MSI GT72S 6QE Dominator Pro G – A trip to our new Skylake

I’m detecting a pattern here. This MSI GT72S notebook looks strangely familiar – shouldn’t we be getting some new stuff right about now? Actually, yes. And the GT72S is very different from the GT72 we saw a little while back.

That’s because the MSI GT72 2QE Dominator Pro was just a lowly Haswell-equipped gaming notebook, one that has been eclipsed by the company’s GT72S 6QE Dominator Pro G. Intel’s 6th generation Skylake processors are very fresh indeed and we got to check out one of the first portable gaming machines in the country to feature them. The results… went about as well as you’d expect.

All The Colours

MSI TopBefore we take a gander at what’s under the hood, though, it’s a good idea to check out the bodywork first. The GT72S 6QE Dominator Pro G… hasn’t altered much, in terms of design from the MSI GT72 2QE Dominator Pro – that of the Haswell processing unit.

So you can expect to find a light-up chiclet style keyboard featuring ALL the colours – which is a decent choice for in-the-dark gaming when it comes to finger placement (but is no patch on the GT80 Titan‘s mechanical keyboard). There’s also a trackpad but that’s just for general navigation. I’d never use it for gaming.

You can also expect to find a mostly-plastic finish, around the keyboard and trackpad, the base of the bulky chassis, and the lid. The feel isn’t as premium as I’d like from a notebook that will break the bank to the tune of about R50,000. Ouch. Still, it looks stylish enough, in a chunky kind of way, but it also doesn’t look like much has changed. Quite a bit has, you and I know that, but how are the people watching jealously supposed to know that this neon-lit notebook is capable of obliterating anything that they can field at the LAN?

Inside Job

MSI CloseThe GT72S 6QE Dominator Pro G (there’s a cheaper 6QD version as well, which is on average R10k cheaper) that Stuff had for review wasn’t the very top-end configuration. Close to it, but not quite. Intel’s Skylake Core i7 6820 HK 2.7GHz processor, 16GB of DDR4 system RAM and an 8GB Nvidia GeForce 980M GPU are the highlights of this machine. If you don’t like the various stats then what you need to know is that the GT72S will make very short work of every game on the market. Now keep in mind that there’s a better specced version of this machine available – it’s like bringing a cannon to a knife-fight.

And the 1,920 x 1,080 17.3-inch panel makes everything on-screen look good. Whether you’re running Battlefield 4 or the natively-installed Windows 10 OS the GT72S’ display is beyond serviceable. What I’m trying to say is that you won’t be reaching of an extra display any time soon, unless you’re a 4K video snob. The internals will handle 4K gaming, by the way.

Performance Boost

MSI RearI could have run this notebook through any of the major benchmarking programs – Firestrike, 3D Mark, a few others. But Stuff does, mostly, mobile gadgets so a comparative application seemed appropriate. Enter our old friend Geekbench 3, which offers cross-platform benchmarks for mobile, Mac, and PC alike. Though mobile wishes that they could match the Skylake-pedigreed Core i7-6820 HK’s performance.

Which is all a convoluted way of saying that the GT72S took a single-core performance score of 3,464 in Geekbench 3, posting a mighty impressive 11,552 for multi-core performance. Intel’s Skylake 2.7GHz quad-core is no slouch but I’m willing to concede that the large RAM allocation and the GPU might have something to do with its gaming prowess. Just a little.

Feature-Rich

MSI EdgeIt’s not all raw power in a familiar chassis though. The GT72S is packing some innovation on the inside along with its Intel, like Nahimic sound technology, G-Sync, various performance profiles (which can be switched via software or keyboard shortcuts and stops the GT72S from permanently sounding like a jet taking off), as well as all of MSI’s high-end software additions. Nahimic started out as sound tech for French fighter pilots before making its home in MSI’s products, now it’s an addition to an already beefy in-board system. G-Sync is an Nvidia technology used to ward off screen tearing (it works) and the performance profiles speak for themselves. About my only complaint is that you almost need a pilot’s license to fully use the battery of performance, network, graphics and sound software MSI puts at your disposal.

Verdict

There’s no doubting that MSI’s GT72S 6QE Dominator Pro G has changed more than just lengthening the name. The Skylake, RAM and GPU update make this notebook a sturdy desktop replacement that will chew through everything that Steam can throw its way without even needing to pick its teeth. But, as ever, be prepared to pay for it. The lack of a visual update and the price tag are about the only sticking points in the GT72S. It’s what is on the inside that counts so if you’re not concerned with appearances, this is your roughly-R50,000 upgrade.

Good

  • Skylake is a stunner
  • The backlit keyboard is... fun
  • A true desktop replacement? Oh yes...

Bad

  • We'd prefer if the chassis got an overhaul
  • Oh, the price tag's a killer
9.3

Amazing

Stuff South Africa's online editor and print assistant editor, Brett Venter has churned out more words on more titles than most journalists will in a career. He's kind of shy.

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