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Review MSI GT70H-80M4811B Notebook

Florian Glaser (translated by Liala Stieglitz), 06/08/2013

Strong. MSI launches an updated version of the popular GT70 gaming laptop based on the brand new CPU and GPU generation. It spoils gamers with a quad-core from Intel's Haswell family and a high-end scion from Nvidia's GeForce 700 range. We snatched the GT70H-80M4811B, which is one of the premium models, and put it through its paces.

MSI logo

For the original German review, see here.

Unsurprisingly, MSI offers the 17-inch device in several versions that strongly differ in price. The lower end is occupied by the GT70-70M387B, which features a swift 2.4-3.4 GHz Core i7-4700MQ, 8 GB of DDR3 RAM, a large 750 GB HDD and a Blu-ray combo. The manufacturer installs Nvidia's brand new GeForce GTX 770M for graphics. Its price: 1500 Euros (~$1982).

The 100 Euros (~$132) more expensive GT70H-70M3811B, which also features a Core i7-4700MQ, a GeForce GTX 770M and Blu-ray drive, is delivered with a large 1000 GB HDD and a small 128 GB mSATA SSD. For 200 Euros (~$264) more, the buyer gets the GT70PH-70M3827B. This model is identical to the cheaper version, apart from the hard drive configuration (2x 128 GB mSATA SSD + 750 GB HDD).

However, it first gets really interesting with the GT70H-80M4811B that MSI sent us for testing. It is currently sold for around 2000 Euros (~$2643). In addition to 8 GB of DDR3 RAM, a Blu-ray drive and a combination of a small 128 GB mSATA SSD and big 1000 GB HDD, it sports a GeForce GTX 780M. Nvidia's new top-of-the-range model is targeted at demanding gaming fans. The Core i7-4700QM is installed here as well.

Even more lush, but also considerably more expensive, is the GT70SR2-80M41637BW(R). The buyer not only gets 16 GB DDR3 RAM and a Blu-ray burner, it also features three mSATA SSD with a capacity of 128 GB each and a large 750 GB HDD for a steep 2700 Euros (~$3568). This is complemented with a Core i7-4760MQ and GeForce GTX 780M.

We would not recommend the 3700 Euros (~$4890) GT70SR2-x80M43237BW(R) premium model because the faster Core i7-4930MX processor and the fatter storage capacity of 32 GB DDR3 RAM does not really justify the tremendous surcharge. Our two favorites are the GT70H-80M4811B and the GT70H-70M3811B.

GT70SR2-x80M43237BW(R) GT70SR2- 80M41637BW(R) GT70H-80M4811B GT70PH-70M3827B GT70H-70M3811B GT70-70M387B
Core i7-4930MX Core i7-4700MQ Core i7-4700MQ Core i7-4700MQ Core i7-4700MQ Core i7-4700MQ
GeForce GTX 780M GeForce GTX 780M GeForce GTX 780M GeForce GTX 770M GeForce GTX 770M GeForce GTX 770M
32 GB DDR III 16 GB DDR III 8 GB DDR III 8 GB DDR III 8 GB DDR III 8 GB DDR III
3x 128 GB SSD + 750 GB HDD 3x 128 GB SSD + 750 GB HDD 128 GB SSD + 1.000 GB HDD 2x 128 GByte SSD + 750 GB HDD 128 GB SSD + 1.000 GB HDD 750 GB HDD
Blu-ray burner Blu-ray burner Blu-ray combo Blu-ray combo Blu-ray combo Blu-ray combo
Full HD matte Full HD matte Full HD matte Full HD matte Full HD matte Full HD matte
Windows 8 64-bit Windows 8 64-bit Windows 8 64-bit Windows 8 64-bit Windows 8 64-bit Windows 8 64-bit
3700 Euros (~$4890) 2700 Euros (~$3568) 2000 Euros (~$2643) 1800 Euros (~$2379) 1600 Euros (~$2114) 1500 Euros (~$1982)

Case

Brushed aluminum
Brushed aluminum

The case is based on the heavy 3.8 kilogram MS-1763 barebone. Compared with the MS-1762 precursor, its looks have not changed much. The manufacturer again relies on a mix of brushed aluminum for the lid and wrist rest and plastic.

While the display bezel is now finally matte, the keyboard rim still features a glossy finish. As known from high-gloss surfaces, fingerprints and dust accumulate very soon. The Asian manufacturer apparently does not believe in matte and thus insensitive surfaces. The design makes a rather ragtag and garish impression in general. It lacks a straightforward line.

Not every gamer will appreciate the bulky build either. 428 x 288 x 60 millimeters is big even in the 17-inch category. The competing Clevo P170SM barebone (One K73-3N) and P177SM barebone (Schenker XMG P703) are both a few millimeters thinner. Transporting the device alongside the 180 watt power supply (16.7 x 8.3 x 4.0 centimeters) will not really be convenient. The GT70 was clearly designed for stationary use.

The advantage of the casing's bulky build is its decent stiffness. Although the base unit yields easily in some places (keyboard, fan grille), the 17-incher averagely does a better job than most contenders on the whole.

