While the general PC market is not going through its best times, gaming oriented hardware is thriving with new needs emerging in the form of massive online competitions or the rebirth of virtual reality, and in this market gaming laptops have a very special niche.
MSI has been working hard in recent years to become one of the crucial points of reference in PC gaming. All this work has paid off as recently they have become the number one gaming laptop manufacturer in the world beating with a market share of 19% to its main rival ASUS, which was left behind with 15%.
Staying on the crest of the wave ain’t easy so the company keeps launching new models with the latest technology on the market, and today the latests are the new NVIDIA Pascal GPUs for laptops like the GTX 1070 that the company has integrated into the GT72VR 6RE Dominator Pro Tobii that we will be analyzing today.
The model we have in our hands seeks to provide a power never seen before in a laptop with only one GPU without prices rocketing out of the reach of the majority, and it does so with this technical specs:
- Intel Core i7-6700HQ CPU at 2.6GHz (3.5GHz Turbo)
- 16GB DDR4 RAM 2400 MHZ (2x8GB) expandable with two additional slots
- NVIDIA GeForce 1070 GTX 8GB GDDR5
- 256GB M.2 SSD + 1TB 7,200 RPM SATA HDD
- 17.3 FullHD IPS LED (1920×1080)
- Tobii Eye Tracking
- Killer Gigabit Ethernet LAN + WiFi 802.11 ac and Bluetooth 4.1 (Best Wireless router for gaming)
- Mini Display Port, HDMI, USB, USB-C.
- Dynaudio sound 2.1 + Nahimic 2 and DAC Sabre
- RGB SteelSeries keyboard
- 428 x 294 x 48 mm and 3.78 kg.
NVIDIA GeForce 1070 GTX, Pascal Laptop
NVIDIA’s Pascal architecture arrived the market in the form of desktop GPUs GTX 1080, GTX 1070, GTX 1060 and the TITAN X (Pascal) but now they have officially displayed the models for laptops based on this GPUs.
On this occasion NVIDIA decided not to launch mobile-specific “M” variants and took practically the same chips we find on desktop GPUs and adapted them for laptops to use. This is only possible with a microarchitecture as impressively efficient as Pascal.
In fact, the GTX 1070 included in this GT72VR 6RE Dominator Pro Tobii, is based on the same chip as its desktop namesake and even includes more CUDA cores. Specifically 2048 CUDA Cores in contrast to the 1920 CUDA Cores on the desktop variant.
Operating speeds are also similar, with 1543 MHz core clock and up to 1745 MHz boost in the case of the model included in this laptop (comes with factory overclock). Also the memory is an 8GB capacity GDDR5 with 8400 MHz of speed.
It naturally supports all the technologies we already know in Desktop Pascal’s launch as are G-SYNC, DSR, ShadowPlay and VR support with VRWorks.
Still, we must take into account that space and cooling are limited, which is why the energy performance of this cards was adjusted to be used in laptops and we won’t find exactly the same power of the desktop models. Nevertheless these graphics cards completely blur the line between desktop and laptop GPUs, as we’ll soon see in performance tests, with this GTX 1070 you can achieve identical performance to that of a GTX 980 Ti or a Radeon R9 Fury X, GPUs that until recently were the most powerful one could find on the PC market.
Just like with previous GT72 models, GPUs come in MXM format, so the option to upgrade the GPU is always there, as long as MSI launches new compatible models, and considering that it has already done it in the past it is not unlikely that this option continues.
Display and Tobii Eye-tracking
GT72VR 6RE Dominator Pro Tobii’s display is a 17.3” with 60Hz refresh rate built-in panel, there’s also models with 120Hz refresh rate, but in the model at hand the panel is 60 Hz with a matte finish and Full HD (1920×1080) resolution.
The display presents no problems in performance and MSI put in a customization system with profiles to adapt its settings for visualizing different contents. It is compatible with NVIDIA G-SYNC and it can adjust it’s refresh rate depending on the GPUs FPS.
However, what really draws attention in the screen department of this laptop is the Tobii eye-tracking system.
Eye-tracking is a technology that allows the computer to detect where the user is looking at, to perform a variety of actions with your eyes. For example, it is possible to look around in video games with just an eye movement, or we could, for example, move around the cabin of an aircraft in a simulator, or aim faster in an FPS. Once you get used to the movements they come out almost thoughtlessly.
Tobii’s own software includes options for it to work on Windows desktop, allowing you to move the cursor much faster, zooming in focused areas or menu navigation for example.
Its functioning is based on three infrared light emitters invisible to the human eye (not so for the cameras as you can apreciate of the picture) and a sensor capable of detecting each of our eyes. Initially it requires a simple calibration to adapt to the user. It works perfectly with glasses or contact lenses.
In its days we had already tested eye detection systems based on webcams, but that technology was much more rudimentary than Tobii’s set of sensors, in fact, Tobii’s sensors’ performance it’s amazingly accurate, it detects the zone we are looking at right away and we have not detected even one error while using it.
