MSI GT70 Dominator Pro Overview

Discussion in 'Portable & Small Form Factor' started by booj, May 15, 2014.

  1. booj

    booj Member

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    Hey all,

    One of the benefits of working for MSI is that I get to play with some nice bits of kit. Since I needed a new laptop for work.. why settle for a $400 cheapie when you could get the use of gaming mega beast like this? Said beast is a MSI GT70 2PE Dominator Pro. By day, I’ll be using it to send emails, run Skype and a bit of MS office. In the evenings though, and especially while traveling it will find its use as a full desktop replacement, having some fun with gaming and making use of the grunt on hand for things like photoshop and some video editing.

    I think I might actually enjoy airport layovers and passing the hours in Hotel rooms :p

    Obviously it’s not my place to do a review, but I will present some info and benches for you to look over.

    Pics and Unboxing overview


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    MSI continues to partner with SteelSeries for the keyboard. It is backlit with up to 1000 patterns, simpler uniform colors or you could just turn it off :p. There's support for key customization, macros including mouse events, game profiles and other functions via the SteelSeries software.

    Until I looked at the pics, i didn't really notice... Why didn't I take the protective plastic off?... duh..

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    One of the interesting things for gamers is the inclusion of the popular XSplit Gamecaster software, which is bundled for free. This allows easy gameplay capturing and uploading to Youtube or Twitch etc as well as sharing over social networks.

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    The audio section is something MSI takes very seriously on all our G-Series products. The first and most obvious thing are the speakers, designed by Dynaudio. They know a thing or two about speaker design having produced some of the most exclusive speakers in history. Check these out for a measly $85,000USD for example. http://www.theabsolutesound.com/articles/dynaudio-evidence-platinum/

    I played the Avengers Bluray and can honestly say, these are the best integrated speakers I have heard (and I've heard a lot). Most notebook speakers tend to rate alongside a home brand answering machine. Although you’ll always get better results with a quality set of headphones or discrete speakers, the inbuilt speakers sound as good as you will find in any notebook.

    The audio quality is best revealed when used with a quality set of headphones. A dedicated amp design capable of driving high impedance headphones aims to minimize interference from source to ear. Hence the 'Audio Boost' moniker.


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    Moving on to the connections now. On the right hand side of the unit, you'll find a pair of USB 2.0 ports and a BluRay & DVD writer.

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    Around the back we see a security lock, Power input, the Killer LAN port, VGA, Mini DP and HDMI outputs. These video outs can all be used simultaneously to drive three external monitors.

    The Killer networking is a pretty big deal for gamers. The major feature for gamers is the Advanced Stream Detect function, which is a fancy way of saying that the Killer E2200 can prioritize latency sensitive traffic, such as while playing an online game. This means you can minimize ping times and lag, and even leave things like torrents going in the background. The Killer software app has a range of monitoring functions, priority controls and more.

    The other networking options are AC WiFi and Bluetooth 4.

    The power adapter is rated for 180W and to be honest, it's pretty beefy, but that's what you need to power a high end gaming notebook.

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    On the left of the unit are three USB 3.0 ports, a SDXC/HC card reader. On the right are gold plated audio in and out ports.

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    Normally I like to take more professional pics than these, but two of my three light box lights need new globes and they aren’t the sort of thing you get from Target or Kmart. :|

    I couldn't get a proper shot of the metal lid in the available light, so i've shamelessly stolen one from the MSI website. At least the black is black in this pic!

    The finish is an attractive black brushed metal top, the rest is mostly plastic, but this feels like a sturdy solidly produced notebook. Do beware that it is a fingerprint magnet though. You’d want to wash your hands after that meal of fish and chips before a gaming session.

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    This is a big notebook. That’s the price of a fully capable desktop replacement with 17.3" screen. Coming in at 3.9Kg, and measuring in at 428mm wide by 288mm high and 55mm deep, it’s obvious this is no 8” tablet you can put in your bag or purse. Still al hell of a lot easier to cart around than a desktop PC though ;)

    If you want desktop performance, you need a notebook with beef. There simply isn’t any other way to play the latest games at 1080p and higher with all eye candy on. This is a machine for traveling hardcore gamers, Lanners, for those who don’t want an ATX tower taking up their desk space or those who want the all around PC grunt that you cant get with any tablet or Ultrabook.

