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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  • Notmyusualid - Monday, April 28, 2014 - link

    My M18x R2 laptop regularly hits the 200fps cap in Black Ops 2, all graphic options maxed out...

    And I'm sure as sh1t the 880M GTXs are faster than my 7970M's...

    I'd almost kill for a 120fps display, like the M17x's have...
    Reply
  • smitty123 - Thursday, April 17, 2014 - link

    Good review but i gotta say this, i've just had to deal with MSI customer service for my laptop i bought 2 years ago, so its out of warranty.

    Msi customer service, what a joke. They wanted money $$ to tell me my machine was broken. i know it is and i know what is broken, i sent them the pictures, the screen cover broke where the hinges screw into it.

    Money to tell me what i need fixing ? They think people are idiots.

    They wanted 50$ to tell me i'll need a new plastic cover that would probably go for 250$, can you believe that ?

    I replied asking them for an estimate, its been weeks and still no reply, no mention of how much $$ to actually fix it, just "give us 50$ to open a case file". What a joke.

    Here you have a loyal customer who's bought their hardware for years and instead of actually being helpful they play this money grubbing game.

    Not cool MSI !

    You don't mess with customers that way. it's a surefire way to not get repeat business !

    So i said screw that, i went with ebay. And after that i'm selling the laptop, getting rid of that pos.

    it's a horrible noisy laptop, the GT70 aren't any better, the fan and heatsink need a complete overhaul and to be quiet. it's like they don't learn from their past versions. lol

    i'm never buying msi again. Their customer service sucks plain and simple.
    Reply
  • Henry H. - Friday, April 18, 2014 - link

    Dear Customer,
    We are very sorry about this and believe there must have been a miscommunication regarding the diagnostic fee for the OOW RMA service. We do not charge this fee which is $49.00 upfront at all we do take CC info but there is no charge for the OOW RMA number to be released all you have to do is agree to the diagnostic agreement. The only time that the diagnostic fee is charged is if the repairs are declined after the laptop has come in and has been fully diagnosed and a complete repair quote is sent out to the customer. And if the customer agrees to the repairs then the $49.00 diagnostic fee is not charged at all only the repair charges apply the diagnostic fee is waived at that point. We do believe in providing the best customer service experience to all our customers and we are sorry that you feel this way. We hope that you would reconsider and let us provide this OOW RMA if needed. But again we take pride is providing all our customers with the best customer service experience so that that they are fully satisfied and happy. So please do contact us at USUsersupport@msi.com and we will follow up with you ASAP.
    Thank you,
    MSI SSD,
    Reply
  • Communism - Thursday, April 17, 2014 - link

    Anyone who's not mentally retarded buys a Clevo if they're a gamer anyways.

    Everything else is pure crap in comparison.
    Reply
  • Bully303 - Friday, April 18, 2014 - link

    Well educated comment there..not Reply
  • erple2 - Friday, April 18, 2014 - link

    You also need to add "... buys a Clevo with an external keyboard.." I have yet to type on a clevo keyboard that had more structural integrity than a plate of overcooked noodles. Reply
  • sf101 - Tuesday, April 22, 2014 - link

    I agree with some things the Reviewer says.

    I personally Own a GT70-2OC with the 770m gpu in it instead of the 780m. a few reasons i went that route .

    Price over all on the 770m versions were much much lower by a large margine and the packages available were more flexible too.
    I got my version for 1300$

    I immediately bought a 64gb Adata SSD and installed it "voiding warranty" and enabled Cache mode which alleviated the 5400 rpm driver performance problems for cheap "50ish$"

    Reviews also said the 770m used far less power then the 780m and by everyone's complaints about fan noise with the 780m and 880m i would have to agree as i can game on the 770m gpu without having to turn on the higher fan performance button and not experience any throttling.

    so that said this laptop even when gaming seems to be fairly quiet when running overclocks on the gpu it does require the turbo fan mode to be on which i agree that is fairly loud.

