MSI GT72 Dominator G-1445 Review : Broadwell and GSync update

Excellent gaming machine with GSync, but needs a little tweaking

Table of Contents (in short):

++ Main reason to consider:

Full features with excellent gaming performance for the money, including flawless GSync, IPS display, 4xM.2 slots, very good keyboard, good speakers, 2xmDP and USB 3.1.

-- Main reason to avoid:

Size and weight and future coupons. Mainly size/weight (17.3″ + 3.8-3.9kg before PSU)

Availability

The Newer GT72 Dominator G-1668 (still GT72 2QD):

MSI GT72 Dominator G-1445 (GT72 2QD)

Pro : + Very good 3D performance for price point (I7, GTX 970M, 16GB RAM at around $1400)
+ New, power efficient, Broadwell I7-5700HQ CPU
+ Very good thermals even under the highest load, without high noise in result
+ No throttling while gaming, with a simple workaround (probably will be fixed with future Bios/EC update)
+ 75HZ display results in smoother gameplay and better for the eyes.
+ GSync is flawless and difference is very felt.
+ Room for GTX 970M overclocking. Easy 15%-17% in many games (not all)
+ Very good quiet backlit keyboard with good feedback, clear keys pressure points and tactile response
+ Good speakers with very good mids and subwoofer and good highs. Enjoyable speakers with minimum hiss.
+ Optimus disabled, allowing for full Nvidia control panel options and configurations
+ Connecion ports: 2xUSB 3.1 alongside 4xUSB 3.0, 2xmDP, SPDI/F and HDMI
+ Good enough touchpad
+ 4xM.2 slots, each on SATA III channel
+ There's a button to switch between the Intel iGPU and GTX 970M, but it requires a reboot.
Con : - At 3.8kg + 1kg 230W PSU
- Battery performance isn't great at 3.5-4.5 hours tops, under very light load. Optimus is not active. There's a switch button to Intel iGPU, with reboot.
- Battery is rather hard to replace (but not impossible)
- Big 17.3" frame, accompanied by high weight
- EC/Bios needed to prevent unjust throttling (but there's a workaround)
- 2.5" bay is connected to SATA II, not SATA III
- Display case produces noise of fragile plastic upon moving (but the hinges are ok)
- mDP is not the latest version
- Wifi performance fluctuating with pings going up and down

Introduction

ComponentDescription
ModelMSI GT72 2QD, GT72 Dominator G 1445
PriceBasic version: ~$1500
Test version: refurbished, for $380
CPUI7-5700HQ (2.7GHZ-3.5GHZ, 47W)
GPUNvidia Geforce GTX 970M 3GB GDDR5, GM204 (Maxwell II), 1280 shaders, core@1037-1124MHZ, GDDR5@1252MHZ, 192-bit bus

In my unit - revision A1
Motherboard ChipsetIntel Broadwell-U PCH-LP (Premium)
RAMSamsung 2x8GB DDR3@1600MHZ
4 banks of memory available, totally
StorageHDD : 1TB HGST HGST HTS721010A9E630
(non SSHD), 7200RPM, 32MB cache
4xM.2 (adapter board inlcluded), 2xSATA 2.0 (HDD and DVDRW)
LCD PanelIn review: 1080p IPS LG Display 17.3" LP173WF4-SPF1, 75HZ
Weight / Dimensions3.81kg (~8.4 Lbs.)
428 x 294 x 48 mm
16.85" x 11.57" x 1.89"
(w x d x h)
KeyboardMulticolor backlit (4 levels including off)
Connection Portsright side: 2xUSB 3.0, power-in, DVDRW
Left: 2XUSB 3.0, 2XUSB3.1, audio in, audio out, microphone, headphone, card reader
rear: 1xHDMI 1.4, 2xmDP, 1xLexington key, RJ-45, power
Camera1080p
WiFi / EthernetWiFi: Killer Wireless-n/a/ac 1525 Wireless Network Adapter
Ethernet: Qualcomm/Atheros e2200 PCI-E Gigabit
Speakers / Audio2.1 Dyanaudio speakers
Realtek ALC892
Battery86Wh
Bios / EC version (test unit)E1781IMS.30C / ?
Extra featuresG-Sync supported
more details

UPDATE: MSI discontinued the GT72 Dominator G-1445 model and replaced it with the Dominator G-1668 model. I don’t know if there are real differences except having Windows 10 on board, instead Windows 8.1.

Welcome to the MSI GT72 Dominator G-1445 Review (G for G-Sync). The specific model is MSI GT72 Dominator G-1445 (or GT72 2QD). The new features it brings to the table are the Intel Broadwell I7-5700HQ CPU (non-removeable), operational G-Sync and an IPS 75HZ display (some older models had IPS though). The 2QD model also sports MXM GTX 970M 3GB (or 980M in the more expensive models), 1080p IPS display (LP173WF4-SPF1), 16GB of DDR3 right out of the butt with additional 2 slots available for RAM, making it 4 slots total. This basic model storage is a 1TB 7200 RPM HDD and it can house another 4 M.2 drives, each with full SATA III speed (but not PCIe).

