Notebookcheck

MSI GE70 Apache Notebook Review

Florian Glaser (translated by Liala Stieglitz), 05/20/2014

Dragon Blood. Although the GE70 does not sport the strongest gaming graphics card, the 17-inch device supplies more than attractive performance. Unlike other laptop experts, MSI uses a GDDR5 rather than a DDR3 VRAM for the GTX 850M model. Our report shows just how big the performance difference is in practical use.

For the original German review, see here.

As typical for MSI, the powerful premium laptop is available in several versions. Besides the operating system (Windows 7, Windows 8 or no OS), and the working memory capacity (8 - 16 GB DDR3), the hard drive capacity also varies. Either a 500 - 1000 GB HDD or an array comprised of a magnetic storage and mSATA SSD/s are installed.

MSI relies on a dual or quad-core processor from Intel's Haswell generation. While the Core i5-4200H clocks with 2.8 - 3.4 GHz, it is as much as 2.4 to 3.4 GHz in the Core i7-4700HQ. The manufacturer also announced a few models featuring the 100 MHz faster Core i7-4710HQ shortly before releasing the product.

The specifications of our GE70-2PCi785 review sample cost just under 1100 Euros (~$1500), which is midfield. The quad-core processor is accompanied by a 500 GB HDD and GeForce GTX 850M. MSI installs a GeForce GTX 860M in the pricier models. We have already tested this GPU several times in 2014, for example, in the single reviews of MSI's GE60, Nexoc's G728IISchenker's XMG P304, Schenker's XMG A504, etc.) and in the extensive Maxwell/Kepler comparison.

The choice of screen is not very surprising: a matte Full HD screen with 1920x1080 pixels has been standard for a while.

Case

Stylish looks
Stylish looks

MSI takes a big step forward in the casing. Although barely any modifications are visible on the base unit, the lid looks considerably higher quality owing to the brushed aluminum. The previous generation had to be satisfied with a glossy finish that was also extremely susceptible to grime and scratches.

The surfaces stay fairly neat (with the exception of dust) when clean and dry fingers are used on the GE70. However, it is too bad that MSI did not switch to a matte finish for the keyboard bed. A lot of dirt accumulates between the keys in the course of time. 

We deem the visual design successful. The laptop's red border adds a certain zing to the otherwise black device. The same is true for the dragon logo on the cover. The GE70's build is neither thick nor extremely slim with a height of 39 millimeters (~1.5 inches). For example, MSI's GT70 has a height of almost six centimeters (~2.4 inches) (27 millimeters @ GS70; ~1.1 in). 3.0 kilograms (~6.6 lbs) is also an acceptable weight for a 17-inch chassis.

Acceptable also describes the stability. The stiffness can compete with the contenders when we bracket out the display, keyboard and touchpad (quite pliable in several areas). Nevertheless, there is still room for improvement.

The hinges are - as typical for most laptops - not ideal. Surface vibrations let the display wobble a good deal. Besides that, both hands are needed for opening the GE70. Overall, the chassis merits just "Satisfactory".

Connectivity

Interfaces

The connectivity is the same as the previous model. MSI provides the required ports for multimedia/gaming and installs two audio jacks, two video outs, and four USB ports (two are 3.0 standard). There is also an SD card reader, an RJ45 port, and a Kensington lock slot. The user will not find FireWire, eSATA, Thunderbolt ports or an ExpressCard slot. However, the 17-inch Clevo contenders W670SJQ and W370SS do not offer much more either.

We have to note we were not pleased with the GE70's interface distribution - at least on the left. Mouse users will have limited elbowroom when many cords are connected.

Communication

Unlike the GT70, only some of the communication equipment comes from Qualcomm Atheros. Although the GE70 also sports the Killer e2200 Gigabit Ethernet controller, the Killer Wireless-N 1202 wireless module has now been replaced by Intel's Wireless-AC 3160 card.

The adapter does not differ much in terms of range, and Intel even does a marginally better job. An average of 2 - 4 bars was displayed when the laptop had to transmit through several walls and a distance of 10 - 15 meters (~33-49 feet). The biggest advantage of Intel's product is the support for the brand new AC standard (2.4 & 5.0 GHz). Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0 are also on the feature list.

Left: Kensington lock, AC-in, HDMI, 2x USB 3.0, 2x audio, card reader
Left: Kensington lock, AC-in, HDMI, 2x USB 3.0, 2x audio, card reader
Right: USB 2.0, optical drive, USB 2.0, VGA, RJ45 LAN
Right: USB 2.0, optical drive, USB 2.0, VGA, RJ45 LAN

Maintenance

Unfortunately, we could not peek at the innards because our review sample is a shop device with warranty stickers. The maintenance cover's size and the vents suggest that not only the working memory and hard drive can be accessed, but also the cooling system, processor, and graphics card. In case a CPU and GPU upgrade is being considered: Both chips are mounted directly on the motherboard, which prevents exchanging them.

Software

We have to criticize the software configuration a bit. When a notebook builder opts for a 5400 rpm HDD, the extras should be kept within limits. MSI apparently sees this differently, and stuffs the hard drive full of tools. Consequently, the system responds extremely sluggishly after booting (can be seen well in the task manager that displays an HDD capacity of 100% for several minutes).

