Quick Look

We take a very short look at the new MSI GT72S gaming notebook with the GTX 980 GPU.

Last month NVIDIA introduced the world to the GTX 980 in a new form factor for gaming notebook. Using the same Maxwell GPU, the same performance levels but with slightly tweaked power delivery and TDPs, notebooks powered by the GTX 980 promise to be a noticeable step faster than anything before it.

Late last week I got my hands on the updated MSI GT72S Dominator Pro G, the first retail ready gaming notebook to not only integrate the new GTX 980 GPU but also an unlocked Skylake mobile processor. 

This machine is something to behold – though it looks very similar to previous GT72 versions, this machine hides hardware unlike anything we have been able to carry in a backpack before. And the sexy red exterior with MSI Dragon Army logo blazoned across the back definitely help it to stand out in a crowd. If you happen to be in a crowd of notebooks.

A quick spin around the GT72S reveals a sizeable collection of hardware and connections. On the left you'll find a set of four USB 3.0 ports as well as four audio inputs and ouputs and an SD card reader.

On the opposite side there are two more USB 3.0 ports (totalling six) and the optical / Blu-ray burner. With that many USB 3.0 ports you should never struggle with accessories availability – headset, mouse, keyboard, hard drive and portable fan? Check.

Finally, on the back side, we have a mini DisplayPort connection, USB 3.1 port (no Thunderbolt 3 though), full-size HDMI, Gigabit Ethernet and power input.

The top of the exterior is painted red with the familiar dragon logo. That dragon eye does illuminate when the system is powered on – a nice touch from MSI.

  MSI GT72S Dominator Pro G
Processor Intel Core i7-6820HK (Unlocked)
Chipset Intel CM236
Memory 32GB DDR4-2133
Graphics NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 8GB
Storage 2 x Samsung M.2 NVMe PCIe 128GB SSD (RAID 0)
Screen 17.3-in 1920×1080 IPS G-Sync Enabled
Networking Killer E2400 Gigabit Ethernet
Killer N1535 802.11ac 2×2
Display Connections Mini DisplayPort
SuperPort (USB 3.1)
Connectivity 6 x USB 3.0
SD Card Reader
OS Windows 10 64-bit
Dimensions 16.85" x 11.57"x 1.89"
Weight 8.4 lbs
MSRP $3099

Clearly the hardware in here speaks for itself, though that price tag of $3099 is extremely high – $500 more than the exact same hardware with the GTX 980M integrated. That's a sharp increase for what we measure to be 20-30% additional performance but for those gamers that want nothing but the best, you'll find nothing better (unless you jump in to the world of multi-GPU). 

That Intel Core i7-6820HK is a quad-core HyperThreaded beast of a mobile processor scaling up to 3.6 GHz in Turbo mode. And, though I haven't done testing with it yet to see how far it can be pushed, the processor is multiplier unlocked allowing for overclocking as well.

If the CPU and GPU weren't enough to impress you, the pair of NVMe enabled Samsung M.2 SSDs might do the trick, pulling more than 3 GB/s of primary storage bandwidth!

I'll save my complete discussion on the gaming performance of the MSI GT72S with the GTX 980 for our full review, but here's a little break off the remix.

  • Crysis 3 – 1080p – Very High, 4x MSAA
    • GTX 980M: 36.2 FPS
    • GTX 980: 46.3 FPS
    • + 27%
  • GTA V – 1080p, Very High
    • GTX 980M: 52.6 FPS
    • GTX 980: 62.9 FPS
    • + 21%

Clearly I am excited to spend more time with the latest in MSI's GT72S line of gaming notebooks thanks to the extremely impressive performance of the GTX 980 and Intel Skylake processor. I know EA just happened to add an extra day to that Star Wars Battlefront beta…

Check back soon for the full review!!