Review MSI GE70-i765M287 Notebook
Gaming package. A matte 17.3-inch Full HD display, an Intel Core i7-4700MQ and a GeForce GTX 765M are the key features of the MSI GE70. The gaming notebook wants to conquer the games room and convince us with its design and extensive features. Did MSI pay attention to the system noise and the temperatures?
For the original German review, see here.
The online shop notebooksbilliger.de, which provided our free review unit, currently lists seven different configurations of the MSI GE70 starting with a Core i5-3230M up to a Core i7-4700MQ based on the latest Haswell architecture. Our review unit with the designation i765M287 is equipped with a high-end CPU and a clock between 2.4 and 3.4 GHz with Turbo Boost. Our review configuration is currently available for around 1,200 Euros (~$1591).
The CPU is not the only attraction for gamers; the GE70 is equipped with 8 GB DDR3 memory, sufficient for upcoming applications and games. The 750 GB hard drive comes with Windows 8 preinstalled and has enough capacity for data. Unfortunately, the MSI GE70 disappoints if you are looking for a very responsive system since there is no configuration with an SSD.
The most important component for gaming is obviously the graphics card and the GE70 is well equipped in this regard with a GeForce GTX 765M. In combination with the Core i7-4700MQ, the MSI GE70 should offer solid gaming performance.
MSI and glossy surfaces are like bees and honey - just inseparable. The GE70 does not have many similarities with the high-end GT series in terms of shape and design. The top of the display cover appears in a glossy black that is crossed by red lines at the sides and the silver MSI branding is in the center.
The display frame however is matte black and creates no annoying reflections under direct sunlight. The palm rest - contrary to the display frame - attracts fingerprints and is made of plastic, just like the rest of the base unit. Around the case and similar to the display cover is a red stripe. notebooksbilliger.de sent us a retail unit so we could not open the maintenance cover because we would have damaged the warranty seal.
Based on our experiences with the GE70-i547W7H you can upgrade the system memory with an additional module. Both cases are very similar so we expect that the accessibility of the components is similar as well. The fan is in the left top corner above the hard drive and the memory slots are next to it.
Rubberized elements in the display ensure that you can easily close the notebook without any protruding elements at the corners. The display stays in position well due to the firm hinges. The quality of the case is also decent, although the plastic is not as pressure resistant as an aluminum case. Contrary to MSI GT notebooks, the dimensions are still okay for a gaming notebook; the GE70 with a height of around 4 cm is quite thin compared to the 6 cm of the GT60-i789W7H.
The port variety of the GE70 is pretty standard and can be compared with a good multimedia notebook with 2x USB 2.0 and 2x USB 3.0. You can use an analog VGA port or the digital HDMI port to attach an external display. The majority of ports are located at the back of the sides to accommodate gaming peripherals like mice; the only exception is the optical drive. There are no ports at the back, only the battery.
A Realtek RTL8723AE module handles all wireless connections and supports n-networks. The quality of the connection was convincing; we got five bars with a distance of around 10-15 meters (~33 to 49 feet) from the router. Web browsing was fast and reliable; we reached download speeds of around 700 Kbit/s with a 32 Mbit connection - a good result.
The real highlight however, especially for gamers, is the Qualcomm Killer 2200 network controller. You can assign priorities and choose if a certain application gets more bandwidth than another one. This should improve the latency of online gaming when you are downloading anything in the background. All the settings are combined in the provided software, which is very easy to use. The integrated webcam with a resolution of 1280x720 pixels handles high definition video calls.
MSI preinstalls some useful tools. Besides some important applications for the internal control of the network controller and sound card, MSI also puts a digital version of Cyberlink PowerDVD 10 in the box. Microsoft Office 365 is also preinstalled as a 30-day trial version and you will have to purchase it if you want to continue using it. Unfortunately, MSI also ships numerous bloatware; subjectively they slow down the system (at least right after the boot up) but you can improve the situation by deleting the unnecessary software.
Nowadays it is a common practice to provide almost no accessories at all. The GE70 follows this trend and there is only some user information, a Gaming-Series sticker and a driver DVD; recovery media or cleaning cloths are not in the box. You either have to create the recovery DVD's by yourself or you can use the according Recovery-Menu; the user information points out that you have to press the F3 key during booting.
The warranty period is 24 months and can be extended for another year; the additional charge is 139 Euros (~$184).
“Keyboard by Steelseries” is the branding above the keyboard. Our review unit has a pretty unusual keyboard layout that might confuse some gamers. Contrary to the MSI GE70-i547W7H our version is equipped with a blue background illumination.