The main "culprits" are, among others, the Dragon Gaming Center (system monitor), the SteelSeries Engine (keyboard configuration), the Killer Network Manager, and Norton's Security Suite. Windows feels fairly swift only after a thorough cleaning-up and deleting. The laptop makes a decade old impression in the state of delivery. In a nutshell: We would recommend buying the SSD model.

Initial start
Initial start
Dragon Gaming Center
Dragon Gaming Center
Killer Network Manager
Killer Network Manager
System Control Manager
System Control Manager

Accessories

Although there is no recovery DVD, which most manufacturers have rationalized away, the accessories are useful. For example, we find a driver DVD, quick start guide, and warranty documents. Praise is due for the fact that there are no stoppers on the battery, making it unneeded for stability reasons. The included 120-Watt power supply is also quite handy owing to its low height (~2.5 centimeters; ~1 inch).

Warranty

MSI includes the traditional 24-month warranty, which is the custom in the laptop industry.

Input Devices

Multicolored lighting
Multicolored lighting

Keyboard

The keyboard makes a mixed impression. Speaking here about the positive, the backlight is a highlight offering three zones and the ability to be disabled.

The wireless adapter, webcam, sound, and touchpad can also be disabled via an FN key combination. The brightness and volume's control positioning seem especially handy to us. Their implementation on the arrow keys is easy to reach. The dedicated number pad is another plus point.

There is room for improvement in the typing behavior because the keyboard tends to yield. Keystrokes make a slightly unclear and spongy impression. Other laptops offer a much "crisper" keyboard. The unusual layout does not make getting used to it easier either. As can be seen on the screenshot below, MSI has relocated several keys, and given the Enter a single-row design.

Touchpad

One of the GE70's major weakness is its touch... sorry, ClickPad. Despite its generous size of 10.5 x 7.0 centimeters (~4.1 x 2.8 inches), using it is not much fun.

One reason is its moderate accuracy. We had the feeling that the mouse cursor moved quite inaccurately over the desktop during the test. Another problem was the detection of right and left clicks. The corresponding areas only responded sporadically to pressure, which would hardly be the case with dedicated keys. This only supports the bad reputation ClickPads have in the gaming community. We had to reproach the reliability in other gaming laptops as well (for comparison, see for example, Lenovo IdeaPad Y510p).

As expected, the mouse replacement can boast with multi-touch support, which functions quite accurately, and allows using several gestures (zoom, scroll & rotate). Regardless of that, we would like to see a conventional touchpad with "real" keys in the next generation.

Keyboard
Keyboard
Touchpad
Touchpad

Display

The name Chi Mei N173HGE-L11 will likely sound familiar to some readers. No wonder since this screen is used in a vast amount of 17-inch laptops. Although the illumination of 83% and the finish (coarse texture) are reason for deducting points, the non-glare screen achieves a good grade.

While other screens only manage a brightness of 200 - 300 cd/m², we ascertained an excellent 325 cd/m² in our review sample. This is accompanied by a relatively low black level. 0.28 cd/m² is more than decent in a gaming laptop. Both rates add up to a contrast of 1200:1 in the GE70. The Chi Mei N173HGE normally achieves between 800 and 1100:1.

323
cd/m²
323
cd/m²
314
cd/m²
303
cd/m²
341
cd/m²
293
cd/m²
343
cd/m²
354
cd/m²
331
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
Information
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 354 cd/m²
Average: 325 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 83 %
Center on Battery: 341 cd/m²
Black: 0.28 cd/m²
Contrast: 1218:1

Nevertheless, the laptop is hardly suitable for professional image and video editing. Besides the second-rate sRGB and AdobeRGB coverage (73/54%), the color management would have to be mentioned here. According to the CalMAN software that we also use to assess the grayscale, RGB balance and degree of saturation (see screenshots), the Chi Mei N173HGE exhibits enormous deficits that can only be lessened to an extent by calibration. The laptop-typical bluish cast will unlikely bother most gamers though. The image makes a vivid and multimedia-suitable impression subjectively.

MSI GE70-2PCi785 vs. sRGB (grid)
MSI GE70-2PCi785 vs. sRGB (grid)
MSI GE70-2PCi785 vs. AdobeRGB (grid)
MSI GE70-2PCi785 vs. AdobeRGB (grid)
CalMAN: Grayscale
CalMAN: Grayscale
CalMAN: Color Management
CalMAN: Color Management
CalMAN: Saturation Sweeps
CalMAN: Saturation Sweeps
CalMan: ColorChecker
CalMan: ColorChecker

The screen's matte surface earns kudos. Screens are considerably less reflective without a glossy finish, and that is especially noticed in outdoor use. Our screenshots, taken in lightly overcast conditions, confirm the GE70's good legibility. Viewing issues worsen on bright days both in direct and indirect sunlight.

MSI GE70-2PCi785 outdoors
MSI GE70-2PCi785 outdoors
MSI GE70-2PCi785 outdoors

Many TN screens have problems with the viewing angle stability. Deviations are soon noticed particularly on the vertical plane. This is also the case in the GE70. However, the majority of TN contenders do a worse job. Users who put value on the highest possible image stability should take a laptop with an IPS screen (e.g. Schenker M504).