    As far as higher resolultions on a 17" screen? i dont know if that would be worth the extra cost to me personally any smaller and i think it would feel uncomfortable to read.. and the resolution seems fine for gaming on such a small screen at this resolution. also with these gpu's im not sure your going to maintain fps very well at 1440+ resolutions.

    i also agree with the op that turning down some gfx in the name of heat / power use and noise may be a good option.

    and i also agree that msi is retarded with their memory configurations. they dont seem to want to keep dual channel kits involved. their 8gb models come with a single stick of memory instead of 2x4gb am i missing something here? wouldn't 2x4gb in dual channel provide supurior performance and the notebook would also still have 2 more expansion memory slots available so its not like your hindering expansion by using up two slots in the name of performance considering you void warranty upgrading as it is.

    Overall Ive had a really good experiance with this laptop from msi but as the reviewer said im not sure why they dont change a few cheap options in the name of performance.

    7200rpm drives for instance in the units that come with just a HDD would be a good start.
    and dual memory configurations that work not breaking them with either single stick or miss matched memory sticks "8gb +4gb??????".

    dual fan cooling would really help with noise on the larger units but how about just unlocking the bios for us or letting us configure a fan profile that doesn't require just 100% speed or auto ?

    So while i really like the laptop i own i feel it could be vastly improved if msi just used their noggins a bit.

    I like the looks of the GS models alot more even though it uses a slightly lesser GPU then the flagships it should perform well enough for desktop replacement and mobile use.
    Reply
  • danwat1234 - Tuesday, April 22, 2014 - link

    MSI, PLEASE find a way to ship the GT60 and GT70 2OD and 2PE and other 780m/880m MSI laptops with 240W AC adapters because 180W is not enough. "NOS" is a joke, a crutch. Why does the laptop have to suck power from the battery when the GPU and CPU are fully utilized when a slightly larger AC adapter would stop this?
    Asus uses a 240w AC adapter for good reason in their G750 and MSI should as well. I thought MSI would probably have learned their lesson after the tomshardware review blasting NOS back in July of last year;; http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/gt70-dragon-ed...

    This is especially important if an Extreme CPU is in the laptop. Having that being fully utilized along with the GPU, NOS will engage and whatever you are trying to do cannot be done forever because the battery will eventually drain to 30%!
    Reply
  • Ethos Evoss - Sunday, April 27, 2014 - link

    Hate when manuf. making hdmi upside down it is tacky n horrible and + chrome hphone mic etc jakcs .. looks so cheap ..bleee Reply
  • HappyHubris - Wednesday, April 30, 2014 - link

    I recently purchased a GS60 Pro from MSI. It's not directly comparable (4.3lbs vs 8.6 lbs), but I am enjoying the general build quality and recommend the model to anyone who is looking for a slim and light gaming notebook.

    Pros:
    -Solid build quality
    -Excellent Keyboard
    -Gorgeous *matte* screen
    -1080P resolution saves expense and allows you to side-step app resolution scaling issues
    -You're not paying for a super high-rez screen that has little utility on a laptop unit
    -Slim and light
    -Excellent performance
    -Ships with a SSD + HDD; you can replace the HDD with another SSD without voiding the warranty
    -I haven't noticed any thermal throttling so far (the bane of ultraportable gaming units)
    -Numberpad for those of us who use them

    Cons:
    -Giant "GAMING EDITION" logo on the cover prevents me from using this laptop in client-facing environments, because MSI still hasn't figured out that gamers are also normal members of society. My biggest con.
    -Battery life is less than stellar
    -The underside of this laptop gets groin-searingly hot when gaming
    -Screen bezel is plastic and feels flimsy

    Feel free to toss me any questions you have. Isn't it crazy to think that "Desktop Replacement" gaming laptops were 8-10 lbs just 2-3 years ago?
    Reply

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