Why did I get this model? Well, that’s the basic MSI GT72 model which is quite interesting. The launch price is $1500 and as I write these lines, it’s priced at $1420, so you can expect to get it for around $1300-$1400, judging by previous models, if you’ll wait for a deal. It has a very good combination of features and qualities. The G-Sync feature which is still not a standard (like FreeSync) and improves the gameplay significantly, IPS display, USB 3.1 ports, replaceable MXM graphics card which is a little future proof quality. Add to that the good storage options, alongside the usual stuff – good keyboard, good thermals, I7 performance, relatively good speakers and the very fast GTX 970M.

The G-Sync technology, like FreeSync, synchornizing the display to match the GPU output (unlike VSync which tries to sync the GPU with the display refresh cycle) and by doing that, it counter issues that result from low FPS (lower than screen refresh rate, that is) and/or from using VSync (stuttering). The G-Sync function results in a much smoother gameplay, especially when the FPSs frame times are not consistent and/or high FPSs are needed, for example, in very “quick” racing games.

Compared to the competition, with other models for $1300-$1400 you won’t get G-Sync/FreeSync (currently) and/or other stuff like an OS and the 16GB RAM. I’m talking mainly on the Clevo P650SE / Sager NP8651 which also comes with an I7 Haswell CPU vs the GT72 Broadwell. The Gigabyte P55W v4 (this one) is also an interesting proposition with 120GB SSD + 1TB HDD, IPS and GTX 970M and 16GB RAM in this specific sale from ExcaliberPC – all that for $1400. I guess that with time there will be even lower prices, but this one has no G-Sync.

Let’s see how the GT72 fairs in the review. We’ll talk about G-Sync/FreeSync separately with video and all, ok?

And special thanks to ExcaliberPC who helped me with this laptop, also technically, and for being nice!

Build quality, Case, design and looks

The MSI GT72 is all plastic as far as I can see, but it’s not the shiny kind and the keyboard surface looks good. The outer lid is a little flimsy and the screen plastic makes noises when pressed or moved. Otherwise, the base body feels sturdy enough, including the base. Screen hinges feel ok to me.

I was happy to find that I couldn’t recognize a “hiss” sound with my earphones, unlike some other laptops (Y50 and others) which indicates good electrical build quality.

Looks

Maintenance and inner parts

Maintenance is mostly easy. Opening the back panel requires removing 7 screws and using some card or knife to pull the bottom plate as it’s not easy with just bare hands. one of the screws is under the sticker warning you that a damaged sticker will result in voided warranty. I do not know that it does voids the warranty unless you mess up the inner parts.

Inside you’ll discover 2×2.5″ bays, extension board with 4xM.2 connection ports (2 on each side). One 2.5″ bay is housed with the default 1TB 7200RPM HDD and the other is empty and you will not find any connection ports for it as there are none. The 4xM.2 connection ports all connected via dedicated SATA III ports and not PCIe. The HDD and ODD are both connected via SATA II bus (yes, “2”) but that should be ok as HDDs aren’t that fast anyway.

MSI GT72 Dominator G-1445 Review : GT72 motherboard

You’ll notice that pulling out the battery is not easy at all and some almost full disassemble process is needed.

Two empty DDR3 banks are available in addition to the 2x8GB DDR3 modules already installed on the other side. The CPU is not removable like in previous models, but the GPU comes in an MXM form, allowing for future upgrade (though MXM GPUs are often pricey). Both the CPU and GPU have two dedicated heatpipes with one heatpipe shared with the other (total 6 heatpipes). That’s a good solution that can mediate the heat load in many common cases when one part is more loaded and ‘needs’

Connection ports The GT72 comes with two USB 3.1 ports and additional 4xUSB 3.0 ports. 2xmDP, HDMI (1.4) and various audio ports including SPDI/F. 2xmDP ports are of v1.2 (v1.2a?) which is not the latest version, but can output 3840×2160 resolution. Other common connectors are also available. Connection options are good, but I would like to see higher standards of mDP and HDMI, though.

 

Keyboard and touchpad

Keyboard. The Keyboard is a SteelSeries keyboard. Generally, a very good keyboard with clear pressure points, no yield under pressure, good feedback and fast keys response and spacing. I didn’t have any misclicks and very enjoyed the keyboard. It’s also quite quiet. Only one small issue – the travel length could be better and would add to the experience, but that’s not that bad.

