The $2,999 GT72 2QE leaves no doubt; it is the fastest gaming laptop we’ve ever reviewed, thanks almost exclusively to its NVIDIA GTX 980M and its class-leading performance. But let’s not also forget the outright absurdity of its storage solution: a quad-SSD RAID 0 array, which is something we don’t recall having seen since the days of the Sony VAIO Z.
Elsewhere, changes are more practical. We gleefully wave goodbye to the shiny plastic surfaces of yesterday (that’s so early 2014) and finally greet a design which is mentionable in the same breath as the Alienwares and the ASUS ROGs of the world. The annoying capacitive control center buttons have been replaced by much more convenient physical buttons to the left of the keyboard. The touchpad is much improved, and the SteelSeries keyboard is still likely to be divisive in some respects, but we love it.
As for thermal design, the GT72 adds a second cooling fan—now one for the CPU and GPU each independently—and pairs it with a heavily-perforated bottom panel which greatly improves ventilation. We never even needed Cooler Boost 3, but the option exists. The machine is actually notably quieter than its predecessors; it’s obviously audible, but during gaming, it really isn’t all that noticeable.
What about battery life? As we’ve said a thousand times before, longevity under general computing use really isn’t what the GT72 is about. But while the conventional test results fail to impress, the Battery Boost functionality in this latest generation of NVIDIA hardware and the accompanying driver improvements produce runtimes that are literally more than double in many games versus Battery Boost off, and nearly always at least 60% better at minimum in others. That’s a huge difference and a truly practical asset if you’re ever planning on playing some games while unplugged.
Negatives? Of course, there’s always a few. For starters, we have to mention the warranty void sticker on the bottom if you choose to open or maintain your PC, even if it isn’t truly enforced (as some users report). Next, there’s the reliability concerns that come along with a four-drive RAID 0 array of any type; yes, they’re SSDs, but a failure rate that’s four times as high (and a recoverability rate in the event of failure that is close to zero), the admittedly impressive gains in storage speed seem more superfluous than practical. There’s the small irritation of having to reboot in-between switching between integrated and dedicated graphics (if you decide to do so). The significant difficulty of replacing the internal battery (a process which requires disassembly/removal ofaround 60% of the unit's internal parts) is a bummer. And finally, we suppose you could complain about weight and battery life—though we wouldn’t consider either of these items to be relevant drawbacks for most intended uses of the machine.
If it were our money, we’d probably spring for the $2,299 model, which is arguably a better value. By contrast, it features just one 128 GB M.2 SSD, 16 GB of RAM, and a 1 TB hard drive. If storage capacity is an issue, a replacement down the road would be cheap and easy. Regardless of which one you pick, however, you can rest assured that—at least in terms of gaming performance—the result will be second-to-none. Between the record-breaking GTX 980M and the vastly improved design, the GT72 earns our coveted PC Perspective Editor’s Choice award.