MSI’s GT70, GTX 880M Update

For better or for worse, MSI has had the same core designs for several of their high-end laptops for at least a couple years now, specifically we’re talking about the GT60 and GT70 series (and with a few minor differences in features, the GX60/GX70 AMD APU variants). There have been updates and tweaks to the internal components, but the chassis remain largely the same as before. The latest updates bring NVIDIA’s new GTX 800M parts into the picture, and today we have the GT70 equipped with the top-of-the-line GTX 880M. Let’s quickly look at the specs for the system we’re testing/reviewing.

MSI GT70 Specifications
Processor Intel Core i7-4800MQ
(4x2.7-3.7GHz + HTT, 22nm, 6MB L3, 47W)
Chipset Intel HM87
Memory 1x4GB + 1x8GB DDR3-1600 (Maximum 32GB)
Graphics NVIDIA GeForce GTX 880M 8GB GDDR5 256-bit xxx
(1536 CUDA cores, 954MHz + Boost/5GHz GDDR5)

Intel HD 4600 Graphics
(20 EUs, up to 1.3GHz)
Display 17.3" LED Matte 16:9 1080p
Chi Mei N173HGE-L11
Hard Drive(s) HGST 1TB 7200-RPM HDD (HTS721010A9E630)
Optical Drive TSSTCorp SN-506BB Blu-ray writer
Networking Killer Networks E2200 PCIe Gigabit Ethernet
Killer Wireless-N 1202 dual-band 2x2 802.11a/b/g/n
Bluetooth 4.0
Audio Realtek ALC892 HD audio (Sound Blaster Cinema)
2.1 speakers
4 x 1/8” audio jacks
Battery 9-cell, 87Wh
Front Side -
Right Side 2x USB 2.0
Optical drive
Left Side Line-out, Line-in, Mic, and Headphone jacks
3x USB 3.0
SD card reader
Exhaust
Back Side Kensington lock
AC adapter
Ethernet
D-SUB (VGA)
Mini-DisplayPort
HDMI
Exhaust
Operating System Windows 8.1 64-bit
Dimensions 16.9" x 11.3" x 2.2"
429.3mm x 287mm x 55.9mm
Weight 8.6 lbs.
3.9kg
Extras Webcam
USB 3.0
Card reader
SoundBlaster Cinema audio
Killer Networks WiFi and wired networking
RGB backlit keyboard
Keyboard macro support
Warranty 2-year parts and labor
Pricing $1,900

Other than the upgrade to the GTX 880M graphics card, the most noteworthy item in the above list is the lack of an SSD. That means general performance and responsiveness in many cases will be rather sluggish, but this is easily remedied by purchasing a model that includes some form of SSD storage (or adding your own). The impact on our performance benchmarks will be most apparent in PCMark, but for gaming purposes it won’t really matter. Otherwise all of the key items remain the same as the previous model GT70. There are a few other oddities with this configuration as well, like the inclusion of a Blu-ray burner and the 12GB RAM in two of the four SO-DIMM slots (why not just use 2x8GB; are the cost savings of using one 4GB SO-DIMM really that great?), but there are other GT70 models.

There’s a benefit to this particular configuration of course: the starting price is only $1900, so even after adding your own 256GB SSD you’re still looking at a price of less than $2100. As an alternative, there’s another GT70 that comes with a 1TB HDD with a 128GB SSD, Blu-ray reader, and drops the GPU to a GTX 870M for $1600, but obviously that’s going to be a pretty big hit to gaming performance. Step up to 16GB RAM and add a 128GB SSD and the price jumps to $2200, so it’s best to just stick with the base model and upgrade to an SSD on your own; just remember that the PCMark scores for our system are going to be lower than competing solutions. And one final interesting note is that the previous generation GT70 with a GTX 780M 4GB card is only $50 less than the new model; I’m not sure 8GB RAM on a GPU is really needed (and likely won’t be during the lifetime of the GT70), but $50 more to improve performance and gain additional VRAM is certainly a worthwhile upgrade.

MSI GT70 Subjective Overview
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  • kishorshack - Wednesday, April 16, 2014 - link

    Again an amazing gaming notebook from MSI
    Overall Gaming Experience Amazing
    but
    LCD should have been a bit better
    Specially in gaming notebook
    Where what you see forms the basis of your overall experience
    Reply
  • Meaker10 - Wednesday, April 16, 2014 - link

    There are not that many good 17.3" panels out there if any. The 15.6" version ships with a PLS screen though. Reply
  • lukedaly - Thursday, October 09, 2014 - link

    Well the LCD still isn't any good, it's no where close to matching the top notebooks that are on the market. /Luke from http://www.consumertop.com/best-laptop-guide/ Reply
  • phdchristmas - Saturday, April 19, 2014 - link

    I bought last years G70 with the GTX 770M. I needed a laptop to play FFXIV:ARR as my ole dependable Z575 wasn't going to cut it.

    I agree the LCD is poor at best. very uncomfortable viewing angles.

    came with CAS 11 memory and 5400 rpm hdd's in a raid0.

    And they threw in windows 8, without the bios update to fix a S3 wake error which complicated a lot of things, because the bios update from the MSI website would say "THIS BIOS IS NOT FOR THIS DEVICE" then shutdown. I took it back to the store and they just ended up giving a replacement with the same problems. The way transactions work in this country i couldn't return for a full refund, only store credit.

    Ended up gutting it and installing win7 to make it work. Warranty voided, but that was going to happen anyways. The point is that i shouldn't have to apply my technical skills and spend 12+hours to get a damn $1600 gaming laptop to work as intended.

    I'll be sure to avoid MSI in the future
    Reply
  • kosmokenny - Wednesday, April 16, 2014 - link

    They announced that the GS70 will be available with the 870m, is there any word yet on when that will be arriving? Reply
  • rxzlmn - Wednesday, April 16, 2014 - link

    You can already buy that, depending on where you live. Both GS60 and GS70 with 870M are avalaible (albeit at limited stock) here in Singapore. Reply
  • willis936 - Wednesday, April 16, 2014 - link

    Heavy and loud but that's a lot of hardware. Please review the P34G v2. Reply
  • highbrow - Wednesday, April 16, 2014 - link

    Or maybe Jarrod could finish the full review he promised of the P34G v1? It's only been 6 months. Reply
  • willis936 - Wednesday, April 16, 2014 - link

    I would agree with you but I'm not considering buying a P34G v1 this summer. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, April 17, 2014 - link

    The P34G review had to be canceled -- basically, something died on my test unit during stress testing. Sorry for the lack of an update, but I didn't want to make a big deal about it and it was basically at the point where by the time I could get a replacement it would be too old to worry much about the review. I'm going to try and get one of the newer 800M Gigabyte laptops at some point, but no promises! Reply

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