The steelseries keyboard also has color zones and many configuration options for the keys. The colors do add something as having colors is great and, at least for me, result in some good feeling.

steelseries control panel

steelseries control panel colors

Touchpad. Simple and good touchpad with two dedicated and separated buttons. The touchpad surface is rather smooth and comfortable to use with only minor issues. Buttons are less so as they are a little stiff.

Sound & Speakers

Very Good. The GT72 comes with 2.1 speakers set, marketed as “dynaudio”. The 2.0 speakers are located on the upper part of the keyboard surface, facing upwards. The subwoofer is facing the bottom. My subjective experience was actually pretty good with good strong and relatively good lows and highs. There was a good balance and I didn’t feel like the bass is taking over, for example. Sound was generally deep and rich and you can say that’s good quality for a laptop.

General subjective performance experience

The MSI GT72 2QD comes with a standard 1TB 7200RPM HDD which is fast enough for my taste, but I would prefer an SSHD or SSD + HDD/SSHD. The M.2 slot can be used for that.

Here are GPU-Z and CPU-Z screenshots

 

Gaming Performance

Test Methods & Drivers

OS is Windows 8.1 fully updated and drivers in use are the Nvidia 353.30. All games were tested on 1080p resolution and I’m sorry for no 1080p tests, I just don’t have an 1080p external monitor. GPU throttled somewhat while running Furmark, but under gaming situation it was only throttled a bit, not reaching it’s boost clocks (1037MHZ). There was a strange issue with the CPU clocks – see “throttling” section please. I’m still waiting for MSI reply. PU-Z showed that the GTX 970M is throttled due to power limitations.

 

Summarized gaming performance

Benchmarks summary for 1080p, all highest settings, except title that say otherwise:MSI GT72 Dominator G-1445 Review : GTX 970M 1080p highest settings benchmark As we already know, the GTX 970M is a very powerful GPU for 1080p gaming. Now, let's compare these numbers to the Clevo P650SE / Sager NP8651 numbers. The P650SE has an I7-4710HQ/20HQ and a GTX 970M 3GB GPU too:MSI GT72 Dominator G-1445 Review : GT72 GTX 970M vs P650SE 970M benchmarkThe built-in benchmarks, which - statistically - are more constant, show no advantage for the GT72 with its I7-5700HQ Broadwell CPU. It's not a surprise. However, as we'll see soon, the I7-5700HQ keeps its clocks quite high even under high load, with no TDP limitations, unlike the I7-4710HQ/4720HQ and although it doesn't help in gaming in these settings, it might be beneficial for rendering and/or gaming with higher power GPUs or with more CPU-intensive games (probably coming in the future).MSI GT72 and GSync. I'll talk about GSync/FreeSync in short. The usual way displays<->GPU syncing was working until now was that the display refresh in a constant rate (75HZ in GT72 case). GPU is rendering the frames in its own pace. Since they are not really talking about it, it creates artifacts and problems, even with VSync/Adaptive VSync. What GSync/FreeSync do is syncing the display refresh cycles with the GPU - unlike VSync which tries to sync the GPU to the display refresh cycle. The improvements are several:
  • No tearing. Tearing eliminated since the display refreshes only when GPU is ready and before the next frame is ready. FPSs with GSync are limited to the display refresh rate.
  • Input lag. Due to the fact that the display displays in its own rate, it might be showing a frame which was rendered a while ago (like 10-20 milliseconds ago). That's not a lot, but it counts. This is more pronounced in VR situations.
  • Stutter. From the same reason as above, some frames might be showing for longer than others and not constantly, like that (frame display time) - f1:13ms, f2:26ms, f3:13ms, f4:26ms. Each frame is showing for a different length of time - usually happens when FPSs are lower than refresh rate significantly. What you'll feel the game is not smooth and more specifically - that things move in a strange way like they sometime "jump" (as you'll see two frames change instead of one, actually). It doesn't mean that the FPSs are low. It can occur of you get 40FPS on Crysis 3 on the MSI GT72 75HZ display. Remember that the I7 + 970M in the GT72 didn't get 40FPS at highest settings@1080p, so this is a real scenario for gamers.
There are others stuff, but these are the main issues for gaming on the main display. The difference in experience might not look huge at first, but try playing without GSync for a while and then turn it on again and you'll feel it immediately. With GSync, the game is much smoother and moving looks much smoother and more natural. You might notice the stuttering more after turning GSync off. I'll talk about this a little more lengthy in a different post, but if you want to get a sense what's the difference, record some gameplay and playback it - that's a magnification of the difference.GT72 Dominator G-1445 Review : Nvidia control panel enable G-Sync

Crysis 3

MSI GT72 Dominator G-1445 Review : GTX 970M Crysis 3 benchmark

Skyrim

Skyrim runs smoothly with very good FPSs@1080p with Ambient Occlusion set on “quality” via Nvidia Control Center.

