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Face Off: MSI GT73VR vs. Asus G752VS vs. Alienware 17 R3

Pascal gaming. How do our top Pascal gaming notebooks compare against each other and the popular flagship Alienware 17 R3 with GTX 980M? The performance and temperature differences between them are significant.

MSI was one of the first out of the gate with a brand new design and chassis in time for the launch of Pascal for notebooks. The GT73VR catapulted itself almost immediately onto our Top 10 list of gaming notebooks with the refreshed Asus G752VS not too far behind. Unlike MSI, the Asus unit utilizes the existing G752VY chassis with its signature vapor cooler that should theoretically be a good fit for Pascal.

This comparison pits both the MSI and Asus with GTX 1070 graphics against the older Alienware 17 R3 with the GTX 980M to see what differences and advantages the newer systems offer over the Alienware aside from the obvious graphics gap.

We encourage users to check out our dedicated review pages below for more data and detailed analyses of each of the three models. This comparison is by no means a replacement, but a condensed aid for those on the fence.

MSI GT73VR
MSI GT73VR
Asus G752VS
Asus G752VS
Alienware 17
Alienware 17

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Case

The build quality between these notebooks is of a very high level, so any criticisms here are mostly nitpicks and minor complaints. Looks and design aside, the MSI and the Alienware are the two stronger systems out of the three in terms of rigidity. Their surfaces creak less often than on the Asus with less flexing down the center of their keyboards and outer lids. The display of the Alienware, however, feels more solid and less susceptible to twisting than on the MSI or Asus. Its smaller size makes for a "tighter" construction with less potential for unintended gaps between materials.

In terms of weight, the Asus is by far the heaviest and even the largest due to its unique vapor cooling solution. Unfortunately, the vapor cooler doesn't offer enough benefits to justify the extra thickness and weight that it adds to the model.

428 mm / 16.9 inch 333 mm / 13.1 inch 51 mm / 2.01 inch 4.5 kg9.94 lbs428 mm / 16.9 inch 287 mm / 11.3 inch 49 mm / 1.929 inch 4.1 kg8.97 lbs430 mm / 16.9 inch 292 mm / 11.5 inch 34 mm / 1.339 inch 3.7 kg8.18 lbs

Ports in Comparison

MSI GT73VR
MSI GT73VR
Asus G752VS
Asus G752VS
Alienware 17 R2
Alienware 17 R2

Connectivity

With prices this high, it wouldn't be outlandish for consumers to expect everything and the kitchen sink when it comes to connectivity options. Unfortunately, while each system has a healthy number of options, there is at least one feature that is not available on the other two. The GT73VR includes more M.2 slots, USB ports, and audio-out options (as well as HDMI with [email protected] support) while the Asus includes both HDMI 2.0 and an optical drive. The Alienware 17 R3 is notable for its unique and proprietary Graphics Amplifier port that can theoretically allow users to run up to a GTX 1080 on the notebook.

Ports and Connections

MSI GT73VR Asus G752VS Alienware 17 R3
USB 5x USB 3.0, 1x USB 3.1 Type-C w/ Thunderbolt 3 4x USB 3.0, 1x USB 3.1 Type-C w/ Thunderbolt 3 4x USB 3.0, 1x USB 3.1 Type-C w/ Thunderbolt 3
Video-out 1x HDMI ([email protected] support), 1x mDP 1x HDMI 2.0, 1x mDP 1x HDMI 1.4
Audio Line-out, Line-in, Microphone, Earphones Line-in, Microphone, Earphones Microphone, Earphones
Other Gigabit RJ-45, SD reader, Kensington Lock Gigabit RJ-45, SD reader, Kensington Lock, Optical drive Gigabit RJ-45, SD reader, Noble Lock, Graphics Amplifier
Storage Bays 3x M.2, 1x 2.5-inch SATA III 2x M.2, 1x 2.5-inch SATA III 2x M.2, 1x 2.5-inch SATA III

Input Devices

One advantage of having a heavier and denser chassis is that its keyboard keys tend to give better tactile feedback when compared to lighter and thinner notebooks. This is the case with all three systems here as we've found their backlit keyboards to offer good feedback and travel without any loud clattering. We don't find any one keyboard to be objectively better than the others, so user preferences will come down to the differing layouts. The MSI system is the only one lacking dedicated Macro keys and instead has a column of non-customizable auxiliary keys on the right hand side.

