It's true the iBuyPower Battalion M1771 (MSI GS70) cribs from Razer's playbook (in turn cribbing very liberally from Apple's), but it's also a smart choice on MSI's part. Even if you're not among the Apple devoted (and happily I'm not), it's difficult to find too much fault with Apple's industrial design on their notebooks. Lifting that, painting it black, and sticking it on a gaming notebook is a pretty solid plan, all things considered.

The GS70's chassis is all black brushed aluminum, and it's a fairly smart and sleek design. MSI says it's styled like a stealth fighter; however they want to qualify it, it's in the right direction. It's also actually ever so slightly smaller in every dimension than the Razer Blade Pro, and lighter too. This is no mean feat; Razer's engineering on the 2013 Blade Pro is pretty impressive in its own right. Given the near identical specs between the GS70 and the current Blade Pro, it's not hard to imagine this notebook as a torpedo aimed squarely at Razer.

Where the bag mixes is the keyboard and touchpad. The keyboard features subdued user-configurable RGB backlighting and has decent enough response if a little mushy and with poor travel (par for the course in a notebook this thin); while I don't like that MSI is continuing to use exactly the same chassis for international and North American notebooks and thus has a slightly awkward and fouled up keyboard layout, it's at least livable. I just wish they'd do a better job adapting the layout, since that's something that can be handled in software. Having Home and End shared with Page Up and Page Down is frustrating for people who do a lot of writing, especially when we have literally no use for Scroll Lock or Pause/Break.

The clickpad, while attractive with its silver aluminum trim, is nigh unusable. Response and traction are poor. This is something that could have and should have been a homerun; the Switchblade UI is a decent amount of the cost of the Razer Blade Pro and its placement on that notebook is awkward. If you're not a fan of it and wanted a more traditional keyboard and touchpad with a physical 10-key, MSI could've nailed it, but the poor quality touchpad could be enough to drive you back into the Switchblade's arms.

While MSI and iBuyPower don't expect you to crack open the GS70, it can be done with a modicum of patience. There are 17 screws on the bottom of the GS70 that have to be removed before you can take off the shell. You get a good idea of the smart internal layout, though; the fans intake air from the bottom and exhaust it out of the sides, cooling the GPU and CPU separately, and it's actually remarkably quiet given the dimensions of the notebook. MSI also makes effective use of internal real estate; by having moved the keyboard down slightly they placed all of the hotter components above it where they can get a little bit more headroom. The battery and 2.5" bay then live in the wrist rest, keeping it cool.

Introducing the iBuyPower Battalion M1771 (MSI GS70) System and Futuremark Performance
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  • xTRICKYxx - Monday, December 30, 2013 - link

    Is NVIDIA Optimus disabled? The battery life seems unusually bad. Reply
  • InvderSkoodge - Monday, January 6, 2014 - link

    I can confirm when I got my Battalion-m1771, that the Nvidia card was set to run everything, it is indicated by the power button glowing white when the Nvidia card is not being used, and red/orange when it is.

    I also wondered why battery was so bad when I got mine, but I fixed the problem, and yesterday got about 4-5 hours of moderate usage, low screen brightness wifi on.
    Reply
  • lukedaly - Thursday, October 9, 2014 - link

    It can be fixed. But either way, for a gaming laptop it stands no chance to ASUS ROG G750JM-DS71. /Luke from http://www.consumertop.com/best-laptop-guide/ Reply
  • IMMrLame - Monday, November 24, 2014 - link

    Yes but you can't really compare a backbreaking 4.2kg asus gaming laptop to a featherweight 2.5kg msi gaming laptop that honestly should have fallen under the ultrabook category with almost high-end gaming specs. Reply
  • skiboysteve - Monday, December 30, 2013 - link

    Xps 15 review in the pipeline? Reply
  • SavingPvtBryan - Monday, December 30, 2013 - link

    Seriously, are they ever going to review the Dell XPS 15? Reply
  • Try-Catch-Me - Tuesday, December 31, 2013 - link

    Also the 2013 rMBP. It's been way too long. These two devices seem to be very similar, so I want an in-depth comparison. Reply
  • nportelli - Tuesday, December 31, 2013 - link

    I have one and have been playing Batman games and Skyrim at highest detail and it plays great. Mind you I've not played a pc games in years before hand. But size, power and resolution, I have nothing to complain about. Reply
  • jwetmore - Monday, December 30, 2013 - link

    I've had the MSI version of this notebook for two months and for the most part couldn't be happier.

    That battery life does seem somewhat short of what I'm able to achieve. Is it possible you were stuck on the 765M while you were doing the battery life calculations? The power button should be amber when on the nVidia chip, and white when on the integrated Intel chip.

    On the Intel chip I can get about 4 hours if i lower the brightness a bit and just do light web browsing.
    Reply
  • nunomoreira10 - Monday, December 30, 2013 - link

    The gtx 765m should consume about the same as the i7 yet the cpu is 30º hotter with similar heatsinks.
    Intel sould also focus on increasing heat transfer efficiency from the cpu to the heatsink, its practically impossible to have the cpu under 80º nowadays, since in reality the heatsink needs to be around 50s
    Reply

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