MSI GT72 Dominator G-1445 Review : GTX 970M Skyrim benchmark

Thief

GT72 Dominator G-1445 Review : GTX 970M Thief benchmark

Bioshock Infinite

GT72 Dominator-G GTX 970M Bioshock Infinite benchmark

Civilization : Beyond Earth

MSI GT72 Dominator G-1445 Review : GTX 970M Civilization Beyond Earth benchmark

Total War : Rome II

Smooth at Extreme graphics settings@1080p.

GT72 Dominator G-1445 Review : GTX 970M Total War Rome II benchmark

Total War : Attila

The new iteration of Total War : Rome II, Attila is a much more demanding game and FPSs are much lower.

GT72 Dominator G-1445 Review : GTX 970M Total War Attila benchmark

Metro : Last Light

Metro : Last Light is a very demanding game with AO and tessellation taking a lot of the GPU juice. It might be a matter of optimization too.

GT72 Dominator-G GTX 970M Metro Last Light benchmark

Battlefield 4 Campaign

BF4 campaign will run well on highest settings smoothly.

GT72 Dominator-G GTX 970M Battlefield 4 Campaign benchmark

Alien : Isolation

MSI GT72 Dominator G-1445 Review : GTX 970M Alien Isolation benchmark

World of Tanks

World of Tanks runs smoothly on highest settings.

MSI GT72 Dominator G-1445 Review : GTX 970M World Of Tanks benchmark

Elite : Dangerous

The benchmark consisted on a traveling inside and out the Cleve Hub space port which is a taxing graphical environment compared to this game.

MSI GT72 Dominator G-1445 Review : GTX 970M Elite Dangerous benchmark

Cities : Skylines

This is a new “sim” game only new and much more fancy (link to steam) with vastly positive reviews from people (10/10 on Steam, for example). I run the Los Angeles premade city (download here) and run with the camera from the airport to the hills with almost maximal zoom.

Finally, the FPSs are not limited (like in my previous benchmarks). Don’t know if it’s a game thing or something with Nvidia. Gameplay was very smooth. This is version 1.1.0b.

MSI GT72 Dominator G-1445 Review : GTX 970M Cities Skylines benchmark

Shadow Of Mordor

MSI GT72 Dominator G-1445 Review : GTX 970M Shadow Of Mordor benchmark

Dragon Age : Inquisition

MSI GT72 Dominator G-1445 Review : GTX 970M Dragon Age Inquisition benchmark

StarCitizen

StarCitizen is still a work in progress and performance should get optimized (by a lot). Anyway, the gameplay was very smooth, except for sudden freezes.

MSI GT72 Dominator G-1445 Review : GTX 970M StarCitizen benchmark

The Witcher 3

Witcher is a little too demanding at highest settings. GSync helps a little, but I would suggest using lower than highest settings.

GT72 Dominator G-1445 Review : GTX 970M The Witcher 3 benchmark

Borderlands The Pre-Sequel

MSI GT72 Dominator G-1445 Review : GTX 970M The Borderlands The Pre-Sequel benchmark

Thermals, Throttling & Noise handling

Stress tests and throttling behavior

As described before, the GPU and CPU cooling consists of two dedicated heatpipes and one shared (6 total) for each. Cool air sucked from the bottom of the machine (hence, it’s important to keep its bottom above the sitting surface) and is thrown from th rear ventilation holes.

Four tests:

1. Idle, power saver mode

2. Gaming : Crysis 3 gameplay. “Very High” settings with SMAAx2 For Crysis 3, “High performance” power mode.

3. Prime95 torture test. “High performance” power mode.

4. Prime95 + Furmark on 1366×768 test, AAx2. “High performance” power mode.

MSI GT72 Dominator G-1445 Review :  CPU and GPU temperatures tests

Even the highest temperatures are pretty good and it seems like a GTX 980M could be housed too without too much trouble from the temperatures aspects. Turning the fans full speed helps a bit but it’s not necessary, plus, it results in a very high noise.

The GT72 Dominator G has some strange issue with throttling:

  • CPU doesn’t throttle even with Prime95 and/or Furmark running. But
  • While gaming, without intervention, I got serious throttling reading. The CPU would downclock to aorund 0.8-1.0GHZ with no reason. No TDP or heat limitations. I’ve tried all MSI Dragon Gaming Center device settings (Sport/Comfort/Green) and I’ve used Windows “High Performance” and “Balanced” power modes just to check.
  • However, it seems to be solvable. If you turn on ThrottleStop with multiplier set to above than the base clocks (2.7GHZ), the clocks are kept high.

I’ve contacted MSI technical support, but as of writing these lines, I’ve offered no solution and really trying to understand what’s the problem. My guess is that there is some problem with the EC or bios algorithm and it should be fixed.

Throttling example, without ThrottleStop (or some other solution):

GT72 CPU throttling Bioshock Infinite

Added a screenshot of Prime95 + furmark test and also a graph of the clocks while running BF4 Campaign on ultra settings, after manipulating the GT72 as described.

