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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  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, October 8, 2014 - link

    Older than that: This is Spinal Tap (

    "As you can see, these numbers all go up to eleven. That's one louder than ten...." :-)
  • WereCatf - Wednesday, October 8, 2014 - link

    Every time someone reviews these gaming laptops I wonder one thing: where are the laptops that are designed not to have an optical drive at all? I mean, you could certainly just leave the ODD out, but the chassis would still be designed with one in mind. What if I want a laptop with chassis that was not designed to hold an ODD at all and instead used the space for, say, better cooling?
  • sullrosh - Wednesday, October 8, 2014 - link

    just make the ODD removable and design an extra battery to fit in the slot.
  • WereCatf - Thursday, October 9, 2014 - link

    No. You'd still be wasting space on the support structures -- connectors and rails and whatnot -- plus the casing on the extra battery itself. It'd be more efficient to just skip the ODD-bay completely and simply make the main battery itself larger. Personally, when talking of gaming laptops I want good cooling-performance and skipping the ODD-bay would allow for designing airflow properly so that cool air goes in from one side and blows out the other side, all through the whole laptop. That's what I want, real, proper cooling in a gaming-laptop, without the totally useless ODD-bay at all.
  • danjw - Wednesday, October 8, 2014 - link

    What is going on with Broadwell. I was just looking around for a current time frame and all I saw was the Core M parts for tablets. Has Intel given up on Broadwell for more powerful systems?
  • Acarney - Wednesday, October 8, 2014 - link

    Is there anyway to get these graphic cards standalone? Was there any upgrade path in the retail chain? What's the connector for these and has there been any kind of hacked/modded cables for connecting these graphic cards to desktop motherboards? I think the potential for cooking this in a passive card (think HDplex) is higher then taking a desktop class board and trying to cool that. I know HDPlex has a new chassis about to be released that'll handle a 750Ti Maxwell part but this might be able to handle a 970M (if the rumored ~95w TDP is true and MAYBE even the 980M with a semi passive option; think one or two ~15dBa fans to move some air out of the chassis). Both these cards seem to out perform the 750Ti and probably would do even a little better matched with a desktop class i7 haswell. Could finally match or exceed Xbox1/PS4 class graphics with a box including the 970M or 980M & 100% passive for HTPC/DVR and ~15dBa semi passive when 1080p gaming...
  • Laststop311 - Thursday, October 9, 2014 - link

    Well When I upgraded my m18x r1 from radeon 6990 xfire to gtx 680m sli I ordered the gpu's from dell. You can buy the parts separately but they are not cheap at all. I paid 700 dollars each for my GTX 680m's when they first came out.

    The TDP claims are true and you need a MXM slot to install these dpu's they dont go into a regular pci-e slot but the tdp claims have tpo be true as MXM slots only provide for a max of 100 watt tdp.

    For this project idea you have be prepared to spend around 3000 when all is said and done and that's if you can even locate all the parts you would need. You would need to find a motherboard that supports desktop cpu's and MXM graphics cards. Like the boards used in some laptops that use full desktop cpu's. That specialized board will cost you big bucks. They use all laptop parts like so-dimms and mxm gpu's but have a regular desktop cpu socket. I believe clevo made laptops like this. The GTX 980m will probably cost 1000 dollars to buy as a standalone separate part from dell or such. So by the time you buy a proper case, the specialized mobo, the gpu, sodimm ram, tiny psu, cpu, storage, odd and whatever else you may be looking at even more than 3000. Is it really worth it just to have a silent htpc with extra potent gaming power?

    You do realize you can build a very quiet htpc with MSI gaming gtx 970 gpu and that fans don't even start spinning until the gpu hits 60C so when you are doing anything other than gaming the gpu fans don't come on and then even under light gaming it can turn on just 1 of the 2 fans and since it uses large 100mm fans they spin much slower. Check out the reviews the twin frozr V cooling system with 2x 100mm fans it is literally the quietest top end GPU ever. Even the GTX 980 is super quiet like 1db louder than gtx 970. And really since the fans don't even turn on except for gaming you have the silence you are looking for when you actually need it. You don't need pure silence when you are gaming as the noise from the gaming will far drown out the tiny fan noise. When you are watching movies or doing anything else you have silence.

    You can build this version of what you want far cheaper then trying to build this laptop gpu version. 100 dollar mitx board, 350 dollar gpu, 250 dollar cpu, 100 dollar ram, 75 dollar psu, 100 dollar case, 20 dollar ODD, storage varies depending on how much space you need but since you can use 2.5" drives pretty dirt cheap 230 dollars for 512GB or so. Add another 200 for top quality noctua case fans that are dead silent and a noctua cpu cooler with noctua heatsink fans that are also dead silent and you spend 1400 for something you are going to spend 3000 on doing it the convoluted way you describe. You can send me 800 dollars as a consultation fee and still be 800 cheaper
  • Laststop311 - Thursday, October 9, 2014 - link

    when i say large 100mm fans i mean relatively large as fans located on the gpu are typically 80mm or even smaller. 100mm size on the actual gpu is the largest size to date to come pre installed on a gpu.
  • rpanic - Wednesday, October 8, 2014 - link

    Got a MSI 17” barebones with 680m a few years ago, travel with it and have it on every day very happy with it and it was cheaper than anything else when the 680m came out. Very solid laptop if you don’t mind putting in your own OS, HD and CPU.
  • jdrch - Wednesday, October 8, 2014 - link

    With 2 mDP 1.2, an HDMI, and a GigE port, this thing is pretty much a dream engineering workstation. Compare that with HP's EliteBook line that has 1 DP port, or Dell's Precision line that has 1 DP and 1 HDMI.

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