Gaming notebooks can be a great companion for gamers who travels a lot but still wants to enjoy awesome looking graphics while playing their games as if they're on a gaming PC. We've been reviewing quite a few gaming notebooks for the past few months and none of them is like what we're about to see today! Special thanks to MSI Malaysia in provision of their highest end gaming notebook to date, the MSI Gaming GT80 2QE Titan SLI gaming notebook.
What makes the GT80 different than other high end gaming notebooks? That's what we will be finding out in today's review.
(SRP for the MSI Gaming GT80 2QE Titan SLI retails around RM15,999)
Our first look at GT80, brushed metal texture lid which gives it a touch of premium for those who fancies it.
The first thing that caught our attention - the mechanical keyboard!
Unlike the GT72 hinge that allows you to lay it completely flat at 180°, the GT80 hinge opens up to only 120°. While it doesn't really affects much of the overall experience, but it'll be great if the hinge of the GT80 can be done the same as the GT72.
MSI makes sure the parts provider is credited as they always do and this time, we have Cherry Corp's label added to the list as a proof that genuine Cherry MX switches is used for the built in mechanical keyboard.
Next to the power on switch is the Cooler Boost and GPU toggle shortcut key. Cooler Boost feature allows you to ramp up the fan speed for give that extra cooling performance to cool down your CPU and GPU in your time of need. GPU toggle on the other hand, allows you to toggle between Intel IGP and NVIDIA GPU for either that extra juice for performance on NVIDIA GPU or reduce the overall power consumption with Intel IGP (requires reboot to take effect).
If you're connecting a USB pointing device to the notebook and have no use of the touch pad, you can tap on the top left corner of the touch pad to activate the touch number pad feature.
Now, how often do you get to see a mechanical keyboard built into a gaming notebook? As far as we know, the GT80 is the only gaming notebook with a built in mechanical keyboard.
We've removed a keycap to check on the mechanical switch used and it is indeed a Cherry MX brown switch. Curious on why MSI only offers Cherry MX brown switch on the GT80? Based on our our past experience in the mechanical keyboard community, Cherry MX brown switch has been the most favorable switch for majority who first set foot into the mechanical keyboard scene due to the reason that Cherry MX brown has the closest feel to the familiar bump they've been experiencing for the past few years when using a rubber dome switch keyboard.
Swag! The accessories included appears to be quite favorable for mechanical keyboard users - a very comfortable arm rest and a set of fancy metal keycaps.
While the metal keycaps got us drooling for hours, the ring type keycap puller did irritated us.
It's been a while since we last took this out...
Here's a quick comparison on how metal wire keycap puller and the ring keycap puller holds on to a keycap. While we all know that ring keycap puller scratches the keycap from the side, here's another thing that we would like to highlight: metal wire puller lifts the keycap through 4 contact point while the ring puller lifts the keycap through 2 contact point, making the metal wire puller a much more safer tool to remove your keycap.
We liked the Esc key a lot and this is a pretty worthy collectibles that we would love to add to our collection if it's being sold separately.
Well we don't actually feel that great with the metal keycaps on, but it does adds on a bling to the keyboard.
We've noticed something extra on the WASD keycaps, they're side printed with words that can be combined into a whole sentence of "MSI No.1 in Gaming". That's a pretty high confident MSI has with their products!
Here we have our custom POM doubleshot set installed on the GT80!
Moving on the the I/O, we have a built-in card reader, 3 x USB 3.0 ports, 7.1 channel SPDIF output, 2 x Audio jacks for microphone and headphone on the left of the chassis.
As for the right side of the chassis, we have a Blu-ray Recorder Dual Layer 6X 3D BD-R DL Bluray Writer 8X DVD RW Optical Drive and 2 more USB 3.0 ports.
At the back of the chassis, you'll find 2 x Mini DisplayPort (v1.2), 1 x HDMI (v1.4), the charging port and Killer DoubleShot Pro GB LAN.
We've ran a series of system stress test with Prime95, Intel Extreme Tuning Utility, FurMark that has been widely used by enthusiasts around the globe for system stability test. While the stress test generates heat, we've recorded the temperature reading for both situation where the cooling fans operate normally and with Cooler Boost enabled under sports mode for maximum heat.
