MSI GF72VR 7RF Review – Gaming Laptop and Benchmarks Review

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MSI GF72VR 7RF Review – Gaming Laptop. We’re going to check out the GF72VR 7RF gaming laptop from MSI and see how it performs through a number of game benchmarks to help you decide if it’s a laptop you should consider. Inside the box we’ve got the laptop itself, manual and warranty information, power brick and power cable. To start 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 256GB Samsung M.2 SATA SSD and a 1TB HGST 2.5” 7,200 RPM hard drive installed. The SSD is in the single M.2 slot which supports PCIe 3 NVMe, so you can optionally upgrade to a faster SSD.

MSI GF72VR 7RF
MSI GF72VR 7RF

For the graphics we’ve got Nvidia’s 1060 in combination with a 17.3 inch 1080p 120Hz wide-view panel, we’ll see how this performs later in the benchmarks. For the network connectivity there’s a gigabit ethernet port, and Killer WiFi which supports up to 802.11ac, as well as Bluetooth 4.2. The laptop has a black brushed metallic look to it on the outside of the lid, but inside things are a bit different.

Rather than MSI’s usual black, there’s a brushed grey plastic going on here which feels nice and smooth and is unique to the GF models. I’m told that in Australia this model is exclusively sold through Harvey Norman. In terms of both specs and design it’s similar to the GF62VR 7RF I recently reviewed, the main differences being that this one is a 17 inch laptop and has a 120Hz screen.

The physical dimensions of the laptop are 41.9cm in width, 28.7cm in depth, and 3.2cm in height. The total weight of the laptop is advertised at 2.7kg, and when testing mine it weighed a bit more at 2.8kg, and when including the power brick and power cable for charging the total increases to around 3.5kg, so I don’t think it’s too heavy for a 17 inch laptop. As mentioned the screen here is a 17.3 inch 120Hz 1080p wide-view matte panel.

The wide view panel here looks mostly alright front on, but once you start looking from above or below the colours shift a little and it doesn’t look as good, the left and right sides look ok though. As long as you’re looking at it directly front on it looks fine. I’ve also measured the colours produced by the screen using the Spyder 5 Pro, and my results returned 100% of sRGB, 82% of NTSC and 88% of AdobeRGB, so in terms of colour reproduction it seems pretty decent. 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. The result was pretty surprising, there was no noticeable bleed at all and the screen was evenly lit, although this will of course vary from laptop to laptop. While moving the display there was only a little bit of flex. Unfortunately you can’t open the laptop with one finger, the majority of the weight seems to be placed towards the back which prevents this.

Above the display is a HD camera, so it’s only capable of 720p video at 30 FPS. The quality of the camera isn’t very good, even with decent lighting it’s still fairly grainy. The microphone sounds ok, but I’ll let you judge that for yourself. There’s an RGB steelseries keyboard which I enjoyed typing on, it appears to be the same as the keyboards in the previous two MSI laptops I’ve reviewed, so overall the key presses felt a little mushy but were quiet.

There was only a very tiny bit of flex while pushing down hard on the keyboard and this wasn’t noticeable under normal typing conditions. The keyboard lighting can be adjusted through the included software and there are a number of effects available. Unfortunately there’s no individual key lighting customizations here, it’s customized in 3 separate zones, however I think it looks pretty nice as the sides of the keys are clear so you can see more of the lighting.

The power button is found towards to top right, while the two buttons next to it can be used as a shortcut to MSI’s dragon center software which lets you monitor the system, control the keyboard lighting, and more, while the button furthest to the left will max out both the CPU and GPU fans. I also found the touchpad to work pretty well, it’s got a very smooth surface and I had no problems using it.

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, gigabit ethernet port, USB 3.0 type A port, HDMI port, mini DisplayPort, another USB 3.0 type-a port, a USB 3.1 Gen 2 type-c port, and 3.5mm headphone and mic jacks. Over on the right there’s a USB 2.0 type A port, a built in SD card reader, and the power input.

There’s nothing on the front other than some status LEDs and the speakers, 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. The metallic lid was a fingerprint magnet, but nothing a quick wipe with a microfiber cloth couldn’t fix. The grey plastic palm rest area did a better job at hiding these, but will still need to be cleaned.

MSI GF72VR 7RF Keyboard
MSI GF72VR 7RF Keyboard

Underneath there’s some air intakes to keep everything cool, as well as some rubber feet which 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. As mentioned the speakers are underneath the front of the laptop, and I thought they sounded alright for laptop speakers, there was a small amount of bass and they sounded clear for a while while raising the volume.

Powering the laptop is a 41 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 6 minutes. While playing the Witcher 3 with medium settings and Nvidia’s battery boost set to 30 FPS the battery lasted for 37 minutes.

Overall I thought the battery life was a little low, especially considering the size of the laptop and when you consider that the 15 inch model I previously reviewed had the same size battery. I would have thought there would have been space for a larger one in the 17 inch model, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. During normal use with an ambient room temperature of 24 degrees celsius, the CPU idled at 42 degrees celsius while the GPU idled at 41 degrees celsius, and here are the external temperatures of the laptop where you’ll actually be putting your hands.