The workmanship and material impression range on the standard gaming level; thus they are neither cheap nor extremely high-end. The aforementioned Clevo barebones make an identical quality impression. The Asus G75V and Alienware M17x can still be considered to be the reference, at least in this category.

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Connectivity

Interfaces

Although a few interfaces are placed a bit unfavorably and the user has to tilt their head to quite a degree in order to see the ports (protruding edge), we quite liked the connectivity.

The GT70 strikes with two USB 2.0 ports and three USB 3.0 ports as well as an RJ45 Gigabit LAN port, Kensington lock and SD card reader. The three video ports, i.e. HDMI, mini DisplayPort and VGA, are particularly praiseworthy. According to MSI, up to three monitors can be connected. When counting the laptop's screen, a scenario with four monitors should be possible. The manufacturer calls this technology "Matrix Display".

The 17-inch device also stands out from the competition with its audio jacks. While some gaming laptops only sport two jacks (e.g. Samsung's 700G7C), the GT70 features a total of four audio ports (headphone, microphone, line-in, line-out). Owners of a surround system can take delight in full-bodied surround sound (7.1 analog + S/PDIF).

The Taiwanese company has also considered headset users. MSI wants to extract the maximum from the system with gold-plated ports and the so-called Audio Boost Technology (integrated power amplifier). However, owners of FireWire and eSATA devices are neglected.

Communication

Products from Qualcomm take care of (wireless) communication. Both the Killer e2200 Gigabit Ethernet controller and the Killer Wireless-N 1202 module (Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n + Bluetooth 4.0) are specially made for gamers according to Qualcomm. They are to prioritize latency sensitive network traffic. Besides diverse information, the preinstalled Network Manager offers many setting options. The Wi-Fi module's range was average in the test.

Left: 2x USB 3.0, card reader, USB 3.0, headphone, microphone, line-in, line-out
Left: 2x USB 3.0, card reader, USB 3.0, headphone, microphone, line-in, line-out
Rear: Kensington lock, DC-in, RJ45 Gigabit LAN, VGA, mini DisplayPort, HDMI 1.4
Rear: Kensington lock, DC-in, RJ45 Gigabit LAN, VGA, mini DisplayPort, HDMI 1.4
Right: 2x USB 2.0, optical drive
Right: 2x USB 2.0, optical drive

Maintenance

The maintenance and upgrade options proved to be very multifarious. Virtually all components can be accessed when the seven screws are removed from the large base cover. While a 2.5-inch slot is a matter of course, three mSATA slots are extremely uncommon.

MSI also has to be praised for its sophisticated cooling construction. Although the graphics card and processor share one fan and heat pipe, they have a separated system. Exemplary: The fan, CPU and GPU can be removed when required.

MSI divided the RAM slots on both motherboard sides. The user has to remove the keyboard in order to reach the primary RAM banks. This sounds easier than it is because two screws on the casing's bottom and the speaker grille (which also conceals the wireless module) have to be removed before the five screws for the keyboard can be accessed. The latter proved to be quite unyielding even when a flat object and a lot of force was used. Lifting the keyboard was no problem owing to the easy clasps.

Step I: Remove the screws with the keyboard symbol from the bottom (no picture). Step II: Lever the speaker bar from the clasps.
Step III: Remove the five screws.
Step IV: Lift off the keyboard.
Instructions for removing the keyboard
Preinstalled software
Preinstalled software

Software

Almost 40 programs and tools are installed in state of delivery. Besides the limited trial versions of Office 365 and Norton Internet Security, the buyer will find Windows Live Essentials 2012 and a tool for creating a system recovery, which is also available as a hidden partition. Owing to CyberLink's PowerDVD 10, the GT70 can play Blu-ray media without additional software. A few other programs, such as System Control Manager, can be found further below.

Accessories

The aforementioned 180 watt PSU and the just below 500 gram 9-cell battery are included alongside several information leaflets (quick start guide, warranty booklet, warranty card, etc.), a driver and a tool DVD as well as a dragon sticker for the laptop's lid.

Warranty

MSI promises a two-year pick-up & return service.

Network Manager
Network Manager
System Control Manager
System Control Manager
Burn Recovery
Burn Recovery
PowerDVD 10
PowerDVD 10
Hybrid Power
Hybrid Power
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Input Devices

Customizable illumination
Customizable illumination

Keyboard

The chiclet keyboard was designed for gaming in collaboration with SteelSeries. Games are to be controlled perfectly due to a special arrangement of the WASD keys ("golden triangle"). The buyer has to decide whether this is true for them.

We do not inevitably deem the modifications to the standard layout as ideal because it needs more time getting used to. For example, MSI moved the <>| key, which is normally beside the left shift key, to the right beside the space bar. A single-rowed enter key (also applies to the German version and is the reason for a displaced # key) will also not suit everyone.

However, we would like to favorably highlight the four-column number pad and the cleverly distributed special functions. Why do other manufacturers not place the brightness and volume controls on the arrow keys? It is also possible to switch the screen and disable/enable the touchpad, webcam and wireless module via the F row.

A few touch-sensitive areas are again found between the speaker grilles. While the symbols in the left area are for PowerDVD 10, Cooler Boost technology (increases the fan speed in favor of temperature) and key lights, the right area starts plane mode, System Control Manager or turns off the screen.

