MSI GT72: Unboxing and Initial Impressions

Since this is a preview, I figure starting out with unboxing is in order. Yeah, unboxing on AnandTech, but bear with me. I'll get to the notebook once it's unwrapped….

The packaging is typical MSI, with a mostly black box sporting the MSI and Dragon Army logos along with information on the specific configuration. The notebook actually ships in a box within a box within another box, and there's a moderate amount of padding around the notebook to help keep it safe during shipping. Within the main box, the notebook is protected from scratches by a nylon sleeve, and furthermore there's a plastic sheet protecting the top of the notebook with a cloth sheet (that can also work as a cloth for cleaning off dust) between the display and the keyboard. There's nothing too unusual to see with the packaging, so let's move on to the notebook itself.

Having tested and used the GT70 several times during the past year or more, I'm actually thrilled to see MSI finally update the GT70 with a newer chassis. While this is still a big notebook, it's noticeably slimmer than the GT70 and the keyboard and palm rest have been updated to look like a modern design. The touchpad in particular looks much nicer now, blending smoothly into the surface of the palm rest; there's no edge for you to feel when using the touchpad, but since most gamers will use a dedicated mouse I don't find this to be a serious concern.

As for the keyboard, it remains largely the same in terms of the keys, but gone is the glossy bezel surrounding those keys – hallelujah! The top of the chassis is also clean now, with no garish speakers or capacitive buttons for controlling multimedia, WiFi, fan speed, etc.; those controls are now to the left of the keyboard and they look far more discreet. My only remaining complaint is minor at best: I still want the Windows key to the left of the space bar; others probably disagree and it's easy enough to adapt, plus you can use the MSI Steel Series software to reprogram any key if you want (except for the Fn key, unfortunately).

There's only one real sore spot I have with the GT72: the display. It's a bit maddening to me that MSI now has the GS60 with either an AHVA (similar to IPS) 1920x1080 panel or an IPS 2880x1620, but the 17.3" GT72 still gets saddled with a TN panel. Where's the 3K or 4K treatment for the laptop that has the best chance of actually powering games at high DPI resolutions? Oh, this is probably about as good as TN panels get, but it's still TN and not something better. Part of the problem is that there really aren't many options for non-TN 17.3" displays, but I know Samsung at least has a PLS 1080p panel that could work. Hopefully in the coming year we'll see enough demand from notebook vendors in general that we start getting higher quality 17.3" panels.

Overall, the new GT72 chassis is a huge improvement in my book. It looks more like a beefed up version of the GS60/GS70, and the build quality is also good. In fact, the new GT72 almost looks like an Alienware M17x in some respects, though without so much of the angled front and back sides. This is still more of a desktop replacement than a laptop in my opinion, but compared to the competition (Alienware 17 and various Clevo notebooks), I think right now the MSI GT72 is the overall best looking high-end gaming notebook. It's also large enough and has sufficient cooling that it won't get uncomfortably hot in your lap, which is a problem with some of the slim gaming notebooks (e.g. Razer Blade and MSI's GS60/GS70).

Introducing the MSI GT72 Dominator Pro MSI GT72: Ultra Quality Gaming Performance
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  • dblkk - Wednesday, October 8, 2014 - link

    there have been several reviews done on this new chassis. MSI did the GT72 refresh with the same i7 4710 and gtx 880m. Thermals were lower than Asus, and even with similar chipped Dell.
    Without 'turbo fan' on, temps were well below throttling limits. With 'turbo fan' on, temps were incredibly low, fan noise incredibly high.

    The Gt70 has higher GPU temps/throttling with their single fan, but Asus has high/throttling CPU temps with their dual fan. For gaming the GT70 was still a beast even with throttling, but it wasn't the best ill admit. But for rendering/CPU intensive activities, the GT70 is actually one of the best.
  • Aionios - Wednesday, October 8, 2014 - link

    well the thermals are incredible here's a video of full review
  • Meaker10 - Wednesday, October 8, 2014 - link

    They are getting IPS displays in a month or two, 17.3" IPS have only starting to be made.

    Current models should be upgradable since they use a 30 pin eDP connector.
  • nathanddrews - Wednesday, October 8, 2014 - link

    Good to know. I recently tried to upgrade my wife's Lenovo only to discover it used a single-channel LVDS cable. No 1080p IPS for her.
  • Meaker10 - Wednesday, October 8, 2014 - link

    Also there is a 4980HQ version to launch too for those who want more CPU power. It wont be cheap however.
  • nathanddrews - Wednesday, October 8, 2014 - link

    Possible correction:

    Most of the charts are labeled "Ultra", but then underneath say "1920x1080 VeryHigh", except for the very last chart which says "1920x1080 Ultra". The same is true for the charts on "High".

    Overall, an impressive mGPU. Can it be configured with 1TB SSDs instead?
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, October 8, 2014 - link

    Thanks -- I forgot to change the subtitles on the copy/paste/edit when making the graphs. I've put in the settings used (as much as possible) now.

    As for larger SSDs, the top model comes with four 256GB SSDs in RAID 0, and the usual places that do custom MSI notebooks should allow you to swap out the 1TB HDD for a 1TB SSD.
  • Jambe - Wednesday, October 8, 2014 - link

    I don't need the throughput of RAID SSDs so I'm always left thinking these big laptops would be much more compelling with no M.2 at all and an accessible 2.5" bay. Nice high-cap SSDs are permanently around or below 40 cents per gig, so I just balk at the prices being asked.
  • Meaker10 - Wednesday, October 8, 2014 - link

    There are a variety of models out which can be customised to your needs.
  • bleh0 - Wednesday, October 8, 2014 - link

    I can't wait for a proper roundup of the various 980m equipped models.

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