MSI GT72 Dominator Pro: Performance Previewby Jarred Walton on October 8, 2014 9:00 AM EST
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).