The user can opt for one...
The user can opt for one...
...or three zones.
...or three zones.

Like the precursor, the laptop has an adjustable 3 zone lighting that enables setting the color manually. The easy to use software also provides several special modes, such as "Wave" or "Breathing". However, it is too bad that the illumination is not completely homogeneous (the left arrow key is a bit brighter than the others).

The keyboard makes a fairly good impression technically. However, the user should not expect it to be on a reference level. The typing mechanism and feedback are decent and a key size of 14.5 x 14.5 millimeters is also beyond reproach. Only the typing noise could be a bit more restrained.

Touchpad

Synaptics V7.2
Synaptics V7.2

The Synaptics V7.2 touchpad does a very decent job. The mouse replacement can always be located because it is lowered and it has a lightly roughened texture. In our opinion, the surface is a good compromise of feedback and gliding quality. However, the touchpad could be a bit bigger. A usable surface of 84 x 42 millimeters is not exactly generous in the 17-inch category.

However, the supported gestures i.e. scroll, zoom, rotate, compensate for this drawback. Apart from a few minor dropouts, most finger inputs are detected reliably. The accuracy is also decent. A nice idea from MSI is that the touchpad is automatically disabled when an external mouse is connected.

Keyboard
Keyboard
Touchpad
Touchpad
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Display

The screen used in all GT70 models is identical. As is fitting for a modern premium laptop, MSI installs a low-reflection Full HD (1920x1080 pixels) screen. The same successful Chi Mei N173HGE-L11 screen as found in the precursor is used and which is known for its good image quality.

With an average brightness of 324 cd/m², the 17-incher even excels over the Clevo contenders, Schenker XMG P703 and One K73-3N (~290-300 cd/m²), which also use the Chi Mei N173HGE-L11. A rate of over 300 cd/m² is outstanding and indicates perfect outdoor suitability.

316
cd/m²
297
cd/m²
303
cd/m²
342
cd/m²
345
cd/m²
328
cd/m²
319
cd/m²
350
cd/m²
318
cd/m²
Information
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 350 cd/m²
Average: 324.2 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 85 %
Center on Battery: 345 cd/m²
Black: 0.37 cd/m²
Contrast: 932:1
Distribution of brightness

The not quite immaculate illumination of ~85% and the minor backlight bleeding at the screen's edge are barely noticed in practice. Despite a slight tendency to gray (affects dark video and gaming scenes), we also found the black value of 0.37 cd/m² appealing. Cheaper screens do not achieve this rate.

The contrast proves to be the biggest highlight. While mainstream screens only manage about 300-500:1, the Chi Mei N173HGE-L11 achieves over 900:1. Most buyers will also be satisfied with the color reproduction. The suboptimal calibration and color space coverage will only be interesting for (semi-) professional users.

MSI GT70H-80M4811B vs. sRGB (grid)
MSI GT70H-80M4811B vs. sRGB (grid)
MSI GT70H-80M4811B vs. AdobeRGB (grid)
MSI GT70H-80M4811B vs. AdobeRGB (grid)
MSI GT70H-80M4811B vs. One K56-3N2 (grid)
MSI GT70H-80M4811B vs. One K56-3N2 (grid)
Calman 5.1 Software: Grayscale
Calman 5.1 Software: Grayscale
Calman 5.1 Software: CMS Calibration
Calman 5.1 Software: CMS Calibration
Calman 5.1 Software: Saturation Sweeps
Calman 5.1 Software: Saturation Sweeps

The screen's "coarse" finish is striking. However, it is not a flaw but a uniqueness of the Chi Mei N173HGE-L11.

The GT70 makes a good impression outdoors due to its first-rate brightness and the matte surface. The screenshots below clearly show this. The content remains legible even on brighter days.

Outdoors: MSI GT70H-80M4811B
Outdoors: MSI GT70H-80M4811B
MSI GT70H-80M4811B outdoors

The viewing angle stability is also above-average. The horizontal viewing angles are wide enough to ensure that even several people can enjoy an appealing picture (keyword: movie night). Changes occur faster vertically, which is typical for a TN screen.

Viewing angles: MSI GT70H-80M4811B
Viewing angles: MSI GT70H-80M4811B
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Performance

Haswell
Haswell

Processor

A quad-core processor from Intel's Haswell generation powers the laptop. The Core-i7 4700MQ is built in a 22 nm process and, like the more expensive Core i7-4800MQ, has a 6 MB L3 cache.

The CPU can increase its default clock rate of 2.4 GHz up to 3.4 GHz via Turbo Boost technology. Hyper Threading simulates virtual cores. A maximum of eight parallel threads promise a long-term viability.

A big advantage of the new architecture is the much stronger graphics chip. The laptop can switch between the HD Graphics 4000 and the dedicated graphics card since it supports Nvidia's Optimus technology.

It is convenient that the power button always indicates whether Intel's GPU (white) or the GeForce (orange) is active. Nvidia's system control offers many options to customize Optimus (profiles, global settings, etc.).

