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MSI GT70-20Li716121B Workstation Review

Tobias Winkler (translated by Liala Stieglitz), 05/17/2014

Underdog. Mobile workstations do not always have to come from established manufacturers. MSI now offers solutions in this sector in the second generation, and its 17-inch GT70 catches attention with a high-performance configuration. We extensively tested whether that suffices for a permanent place in the professional field.

For the original German review, see here.

The mobile workstation sector was dominated by big manufacturers until a few years ago. HP, Dell, Lenovo, and Fujitsu shared the "cake" for years with almost no competition. In addition to Toshiba (Tecra W50), a few lesser known manufacturers have been trying to establish themselves in this field for some time now.

To be classified as a mobile workstation, a professional graphics solution like Nvidia's Quadro or AMD's FirePro is an essential piece of equipment because they are unambiguously designed for the professional field with their special capabilities. MSI's GT70-2OLi716121B is based on the "standard" GT70-MSI1763 barebone that will likely be a household name in the gaming community, but it has been furnished with the corresponding performance equipment. Nvidia's Quadro K4100M graphics can be seen as the core component, which ultimately turns the gaming machine into a workhorse. Intel's Core i7-4800MQ processor, 16 GB of RAM, a solid state drive, 17-inch Full HD screen, and Windows 8 Pro round off the configuration. As appropriate, a downgrade option to Window 7 Professional is also available.

The current street price ranges just below 3000 Euros (~$4108) and undercuts the Quadro K4100M models in the forms of Dell's Precision M6800 or HP's ZBook 17 by about 400 to 1000 Euros (~$547 to ~$1369). We will not go in-depth about connectivity, input devices and other minor sections because there are no differences compared with the previously tested MSI GT70H 2PE-890US Gaming Notebook.

Case

The casing that MSI has been using for a while in the gaming sector cannot deny its origin, and it primarily stands out with its angular, futuristic design. Flashy chrome applications, a colorful keyboard light, and not very high-quality looking surfaces do not at all fit to what we know from the professional field. Though that might be apt for a gaming laptop, the looks will be a reason for exclusion for demanding business users. While many manufacturers are now slimming down the casing and noticeably improving portability even in the high-performance workstation category, MSI provides a traditional solution in form of a bulky, gigantic chassis. The weight of 3.8 kg corresponds to the usual 17-inch standard, and the casing's stability can also be called overall good. In detail, the user will have to live with somewhat wider gaps, not completely flush parts, and some simple plastic surfaces. More impressions about the casing can, for example, be found in the review of the MSI GT70H 2PE-890US Gaming Notebook.

Display

TN screen with very good properties in total.
TN screen with very good properties in total.

Although MSI has consistently been using the same Chi Mei screen model in its GT70 series until now, we want to look closer at this solution in regard to professional use. MSI has taken care of essential basic qualities with a matte surface, and practical Full HD resolution. However, the underlying TN technology will unlikely have a favorable effect, as it is particularly known for its unstable vertical viewing angles.

We measured a screen brightness ranging from 262 cd/m² up to 323 cd/m². That is an average of 293 cd/m² with an illumination of 81%. The brightness can be set from a minimum of 27 cd/m² to a maximum of 149 cd/m² in six levels. We used level six for two of our battery runtime tests.

293
cd/m²
272
cd/m²
300
cd/m²
262
cd/m²
308
cd/m²
277
cd/m²
310
cd/m²
323
cd/m²
299
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
Information
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 323 cd/m²
Average: 293.8 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 81 %
Center on Battery: 301 cd/m²
Black: 0.44 cd/m²
Contrast: 700:1

The color space coverage of approximately 96% in the sRGB color gamut is well above the usual laptop average, and it should satisfy even most professional users from the image editing and graphics field.

