Introduction and Design
Sporting a complete redesign and the fastest mobile GPU in existence, this thing is for real.
MSI’s unapologetically large GT70 “Dominator Pro” series of machines knows its audience well: for every gripe about the notebooks’ hulking sizes, a snicker and a shrug are returned by the community, who rarely value such items as portability as highly as the critics who are hired to judge based on them. These machines are built for power, first and foremost. While featherweight construction and manageable dimensions matter to those regularly tossing machines into their bags, by contrast, MSI’s desktop replacements recognize the meaning of their classification: the flexibility of merely moving around the house with one’s gaming rig is reason enough to consider investing in one.
So its priorities are arguably well in line. But if you want to keep on dominating, regular updates are a necessity, too. And with the GT72 2QE, MSI takes it all up yet another notch: our review unit (GT72 2QE-208US) packs four SSDs in a RAID-0 array (as opposed to the GT70’s three), plus a completely redesigned case which manages to address some of our biggest complaints. Oh yeah, and an NVIDIA GTX 980M GPU with 8 GB GDDR5 RAM—the fastest mobile GPU ever. (You can find much more information and analysis on this GPU specifically in Ryan’s ever-comprehensive review.)
Of course, these state-of-the-art innards come at no small price: $2,999 as configured (around a $2,900 street price), or a few hundred bucks less with storage or RAM sacrifices—a reasonable trade-off considering the marginal benefits one gains from a quad-SSD array or 32 GB of RAM.
Continue reading our MSI GT72 review now!!!
Design and Portability
Yes, it’s big, which should be no surprise to anyone in the market for a 17-inch gaming notebook. The GT72’s dimensions are very close to that of its predecessor, with just slightly less thickness overall in the new case. It weighs in at right around 8.43 pounds (versus the GT70’s 8.35 pounds)—so it’s squarely in the category of desktop replacements, even though it is still considerably lighter than Dell’s Alienware 17 (9.15 lbs.). By comparison, the ASUS ROG G751 is nearly the same weight at around 8.4 lbs.
In spite of its heavyweight design, the materials used to construct it are actually only minimally comprised of metal. The display lid is coated with a black brushed aluminum which exudes a high-quality appearance, but which only manages a reasonable degree of torsion resistance: with a small bit of effort, the lid will twist, and moderate pressure from the back results in visible distortions on the screen. The rest of the lid is actually plastic, including the shiny plastic bezel.
The base unit, meanwhile, features a metal top cover and comfortable rubberized polymer palmrest, both of which lend superior ergonomics as compared to the GT70 we reviewed back in June. The entire rest of the unit is plastic, though in most areas this approach seems to get the job done: the base unit feels very stable on a surface, flexing almost imperceptibly across the board. Other upgrades include a near-complete eradication of glossy surfaces (save for the screen bezel outer border) and a migration of the control center to the left side of the notebook (from above the keyboard previously)—complete with new physical buttons to replace the awful capacitive ones on the GT70. The general feel of the machine is far closer to that of an ASUS ROG or Dell Alienware offering than anything we’ve seen in MSI’s GT60/70 series in the past. It’s a big step forward in terms of design for the notebook manufacturer, and one which leaves us with even fewer reservations as we recommend our top choices to discerning gamers.
The very bottom of the unit features a single panel—also plastic—which is secured to the unit by seven phillips-head screws, one of which rests beneath the ever-controversial Warranty Void if Tampered sticker (pictured). This panel features a massive array of cutouts for ample ventilation of the internals. Almost half of the bottom of the machine is comprised of these vents, in fact—though their clever placement in the center quadrant of the unit and outward angle (to match that of one’s legs while the notebook is resting on the lap) provide for more comfortable lap-based gaming.
Getting into the unit to replace parts, provided you aren’t deterred by the aforementioned sticker, is easy—and inside, you’ll find access to nearly all major components, including the (two) hard drive bays, M.2 SSD array, two RAM slots, the cooling fans, the WLAN adapter, and the CMOS battery. MSI even boasts a replaceable GPU by way of a special kit available direct from the manufacturer. In spite of this commendable level of repairability, however, one major item is forgotten: the integrated battery, which is curiously obscured by a solid piece of plastic and thus which cannot be replaced without considerable disassembly.
Software and Warranty
The GT72 ships with a comfortable array of “value-added” stuff, and fortunately, most of it is actually pretty useful. On the unlikely-to-please end is Symantec Norton Internet Security, which is merely a trial and which will likely be removed by most gamers. But that’s a quick and painless process, so it’s hard to fault a manufacturer for supplementing their income as such.
