Notebookcheck

MSI GT72 (GTX 980M) Notebook Review Update

Florian Glaser (translated by Liala Stieglitz), 10/30/2014

Small update, big impact. MSI now installs the brand new premium models from Nvidia's Maxwell generation. Read here to what extent the GeForce GTX 980M can outperform its precursor, and what it looks like in terms of temperatures, power consumption, and system noise.

For the original German review, see here.

"Think big": hardly any other manufacturer follows this motto like MSI. The laptop expert particularly comes up trumps in its GT72 line. An example is our review sample. While the processor is still quite conventional (Core i7-4710HQ), 32 GB of DDR3 RAM and 2 TB of storage are more than lush. MSI fuses a total of four M.2 SSDs to a RAID 0 array that is accompanied by an ordinary HDD. Naturally, the device also sports a Blu-ray burner and matte Full HD screen.

The new top model from Nvidia takes care of games and other 3D applications. Owing to the Maxwell architecture, the GTX 980M is swift and efficient at the same time. That leads to a steep price in conjunction with the generous accessories (see specs on the right). MSI demands just below 3300 Euros (~$4162) for its GT72-2QE32SR311BW (SKU8).

Buyers who are satisfied with less storage capacity and DDR3 RAM should take one of the lower-priced 2QE32SR351BW (SKU9 @ 3000 Euros, ~$3783), 2QE32SR21BW (SKU10 @ 2700 Euros, ~$3405) or 2QE16SR21BW (SKU11 @ 2300 Euros, ~$2900) models. A list of configuration details can be found in this German news article. MSI also sells models with a GTX 970M instead of a GTX 980M under the name GT72-2QD. Their prices range from 1500 to 2000 Euros (~$1891 to ~$2522).

Innovations

Shift Mode
Shift Mode

No exterior modifications are seen at first glance. The laptop's chassis and most of the hardware correspond to that of the former device. Therefore, we would refer to our existing review for information concerning "Case", "Connectivity" and "Input Devices." The only innovation is the so-called "Shift" function. The present mode can be easily switched to "Sport" (maximum power), "Comfort" (limited GPU clock) or "Green" (limited CPU & GPU power) via FN + F7. Switching in the Dragon Game Center is also possible.

However, our practical experience shows that the advantages are limited. We did not notice any differences in either power consumption or system noise in idle mode. There is no getting around the "Sport" option in 3D mode from a gamer's point of view anyhow.

In the writer's opinion, "Shift" is only a pseudo-replacement for the omitted Optimus technology. MSI intentionally leaves out graphics switching to make multi-monitor setup with three external screens possible (including 3D Vision support). The manufacturer also places importance on maximum reliability (keyword: game detection). Since Optimus usually operates impeccably, and only very few buyers will use multiple monitors for gaming, we cannot approve of this decision. Especially because the manual graphics switching that MSI installs requires rebooting.

Display

Although the ascertained rates are somewhat worse than in the last review sample, the screen models are identical. The CMN N173HGE-E11 (related to the Chi Mei N173HGE-L11) is one of the better members of TN technology despite a few shortcomings. In addition to the relatively crisp black (0.3 cd/m²), the contrast is also compelling. 910:1 is impressive and ensures vivid game and video rendering.

266
cd/m²
247
cd/m²
244
cd/m²
254
cd/m²
273
cd/m²
235
cd/m²
276
cd/m²
271
cd/m²
263
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 276 cd/m² Average: 258.8 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 85 %
Center on Battery: 273 cd/m²
Contrast: 910:1 (Black: 0.3 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 11.63 | - Ø
ΔE Greyscale 11.9 | - Ø
54% AdobeRGB 1998 (Argyll)
Gamma: 2.56

The GT72 does not fare quite as well in brightness. 259 cd/m² is only located in the midfield. The same is true for the illumination of 85% and the sRGB coverage of 73% (AdobeRGB: 54%). The color reproduction proves to be the biggest disappointment of the CMN N173HGE-E11. As the screenshots below show, the color accuracy is also unsatisfactory. Skin segments look rather unnatural due to the bluish cast, which will, however, only bother some buyers. Although our PR contact stated that MSI will soon be releasing its own color profile, which is to improve the image quality like a manual calibration, the GT72 will not be suitable for ambitious users.

CalMAN: Grayscale
CalMAN: Grayscale
CalMAN: Saturation Sweeps
CalMAN: Saturation Sweeps
CalMAN: ColorChecker
CalMAN: ColorChecker
MSI GT72 vs. sRGB
MSI GT72 vs. sRGB
MSI GT72 vs. AdobeRGB
MSI GT72 vs. AdobeRGB
 

We hope that IPS screens will also prevail in the 17-inch sector next year. Users who put big importance on viewing angles and color accuracy are currently still better off in the 15-inch sector. There are quite a few laptops based on IPS technology (Gigabyte P25X v2, Gigabyte P35W v2, MSI GT60 WQHD+, etc.). It is too bad that the horizontal stripes that were eliminated in the "old" GT72 after a driver update (compare review) have apparently returned.

MSI GT72 outdoors
MSI GT72 outdoors
MSI GT72 outdoors

As for drivers: Since the ForceWare 344.24 that MSI technicians installed via GeForce Experience caused problems (severe stutters in some 3D applications), we performed a downgrade to version 344.00. The latter was also used for the GTX 870M in Schenker's XMG P505.

Viewing angles: MSI GT72
Viewing angles: MSI GT72

Performance

Haswell
Haswell

Processor

Despite the laptops' steep price, MSI only integrates the "entry model" of the Core i7 line. The Core i7-4710HQ's clock of 2.5 - 3.5 GHz places it clearly behind the i7-4810MQ (2.8 - 3.8 GHz) or i7-4910MQ (2.9 - 3.9 GHz) - at least on paper. Unlike the MQ CPUs that can be exchanged when required, the HQ models are soldered to the motherboard.

Aside from that, there is no reason for complaint. Although the processor is the limiting factor in some games/settings, Intel's Haswell generation (22 nm) is still state-of-the-art and clearly stronger than the competition from AMD.

