Until recently, gamers have had to make do with desk-warping heavyweights if they wanted a laptop that could play Battlefield. However, with Nvidia and Intel's latest products promising more performance at lower heat levels, gaming laptops like the GS70 have become possible. With dimensions that put them close to ultrabook territory, yet packing game-ready performance, they promise to make gaming more mobile than ever before. How many compromises had to be made to make this a reality?
Design and features
Weighing in at 2.6kg, the GS70 is neither obese nor underweight, sitting right in the middle of the weight scale. By gaming standards, it's feather weight, though, and the super slim 21.8mm height goes a long way toward making it look more portable than it really is. The exterior is covered in a slick, brushed aluminium finish, with MSI's new Gaming series badge taking pride of place in the dead centre. Opening the case reveals a huge 17.3-inch display, extremely large for a laptop of this price, size and weight. We're still not sure how MSI has managed to build such a large gaming machine without breaking the 3kg barrier. This display is powered by LED backlighting, which delivers quality colour and contrast performance, albeit not quite up there with the latest IPS screens. The 1920x1080 resolution remains crisp, even at close range.
Below this sits the rainbow-coloured backlit keyboard, made by peripheral maestro SteelSeries. There's an insignificant amount of flex when using it, with the aluminium backbone helping to keep things rigid. The touch pad is neither great nor dismal — it does the job, but you're still far better off using a mouse. SoundBlaster Cinema delivers excellent on-board audio, even though it's actually powered by a Realtek chip, but, as usual, the built-in speakers leave much to be desired.
Connections, performance and battery
Looking to the I/O ports, we find four of the latest USB 3.0 connections ready for your high-speed peripherals. Multi-monitor users will love the wide range of video outs, with HDMI and twin mini DisplayPorts, along with mic, line-in and headphone jacks. Finally, we have an SD card reader, yet surprisingly, there's no optical drive, likely sacrificed to keep the chassis so slim.
Tucking into the interior specs reveals Intel's new Core i7 4700HQ at work with its four Hyper-Threaded cores, which are more than capable of doing the heavy lifting. This ramps up to a very speedy 3.4GHz while gaming, and is more than a match for the entry-level Nvidia GTX 765M GPU. A 240GB Intel SSD sits alongside a 700GB mechanical drive, while 16GB of DDR3 1600 is the norm for a gaming laptop.
These impressive specs are only let down by the entry-level Nvidia solution, but considering the price, we can't expect to see much more than the included GeForce GTX 765M. As the benchmarks show, it struggles with the highest detail levels, but go easy with the graphics options and you'll find it more than capable of running this year's biggest hitters. Fire up older games, and it should handle them with ease. We should point out that MSI's engineers have managed to deliver such respectable performance without the GS70 sounding like a hornet's nest while gaming, with our sound meter recording just 49dB of fan noise during our heaviest benchmarks.