System info CPUZ CPU
System info CPUZ Cache
System info CPUZ Mainboard
System info CPUZ RAM
System info CPUZ RAM SPD
System info HWiNFO
System info GPUZ (HD 4600)
System info GPUZ (GTX 780M)
CrystalDiskMark (SSD)
CrystalDiskMark (HDD)
System info DPC Latency
 
System information: MSI GT70H-80M4811B

Turbo Boost

We would like to take an in-depth look at the Turbo Boost technology. The automatic CPU overclocking works immaculately even under more difficult circumstances. An average of 3.3 GHz when one core is loaded and 3.2 GHz when all cores are loaded does not give reason for complaint. The Core i7-4700MQ clearly clocked over its default rate even in 3D operation (the third screenshot shows Hitman: Absolution). 3.0 GHz during full load is also impressive. In a nutshell, MSI seems to have done a decent job in this regard.

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

CPU Performance

When considering the pure CPU performance, Haswell can only set itself apart from the Ivy Bridge generation to a certain degree. For example, with 1.48 points the Core i7-4700MQ only supplied a 6% advantage over the former Core i7-3630QM (1.4 points @ MSI GT60 0NG-294US), which also clocks with 2.4-3.4 GHz.

The difference is just as low in the multi-CPU test. 6.86 vs. 6.41 points equal a plus of only 7%. But let's be honest, the Ivy Bridge generation had more than enough power for most applications. The processor should not turn out to be the limiting factor for some years.

Cinebench R10
Rendering Multiple CPUs 64Bit
Core i7-4700MQ
MSI GT70
24309 Points ∼68%
Core i7-3630QM
MSI GT60
21873 Points ∼62% -10%
Core i7-4800MQ
Schenker W503
27058 Points ∼76% +11%
Rendering Single CPUs 64Bit
Core i7-4700MQ
MSI GT70
6406 Points ∼82%
Core i7-3630QM
MSI GT60
5811 Points ∼74% -9%
Core i7-4800MQ
Schenker W503
7270 Points ∼93% +13%
Cinebench
CB10 Rendering Single 64Bit6406 points
CB10 Rendering Multi 64Bit24309 points
CB10 OpenGL 64Bit6842 points
CB R11.5 CPU Multi 64Bit6.86 points
CB R11.5 OpenGL 64Bit51.46 fps
Help

Graphics Card

GPU info
GPU info
3D clock behavior
3D clock behavior

The GeForce 700M series is not a completely new architecture. It is mainly based on the technology of the former generation. Thus, the Kepler GPUs are still built in a 28 nm process.

The customer can choose between the two strongest members for the MSI GT70. These are the GeForce GTX 770 and the GeForce GTX 780M. While the GTX 780M comes with 1536 unified shaders and a 4096 MB GDDR5 video memory that clocks with 2500 MHz (256-bit interface), the GeForce GTX 770 only has 960 arithmetic units and a 3072 MB GDDR5 video memory with a clock rate of 2000 MHz (192-bit interface). The GTX 770M on-chip clock is also lower with 706 vs. 771 MHz.

Distinct increases are noticed when the old GeForce GTX 680M is compared with the GeForce GTX 780M. The former premium model (we exclude the GeForce GTX 680MX here) "only" offers 1344 CUDA cores, an on-chip clock of 720 MHz and a memory clock of 1800 MHz.

One of the most important features of the GeForce 700M series is the optimized overclocking function. Besides power consumption, the GPU Boost 2.0 now also considers the temperature. According to the GPU-Z tool, the on-chip clock climbed to a high 850 MHz in the Unigine Heaven benchmark.

Regrettably, the first batch of the GT70 has to work with the outdated ForceWare 311.48 GPU driver. Thus, the GeForce GTX 780M could only set itself apart from actually weaker graphics card to an extent in newer games like BioShock Infinite, which we tested with a new GPU driver.

Although the ForceWare 320.21 was available at the time of the tests, this version caused serious problems, e.g. black screen when switching to the desktop. At least we could run 3DMark 2013 and 3DMark 11 one time. The result was that the new driver partly boosted the performance considerably (+8% in 3DMark 2013).

5
Windows 8 Experience Index
Processor
Calculations per second
7.9
Memory (RAM)
Memory operations per second
7.9
Graphics
Desktop performance for Windows Aero
5
Gaming graphics
3D business and gaming graphics
6.9
Primary hard disk
Disk data transfer rate
8

GPU Performance

The GeForce GTX 780M is also impressive in DirectX 11 programs. For example, when we take the Unigine Heaven 3.0 benchmark (1920x1080, high, default tessellation), 72 fps equals an extremely smooth frame rate. It is just over 25% of the GeForce GTX 680M (57.6 fps @ Schenker XMG P502) and 45% higher than that of the GeForce GTX 770M (49.5 fps @ One K73-3N).

The performance in 3DMark's 2013 edition is just as impressive. With a GPU score of 5104 points, the GeForce GTX 780M takes an approximately 50% lead on the GTX 770M (3392 points) and 30% on the GTX 680M (3952 points) in the Fire Strike test.