The keys do not suggest a 17.3-inch device since they are very close together. Especially fans of racing games will have problems; the arrow keys are very small. We often hit the wrong key during our test sessions. The rest of the keys are not separated in any form, even the numeric keypad is seamlessly integrated and is not highlighted by the illumination either. The position of the Windows button is also weird; the manufacturer placed it between AltGr and Ctrl.
The surface of the keyboard however is very convenient. It seems to be rubberized, which improves the handling and the precision even on warmer days. The typing experience is also convenient after some time getting used to it due to the soft key stroke. We also want to emphasize the low noise development; longer typing sessions are no problem at all.
We already mentioned that the manufacturer integrated a blue background illumination for the keyboard, which can be activated and deactivated with a special button. To improve the handling of the Steelseries keyboard you can choose between different settings: full illumination of the keyboard or just from one side. Next to the button for the illumination, there is a second one for the fan setting that switches between Auto and Maximum Load to improve the ventilation.
Compared to the i547W7H, the mouse replacement of the GE70 has gotten worse and does not have a structured surface anymore. The touchpad is now smooth, slightly sticky and creates a quiet scratching noise. The sensitivity is also way too low for a Full HD display, which heavily reduces the precision. The buttons are integrated into the touchpad and are quite stiff; the travel is very long and you need a lot of pressure to click them. This can be very tiring very quickly. The Smart Pad supports multi-touch gestures like zooming or scrolling.
MSI equips the GE70-i765M287 with a matte 17.3-inch display. Not only gamers benefit from the 1920x1080 pixels Full HD resolution but also users who want to replace their desktop systems. The Chi Mei N173HGE-L11 captivates with a very high brightness and rich contrast; the panel is one of the best in its category with a brightness of 321 cd/m² (center) and can even surpass its predecessor MSI GE70-i547W7H (249 cd/m²).
The 82% coverage of the sRGB color spectrum is decent and far ahead of most of the standard displays. The coverage of AdobeRGB is not as good with 56% and the display of the GE70 is therefore not suited for professional picture editing.
The color analysis shows that both the color temperature as well as the gamma value heavily deviate from their ideal values. Usually these values are 2.2 and 6,500 K but the MSI GE70 has a gamma value of 2.93 and a color temperature of 7,752 K. The result is a display with a slight blue cast.
A contrast ratio of 800:1 creates a very crisp and colorful picture; our review unit is clearly ahead of the Asus G750JW in this category. The black value is still decent with 0.40 cd/m² and black colors just barely drift into gray.
Thanks to the anti-reflective display surface, it is possible to work with the notebook even under direct sunlight. Gaming is limited in this scenario but you can still use the device for web browsing or typing. You can read the display content perfectly when the light does not directly shine on the display.
The viewing angle stability of the GE70 is very good for a TN panel. Although the colors get a bit pale with unfavorable viewing angles, pictures and movies are still colorful. The black value also varies depending on the viewing angle.
The display leads us to one of the most important aspects of a gaming notebook: the performance. The combination of an Intel Core i7-4700MQ and a GeForce GTX 765M indicates a high-end gaming notebook. Thanks to the Hyperthreading technology, the four cores can execute up to eight threads simultaneously. The quad-core CPU (Haswell architecture) also comes with an integrated graphics chip with the designation HD 4600. It is active during desktop operation with a clock between 400 and 1,150 MHz.
Games and other 3D applications use the dedicated graphics card. The GE70-i765M287 is equipped with the GeForce GTX 765M, one of the smallest versions of Nvidia's high-end GTX series. There is no SSD, only a slower conventional 750 GB HDD and 8 GB A-DATA single-channel memory clocked at 1600 MHz. According to the manufacturer, there is another empty memory slot. Due to the warranty seal we could not open the case and have a closer look at the components.
The Intel Core i7-4700MQ is the successor of the Core i7-3630QM. Both processors have the same core and turbo clock. Cinebench R11.5 Multi Core Test indicates a 5% advantage of the new Haswell processor (6.63 points) compared to the Core i7-3630QM (6.37 points @ HP dv7-7202eg). The situation is similar in the Cinebench Single Core Test; the performance of the Core i7-4700MQ (1.50 points) is once again around 5% ahead of the Core i7-3630QM.
It is unfortunate that the GE70 does not offer its full performance on battery power. The processor clock fluctuates during Cinebench R11.5, which results in 4.21 points. The turbo clock is raised to a maximum of 2.9 GHz but is eventually reduced to 800 MHz.