MSI GT70 (b) vs. sRGB (w) vs. AdobeRGB (s)
MSI GT70 (b) vs. sRGB (w) vs. AdobeRGB (s)
Lenovo ThinkPad W540 3k screen (b) vs. sRGB (w) vs. AdobeRGB (s)
Lenovo ThinkPad W540 3k screen (b) vs. sRGB (w) vs. AdobeRGB (s)
Lenovo ThinkPad W540 FHD screen (b) vs. sRGB (w) vs. AdobeRGB (s)
Lenovo ThinkPad W540 FHD screen (b) vs. sRGB (w) vs. AdobeRGB (s)

We can also confirm that the screen's color reproduction is accurate after calibration. The screen first displays its real capabilities after this action because the factory settings are not coordinated for practical use as so often. Toshiba sets a good example with its Tecra W50 Workstation and delivers its models with a pre-calibrated IPS screen. Like in all other mobile workstations that we have tested, the user has to take care of this in MSI's GT70. However, the reward is a very color accurate screen. The grayscale, primary colors, and mixed colors can hardly be better. Only a minor outlier in the gamma curve and the not quite completely homogeneous RGB balance might be an annoyance, but on a very high level.

Grayscale
Grayscale
Primary colors
Primary colors
Saturation
Saturation
Mixed colors
Mixed colors
Grayscale, calibrated
Grayscale, calibrated
Primary colors, calibrated
Primary colors, calibrated
Saturation, calibrated
Saturation, calibrated
Mixed colors, calibrated
Mixed colors, calibrated

The viewing-angle stability is within an above average range for the TN technology. The saturation exhibits a light yellowish cast, and the brightness deviates somewhat when looking horizontally from the side. The content first inverts or fades in wide angles vertically, which is considerably later than is known from common standard screens. However, the colors deviate with a bluish or yellowish cast a bit earlier, as can be seen in the viewing-angle screenshots. The Chi Mei screen cannot compete with the stability of an IPS after all.

Viewing angles
Viewing angles

Performance

The latest workstation models of MSI's GT70 are currently available in three different versions at retailers. The street prices range from 2200 Euros to 3000 Euros (~$3012 to ~$4108). The main differences, apart from the price design, are the CPU, GPU, and RAM configuration. The first thing that professional workstation users will look at is the installed graphics unit. Like most contenders, MSI prefers Nvidia's Quadro product line over AMD's FirePro. The three currently available GT70 models are equipped with either Nvidia's Quadro K3100M or Nvidia's Quadro K4100M as in our review sample.

CPU
Caches
Motherboard
RAM
Intel GPU
Nvidia Quadro GPU
HD Tune
 
System information: MSI GT70-20Li716121B

Processor

Intel's Core i7-4800MQ quad-core is used in our review sample. It provides a very high computing performance in both single-core and multi-core tasks owing to its flexible performance development. Firstly, the Turbo Boost technology that achieves a clock rate of up to 3.7 GHz in single-thread calculations ensures this, and secondly, via the Hyper-Threading technology that allows processing up to 8 threads at the same time by adding four additional, virtual cores.

The benchmark scores of the CPU we have tested multiple times are absolutely within the previously reached field. For example, 1.61 points (single-thread) and 7.39 points (multi-thread) were achieved in Cinebench R11.5.

The performance is on the same level in battery mode, and it does not drop excessively. MSI's GT70 achieves virtually identical 7.17 points (multi-thread) without the power supply.

Naturally, the full-load scenario, where we run Furmark and Prime95 simultaneously, is part of our tests. HWinfo recorded a stable CPU speed of approximately 3 GHz during full CPU and GPU load (test period over one hour). The stability does not change when the workstation runs in "normal" or "max fan" mode. The components, of course, remain even cooler in the latter mode, but the noise level also increases audibly.

Cinebench R10 Shading 64Bit
6789 Points
Cinebench R10 Rendering Multiple CPUs 64Bit
26343 Points
Cinebench R10 Rendering Single CPUs 64Bit
6671 Points
Cinebench R10 Shading 32Bit
6751
Cinebench R10 Rendering Multiple CPUs 32Bit
20620
Cinebench R10 Rendering Single 32Bit
5160
Cinebench R11.5 OpenGL 64Bit
89.29 fps
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Multi 64Bit
7.39 Points
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Single 64Bit
1.61 Points
Cinebench R15 Ref. Match 64Bit
99.6 %
Cinebench R15 OpenGL 64Bit
89.36 fps
Cinebench R15 CPU Multi 64Bit
677 Points
Cinebench R15 CPU Single 64Bit
140 Points
Help

System Performance

The system performance is clearly in the top ranks, and it particularly benefits from the solid state drive used as the system drive besides the high-performance computing components. The workstation boots, responds, and opens files and programs quickly. Only especially computing-intensive tasks, such as extensive CAD models, performance-demanding games in high settings and resolutions or CPU-heavy conversions push the workstation to its limits. We achieved 23,451 points in PCMark Vantage, 6154 points in PCMark 7, and 3485 points (Home), 5048 points (Creative), and 4202 points (Work) in PCMark 8. The storage and working memory can be upgraded, which would slightly increase the performance according to the application field.