System info CPUZ CPU
System info CPUZ Cache
System info CPUZ Motherboard
System info CPUZ Memory
System info CPUZ SPD
System info HWiNFO
System info GPUZ
System info AS SSD benchmark (SSD)
System info CrystalDiskMark (SSD)
System info CrystalDiskMark (HDD)
System info HDTune (HDD)
System info latencies
System information: MSI GT72-2QE32SR311BW

Turbo Boost

The clock behavior almost completely corresponded to that of the former GT72 version. Owing to the powerful cooling, the Core i7-4710HQ always operated with enabled Turbo Boost technology. Apart from the stress test (~2.9 GHz), the overclocking was completely exhausted. 3.3 - 3.5 GHz in single and multi-core scenarios should satisfy most buyers. The clock of other premium-line laptops fluctuates considerably more.

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

CPU Performance

The benchmark scores also prove that the Turbo is maxed out. With 657 points, the GT72 places itself just before Asus' G750JZ (637 points @ Core i7-4700HQ), Alienware's 17 (643 points @ Core i7-4700MQ), and Medion's Erazer X7831 (643 points @ Core i7-4710MQ) in the multi-core tests of Cinebench R15. The Core i7-4800MQ in MSI's GT70 calculates roughly 4% faster (680 points). The differences are also minor in the single-core test. It does not really matter whether a processor achieves 135 points (GT72) or 142 points (GT70) in routine use.

Cinebench R11.5 CPU Single 64Bit
1.52 Points
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Multi 64Bit
7.15 Points
Cinebench R11.5 OpenGL 64Bit
61.59 fps
Cinebench R15 CPU Multi 64Bit
657 Points
Cinebench R15 OpenGL 64Bit
106.97 fps
Cinebench R15 CPU Single 64Bit
135 Points
Help
Cinebench R15
CPU Single 64Bit (sort by value)
MSI GT72-2QE32SR311BW
Core i7-4710HQ
135 Points ∼73%
Asus G750JZ-T4023H
Core i7-4700HQ
132 Points ∼71% -2%
Alienware 17 (GTX 880M)
Core i7-4700MQ
133 Points ∼72% -1%
Medion Erazer X7831-MD98776
Core i7-4710MQ
119 Points ∼64% -12%
MSI GT70 2PE-890US
Core i7-4800MQ
142 Points ∼77% +5%
CPU Multi 64Bit (sort by value)
MSI GT72-2QE32SR311BW
Core i7-4710HQ
657 Points ∼42%
Asus G750JZ-T4023H
Core i7-4700HQ
637 Points ∼41% -3%
Alienware 17 (GTX 880M)
Core i7-4700MQ
643 Points ∼41% -2%
Medion Erazer X7831-MD98776
Core i7-4710MQ
643 Points ∼41% -2%
MSI GT70 2PE-890US
Core i7-4800MQ
680 Points ∼44% +4%
Cinebench R11.5
CPU Single 64Bit (sort by value)
MSI GT72-2QE32SR311BW
Core i7-4710HQ
1.52 Points ∼6%
Asus G750JZ-T4023H
Core i7-4700HQ
1.49 Points ∼6% -2%
Alienware 17 (GTX 880M)
Core i7-4700MQ
1.51 Points ∼6% -1%
Medion Erazer X7831-MD98776
Core i7-4710MQ
1.54 Points ∼6% +1%
MSI GT70 2PE-890US
Core i7-4800MQ
1.61 Points ∼6% +6%
CPU Multi 64Bit (sort by value)
MSI GT72-2QE32SR311BW
Core i7-4710HQ
7.15 Points ∼10%
Asus G750JZ-T4023H
Core i7-4700HQ
6.93 Points ∼10% -3%
Alienware 17 (GTX 880M)
Core i7-4700MQ
6.96 Points ∼10% -3%
Medion Erazer X7831-MD98776
Core i7-4710MQ
7 Points ∼10% -2%
MSI GT70 2PE-890US
Core i7-4800MQ
7.45 Points ∼10% +4%

Graphics Card

Maxwell
Maxwell

The weightiest modification concerns the dedicated graphics chip. Rather than the GeForce GTX 880M (GK104 based on Kepler), the GTX 980M (GM204) operates in the review sample. Nvidia's new top model that comes from the Maxwell generation again has 1536 shader units and a 4 - 8 GB GDDR5 video memory that is connected via a 256-bit bus.

The first advantage of the GTX 980M is its higher clock. Depending on the load, the 28 nm product achieves up to 1127 MHz (default: 1038 MHz). The GTX 880M only managed 954 - 993 MHz, which equals a minus of roughly 10%. The improved architecture results in an even higher performance. Compared with Kepler, Maxwell operates considerably more efficient.

As expected, the laptop model cannot quite compete with its desktop counterpart. The GTX 980 offers 33% more shaders (2048 CUDA cores), an 8% higher core clock (1127 - 1216 MHz), and a 40% higher memory clock (3.5 vs. 2.5 GHz). Nevertheless, we have to greatly praise Nvidia. In contrast to the 50 - 100% lead that the desktop chips often had over their laptop counterparts, the performance plus is now only 25% (average rate of 24 games in ultra-settings). We have to keep in mind that mobile GPUs are both significantly smaller and energy efficient.

GPU Performance

The GTX 980M impressively stood its ground against the other top models in the synthetic graphics tests. In addition to three 3DMark versions, we also used Unigine Heaven 3.0 benchmark (1920x1080 pixels, high, default tessellation). Until now, no chip has ever achieved over 100 fps. With 119 frames per second, the GTX 980M outperforms the GTX 880M by almost 45% (82.1 fps @ MSI GT72), and the GTX 870M by over 80% (65 fps @ One K73-4N). It has an even bigger edge on AMD's main contender, the Radeon R9 M290X (62 fps @ One K56-4N). Solely the GeForce GTX 970M tries to keep up with 93 fps.