GT72 Dominator-G CPU and GPU clocks under load

MSI GT72 Dominator-G Prime95 + Furmark

You can see that the CPU clocks are kept very high (3.2-3.3GHZ) and only the GPU core clocks are automatically downclocked to around 970MHZ under gaming. Running Furmark makes this 860MHZ and the indicator says that it’s due to power limitations.

Heat

Even at very high load, the GT72 shell doesn’t get hot almost at all, except for the upper part of the keyboard/speakers, near the screen’s hinges. As mentioned before, the CPU and GPU temperatures are very good even at very high load.

Noise

Under high load, the fans are audible, but not too strong. I could hear at least one fan noise, almost like it was a little bit loose (I didn’t disassemble it). Under light load with power mode on “balanced” or “power saver” the GT72 is not too noisy but not that quite – also because of the GTX 970M that needs to be cooled as it functions as the main and default GPU for the MSI GT72 (no Optimus). With the Intel 5600 in use instead, the fans are still audible under light use.

Screen & Screen quality

The LG LP173WF4-SPF1 IPS display is a good 17.3″ IPS matte display, with very good viewing angles (though not perfect) and good colors. Moreover, this specific model has a 75HZ refresh rate which is an advantage over the usual 60HZ in most displays and combined with the high FPS rates in games, it will result in a smoother gameplay.

Subjectively, I liked the screen and I must say that it’s sometimes more convenient to play / watch movies on a 17.3″ display (my personal laptop is a 14.0″ one).

LP173WF4-SPF1 calibration file

 

ContrastBrightnessBlack levels
6202440.39
sRGBadobeRGBNTSC
926964

Battery Performance

The GTX 970M used as a default GPU with Optimus disabled in this machine. A button can be used to switch to Intel GPU and vice versa, but a reboot required – the button is located under the power button. This also results in higher than usual power consumption eve for light loads. the big battery helps with that to achieve around 3.5-4.5 hours of use without charging with the GTX 970M. Still, other laptops consume considerably less while idling or under light load.

MSI GT72 Dominator G-1445 Review : battery performance

With Intel HD5600 a little more can be squeezed, but it’s obvious the power consumption is not the main target of this laptop. Anyway, it’s great to have the switching option, at least, with other laptops lacking even that.

GPU Overlocking

I’ve used MSI AfterBurner (version 4.1 currently) to overclock the GPU. These are the settings:

  • GTX 970M core +135MHZ which is around 13-14% overclock.
  • GTX 970M GDDR5 + 250MHZ which is 6.0GHZ vs 5.0GHZ,  a 20% advantage.

I had no stability issues.

GT72 Dominator-G GTX 970M overclock benchmark

We see good improvements in performance across the board, except Thief. The Witcher 3 gain rather a little but still nice 7% and Skyrim 9-10%. Others gain around 14-15% in FPSs which is excellent and some games seem to be limited by the GDDR5 speed, not by the CPU only. In Dragon Age : Inquisition, the OC’ed 970M scores close to the GTX 980M numbers (see NBC benchmarks) and generally, the gap between GTX 980M and GTX 970M becomes quite small with this OC.

Issues

  • The Wifi ping times fluctuates vastly, resulting in unstable gameplay. You will have to update to latest Killer driver (here)
  • As mentioned, it seems that an optimization is needed here in regard of the CPU clocks as they are automatically lowered even when TDP and temperatures are very good. It is solvable locally by using ThrottleStop. People with thorough bios knowledge can solve it to, perhaps.

Competing gaming laptops / Alternatives

    • The previous generation Haswell equipped laptops, like the P650SE / Sager NP8651 or the 17.3″ Clevo P670SE which sometimes have coupons and are somewhat more lightweight the the GT72. They are all at around $1300-$1400, without coupons, and without an OS. The P670SE is around 1.2-1.3kg lighter and the P650SE even more. No GSync. The NP8651 is selling for $1230 in cash and an IPS without an OS. $1400 from Amazon.
    • The new Gigabyte P55W with 128GB SSD + 1TB HD and an IPS for $1400 before coupons/deals (Amazon, ExcaliberPC). No GSync.
    • Alienware 17 for $1400-$1500 (Amazon) but with coupons from Dell, can be bought sometimes for like $1200-$1300. However, GPU is not replaceable and comes with no GSync.

    There are other options, especially if you are good with refurbished laptops. The AW15 with GTX 970M can be bought for lke $1100-$1200 with an I7, IPS and 970M. Even the MSI GT70 can be bought for $1200 with some deals once in few months. I do think that GSync, better speakers, better keyboard and OS are worth it and gives it an edge over the P650SE, especially if you need the OS and if you are ok with a 17.3″ laptop.