3DMark 11 - 1280x720 Performance GPU
GeForce GTX 780M
MSI GT70
7427 Points ∼52%
GeForce GTX 770M
One K73-3N
5187 Points ∼36% -30%
GeForce GTX 680M
DevilTech Devil 6700
5967 Points ∼42% -20%
Unigine Heaven 2.1 - 1280x1024 high, Tesselation (normal), DirectX11 AA:off AF:1x
GeForce GTX 780M
MSI GT70
93.3 fps ∼57%
GeForce GTX 770M
One K73-3N
65.5 fps ∼40% -30%
GeForce GTX 680M
DevilTech Devil 6700
71.6 fps ∼44% -23%
3D Mark
3DMark 06
 1280x1024
22465 points
3DMark Vantage25065 points
3DMark 117127 points
3DMark Ice Storm65537 points
3DMark Cloud Gate17363 points
3DMark Fire Strike4631 points
Help

Storage Devices

AS SSD benchmark
AS SSD benchmark

The GT70H-80M4811B that we tested is powered by a small 128 GB mSATA SSD and a large 1000 GB HDD. It quickly becomes clear that MSI makes no compromises here when looking at the benchmarks.

In contrast to the SSD RAID in the former GT70 (2x SanDisk U100), the solid state drive in the new model (SanDisk X100) scores with all file sizes. A sequential read speed of 470 MB/s and a sequential write rate of 332 MB/s are just as good as full-blown 128 GB models, such as the Samsung SSD 830. The SanDisk X100 does not exhibit any weaknesses in the access rates of 0.17 ms @ read and 0.06 ms @ write either. The operating system is booted swiftly owing to the SSD technology. Installations, data transfer and loading are also performed quickly.

MSI additionally installs a one terabyte Scorpio Blue HDD from Western Digital to ensure that the customer has enough storage for personal data. It spins at 5400 rpm. A sequential read and write rate of around 93 MB/s gives no reason for complaint, for an HDD.

SanDisk X100 128GB SD5SF2128G1014E
Sequential Read: 475.3 MB/s
Sequential Write: 331.3 MB/s
512K Read: 267 MB/s
512K Write: 337.1 MB/s
4K Read: 27.37 MB/s
4K Write: 67.73 MB/s
4K QD32 Read: 301 MB/s
4K QD32 Write: 181.9 MB/s

System Performance

We can keep the part about system performance short. As expected, it is outstanding. With 20318 points in PCMark Vantage and 5310 points in PCMark 7, the 17-incher leaves most gaming contenders behind. For comparison, the former GT70 with a Core i7-3610QM and GeForce GTX 670M only accomplished 15075 and 4202 points (-25%/-20%).

PC Mark
PCMark Vantage20318 points
PCMark 75310 points
Help

Gaming Performance

Maximum power for new games
Maximum power for new games

The graphics performance does not fall short anywhere. As can be seen in the chart below, the GeForce GTX 780M copes with almost all modern games in maximum details and 1920x1080 pixels. A two or four time MSAA anti-aliasing is usually no problem either.

The premium model only has difficulties with extremely computing-intensive tracks, such as Far Cry 3 or Crysis 3, which also still look very good in high details. The GeForce GTX 780M is also the only laptop GPU that surpassed 35 fps in the integrated benchmark in Metro: Last Light (ultra setting w/o SSAA) until now. The majority of the tested games ran with an average of over 40 fps.

We were surprised that the GT70 scored a bit lower than the One K56-3N2 and Schenker XMG P703 GTX 780M contenders in CPU-heavy games, such as F1 2012, Dirt: Showdown, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, Assassin's Creed III and Skyrim. Both the processor's and graphic's Turbo were inconspicuous in "normal" 3D operation. Perhaps the Clevo laptops have a superior driver although the version number actually indicates the opposite (ForceWare 311.27 rather than 311.48).

The GeForce GTX 770 calculated roughly 25-30% slower throughout all benchmarks.

low med.high ultra
Battlefield 3 (2011) 47.5fps
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (2011) 58.6fps
Anno 2070 (2011) 71.2fps
Alan Wake (2012) 52.3fps
Risen 2: Dark Waters (2012) 52.7fps
Dirt Showdown (2012) 54.4fps
Sleeping Dogs (2012) 30.6fps
Guild Wars 2 (2012) 41.3fps
F1 2012 (2012) 79fps
Borderlands 2 (2012) 82.1fps
Need for Speed: Most Wanted (2012) 57.6fps
Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 (2012) 84.2fps
Hitman: Absolution (2012) 34.4fps
Assassin´s Creed III (2012) 36.5fps
Far Cry 3 (2012) 29fps
Crysis 3 (2013) 27.9fps
Tomb Raider (2013) 64fps
SimCity (2013) 39.7fps
BioShock Infinite (2013) 43.7fps
Metro: Last Light (2013) 89.38563.235fps
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Emissions

Cooling system
Cooling system

System Noise

The noise development was one of the biggest, positive surprises. The MSI GT70 produced less noise than the Clevo P170SM and P177SM barebones in both idle as well as during load. This is particularly astonishing since the 17-incher only sports one fan.

While both gaming contenders attracted attention with approximately 36 dB in idle, the GT70 only reached 30-32 dB. Depending on the situation, the laptop was either only slightly audible or almost silent.

It took a long time until the fan jumped from 36 dB to a very audible but not yet distracting 41-43 dB in 3DMark06. Both Clevo devices were much louder with 46-47 dB. The GT70's full load noise level was also lower with 47 vs. 54-55 dB.