The advantage in the Fire Strike test of 3DMark 13 is even more smashing. The GT72 achieved a GPU score of 9809 points. That is 60% more than from the GTX 880M (6144 points) and 110% more than from the GTX 870M (4664 points). There is no land in sight for the Radeon R9 M290X either (5294 points). Second place again belongs to the GTX 970M with 7268 points. Thus, users with enough financial reserves should disregard the Kepler architecture and grab the 900 generation.

3DMark Vantage P Result no PhysX
31944 points
3DMark 11 Performance
11173 points
3DMark (2013) Ice Storm Standard Score
131093 points
3DMark (2013) Cloud Gate Standard Score
22055 points
3DMark (2013) Fire Strike Standard Score
8364 points
Help
Unigine Heaven 3.0 - 1920x1080 DX 11, Normal Tessellation, High Shaders AA:Off AF:Off (sort by value)
MSI GT72-2QE32SR311BW
GeForce GTX 980M (344.00)
119 fps ∼44%
Schenker XMG P505
GeForce GTX 970M (344.00)
93 fps ∼35% -22%
MSI GT72-2PE16SR231BW
GeForce GTX 880M (333.11)
82.1 fps ∼31% -31%
One K73-4N
GeForce GTX 870M (332.35)
65 fps ∼24% -45%
One K56-4N
Radeon R9 M290X (13.151.0.0)
62 fps ∼23% -48%
3DMark (2013) - 1920x1080 Fire Strike Standard Graphics (sort by value)
MSI GT72-2QE32SR311BW
GeForce GTX 980M (344.00)
9809 Points ∼36%
Schenker XMG P505
GeForce GTX 970M (344.00)
7268 Points ∼26% -26%
MSI GT72-2PE16SR231BW
GeForce GTX 880M (333.11)
6144 Points ∼22% -37%
One K73-4N
GeForce GTX 870M (332.35)
4664 Points ∼17% -52%
One K56-4N
Radeon R9 M290X (13.151.0.0)
5294 Points ∼19% -46%
3DMark 11 - 1280x720 Performance GPU (sort by value)
MSI GT72-2QE32SR311BW
GeForce GTX 980M (344.00)
12781 Points ∼35%
Schenker XMG P505
GeForce GTX 970M (344.00)
9907 Points ∼27% -22%
MSI GT72-2PE16SR231BW
GeForce GTX 880M (333.11)
8812 Points ∼24% -31%
One K73-4N
GeForce GTX 870M (332.35)
7270 Points ∼20% -43%
One K56-4N
Radeon R9 M290X (13.151.0.0)
6817 Points ∼19% -47%
3DMark Vantage - 1280x1024 P GPU no PhysX (sort by value)
MSI GT72-2QE32SR311BW
GeForce GTX 980M (344.00)
35904 Points ∼52%
Schenker XMG P505
GeForce GTX 970M (344.00)
30252 Points ∼44% -16%
MSI GT72-2PE16SR231BW
GeForce GTX 880M (333.11)
29582 Points ∼43% -18%
One K73-4N
GeForce GTX 870M (332.35)
24065 Points ∼35% -33%
One K56-4N
Radeon R9 M290X (13.151.0.0)
24205 Points ∼35% -33%

Storage Devices

Super RAID 3
Super RAID 3

We are rather skeptical about RAID arrays made up of multiple SSDs. Though the sequential performance is worthy of reference with 1335 MB/s in read and 1115 MB/s in write (AS SSD benchmark), the performance with smaller files is barely different from a single SSD. Then there is the enormous cost factor. Four M.2 modules with 256 GB each (4 x 128 GB @ SKU9, 2x 128 GB @SKU10 & 11) are not exactly cheap.

The laptop could be sold for considerably less with a single, high-capacity SSD that would also achieve higher rates in the 4K field. But the marketing department would not have so much work. After all, manufacturers want to advertise with as many as possible features.

4x Kingston RBU-SNS8100S3256GD1 (RAID 0)
Sequential Read: 1346 MB/s
Sequential Write: 1105 MB/s
512K Read: 825.8 MB/s
512K Write: 1044 MB/s
4K Read: 29.3 MB/s
4K Write: 79.84 MB/s
4K QD32 Read: 518.5 MB/s
4K QD32 Write: 502 MB/s

System Performance

The system's performance fulfills the high expectations. 5969 points in PCMark 7 is common for a gaming laptop with a solid state drive, although most contenders score marginally worse. Besides Asus' G750JZ-T4023H (5746 points), Medion's Erazer X7831-MD98776 (5597 points) also lags behind by a few percent. The review samples of the XMG P704 (Core i7-4910MQ, GeForce GTX 880M, 480 GB SSD) and One's K73-4N (Core i7-4800MQ, GeForce GTX 870M, 500 GB SSD) were slightly faster.

PCMark 7 Score
5969 points
PCMark 8 Home Score Accelerated v2
4889 points
PCMark 8 Creative Score Accelerated v2
5804 points
PCMark 8 Work Score Accelerated v2
4434 points
Help

Gaming Performance

The distance to the contenders is not as gigantic in the gaming field as it was in the synthetic benchmarks. Based on our ultra-setting (1920x1080 pixels, maximum details, anti-aliasing), the GTX 980M has an edge of approximately 30% on the GTX 880M and 55-65% on the GTX 870M and R9 M290X. Passionate gamers will not go wrong with the GeForce GTX 970M either. The high-end chip only lags behind the GTX 980M by not quite 16%.

Graphics Card Overall Performance @ Ultra-Setting
GeForce GTX 980M Base
GeForce GTX 970M -16%
GeForce GTX 880M -22%
GeForce GTX 870M -36%
Radeon R9 M290X -39%

In any event, the GT72 provides enough performance to power almost all games using maximum settings. Only Risen 3, which acts strangely on many laptops, did not want to go beyond 40 fps. Otherwise, the GTX 980M even manages demanding titles like Battlefield 4, Metro: Last Light, Crysis 3, Watch Dogs, Far Cry 3, and Ryse: Son of Rome without difficulty (providing the user does not exaggerate with anti-aliasing). Compromises were still necessary with the GeForce 7x0M. It is only aggravating that the new chips are still fairly pricey. Since AMD does not have a real contender, Nvidia can design the prices almost as it likes.

