MSI GT70 2PE Dominator Pro Gaming Notebook Review: Appropriately named
Introduction and Design
It was only last year that we were singing the praises of the GT60, which was one of the fastest notebooks we’d seen to date. Its larger cousin, the GT70, features a 17.3” screen (versus the GT60’s 15.6”), faster CPUs and GPUs, and even better options for storage. Now, the latest iteration of this force to be reckoned with has arrived on our desks, and while its appearance hasn’t changed much, its performance is even better than ever.
While we’ll naturally be spending a good deal of time discussing performance and stability in our article here, we won’t be dedicating much to casing and general design, as—for the most part—it is very similar to that of the GT60. On the other hand, one area on which we’ll be focusing particularly heavily is that of battery life, thanks solely to the presence of NVIDIA’s new Battery Boost technology. As the name suggests, this new feature employs power conservation techniques to extend the notebook’s life while gaming unplugged. This is accomplished primarily via frame rate limiting, which is a feature that has actually been available since the introduction of Kepler, but which until now has been buried within the advanced options available for such products. Battery Boost basically brings this to the forefront and makes it both accessible and default.
Let’s take a look at what this bad boy is packing:
Not much commentary needed here; this table reads like a who’s who of computer specifications. Of particular note are the 32 GB of RAM, the 880M (of course), and the 384 GB SSD RAID array (!!). Elsewhere, it’s mostly business as usual for the ultra-high-end MSI GT notebooks, with a slightly faster CPU than the previous model we reviewed (the i7-4700MQ). One thing is guaranteed: it’s a fast machine.
Design and Portability
Again, the case design for the GT70 is highly reminiscent of the GT60 (though obviously larger), with essentially the same styling and materials in play and only subtle visual discrepancies between the two. Most of the same observations apply, such as the predominantly plastic body with metal accents on the palm rest and display lid, as well as the rather tacky-looking high-gloss black plastic that comprises the control center strip above the keyboard. For much more detailed impressions of and descriptions of the casing, please refer to our previous review of the MSI GT60 for full details of the design.
In terms of what’s different, there are a few items of interest. The touchpad has seen some changes (for the better), and we’ll cover that below in the User Interface section as usual. Meanwhile, the control center still features the same problematic touch-sensitive buttons—too bad, because apart from that section of the base unit, it’s a pretty attractive and practically-built machine.
Of course, since we’re moving up in size, the ports have changed as well. The GT70 has an enormous array of connections available, including five total USB ports (three USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0), Gigabit Ethernet, three video outputs (VGA, HDMI, and mini-DisplayPort), four audio ports (mic, headphones, line in/out), a card reader, a Blu-ray writer, and the usual charging and Kensington Lock ports.
The major components are still accessible via the bottom maintenance hatch. It’s secured by several screws, including one which rests below yet another warranty sticker (a pet peeve of ours on any high-end machine, especially one meant for enthusiasts). Within, you will find access to the 2.5” hard drive (a 1 TB model in this case), two of the RAM DIMMs, and the Super RAID 2 assembly outfitted with three SSDs in our review unit (this is only available on select models). The heatsink/fan is also fully replaceable.