Viewing angles: MSI GE70
Viewing angles: MSI GE70

Performance

Haswell
Haswell

Processor

The review sample sports a quad-core that clocks with 2.4 - 3.4 GHz. Like its Haswell siblings, the Core i7-4700HQ is built in the 22 nm process, which points to good energy efficiency.

The CPU not only has the clock rate, but also the L3 cache in common with the Core i7-4700MQ. 6 MB are twice as much as most dual-cores have. Owing to the Hyperthreading technology, the i7-4700HQ can simultaneously process up to eight threads.

Another feature is the integrated DirectX 11 chip. Intel's HD Graphics 4600 does not calculate exceedingly fast, but it ensures a moderate power consumption in basic applications (office, video, Internet, etc.). Nvidia's Optimus technology creates the foundation for this. It enables the GeForce GPU only in 3D operation (power button lights up in orange).

System info CPUZ CPU
System info CPUZ Cache
System info CPUZ Mainboard
System info CPUZ Memory
System info CPUZ SPD
System info GPUZ (HD 4600)
System info GPUZ (GTX 850M)
System info HWiNFO
System info HD Tune
System info HD Tune
System info Latency
System information: MSI GE70-2PCi785

Turbo Boost

There were no irregularities noticed with the automatic CPU overclocking. 2.3 - 3.4 GHz in single-core scenarios and 3.2 GHz in multi-core scenarios roughly correspond to the limit that Intel specifies. In Temperature, we will find out whether Turbo Boost is active under extreme conditions with simultaneous GPU load.

Single-core rendering
Single-core rendering
Multi-core rendering
Multi-core rendering
CPU & GPU load
CPU & GPU load

CPU Performance

Cinebench R15's multi-CPU test proves that four cores can be quite worthwhile. The Core i7-4700HQ rushes past the Core i5-4310M dual-core by almost 100% with 642 points to 325 in Schenker's M504 with a similar clock rate as the Core i5-4200H. Having identical specs, the Core i7-4700MQ supplies an equal performance (643 points @ One K56-4N). There are generally barely any differences among the family members in the single-CPU test where only one core is loaded. All three samples achieve around 130 points here.

Cinebench R15
CPU Multi 64Bit (sort by value)
Core i7-4700HQ
MSI GE70 Apache
642 Points ∼41%
Core i5-4310M
Schenker M504
325 Points ∼21% -49%
Core i7-4700MQ
One K56-4N
643 Points ∼41% 0%
CPU Single 64Bit (sort by value)
Core i7-4700HQ
MSI GE70 Apache
131 Points ∼74%
Core i5-4310M
Schenker M504
128 Points ∼73% -2%
Core i7-4700MQ
One K56-4N
132 Points ∼75% +1%
Cinebench R11.5
CPU Multi 64Bit (sort by value)
Core i7-4700HQ
MSI GE70 Apache
6.94 Points ∼39%
Core i5-4310M
Schenker M504
3.56 Points ∼20% -49%
Core i7-4700MQ
One K56-4N
6.94 Points ∼39% 0%
CPU Single 64Bit (sort by value)
Core i7-4700HQ
MSI GE70 Apache
1.5 Points ∼75%
Core i5-4310M
Schenker M504
1.47 Points ∼74% -2%
Core i7-4700MQ
One K56-4N
1.51 Points ∼76% +1%
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Single 64Bit
1.5 Points
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Multi 64Bit
6.94 Points
Cinebench R11.5 OpenGL 64Bit
56.09 fps
Cinebench R15 CPU Single 64Bit
131 Points
Cinebench R15 CPU Multi 64Bit
642 Points
Cinebench R15 OpenGL 64Bit
86.28 fps
Help

Graphics Card

GPU info
GPU info

To retrieve the maximum from the GeForce GTX 850M, MSI does not use a DDR3 but a GDDR5 version instead. Although the first has a higher core rate (maximum of 1084 rather than 954 MHz), the GDDR5 model calculates faster in total because the narrow 128-bit interface does not have such a negative effect.

Regarding its 640 Unified Shaders and a 2048 MB memory, the GTX 850M is strongly related to the pricier GTX 860M Maxwell unit that overclocks up to 1097 MHz under load. The GeForce 800 generation is built in the 28 nm process.

MSI does not tinker around with the driver. The ForceWare 332.35 is currently installed in countless Nvidia laptops.

GPU Performance

Quite a bit of progress has been made technically compared with the GeForce 700 generation. The cooling and power consumption as well as the speed benefit from the change from the Kepler to the Maxwell architecture (does not apply to all new GPUs).

The difference to the direct precursor is especially impressive. 3596 points in the Fire Strike test of 3DMark 11 is just over 80% more than the GeForce GT 750M GDDR5 achieved (2015 points @ Dell XPS 15). The DDR3 version of the GTX 850M is also defeated, although the difference is noticeably smaller (3082 points @ Nexoc M731). The performance level is not enough to compete with a GTX 860M. The Maxwell version runs approximately 10% faster due to its higher clock (3947 points @ Nexoc G728II).

