (Intel Core i7-4710HQ, NVIDIA GTX 980M graphics and 16GB of RAM) is not the costliest Dominator MSI provides, nevertheless it’s not that totally different from the product’s larger-finish configurations both. Including $250 will rating you a further 8GB of RAM and a pair of 128GB SSDs organized in a RAID zero configuration (that is 256GB of mixed area). One other $350 (for a complete worth of $three,000) will double that SSD boot disc once more and convey you to 32GB of RAM.

In case you’re on the lookout for slightly extra energy or a barely smaller price ticket, you’ve got obtained choices there too: MSI sells a $three,four hundred variant with a 2.8GHz Intel Core i7-4980HQ CPU, and can improve the SSD storage to a full terabyte for a further $500. Alternatively, you can pay as little as $2,000 for a Dominator extra intently matching our assessment unit, however you will need to accept a downgraded 6GB NVIDIA GTX 970M GPU and solely 12GB of RAM. Nonetheless not what you need? Search round: Websites like iBuyPower can tweak and customise the rig past MSI’s inventory configurations.

As all the time, there are many various PC gaming powerhouses out there if you understand the place to look. People into MSI, however not bought on the GT72’s new chassis might need to take a look at the GS60 Ghost — it may be constructed to match the GT72’s decrease-finish configuration in each worth and specs, however is by some means lower than an inch thick. Final yr’s Dominator is perhaps a compelling choice too: The GT70’s design could also be outdated and its internals might symbolize the most effective of final yr, however it’ll nonetheless run virtually something you throw at it (and price tons of much less, in addition).

In search of NVIDIA’s newest GPU from a unique manufacture? It may be achieved, however you will should stroll off the crushed path. GTX GeForce 970M and 980M outfitted-laptops might be had from Maingear, AVADirect, Gigabyte and Digital Storm in dozens of configurations — from the modestly priced $1,600 Clevo P150SM-A to Digital Storm’s $four,021 Behemoth. In case you’re prepared to place in some leg work, there are many choices. If you would like my recommendation, although, check out the ASUS ROG G751: it is a shut match to the GT72 in each worth and specs (an Intel Core i7-4710HQ CPU, 32GB of DDR3 RAM, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M graphics with 4GB GDDR5 and a $2,499 price ticket), and contains a distinctive, stylish design.

Wrap-up

MSI GT72 Dominator review: a worthy successor to a great gaming notebook

Objectively, there was by no means something incorrect with the unique GT70 Dominator. Positive, I grew uninterested in its design, however it nonetheless featured prime-notch internals, wonderful audio system, a strong keyboard and an incredible display. The GT72 took all of these parts and wrapped them in a brand new pores and skin. Now, MSI has a brand new Dominator — one with higher warmth distribution, a (barely) thinner profile, notably higher battery life and, in fact, a recent, trendy design. It is a variety of little issues, and it is sufficient.

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<a href=”http://www.engadget.com/merchandise/msi/gt72/dominator/”> MSI GT72 Dominator </a>

  • Key specs
  • <a href=”http://www.engadget.com/merchandise/msi/gt72/dominator/” title=”MSI GT72 Dominator critiques” goal=”_blank”> Evaluations zero </a>
  • Costs
  • Discussions
  • Sort Gaming
  • Display measurement 17 inches
  • Display decision 1920 x 1080
  • Bundled OS Home windows
  • Pointing gadget Trackpad
  • Video outputs DisplayPort (Mini connector), HDMI
  • Introduced 2014-07-10

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