The touchpad surface is largest on the Asus and smallest on the Alienware. This doesn't mean the Asus is automatically better, however, as we found its responsiveness to be iffy around the corners and edges. The MSI is the best of both worlds with a larger surface area than the Alienware and more reliable sensitivity than the trapezoidal touchpad of the Asus. With that said, we do find the dedicated mouse keys to be best of the Asus with firmer feedback and travel than on both of its competitors.

MSI GT73VR
MSI GT73VR
Asus G752VY
Asus G752VY
Alienware 17
Alienware 17

Display

The GTR73VR beats out both the Alienware 17 R3 and the newer Asus G752VS in terms of display quality. The MSI system provides the higher contrast ratio, the wider color gamut, faster response times, and twice the refresh rate at 120 Hz. The manufacturer is making a big deal out of its 120 Hz/5 ms display option on many of its higher-end 17.3-inch gaming notebooks and our measurements show this to be paying off. The only notable disadvantage on the MSI is its more inaccurate colors and grayscale out of the box, so we recommend a quick calibration to get the most of its larger color space.

The Alienware system is equipped with a slightly brighter display, but this is largely irrelevant when gaming indoors.

MSI GT73VR
MSI GT73VR
Asus G752VS
Asus G752VS
Alienware 17
Alienware 17
MSI GT73VR
MSI GT73VR
Asus G752VS
Asus G752VS
Alienware 17
Alienware 17
Displays at a Glance

MSI GT73VR Asus G752VS Alienware 17 R3
Size 17.3-inch TN 120 Hz G-Sync 17.3-inch IPS G-Sync 17.3-inch IPS
Native Resolution 1920 x 1080 1920 x 1080 1920 x 1080
Pixel Density 127 PPI 127 PPI 127 PPI
Panel ID Chi Mei N173HHE-G32 LG Philips LP173WF4-SPF3 LG Philips CV69H_173WF4
MSI GT73VR-6RE16SR451Asus G752VS-XB78KAlienware 17 R3 (A17-9935)
Response Times
Response Time Grey 50% / Grey 80% *
26 (12, 14)
38 (14, 24)
33 (13, 20)
Response Time Black / White *
6.8 (4.2, 2.6)
22 (4, 18)
23 (5, 18)
PWM Frequency
Screen
Brightness middle
314
328
360
Brightness
294
317
336
Brightness Distribution
89
88
90
Black Level *
0.23
0.3
0.44
Contrast
1365
1093
818
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *
9.74
3.74
4.76
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 max. *
15.71
8.97
10.8
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *
9.58
2.67
3.69
Gamma
2.5 88%
2.41 91%
2.24 98%
CCT
11854 55%
6861 95%
6091 107%
Color Space (Percent of AdobeRGB 1998)
76
56
55
Color Space (Percent of sRGB)
100
85
84
Total Average (Program / Settings)

* ... smaller is better

MSI GT73VR color profile
MSI GT73VR color profile
Asus G752VS
Asus G752VS
Alienware 17 R3
Alienware 17 R3

Performance

CPU Performance

While the Alienware is equipped with the very common Core i7-6700HQ, the MSI and Asus have the slightly faster and overclockable i7-6820HK. The MSI system overclocks very well to be consistently ahead of the Asus according to CineBench benchmarks while the i7-6700HQ in the Alienware is about 15 to 20 percent slower. The delta between the systems drop to just single-digit percentages for single-threaded workloads.

As for serviceability, the MSI is again hands down easier to disassemble than both the Asus and Alienware.

See our dedicated CPU pages on the Core i7-6820HK and the i7-6700HQ for more benchmarks and comparisons.