The Unigine Heaven 3.0 benchmark underpins this ranking. With 45.6 fps, the GTX 850M is right in between the GTX 850M DDR3 (41.8 fps) and the GTX 860M (49.5 fps).

Unigine Heaven 3.0 - 1920x1080 DX 11, Normal Tessellation, High Shaders AA:Off AF:Off (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 850M GDDR5 (332.35)
MSI GE70 Apache
45.6 fps ∼27%
GeForce GTX 850M DDR3 (332.35)
Nexoc M731
41.8 fps ∼25% -8%
GeForce GTX 860M Maxwell (332.60)
Nexoc G728II
49.5 fps ∼29% +9%
3DMark (2013) - 1920x1080 Fire Strike Standard Graphics (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 850M GDDR5 (332.35)
MSI GE70 Apache
3596 Points ∼20%
GeForce GT 750M GDDR5 (326.80)
Dell XPS 15
2015 Points ∼11% -44%
GeForce GTX 850M DDR3 (332.35)
Nexoc M731
3082 Points ∼17% -14%
GeForce GTX 860M Maxwell (332.60)
Nexoc G728II
3947 Points ∼21% +10%
3DMark 11 - 1280x720 Performance GPU (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 850M GDDR5 (332.35)
MSI GE70 Apache
4476 Points ∼20%
GeForce GT 750M GDDR5 (326.80)
Dell XPS 15
2736 Points ∼12% -39%
GeForce GTX 850M DDR3 (332.35)
Nexoc M731
4458 Points ∼20% 0%
GeForce GTX 860M Maxwell (332.60)
Nexoc G728II
4969 Points ∼22% +11%
3DMark Vantage - 1280x1024 P GPU no PhysX (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 850M GDDR5 (332.35)
MSI GE70 Apache
16943 Points ∼33%
GeForce GTX 850M DDR3 (332.35)
Nexoc M731
14102 Points ∼27% -17%
GeForce GTX 860M Maxwell (332.60)
Nexoc G728II
18345 Points ∼36% +8%
3D Mark
3DMark Vantage17663 points
3DMark 114716 points
3DMark Ice Storm100649 points
3DMark Cloud Gate14681 points
3DMark Fire Strike3404 points
Help

Storage Devices

CrystalDiskMark
CrystalDiskMark

500 GB HDD spinning at 5400 rpm is no longer state-of-the-art for a gaming laptop - price/performance ratio or not. The operating system responds very sluggishly particularly in multitasking, which is often seen in the boot, load, and installation times. Windows routines would be smoother with a solid-state drive, like installed in some GE70 models.

MSI installs Western Digital's Scorpio Blue WD5000LPVX in the review sample. An average of 80 MB/s in CrystalDiskMark and 75 MB/s in HD Tune is anything but awesome. Larger 5400 rpm HDDs, such as the Toshiba MQ01ABD100 (Asus N56JRAorus X7, etc.) frequently surpass the 100 MB limit in sequential read and write processes.

In the writer's opinion, MSI should preferably invest the resources in a small SSD rather than in dozens of additional features that are not truly essential, and primarily serve marketing (Audio Boost, Cooler Boost, Matrix Display, etc.).

Western Digital Scorpio Blue WD5000LPVX
Transfer Rate Minimum: 1.7 MB/s
Transfer Rate Maximum: 102.1 MB/s
Transfer Rate Average: 74.5 MB/s
Access Time: 20.3 ms
Burst Rate: 177.1 MB/s
CPU Usage: 2.2 %

System Performance

The absence of a solid-state drive ruins the system performance. Many premium laptops can only smile wearily about 2995 points in PCMark 7 (e.g. One K73-4NSchenker XMG P704, Asus G750JZ). The test configuration of the GT60 Dominator that featured a 1000 GB, 7200 rpm HDD achieved as much as 3425 points.

PC Mark
PCMark 72995 points
PCMark 8 Home v23217 points
PCMark 8 Creative v24398 points
PCMark 8 Work v23882 points
Help

Gaming Performance

(Ultra) high details are not always playable.
(Ultra) high details are not always playable.

The GDDR5 video memory often determines if a game is "still playable" or "too jerky" in the native resolution. While only 5 of 17 games ran smoothly in maximum details and enabled anti-aliasing on the Schenker M504 (>30 fps), MSI's laptop at least still decently rendered 8 games.

The user will only be forced to reduce the graphic options and lower the anti-aliasing level in extremely computing-intensive cases, such as Crysis 3Far Cry 3 or Metro: Last Light. High details are no problem with no or 2x AA.

