We’re going to check out the GE73VR Raider gaming laptop from MSI and see how it performs through a number of game benchmarks to help you decide if you should buy it. Inside the box we’ve got the laptop itself, manual and warranty information, power brick and power cable.
First up let’s look at the specs of the model I’ve got here. There’s an Intel 7700HQ quad core Kabylake CPU which runs at 2.8GHz and can turbo up to 3.8Ghz. I’ve got 16GB of DDR4 memory running at 2,400MHz here, but the two slots can support up to 32GB. For storage there’s a Toshiba SATA3 M.2 256GB SSD and a 1TB 7,200 RPM HGST 2.5” hard drive installed, however there are 2 NVMe PCIe 3 M.2 slots.
For the graphics we’re dealing with Nvidia’s 1070, which is a great match for the 17.3 inch 120Hz 1080p IPS panel, as we’ll see later on in the gaming benchmarks. For the network connectivity there’s a gigabit ethernet port, and Killer AC WiFi which supports 802.11ac, as well as Bluetooth 4.1. The laptop has a black brushed metallic look to it, and the overall build quality both looks and feels pretty nice.
The physical dimensions of the laptop are 41.9cm in width, 28.5cm in depth, and 2.85cm in height. The total weight of the laptop is advertised at 2.8kg, and when testing this mine weighed 2.88kg, and when including the power brick and power cable for charging the total increases to around 4kg, so it’s got a bit of weight to it, although not too bad for a 17” laptop. As mentioned the screen is a 17.3 inch 120Hz 1080p IPS panel which has a 5ms response time, and I think it looks great.
The first thing I noticed when turning it on was just how nice it looked, it gets fairly bright and the viewing angles are very good, I can see all colours clearly on all angles without any noticeable shift. The screen also has a matte finish to it, which I personally prefer as you’re not looking at reflections. I’ve performed my usual backlight bleed test on the display, which involves having the laptop show a completely black screen in a dark room to help emphasize any bleeding around the edges. I then take a long exposure photo with my camera to help display any bleed, so basically this is a worst case scenario test.
In this particular case the results are very impressive, the screen is lit evenly over the whole panel, there’s no noticeable bleed even under these extreme conditions. This can of course vary from laptop to laptop, so your results may vary. While moving the display I only found a little bit of flex, no big deal, it still felt fairly solid.
Unfortunately you can’t open the laptop with one finger, all the weight seems to be down the back, so the first time I tried to do it the whole thing just slid backwards. Above the display is a HD camera, so it’s only capable of 720p video. There’s an RGB steelseries keyboard which I enjoyed typing on, although there appears to be some small sacrifices. For instance, there’s only one windows key which may sound trivial, but I’m used to using the one on there’s only one on the right.
The numpad and arrow keys are also pretty close to the rest of the keyboard, which seemed a little odd considering that 17 inch laptops usually have plenty of keyboard space, the keys do look to be a little further apart than usual though. I only found minimal flex while pushing down quite hard on the keyboard, it’s fairly sturdy. The lighting can be adjusted through the included software and there are a number of effects available, it’s very customizable.
This is the first laptop I’ve had that allows full individual key customization which was nice, I personally probably won’t be customizing individual keys but it’s a nice option to have that I know many people will use. Towards the right under the power button is a button that allows you to easily cycle through the lighting effects, and the button under that can be used to change the fan speed of the laptop.
I also found the touchpad to work pretty well, there are physical left and right buttons which are quite loud and very clicky. Moving onto the available I/O on the left we have a kensington lock, air exhaust vent, gigabit ethernet port, HDMI port, mini DisplayPort, a USB 3.0 type-a port, a USB 3.1 type-c port, and 3.5mm headphone and mic jacks. Over on the right there’s a built in SD card reader, two more USB 3.0 type-a ports, another air exhaust vent, and the power input. All three USB type-A ports light up red while the laptop is powered on, however you can disable this in the software.
There’s nothing on the front other than some status LEDs, and nothing on the back other than a couple of air exhaust vents towards the corners. Up on the lid there’s the MSI logo which lights up white while the laptop is powered on, and subtle Raider branding down the bottom. The metallic lid was a fingerprint magnet, but nothing a quick wipe with a microfiber cloth couldn’t fix. Underneath there’s some air intakes to keep everything cool, as well as some rubber feet with both help prevent the laptop from moving around on flat surfaces when in use, and also rise it up slightly to help let cool air in.
There’s also 2 2W speakers and 2 3W subwoofers on the bottom of the laptop towards the front, and they actually sound really good for laptop speakers, at least compared to what I’ve previously reviewed, I was really impressed. There’s a little bass and even at maximum volume the sound is still quite clear. Powering the laptop is a 51 Watt hour 6 cell battery, and with a full charge and doing basic tasks such as browsing the Internet and watching YouTube with the screen on around half brightness, keyboard lighting off and background apps disabled, I was able to use it for 2 hours and 50 minutes. While playing the Witcher 3 with medium settings and Nvidia’s battery boost set to 30 FPS the battery lasted for 46 minutes and 50 seconds.
