MSI’s GT70, GTX 880M Update

For better or for worse, MSI has had the same core designs for several of their high-end laptops for at least a couple years now, specifically we’re talking about the GT60 and GT70 series (and with a few minor differences in features, the GX60/GX70 AMD APU variants). There have been updates and tweaks to the internal components, but the chassis remain largely the same as before. The latest updates bring NVIDIA’s new GTX 800M parts into the picture, and today we have the GT70 equipped with the top-of-the-line GTX 880M. Let’s quickly look at the specs for the system we’re testing/reviewing.

MSI GT70 Specifications
Processor Intel Core i7-4800MQ
(4x2.7-3.7GHz + HTT, 22nm, 6MB L3, 47W)
Chipset Intel HM87
Memory 1x4GB + 1x8GB DDR3-1600 (Maximum 32GB)
Graphics NVIDIA GeForce GTX 880M 8GB GDDR5 256-bit xxx
(1536 CUDA cores, 954MHz + Boost/5GHz GDDR5)

Intel HD 4600 Graphics
(20 EUs, up to 1.3GHz)
Display 17.3" LED Matte 16:9 1080p
Chi Mei N173HGE-L11
Hard Drive(s) HGST 1TB 7200-RPM HDD (HTS721010A9E630)
Optical Drive TSSTCorp SN-506BB Blu-ray writer
Networking Killer Networks E2200 PCIe Gigabit Ethernet
Killer Wireless-N 1202 dual-band 2x2 802.11a/b/g/n
Bluetooth 4.0
Audio Realtek ALC892 HD audio (Sound Blaster Cinema)
2.1 speakers
4 x 1/8” audio jacks
Battery 9-cell, 87Wh
Front Side -
Right Side 2x USB 2.0
Optical drive
Left Side Line-out, Line-in, Mic, and Headphone jacks
3x USB 3.0
SD card reader
Back Side Kensington lock
AC adapter
Operating System Windows 8.1 64-bit
Dimensions 16.9" x 11.3" x 2.2"
429.3mm x 287mm x 55.9mm
Weight 8.6 lbs.
Extras Webcam
USB 3.0
Card reader
SoundBlaster Cinema audio
Killer Networks WiFi and wired networking
RGB backlit keyboard
Keyboard macro support
Warranty 2-year parts and labor
Pricing $1,900

Other than the upgrade to the GTX 880M graphics card, the most noteworthy item in the above list is the lack of an SSD. That means general performance and responsiveness in many cases will be rather sluggish, but this is easily remedied by purchasing a model that includes some form of SSD storage (or adding your own). The impact on our performance benchmarks will be most apparent in PCMark, but for gaming purposes it won’t really matter. Otherwise all of the key items remain the same as the previous model GT70. There are a few other oddities with this configuration as well, like the inclusion of a Blu-ray burner and the 12GB RAM in two of the four SO-DIMM slots (why not just use 2x8GB; are the cost savings of using one 4GB SO-DIMM really that great?), but there are other GT70 models.

There’s a benefit to this particular configuration of course: the starting price is only $1900, so even after adding your own 256GB SSD you’re still looking at a price of less than $2100. As an alternative, there’s another GT70 that comes with a 1TB HDD with a 128GB SSD, Blu-ray reader, and drops the GPU to a GTX 870M for $1600, but obviously that’s going to be a pretty big hit to gaming performance. Step up to 16GB RAM and add a 128GB SSD and the price jumps to $2200, so it’s best to just stick with the base model and upgrade to an SSD on your own; just remember that the PCMark scores for our system are going to be lower than competing solutions. And one final interesting note is that the previous generation GT70 with a GTX 780M 4GB card is only $50 less than the new model; I’m not sure 8GB RAM on a GPU is really needed (and likely won’t be during the lifetime of the GT70), but $50 more to improve performance and gain additional VRAM is certainly a worthwhile upgrade.

MSI GT70 Subjective Overview
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  • HaloTechnology - Wednesday, April 16, 2014 - link

    The cooling and the Display of the Alienware 17 is Superior
  • danwat1234 - Tuesday, April 22, 2014 - link

    The MSI GT70 and GT60 laptops has a 12 volt cooling fan that moves about 25CFM of air according to tomshardware! The alienware uses multiple 5V fans. I think the MSI implementation is better.
  • nathanddrews - Wednesday, April 16, 2014 - link

    A 4K panel would be a nice pairing with this hardware! Or 880M SLI...

    Toshiba is bringing out the $1499 P55t April 22:
    15.6-inch 3,840 x 2,160
    Intel Core i7
    AMD Radeon R9 M265X 2 GB GDDR5
    16 GB DDR3L
    1 TB HDD

    Sub out some of those parts and features to offset the cost of the 880M and it might still be around $2,000 total to get a 4K panel... in theory.
  • emarston - Thursday, April 17, 2014 - link

    They do sell versions with 3K screens in 15.6" form factor
  • nathanddrews - Thursday, April 17, 2014 - link

    1K short. ;-)
  • Khenglish - Wednesday, April 16, 2014 - link

    I do not understand why MSI uses a single fan for a 17" notebook with a top end GPU. They have a fake fan exhaust vent where the 2nd fan should be. Hell even Apple uses 2 fans on their tiny laptops with a dGPU.
  • Meaker10 - Wednesday, April 16, 2014 - link

    Number of fans is less important than total CFM and heatsink area.
  • TheinsanegamerN - Wednesday, April 16, 2014 - link

    You're right. and this fan doesnt have nearly the CFM required to properly cool this beast. thus, there should really be a second fan.
  • danwat1234 - Tuesday, April 22, 2014 - link

    25CFM or so. 6 watts or so.
  • danwat1234 - Tuesday, April 22, 2014 - link

    Because it is a larger 12V fan, they don't need a second fan. All other laptops use 5V fans.

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