Civilization: Beyond Earth - 1920x1080 Ultra Preset AA:4x MS (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 980M (344.00)
MSI GT72 2QE
80.4 fps ∼57%
GeForce GTX 880M (mixed driver)
Schenker W504
53.6 (min: 24) fps ∼38% -33%
GeForce GTX 870M (mixed driver)
Schenker W504
45.1 (min: 19) fps ∼32% -44%
Radeon R9 M290X (mixed driver)
Schenker W504
44 (min: 28) fps ∼31% -45%
GeForce GTX 980 Desktop (344.48)
Desktop-PC
110.8 (min: 52) fps ∼78% +38%
F1 2014 - 1920x1080 Ultra Preset AA:4x MS (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 980M (344.00)
MSI GT72 2QE
109 fps ∼91%
GeForce GTX 880M (mixed driver)
Schenker W504
102 (min: 74) fps ∼85% -6%
GeForce GTX 870M (mixed driver)
Schenker W504
98 (min: 75) fps ∼82% -10%
Radeon R9 M290X (mixed driver)
Schenker W504
0 fps ∼0% -100%
GeForce GTX 980 Desktop (344.16)
Desktop-PC
116 fps ∼97% +6%
The Evil Within - 1920x1080 High / Enabled AA:SM (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 980M (344.00)
MSI GT72 2QE
63 fps ∼72%
GeForce GTX 880M (mixed driver)
Schenker W504
46.4 (min: 37) fps ∼53% -26%
GeForce GTX 870M (mixed driver)
Schenker W504
38.2 (min: 31) fps ∼43% -39%
Radeon R9 M290X (mixed driver)
Schenker W504
41.8 (min: 34) fps ∼47% -34%
GeForce GTX 980 Desktop (344.16)
Desktop-PC
63.8 fps ∼72% +1%
Ryse: Son of Rome - 1920x1080 Very High Texture Res. + High Graphics Quality (Motion Blur & Temporal AA On, Rest Off/Disabled) AF:8x (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 980M (344.00)
MSI GT72 2QE
54.7 fps ∼53%
GeForce GTX 970M (344.00)
Schenker XMG P505
41.3 (min: 33) fps ∼40% -24%
GeForce GTX 880M (mixed driver)
Schenker W504
37.4 (min: 29) fps ∼36% -32%
GeForce GTX 870M (mixed driver)
Schenker W504
30.1 (min: 23) fps ∼29% -45%
Radeon R9 M290X (mixed driver)
Schenker W504
39.2 (min: 29) fps ∼38% -28%
GeForce GTX 980 Desktop (344.16)
Desktop-PC
66.7 fps ∼65% +22%
Alien: Isolation - 1920x1080 Ultra, On, Shadow Map 2048, HDAO AA:2x SM AF:16x (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 980M (344.00)
MSI GT72 2QE
96.1 fps ∼43%
GeForce GTX 970M (344.00)
Schenker XMG P505
75.7 fps ∼34% -21%
GeForce GTX 880M (mixed driver)
Schenker W504
68.9 fps ∼31% -28%
GeForce GTX 870M (mixed driver)
Schenker W504
55.9 fps ∼25% -42%
Radeon R9 M290X (mixed driver)
Schenker W504
57.1 fps ∼26% -41%
GeForce GTX 980 Desktop (344.16)
Desktop-PC
125.7 fps ∼57% +31%
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor - 1920x1080 Ultra Preset (HD Package) (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 980M (344.00)
MSI GT72 2QE
65 fps ∼40%
GeForce GTX 970M (344.00)
Schenker XMG P505
51.2 fps ∼32% -21%
GeForce GTX 880M (mixed driver)
Schenker W504
48.3 (min: 30) fps ∼30% -26%
GeForce GTX 870M (mixed driver)
Schenker W504
38.9 (min: 26) fps ∼24% -40%
Radeon R9 M290X (mixed driver)
Schenker W504
37.1 (min: 10) fps ∼23% -43%
GeForce GTX 980 Desktop (344.16)
Desktop-PC
83.6 fps ∼52% +29%
Fifa 15 - 1920x1080 High Preset AA:4x MS (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 980M (344.00)
MSI GT72 2QE
240.4 fps ∼81%
GeForce GTX 970M (344.00)
Schenker XMG P505
217.8 fps ∼73% -9%
GeForce GTX 880M (mixed driver)
Schenker W504
189.3 (min: 163) fps ∼64% -21%
GeForce GTX 870M (mixed driver)
Schenker W504
157.4 (min: 68) fps ∼53% -35%
Radeon R9 M290X (mixed driver)
Schenker W504
111.3 (min: 63) fps ∼37% -54%
GeForce GTX 980 Desktop (344.16)
Desktop-PC
244.6 fps ∼82% +2%
Sims 4 - 1920x1080 Ultra Preset (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 980M (344.00)
MSI GT72 2QE
97 fps ∼66%
GeForce GTX 970M (344.00)
Schenker XMG P505
93.8 fps ∼63% -3%
GeForce GTX 880M (mixed driver)
Schenker W504
73.5 (min: 55) fps ∼50% -24%
GeForce GTX 870M (mixed driver)
Schenker W504
65.8 (min: 43) fps ∼44% -32%
Radeon R9 M290X (mixed driver)
Schenker W504
57 (min: 41) fps ∼39% -41%
GeForce GTX 980 Desktop (344.16)
Desktop-PC
117.7 fps ∼80% +21%
Risen 3: Titan Lords - 1920x1080 Ultra/High, On AF:16x (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 980M (344.00)
MSI GT72 2QE
35.6 fps ∼39%
GeForce GTX 970M (344.00)
