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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

MSI GS70 Stealth review: Slim gaming laptop punches above its weight Part II

In our benchmark tests, the MSI GS70 performed admirably when compared with bigger, thicker, more traditional gaming laptops, but it was not the top performer. Still, with an Intel Core i7-4710HQ CPU and 16GB of RAM, it's more than powerful enough for even serious multitasking, so you're unlikely to notice much difference outside of the latest games.
msi-gs70-stealth-product-photos08.jpg
Sarah Tew/CNET
Likely because of the space and heat requirements of the thin body, there is a sacrifice to be made when it comes to gaming performance. While the other 17-inch gaming laptops we've tested recently all use Nvidia's GeForce 880M GPU, this model trades down one step to the 870M card.
That means it scored 67.6 frames per second in Bioshock Infinite and 16.0 frames per second in the very challenging Metro: Last Light test, both at 1080p resolutions and very high detail settings. The latest Alienware 17 we tested, with the faster GeForce 880M card scored 80.3 and 25.3 frames per second, respectively, in the same tests.
The MSI GS70 is still a great gaming laptop that ran every game we threw at it at full 1080p resolution and either high or ultra detail settings, so don't let these numbers scare you away from what is otherwise a nearly flawless gaming experience.
One thing to watch out for, however -- because of the small body and the cooling problems that presents, the system ran very hot when we played games for an extended period, making parts of the system uncomfortably warm to the touch, and forcing the internal fans to run frequently and loudly.
msi-gs70-stealth-product-photos05.jpg
Sarah Tew/CNET
A desktop replacement laptop, particularly a gaming one, isn't expected to run particularly long on its battery, but the MSI pleasantly surprised us by lasting 3 hours and 39 minutes on our video playback battery drain test.
Before you get ideas about gaming on the go, however, note that the system only ran for 65 minutes in an anecdotal full-power gaming test -- hitting the CPU and GPU hard predictably runs the battery down quickly.

Conclusion

Especially compared to years of thick, bulky gaming laptops, the MSI GS70 Stealth stands out from the crowd with a slim body that at least won't cause your non-gamer friends to cringe.
You'll pay a premium for the combination of thin design and high-end components, and it's a shame that you'll have to skip the current top-end card, the Nvidia 880M, to make it all work. But despite a handful of compromises, I found myself reaching for the MSI over slightly more powerful systems from other PC makers when it came to PC game testing over the past several weeks.

HANDBRAKE MULTIMEDIA MULTITASKING TEST (IN SECONDS)

MSI GS70 Stealth
169
Origin EON17-S (2014)
163
Alienware 17 (2014)
162
Digital Storm Krypton
160

NOTE:

 Shorter bars indicate better performance

ADOBE PHOTOSHOP CS5 IMAGE-PROCESSING TEST (IN SECONDS)

Alienware 17 (2014)
194
MSI GS70 Stealth
183
Digital Storm Krypton
178
Origin EON17-S (2014)
170

NOTE:

 Shorter bars indicate better performance

APPLE ITUNES ENCODING TEST (IN SECONDS)

MSI GS70 Stealth
88
Digital Storm Krypton
81
Alienware 17 (2014)
77
Origin EON17-S (2014)
77

NOTE:

 Shorter bars indicate better performance

VIDEO PLAYBACK BATTERY DRAIN TEST (IN MINUTES)

Digital Storm Krypton
169
Origin EON17-S (2014)
183
MSI GS70 Stealth
219
Alienware 17 (2014)
221

NOTE:

 Longer bars indicate better performance

BIOSHOCK INFINITE GAMING TEST (IN FRAMES PER SECOND)

MSI GS70 Stealth
67.63
Alienware 17 (2014)
80.32
Digital Storm Krypton
80.94
Origin EON17-S (2014)
82.62

NOTE:

 Longer bars indicate better performance

METRO: LAST LIGHT GAMING TEST (IN FRAMES PER SECOND)

MSI GS70 Stealth
16
Origin EON17-S (2014)
20.38
Alienware 17 (2014)
25.33
Digital Storm Krypton
27

NOTE:

 Longer bars indicate better performance

HIGH-END GAMING BATTERY DRAIN (IN MINUTES)

Origin EON17-S (2014)
49
Digital Storm Krypton
50
Alienware 17 (2014)
56
MSI GS70 Stealth
64

NOTE:

 Longer bars indicate better performance

System configurations

MSI GS70 Stealth

Windows 8.1 (64.bit); 2.5GHz Intel Core i7-4710HQ; 16GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 6,144MB Nvidia GeForce GT 870; RAID 0 (3) 128GB SSD, 1TB 7,200rpm HDD

Alienware 17 (2014)

Windows 7 Home Premium (64.bit); 2.9GHz Intel Core i7-4910MQ; 16GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 6,144MB Nvidia GeForce GTX 880M; 256GB SSD, 1TB 5,400rpm HDD

Origin EON17-S (2014)

Windows 8.1 (64.bit); 3.1GHz Intel Core i7-4940MX; 16GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 8,192MB Nvidia GeForce GTX 880M; RAID 0 (2) 120GB SSD, 750GB 7,200rpm HDD

Digital Storm Krypton

Windows 8.1 (64.bit); 3.1GHz Intel Core i7-4810MQ; 16GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 8,192MB Nvidia GeForce GTX 880M; 256GB SSD, 750GB 7,200rpm HDD
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