MSI GT72 Dominator Pro Battery Life

Battery life is one area where the GT72 isn’t going to be the best notebook on the planet, but hopefully you knew that going into the review. Seriously: when was the last time a true gaming notebook could also last all day between charging? Anyway, the GT72 as I mentioned earlier is interesting in that MSI has decided to forego Optimus support and instead use muxes with a software switch to enable/disable the discrete GPU (with a reboot required for the change to take effect). We’ve tested with both the GTX 980M as well as the HD 4600, and of course turning off the dedicated GPU improves battery life… but perhaps not quite as much as you might at first guess.

Battery Life 2013 - Light

Battery Life 2013 - Heavy

Battery Life 2013 - Light Normalized

Battery Life 2013 - Heavy Normalized

First things first, the MSI GT72 with the GTX 980M enabled managed to last as long in our Light battery test as the MSI GS60 with Optimus support. I’m not sure it’s praise of the GT72 so much as a further indictment of the poor battery optimizations on the GS60, and frankly the GE60 and GT70 aren’t winning any awards for battery life either. What’s really important however is that MSI seems to have made more of an effort to provide decent battery life with the new GT72, and when we switch to the Intel HD 4600 we even manage to reach nearly six hours of mobility. This is all with the same capacity battery as the GT70, though I should note that at one point MSI had a BIOS update on the GTX 780M variant of the GT70 that achieved around six hours of battery life as well.

Switching over to estimations of power draw, in the Light test the GT72 uses ~14.8W (give or take) with the HD 4600 compared to ~22.1W with the GTX 980M, so having the discrete GPU active appears to result in a constant power drain of around 7W. That’s as much as some Ultrabooks use in light workloads, but that’s the price you pay for high performance (and 8GB of GDDR5 memory). The Heavy testing basically confirms those numbers: power draw with the HD 4600 active ends up being ~18.7W while turning on the GTX 980M the GT72 uses ~29.2W. (The Heavy workload involves H.264 video playback, so the GPU is going to be more active.)

We already did an in-depth look at BatteryBoost on the GT72, so I’m not going to get into it too much here. Gaming without BatteryBoost will generally mean less than an hour of battery life, while dropping to a 30FPS target will in some cases allow you to break two hours of mobility. The trick of course is that by targeting 30FPS you’re effectively turning the GTX 980M into something a lot more like a GT 750M in terms of performance, but it’s nice to have options. Also note that with the battery being behind the chassis cover on the bottom, there’s no way to swap batteries to extend your mobile time, so carrying the AC adapter with you is pretty much a requirement.

MSI GT72 Dominator Pro General Performance MSI GT72 Dominator Pro LCD: Still TN (on Most Models)
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  • abianand - Tuesday, November 11, 2014 - link

    the question is, is it worth spending close to $3000 on a laptop that

    1. has 192W of heat dissipation on your lap (47W from CPU + 145W from the GPU if I am not wrong)
    2. weighs 3.8kg (a dumbbell comes to mind)
    3. has a high battery-power consumption driven by that kind (192W-kind) of a heat dissipation and the fan speeds needed to handle that
    4. costs maybe 4 times as a desktop that gives you roughly the same performance (unless you really want the 1.5TB of space to store and play 30 games at the same time !!! )
  • daku123 - Tuesday, November 11, 2014 - link

    No :)
  • nathanddrews - Tuesday, November 11, 2014 - link

    No, it's not. I'll take one.
  • abianand - Tuesday, November 11, 2014 - link

    I correct myself, the GPU is 125W, not 145W.
    But the point still stands.
    It's still a toaster running at 172W peak heat output.
  • zodiacsoulmate - Tuesday, November 11, 2014 - link

    when you are on battery it can only go up to 100W... all tests are on AC if they test it on battery FPS will drop half probably...
  • Jer Stryker - Tuesday, November 11, 2014 - link

    There are always comments like this whenever a gaming notebook is reviewed. It's a niche market, stated several times in the article. There are people (like me, I'm an airline pilot) who travel a lot, or for whatever reason need what basically amounts to a portable desktop. I've pretty much never used one of these as a "lap" top. Does it make more sense for me to spend $1500 on a gaming desktop that I have access to half the time, or $2500 on something I can use every day? Is it expensive? Yes! Is it heavy? Yes!! Is it worth it? I think so. I know several people who game on lighter, cheaper notebooks with the settings turned way down, and others who have resorted to gaming on *shudder* tablets. That's not for me. I'll lug my $3000 dumbell into my hotel room and game away.

    That being said, I'm strongly considering a Gigabyte P35X V3. It has a 980M and an IPS screen (with a 3K option available), but is a 15.6" machine weighing only 2.2kg. If the cooling isn't terrible (and early reports are that it gets the job done) I may just be able to have my cake and eat it too.
  • jwhannell - Wednesday, November 12, 2014 - link

    Also there are a lot of professionals who travel a great deal for work, but want to game. This kind of machine is ideal for that. Personally, I have one of these as a desktop replacement that I bring to and from work everyday. Sure it only gets 3 hours on battery power while all i'm doing is browsing the web, but that's enough for my longest meetings. Meanwhile I am able to have nearly desktop performance w/ additional flexibility.
  • MDX - Saturday, November 15, 2014 - link

    Well said. What these laughable "comparison" posters also always inevitably forget about is the cost of peripherals. The laptop comes with a display, keyboard, touch interface device, and speakers, in addition to the 'hardware' that the naysayers are so pantie-bunching about.

    To keep things in tune with this comment, comparing a laptop to a desktop is like comparing an airplane to a car. It just can't be done, and to attempt it is ludicrous.
  • Wolfpup - Tuesday, November 25, 2014 - link

    Plus, however "big" people allege high end notebooks are, they're tiny and light compared with what, dragging a mini-tower and monitor and keyboard around?
  • Wolfpup - Tuesday, November 25, 2014 - link

    Well said. I don't know why people always have to chime in with "It's so expensive!" Even saw a "review" of an Alienware 17 on Amazon that was just (in all caps, of course) THIS IS TO ESPENSIVE NO OEN NEED

    Most of those points aren't even points. Yeah, it can use a lot of power (by notebook standards). So what? And yeah, it's heavier than lots of notebooks. So what? It's still plenty light enough to take with you.

    I use an Alienware M17x-R4 (typing on it right now) and I LOVE that it gets me reasonable performance, and has cooling that lets me actually push it, whether with games, video encoding, or just having 90 bajillion programs open (or all three, as I'm doing right now LOL)

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