    Remember also that GTX 970M is pretty powerful and you might want to go with a little slower solution like the GTX 965M – the AW15 with an I5, IPS and a 965M GPU can be found for like $800-$900 refurbished (1 year warranty), sometimes on eBay or at Dell home outlet.

    However, all of these come with no GSync and many of them, currently, coming with a Haswell CPU, not Broadwell. Alienware and Clevo P6X0SE have a non-replaceable GPU. I think the Clevo might be skipping Haswell and go directly to Skylake in few months. Other might be updating their CPUs though.

    Anyway, you might want to wait for Skylake too, but don’t expect higher gaming performance with a GTX 970M laptop, even with a Skylake CPU.

Conclusion

Well. The MSI GT72 Dominator G-1445 (or GT72 2QD) is MSI’s 17.3″ gaming flagship. It’s aimed to the hardcore gamer with a full feature set including high gaming performance, MXM GPU, GSync support, storage upgrade options and many connection ports including USB 3.1. It also comes with 4xM.2 slots, good IPS display and a working GSync. Currently selling for $1420 (MSRP : $1500) and my guess is that we’ll see more coupons/discounts in the near future so $1400 can be considered its actual price tag.

In this review, the GT72 faired pretty well, with top 3D and gaming performance. It also has a working GSync which is currently rather unique for this segment of gaming laptops for such a price. The no Optimus approach allows for a full Nvidia control panel configuration, accompanied with a 75HZ IPS display which results is smoother gameplay and it’s also better for the eyes (we can see more than 24FPS). Using the built-in button to switch to Intel HD5600 iGPU works and will save you another few Watts, resulting in a little higher running times on battery, but it requires reboot.

Gaming performance is as much as you can expect from an I7 and a GTX 970M GPU and there’s also room for overclocking the GPU – in my simple MSI Afterburner test, the 970M achieved another 13-14% in core clocks and 20% in GDDR5 clocks and it was stable. The performance improvement in some games I’ve tested reached 15-17%, closing the gap with the GTX 980M, making it almost uninteresting. GSync is working flawlessly and you can feel it. No tearing and a much lower stutter.

The keyboard is also very good and I only wish it had a little more travel, but it’s good nonetheless. The IPS display is good too. Speakers are pretty good with very good mids and lows and good highs, making the GT72 an enjoyable music machine.

There are some problems though. There is some CPU throttling issue which occurs under gaming situation and is currently unsolved by MSI. It has not relation to TDP or temperature limit and I suspect the MSI’s EC/Bios algorithm needs a little knock on the head. A working workaround is using ThrottleStop and setting it to 27 and up multiplier (hiy “turn on”) which solves the problem effectively completely and the benchmarks show that.

Another annoying thing, is that the 2.5″ bay is connected to a SATA II port instead of SATA III. Fast SSDs will be limited, though it’s not an issue with an HDD/SSHD. Though there two bays, only one has a connection. However, 4XM.2 slots are easily accessible and each has a full SATA III channel.

The biggest problem, however, is the size and shape of the GT72. Being a 17.3″ laptop, its frame is pretty big and it’s also pretty high, housing also an MXM GPU. This might be a problem for wanderers. The 230W PSU is another 1kg more or less. And battery will suffice for 3.5-4.5 hours tops, depends on the way you use it (I’m talking light load).

Bottom line is, the GT72 Dominator G is a very good gaming machine if you don’t need to travel a lot with it (on back or hands). It has almost everything in it and for $1400. The GSync advantage is big advantage which does not exist in other laptops currently, in this price range. Ofcourse, you might want to wait for Skylake update or you might decide you don’t need that much power AND a GTX 965M is good enough. Also, waiting for the other manufacturers to update their models is a smart move. Clevo might provide a good hit with their next 15.6″ gaming laptops (with Skylake).

.

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ky
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ky

hey junky, wanted to thank you for the excellent reviews. i am extremely interested in the 1668 or the 1445 but they are both discontinued! perhaps it would be better to wait but my current computer’s performance is rather disappointing. Like many others have said the weight and size is excessive but that’s the only real sacrifice(if it can be called that, providing everything in it and all the upgrade potential). I understand the msi gs70 stealth pro-607 is a good alternative if you want something smaller and more low-key. Unfortunately it seems to sacrifice some of the GTX 970s… Read more »

Junky
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Hi ky!

I think they are discontinued because of the new MSI GT72s (the “s” is not for plural) which will be available soon, so just wait!

Ramzay
Guest
Ramzay

I still don’t understand how anybody can think this keyboard (which is the same used on many MSI laptops) is good. It isn’t, especially not considering this is a honking big 17″ laptop with much more room to spare to put in a true full-sized keyboard. The keys are small, squished together (on the num pad especially), a small 0 key on the num pad…Anybody who’s used an actual good keyboard (such as those on Alienware machines) will clearly find this lacking. Not that I want to sound condescending, but I’m of the opinion only those having used crappy keyboards… Read more »

Junky
Guest

Hi Ramzay

I think this is not a completely objective measurement and opinions may vary. Also, you are probably used to a different keyboard. How long have you used the GT72?