Generally, MSI scores with better fan management, which is more stable and not as sporadic. We would have counted with a higher noise considering the powerful GeForce GTX 780M graphics card.

Noise Level

Idle 29.6 / 31.1 / 31.9 dB(A)
Load 41.3 / 46.8 dB(A)
 
    30 dB
silent
40 dB
audible
50 dB
loud
 
min: , med: , max:    Voltcraft sl-320 (15 cm distance)

Temperature

Stress test
Stress test (Furmark & Prime)

Besides the noise emissions, the temperatures are also compelling. The casing's surfaces settle to an agreeably low 23 °C after two hours of idling. An average of 33 °C during full load is also pleasant. However, the chassis achieves up to 46 °C on the top and 49 °C on the bottom in the vent's area. It is possible to adequately enjoy games for several hours because the wrist rest remains cool with a maximum of 28 °C.

Although the graphics card and processor reach up to 90 °C in extreme cases, the hardware temperatures are still reasonable. The CPUID Hardware Monitor recorded 30 °C at the hard drives. We can only criticize the GeForce GTX 780M's clock behavior. The on-chip clock dropped to below 600 MHz during our unrealistic one-hour stress test via Furmark and Prime tools. The Clevo P177SM barebone exhibited a similar behavior.

All measurements were performed with disabled Cooler Boost technology.

Max. Load
 46.1 °C44.9 °C27.3 °C 
 37.4 °C36.0 °C27.4 °C 
 27.9 °C27.8 °C25.6 °C 
 
26.3 °C44.4 °C49.0 °C
26.3 °C31.6 °C38.5 °C
25.4 °C26.2 °C28.8 °C
Maximum: 46.1 °C
Average: 33.4 °C
 Maximum: 49.0 °C
Average: 32.9 °C
Power Supply (max.)  52.8 °C | Room Temperature 22 °C | Voltcraft IR-550

Speakers

Sound Blaster Cinema
Sound Blaster Cinema

The 17-incher inherits one of the most vital advantages of MSI's gamers: the excellent sound quality. The 2.1 system from Dynaudio scores with a quite balanced sound that decently renders all pitches. The GT70 is largely exempt from fraying that is typical for laptops.

The built-in subwoofer supplies the best bass that can currently be found in the laptop sector. Owing to its very high maximum volume, the GT70 can perfectly fill even larger rooms with sound. However, the sound is a bit tinny and muddy when the user overdoes it with the settings.

The good audio quality is also due to the Sound Blaster Cinema technology. It adds more volume to the sound and thus lets it seem less muffled. The SBX Pro Studio option should always be active (is also used in the new Clevo barebones).

Users who do not have a high demand on the sound do not need external speakers. Even the expensive Alienware and Asus device do not manage to excel over the 2.1 system in the GT70.

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Energy Management

Power Consumption

The power consumption is absolutely acceptable in view of the available graphics performance. With 8-25 watts, the laptop consumes a bit less power from the mains in idle than the P157SM barebone, which needs 18-27 watts alongside a Core i7-4700MQ and GeForce GTX 780M. The GT70 also proved to be a bit more energy-efficient in the first scene of 3DMark06 with 103 vs. 109 watts. The stress test is also in favor of MSI. 162 to 202 watts is a clear difference.

The Hybrid Power technology causes some confusion. We have not tested it (yet) for time reasons. Hybrid Power allegedly uses the battery to ensure the maximum performance and power stability. Malicious tongues could now say that MSI only uses the technology as an excuse for not including a stronger power supply unit. It is not up to us to judge that.

Power consumption

Off / Standby 0.2 / 0.3 Watt
Idle 7.7 / 15.5 / 24.9 Watt
Load 103.0 / 161.5 Watt
 
Key: min: , med: , max:         Voltcraft VC 940

Battery Runtime

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

The battery life is above-average for a premium laptop. Not every contender achieves almost 1.5 hours in Battery Eater's Classic test using maximum brightness and six hours in Battery Eater's Reader's test with minimum brightness (e.g. Toshiba Qosimo X870-119).

The GT70 benefits from the battery's high capacity in addition to the graphics switching (87 Wh, 7800 mAh). The battery mentioned in the review of the Clevo barebone is "only" specified with 77 Wh and 5200 mAh. Wireless browsing is possible for about five hours before the laptop has to be recharged. We unfortunately could not test the DVD playback runtime because our test device apparently had a defect Blu-ray combo.

Note: The gaming performance decreases by about 60% in battery mode.

Battery runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
5h 57min
WiFi Surfing
4h 52min
Load (maximum brightness)
1h 23min
to top

Verdict

MSI GT70H-80M4811B
MSI GT70H-80M4811B (Picture: MSI)

The 17-incher seamlessly follows in the footsteps of the GT70 series. Buyers looking for a compact, light and unobtrusive laptop will definitely not find anything by MSI. The bulky chassis is not really portable with a weight of 3.8 kilograms. The unusual design is also a matter of taste.

Hardcore gamers who crave an eye-catching and powerful desktop replacement can certainly take this device. Besides the matte, Full HD screen, the sound quality is also compelling. Only a few laptops offer an equally good sound.