The GTX 850M has a lead of almost 20% over its DDR3 counterpart, and lags 10% behind the GTX 860M when all ultra-benchmarks are summed up (chart below Verdict).

low med.high ultra
Guild Wars 2 (2012) 100.651.926.8fps
Hitman: Absolution (2012) 54.551.645.222.8fps
Far Cry 3 (2012) 94.983.955.920.9fps
Crysis 3 (2013) 112.172.247.517.8fps
Tomb Raider (2013) 269.2147.590.241.3fps
BioShock Infinite (2013) 169.1114.610239.6fps
Metro: Last Light (2013) 76.170.449.425.9fps
GRID 2 (2013) 112.687.379.542.7fps
Dota 2 (2013) 11293.672.6fps
Saints Row IV (2013) 61.755.44730.2fps
F1 2013 (2013) 1161019374fps
Battlefield 4 (2013) 108.984.265.126.2fps
Call of Duty: Ghosts (2013) 78.470.646.128.9fps
X-Plane 10.25 (2013) 89.444.62514.5fps
Thief (2014) 47.542.94022fps
Titanfall (2014) 606058.843.9fps
The Elder Scrolls Online (2014) 70.166.75738.6fps

Emissions

System Noise

The user should not have high expectations regarding noise development. MSI's new product line attracts attention already in idle mode. It does not matter much whether it is 34 - 35 dB(A) from the GT60 and GT70, or 34 - 36 dB(A) from the GE70. The just as swift Clevo W670SJQ (30 - 33 dB(A)) and W370SS (29 - 32 dB(A)) barebones are not as loud here.

The opposite situation can be observed during load. The MSI produces a lower noise than the named 17-inch laptops (average: 47 dB(A)) with a 3DMark 06 rate of 45.8 dB(A). We could eke out up to 48 dB(A) from the GE70 in the stress test. Although that is loud, it is still tolerable when using a headset.

All in all, we found the fan characteristic of the GT line more pleasant. Since the cooling is quite dynamic, the speed changes are not as present as in the Clevo contenders. On the other hand, MSI should optimize the idle level. A few extra degrees will unlikely harm the components.

Noise Level

Idle 34.4 / 34.8 / 36.4 dB(A)
DVD 39.0 / dB(A)
Load 45.8 / 48.2 dB(A)
 
    30 dB
silent
40 dB
audible
50 dB
loud
 
min: , med: , max:    Voltcraft sl-320 (15 cm distance)

Temperature

FurMark + Prime95
FurMark + Prime95
Crysis 3
Crysis 3

The cooling comes close to its limits in 3D operation. Both the GeForce GTX 850M and the Core i7-4700HQ heat up to over 90 °C (194 °F) after 60 minutes of stress testing using the tools FurMark and Prime95 - and that although the GPU strongly throttles to ~600 MHz, and the CPU moderately throttles to ~2.0 GHz. However, throttling only occurred in unrealistic scenarios. The clock rates were normal, even after 30 minutes in Crysis 3 (right screenshot).

Now we look at the chassis that also gets quite hot during load. Up to 48 °C (118.4 °F) in the WASD zone and 44 °C (111.2 °F) in the wrist rest area are not reached by the 17-inch brother. Sensitive gamers should preferably look for an alternative. The upper side of Nexoc's G728II was almost 10 °C (18 °F) cooler in the stress test.

The laptop will unlikely provide much reason for complaint in undemanding tasks. The GE70 performed our idle assessments with an average of 28 °C (82.4 °F).

Max. Load
 47.3 °C47.0 °C33.2 °C 
 47.6 °C46.8 °C34.3 °C 
 44.1 °C44.4 °C33.1 °C 
Maximum: 47.6 °C
Average: 42 °C
27.8 °C38.1 °C57.7 °C
29.0 °C38.3 °C54.2 °C
29.2 °C37.4 °C32.5 °C
Maximum: 57.7 °C
Average: 38.2 °C
Power Supply (max.)  53.8 °C | Room Temperature 24 °C | Voltcraft IR-550

Speakers

Sound Blaster Cinema
Sound Blaster Cinema

No one will really be surprised that the sound does not quite match the quality of the GT line. Nevertheless, it is impressive what MSI manages to pull out of the limited space.

Despite the lack of a subwoofer, and the small speakers (two speakers above the keyboard, two speakers in the front area), audio files are rendered decently though not top notch. Generally, the buyer should not overdo it with the level because the sound gets tinny and distorts.

The feasible overall performance is due to not only the cooperation with Dynaudio, but also the Sound Blaster Cinema technology from Creative. The enhancements can be adapted quickly to the current scenario via the software (music, videos, games). The laptop can even adequately fill large rooms with sound owing to the good maximum volume.

Energy Management

Power Consumption

As mentioned, the graphics switching ensures an acceptable power consumption. 11 - 28 Watts in idle mode could also be produced by the predecessor that we tested with a Core i7-4700MQ and a GeForce GTX 765M.

The results of 3DMark 06 prove that Maxwell is more energy efficient than Kepler. Although the GeForce GTX 850M clearly has higher performance, the new GE70 consumes less power (90 vs. 97 Watts). In return, the maximum consumption of approximately 120 Watts is very similar.

Power Consumption

Off / Standby 0.2 / 0.4 Watt
Idle 10.6 / 17.5 / 28.3 Watt
Load 90.0 / 121.6 Watt
 
Key: min: , med: , max:         Voltcraft VC 940

Battery Runtime

Reader's Test
Maximum battery runtime (Reader's Test)
Classic Test
Minimum battery runtime (Classic Test)

Every manufacturer tries to cut costs somewhere. MSI opted for the battery that is relatively weak with 49 Wh (4400mAh). The battery runtimes are thus no revelation like the comparison of contending devices confirms.