Schenker XMG P505
53.3 fps ∼59% +50%
GeForce GTX 880M (mixed driver)
Schenker W504
54.9 (min: 45) fps ∼61% +54%
GeForce GTX 870M (mixed driver)
Schenker W504
45.4 (min: 36) fps ∼50% +28%
Radeon R9 M290X (mixed driver)
Schenker W504
39.7 (min: 33) fps ∼44% +12%
GeForce GTX 980 Desktop (344.16)
Desktop-PC
90.2 fps ∼100% +153%
GRID: Autosport - 1920x1080 Ultra Preset AA:4x MS (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 980M (344.00)
MSI GT72 2QE
107.1 fps ∼71%
GeForce GTX 970M (344.00)
Schenker XMG P505
82.3 fps ∼55% -23%
GeForce GTX 880M (mixed driver)
Schenker W504
76.8 (min: 64) fps ∼51% -28%
GeForce GTX 870M (mixed driver)
Schenker W504
62.3 (min: 53) fps ∼42% -42%
Radeon R9 M290X (mixed driver)
Schenker W504
62 (min: 51) fps ∼41% -42%
GeForce GTX 980 Desktop (344.16)
Desktop-PC
121.4 fps ∼81% +13%
Watch Dogs - 1920x1080 Ultra Overall Quality, Ultra Textures AA:4x MS (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 980M (344.00)
MSI GT72 2QE
45.9 fps ∼66%
GeForce GTX 970M (344.00)
Schenker XMG P505
34.4 fps ∼50% -25%
GeForce GTX 880M (mixed driver)
Schenker W504
32.9 (min: 28) fps ∼47% -28%
GeForce GTX 870M (mixed driver)
Schenker W504
26.8 (min: 22) fps ∼39% -42%
GeForce GTX 980 Desktop (344.16)
Desktop-PC
53.6 fps ∼77% +17%
Wolfenstein: The New Order - 1920x1080 Ultra Preset (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 980M (344.00)
MSI GT72 2QE
60 fps ∼100%
GeForce GTX 970M (344.00)
Schenker XMG P505
51.7 fps ∼86% -14%
GeForce GTX 880M (mixed driver)
Schenker W504
58.7 (min: 45) fps ∼98% -2%
GeForce GTX 870M (mixed driver)
Schenker W504
48.7 (min: 38) fps ∼81% -19%
GeForce GTX 980 Desktop (344.16)
Desktop-PC
60 fps ∼100% 0%
Thief - 1920x1080 Very High Preset AA:FXAA & High SS AF:8x (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 980M (344.00)
MSI GT72 2QE
62.1 fps ∼55%
GeForce GTX 970M (344.00)
Schenker XMG P505
47.9 fps ∼42% -23%
GeForce GTX 880M (332.35)
Schenker XMG P704
40 fps ∼35% -36%
GeForce GTX 870M (332.35)
One K73-4N
31.9 fps ∼28% -49%
Radeon R9 M290X (13.151.0.0)
One K56-4N
34 fps ∼30% -45%
GeForce GTX 980 Desktop (344.16)
Desktop-PC
79.1 fps ∼70% +27%
Call of Duty: Ghosts - 1920x1080 Extra / High / HBAO+ / No dynamic fur AA:4x MS (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 980M (344.00)
MSI GT72 2QE
65.3 fps ∼72%
GeForce GTX 970M (344.00)
Schenker XMG P505
51.5 fps ∼57% -21%
GeForce GTX 880M (332.35)
Schenker XMG P704
45.9 fps ∼51% -30%
GeForce GTX 870M (332.35)
One K73-4N
37.3 fps ∼41% -43%
Radeon R9 M290X (13.151.0.0)
One K56-4N
33.2 fps ∼37% -49%
GeForce GTX 980 Desktop (344.16)
Desktop-PC
77.1 fps ∼85% +18%
Battlefield 4 - 1920x1080 Ultra Preset AA:4x MS (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 980M (344.00)
MSI GT72 2QE
72.9 fps ∼41%
GeForce GTX 970M (344.00)
Schenker XMG P505
54.8 fps ∼31% -25%
GeForce GTX 880M (332.35)
Schenker XMG P704
45.4 fps ∼26% -38%
GeForce GTX 870M (332.35)
One K73-4N
36.2 fps ∼20% -50%
Radeon R9 M290X (13.151.0.0)
One K56-4N
38.7 fps ∼22% -47%
GeForce GTX 980 Desktop (344.16)
Desktop-PC
93.4 fps ∼53% +28%
Saints Row IV - 1920x1080 Ultra Preset AA:8x MS AF:16x (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 980M (344.00)
MSI GT72 2QE
72.5 fps ∼77%
GeForce GTX 970M (344.00)
Schenker XMG P505
58.8 fps ∼63% -19%
GeForce GTX 880M (332.35)
Schenker XMG P704
52.4 fps ∼56% -28%
GeForce GTX 870M (332.35)
One K73-4N
43.4 fps ∼46% -40%
Radeon R9 M290X (13.151.0.0)
One K56-4N
35.2 fps ∼37% -51%
GeForce GTX 980 Desktop (344.16)
Desktop-PC
82.8 fps ∼88% +14%
Dota 2 - 1920x1080 High / On, Render Quality: 100 % (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 980M (344.00)
MSI GT72 2QE
113.4 fps ∼95%
GeForce GTX 880M (332.35)
Schenker XMG P704
105.7 fps ∼88% -7%
GeForce GTX 870M (332.35)
One K73-4N
99.6 fps ∼83% -12%
Radeon R9 M290X (13.151.0.0)
One K56-4N
102.6 fps ∼86% -10%
GeForce GTX 980 Desktop (344.16)
Desktop-PC
117.5 fps ∼98% +4%
Metro: Last Light - 1920x1080 Very High (DX11) AF:16x (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 980M (344.00)
MSI GT72 2QE
