MSI GT70 Review: GTX 880M Editionby Jarred Walton on April 16, 2014 6:00 AM EST
MSI GT70 Subjective Overview
We’ve already covered the core design, keyboard, touchpad, cooling, etc. several times so I’m not going to spend a long time rehashing that subject for this review. Aesthetically, I think the GT70 looks a bit dated, but at least this version isn’t quite so garish/gaudy as the Dragon Edition at the GTX 780M launch. The short summary is that the GT70 is a large and rather bulky gaming notebook, with the capacity to support three mSATA SSDs in RAID 0, or two 2.5” drives, an optical drive, and it has a moderate quality 1080p matte display. Cooling performance is similarly merely acceptable, as MSI uses a single large heatsink + fan to cool both the CPU, GPU, and chipset; the result is that under load (e.g. gaming) the GT70 can get a bit loud; that said, I didn’t see any indication of CPU or GPU throttling during testing.
Personally, some of the most important elements for me with any laptop are the user facing devices, and by that I mean the keyboard, touchpad (and potentially touchscreen), and display. Some people might be willing to overlook flaws in these areas, but if any of these areas fall short it greatly detracts from the overall functionality of a laptop. Let’s quickly cover each of these in turn.
The good news is that, outside of a minor complaint regarding MSI’s location of the FN and Windows keys, and the 10-key having a half-size “0” key, the keyboard works well. The backlighting is zoned RGB, and the SteelSeries software now allows you to remap/reprogram any key. So that bit about not liking the default location of the FN and Windows keys could be easily remedied…except you can’t remap the FN key [sigh]. Taking things a step further, the SteelSeries software also allows you to create and assign macros to every single key (except FN), and you can create four custom layers with different macros and ligting effects/colors on each – switching between them via the FN + 1…4 key combination. It’s really quite slick and can truly be a differentiating factor between gaming notebooks, especially if you’re the type of gamer that likes using/creating macros.
The touchpad story isn’t quite so good, as MSI continues to use an older touchpad – specifically Synaptics v7.2 hardware. Synaptics is generally a good choice and the tracking and multi-touch support work well enough, but the lack of a clickpad is a mistake in my opinion and the size of the touchpad is somewhat small in today’s market. However, for gaming I expect most people will use a dedicated mouse regardless, so the touchpad isn’t really a problem. Having it recessed slightly also looks a bit dated as far as designs go, but it does help to prevent inadvertent touchpad activation while typing/gaming.
As for the display, I’ve been a bit spoiled by the recent spate of IPS panels, and it’s sad that MSI hasn’t looked at upgrading that element. Maybe there just aren't many (any?) good 17.3" panels out yet, but I've seen so many IPS panels in Ultrabooks and other laptops that it's a bit disheartening to be back to a TN panel. Pre-calibration, the colors on the GT70 panel are very skewed with oversaturated blues (with undersaturated reds), and while the display hits a reasonable 350 nits maximum brightness, post-calibration (i.e. after correcting for the massively overblown blues) that drops to only 300 nits. In fact, in order to get the red levels close to where they’re supposed to be, I had to calibrate at 90% brightness, which means those who want good color accuracy will have to compromise a bit on battery life. But battery life isn’t a huge factor here, so it’s not the end of the world, and at least post-calibration the colors are quite good.
If I had one major thing other than the LCD panel that I’d like to see MSI change, it would be their cooling system. It gets the job done right now, but Clevo, Alienware, and ASUS are all using dual fans for their competing notebooks, and there’s a reason for that. GTX 780M and now 880M can use a lot of power, and even though MSI proves it’s possible to cool both the CPU and GPU with a single fan, a lot of the heat is concentrated in the back-left corner and the GT70 tends to run louder and hotter than other competing gaming notebooks.
When you look at newer designs like the Razer Blade Pro and MSI’s GS70, they look far more attractive and aren’t nearly as bulky. With such designs readily available, I’m not really convinced about the need for a large notebook with GTX 880M. You might have to turn down a few settings in games to hit 60+ FPS with a GTX 870M, but even High detail without anti-aliasing looks quite good (i.e. better than current consoles) and games will run well on a slightly slower but far more attractive notebook. However, large notebooks do offer more in the way of expansion options, so for example the GT70 supports up to three mSATA drives, two 2.5” drives, four SO-DIMM slots, and it still includes an optical drive. The sleeker GS70 on the other hand has a single mSATA slot, two SO-DIMM slots, and no optical drive. I prefer that over the size of the GT70, but not everyone will feel that way.
Ultimately, if you want maximum gaming performance in a notebook, right now GTX 880M is where it’s at. The only way to currently beat the GTX 880M for mobile gaming is by using two of them in SLI, which is a topic for another day. So let’s see what the NVIDIA’s latest mobile monster can do….
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Notmyusualid - Monday, April 28, 2014 - linkMy 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...
smitty123 - Thursday, April 17, 2014 - linkGood 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.
Henry H. - Friday, April 18, 2014 - linkDear 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 $49.00 diagnostic fee is not charged at all only the repair charges apply the diagnostic fee is waived at that point. We do believe in providing the best customer service experience to all our customers and we are sorry that you feel this way. We hope that you would reconsider and let us provide this OOW RMA if needed. But again we take pride is providing all our customers with the best customer service experience so that that they are fully satisfied and happy. So please do contact us at USUsersupport@msi.com and we will follow up with you ASAP.
Communism - Thursday, April 17, 2014 - linkAnyone who's not mentally retarded buys a Clevo if they're a gamer anyways.
Everything else is pure crap in comparison.
Bully303 - Friday, April 18, 2014 - linkWell educated comment there..not
erple2 - Friday, April 18, 2014 - linkYou also need to add "... buys a Clevo with an external keyboard.." I have yet to type on a clevo keyboard that had more structural integrity than a plate of overcooked noodles.
sf101 - Tuesday, April 22, 2014 - linkI agree with some things the Reviewer says.
I personally Own a GT70-2OC with the 770m gpu in it instead of the 780m. a few reasons i went that route .
Price over all on the 770m versions were much much lower by a large margine and the packages available were more flexible too.
I got my version for 1300$
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.
danwat1234 - Tuesday, April 22, 2014 - linkMSI, 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%!
Ethos Evoss - Sunday, April 27, 2014 - linkHate when manuf. making hdmi upside down it is tacky n horrible and + chrome hphone mic etc jakcs .. looks so cheap ..bleee
HappyHubris - Wednesday, April 30, 2014 - linkI 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.
-Solid build quality
-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
-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
-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?