Hardware at a Glance

MSI GT73VR Asus G752VS Alienware 17 R3
CPU 2.7 GHz Core i7-6820HK 2.7 GHz Core i7-6820HK 2.6 GHz Core i7-6700HQ
TDP 45 W 45 W 45 W
RAM 16 GB DDR4-2400, Dual-Channel, 4x SODIMM 64 GB DDR4-2400, Dual-Channel, 4x SODIMM 8 GB DDR4-2133, Dual-Channel, 2x SODIMM
GPU GeForce GTX 1070 w/ manual graphics switching GeForce GTX 1070 w/ no graphics switching GeForce GTX 980M w/ Optimus
MSI GT73VR
MSI GT73VR
Asus G752VS
Asus G752VS
Alienware 17 R2
Alienware 17 R2
Cinebench R15
CPU Single 64Bit (sort by value)
MSI GT73VR-6RE16SR451
158 Points ∼72%
Asus G752VS-XB78K
160 Points ∼73%
Alienware 17 R3 (A17-9935)
146 Points ∼67%
CPU Multi 64Bit (sort by value)
MSI GT73VR-6RE16SR451
860 Points ∼20%
Asus G752VS-XB78K
789 Points ∼18%
Alienware 17 R3 (A17-9935)
680 Points ∼16%
Cinebench R11.5
CPU Single 64Bit (sort by value)
MSI GT73VR-6RE16SR451
1.78 Points ∼73%
Asus G752VS-XB78K
1.77 Points ∼73%
Alienware 17 R3 (A17-9935)
1.68 Points ∼69%
CPU Multi 64Bit (sort by value)
MSI GT73VR-6RE16SR451
9.53 Points ∼22%
Asus G752VS-XB78K
8.63 Points ∼20%
Alienware 17 R3 (A17-9935)
7.5 Points ∼17%
Cinebench R10
Rendering Single CPUs 64Bit (sort by value)
Asus G752VS-XB78K
7881 Points ∼76%
Rendering Multiple CPUs 64Bit (sort by value)
Asus G752VS-XB78K
30656 Points ∼40%
3DMark
Fire Strike Extreme Physics (sort by value)
Asus G752VS-XB78K
11176 Points ∼39%
1920x1080 Fire Strike Physics (sort by value)
MSI GT73VR-6RE16SR451
12113 Points ∼37%
Asus G752VS-XB78K
11293 Points ∼35%
Alienware 17 R3 (A17-9935)
9822 Points ∼30%
1280x720 Cloud Gate Standard Physics (sort by value)
MSI GT73VR-6RE16SR451
8412 Points ∼21%
Asus G752VS-XB78K
7946 Points ∼20%
Alienware 17 R3 (A17-9935)
6708 Points ∼17%
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Physics (sort by value)
Asus G752VS-XB78K
53123 Points ∼61%
1920x1080 Ice Storm Extreme Physics (sort by value)
Asus G752VS-XB78K
51659 Points ∼62%
PCMark 7
System Storage (sort by value)
MSI GT73VR-6RE16SR451
6155 Points ∼86%
Asus G752VS-XB78K
4341 Points ∼61%
Alienware 17 R3 (A17-9935)
4519 Points ∼63%
Computation (sort by value)
MSI GT73VR-6RE16SR451
19797 Points ∼70%
Asus G752VS-XB78K
22986 Points ∼81%
Alienware 17 R3 (A17-9935)
18425 Points ∼65%
Creativity (sort by value)
MSI GT73VR-6RE16SR451
13649 Points ∼95%
Asus G752VS-XB78K
10715 Points ∼74%
Alienware 17 R3 (A17-9935)
9899 Points ∼69%
Entertainment (sort by value)
MSI GT73VR-6RE16SR451
7295 Points ∼68%
Asus G752VS-XB78K
7312 Points ∼68%
Alienware 17 R3 (A17-9935)
4289 Points ∼40%
Productivity (sort by value)
MSI GT73VR-6RE16SR451
5839 Points ∼54%
Asus G752VS-XB78K
4718 Points ∼43%
Alienware 17 R3 (A17-9935)
4881 Points ∼45%
Lightweight (sort by value)
MSI GT73VR-6RE16SR451
6787 Points ∼93%
Asus G752VS-XB78K
4695 Points ∼64%
Alienware 17 R3 (A17-9935)
5157 Points ∼70%
Score (sort by value)
MSI GT73VR-6RE16SR451
7024 Points ∼77%
Asus G752VS-XB78K
6803 Points ∼74%
Alienware 17 R3 (A17-9935)
5938 Points ∼65%
PCMark 8
Work Score Accelerated v2 (sort by value)
MSI GT73VR-6RE16SR451
5186 Points ∼80%
Asus G752VS-XB78K
5778 Points ∼89%
Creative Score Accelerated v2 (sort by value)
Asus G752VS-XB78K
8531 Points ∼81%
Home Score Accelerated v2 (sort by value)
MSI GT73VR-6RE16SR451
5034 Points ∼83%
Asus G752VS-XB78K
5575 Points ∼91%

GPU Performance

3DMark Fire Strike puts both the MSI and Asus ahead of the Alienware by about 80 to 90 percent. The performance boost is massive when jumping from Maxwell to Pascal and we recommend checking out our comprehensive review on the Pascal series for more gaming benchmarks and details. Graphics switching is not available on the Asus compared to the MSI and Alienware.