    The Hardware:

    Here's what CPUZ & GPUZ have to say about the core hardware:

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    The i7-4800MQ found in the Dominator Pro is close to the top of the notebook CPU range. You could consider it a desktop 4670 with Hyperthreading or a 4770 with 6Mb of L3 cache. The clocks are highly variable as is usual in notebook CPUs. It will boost up to 3.7Ghz when power conditions allow and equally importantly, thanks to Haswell features such as C6 and C7 sleep states and the integrated voltage regulator, the 4800MQ in the Dominator Pro will throttle down to 800Mhz at idle with voltage as low as 0.6v depending on the individual chip. The typical TDP is 47W, around half of what you would see on a desktop chip. You could expect single digit CPU power consumption (in watts) in the deeper sleep modes.

    This particular version has 32Gb(!!) of memory on board. With that much memory on board, any sort of intensive content creation or memory hogging apps or multi tasking is going to be easy. You could also consider creating a RAM disk. If RAID SSD’s aren’t fast enough.. how about having transfers measured in the many Gb/s? Forget about load times then..

    Let’s talk storage. This model of the GT70 Dominator Pro has no less than three SSD’s in RAID0 (384Gb total) plus a 1tb HDD for storage. (Triple RAID0!! hah no compromise there..) In a best case scenario of sequential reading, this can provide speeds up to 1500Mb/s.

    A high end model like the GT70 Dominator Pro has to have a top shelf graphics card. The GTX 880M is a fully enabled GK104 chip, the same as you would find in a desktop GTX 680.

    The GTX 880M is the fastest available notebook graphics card. It comes with 8Gb(!) of GDDR5 memory. I’m going to be honest and say this is overkill. Considering (with a few exceptions) that high end desktop GPUs come with 3 or 4Gb of memory, 8Gb is a lot, though it's better to have too much than not enough. If you are running high res texture packs on games like Skyrim, running multiple displays or running a 4K screen, you may push towards the limits of a 4Gb framebuffer, and this is where 8Gb could come in handy in the future.

    Benchmarks:

    I think Sleeping Dogs is an underrated game. It captures the world of Hong Kong beautifully and presents a tough test, but remains totally playable at maximum settings.

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    No problem running Tomb Raider at the highest quality settings :D TressFX is disabled however as this presents an enormous hit in FPS.

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    The GTX 880M in the GT70 Dominator Pro loves Bioshock Infinite. Greater than 60fps on the highest preset makes this awesome game smooth as silk.

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    Patches and drivers seem to have greatly improved the performance and stability in BF4. Being able to run above 45fps in firefights is awesome. For all the talk of how demanding BF4 is, it’s great to see ‘just a notebook’ staying fully playable at maximum settings.

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    3DMark Firestrike for fun:

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    Summary:


    So, what can I say in conclusion? Obviously I’m not going to give it a rating or say it will improve your chances with the opposite sex. What I can say as a PC enthusiast is that I love toys like this. When you look at all the components, it's pretty crazy to see specs that blow away the vast majority of desktops. Speaking generally, Notebook tech is looking pretty good.

    Gamers looking for a true desktop replacement, that is portable and outperforms all but the highest end PCs, then a top end gaming notebook like the GT70 Dominator Pro with all the trimmings is worth a look.
     
  2. robbo2

    robbo2 Member

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    Would love something like this. Blows my mind the power the can put into a laptop these days. They just have everything! I bet the super raid 2 makes it a dream to use as well.
     
  3. MSI Notebook

    MSI Notebook Member

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    Wow looks good! Thank you for posting this!
     
  4. dohzer

    dohzer Member

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    What's the deal with laptop memory? It seems to have hit a wall ~3 years ago.
     
  5. millsy_c

    millsy_c Member

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    You need more than 32gb of ram?
     
  6. OP
    OP
    booj

    booj Member

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    He means speed perhaps?
    If so, a check of pccg indicates 2x8gb sodimm kits of 1600Mhz go for ~~$200, so 32gb is getting towards $400 and would be a good jump again for 2133Mhz sodimms.

    I am curious if the users would prefer, say, 4x4gb at 2133 or 4x8Gb at 1600.

    With 32gb things like ramdisks come into play (not that you really need it with triple RAID0 SSD's :p)
    I have never played a game stored on a ramdisk, but i'm told that keeping a game or page file etc on a ramdisk does make a noticeable difference.

    Imagine having a 20gb ramdisk and 384Gb of RAID0 SSD's.. that kind of storage performance is only going to be found on the very best PCs.. and only a tiny tiny percentage of them.

    Check crazy numbers like these for example.

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  7. millsy_c

    millsy_c Member

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    Oh yeah, ramdisks are the shit if you have a need for them :)
     

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