Overall it lasted little less than some of the smaller 15 inch laptops that I’ve tested with similar specs owing to the smaller battery. It would have been nice to have a larger battery, but it’s always going to be a trade off with overall size, power, and cooling capacity. Speaking of cooling, during normal use with an ambient room temperature of 20 degrees celsius, the CPU idled at 39c and the GPU idled at 37 degrees celsius. While benchmarking for an hour with the same room temperature, the CPU reached a maximum of 81 degrees celsius, while the GPU peaked at 76c, which I think was a fairly decent result considering the large available cooling space, not too bad at all. I also found the laptop fairly quiet when not gaming, at idle it sat around the 37 decibel mark and I could barely hear it, this is what it sounded like.
While running my benchmarks and gaming it went up to 52 decibels which I’ve found pretty typical with gaming laptops, and here’s what that sounded like. With the fans fully maxed out it went up to 60 decibels and it was very loud, here’s what that sounds like in comparison. I’ll also mention that I did notice a little coil whine while playing games, however once the fans kicked in it was difficult to notice, and this will probably vary between laptops. Finally let’s take a look at some benchmarks, we’ll first cover some real world gaming benchmarks followed by tests with various benchmarking tools.
All tests were run at the 1080p resolution with all Windows and Nvidia updates to date installed. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds played pretty well regardless of the settings used, although it’s important to note that the results can change quite a bit depending on how many people are in the immediate area and what’s going on, so use these results as a rough guide only. In Battlefield 1 we’re almost able to fully utilise that 120Hz panel even on Ultra settings, you shouldn’t have any problems at all playing this one.
The Witcher3 also ran pretty well, if you want to take full advantage of that high refresh rate panel though you’ll need to look at using low to medium settings, otherwise it still felt nice and smooth at max settings. Watchdogs 2 played great considering that it’s usually fairly demanding compared to some of the other games we’re testing, we’re almost getting 60 FPS even at the maximum settings. Rise of the Tomb Raider also performed great, with medium settings or lower needed to hit the 120 FPS point, although it still ran really well on maximum settings, with Directx 12 giving a slight edge in most cases compared to Directx 11.
Likewise Ashes of the singularity performed a bit better with Directx 12 in most cases, with a nice experience at extreme settings or lower. As usual with these specs Shadow of mordor was consistently hitting above 120 FPS even with ultra settings, so you shouldn’t have any issues at all playing this one on this hardware. Ghost recon struggled a little on ultra settings, but otherwise it played well, with the minimum settings taking us to around 120 FPS. DOOM performed fairly similar regardless of the settings used, we’re looking at over 100 FPS here even on ultra settings, it always felt nice and smooth for me while playing. We’re seeing pretty great performance from the 7700HQ and 1070 in these benchmarks.
I’ve found the 1070 to be a great match for the 1080p 120Hz screen, as the 1070 is actually capable of pushing high frame rates in many games. I’ve seen other laptops with either a 60Hz screen and 1070, or 120Hz screen with a 1060 which don’t really make sense to me, but in this case I think they’ve hit the nail on the head. Now onto the benchmarking tools, while a useful indicator note that these results are less practical compared to the real world gaming results previously shown.
This is how the laptop performed in Heaven benchmark with the tessellation set to extreme, and anti-aliasing set to x8, and this is how Valley benchmark performed with anti-aliasing on x8 at various graphics settings. I ran both the Fire Strike and Time Spy benchmarks from 3DMark and got scores of 13,259 and 5,163 respectively, not bad at all. In Crystal Disk Mark the 256GB SATA3 SSD performed around 548 MB/s in sequential reads and 482 MB/s in sequential writes, which is pretty typical for a SATA3 based SSD, although a little lower on the write speeds there.
The 1TB 7,200 RPM hard drive gets around 120 MB/s in sequential reads and writes, which is about all you can really expect from a mechanical disk of this speed. Overall I think the laptop performs quite well, it doesn’t get too hot as it’s got plenty of internal cooling space and ventilation. It doesn’t get too loud while gaming either compared to similarly spec’d laptops, however with the fans manually maxed out it did get very loud. The 120Hz screen looks great, and is an awesome pairing with the Nvidia 1070, all games that I threw it’s way looked excellent even at higher settings.
The battery life isn’t too bad, even for gaming, although I would have liked to see a slightly larger battery in a laptop this size, but I suppose you can’t have everything.. With these exact specs the laptop comes in at around $1800 USD on Amazon at the time of recording. As mentioned you can get different disk and memory sizes, so the pricing can vary based on your choice.
So what did you guys think of MSI’s GE73VR gaming laptop? I’ve found it to be a fairly powerful gaming laptop that offers a smooth gaming experience in many popular titles. Let me know what you guys thought down in the comments, leave a share if it useful.
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