PC Mark
PCMark Vantage23451 points
PCMark 76154 points
PCMark 8 Home v23485 points
PCMark 8 Creative v25048 points
PCMark 8 Work v24202 points
Help

Storage Devices

MSI principally equips its GT 70 workstation with a perfect match comprised of a swift system drive in the form of a solid state drive, and a conventional, high capacity hard drive as a data container. This will certainly be sufficient in many cases for starters, and it will provide good preconditions, as can be seen in the scores of the system performance benchmarks. It is also possible to retrofit two empty mSATA slots when programs and files have accumulated after some time. Like the precursor, versions with Super RAID (2 SSDs in RAID array) are to be made available ex-factory.

Toshiba THNSNS128GMCP
Transfer Rate Minimum: 258 MB/s
Transfer Rate Maximum: 404 MB/s
Transfer Rate Average: 327 MB/s
Access Time: 0.2 ms
Burst Rate: 223 MB/s
CPU Usage: 1.1 %

Graphics Card

The core component of MSI's mobile workstation is the professional Nvidia Quadro K4100M graphics that we list in our Performance Class 1. It has received very good preconditions for meeting demanding tasks in the professional field with a core rate of 700 MHz, 4 GB of GDDR5 graphics memory, 256-bit memory interface, and 1152 Shader units. The high performance especially has an effect on processing-intensive 3D CAD programs, owing to special drivers that can benefit from exclusive optimizations particularly in OpenGL tasks.

We used the SPECViewperf11 and SPECViewperf12 benchmarks for classifying these special abilities. Most scores, some even clearly, are in favor of Nvidia's Quadro K4100M as expected. Depending on the software, the difference can be quite minor, and buying this high-performance solution would not really supply a performance advantage. It is even behind Nvidia's Quadro K2100M or the GeForce GTX 850M consumer chip in the Pro/ENGINEER (SPEC11), Creo, and Energy (both SPEC12) subareas. The user should generally carefully consider the application field of the new device before buying in order to ultimately achieve the best possible performance in practical use.