Most of the rest of the selections are likely to remain, including the expected MSI software to help manage the keyboard backlight and related items, SteelSeries Engine 3 customization software, and a six-month trial of the XSplit Gamecaster streaming software (which allows broadcasting to Twitch, YouTube, UStream, and other services). Of course, you’ll also find the device driver-specific packages, which include the aforementioned GeForce Experience, Sound Blaster Cinema 2, and so on.
The machine features a 2-year hardware warranty, which is a great bonus only blemished by the omnipresent warranty void if tampered sticker on the bottom.
Oh my science.
Oh my science.
For $3000 you can have a
For $3000 you can have a gaming desktop with 4790k a 500 gig ssd 2 gtx 970s in sli all the bells and whistles plus have a decent laptop probably with the same specs minus the mobile gpu for some remote steam big picture gameplay.
Thanks for the feedback
Thanks for the feedback guys!
There's no disputing that gaming desktops are far cheaper, but then, what's the point of even looking at gaming laptops if you're satisfied with being tethered to a desktop in the same place each time? Most people are, but some people want to move around. That's what these machines are all about.
Besides, in the conclusion, I mentioned "If it were our money, we’d probably spring for the $2,299 model, which is arguably a better value." It is–and for most people, it makes a heck of a lot more sense. You also skirt the issue of the quad-SSD failure rate concerns if that bugs you too. Quite frankly, at that price, with the GTX 980M, there isn't a better competitor around right now. The display isn't perfect, but apart from that and the internal battery, there's really not much else to hate on here. Until some other comparable machines pop up with considerably lower prices (not likely), it's IMO the best option around.
It's a cream of the crop machine with a couple of small niggles. If that's not what you're after, look elsewhere I say!
Highly disagree with those
Highly disagree with those specs.
A TN panel and it isnt even 120hz.
32 gig ram? for gaming?, 16 is more than enough, 8 isnt even tapped out yet.
Instead of all that mess of hard drives, can i just have ONE 500gig SSD? ill utilize the USB3 ports if i need more for all my legal movies.
At least that i7 is a quad core, instead of the dual core i7s.
Good thing the display is 1080p, it could have been 1366×768.
Wow, such a arrogant comment
Wow, such a arrogant comment for a person with loads of money. I get your point. But you can still have your preferred hardware with GT72 with added cost. Hope you done your research. And guess what, those days you never need more than 2GB RAM for gaming, and now you yourself saying that 16 GB sufficient.
I’m gaming right now and I
I’m gaming right now and I NEED 16Gb… Yeah I have 20 Chrome Tabs opened (1Gb), Minecraft FTB opened using 6Gb and Minecraft Vanilla using 5Gb and Skype using not much but yeah stil needing 16 Gb… Atleast I don’t have my server ON!
Thank you for an excellent
Thank you for an excellent and well-thought review! I purchased the GT72 Dominator Pro and I must say that I am extremely happy with the build quality and performance of this PC. I purchased the 24GB RAM/256 SSD option with the 980M. This was a catch-weight choice for $2,500, I want the computer to be future-proof and last for years. Everything about this PC is so slick and high quality, the aesthetics are just amazing! The GT72 is easy to love, sometimes I just stare at this beautiful beast in admiration. Every game title is easily played on Ultra with virtually no performance challenges that I have seen. Supersampling is the only option that I have seen lower fps. I accepted the fact the LCD screen was TN and 1080P when I made the purchase. I find the screen to be bright and colorful, with great contrast and sharpness. Screen perfection is one of the more discriminating elements of a laptop and it’s a huge cash investment to get modest gains, in my option. I’m glad that MSI invested in engineering that substantially affects performance. Besides, the GT72 allows for (3) 4K displays to be connected in tandem, so if you want to get nerdy, there are certainly options. The 1TB 7200RPM HDD also performs well for gaming, so I keep my key titles and frequent load apps on the 256 SSD and offload the rest to HDD. Lastly I’ll say the audio is immersive and enjoyable while playing games, impressive.
I have always found the desktop/laptop argument to be curious. It’s obvious that gaming laptops are for users that want to be mobile. Streaming is coming along but it’s still very early in that concept. In the 2000’s, I would play games with friend and I would have to travel with a desktop computer, monitor, peripherals. Those days are long behind me and I am willing to take a moderate hit on my wallet to ensure that I am mobile in any situation. Even if you are mildly cost conscious, the GT72 is a beautiful juggernaut and it’s an absolute pleasure to own.
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I have the 970m upgraded to a
I have the 970m upgraded to a 256gb m.2 and added two matching 4gb sticks to the 12gb to have 24gb.(freq brand are a macth). Great laptop smokes my i7 860, gtx670 desktop.