The moderate emissions also have to be praised. Despite the high-performance hardware installed in the GT70, it does not get exceedingly warm or loud. The gaming laptop makes a decent to good impression in battery runtime, input devices and connectivity. We also count the maintenance-friendly innards as a pro. It allows quickly replacing various components (three mSATA slots). Convenient fan cleaning is not a matter of course either.

If we have to complain about something then it is the high price. Although the 17-incher features a Blu-ray drive, a 128 GB SSD and the currently fastest laptop GPU, a price of 2000 Euros (~$2643) is quite steep.

5 comments

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#5 Re: Review MSI GT70H-80M4811B NotebookZzzSleep, 15:32 19.06
I'm a little alarmed to see that the CPU in this review is throttling itself. Are you sure that the cooling system ins adequate? I do think that cooling a high end CPU and a top of the line GPU should not be done with just 1 fan....
#4 Re: Review MSI GT70H-80M4811B NotebookTundra, 10:02 19.06
Only Intel wireless cards provide WiDi tech.  Bigfoot Killer cards don't have it....
#3 Re: Review MSI GT70H-80M4811B NotebookMilano, 10:12 15.06
Hello all, a quick question about GT70H-80M4811B (Killer N1202 Wireless LAN 802.11 a/b/g/n and Killer E2200 Gaming-Netzwerkkarte). Does this model have WiDi technology, somehow I cant find it anywhere....
#2 Re: Review MSI GT70H-80M4811B Notebookunityole, 11:10 11.06
no u dont, its got three msata slots, and one 2.5" HDD slot.  you can put in 3 msata in raid 0, and maybe take out blueray/dvd for a 2nd 2.5" hdd slot and raid two HDDs together, or raid 5 SSDs together that way....
#1 Re: Review MSI GT70H-80M4811B NotebookJLin, 18:52 10.06
Do I need an adapter to make the mSATA slot available for normal Hard drive or SSD?...
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In Review: MSI GT70H-80M4811B. The test device was kindly provided by MSI Germany
MSI GT70H-80M4811B (Picture: MSI)

Specifications

MSI GT70H-80M4811B

:: Processor
:: Mainboard
Intel HM87 (Lynx Point)
:: Memory
8192 MB, 1x 8 GB SO-DIMM DDR3-RAM PC3-12800 (1600 MHz), 4 slots, max. 32 GB
:: Graphics adapter
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M - 4096 MB, Core: 771 MHz, Memory: 2500 MHz, GDDR5, ForceWare 311.48, Optimus
:: Display
17.3 inch 16:9, 1920x1080 pixel, Chi Mei N173HGE-L11 (CMO1720), TN LED, Full HD, diagonal: 43.9 cm, glossy: no
:: Harddisk
SanDisk X100 128GB SD5SF2128G1014E, 128 GB mSATA-SSD + Western Digital Scorpio Blue WD10JPVX-22JC3T0, 1000 GB HDD, 5400 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: headphone, microphone, line-out (7.1 analog + S/PDIF), Card Reader: SD,SDHC,SDXC,
:: Networking
Qualcomm Killer e2200 PCI-E Gigabit Ethernet Controller (10MBit), 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): 60 x 428 x 288
:: Weight
3.794 kg Power Supply: 0.852 kg
:: Battery
87 Wh Lithium-Ion, 7800 mAh, 11.1V, 9 cells, BTY-M6D, 0.478 kg
:: Price
2000 Euro
:: Operating System
Microsoft Windows 8 64 Bit
:: Additional features
Webcam: HD (30 fps @ 720p), Speakers: 2.1 (Dynaudio, Sound Blaster Cinema), Keyboard: chiclet by SteelSeries, Keyboard Light: yes, PSU: 180 watts, warranty card, warranty booklet, quick start guide, more information leaflets, dragon sticker, driver & tool DVD, Windows Essentials 2012, CyberLink PowerDVD 10, Office 365 trial, Norton Security trial, 24 Months Warranty

 