SPECviewperf 11
1920x1080 Catia AA:0x AF:0x (sort by value)
MSI GT70-20Li716121B
47.1 fps ∼68%
Toshiba Tecra W50-A-104
42.66 fps ∼61% -9%
HP ZBook 15
42.11 fps ∼61% -11%
1920x1080 Ensight AA:0x AF:0x (sort by value)
MSI GT70-20Li716121B
47.91 fps ∼60%
Toshiba Tecra W50-A-104
28.26 fps ∼35% -41%
HP ZBook 15
28.25 fps ∼35% -41%
1920x1080 Lightwave AA:0x AF:0x (sort by value)
MSI GT70-20Li716121B
51.69 fps ∼64%
Toshiba Tecra W50-A-104
50.61 fps ∼63% -2%
HP ZBook 15
48.97 fps ∼61% -5%
1920x1080 Maya AA:0x AF:0x (sort by value)
MSI GT70-20Li716121B
56.77 fps ∼51%
Toshiba Tecra W50-A-104
53.3 fps ∼47% -6%
HP ZBook 15
52.85 fps ∼47% -7%
1920x1080 Pro/ENGINEER AA:0x AF:0x (sort by value)
MSI GT70-20Li716121B
15.88 fps ∼84%
Toshiba Tecra W50-A-104
18.79 fps ∼99% +18%
HP ZBook 15
17.6 fps ∼93% +11%
1920x1080 SolidWorks AA:0x AF:0x (sort by value)
MSI GT70-20Li716121B
47.65 fps ∼74%
Toshiba Tecra W50-A-104
44.64 fps ∼69% -6%
HP ZBook 15
42.39 fps ∼66% -11%
1920x1080 Tcvis AA:0x AF:0x (sort by value)
MSI GT70-20Li716121B
47.86 fps ∼80%
Toshiba Tecra W50-A-104
34.82 fps ∼58% -27%
HP ZBook 15
34.27 fps ∼57% -28%
1920x1080 Siemens NX AA:0x AF:0x (sort by value)
MSI GT70-20Li716121B
43.38 fps ∼69%
Toshiba Tecra W50-A-104
31.33 fps ∼50% -28%
HP ZBook 15
31.34 fps ∼50% -28%
SPECviewperf 12
1900x1060 Catia (catia-04) AA:0x AF:0x (sort by value)
MSI GT70-20Li716121B
41.52 fps ∼75%
Toshiba Tecra W50-A-104
20.81 fps ∼38% -50%
HP ZBook 15
19.34 fps ∼35% -53%
MSI GE70-2PC-036XPL
12.64 fps ∼23% -70%
1900x1060 Creo (creo-01) AA:0x AF:0x (sort by value)
MSI GT70-20Li716121B
31.11 fps ∼43%
Toshiba Tecra W50-A-104
20.47 fps ∼28% -34%
HP ZBook 15
18.85 fps ∼26% -39%
MSI GE70-2PC-036XPL
34.51 fps ∼47% +11%
1900x1060 Energy (energy-01) AA:0x AF:0x (sort by value)
MSI GT70-20Li716121B
1.73 fps ∼8%
Toshiba Tecra W50-A-104
0.34 fps ∼2% -80%
HP ZBook 15
0.17 fps ∼1% -90%
MSI GE70-2PC-036XPL
18.26 fps ∼81% +955%
1900x1060 Maya (maya-04) AA:0x AF:0x (sort by value)
MSI GT70-20Li716121B
31.89 fps ∼59%
Toshiba Tecra W50-A-104
18.1 fps ∼33% -43%
HP ZBook 15
15.95 fps ∼29% -50%
MSI GE70-2PC-036XPL
11.67 fps ∼22% -63%
1900x1060 Medical (medical-01) AA:0x AF:0x (sort by value)
MSI GT70-20Li716121B
9.74 fps ∼45%
Toshiba Tecra W50-A-104
5.88 fps ∼27% -40%
HP ZBook 15
2.09 fps ∼10% -79%
MSI GE70-2PC-036XPL
1.51 fps ∼7% -84%
1900x1060 Showcase (showcase-01) AA:0x AF:0x (sort by value)
MSI GT70-20Li716121B
23.59 fps ∼66%
Toshiba Tecra W50-A-104
10 fps ∼28% -58%
HP ZBook 15
10.49 fps ∼29% -56%
MSI GE70-2PC-036XPL
9.59 fps ∼27% -59%
1900x1060 Siemens NX (snx-02) AA:0x AF:0x (sort by value)
MSI GT70-20Li716121B
40.34 fps ∼47%
Toshiba Tecra W50-A-104
20.86 fps ∼24% -48%
HP ZBook 15
20.74 fps ∼24% -49%
MSI GE70-2PC-036XPL
1.32 fps ∼2% -97%
1900x1060 Solidworks (sw-03) AA:0x AF:0x (sort by value)
MSI GT70-20Li716121B
35.15 fps ∼68%
Toshiba Tecra W50-A-104
36.02 fps ∼70% +2%
HP ZBook 15
22.82 fps ∼44% -35%
MSI GE70-2PC-036XPL
4.41 fps ∼9% -87%

Legend

 
MSI GT70-20Li716121B Intel Core i7-4800MQ, NVIDIA Quadro K4100M, Toshiba THNSNS128GMCP
 
Toshiba Tecra W50-A-104 Intel Core i7-4800MQ, NVIDIA Quadro K2100M, Toshiba MQ01ABD100
 
HP ZBook 15 Intel Core i7-4700MQ, NVIDIA Quadro K2100M, Hitachi Travelstar 7K750 HTS727575A9E
 
MSI GE70-2PC-036XPL Intel Core i7-4700HQ, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 850M, HGST Travelstar 7K1000 HTS721010A9E630

Good scores were also achieved in the conventional benchmarks of the 3D series, the Cinebench tests, and Unigine Heaven. The GPU accomplished 5151 points in 3DMark 11, 3431 points in 3DMark Fire Strike, 47.6 fps in Heaven 3.0 (OpenGL), and 89 fps in Cinebench R15 OpenGL.

