Scores
Design - 5 out of 5
Features - 4 out of 5
Performance - 4 out of 5
Usability - 4 out of 5
Value - 4 out of 5

The MSI GS70 Stealth breaks away from familiar desktop replacement conventions: instead of being bulky, heavy and ugly, it's little thicker than an Ultrabook and half the weight of some rivals - and it's one of the best-looking laptops we've seen for quite some time.

The GS70's vital statistics are backed up by great quality. It's mostly made from brushed aluminium, and the gunmetal-grey finish is paired with slick design. The MSI's lid and base gently contour toward subtle curves at each edge, and we like the little details: milled speaker grilles and air vents, discreet status LEDs on the front edge, and the total absence of garish stickers that usually disturb wrist-rests.

Build quality is excellent, too - impressive when the GS70's dimensions are considered. The base is sturdy and, while there's a little flex in the lid, it's what we expect from machines with a 17-inch screen.

MSI GS70 Stealth review

There's only one concession to the sort of frippery associated with gaming notebooks, and that's the keyboard's backlights.

MSI GS70 Stealth review

The LEDs are divided into three sections, and each can be configured with different colours. Several flashing and glowing patterns can also be chosen. Thankfully, the GS70 looks much classier with these options deactivated.

MSI GS70 Stealth review

The keyboard section is sunken in the base to afford the keys more travel, and the keys themselves are comfortable: light, consistent, and with a solid base.

MSI GS70 Stealth review

We were soon up to speed, and it's no surprise given that the keyboard is made by gaming peripheral specialists, SteelSeries. The touchpad is just as good - wide, smooth, and with support for Windows 8's edge-swipe gestures - handy, as the screen itself doesn't support touch.

MSI GS70 Stealth review

The bottom of the machine includes a couple of speakers. There's a surprising amount of punchy bass and a snappy, clear high-end. There's enough volume to make games sound suitably explosive, although loud sounds elsewhere means the mid-range is sometimes drowned out.

MSI GS70 Stealth review

The MSI GS70 is only 22mm thick, but it includes an Intel Haswell processor, current-generation Nvidia graphics card and two SSDs. The high-end specification and superb design means that the GS70 isn't cheap - this model costs £1,679.

MSI GS70 Stealth review

The powerful components and smart design also means the MSI GS70 straddles the worlds of high-end office notebooks and gaming machines, and that means it's got plenty of competition. In the pure power stakes it's up against the Asus Zenbook U500, which has a high-end processor and a 15.6-inch display.

Those who like to play games could look elsewhere, too: the Razer Blade Pro is a similarly slim gaming notebook that also has a 17-inch screen, and the PC Specialist Vortex III 680 is a traditional desktop replacement: lashings of power in a chunky chassis.

There's another challenger in the form of the Schenker XMG P703 - a 17-inch gaming notebook that also has Haswell.