Nexoc's M731 (62 Wh) and Nexoc's G728II (77 Wh) both surpass two hours of DVD playback using maximum brightness and almost 2.5 hours of Internet browsing in medium brightness. 4.5 hours of idling and one hour of gaming (~50% performance loss) from the MSI Apache are not very exciting either. In other words: The next generation should feature a stronger battery.

Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
4h 31min
WiFi Surfing
2h 40min
DVD
2h 02min
Load (maximum brightness)
1h 02min

Verdict

By the power of GDDR5
By the power of GDDR5

The good and the bad are balanced in the GE70-2PCi785. Besides annoying austerity measures like the weak battery and sluggish hard drive, the ClickPad would primarily have to be mentioned on the negative side. MSI should have actually noticed that the technology does not work satisfactorily during development. The Taiwanese gaming expert is however not the only one with this drawback: it shares its fate with other ClickPads.

Beyond that, the user is faced with high temperatures and noise development, but quieter gaming laptops are rare. The interface distribution could also be optimized.

However, profound improvements are visible in the casing. MSI has apparently listened to the feedback and has treated the GE70 to a less sensitive aluminum cover that is superior to the old, glossy plastic. The premium successor looks very stylish in its present form, and almost achieves the design level of the GS70.

Other assets are the moderate size and the tolerable weight. Barely any other 17-inch laptop can be carried around as comfortably (and the power supply is also quite slim). The image and sound quality also justify the purchase price. The high-contrast, non-glare screen is just as compelling as the speaker combo from Dynaudio.

MSI does not make compromises in maintenance options and graphics card either. According to our benchmarks, the GTX 850M massively benefits from the GDDR5 VRAM. The total package is rounded off with a backlit keyboard.