The graphics performance is throttled in battery mode. For example, rather than 89 fps only 56 fps were achieved in Cinebench R11.5, which is a performance loss of approximately 30%.

However, the performance remained stable in our stress test using Furmark and Prime95, and the clock rate was not reduced. This can also be seen in the screenshots below. 

Stress test 2 min.
Stress test 2 min.
Stress test 47 min.
Stress test 47 min.
Stress test over 1 h.
Stress test over 1 h.
3D Mark
3DMark 06
 1280x1024
23381 points
3DMark Vantage19909 points
3DMark 115151 points
3DMark Ice Storm86231 points
3DMark Cloud Gate14801 points
3DMark Fire Strike3431 points
Help

Gaming Performance

Although gamers are not the primary target group of professional workstations, we always look at the performance in different titles. The hardware requirements are good and do a similarly good job as comparable consumer chips. Nvidia's Quadro K4100M could easily cope with all tested games in high settings. A few games were first excluded in our ultra settings. Sleeping Dogs, Metro Last Light, Company of Heroes 2 and Total War Rome 2 were no longer fun.

low med.high ultra
World of Warcraft (2005) 34219714968fps
Total War: Shogun 2 (2011) 2529942fps
Anno 2070 (2011) 1981177442fps
Diablo III (2012) 15311910365fps
Sleeping Dogs (2012) 1581197723fps
Torchlight 2 (2012) 155108102fps
Hitman: Absolution (2012) 64595238fps
Tomb Raider (2013) 1961187636fps
BioShock Infinite (2013) 17811510137fps
Metro: Last Light (2013) 86734424fps
GRID 2 (2013) 16612910043fps
Company of Heroes 2 (2013) 54473115fps
Total War: Rome II (2013) 19114612122fps

Emissions

System Noise

The review sample's operating noise is relatively high. It never dropped below a noise level of 34 dB(A). Consequently, the system is always present, and it clearly attracts attention even in the not very demanding office mode using the integrated Intel graphics. The fan drowned out both the optical drive and the conventional hard drive and thus could not be measured separately. The ascertained rate climbs to 41.8 dB(A) in medium load, and we measured 51.4 dB(A) during full load. The noise level even increased by approximately 6 dB(A) when the "max fan" option was selected via the sensor button. The fan then permanently ran at full speed.

Noise Level

Idle 34.9 / 34.9 / 34.9 dB(A)
HDD 34.9 dB(A)
DVD 34.9 / dB(A)
Load 41.8 / 51.4 dB(A)
 
    30 dB
silent
40 dB
audible
50 dB
loud
 
min: , med: , max:    PCE-322A (15 cm distance)

Temperature

Owing to the permanently running, decently cooling fan, the casing's temperatures stay very low. We did not notice any drawbacks or restrictions with a maximum of 44.1 °C during full load (without max fan) in the area of the performance components. We only measured 32.8 °C in the same place during low load. The good cooling ensures a distinctive stability during load; we did not ascertain thermal throttling.

Max. Load
 29.5 °C29.6 °C23.4 °C 
 34.6 °C32.8 °C25.7 °C 
 25.9 °C25.4 °C24.9 °C 
Maximum: 34.6 °C
Average: 28 °C
25.2 °C27.7 °C44.1 °C
25.2 °C28.1 °C31.6 °C
24.4 °C25.9 °C26.9 °C
Maximum: 44.1 °C
Average: 28.8 °C
Power Supply (max.)  55.1 °C | Room Temperature 20 °C | Fennel Firt 550

Energy Management

Power Consumption

The measured power consumption in AC mode ranged from 14.5 watts to 178.9 watts. The power supply, specified with an output of 180 watts, is thus just still sufficient and does not limit the maximum performance. The difference between minimum and maximum screen brightness is just over 6 watts, and it proves that the installed Chi Mei screen has a relatively low energy requirement.