With the CPU and GPU maxed out for half an hour with the same room temperature, the CPU reached a maximum of 94 degrees celsius, while the GPU peaked at 84c. The CPU got fairly hot, and was throttling by around 20%, however this stopped if the GPU load was removed, it only happened with both fully utilized. We can see that the keyboard area has warmed up quite a bit more, mostly towards the middle and it was quite noticeable while typing.

Despite this the fans weren’t running at full speed, after turning them right up manually the GPU cooled down to 80c and the CPU dropped to 93c, but was throttling a lot less at about 5%, so there’s not enough cooling if you’re planning on smashing both the CPU and GPU at the same time with full load, otherwise it’s probably fine. 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 maxing out both the CPU and GPU it went up to 50 decibels, which I’ve found pretty typical for most gaming laptops, and here’s what that sounded like. With the fans fully maxed out manually, it went up just a little more to 54 decibels, here’s what that sounds like in comparison. I also didn’t notice any coil whine while testing. 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 was tested with the latest 1.0 version and it’s performing pretty well on all settings under ultra. I’ve used the new replay feature to perform this testing, so the results between each test should be more accurate as I can now consistently perform the same test run, however with that said the performance of the game will vary quite a lot depending on what’s going on in the game, so take these results with a grain of salt.

Shadow of war required high or lower settings to average 60 FPS, and even with the lowest settings we’re not able to fully take advantage of that 120Hz panel. Battlefield 1 felt nice and smooth regardless of the setting level used, although some occasional dips in performance were noticed, as outlined by the 1% lows which are quite a bit lower than the average frame rates. The Witcher3 averaged above 60 FPS on high settings, and the 1% lows weren’t too far behind, I did notice some dips while moving around quickly but overall it was a smooth experience on high settings or lower.

Watchdogs 2 is a fairly resource intensive game, and I found that it played great on very high settings or lower. The 1% lows don’t differ that much here regardless of the setting level in use, and even low settings aren’t enough to get us above 60 FPS on average. Rise of the Tomb raider is going alright with above 60 FPS averages at max settings, with Direct X 12 giving a nice little boost to performance compared to Direct X 11.

Ghost recon is another fairly resource intensive game, ultra settings are too overkill for these specs, with high or lower settings being required to reach the 60 FPS average mark. DOOM performs mostly the same regardless of the setting level used, and even with ultra settings the 1% lows are sitting right on 60 FPS, but again even the lowest settings don’t get us near 120 FPS.

Although most of these are fairly intensive games, the laptop didn’t have many issues running them even at higher settings. I’ve said before that the 1060 is a great sweet spot for 1080p 60 FPS gaming, and that remains true here in most cases. This is why I don’t really understand the 120Hz display here, to reach frame rates that high you’d either need to be playing less resource intensive games, or the games I’ve tested on the lowest settings.

Even at the lowest settings we can see that we’re not able to get close to 120 FPS anyway. If you’re fine with that and plan on playing less demanding games then by all means go ahead, but personally if I was getting a 120Hz display I’d probably be looking at a laptop with the 1070 as a minimum to better take advantage of the higher refresh rate in the games that I play.

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. We’ll start with the Unigine benchmarks, this is how the laptop performed in Heaven benchmark with the tessellation set to extreme, and anti-aliasing set to x8, here’s how Valley benchmark performed with anti-aliasing on x8 at various graphics settings, and finally these are the 1080p results from their newest Superposition benchmark. For the final graphics benchmarks I ran Fire Strike and Time spy from 3DMark and got scores of 9,160 and 3,557 respectively, so pretty good for a laptop.

In Crystal Disk Mark the 256GB SATA3 M.2 SSD performed around 540 MB/s in sequential reads and 510 MB/s in sequential writes, so pretty typical for a good SATA3 based SSD. The 1TB hard drive gets around 110 MB/s in both sequential read and write speeds, pretty typical for a 7,200 RPM disk. With these exact specs at the time of recording the laptop can be picked up in Australia for $2,237 AUD, although that appears to be with a current 20% discount, so that may change.

That’s about $1750 USD for my international friends, with tax included. Compared to the 15 inch model it appears that you’re paying over $300 Australian dollars more just for the larger 17 inch screen which is also 120Hz rather than 60Hz. So what did you guys think of MSI’s GF72VR 7RF gaming laptop? Overall I think the laptop performs quite well, the 1060 and 7700HQ CPU are great for laptop gaming, however I find it hard to recommend even compared with MSI’s other offerings such as the GF62VR 7RF, which is basically the same except that it’s smaller, lighter, has a slightly slower SSD and has a 60Hz screen instead of 120Hz, and as I’ve already mentioned I don’t think a 120Hz display with a 1060 is the best choice.

Let me know what you guys thought down in the comments, or simply leave a share if it useful. 

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