3DMark
3840x2160 Fire Strike Ultra Graphics (sort by value)
MSI GT73VR-6RE16SR451
4067 Points ∼14%
Asus G752VS-XB78K
4030 Points ∼14%
Fire Strike Extreme Graphics (sort by value)
Asus G752VS-XB78K
8104 Points ∼41%
1920x1080 Fire Strike Graphics (sort by value)
MSI GT73VR-6RE16SR451
17498 Points ∼43%
Asus G752VS-XB78K
16757 Points ∼41%
Alienware 17 R3 (A17-9935)
9227 Points ∼23%
3DMark 11 - 1280x720 Performance GPU (sort by value)
MSI GT73VR-6RE16SR451
23586 Points ∼46%
Asus G752VS-XB78K
22282 Points ∼44%
Alienware 17 R3 (A17-9935)
11388 Points ∼22%
Cinebench R15 - OpenGL 64Bit (sort by value)
Asus G752VS-XB78K
111.99 fps ∼45%

Stress Test

To test system stability, we run both Prime95 and FurMark to simulate maximum stress. These unrealistic conditions do not represent daily workloads, but are instead meant to put both the CPU and GPU at 100 percent capacity.

The performance boosts are obvious compared to the Alienware, but do the MSI and Asus systems run warmer as a result? Our stress test results actually show the CPU and GPU of the Alienware stabilizing at higher core temperatures of 93 C and 79 C, respectively, compared to the low 80 C and 70 C ranges on the MSI and Asus. Granted, this can be attributed to a variety of factors including a less capable cooling solution and higher Turbo Boost clock rates on the Alienware compared to the Asus or MSI, but the results are notable nonetheless. None of the notebooks throttle when subjected to extreme loads with the MSI running the coolest even against the vaunted vapor cooling of the Asus.

MSI GT73VR
MSI GT73VR
Asus G752VS
Asus G752VS
Alienware 17 R3
Alienware 17 R3
CPU and GPU Clock Rates Under Stress

MSI GT73VR Asus G752VS Alienware 17 R3
Rated GPU Core Clock (MHz) 1543 1493 1038
Stable GPU Core Clock on FurMark (MHz) 1304 1316 987
Rated CPU Core Clock (GHz) 2.6 2.6 2.7
Stable CPU Core Clock on Prime95 (GHz) 3.2 2.7 3.0
Average CPU temperature 82 C 82 C 93 C
Average GPU temperature 70 C 74 C 79 C
MSI GT73VR
MSI GT73VR
Asus G752VS
Asus G752VS
Alienware 17
Alienware 17

 

 

 

 

Emissions & Energy

System Noise & Temperature

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the fans on all three notebooks are always active no matter the workload. Fan noise is slightly louder on the MSI during low loads, but this turns around in MSI's favor as its fans are quieter when under gaming loads at about 35 dB(A) compared to 40 dB(A) and 38 dB(A) on the Asus and Alienware, respectively. Maximum fan noise is roughly the same between the systems at 50 dB(A) or slightly below.

Surface temperatures are a different story as it's the Asus system that comes out cooler (average bottom 34,3 °C, average top 37,3 °C due to our standard surface measurement). The model's immense size and the ventilation openings on the back pay off here with hot spots in the mid 40 C range. The GT73VR is also quite cool with an average of 40,2 °C on the bottom and only 37,3 °C on the top. Though offering less performance, the Alienware 17 R3 is the warmest device in comparison (43,7 bottom, 42,7 top).
Attention: Thermal images below are just visualizing heat spreading on the surface. Do not consider the shown average temerature as this is influenced by the cooling openings on the bottom!

MSI GT73VR
MSI GT73VR
Asus G752VS
Asus G752VS
Alienware 17 R3
Alienware 17 R3
MSI GT73VR
MSI GT73VR
Asus G752VS
Asus G752VS
Alienware 17 R3
Alienware 17 R3
MSI GT73VR-6RE16SR451Asus G752VS-XB78KAlienware 17 R3 (A17-9935)
Noise
off / environment *
30
30
30
Idle Minimum *
32
31
31
Idle Average *
33
32
32
Idle Maximum *
35
33
33
Load Average *
35
40
38
Load Maximum *
49
47
50

* ... smaller is better

Power Consumption

Our overclocked MSI is drawing more power than the Asus and Alienware under all conditions from idling to maximum load. Gaming loads will draw around 100 W from all three notebooks, which is impressive when considering that the GTX 1070 is significantly more powerful than the GTX 980M. Extreme loads will demand over 200 W on the MSI and Asus and about 190 W on the Alienware.