MSI GE70 now available for $1269

For Comparison

The Elder Scrolls Online - 1920x1080 Ultra High Preset AA:On (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 850M GDDR5 (332.35)
MSI GE70 Apache
38.6 fps ∼54%
GeForce GTX 850M DDR3 (332.35)
Nexoc M731
33.7 fps ∼47% -13%
Titanfall - 1920x1080 (Very) High AA:4xMS AF:16x (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 850M GDDR5 (332.35)
MSI GE70 Apache
43.9 fps ∼73%
GeForce GTX 850M DDR3 (332.35)
Nexoc M731
32.9 fps ∼55% -25%
GeForce GTX 860M Maxwell (332.35)
Schenker XMG P304
42.4 fps ∼71% -3%
Thief - 1920x1080 Very High Preset AA:FXAA & High SS AF:8x (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 850M GDDR5 (332.35)
MSI GE70 Apache
22 fps ∼25%
GeForce GTX 850M DDR3 (332.35)
Nexoc M731
18.1 fps ∼21% -18%
GeForce GTX 860M Maxwell (332.35)
Schenker XMG P304
24.9 fps ∼29% +13%
X-Plane 10.25 - 1920x1080 ultra (fps_test=4) test_flight_c4 (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 850M GDDR5 (332.35)
MSI GE70 Apache
14.5 fps ∼65%
GeForce GTX 850M DDR3 (332.35)
Nexoc M731
17 fps ∼76% +17%
GeForce GTX 860M Maxwell (332.35)
Schenker XMG P304
17.2 fps ∼77% +19%
Call of Duty: Ghosts - 1920x1080 Extra / High / HBAO+ / No dynamic fur AA:4x MS (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 850M GDDR5 (332.35)
MSI GE70 Apache
28.9 fps ∼32%
GeForce GTX 850M DDR3 (332.35)
Nexoc M731
21 fps ∼23% -27%
GeForce GTX 860M Maxwell (332.35)
Schenker XMG P304
31.1 fps ∼34% +8%
Battlefield 4 - 1920x1080 Ultra Preset AA:4x MS (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 850M GDDR5 (332.35)
MSI GE70 Apache
26.2 fps ∼25%
GeForce GTX 850M DDR3 (332.35)
Nexoc M731
20.7 fps ∼20% -21%
GeForce GTX 860M Maxwell (332.35)
Schenker XMG P304
28.9 fps ∼28% +10%
F1 2013 - 1920x1080 Ultra Preset AA:4x MS (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 850M GDDR5 (332.35)
MSI GE70 Apache
74 fps ∼65%
GeForce GTX 850M DDR3 (332.35)
Nexoc M731
69 fps ∼61% -7%
GeForce GTX 860M Maxwell (332.35)
Schenker XMG P304
84 fps ∼74% +14%
Saints Row IV - 1920x1080 Ultra Preset AA:8x MS AF:16x (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 850M GDDR5 (332.35)
MSI GE70 Apache
30.2 fps ∼33%
GeForce GTX 850M DDR3 (332.35)
Nexoc M731
23.1 fps ∼25% -24%
GeForce GTX 860M Maxwell (332.35)
Schenker XMG P304
34.6 fps ∼37% +15%
Dota 2 - 1920x1080 High / On, Render Quality: 100 % (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 850M GDDR5 (332.35)
MSI GE70 Apache
72.6 fps ∼61%
GeForce GTX 850M DDR3 (332.35)
Nexoc M731
68.4 fps ∼57% -6%
GeForce GTX 860M Maxwell (332.35)
Schenker XMG P304
83.1 fps ∼70% +14%
GRID 2 - 1920x1080 Ultra Preset AA:4xMS (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 850M GDDR5 (332.35)
MSI GE70 Apache
42.7 fps ∼33%
GeForce GTX 850M DDR3 (332.35)
Nexoc M731
36.8 fps ∼28% -14%
GeForce GTX 860M Maxwell (332.35)
Schenker XMG P304
46.2 fps ∼36% +8%
Metro: Last Light - 1920x1080 Very High (DX11) AF:16x (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 850M GDDR5 (332.35)
MSI GE70 Apache
25.9 fps ∼27%
GeForce GTX 850M DDR3 (332.35)
Nexoc M731
21.7 fps ∼23% -16%
GeForce GTX 860M Maxwell (332.35)
Schenker XMG P304
28.6 fps ∼30% +10%
BioShock Infinite - 1920x1080 Ultra Preset, DX11 (DDOF) (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 850M GDDR5 (332.35)
MSI GE70 Apache
39.6 fps ∼27%
GeForce GTX 850M DDR3 (332.35)
Nexoc M731
28.4 fps ∼20% -28%
GeForce GTX 860M Maxwell (332.35)
Schenker XMG P304
42.7 fps ∼29% +8%
Tomb Raider - 1920x1080 Ultra Preset AA:FX AF:16x (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 850M GDDR5 (332.35)
MSI GE70 Apache
41.3 fps ∼21%
GeForce GTX 850M DDR3 (332.35)
Nexoc M731
31.6 fps ∼16% -23%
GeForce GTX 860M Maxwell (332.35)
Schenker XMG P304
44.8 fps ∼23% +8%
Crysis 3 - 1920x1080 Very High Preset AA:2xSM AF:16x (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 850M GDDR5 (332.35)
MSI GE70 Apache
17.8 fps ∼30%
GeForce GTX 850M DDR3 (332.35)
Nexoc M731
13 fps ∼22% -27%
GeForce GTX 860M Maxwell (332.35)
Schenker XMG P304
19 fps ∼32% +7%
Far Cry 3 - 1920x1080 DX11 Ultra Preset (HDAO, Enhanced Alpha To Coverage) AA:4x MS (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 850M GDDR5 (332.35)
MSI GE70 Apache
20.9 fps ∼28%
GeForce GTX 850M DDR3 (332.35)
Nexoc M731
16.1 fps ∼22% -23%
GeForce GTX 860M Maxwell (332.35)
Schenker XMG P304
23 fps ∼31% +10%
Hitman: Absolution - 1920x1080 Ultra Preset AA:4xMS AF:16x (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 850M GDDR5 (332.35)
MSI GE70 Apache
22.8 fps ∼30%
GeForce GTX 850M DDR3 (332.35)
Nexoc M731
14.3 fps ∼19% -37%
GeForce GTX 860M Maxwell (332.35)
Schenker XMG P304
24 fps ∼31% +5%
Guild Wars 2 - 1920x1080 All Maximum / On AA:FX (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 850M GDDR5 (332.35)
MSI GE70 Apache
26.8 fps ∼34%
GeForce GTX 850M DDR3 (332.35)
Nexoc M731
23.8 fps ∼30% -11%
GeForce GTX 860M Maxwell (332.35)
Schenker XMG P304
29.7 fps ∼38% +11%
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In Review: MSI GE70 Apache. Test model courtesy of notebooksbilliger.de
In Review: MSI GE70 Apache. Test model courtesy of notebooksbilliger.de
MSI GE70 now available for $1269

Specifications

MSI GE70-2PCi785
Graphics adapter
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 850M - 2048 MB, Core: 876-954 MHz, Memory: 2500 MHz, GDDR5, ForceWare 332.35, Optimus
Memory
8192 MB 
, SO-DIMM DDR3-RAM PC3-12800 (1600 MHz), 1 of 2 slots filled, max. 16 GB
Display
17.3 inch 16:9, 1920x1080 pixel, Chi Mei N173HGE-L11 (CMO1720), TN LED, Full HD, glossy: no
Mainboard
Intel HM86 (Lynx Point)
Harddisk
Western Digital Scorpio Blue WD5000LPVX, 500 GB 
5400 rpm 2.5"
Soundcard
Realtek ALC892 @ Intel Lynx Point PCH - High Definition Audio Controller
Connections
2 USB 2.0, 2 USB 3.0, 1 VGA, 1 HDMI, 1 Kensington Lock, Audio Connections: headphone, microphone, Card Reader: SD,SDHC,SDXC,
Networking
Qualcomm Killer e2200 PCI-E Gigabit Ethernet Controller (10/100/1000MBit), Intel Wireless-AC 3160 (a b g n ac), 4.0 Bluetooth
Optical drive
HL-DT-ST DVDRAM GTA0N
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 39 x 418 x 269 ( = 1.54 x 16.46 x 10.59 in)
Weight
2.976 kg ( = 104.98 oz) Power Supply: 462 g ( = 16.3 oz)
Battery
49 Wh Lithium-Ion, 4400 mAh, 11.1V, BTY-S14, 6 cells, 294 grams
Price
1100 Euro
Operating System
Microsoft Windows 8.1 64 Bit
Additional features
Webcam: HD (30 fps @ 720p), Speakers: 4.0 (Dynaudio, Sound Blaster Cinema), Keyboard: chiclet by SteelSeries, Keyboard Light: yes, power supply: 120 watts, warranty brochure + card, recovery guide, quick start guide, additional information leaflets, driver DVD, CyberLink PowerDVD 10. Magix MX Suite, Microsoft Office 365 Trial, Norton Security Paket, Windows Essentials 2012, other tools , 24 Months Warranty

