MSI GT72 Dominator Pro Gaming Performance

We’ve already covered the GT72’s gaming performance with our preview article, so this is mostly a rehash. Simply put: the GTX 980M is screaming fast. I also find it a bit ironic that the notebook GTX 980M has 8GB VRAM while the desktop GTX 980 is currently still a 4GB part, even though you’re less likely to need the extra RAM on a notebook (especially one equipped with a 1080p display).

Depending on your desired FPS, the GT72 is either fast enough to handle just about everything at maximum detail (30+ FPS at 1080p), or you might need to drop a few extras like SSAA on titles like Metro: Last Light to get closer to 60FPS. Oh, and if you happen to use the GT72 with an external display that supports G-SYNC, that’s also supported. Here are the gaming results at our Enthusiast settings; Mainstream and Value are mostly not worth discussing as the GTX 980M makes short work of those, but you can view additional performance results in Notebook Bench.

Bioshock Infinite - Enthusiast

GRID 2 - Enthusiast

Metro: Last Light - Enthusiast

Sleeping Dogs - Enthusiast

Tomb Raider - Enthusiast

Our current suite of gaming tests for notebooks consists of just five titles, but I’ve run benchmarks on quite a few other games just for good measure. Metro: Last Light is the one game where the GTX 980M struggles at times, but it still manages to break 30FPS, which is the first time we’ve had a notebook with a single GPU accomplish that feat. There are other games where performance also struggles, but generally it’s with games that use SSAA, and if you turn off SSAA performance is usually much higher.

A noteworthy point of comparison is the Alienware 18, which has SLI 780M. While it's technically faster in most of the games, the single GTX 980M often comes dangerously close, and in at least one title it actually scores a win. In fact, the only game where the SLI configuration proved to be noticeably faster is BioShock Infinite, and considering we're well above 60FPS with maxed out settings the only reason you'd need SLI for BioShock is if you were using a higher resolution external LCD.

To help put performance of NVIDIA's latest GPUs in perspective, I’ve run a larger collection of 15 gaming benchmarks on the GT72 and GTX 980M. I’ve also run the same tests on the GT70, GS60, and GE60. Using maximum quality settings at 1080p, here’s what the performance breakdown looks like:

Average Performance - 15 Games

Some games easily break 60FPS and others are closer to 30FPS, but none of the games I tested had average frame rates fall below 30FPS on the GT72 and the average FPS sits at 70. In comparison, the previous generation GT70 with GTX 880M – and it has the benefit of a slightly faster CPU – averages 55 FPS, so the GTX 980M ends up being nearly 30% faster on average. The GTX 870M comes in at 46 FPS while the GTX 860M comes in at just 36 FPS, so all told the GTX 980M is a solid doubling of performance from the GTX 860M. Perhaps more telling is that the GTX 860M falls below 30FPS average in half of the games I tested (though dropping AA and reducing the graphical detail to High is usually enough to get it back above 30).

Simply put, if you’re looking for a gaming notebook that can run everything currently out there at maximum (or nearly maximum) quality without the need to pack around a 12 pound behemoth like the various SLI notebooks, the GT72 – and more importantly the GTX 980M – is the first notebook we’ve tested in quite some time that meets that requirement. It’s a gamers dream notebook, with performance that’s typically equal to (and perhaps a bit faster than) the desktop GTX 770. While that’s no longer the fastest desktop GPU, it’s still more than sufficient for most users, especially for 1080p gaming.

MSI GT72 Dominator Pro: Subjective Evaluation MSI GT72 Dominator Pro General Performance
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  • darkich - Tuesday, November 11, 2014 - link missed to add the ugliest part - the stone age screen with a resolution lower than on some 200$ 10" tablets!!
    They have a high quality 1440p IPS screens yet this thing somehow gets by with less?!?
    Disgusting, unacceptable atrocity
  • frozentundra123456 - Tuesday, November 11, 2014 - link

    So does that mean everyone that is using a 1080p desktop in a 23 or so inch size is also living with an "unacceptable atrocity"?

    Personally I think anything over 1080p on a tablet is basically for snob appeal.
  • darkich - Wednesday, November 12, 2014 - link

    Yes, such desktops are now also a big dated POS.

    1080p is enough for 8" tablet, but it looks horrible on 17" laptop and 23" desktop.

    When you actually browse and read Web pages after doing so on a high PPI screen that fact simply becomes glaringly obvious for anyone that isn't half blind.
  • darkich - Wednesday, November 12, 2014 - link

    Heck, I have an 1280x800 8" tablet, (170ppi) and compared to a iPad mini retina its lower resolution is strikingly obvious even when I hold it on my lap.
    Only when you get to compare low ppi with a high ppi you realize what a really highly defined image is.
    And on a $3000 laptop with the best GPU available, high definition screen should be an absolute must.

    I find it baffling how some people can still deny that.
  • Wolfpup - Tuesday, November 25, 2014 - link

    I think there's something of a point to crazy high resolution screens on tablets...namely for reading, whether books or magazines or graphic novels, it's nice to have it look more print-like when you're holding it up close. That's really the ONLY benefit to me though.

    For a PC or game console, I think higher resolutions aren't as beneficial. I can't see pixels even on a 27" 1080p monitor from a few feet away, so who cares?

    Plus of course PCs actually have the power to drive 1080p, which no tablet does when displaying anything more complex than a web browser or whatever.
  • NA1NSXR - Tuesday, November 11, 2014 - link

    These are childish arguments, literally. Adults often have to move or travel. If they need desktop-like performance, these kinds of systems are still incredibly portable compared to any alternative. I can fly with these systems. I can't with a desktop. My heavily overclocked Alienware M17X (IvyBridge i7 @ 4GHz, 680M OC'ed over 260MHz on the core) has been back and forth with me between Asia and the US constantly over the last 2+ years as well as back and forth from work every day. When it was new it offered upper-midrange desktop performance. It still offers midrange desktop performance today. It has been an incredible VALUE as a machine for both work and play. Trust me, I'd rather be on a desktop. I've gone through so many mental hoops to try and justify one, including small ITX's that might be able to fit in carry on luggage, etc. But realistically, these kinds of laptops are just so much better overall as a compromise.
  • ImKuya - Tuesday, November 11, 2014 - link

    Well, there's a reason they're called "Notebook" rather than "Laptop" haha. This costs x4 as much with one big reason being the x4 128GB ssds in RAID 0.
  • Braincruser - Tuesday, November 11, 2014 - link

    Anyone that travels even a little, a notebook is a no question investment. For me personally a desktop system would be useless. I wouldn't be able to use it more than 10% of the time I am able to use my laptop.
    Also, I can game in my bed. You can't beat that :)
  • behrangsa - Friday, November 14, 2014 - link

    You don't buy this notebook to put on your laptop in the same way you won't buy a trailer to go to office with everyday from home.

    But if you need a portable laptop with 32GB of RAM, all options are more or less like this.
  • MDX - Saturday, November 15, 2014 - link

    There is absolutely no way or reason to compare a laptop to a desktop. Move along.

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