MSI GT73VR-6RE16SR451
GeForce GTX 1070 (Laptop), 6820HK, 2x Samsung SM951 MZVPV256HDGL (RAID 0)
Asus G752VS-XB78K
GeForce GTX 1070 (Laptop), 6820HK, Toshiba NVMe THNSN5512GPU7
Alienware 17 R3 (A17-9935)
GeForce GTX 980M, 6700HQ, Samsung PM951 NVMe 512 GB
Power Consumption
Idle Minimum *
31
24
12
Idle Average *
35
31
18
Idle Maximum *
40
36
26
Load Average *
106
94
95
Load Maximum *
218
204
188

* ... smaller is better

Battery Life

Runtimes correlate well with the power consumption and battery sizes of each notebook: The Alienware lasts the longest with its larger battery capacity and lower power demands followed by the Asus and then the MSI. Users can expect over 7 hours of WLAN use out of the Alienware compared to 3 to 4 hours each on the Asus and MSI under similar conditions. None of the batteries are user-removable as all are internal and underneath the maintenance cover.

MSI GT73VR-6RE16SR451
75 Wh
Asus G752VS-XB78K
90 Wh
Alienware 17 R3 (A17-9935)
96 Wh
Battery Runtime
Reader / Idle
290
311
758
WiFi v1.3
206
210
444
Load
72
84
105

Verdict

The G752VS and GT73VR retail for over $2000 USD each. The superior upgradeability and serviceability of the MSI, however, make it an easier recommendation.
The G752VS and GT73VR retail for over $2000 USD each. The superior upgradeability and serviceability of the MSI, however, make it an easier recommendation.

The GT72 has been one of our favorite gaming systems in the 17-inch category to date and the GT73VR only solidifies MSI's position. Whereas other manufacturers like Asus, Acer, or EVGA are taking existing 17-inch designs and swapping out the Maxwell GPU with other minor modifications, the GT73VR offers much more and is so far the definitive Pascal notebook for its size. Notable hardware drawbacks include higher power consumption and louder fan noise under low loads, but the pros outweigh the few cons in this case.

The Asus G752VS sounds good on paper with its vapor cooler and Pascal update of the sturdy G752VY chassis. In practice, however, even the traditional cooling systems of the GT73VR or GT72 with the same GPU are not any less capable than the weightier G752VS. The processors of both the MSI and Asus run cooler than the older Alienware 17 R3, which is a testament to the Pascal series.

MSI GT73VRAsus ROG G752VSDell Alienware 17 R3

+ Easier serviceability

+ Stronger build quality

+ More USB ports and M.2 storage slots; Line-out

+ HDMI with [email protected] support

+ Manual graphics switch available

+ 120 Hz/5 ms display options

+ Wider color gamut; Deeper contrast levels

+ Cooler core temperatures; Better overclocking potential

+ Quieter under gaming loads

+ HDMI 2.0, optical drive

+ Cooler surface temperatures

+ Dedicated Macro keys

+ Lighter and thinner

+ Stronger build quality; More rigid display

+ Graphics amplifier

+ Brighter display backlight

+ Graphics switching via Optimus

+ Lower power consumption

+ Longer battery life; Larger battery capacity

+ Dedicated Macro keys

- No dedicated Macro keys

- More inaccurate colors and grayscale without calibration

- Louder when idling or during low loads

- Higher power consumption

- Display more susceptible to twisting

- Shorter battery life

- Significantly larger, thicker, and heavier

- Slightly more creaking

- No graphics switching

- Louder under gaming loads

- More difficult serviceability

- Shorter battery life

- Higher core temperatures

- More difficult serviceability

MSI GT73VR 6RE

Pricecompare

Asus ROG G752VS

Pricecompare

Alienware 17 R3

Pricecompare

See more quick comparisons in our Face Off series:

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Face Off: MSI GT73VR vs. Asus G752VS vs. Alienware 17 R3
Allen Ngo, 2016-09-15 (Update: 2018-05-15)
Allen Ngo
Allen Ngo - US Editor in Chief
After graduating with a B.S. in environmental hydrodynamics from the University of California, I studied reactor physics to become licensed by the U.S. NRC to operate nuclear reactors. There's a striking level of appreciation you gain for everyday consumer electronics after working with modern nuclear reactivity systems astonishingly powered by computers from the 80s. When I'm not managing day-to-day activities and US review articles on Notebookcheck, you can catch me following the eSports scene and the latest gaming news.