Conclusion: Green Dragon

Each time I've tested this chassis from MSI I've been a little less enamored with it. Finding a good gaming notebook isn't a trivial thing and there's a lot of room for innovation and improvement in this market segment, but it seems like only Alienware, Razer, and maybe ASUS are actually trying (although Toshiba's next-gen Qosmio is a pretty attractive alternative as well). This is basically the third generation of this chassis from MSI and improvements are incremental to non-existent.

To be sure, there are nice features in the MSI GT70 Dragon Edition. I like the red aluminum shell, and despite an awful layout for western consumers, the keyboard still has some of the best action you can find in a gaming portable. Killer wired and wireless networking is much appreciated, and there's at least a little bit of appeal in a notebook that has three mSATA ports. Finally, though it's the same 1080p panel we've tested three times now, it's still a perfectly good one.

Unfortunately MSI seems to have juggled the wrong design decisions with the GT70 Dragon Edition to court western consumers. The number one line item isn't performance or industrial design, it's always "features." You wind up with a gaudy shell instead of a clean design. Instead of fixing the cooling system or at least tweaking the fan profile, they simply add a toggle above the keyboard to set the fan to maximum. This is not a feature, this is deliberately sabotaging your own product to add another bullet point in your marketing material.

The keyboard could be amazing, but MSI opted to save a few bucks by just using the same bezel and key layout for every region; that's why you have a slash key next to the spacebar. And instead of using a sensible layout of document navigation keys about the keypad, they included the borderline useless Scroll Lock and Pause/Break keys. Which one do you use more? So why would Home and End be Fn combinations? It's a small thing but an incredible nuisance that again sabotages a potentially good product. The GT70 could at least have potentially my favorite keyboard, but there's no thought to it and no understanding of how westerners even type.

Here's a gaming notebook that has a mountain of bullet point features: backlit SteelSeries keyboard, Killer networking, 1080p display, fan toggle, "Super RAID 2" (just three mSATA SSDs in RAID 0), Sound Blaster Cinema...but the cooling system is a bust. It fails at the single job it's supposed to do best. I cannot in good conscience recommend the GT70 Dragon Edition until MSI fixes the keyboard layout, enlarges the touchpad, or at least, heaven forbid, produces a system that doesn't thermally throttle. In an ultrabook, throttling is a problem but can be forgivable. In a high performance system? Inexcusable.

Battery Life
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  • skiboysteve - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    I got excited at your comment but I looked, there is nothing. Not a single laptop from Lenovo, Dell, or HP with Haswell and no discrete graphics. Reply
  • peterfares - Wednesday, June 19, 2013 - link

    Haswell JUST came out. Give it a month or two. Business machines usually take a little longer than the consumer ones to refresh. Reply
  • ZeDestructor - Wednesday, June 19, 2013 - link

    Ane one might argue for good reason too.... I have yet to see a proper ThinkPad, Latitude or Precision machine overheat... Reply
  • TheinsanegamerN - Thursday, July 11, 2013 - link

    system 67 has a laptop with the 4750hq and iris pro graphics. Reply
  • SirGCal - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    This would be a laptop I would enjoy. Something I could take with me to my trips to the hospital crossed country when I have to go, but still let me game in the evenings. Granted have to be plugged in for any length of time but... My problem is just the costs. For that type of money I can build one hell of another desktop or even lanbox... I really wish that the 'build your own laptops' would take off to make that market more price competitive instead of this 'gotcha' market it is now... Reply
  • SirGCal - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    Well, that would be in theory ofcorse... if it could keep itself cool... Reply
  • TheinsanegamerN - Thursday, July 11, 2013 - link

    check out rjtech. plenty of choices there Reply
  • alexvoda - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    I would like if someone at Anandtech could test the Gigabyte P27K
    http://www.gigabyte.eu/products/product-page.aspx?...

    AFAIK it is the only notebook that has one feature I like very much: the combo USB3.0/eSATAp port.
    Reply
  • Bob Todd - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    Thanks for the review. Any chance there are some new 14" gaming laptop reviews in the pipeline? Specifically the Alienware 14 and Razer Blade 14? I've been travelling quite a bit lately and am contemplating something like one of those to help pass the time on the long international flights. Hell I'm even curious to see if the new 13" MBA can play some current games at 900p or 800p @ medium settings with GT3 graphics. Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    Trying to secure them. Thankfully we have pretty good relationships with both vendors, so it shouldn't be a question of "if," but "when." Reply

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