Power Consumption

Off / Standby 0.1 / 0.3 Watt
Idle 14.5 / 21.3 / 27.7 Watt
Load 118.9 / 178.9 Watt
 
Key: min: , med: , max:         Voltcraft VC 870 ISO kalibriert

Battery Runtime

The battery runtimes benefit from the battery's capacity of just less than 80 Wh, and Nvidia's Optimus technology that enables switching between the integrated and dedicated graphics cards. We achieved a maximum runtime of 8:03 h in Battery Eater's Reader's test using the energy-saving profile, minimum screen brightness, Intel's graphics, and flight mode. Seen in total, that is not awesome but compared with the workstations tested to-date, quite impressive. The Wi-Fi and video tests both place a higher demand on the battery, and roughly halve the battery runtime. We used a screen brightness of 150 cd/m², energy-savings mode, Intel's graphics, and Wi-Fi for the first test. The user will only have a bit more than an hour in full load, ascertained with Battery Eater's Classic test using maximum brightness, all on, and Nvidia's Quadro. This runtime is also still quite flattering because the graphics card runs with a reduced clock and consequently lessens the total power consumption.

Battery Eater Reader's Test
Battery Eater Reader's Test
Video Test
Video Test
Wi-Fi Test
Wi-Fi Test
Battery Eater Classic Test
Battery Eater Classic Test
Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
8h 03min
WiFi Surfing
4h 22min
Big Buck Bunny H.264 1080p
4h 02min
Load (maximum brightness)
0h 53min

Verdict

MSI's GT70-20Li716121B workstation is a good alternative to the established competition when conservative looks, quiet operating noise, and special business features are not required.

Our review sample managed everything expected from a mobile workstation very well. Graphics performance, processor performance, and ultimately the system performance are throughout convincing in total. The connectivity is not ideal but still appropriate, it is possible to type comfortably on the keyboard, and the maintenance options are above average.

Although the screen is based on the more viewing-angle dependent TN technology, it does not exhibit any significant drawbacks, and it convinces with very good properties after calibration.

Compared with its gaming models, MSI has not modified much but in the right places, and as far as the components allowed. Downgrading to Windows 7 is just as possible as upgrading the warranty to 36 months. The price is certainly attractive and could be the decisive criterion for purchasing in the end.

static version load dynamic

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In Review: MSI GT70 Workstation. Test model courtesy of MSI Germany
In Review: MSI GT70 Workstation. Test model courtesy of MSI Germany

Specifications

MSI GT70-20Li716121B

:: Processor
:: Mainboard
Intel HM87 (Lynx Point)
:: Memory
16384 MB, 2x 8 GB DDR3L-12800 Kingston, 2 slots empty, max. 32 GB
:: Graphics adapter
NVIDIA Quadro K4100M - 4096 MB, Core: 706 MHz, Memory: 800 MHz, Forceware 327.62 Win8 64, Nvidia Optimus mit Intel HD Graphics 4600
:: Display
17.3 inch 16:9, 1920x1080 pixel, Chi Mei N173HGE-L11, TN LED, glossy: no
:: Harddisk
Toshiba THNSNS128GMCP, 128 GB + 1000 GB Hitachi HDD, 7200 rpm
:: Soundcard
Realtek ALC892 @ Intel Lynx Point PCH - High Definition Audio Controller
:: Connections
2 USB 2.0, 3 USB 3.0, 1 VGA, 1 HDMI, 1 DisplayPort, 1 Kensington Lock, Audio Connections: stereo or 7.1 channel analog or SPDIF, gold-plated 3.5 mm jacks, Card Reader: SD, SDHC, SDXC,
:: Networking
Qualcomm Killer e2200 PCI-E Gigabit Ethernet Controller (10/100/1000MBit), Qualcomm Atheros Killer Wireless-N 1202 (a b g n ), 4.0 Bluetooth
:: Optical drive
TSSTcorp DVDWBD SN-406AB
:: Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 55 x 428 x 288
:: Weight
3.9 kg Power Supply: 0.85 kg
:: Battery
87 Wh Lithium-Ion
:: Price
3000 Euro
:: Operating System
Microsoft Windows 8 Pro 64 Bit
:: Additional features
Webcam: HD 720p, Speakers: stereo speakers + subwoofer, Keyboard: SteelSeries chiclet, 103 keys with number pad, Keyboard Light: yes, Windows 7 Professional downgrade, 36 Months Warranty

 