66.8 fps ∼48%
GeForce GTX 970M (344.00)
Schenker XMG P505
53.3 fps ∼38% -20%
GeForce GTX 880M (332.35)
Schenker XMG P704
42.6 fps ∼30% -36%
GeForce GTX 870M (332.35)
One K73-4N
34.4 fps ∼25% -49%
Radeon R9 M290X (13.151.0.0)
One K56-4N
33.1 fps ∼24% -50%
GeForce GTX 980 Desktop (344.16)
Desktop-PC
80.6 fps ∼58% +21%
BioShock Infinite - 1920x1080 Ultra Preset, DX11 (DDOF) (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 980M (344.00)
MSI GT72 2QE
91.2 fps ∼50%
GeForce GTX 970M (344.00)
Schenker XMG P505
72.5 fps ∼40% -21%
GeForce GTX 880M (332.35)
Schenker XMG P704
65.6 fps ∼36% -28%
GeForce GTX 870M (332.35)
One K73-4N
52.2 fps ∼29% -43%
Radeon R9 M290X (13.151.0.0)
One K56-4N
46.8 fps ∼26% -49%
GeForce GTX 980 Desktop (344.16)
Desktop-PC
113.5 fps ∼63% +24%
Tomb Raider - 1920x1080 Ultra Preset AA:FX AF:16x (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 980M (344.00)
MSI GT72 2QE
104.5 fps ∼38%
GeForce GTX 970M (344.00)
Schenker XMG P505
80.3 fps ∼29% -23%
GeForce GTX 880M (332.35)
Schenker XMG P704
74.2 fps ∼27% -29%
GeForce GTX 870M (332.35)
One K73-4N
59.8 fps ∼22% -43%
Radeon R9 M290X (13.151.0.0)
One K56-4N
62.7 fps ∼23% -40%
GeForce GTX 980 Desktop (344.16)
Desktop-PC
138 fps ∼50% +32%
Crysis 3 - 1920x1080 Very High Preset AA:2xSM AF:16x (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 980M (344.00)
MSI GT72 2QE
43.3 fps ∼43%
GeForce GTX 970M (344.00)
Schenker XMG P505
33.4 fps ∼33% -23%
GeForce GTX 880M (332.35)
Schenker XMG P704
33.2 fps ∼33% -23%
GeForce GTX 870M (332.35)
One K73-4N
26.7 fps ∼27% -38%
Radeon R9 M290X (13.151.0.0)
One K56-4N
22.8 fps ∼23% -47%
GeForce GTX 980 Desktop (344.16)
Desktop-PC
58.3 fps ∼58% +35%
Far Cry 3 - 1920x1080 DX11 Ultra Preset (HDAO, Enhanced Alpha To Coverage) AA:4x MS (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 980M (344.00)
MSI GT72 2QE
52.2 fps ∼70%
GeForce GTX 970M (344.00)
Schenker XMG P505
40.4 fps ∼54% -23%
GeForce GTX 880M (332.35)
Schenker XMG P704
35.7 fps ∼48% -32%
GeForce GTX 870M (332.35)
One K73-4N
28.4 fps ∼38% -46%
Radeon R9 M290X (13.151.0.0)
One K56-4N
29 fps ∼39% -44%
GeForce GTX 980 Desktop (344.16)
Desktop-PC
66.4 fps ∼89% +27%
Hitman: Absolution - 1920x1080 Ultra Preset AA:4xMS AF:16x (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 980M (344.00)
MSI GT72 2QE
54 fps ∼56%
GeForce GTX 970M (344.00)
Schenker XMG P505
41.2 fps ∼42% -24%
GeForce GTX 880M (332.35)
Schenker XMG P704
38 fps ∼39% -30%
GeForce GTX 870M (332.35)
One K73-4N
27.9 fps ∼29% -48%
Radeon R9 M290X (13.151.0.0)
One K56-4N
37.3 fps ∼38% -31%
GeForce GTX 980 Desktop (344.16)
Desktop-PC
68.3 fps ∼70% +26%
Guild Wars 2 - 1920x1080 All Maximum / On AA:FX (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 980M (344.00)
MSI GT72 2QE
60 fps ∼77%
GeForce GTX 970M (344.00)
Schenker XMG P505
52 fps ∼66% -13%
GeForce GTX 880M (332.35)
Schenker XMG P704
43.8 fps ∼56% -27%
GeForce GTX 870M (332.35)
One K73-4N
34.6 fps ∼44% -42%
GeForce GTX 980 Desktop (344.16)
Desktop-PC
73.3 fps ∼94% +22%
low med. high ultra
Guild Wars 2 (2012) 124.46960fps
Hitman: Absolution (2012) 96.490.780.554fps
Far Cry 3 (2012) 131.8123.498.252.2fps
Crysis 3 (2013) 139.1118.594.943.3fps
Tomb Raider (2013) 414.1356.4247104.5fps
BioShock Infinite (2013) 229.7200.2189.291.2fps
Metro: Last Light (2013) 128.3126.2112.466.8fps
Dota 2 (2013) 119.4117113.4fps
Saints Row IV (2013) 91.484.275.472.5fps
Battlefield 4 (2013) 196.2193.7155.172.9fps
Call of Duty: Ghosts (2013) 177.6149.7101.265.3fps
Thief (2014) 96.495.393.562.1fps
Wolfenstein: The New Order (2014) 60606060fps
Watch Dogs (2014) 95.380.461.345.9fps
GRID: Autosport (2014) 279.4158.4134.3107.1fps
Risen 3: Titan Lords (2014) 35.435.43535.6fps
Sims 4 (2014) 182.4111.998.497fps
Fifa 15 (2014) 293.3244.7240.4fps
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor (2014) 197.416582.565fps
Alien: Isolation (2014) 239225.2138.996.1fps
Ryse: Son of Rome (2014) 63.162.958.854.7fps
The Evil Within (2014) 64.663.763fps
F1 2014 (2014) 118118116109fps
Civilization: Beyond Earth (2014) 144.612290.480.4fps

