Gaming on the go has never been a real priority until very recently. PC gamers have traditionally found solace in their towering desktop beasts, capable of churning out millions of polygons in a blink of an eye. But a small battalion of gamers is on the rise, and the demand for a PC-gaming experience without the bulk factor is something only few manufacturers dare to approach. MSI however have thrown all caution to the wind, and offered up their take on the gaming laptop in the form of the MSI GS70 Stealth.
Build quality & design
The GS70 is certainly a perfect example of beauty and brawns in one complete package. From the outside, a dark-grey brushed aluminum finish gives it a very modern and space-age look, while on the inside the latest Intel and Nvidia hardware team up to deliver an exceptional gaming experience. MSI were smart enough to bundle this laptop in an easy to carry backpack and protective case, so you don’t have to splurge on a laptop bag.
It’s certainly a feat that MSI have made the GS70 so slim, measuring 41.85 x 28.7 x 2.18xm. The GS70’s closest competition comes from the Razer Blade Pro (42.7 x 27.7 x 2.24cm) and Alienware 17 (29.9 x 41.3 x 4.8 cm), both of which can’t quite match the GS70’s slim profile.
Port-wise MSI have kitted the GS70 out with everything a gamer might need. Along the right side you have USB 3.0 ports, a memory card reader, and the power port, which is located in the middle rather than towards the back of the laptop. On the left side you have two more USB ports which you can use to charge devices with, Ethernet port, several audio outputs and inputs, full-size HDMI, and two mini-DisplayPorts. So in theory, you can hook up three additional displays to the GS70 for a truly awesome gaming experience. It’s worth nothing however that while the GS70 is certainly incredibly slim, it’s still quite a hefty piece of equipment weighing in at nearly 2.66kg. It’s certainly lighter than say the Alienware 17, but don’t expect to be carrying the GS70 around for extended periods of time.
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Benchmarks & Performance
Like we did the with Razer Blade, the we ran a mixed series of benchmarks on the GS70. Our first batch of benchmarks tested the GS70’s processor and graphical capabilities, and the results were quite promising. For both PCMark and 3DMark11 the GS70 showed that it meant business, and everyday applications ran without a hiccup. The GS70 had no issue at all playing back Blu-ray video, with absolutely zero lag in video or audio.
Where we did see a bit of a challenge was in the gaming benchmarks. Surprisingly the GS70 wasn’t able to handle some games on their Very High or Ultra settings, resulting in some rather unplayable frame rates. While Tomb Raider ran fine at 1280 x 1080 resolution with a mix of medium and high settings, the game was disappointing when we cranked everything up and got a frame rate of 28fps, making the game lose much of its shining qualities. The same thing happened with the Metro Last Light benchmark, which produced an average frame rate of 14.7fps with a mix of High and Ultra settings. Running everything at High produced an acceptable 34.2fps, and while the game still did look very good, you’re going to have to pass on playing it with the Ultra settings turned on.
The screen on the GS70 is certainly something to marvel at. At its full resolution the GS70 is capable of some truly awesome visuals, as experienced when watching Iron-Man on Blu-ray. Videos look absolutely superb on the GS70, with every single detail popping out on the screen. The matte display also helps to reduce glare, and features a fairly comfortable viewing angle to share the gorgeous 17” display.
Keyboard & Trackpad
When you’re gaming on a PC you’re only as good as the peripherals you’re using, which is why the GS70 comes equipped with a stellar keyboard designed by Steelseries, one of the well-known names in the gaming industry. Like we’ve seen in Alienware’s laptops, the GS70’s keyboard is fully backlit, and the colors can be changed easily via the bundled software. It also offers a variety of visual effects that you can apply to your keyboard, but I found these more distracting than useful, so I chose to just use a solid color throughout the keyboard. There’s also a numeric keypad to the right, though the keys here are a little narrower given the limited space available. But overall the keys are quite responsive, and gamers should feel right at home here. MSI have also cleverly moved the Windows button from the left to the right side of the keyboard, so that you don’t accidentally press it during a frantic gaming session.
The trackpad on the GS70 is nice and spacious, and though you’ll still use an external mouse for better accuracy while gaming, the trackpad is smooth and responsive enough for everyday tasks. Scrolling and zooming using the trackpad was no trouble at all, and it supports Windows 8 gestures for accessing the Charms bar or swiping through running apps.
Audio on the GS70 is provided by two speakers situated on the laptop’s hinge. In all honesty I found the audio to be a bit underwhelming at times – of course most of us would opt to game with headphones on, but I was still surprised by how underwhelming the audio on the GS70 was at times.
Since this is a gaming laptop, don’t expect the battery life on the GS70 to be very long. MSI says the GS70 can last up to five hours on a full charge, and they were quite right – I was able to get about four hours and forty minutes of gameplay before reaching for my charger. That’s quite good battery life for a gaming laptop, and more than enough time if you’re stuck on a bus or in a car and need some sort of entertainment.
Heat and Noise levels
With all that power crammed into such a sleek case, MSI certainly had a huge challenge to overcome with regards to keeping the GS70 cool and quiet. The dotted grill just above the keyboard acts as an air intake, and hot air is blow out from the side vents. After about forty minutes of gameplay the palmrest was slightly warm, but not very uncomfortable. However the underside of the laptop was quite hot, especially towards the back of the unit, so I highly recommend prolonged gaming sessions be done on a flat surface that encourages plenty of airflow.
The GS70 is certainly a great piece of gaming hardware, presented in a very sleek way. There’s more than enough here to keep an average gamer happy, and despite a few flaws, the MSI GS70 is certainly a great (if slightly large) solution for anyone who wants to game on the go.