Running under sport mode enables the system performs at its best, with higher temperature on both CPU and GPU as the price to pay. While running under normal fan speed, the temperature of both CPU and GPU peaked at 88°C and 86°C respectively. Enabling Cooler Boost allows the fan to operate at its maximum speed, increase in fan noise level is just a small price to pay in exchange for better cooling performance - CPU and GPU temperature are now 81°C and 82°C respectively, that's a total of 4°C reduced during full load.
For the gaming test, we've ran few graphically demanding games on ultra settings to see if the GT80 is able to handle these games with playable gameplay. We take 30 FPS as the marker of our benchmark as it's still considered as a playable frame rate.
Who would have thought of such performance from a gaming notebook? We're getting a very satisfying frame rates on all the games tested, even under ultra settings. Advanced Warfare, Far Cry 4, Crysis 3, Watch Dog, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is among the games we've tried that is heavily taxing on GPU and the GT80 handles each and every of them smoothly without any visible stutters.
Software: MSI Dragoon Gaming Center
System Monitor is a pretty useful tool for one to monitor the system performance, shift mode, temperature and network speed. All the details is presented in the simplest form which can be easily understandable.
The Utility allows you to compile all frequent used applications into the list for the ease of access.
The instant play tab allows you to add your most frequent played games to the list and launch it via the P1 function key located at the F4 key.
Display & audio tab allows you to adjust the volume for speakers/microphone and display brightness/gamma.
The mouse tab, allows you to control the mouse pointer speed, double click speed and scrolling line number easily without having to access the mouse properties in Control Panel.
The resource release tab lists out all the active programs and you can select the programs to be killed to release resources for the designated games when instant play is activated.
Device Setting allows you to toggle for enable/disable of Windows key on the keyboard, enabling/disabling the high performance profile and toggle the system performance with the shift mode's green (low power consumption), comfort (balanced) and sport mode (high performance mode).
The Dynaudio speakers delivers clear and powerful sound stage during gaming and movie session that is pretty satisfying and maxing out the volume didn't gives us any crackling sound at all. Music wise, classical / orchestral music sounds the best among various genre of musics tested.
When it comes to gaming keyboard, we're expecting for design and feature that is beneficial to gamers. The keyboard on the GT80 2QE Titan SLI takes the form of a mechanical keyboard, designed by the renown gaming peripherals manufacturer SteelSeries.
Keyboard of the MSI gaming notebooks that we've reviewed in the past has a common issue - lacks of the N-key rollover feature that has been widely used on most expensive gaming keyboards on the market. This time, MSI got the feature right on its first gaming notebook with a built in mechanical keyboard - not fully N-key rollover, the amount of key rollover we can see here is more than enough for pretty much any game you can find on the market.
Battery life has always been the weak spot of gaming notebook. The GT80 lasted for an average of 1 hour 43 minutes on a continuous gaming session and an average 2 hours 16 minutes for watching movies when the power settings is set to sports mode.
In terms of graphics performance, the MSI GT80 2QE Titan SLI is able to handle pretty much any game at ease with at least 60 FPS on one of the most GPU taxing games of all time, Crysis 3 - all thanks to its GTX 980M SLI setup. Getting 60 FPS or more on pretty much any games you're playing is not something you get to experience everyday, especially on a gaming notebook.
Cooling performance is excellent with the Cooler Boost feature that is able to shave off a total of 4°C as the result for both cooling fans operating at maximum speed.
The drawbacks that we find is again the weight, size, battery-life. At this point we've already know that it's a powerful gaming machine that is made portable, but we must say that the MSI Gaming GT80 2QE Titan SLI is the bulkiest gaming notebook that we've ever encountered. In addition, large amount of energy is required in order for it to deliver stunning performance, you will have to stick around places where wall socket is available if you plan to get every drop of performance out of the MSI GT80 2QE Titan SLI.
So it all comes to this, the MSI GT80 2QE Titan SLI is one extremely expensive gaming notebook to own but it's undoubtedly worth it if you're looking for an ultra powerful gaming notebook that is able to deliver that superior performance that has been the privilege of gaming desktops for all this while, not to mention that you have a built in mechanical keyboard on the gaming notebook.
- Aesthetically pleasing
- Good audio performance
- Excellent graphics performance
- Excellent key rollover feature
- Good cooling performance
- Built in mechanical keyboard
- Short battery life