 

[+] compare
The GE70 is noticeably thinner than the GT70.
The GE70 is noticeably thinner than the GT70.
We also see advantages in the design.
We also see advantages in the design.
The maintenance options are good in both cases.
The maintenance options are good in both cases.
The chassis achieves a height of four centimeters/1.6 inches.
The chassis achieves a height of four centimeters/1.6 inches.
The opening angle is 135°.
The opening angle is 135°.
The textured metal surfaces are elegant.
The textured metal surfaces are elegant.
The GE70 does not completely do without plastic.
The GE70 does not completely do without plastic.
Unlike its precursor, the lid is matte.
Unlike its precursor, the lid is matte.
The keyboard bed still attracts dust.
The keyboard bed still attracts dust.
The laptop is also sensitive to greasy fingers.
The laptop is also sensitive to greasy fingers.
The underside barely gets dirty.
The underside barely gets dirty.
The dragon on the lid suggests powerful innards.
The dragon on the lid suggests powerful innards.
The casing's name is MS-1759.
The casing's name is MS-1759.
A warranty sticker covers one screw.
A warranty sticker covers one screw.
Two of the four speakers are in the front area.
Two of the four speakers are in the front area.
Great: The battery doesn't have rubber stoppers.
Great: The battery doesn't have rubber stoppers.
Downer: 49 Wh do not fulfill the premium claim.
Downer: 49 Wh do not fulfill the premium claim.
According to the manufacturer, the webcam records with 30 fps.
According to the manufacturer, the webcam records with 30 fps.
The graphics card has a GDDR5 video memory.
The graphics card has a GDDR5 video memory.
The sound system comes from Dynaudio.
The sound system comes from Dynaudio.
The keyboard was developed with SteelSeries.
The keyboard was developed with SteelSeries.
Sound Blaster Cinema enhances the sound quality.
Sound Blaster Cinema enhances the sound quality.
MSI likes dark colors.
MSI likes dark colors.
The keyboard can be illuminated in three zones.
The keyboard can be illuminated in three zones.
Good idea: Volume and brightness control on the arrow keys.
Good idea: Volume and brightness control on the arrow keys.
The ClickPad is disabled when an external mouse is connected.
The ClickPad is disabled when an external mouse is connected.
A DVD burner is installed as the optical drive.
A DVD burner is installed as the optical drive.
VGA is available for older monitors.
VGA is available for older monitors.
The fan is located in the laptop's left half.
The fan is located in the laptop's left half.
There will be different opinions about the interface distribution.
There will be different opinions about the interface distribution.
The GE70 weighs approximately 2.7 kilograms/6 pounds, without the battery.
The GE70 weighs approximately 2.7 kilograms/6 pounds, without the battery.
The power supply can be carried around conveniently.
The power supply can be carried around conveniently.

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Devices with the same GPU

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» Asus Zenbook NX500JK-DR018H Ultrabook Review
Core i7 4712HQ, 15.6", 2.256 kg

Links

  • Manufacturer's information

Compare Prices

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Pro

+Matte and high-contrast Full HD screen
+Chassis not overly heavy or bulky
+Good maintenance options
+GTX 850 in conjunction with GDDR5 VRAM
+Brushed aluminum
+Backlit keyboard
+Decent sound
+Slim power supply
+Stylish looks
 

Cons

-Unreliable ClickPad lacking accuracy
-3D operating temperatures
-Interface distribution
-Throttling in full load
-High noise level
-Moderate battery runtime
-Sluggish HDD
-Bloatware

Shortcut

What we like

The GTX 850M with the GDDR5 VRAM only lags marginally behind the GTX 860M.

What we'd like to see

The laptop is slowed down without an SSD. A stronger battery would also be nice.

What surprises us

MSI has finally refreshed the lid. Goodbye plastic!

The contenders

17-inch premium laptops like the Asus G750, Alienware 17, Nexoc G728II, MSI GT70One K73-4N or Schenker XMG P704.

Rating

MSI GE70-2PCi785
05/14/2014 v4
Florian Glaser

Chassis
74 / 98 → 76%
Keyboard
73%
Pointing Device
56%
Connectivity
67 / 91 → 74%
Weight
57 / 66 → 84%
Battery
72%
Display
82%
Games Performance
92%
Application Performance
80%
Temperature
72 / 95 → 76%
Noise
60 / 90 → 67%
Audio
70%
Average
71%
78%
Gaming *
Weighted Average
> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > MSI GE70 Apache Notebook Review
Author: Florian Glaser, 2014-05-20 (Update: 2014-06- 2)