Performance Part 1: Processor and General
Since we’ve covered the GTX 980M already once (again, see Ryan’s review), the GT72 has already been put through its paces graphically. But general system performance is still a subject we have yet to address, and there are plenty of other components in question apart from that undeniable beast of a GPU.
We begin with the CPU, which is a decidedly ordinary in comparison to the rest of the items lining the spec sheet. It’s a mere Core i7-4710HQ, which is a quad-core Haswell 22nm chip that features a base clock rate of 2.5 GHz and the ability to Turbo Boost up to 3.3 GHz/3.4 GHz/3.5 GHz for 4/2/1 active cores. Make no mistake; it’s an extremely fast processor. But it’s actually a step down from the i7-4800MQ we evaluated in our GT70 review unit, so in terms of raw power alone it’s hardly top of the line.
Let’s see how the CPU stacks up against its predecessors in our synthetic benchmarks.
Performance – Processor
Leading off is Cinebench R11.5, where results are as expected:
7.15 on multi-core performance is very good; after all, the i7-4800MQ of the GT70 only scored a 7.35, which is just around 3% higher. The difference in single-core performance is ever-so-slightly more pronounced, with the i7-4710HQ scoring 1.51 and the i7-4800MQ managing 1.6, or 6% better. It’s still miniscule and will hardly show up in any gaming endeavors.
As a combination browser benchmark/single-core performance benchmark, Peacekeeper is always an interesting inclusion. The score of 5462 (versus the GT70’s 5660) is yet again a difference of just around 4-5%. In other words, it’s something, but nothing worth talking about.
So the bottom line is that the i7-4710HQ is powerful enough for anything you’re going to throw at it during gaming. Media encoders and other specialized enthusiasts might find a slight bit to gripe about over this technical downgrade, but everyone else won’t miss a beat.
General Application Performance
After going conservative in one category, why not blow the budget on the next? To be fair, storage is nearly always the primary bottleneck these days as it relates to general system performance, but what we’re seeing here is nothing short of ludicrous. The GT72 ups the ante once again with not one, not two, not three, but four M.2 solid-state drives configured in a RAID 0 array. This is accomplished via the use of a daughterboard/SATA adapter which accommodates all four drives in the space of a conventional hard drive. Amazing, yes. But necessary? Practical, even?
We first witnessed this technological superfluity back when the Sony VAIO Z was a thing: and while it was certainly lustful then and now, it doesn’t come without its drawbacks. Sure, it’s faster than hell. These are speeds we’d typically only ever witness in a system with Samsung’s RAPID Mode functionality enabled, which is more or less cheating with the help of the machine’s RAM to cache requests. But beyond a certain point, we’d argue that the risks and costs outweigh the speed benefits. Solid State Drives might have a great track record thus far for reliability, but RAID 0 across four drives of any type increases the failure rate by a factor of four. That’s to say nothing of the recoverability of a typical SSD failure (close to zero, as normally it’s catastrophic)—so it’s a real risk if you’re storing anything of importance.
Either way, we’re here to benchmark. And so we begin with PCMark 7:
And so the GT72 unseats the GT70 just barely to become the best-scoring notebook we’ve reviewed yet in the realm of application performance. Our subjective impressions agree completely with this synthetic assessment, too: waiting is not something you’ll be doing a lot of when you’re sitting in front of a GT72.