MSI GE62 2QE Apache review
Processor: Quad-core 2.6GHz Intel Core i7-4720HQ, RAM: 8GB, Size: 383x260x27mm, Weight: 2.4kg, Screen size: 15.6in, Screen resolution: 1,920x1,080, Graphics adaptor: Nvidia GeForce GTX 965M, Total storage: 128GB SSD, 1TB Hard disk
MSI’s laptops have always had a major gaming focus, and in recent years have struck a great balance between price and performance. They've never been particularly pretty, though, preferring to let companies like Alienware put a premium on unique designs. The GE62 2QE Apache largely sticks to the same formula.
It’s not necessary a bad thing that design and build quality don’t venture far from the tried and tested, but the black brushed aluminium finish, red go-faster stripe and crimped lid don't have quite the same appeal they once did. It's not particularly thin or light, although we don't imagine this being a big priority for gamers that care more about frame rates than portability. 2.4kg is roughly what we’d expect from a gaming laptop at this price and specification.
Connectivity and day-to-day use
There's plenty of room at the sides for ports, and MSI has filled every last centimetre. There’s a DVD optical drive, USB port and SD card reader on the right side, and three USB3 ports, Gigabit Ethernet, DisplayPort and HDMI video outputs, and two 3.5mm audio jacks on the left. You also get 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0.
The SteelSeries-branded backlit keyboard has just the right amount of travel for gamers wanting a sharp response. The backlighting can be customised using the pre-installed SteelSeries Engine software, letting you change the colour and intensity of three separate zones. Gamers can also assign macros, although with no dedicated keys you'll need to sacrifice other keys or use combination commands to use them effectively. UK users might be a little upset by the half-height Return key, with the gigantic # key taking up somewhat more space than we'd like it to.
The touchpad, while perhaps rarely used on gaming laptops, is pretty poor. It has the same brushed aluminium texture as the wrist rest that surrounds it, which makes dragging your fingers around it uncomfortable. What's more, the Synaptics drivers aren't particularly good, meaning two-fingered gestures such as scrolling unresponsive and laggy. The positioning towards the left is odd too, as it gets in the way of the W, A, S and D keys commonly used by gamers. Thankfully you can disable the touchpad with a keyboard shortcut.
The capacious chassis leaves room for some powerful components, including a quad-core Intel Core i7-4720HQ processor clocked to 2.6GHz, 8GB of 1600MHz RAM, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 965M graphics chip and 128GB of M.2 flash storage for speedy file performance.
128GB isn't a huge amount of space, so you'll have to carefully manage the files you store on each drive. There’s room inside for three M.2 SSDs, although this model uses just one, paired with a more traditional 7,200RPM 1TB mechanical hard disk for bigger files. More expensive configurations can use three M.2 SSDs in RAID 2 for a capacity of up to 768GB, although this will see costs shooting up very quickly indeed. We measured performance in the AS SSD benchmark at 493MB/s for reading sequential files and 217MB/s for write speeds, which is speedy enough.
The processor has a whopping 47W thermal design power (TDP), meaning things get pretty heated when it's under load. Even with two fans, the cooling system has its work cut out when the processor is pushed hard and makes a fair racket as it ejects hot air through the rear vents.
Despite the heat and noise, performance is unsurprisingly impressive, producing scores that compare favourably with Core i5-powered desktop PCs. Single-core performance in our image rendering benchmark was excellent, with a score of 105 translating to responsive desktop application use and gaming performance. Video rendering was nearly as good, with a score of 93, while multitasking took a bit of a hit; playing Ultra HD video while converting video and images yielded a much lower, albeit still impressive, 73 for an overall score of 85.
The GTX 965M is paired with 2GB of GDDR5 RAM, and is very capable indeed, managing performance comparable to desktop GeForce GTX 750 Ti graphics cards. It managed a smooth 51.4fps in the Full HD Dirt Showdown benchmark, 20.1fps in Metro: Last Light Redux with SSAA switched on and a much more playable 39.6fps with SSAA turned off.
The Samsung PLS panel on this machine is great, and really lifts the Apache above its much cheaper rivals. With 92.7% coverage of the sRGB colour gamut, a big 911:1 contrast ratio and reasonable low 0.4cd/m2 black levels, images looked rich and colourful. Viewing angles were wide, too. We were able to see plenty of detail when navigating through the dank subways of Metro: Last Light Redux. It's also very bright at over 360cd/m2, which, combined with the anti-glare coating, means you should be able to game outside (although not in direct sunlight) if the mood takes you.
Battery life in our moderate usage test was just two hours, which is below average even for a high-power gaming laptop. Expect even less time unplugged when you're playing games.
The MSI GE62 2QE Apache is a well-specified gaming laptop with a great screen, although at its original £1100+ price, we weren't convinced it was good value. However, now that the cost of this machine has fallen by nearly £200, it's fantastic. It's easily comparable to the likes of the Scan 3XS Graphite LG157, which is only very slightly cheaper than the specification on test here. With its excellent screen and top-notch graphics performance, the MSI GE62 2QE Apache gets a Best Buy award.
|Processor||Quad-core 2.6GHz Intel Core i7-4720HQ|
|Memory slots (free)||2 (0)|
|Sound||Realtek HD Audio (3.5mm headset port)|
|Graphics adaptor||Nvidia GeForce GTX 965M|
|Graphics outputs||HDMI, Mini DisplayPort|
|Total storage||128GB SSD, 1TB Hard disk|
|Optical drive type||DVD-RW|
|Ports and expansion|
|USB ports||3x USB3, 1x USB|
|Networking||Wired, Wireless 802.11ac|
|Memory card reader||SD|
|Operating system||Windows 8.1|
|Operating system restore option||Restore partition|
|Parts and labour warranty||Two year RTB|
|Price inc VAT||£910|