I was lucky enough to be on-hand when MSI launched the GT80 Titan at CES. It was a big event for them, and all of the MSI people were quite excited about the unique device they had come out with. Over the last couple of years, there has been a lot of traction in the enthusiast market for mechanical keyboards, and MSI decided it was time to put a fully mechanical keyboard into a gaming laptop.

MSI turned to SteelSeries for the keyboard, and wedged one of their Cherry MX Brown keyboards into the GT80 Titan, creating one of the more uniquely designed laptops in quite some time. The keyboard is placed right at the front since a mechanical keyboard requires a lot more vertical depth than traditional notebook keyboards. This poses a slight problem for the standard trackpad placement, so MSI shifted it off to the right side and have made it both a trackpad and number pad. The layout works better than you might suspect, but since this is a desktop replacement, using it with a mouse would likely be the preferred option.

What’s behind the keyboard is equally as important, since this is first and foremost a gaming laptop. Here MSI has not disappointed either. Intel has finally released quad-core Broadwell parts, and MSI has shipped us the just recently updated version sporting the Intel Core i7-5700HQ processor. This is one of the new breed of 47 watt processors on 14 nm, with a base of 2.7 GHz and a turbo of 3.5 GHz. MSI pairs this with 16 GB of memory, and not one but two GTX 980M GPUs in SLI.

This plentiful processing power pushes polygons to a 1920x1080 pixel panel with proportions past the purview of most portable PCs (and try saying that five times fast). Alliteration aside, the display is right at the upper bounds of a notebook computer, with an 18.4-inch diagonal, making this one of the largest laptops around. It seems like the push for high PPI displays has been slow to come to the larger 17-inch panels, and the even rarer 18.4-inch one like in this device likely means sourcing one is even tougher. This display size at 1080p only results in 120 pixels per inch. At a point we hope that MSI might look into a 4K display at this size, although sourcing 18.4-inch 4K displays might be tricky. The device also does not support NVIDIA’s G-SYNC technology, but at least there should be fewer worries about frame rates dropping under the refresh rate of the panel.

MSI GT80 Titan
  As Tested, Core i7-5700HQ, 16 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD + 1TB HDD, 1920x1080 PLS display
Processor Intel Core i7-5950HQ (4C/8T, 2.9-3.7GHz, 6MB L3, 14nm, 47W)
Intel Core i7-5700HQ (4C/8T, 2.7-3.5GHz, 6MB L3, 14nm, 47W)
Memory 16GB-24GB DDR3L-1600 MHz
Graphics 2 x NVIDIA GTX 980M 8GB each
2 x NVIDIA GTX 970M 6GB each
2 x NVIDIA GTX 965M 4GB each
Display 18.4" 1920x1080 PLS Matte
Storage 128GB SSD x 2 (RAID 0) boot drive
1 TB HDD
Networking Killer e2200 Gigabit Networking
Killer N1525 Wireless-AC plus Bluetooth (2x2:2 866 Mbps max)
Audio Dynaudio Premium Sound Technology
Four Speakers plus subwoofer
Microphone
Battery 80 Wh Battery
330 Watt A/C Adapter
Right Side 2 x USB 3.0
Left Side 3 x USB 3.0 Ports
Headphone Jack
Microphone Jack
SD Card Reader
Blu-Ray Burner
Line-in Jack
SPDIF
Rear 2 x Mini DisplayPort v1.2
HDMI 1.4
A/C In
Dimensions 456 x 331 x 49.0mm (17.95 x 13.02 x 1.93 inches)
Weight 4.50 kg (9.90 lbs)
Extras 1080p Webcam
Backlit Mechanical Keyboard with Cherry MX Brown switches
Pricing $2500-$3800, as tested $3400

There are a couple of different configurations available, with the processor, memory, GPU, and storage options determining price. On the low end, you can get it with SLI GTX 965M GPUs, SLI GTX 970M or just a single GTX 980M card. All of the upper tier models though are SLI GTX 980M. Memory is 16 GB as the base and 24 GB on the top model, but the laptop can support up to 32 GB if you want to add it. Ultimately the versions that end up for sale will be determined by the SIs that decide to stock the device. For our review, we have the Core i7-5700HQ processor, 16 GB of RAM, and GTX 980M SLIs graphics cards.

Design
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  • mr_tawan - Friday, June 26, 2015 - link

    Actually I like the fact that the touchpad is on the right side, and wonder why no manufacturer does this for a second. I realized afterward that this layout does not work (at all) for those left-handed.

    Still, just like the article suggested, the user would go with a mouse anyway.
    Reply
  • andrewd18 - Friday, June 26, 2015 - link

    Many of us left-handed users have become accustomed to mousing with the right hand. I, for one, wouldn't mind the trackpad being on the right. Reply
  • Refuge - Friday, June 26, 2015 - link

    I'm glad you have been able to adapt so well.

    I'm right hand dominant, but I'm also ambidextrious because I cut my fingers off when I was younger, so I had to adapt.

    But I feel bad for all the dominant lefty users out there, you guys always get the short end of the stick on quite the regular when it comes to the gaming market.
    Reply
  • DanNeely - Friday, June 26, 2015 - link

    Razer Has been selling a few lefthanded mice for years. So much better than the ambidexterous mice I had to use before. Reply
  • Ktracho - Friday, June 26, 2015 - link

    I would think having the trackpad on the right could be a benefit for left-handed users, since they could then have a mouse on the left side, and not have to move their hand so far. I dislike having a keypad on the right, and then having to put the mouse even further to the right. I used to have an IBM keyboard that allowed one to put the keypad on either side of the keyboard, so I would put it on the left. As someone who plays piano, I can type numbers well enough with my left hand. My current keyboard does not have a keypad at all. Reply
  • Gonemad - Tuesday, July 07, 2015 - link

    I bought a logitech G5, and back then it was the first right-hand oriented mouse I ever bought. However, I had no issues with it, even being left handed. Turns out it is even better, because I use it at an angle that matches the space on the desk, and all those buttons for DPI changing end right below the other 4 fingers, not the thumb, which allows some stunts right handed folks can't pull. I end up using the middle finger very often on the main button, leaving one finger for right-clicking, adding insult to injury, so to speak.
    I still have that mouse.
    Reply
  • Ian Cutress - Saturday, June 27, 2015 - link

    I think I read at one point the CEO of Razer said that only 10% of left handers actually use the mouse in the left hand, and given that 10% of people are left handed that accounts for 1% of users. Depending on which market you're talking about, that's either good or bad. I think he also said that because of the design differences, they never sell enough left handed mice to make a proper profit and are glad if they break even on those designs. Reply
  • Zak - Friday, June 26, 2015 - link

    Expensive. Powerful. No G-SYNC support? At that price point there is no excuse not to have G-SYNC. There is no excuse not to have G-SYNC or Freesync support in anything you put a "gaming" label on these days. Reply
  • Refuge - Friday, June 26, 2015 - link

    At that price, there is no point for it not to come with a Blowjob too if you ask me.

    MVM upgrades aren't an answer to laptop longevity if you ask me. They are so absurdly expensive to source, I would much rather just but a new laptop and sell my old one.
    Reply
  • sabrewings - Friday, June 26, 2015 - link

    Very interesting bit of kit from an engineering standpoint. However, in the looks department it looks like a 90s laptop:

    https://cdn2.content.compendiumblog.com/uploads/us...

    Not sure I would want to be seen with such a thing. And no, it doesn't make my desktop jealous. ;-)
    Reply

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