Also, are the keys really squished?

Do you sometimes miss a hit while you type? Do you type slower?

Moreover, I didn’t said it was “amazing” or “perfect” or anything like that. I said “Very good quiet backlit keyboard” and I believe it is, at least for most people. I’ve also used an Alienware 15, mind you

Ramzay
Guest
Ramzay

The keys on the num pad are definitely squished (as in very close together, making it hard to use). All the keys are quite small in size. I find it hard to type on this. I still don’t get why they put the Windows key on the right of the keyboard. The keyboard also seems shifted to the right a bit. Since you’ve used the AW15, you then know what a good keyboard is, both in terms of layout, size and ease of use . I’ve been using a AW17 R1, so that is my benchmark for what a decent… Read more »

Junky
Guest

I’ll tell you something – a carefully chosen $30-$50 is probably better than most $1500 gaming laptops’ keyboards, maybe than all of them. Just for a reference About the GT72 vs AW15 – I really don’t feel like it, but again – it is not an objective measurement. I tend to focus on responsiveness, feedback, texture and key travel depth as these are the most interesting/annoying to me – in these aspects, I find it hard to say that the AW15 keyboard, though I liked it (relatively for a laptop), is clearly better or worse. I even think I liked… Read more »

Ramzay
Guest
Ramzay

Definitely agree, even the best laptop keyboard is sub-par compared to even a cheap stand-alone keyboard.

I’ve been using the two (GT72 & AW17 R1) side-by-side for a few days, and I can honestly say there is nothing about the GT72’s keyboard I find better than the AW’s.

But that is obviously a matter of opinion/preference (with the exception of key size/layout – I find it hard to believe anybody could argue small key size and a very narrow num pad could be better).

maribo
Guest
maribo

Thank your for your detailed review
I am also thinking to buy this laptop but it doesn’t has the same specs
http://www.notebooksbilliger.de/notebooks/msi+gt72+2qd81fd+gaming+notebook#navbar
does this model have the same IPS panel?

Junky
Guest

I think so, yes

mat3415
Guest
mat3415

I believe I am going to purchase the GT72. This is the right one, correct?:http://www.bestbuy.com/site/msi-gt72-dominator-pro-17-3-laptop-intel-core-i7-16gb-memory-1tb-hard-drive-aluminum-black/8702259.p?id=1219694764371&skuId=8702259

Any last suggestions or things to consider before actually buying?

Junky
Guest

that’s the one!

mat3415
Guest
mat3415

Great! Last question, i promise: If i want to add an ssd and switch over the os to boot through the ssd, can i use any 2.5″ ssd? (like an 850 evo? http://www.bestbuy.com/site/samsung-850-evo-120gb-internal-serial-ata-solid-state-drive-for-laptops-black/1661019.p?id=1219507983030&skuId=1661019). Or are the ssds for a laptop different?

Junky
Guest

instead of the HDD or ODD – yes. Same 2.5″ – you’ll need a caddy for the ODD
Anyway, in the GT72 they both sit on SATA II, so a good SSD will be limited in performance

mat3415
Guest
mat3415

Wait you lost me there. So the only way to add an ssd is to remove the ODD or HDD? dont really want to do either. Doesnt it have an empty 2.5″ tray I can use. Not too happy that it is sata II. I read above about an M.2 SSD. What is that? would it be faster than the SATA II?

Junky
Guest

1. M.2 would be faster

2. No empty 2.5″ that is connected

3. M.2 is a form factor and a connection type. You can buy such SSDs

mat3415
Guest
mat3415

Oh its just an empty 2.5″ that has no connection? Seems kind of pointless, no?. So the only way to add an ssd to the GT72 is via an M.2 if i dont want to lose the ccd or hdd? Are there any down sides to an M.2 ssd?

Something like this? http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=9SIA4P02T64861&cm_re=m.2_ssd-_-20-147-398-_-Product

Junky
Guest

oops, didn’t notice your reply.. How is it going?

mat3415
Guest
mat3415

Hey im not sure if you saw my last question, but i also want to ask one more thing. Will this work?http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=9SIA4P02T64861 I am not sure, because i have heard something about using sata ii and not sata iii

mat3415
Guest
mat3415

Is the throttling a big issue? You mentioned ThrottleStop with multiplier. Do you have a link for this?