Keyboard and trackpad
MSI continues to rely on SteelSeries for the keyboards of its gaming laptops, and the truth is, if something works well, why change it?
GT72VR 6RE Dominator Pro Tobii’s keyboard feels good and has a pleasant feedback when pressed. Despite being a chiclet keyboard, its key travel is much longer than most keyboards of this kind, something that, without having the key travel of a mechanical keyboard and making the laptop thicker, achieves a very satisfactory experience.
Plus it includes a full mechanical keyboard, and that is always appreciated when you are working with your laptop. The only “but” you could find, and this is just a matter of getting used to it, is its Enter key, way too small for a laptop this size.
It includes an RGB lighting system with different customizable effects, applicable either globally or by distinct areas including the trackpad border and two strips of LEDs on the laptop’s frontal part.
It is also possible to create profiles with different effects according to the game or application we’re in and there’s even support for games like CS:GO among others.
The trackpad has quite generous dimensions and precise functioning. It can be used in combination with the Tobii system to move directly to the point where we point our eyes to on the screen, something that may seem trivial but that, once you get used to it, speeds things up quite a bit when using the computer.
Performance y temperature
As we said before, the performance of the GT72VR 6RE Dominator Pro Tobii with its GTX1070 has blurred the line between desktop and laptop GPUs, for example, it’s 12900 points on 3DMark FireStrike leave it on the same level as high end desktop GPUs like the 980Ti or the R9 Fury X, and all this with much lower size and power consumption.
And now the usual performance tests and some Doom and Star Wars Battlefront gameplay on the system:
3DMark Firestrike Extreme
3DMark TimeSpy DX12
AS SSD Benchmark
PCMark 8 Home
Cinebench R15 MultiCore
The highest temperature that we have reached with the GPU has been 72º Celcius in stress tests, the two large fans included in the GT72VR 6RE Dominator Pro Tobii do their job perfectly and keep the laptop cool with very low noise levels.
Still, if we want to squeeze the most of the laptop by overclocking it or if simply we are using it in a high temperature area, MSI integrated a button on the laptop that activates the fan’s maximum operating speed, of course, at the price of rising the noise level exponentially.
Overclocking and Battery Life
Having the same graphical architecture of a Desktop GPU on a laptop gives rise to the opportunity to overclock and, in that respect there’s good news. MSI itself includes its famous program Afterburner and, although we can’t play with voltages on it, it is quite possible to give a push to the GTX 1070 hiding on this laptop.
We managed to rise the GPU’s frequency in a stable manner to a very good 225 MHz and memory up to 405 MHz, all of this without temperatures rising notably and with visible performance improvements.
Now, even if these are remarkable improvements in benchmarks, nowadays it is unlikely that you will need overclocking on a laptop like this, especially in we use it’s 1080p display. Maybe if we plug in a 4k monitor we could use that extra push, so it’s good to have that option if it’s needed. (Read More: Best Monitor for Gaming)
About its battery life there’s not much to say, it is a “pure” gaming laptop, meaning, we won’t find technologies like NVIDIA Optimus for saving energy, aside from the architecture’s own optimizations and energy management; and the fact that it feeds from a 230W adapter should give us an idea of the energy this beast will need.
9-hour battery life, as long as you don’t use it for power-hungry programs or programs that use a lot of graphics.
Analysis and Final thoughts
We still need to test the GTX 1080 laptop model, but the GTX 1070 of this GT72VR 6RE Dominator Pro Tobii gave us a good impression. This level of performance was unthinkable a few months ago in a laptop with only one graphics card and it seems that, finally, the day has come when the performance of a gaming desktop computer in a laptop doesn’t require the use of several graphics cards, don’t need to be huge and don’t require a large investment.
In the case of this specific model, MSI has made concessions when it comes to the screen or the SATA SSD, however its price is still below the “psychological” 2000 Euros limit. We are used to seeing laptops with this kind of performance ship with top of the line components which cost more than 4000 Euros, however, people whose number one priority is graphic performance and not other types of technologies that aren’t noticeable during gameplay, will be happy to see this product launch as it seeks to find a sweet spot between price and features without sacrificing a powerful graphics card such as the GTX 1070.
If you would like the model with 120Hz or PCIe SSD you will have to pay more, however the option is available.
With this laptop you will be able to to play any game at maximum resolution on your Full HD screen, and you won’t have any problems running virtual reality games or even connecting external 2K or 4K monitors..
A good keyboard, an excellent sound system with a Subwoofer and ESS Sabre, an innovative Eye Tracking system are the finishing touches of a unit that very much please hardcore gamers who don’t want their gaming computer to always be in the same place and don’t want to sacrifice performance for portability, the MSI GT72VR 6RE Dominator Pro Tobii has the best of both worlds.