Emissions

Before we deal with the emissions, we should remark that all measurements were determined using Nvidia Mode and disabled Cooler Boost. Only the battery test (idle runtime) was performed with the HD Graphics 4600.

System Noise

The noise basically follows the version with the GTX 880M, although the precursor seems slightly louder in idle mode. We measured 34 - 35 in contrast to 33 - 34 dB(A), which is still acceptable. The load rates are virtually identical. An average of 40 dB(A) in 3DMark06 is not at all quiet, but the contenders are considerably louder - regardless whether it is the Clevo P177SM-A and P170SM-A barebones (48/49 dB), MSI's GT70 (~47 dB) or Alienware's 17 (~44 dB). Even Asus' top model that is known for its relatively quiet fan achieves a bit more (~41 dB). The 49 dB specified below refers to the stress test. Up-to-date games should range somewhere between the 3DMark and full load rates (the GT72 achieved approximately 45 dB in Crysis 3).

Noise Level

Idle
34 / 34.5 / 34.7 dB(A)
HDD
34.7 dB(A)
DVD
37 / dB(A)
Load
40.3 / 49.4 dB(A)
 
 
 
30 dB
silent
40 dB(A)
audible
50 dB(A)
loud
 
min: dark, med: mid, max: light   Voltcraft sl-320 (15 cm distance)

Temperature

Stress test
Stress test

Although the fans operate rather unobtrusively, the high-end machine does not tend toward high temperature development. The entire chassis was pleasantly cool during basic tasks. Our thermometer recorded an average of just 26 °C after two hours of idling. There is no comparison with thinner 17-inch laptops, such as the Aorus X7 v2 (~39 °C).

Solely the rear heated up noticeably in 3D operation. While the wrist rest remained below 29 °C, 40 or even 50 °C were reached in some corners in extreme cases. These temperatures are, however, absolutely harmless when compared with other laptops (maximum 63 °C @ MSI GS70; up to 76 °C @ Schenker XMG P505). The GT72 never felt really hot.

We particularly liked the situation on the components. The Core i7-4710HQ did not exceed over 90 °C for a change. It looked even better for the GeForce GTX 980M. Nvidia has done such a good job with the Maxwell architecture that we could only educe a maximum of 78 °C from the graphics chip during full load (Furmark + Prime95). The GTX 880M was roughly 10 °C warmer in this scenario.

In case the screenshot of the GPU clock is confusing: the graphics card throttles its clock in Furmark - like in the former GT72. However, this is not related to the laptop but rather with Nvidia according to MSI. A 40-minute test using Crysis 3 previously confirmed that there was no throttling in gaming operation. That should also be true for the GTX 980M.

Max. Load
 39.4 °C40.1 °C38.2 °C 
 39.1 °C39.8 °C33.5 °C 
 28.3 °C28.1 °C26.7 °C 
Maximum: 40.1 °C
Average: 34.8 °C
52.1 °C41.7 °C43.3 °C
36.3 °C40.1 °C30.1 °C
25 °C25.1 °C25.8 °C
Maximum: 52.1 °C
Average: 35.5 °C
Power Supply (max.)  55.3 °C | Room Temperature 24 °C | Voltcraft IR-900

Speakers

Since the sound system has not been changed, we would like to refer to the previous article.

Energy Management

Power Consumption

In addition to the waste heat, Nvidia has also optimized the power consumption. The GTX 880M precursor now only needs 97 watts instead of 113 watts in the first 3DMark06 scene (-14%). However, this advantage is nullified in the stress test due to the CPU's slightly higher clock (2.9 vs. 2.6 GHz). Omitting the graphics switching is noticed extremely in idle mode. Despite the fact that the GT72 consumes 2 watts less, the rates are considerably higher than those of some Optimus laptops. For example, Asus' G750JZ consumes 12 - 24 watts rather than 24 - 34 watts. This not only has an adverse impact on the budget (electricity bill), but also on battery life.

Power Consumption
Off / Standbydarklight 0.2 / 0.4 Watt
Idledarkmidlight 23.9 / 29 / 33.6 Watt
Load midlight 97.2 / 210.1 Watt
 color bar
Key: min: dark, med: mid, max: light        Voltcraft VC 940

Battery Runtime

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

The battery runtimes are neither good nor bad. Although the 17-inch laptop lasted for up to 6.5 hours in Intel Mode (maximum energy-saving options, minimum brightness), not quite three hours of DVD playback and three hours of Internet browsing are not overwhelming. Gaming on-the-go is possible for approximately 1.5 hours with the GT72. Replacing the 9-cell battery is very difficult for construction-related reasons (at least for inexperienced users).

Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
6h 37min
WiFi Surfing
3h 04min
DVD
2h 50min
Load (maximum brightness)
1h 27min

Verdict

MSI GT72 2QE Dominator Pro
MSI GT72 2QE Dominator Pro

MSI largely relies on the proven design. Understandable because major drawbacks had to be minutely searched for in the first GT72. Of course, some details are controversial (inaccessible battery, no Optimus, touchpad's "rubbery" surface, middling Wi-Fi reception), but these points do not alter anything about the overall good performance.

MSI has a classic high-end laptop in its line with a dual-fan system that ensures stress-free gaming marathons. The whole bundle is supported by a great sound combo and a high-contrast (though not particularly color accurate) TN screen. The generous configuration belongs to the other highlights. No matter whether interfaces, upgrade or expansion options, the GT72 is quite customer-oriented. The system noise and temperatures are also acceptable.

The 17-inch offspring makes a generally appealing impression. The aluminum cover and backlit keyboard enhance the quality impression. Overall, we can give a clear purchase recommendation. The GeForce GTX 980M even makes it enough for 88% this time.

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GT72 2QE Dominator Pro. Review sample courtesy of MSI Germany.
GT72 2QE Dominator Pro. Review sample courtesy of MSI Germany.