Once again, we can see that the hard drive is the bottleneck of our review unit. The PC Mark 7 result for the GE70 of 3,207 points is 85% behind the Schenker XMG A523 (5,944 points) with an SSD. A score of 9,950 points in PC Mark Vantage is on the same level of notebooks with older processors and graphics cards (Alienware M17x R3) due to the hard drive. Only the pre-series model of the Toshiba Satellite P70 gets a similar result with 9,780 points, although it is equipped with the much slower GeForce GT 745M.
Despite the slow hard drive, which lowers the score of some benchmarks, working with the MSI GE70 is convenient and responsive. We could not determine any stutters or lags during web browsing or typing. The mediocre benchmark results do not reflect the real system performance.
|PCMark Vantage Result||9590 points|
|PCMark 7 Score||3207 points|
All configurations within the GE70 series are exclusively equipped with conventional hard drives; the manufacturer does not offer an SSD. The performance of the integrated Hitachi HTS72757 is just average in our benchmark list. HD Tune determines a minimum transfer rate of 56.7 MB/s. The maximum value of 129.4 MB/s is 6% ahead of the similar hard drive in the MSI GE70-i789W7H but the difference is within the measurement tolerance.
The Intel HD 4600 supports DirectX11 and offers sufficient performance for light gaming. Our benchmarks show that the Intel graphics can keep up with entry-level dedicated graphics cards.
If you need more performance you can use the high-end GeForce GTX 765M. Compared to the GeForce GTX 760M it has a higher clock and therefore a slightly better performance in games. The chip with the designation GK106 is manufactured in 28 nm by TSMC. It can raise its core clock and increase the performance via GPU-Boost 2.0. Our stress test with FurMark and Prime95 shows that the chip is clocked at 980 MHz for a short time before it levels off at 901 MHz after 10 minutes. The reason for that is the massive heat development of the GPU; it cannot keep its maximum clock for long periods with a core temperature of around 92 degrees Celsius (197.6 °F).
3DMark 11 shows that the performance of the GeForce GTX 765M can be compared with two GeForce GTX 560M cards (SLI) and it is often more than 15% ahead of notebooks with a GeForce GTX 670MX. The rival Asus G75VX-T4020H, which is equipped with an Intel Core i7-3630QM and a GeForce GTX 670MX, was able to beat our review unit by 8%.
|3DMark 06 Standard||19141 points|
|3DMark Vantage P Result||14656 points|
|3DMark 11 Performance||4083 points|
|3DMark Ice Storm Standard Score||63036 points|
|3DMark Cloud Gate Standard Score||12574 points|
|3DMark Fire Strike Score||2366 points|
The gaming performance of our review unit is very good but slightly behind some of its rivals. We compare the GE70 with the Asus G750JW that has an Intel Core i7-4700HQ and the identical graphics card. We determine a 7% advantage for the Asus in Metro: Last Light with 19 frames per second and Ultra settings. This difference is very small and the two notebooks are basically on the same level. However, the difference is much bigger when we compare the GE70 with a notebook equipped with a GeForce GTX 660M and an Intel Core i7-3610QM; the result is a solid 19% advantage for the new CPU/GPU combination in the GE70.
Even Company of Heroes 2 can be played on the 17-inch device - at least with reduced quality settings. With 25.4 frames per second (High settings) the GE70 is on the same performance level with other similarly equipped notebooks (Schenker W503 and Alienware 14).
F1 2012 is very CPU demanding and often reveals throttling issues and therefore less performance. Fortunately, the GE70 still manages a very good 57 fps (1920x1080, Ultra, 4x MSAA). Once again, performance is comparable with similarly equipped notebooks.
|Company of Heroes 2 - 1366x768 High AA:Medium (sort by value)|
25.4 fps ∼33%
26.6 fps ∼34% +5%
25.2 fps ∼33% -1%
|Metro: Last Light - 1366x768 High (DX11) AF:16x (sort by value)|
33 fps ∼17%
37 fps ∼19% +12%
|F1 2012 - 1366x768 High Preset AA:2xMS (sort by value)|
102 fps ∼74%
MSI integrates a special "make-me-louder-button" (Cooler Booster) into the GE70 that activates the maximum fan speed. The button is supposed to improve the cooling and therefore stabilize the Turbo Boost clock but we could not determine any improvements to the performance. If you leave the button alone the system noise is bearable but the situation changes completely if the Cooler Booster is active. As a result, we measured the system noise without this special feature. Our review unit is audible during idle with a maximum of 35 db(A) due to the conventional hard drive and very perceptible and almost annoying with 45-47 dB(A) under load.