The casing is dubbed MS-1763.
The casing is dubbed MS-1763.
MSI combines plastic and metal.
MSI combines plastic and metal.
The 17-incher is extremely bulky.
The 17-incher is extremely bulky.
The device weighs almost 3.8 kilograms with the battery.
The device weighs almost 3.8 kilograms with the battery.
A large maintenance cover is on the bottom.
A large maintenance cover is on the bottom.
The laptop's rear has a height of about six centimeters.
The laptop's rear has a height of about six centimeters.
The opening angle proves to be above-average with ~150°.
The opening angle proves to be above-average with ~150°.
A few interfaces are located on the rear.
A few interfaces are located on the rear.
Opinions about the design will vary.
Opinions about the design will vary.
The precursor looked virtually identical.
The precursor looked virtually identical.
The build is good but not outstanding.
The build is good but not outstanding.
Hardly any other gaming laptop is so easy to maintain.
Hardly any other gaming laptop is so easy to maintain.
Part of the waste heat is discharged over the left.
Part of the waste heat is discharged over the left.
Not all interfaces are easy to see due to the protruding edges.
Not all interfaces are easy to see due to the protruding edges.
The base plate is secured with several screws.
The base plate is secured with several screws.
Most components are easy to access.
Most components are easy to access.
Data can be stored on a big 1000 HDD.
Data can be stored on a big 1000 HDD.
The wireless module is underneath the glossy speaker bar.
The wireless module is underneath the glossy speaker bar.
The keyboard hides the primary RAM banks.
The keyboard hides the primary RAM banks.
The tested model features an 8 GB DDR3 bar.
The tested model features an 8 GB DDR3 bar.
MSI relies on a single-fan design.
MSI relies on a single-fan design.
Not one, not two, but a total of three mSATA slots.
Not one, not two, but a total of three mSATA slots.
The operating system is installed on a 128 GB SSD.
The operating system is installed on a 128 GB SSD.
A maximum of 32 GB can be installed in the four RAM slots.
A maximum of 32 GB can be installed in the four RAM slots.
Unusual: the processor has three heat pipes.
Unusual: the processor has three heat pipes.
The graphics card also has a huge heat sink.
The graphics card also has a huge heat sink.
87 Wh is quite generous.
87 Wh is quite generous.
According to the manufacturer, the webcam records 30 frames per second (720p).
According to the manufacturer, the webcam records 30 frames per second (720p).
The sound system comes from Dynaudio.
The sound system comes from Dynaudio.
We've seen the touch-sensitive areas in the past.
We've seen the touch-sensitive areas in the past.
Besides the keyboard's light, the user can also disable the Wi-Fi module and screen.
Besides the keyboard's light, the user can also disable the Wi-Fi module and screen.
The touchpad has a dedicated power switch.
The touchpad has a dedicated power switch.
The brightness and volume controls are placed on the arrow keys.
The brightness and volume controls are placed on the arrow keys.
MSI collaborated with SteelSeries for the keyboard.
MSI collaborated with SteelSeries for the keyboard.
The stickers on the casing reveal the most important specifications.
The stickers on the casing reveal the most important specifications.
State-of-the-art components exclusively work in the GT70.
State-of-the-art components exclusively work in the GT70.
The keyboard's layout is a matter of taste.
The keyboard's layout is a matter of taste.
The touchpad's keys are relatively wobbly.
The touchpad's keys are relatively wobbly.
We deem the positioning of some ports unfavorable.
We deem the positioning of some ports unfavorable.
The Blu-ray drive will also satisfy movie fans.
The Blu-ray drive will also satisfy movie fans.
The 17-incher features an analog and two digital video ports.
The 17-incher features an analog and two digital video ports.
The GT70 is not one of the loudest premium laptops despite the strong graphics card.
The GT70 is not one of the loudest premium laptops despite the strong graphics card.
Three USB 3.0 ports should satisfy most buyers.
Three USB 3.0 ports should satisfy most buyers.
The audio jacks are allegedly gold-plated.
The audio jacks are allegedly gold-plated.
MSI concentrates on a specific target group.
MSI concentrates on a specific target group.
These are the included accessories.
These are the included accessories.
The PSU weighs about 850 grams.
The PSU weighs about 850 grams.

Similar Laptops

Notebooks from a different Manufacturer and/or with a different CPU

Notebooks with the same GPU

» Review Eurocom X3 (Clevo P157SM) Notebook
Core i7 4930MX, 15.6", 3.49 kg
» Review One K56-3N2 (Clevo P157SM) Notebook
Core i7 4700MQ, 15.6", 3.314 kg

Laptops with Same Screen Size and/or Weight

» Review Dell Precision M6800 Notebook
Quadro K3100M, Core i7 4800MQ

Links

Compare Prices

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Pro

+Bright, high-contrast TN screen
+Extensive maintenance options
+Acceptable noise emissions
+Cool wrist rest
+Many interfaces
+Very good speakers
+Brushed aluminum
+Backlit keyboard
+Phenomenal performance
+Great battery runtime
+Three mSATA slots
 

Contra

-Very heavy and huge casing
-Suboptimal port distribution
-Debatable design components

Shortcut

What we like

Why do so few laptops feature such a great sound?

What we'd like to see

Less design experiments and slimmer looks.

What surprises us

In contrast to the Clevo contenders, the GT70 is fairly quiet.

The competition

15- and 17-inch premium laptops featuring a Haswell processor and GeForce 700M graphics card, such as the One K56-3N2, the Schenker W503, the One K73-3N, the Schenker XMG P703 or the Asus G750.

Rating

MSI GT70H-80M4811B
06/07/2013 v3
Florian Glaser
Workmanship 82%
Keyboard 78%
Mouse 78%
Connectivity 82%
Weight 59%
Battery 84%
Display 86%
Games Performance 96%
Application Performance 99%
Temperature 86%
Noise 80%
Impression 84%
Average 83%

86%

DTR *
Weighted Average

* Weighted Average Desktop Replacement Notebook:
Workmanship 8%, Keyboard 8%, Mouse 8%, Connectivity 12%, Weight 3%, Battery 3%, Display 13%, Games Performance 14%, Application Performance 13%, Noise 4%, Impression 10%

> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Review MSI GT70H-80M4811B Notebook
Author: Florian Glaser, 2013-06- 8 (Update: 2013-06- 9)