Specifications

MSI GT72-2QE32SR311BW
Processor
Graphics adapter
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M - 8192 MB, Core: 1038 MHz, Memory: 2500 MHz, GDDR5, ForceWare 344.00, Manual switch to HD Graphics 4600
Memory
32768 MB 
, 4x 8 GB SO-DIMM DDR3-RAM PC3-12800 (1600 MHz), 4 of 4 slots filled, max. 32 GB
Display
17.3 inch 16:9, 1920x1080 pixel, CMN N173HGE-E11 (CMN1735), TN LED, Full HD, glossy: no
Mainboard
Intel HM87 (Lynx Point)
Storage
4x Kingston RBU-SNS8100S3256GD1 (RAID 0), 1024 GB 
, M.2-SSDs + HGST Travelstar 7K1000 (HTS721010A9E630), 1000 GB HDD, 7200 rpm. slots: 4x M.2 & 2x 2,5"
Soundcard
Realtek ALC892 @ Intel Lynx Point PCH - High Definition Audio Controller
Connections
6 USB 3.0 / 3.1 Gen1, 1 HDMI, 2 DisplayPort, 1 Kensington Lock, Audio Connections: headphone or S/PDIF, microphone, line-in, line-out (7.1 analog), Card Reader: SD,SDHC,SDXC
Networking
Qualcomm Killer e2200 PCI-E Gigabit Ethernet Controller (10/100/1000MBit), Killer Wireless-n/a/ac 1525 Wireless Network Adapter (a/b/g/n/ac), Bluetooth 4.0
Optical drive
HL-DT-ST BD-RE BU20N
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 48 x 428 x 294 ( = 1.89 x 16.85 x 11.57 in)
Battery
87 Wh Lithium-Ion, 7800mAh, 11.1V, 9 cells
Operating System
Microsoft Windows 8.1 64 Bit
Camera
Webcam: Full HD (30 fps @ 1080p)
Additional features
Speakers: speakers: 2.1 (Dynaudio, Sound Blaster Cinema 2), Keyboard: Chiclet by SteelSeries, Keyboard Light: yes, power supply: 230 watts; warranty card; warranty booklet; quick start guide; recovery information; polishing cloth; edition-specific accessories: backpack, keyboard cover; Mousepad, SteelSeries v2 mouse, SteelSeries Siberia v2 headset, CyberLink PowerDVD 10, Magix MX Suite, Norton Security Utilities, Microsoft Office 365 (trial), Windows Essentials 2012, various manufacturer tools, 24 Months Warranty
Weight
3.82 kg ( = 134.75 oz / 8.42 pounds), Power Supply: 780 g ( = 27.51 oz / 1.72 pounds)
Price
3300 Euro

 

The GT72 looks a lot different than the GT70.
The GT72 looks a lot different than the GT70.
The laptop looks more up-to-date and unobtrusive.
The laptop looks more up-to-date and unobtrusive.
The maximum opening angles is extremely big.
The maximum opening angles is extremely big.
MSI uses a relatively thick chassis...
MSI uses a relatively thick chassis...
...that allows a strong cooling in return.
...that allows a strong cooling in return.
Most interfaces are positioned favorably.
Most interfaces are positioned favorably.
There are many vents on the underside.
There are many vents on the underside.
A lot of force is needed to remove the underside.
A lot of force is needed to remove the underside.
The graphics card.
The graphics card.
The processor is attached to both fans.
The processor is attached to both fans.
All RAM slots are filled.
All RAM slots are filled.
They are not mSATA SSDs, but M.2 models.
They are not mSATA SSDs, but M.2 models.
A conventional HDD supplements them.
A conventional HDD supplements them.
The empty 2.5-inch slot does not have a matching connector.
The empty 2.5-inch slot does not have a matching connector.
The top model graphics card of the Maxwell generation is installed.
The top model graphics card of the Maxwell generation is installed.
A torn sticker does not inevitably void the warranty.
A torn sticker does not inevitably void the warranty.
The sound system comes from Dynaudio.
The sound system comes from Dynaudio.
A subwoofer is under the hood.
A subwoofer is under the hood.
The dragon logo reveals MSI gaming machines.
The dragon logo reveals MSI gaming machines.
The Full HD webcam records with 30 fps.
The Full HD webcam records with 30 fps.
The speaker grille looks like that of the GE line.
The speaker grille looks like that of the GE line.
Power button and four hotkeys.
Power button and four hotkeys.
The keyboard looks good,...
The keyboard looks good,...
...though the layout needs getting used to.
...though the layout needs getting used to.
The wrist rest is very pleasant, but also smudges easily.
The wrist rest is very pleasant, but also smudges easily.
Dedicated keys are incorporated in the touchpad.
Dedicated keys are incorporated in the touchpad.
Red highlights provide variety.
Red highlights provide variety.
Two DisplayPorts are not often found in laptops.
Two DisplayPorts are not often found in laptops.
Also true for six USB 3.0 ports.
Also true for six USB 3.0 ports.
According to MSI, the audio jacks are gold-plated.
According to MSI, the audio jacks are gold-plated.
The right side is largely reserved for the Blu-ray burner.
The right side is largely reserved for the Blu-ray burner.
The status LEDs are gathered in a bar.
The status LEDs are gathered in a bar.
The power supply has a sufficient size.
The power supply has a sufficient size.

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Links

  • Manufacturer's information

Compare Prices

Pro

+Good maintenance options
+Up to three external monitors
+Four M.2 SSDs in RAID 0
+Top-notch performance
+Cool wrist rest
+Aluminum lid
+Many interfaces
+3-zone illumination
+Plenty of accessories
+Nice design
+Great sound
 

Cons

-Manual graphics switching requires rebooting
-TN screen with poor color accuracy
-Unsatisfactory Wi-Fi reception
-Relatively thick and heavy casing
-Smudge-sensitive components
-Inaccessible battery
-Extremely steep price

Shortcut

What we like

More power yet less waste heat and consumption: Welcome GTX 980M.

What we'd like to see

Graphics switching without a reboot, and an easier to access battery.

What surprises us

Four SSDs in RAID0? Nice, but somehow unnecessary.

The competition

17-inch premium laptops like: Alienware 17Aorus X7 v2, Asus G750JS, Asus G750JZ, Medion Erazer X7831, MSI GS70, MSI GT70, One K73-4N or Schenker XMG P704. Apt successors will be reviewed soon.

Rating

MSI GT72-2QE32SR311BW - 10/26/2014 v4(old)
Florian Glaser

Chassis
82 / 98 → 84%
Keyboard
81%
Pointing Device
79%
Connectivity
80 / 81 → 99%
Weight
51 / 66 → 73%
Battery
79%
Display
81%
Games Performance
100%
Application Performance
97%
Temperature
86 / 95 → 91%
Noise
70 / 90 → 78%
Audio
90%
Average
81%
88%
Gaming - Weighted Average
> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > MSI GT72 (GTX 980M) Notebook Review Update
Florian Glaser, 2014-10-30 (Update: 2014-10-30)