The Bottom Line
Jul 17 2012 - For those looking for a gaming laptop that want the larger display but in a more compact and light design, the MSI GE70 might be a good option. The system is certainly smaller and lighter yet offers nearly the same level of performance as many similar priced gaming laptops. It does sacrifice a bit of 3D performance from its GTX 660M graphics and battery life from the smaller battery pack but the keyboard that isn't backlit and the glossy exterior are more noticeable issues for many. With pricing around $1250, it certainly is also one of the more affordable 17-inch gaming laptops.
- More Compact And Lighter Than Most 17-inch Gaming Laptops
- Strong Gneral Performance and Good 3D Performance
- Well Priced For Features
- Design Heavily Uses Plastics And Glossy Coatings
- Smaller Battery For Lower Running Times
- Keyboard is Not Backlit
- Intel Core i7-3610QM Quad Core Mobile Processor
- 8GB PC3-12800 DDR3 Memory
- 750GB 7200rpm SATA Hard Drive
- 8x DVD+/-RW Dual Layer Burner
- 17.3" WUXGA (1920x1080) Display With 2.0 Megapixel Webcam
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660M Dedicated Graphics With 2GB Memory
- Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth
- Two USB 3.0, Two USB 2.0, HDMI, VGA, 7-in-1 Card Reader
- 16.5" x 10.6" x 1.5" @ 6 lbs.
- Windows 7 Home Premium, Office Starter
Review - MSI GE70 0ND-033US
Jul 17 2012 - While many gaming specific 17-inch laptops aren't too concerned about size, MSI has decided to shrink the size of their GE70 gaming laptop without increasing the price similar to what Razer did with their Blade. The hinge is just 1.5-inches thick which is not extremely thin but much better than the roughly 2-inches of the average gaming laptop. Weight is also much lower at just over six pounds compared to the average of over eight pounds. This makes it a much more compact laptop but has a price tag of just $1250 which keeps it very affordable.
For the GE70 0ND-033US comes equipped with the Intel Core i7-3610QM quad core processor. This is the new Ivy Bridge processor that gives it a solid level of performance for gaming or other more demanding tasks like desktop video work. This isn't the highest of the new quad core processor but should be more than enough for most users. It is matched up with 8GB of DDR3 memory that offers a smooth overall performance with Windows. The memory does use the 1600MHz speed which is nice compared to many which are still using 1333MHz. One downside here is that their are just two memory slots for a maximum of 16GB of memory compared to the larger GT70 and other gaming laptops based on the same chassis that feature four memory slots.
In terms of storage, a traditional hard drive is used to keep the costs lower. The drive features a 750GB capacity drive which provides plenty of space for applications, media and data files. It spins at the 7200rpm spin rate which gives it good performance but it will still trail behind those systems that actually use a solid state drive for either the primary or a cache drive. If you need additional space, there are two USB 3.0 ports for use with high speed external storage devices. The system does feature a dual layer DVD burner for playback or recording of CD or DVD media.
As this is a gaming laptop, the display and graphics are key features. The display is a 17.3-inch size with a native resolution of 1920x1080 to fully support 1080p high definition video and gaming. It uses a matte or anti-glare coating on it which helps reduce the amount of glare and reflections when using outdoors or in bright light. The viewing angles are decent but not great and the color and clarity are below those from the ASUS G75VW or the HP Envy 17. The graphics processor is the an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660M with 2GB of memory. This is the lowest of the 600 series GTX but it does offer good performance. It can play many games up to the full native resolution of the panel but it will struggle on some more demanding games. It does also offer some solid acceleration for non-3d applications that use CUDA code.
The battery pack for the MSI GE70 is a bit smaller than much of the competition with just six cells compared to many using eight or nine. In video playback testing, the system ran for under three and three quarter hours. This is decent for this size of battery pack but of course gaming use will provide it with much more limited running times. It falls short of the over six hours that the HP Pavilion dv7 can achieve but that is a more consumer general purpose laptop rather than a gaming system.
The keyboard on the MSI GE70 has both good and bad points for it. It uses an isolated layout that is common to many companies that offers accurate typing. The keyboard is a Steel Series which offers a solid experience with little flex. The downside is that the keyboard is not backlit unlike many other gaming specific systems which can make use in darker environments. The trackpad itself uses a dimpled surface that is recessed from the keyboard deck. It is decent but most gamers would use an external mouse. The buttons are thankfully not integrated but it does use the rocker bar style.
There is a lot of competition in the $1200 to $1500 range for 17-inch gaming laptops but most of them tend to be larger and heavier than the MSI GE70. They also all tend to have higher GTX 670M graphics cards. The key competition here would be from the ASUS G75VW which is more expensive and a better screen but has less storage space. The HP Envy 17 is much closer in size and offers a better screen and Blu-ray drive but has less memory, slower AMD graphics and is more expensive. The Alienware M17x offer similar features but in a much larger chassis that offers a wider range of peripheral ports.