[+] compare
MSI's GT70 is more known as a gamer but is also available as a mobile workstation.
MSI's GT70 is more known as a gamer but is also available as a mobile workstation.
The core component of this model is a professional Nvidia Quadro K4100M graphics chip.
The core component of this model is a professional Nvidia Quadro K4100M graphics chip.
It has many ISV certificates, and thus ensures a high performance, compatibility and stability in conjunction with professional software.
It has many ISV certificates, and thus ensures a high performance, compatibility and stability in conjunction with professional software.
The performance difference in OpenGL optimized CAD programs is especially big compared with consumer graphics chips.
The performance difference in OpenGL optimized CAD programs is especially big compared with consumer graphics chips.
Basically, the biggest strength of this 17-inch workstation is its consistently high performance in almost all application fields.
Basically, the biggest strength of this 17-inch workstation is its consistently high performance in almost all application fields.
Typical gaming elements, such as the keyboard's colorful light, futuristic shapes, and flashy chrome applications, are not in line with the concept of professional workstations.
Typical gaming elements, such as the keyboard's colorful light, futuristic shapes, and flashy chrome applications, are not in line with the concept of professional workstations.
The piano-finished parts are also very unpractical.
The piano-finished parts are also very unpractical.
The touchpad is very small and extremely limits use, particularly with Windows 8.
The touchpad is very small and extremely limits use, particularly with Windows 8.
The rear-sided ports ensure a tidy desk when peripherals are connected.
The rear-sided ports ensure a tidy desk when peripherals are connected.
The choice of interfaces is also compelling.
The choice of interfaces is also compelling.
The optical drive also reads Blu-ray discs.
The optical drive also reads Blu-ray discs.
One major drawback is the sometimes enormous noise development that, however, ensures a cool casing.
One major drawback is the sometimes enormous noise development that, however, ensures a cool casing.
Such superior audio equipment, including SPDIF, is rarely found nowadays.
Such superior audio equipment, including SPDIF, is rarely found nowadays.
The build quality is satisfactory, but it is far remote from the standard of established workstation contenders.
The build quality is satisfactory, but it is far remote from the standard of established workstation contenders.
The high-capacity battery alongside Nvidia's Optimus ensures fairly good battery runtimes.
The high-capacity battery alongside Nvidia's Optimus ensures fairly good battery runtimes.
The power supply with an output of 180 watts has sufficient power.
The power supply with an output of 180 watts has sufficient power.
The power supply's end features a practical angle.
The power supply's end features a practical angle.
The underside can be removed completely and discloses good maintenance options.
The underside can be removed completely and discloses good maintenance options.
Three mSATA slots are available.
Three mSATA slots are available.
However, our Crucial mSATA SSD was not recognized.
However, our Crucial mSATA SSD was not recognized.
The cooling system is loud but efficient.
The cooling system is loud but efficient.
Two RAM banks are unoccupied.
Two RAM banks are unoccupied.
The additional 1 TB hard drive offers a lot of storage capacity.
The additional 1 TB hard drive offers a lot of storage capacity.

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Pro

+Graphics performance (particularly CAD)
+CPU and system performance
+Load endurance
+Screen
+Battery runtimes
+Warranty period
+Upgradability
 

Cons

-Casing's looks and material impression
-Casing's size
-Lack of business features
-Operating noise

Shortcut

What we like

Power, power, power.

What we'd like to see

A more restrained operating noise in low load, business interfaces, and more conservative looks.

What surprises us

That MSI uses an unmodified gaming casing.

The competition

HP ZBook 17

Dell Precision M6800

Rating

MSI GT70-20Li716121B
05/08/2014 v4
Tobias Winkler

Chassis
64 / 98 → 65%
Keyboard
87%
Pointing Device
75%
Connectivity
78%
Weight
51 / 66 → 73%
Battery
78%
Display
85%
Games Performance
92%
Application Performance
94%
Temperature
89 / 95 → 94%
Noise
68 / 90 → 76%
Audio
89%
Camera
35 / 85 → 41%
Add Points
+2%
Average
71%
85%
Workstation *
Weighted Average

> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > MSI GT70-20Li716121B Workstation Review
Author: Tobias Winkler, 2014-05-17 (Update: 2014-05-17)