Junky
Guest

1. TS: http://forum.notebookreview.com/threads/the-throttlestop-guide.531329/
2. Open it, set multiplier to, say, 27 and hit “turn on”
3. The throttling is mainly strange. Seems like a bios/EC stuff more than a real problem, as there is no TDP or heat problems really
4. I see now that they released a new bios on the 25.6 (haven’t seen it before) so maybe it will fix the problem. Or maybe it will be fixed with the next bios update.

mat3415
Guest
mat3415

Thanks for the reply! Would you recommend this laptop over the GE72 APACHE PRO-077? It has a 128gb ssd and 3lbs lighter.

Junky
Guest

1. The GE series is more lightweight but has less features and lower build quality in terms of the exterior. The GT72, for gaming, is probably much better and has an MXM GPU too
2. Are you sure you need that much power?

mat3415
Guest
mat3415

Well the GE comes with the same 970M and i don’t no if i will be needing to replace it anytime soon. However, the fact that the GT72 does have the ability to change the gpu at a later date is definitely a big plus. Is sacrificing lightweight and a ssd to get the GT over the GE worth it?

By power, are u what are you referring to? The laptops as a whole or just the 970m?

Junky
Guest

1. There are GEs with 970M but not MXM
2. MXM could be useful, but that’s not a big advantage because of prices (though, if you don’t buy the latest series, prices are lower)
3. Do you need OS included in price? some Clevo options are good too
4. If you don’t need to move it much then GT is probably a better bet – better thermals and all
5. 970M mainly. You could go for 960M/965M

mat3415
Guest
mat3415

Believe I am either going to go with an ASUS or MSI laptop. Starting to like MSI more and more. MXM just has to do with the ability to change the gpu later, correct? I want to make sure i have a gpu that will last me a couple of years. Just afraid of the size of the GT, as well as the lack of an ssd. The fact that the ge comes with an ssd and the os is loaded on it is pretty convenient. Other than thermals, what advantages does the GT have over the GE?

Junky
Guest

good question :
– more M.2 ports
– GSync enabled by default (though I think it will be available in the future for the GE72, by 4th party hacking)
– 75HZ display
– Better keyboard
– MXM
– thermals (much better with the GT72)
– USB 3.1
– “Killer” Wifi card (though I didn’t have good experience with the GT72)
– Much better sound quality probably, judging by others reviews and by the GE60 I had

mat3415
Guest
mat3415

So down the road i could add an ssd via a M.2 port to the GT72? can any ssd work or is there laptop specific ssd’s? Is it easy to move the os and boot with the ssd? I didn’t notice that the ge didn’t have usb 3.1, good catch. Just fyi, from what i have read about the ge62/72, there is a big difference between them and the other ge60. Gsync and the better display are pretty big as well. Would you still consider the wifi card a plus if you mad issues with it?

Junky
Guest

The issued got better after updating drivers and it is a fast Wifi card – not sure if the problem will be with all GT72
Yes, you could add 4xM.2 drivers
It is rather easy – I’m using the Macrium reflect free version to do that. You will have to have some third HDD to save the image though, or make a direct clone

mat3415
Guest
mat3415

Ok thanks for all of your help! It looks like the only benefit to the ge72 is the weight and ssd, but i can add an ssd to the gt72 and weight isnt a big deal. Biggest concern with the GT is the throttling, but I suppose a future update or ThrottleStop will fix the issue. Just too many benefits to the GT i suppose. Is there anything that the ge72 does better than the gt? If not, then i guess we have a winner then haha.

Junky
Guest

I sincerely can’t find something like that. I think the prices are wrong or they simply trying to grab what they can.
Again, Clevo P650SE is a good option for $1230 with a good IPS, GTX 970M, I7-4720HQ, 8GB RAM and lots of connection ports.. no OS included for this price

mat3415
Guest
mat3415

I’m not sure what you are talking about? What can’t you find something like?

Junky
Guest

“Is there anything that the ge72 does better than the gt?” – can’t find such a thing

mat3415
Guest
mat3415

Ohhhh so you are saying that the ge72 should be a lot cheaper than the gt72? Wasn’t sure with what you meant about wrong prices or “grab what they can”

Junky
Guest

as far as performance and features – yes. There are sometimes coupons, like the GE62 apache pro (pro = PLS display) with 965M and an I7 for $1000, but that’s not the usual price currently.

The P650SE is selling for $1200 with an I7, 970M and IPS (check deals). Maybe it will interests you – unlike the GE72, the case doesn’t get hot and IPS display is good, much more connection ports too.

mat3415
Guest
mat3415

I have a credit for best buy, which doesnt offer the P650SE. But the GE62 apache pro has a 970m: http://www.bestbuy.com/site/msi-ge62-apache-pro-15-6-laptop-intel-core-i7-16gb-memory-1tb-hard-drive-128gb-solid-state-drive-aluminum-black/8702126.p?id=1219694766992&skuId=8702126

i had thought that pro meant the better graphics card. So it just has to do with the display. So the gt72 has a ips, which is a better screen than the ge 62/72 has with a pls?

Junky
Guest

PLS/IPS – both good