33.2 / 33.9 / 34.8 dB(A)
||37.6 / dB(A)|
||44.8 / 47.1 dB(A)|
min: , med: , max: Voltcraft sl-320 (15 cm distance)
We already measured very high temperatures with the smaller MSI barebones (DevilTech Fire DT14) and the GE70 is no exception. The surface around the fan exhausts warms up to 50 °C (122 °F) under continuous load (stress test), which is tolerable but right at the edge of being unpleasant. The bottom is even worse with 59 °C (138.2 °F) - a very high result.
The palm rest is still bearable with 46 °C (114.8 °F) and only gets inconvenient with higher room or ambient temperatures. The situation for the GE70 is better during idle, where the surface temperature of the palm rest levels off at around 31 °C (87.8 °F).
You can also feel a noticeably warming around the WSAD-keys during gaming. It does not get uncomfortable but it is always perceptible; the palm rest stays lukewarm in this scenario.
Under full load (stress test with FurMark and Prime95) the Core i7-4700MQ cannot keep its nominal clock. Despite a lowered clock of 900 MHz the temperature rises to 89 °C (192.2 °F) and the GPU reaches 85 °C (185 °F) with a clock of 901 MHz.
(-) The maximum temperature on the upper side is 50.3 °C / 123 F, compared to the average of 39.6 °C / 103 F, ranging from 21.6 to 68.8 °C for the class Gaming.
(-) The bottom heats up to a maximum of 59.1 °C / 138 F, compared to the average of 42.4 °C / 108 F
(+) In idle usage, the average temperature for the upper side is 31.2 °C / 88 F, compared to the device average of 33.2 °C / 92 F.
(-) The palmrests and touchpad can get very hot to the touch with a maximum of 45.7 °C / 114.3 F.
(-) The average temperature of the palmrest area of similar devices was 28.8 °C / 83.8 F (-16.9 °C / -30.5 F).
MSI equips the GE70 with a simulated surround system with four speakers that are located at the front and at the back of the notebook. A sound technology from Creative is supposed to improve the sound quality even more.
The speakers are sufficient for some music or movie playback alongside some work but there is obviously no real home cinema feeling. The speakers sound very tinny with the maximum volume setting and background noises are often lost; a rock song, for instance, is reduced to some noises with singing.
The sound system also lacks bass, it does not matter if you are listening to Metal, Hip Hop or Electro - there is no dynamic or saturation. The provided software cannot really improve the situation. The bass can be regulated with the Sound Blaster Cinema application but the result is very similar.
Real gaming notebooks need a lot of power. Our review unit comes with a 120-Watt power supply unit so there should be no problems even under maximum load. The minimum value during idle is 9.2 Watts for the GE70; if we increase the brightness to maximum and activate the wireless connection the consumption rises to 28.9 Watts.
Under load it is evident that the MSI GE70 really needs the big power supply unit. We measure 118.6 Watts during our stress test with FurMark and Prime95; the average consumption during 3D Mark 06 is 96.9 Watts.
|Off / Standby||0.2 / 0.3 Watt|
|Idle|| 9.2 / 17.1 / 28.9 Watt|
96.9 / 118.6 Watt|
Key: min: , med: , max: Voltcraft VC 940
We are not really dealing with a very mobile gaming notebook considering the small 49 Wh battery. We were able to squeeze 2:23 hours out of the GE70 with deactivated wireless modules and minimum display brightness. A gaming session lasts for 57 minutes and even DVD playback is limited due to the small battery; we only managed 1:25 hours before the battery died. All results were determined without the keyboard illumination. Because of the limited runtimes we think that all tests used the dedicated graphics card. Switching between the graphics solutions did not improve the results; we cannot determine if the dedicated graphics card shows the same behavior in other devices.
You need the right device for your gaming sessions. MSI shows a well-balanced notebook with the GE70-i765M287 that offers solid gaming performance. We want to start with the high contrast and bright display. With its Full HD resolution and the anti-reflective surface the display is a real highlight, only IPS panels in higher priced devices are superior.
You also get sufficient application and gaming performance. As you would expect, the GeForce GTX 765M enables smooth frame rates with high details even in current games. But where there is light, there is also shadow.
The keyboard layout is very strange, some key positions and the available space cause criticism. Some gamers will have problems with the narrow keys at the beginning.
The case surface warms up to almost 60 °C (140 °F) at some spots and the processor once again cannot maintain its clock during the stress test and throttles just after a couple of minutes. Better ventilation would have been beneficial for the GE70, just like a fast SSD.
Nevertheless, the GE70 is a good overall package.