The MSi GT70 Gaming Laptop’s Guts Are Almost As Impressive As Its Keyboard

The MSi GT70 Gaming Laptop’s Guts Are Almost As Impressive As Its Keyboard

As a PC gamer that enjoys getting my hands on the latest hardware, the most exciting feature of MSi’s new GT70 laptop should be the 2.3GHz Core i7-3610QM quad-core Ivy Bridge CPU or its ridiculously speedy storage solution, a combination of a 7200RPM 750GB hard drive and a pair of Samsung 64GB solid state drives.

But neither of those impressive features is quite as engaging as that damn illuminated SteelSeries keyboard.

Oh don’t worry, I’ll discuss power and performance, but what’s the first thing that catches your eye when you look at the article atop this review? After the orange circle. No, no, below the screen. Above the trackpad.

That’s right, it’s the multicoloured glow of the keyboard, a shining beacon in a darkened room, calling me to come and play. It’s completely customisable as well, with three illuminated sections that can change hue, turn on and off, breath, or roll in a constant wave.

It’s not just the pretty colours. Each pressed key delivers a satisfying mechanical click, something I crave in a gaming laptop like a dying man craves… not dying. Look, my analogy skills might need work, but I know typing.

Okay, now that I’ve gotten that out of my system…

Joining the keyboard on the exterior of the GT70 is a pair of Dynaudio speakers, a mainstay of MSI’s machines, providing sound a step above that of your average portable gaming rig. Between the speakers is a touch panel, giving easy access to several important controls, including the MSI Turbo Drive Engine (more on that in a bit) and the Cooler Boost button, which sends the unit’s fan into noisy overdrive.

It also bears noting that one of the few issues I had with the previous MSi laptop I tested, the single-piece trackpad button, has been taken care of. The GT70 sports two buttons below an incredibly responsive pad, and while I still prefer an external mouse I don’t hate it nearly as much as other finger-based navigation options.

At 16.9 by 2.2 by 11.3 inches and a weight of 3.7kg, the GT70 is a meaty machine that’s looking to relegate your PC to the dusty corner of your closet. Its 17.3-inch anti-glare 1920×1080 LCD panel communicates vibrant colour as readily as any standalone monitor, with an expansive viewing angle insuring you won’t need to constantly adjust the tilt to get your view just right.

To be a true desktop replacement, however, a laptop needs to provide power on par with a moderately high-powered gaming rig, and the GT70 isn’t quite there.

It’s certainly got the data access speed. Its super RAID design — a laptop first — ties together a pair of 64GB Samsung solid state drives with a standard 720GB hard disk to generate access speeds of up to 900 megabytes per second. While the unit I reviewed was configured incorrectly and only allowed for speeds of up to 600MB/s, the difference between this configuration and anything else I’ve used was still quite noticeable.

It’s got the network technology as well, incorporating Killer Gaming’s Bigfoot Gaming LAN technology to detect when games are accessing the network, giving them priority over other online applications. This supposedly results in reduced latency, giving players of online games an edge on the competition. I don’t know, I still died quite a lot in Battlefield 3. Apparently the technology can’t fix suck.

Indeed Battlefield 3 marks one of the only shortfalls of the GT70. With its integrated NVIDIA Geforce GTX 670M with 3GB of GDDR5, I figured it would perform a bit better than it did in Battlefield 3, but in campaign mode on Ultra settings I only managed to swing 24-25 frames per second. Pressing the MSI Turbo Drive Engine button brought the frame rate up to 25-26. That’s on par with the Razer Blade, the expensive gaming laptop everyone laughed at because it was so underpowered.

That doesn’t mean the MSi GT70 isn’t a powerhouse of a machine; it just means all of that power can’t help it run Battlefield 3 on Ultra. It performed quite well on lower settings, and less intense games (like Tera, for instance) gave it no trouble whatsoever.

For $US1,999 (in the reviewed configuration), the MSi GT70 delivers one sturdy piece of computing hardware, packed with power, bristling with ports, and ready to gently nudge your space-hog PC into the desk-side garbage can. What it may lack in gaming power it more than makes up for in cutting-edge technology, construction, and overall design. MSi makes good laptops.

And SteelSeries makes wonderful laptop keyboards. Did I mention the keyboard?


    • For the RAID0

      which effectively doubles your sustained read/write speed at the cost of redundancy (ie if either of the 2 drives fail you loose all the data, and the chance of one drive failing out of two drives is greater than the chance of a single drive failing)

      But that’s how they boast 900Mb/s sustained r/w compared to a normal SSD which are normally around 550Mb/s.

    • “It’s certainly got the data access speed. Its super RAID design…”

      Meaning, I assume, that the access speeds of the SSD’s are doubled, because the computer reads them both at once, and combines the result.

  • Man…. the amount of VRAM they throw at mobile GPU’s is stupid. No one needs 3GB of video memory in a laptop, hell most people don’t even need that in a desktop.

      • fuck people have no idea, plug it into a tv and run same resolution… yeah im sure technically it should run the same as it does on the laptops screen at res, but it doesnt.. you will be turning down settings so quick trying to maintain fps. i got a i7 2600k 8gb 6990 overclocked solid state etc on a 58″ plasma and man even some games it can’t run at max settings.. i hear people saying 6990 etc are overkill, fuck off, i’ll need another 6990 before i will be running max everything at 60fps and then they will release another game to make my expensive rig look like a piece haha.

  • “…Battlefield 3, but in campaign mode on Ultra settings I only managed to swing 24-25 frames per second. Pressing the MSI Turbo Drive Engine button brought the frame rate up to 25-26…”

    *throws up*

  • Have people not caught onto the Clevo (Metabox/Horize/Sager) laptops yet? They are absolutely the best bang for your back if you want a powerful laptop, and they have distributors in Australia.

    Clevo Horize P150EM has basically identical specs as the above laptop minus the steel series keyboard and weighs in at AU$1699.

    I was able to customize a build with a 2.3GHz Ivy Bridge CPU, 16GB RAM (1600MHz), 750GB Hybrid SSD, etc. with a GTX675M/7970M instead of a GTX670M and it still weighed in less than the MSI.

      • Yeah, they’re the fucking business on paper… get it home though.
        I bought one at the start of the year (P151HM1, $1,300 ish, with
        added three year warranty), and have had absolutely nothing but
        problems. Blue screen of death errors to be specific. I wasn’t
        aware they existed outside of the nineties until I encountered this
        laptop. From the get go to the point where I finally got a refund
        (a span of about seven months, replacing things like the hard drive
        and the RAM myself as well as sending it off for repairs two or
        three times) I got BSODs intermittently, once every day or couple
        of days, never being able to rely on the thing for games or study
        or whatever. You could be out of the room or playing BF3 it made no
        difference, it would just blue screen every so often. On top of
        that I tried different legit copies of Windoze, made sure all my
        drivers were up to date and working and all in all doing anything I
        could to not upset the damn thing. I know they have a good track
        record, I did my homework, but this PC was a lemon and their
        customer service had their hearts set on more time consuming
        repairs, all of which didn’t make any difference. They did
        eventually give up though. I wouldn’t not buy one again, it was a
        good laptop for the price… when it worked. Going to get the GT70
        in the next couple of days, I want to put in the extra money after
        the bad experience with Metabox. And I’d argue that MSI is very
        close to Meta in terms of value, and MSI is much more well regarded
        I find.

    • I’ve heard the clevo/sager/horize/metabox have many issues such as keyboard, audio quality, audio jack problems…etc. There is a very helpful video that i’ve found on youtube, this guy have bought a p170em and returns. Eventually he get a MSI GT70 and happy forever:

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