MSI GT70 review
17.3 in 1,920x1,080 display, 3.9kg, 2.3GHz Intel Core i7-3610QM, 16.00GB RAM, 1,250GB disk, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Gaming laptops often have excessive specifications, and MSI’s latest is no different. The GT70 has some of the fastest components we’ve ever seen crammed into a notebook chassis, including Nvidia’s new GTX 680M mobile graphics chip, but it also costs an eye-watering £2,300.
Naturally for a 17in gaming laptop, the GT70 is something of a giant. At 3.9kg, it'll only leave the house when you're on the way to a LAN party. The chassis is built from an awful lot of plastic considering how much the system costs, with only the lid and wrist rest made of brushed metal. The glowing MSI logo etched into the lid is a nice touch, and the chassis is generally quite restrained for a gaming laptop, even if some of its materials feel a little cheap.
As you would expect from the laptop's huge size, there are plenty of ports around the edges. Five USB ports, three of which are USB3, three 3.5mm audio jacks for 5.1 surround sound, a multi-format card reader, eSATA, HDMI and VGA outputs mean this laptop can rival some desktop PCs for connectivity. Even the network card has been designed for gaming – it’s a Killer NIC model, which can prioritise gaming traffic over voice communication or internet video.
When spending over £2000, you should expect some seriously powerful kit, and thankfully the GT70 doesn’t disappoint. The laptop is powered by a quad-core Intel i7-3610QM processor running at 2.3GHz and has a massive 16GB of RAM, so will be able to handle anything you could think to throw at it. MSI clearly didn’t think one 128GB SSD was fast enough, so it has installed two in a RAID 0 configuration for blistering file transfer speeds. There's also room for a 750GB mechanical hard disk for less speed-sensitive storage.
Our multimedia benchmarks proved no obstacle for the system, and it scored a desktop-matching 100 overall – putting it among the fastest laptops we’ve ever tested. The processor can use Turbo Boost to reach speeds up to 3GHz where the thermal envelope allows, and Hyper-threading to process eight separate threads at once, which made short work of our multi-threaded video encoding tests.
This alone is impressive, but the dedicated graphics card takes the GT70 to another level of performance. The GTX 680M is the fastest laptop GPU Nvidia has ever produced, coming equipped with 1,366 CUDA cores and 4GB of dedicated video memory. It didn’t even break a sweat in our 1,280 x 720 Dirt 3 test, where it managed an incredible 130.5fps. Even at our standard desktop settings of 1,920x1,080 with 4x anti-aliasing and Ultra detail, it still managed a silky smooth 70.3fps. Our ultra-demanding Crysis 2 test proved no match either, as the average frame rate of 36.5 at 1080p and Ultra detail shows. You'll have no trouble running even brand-new titles at the laptop's native resolution.
This power doesn’t come at the expense of battery life, as the GT70 managed an impressive four hours in our light-use battery test. This is hardly Ultrabook territory, but considering the laptop could loop our Crysis 2 benchmark for almost an hour and a half on battery power alone, you should be able to squeeze in some gaming when away from the mains.