Scores in depth

MSI GT72 Dominator Pro review
MSI GT72 Dominator Pro review
MSI GT72 Dominator Pro review
MSI GT72 Dominator Pro review
MSI GT72 Dominator Pro review

In order to survive until its next iteration every laptop needs a gimmick.

The Razer Blade, for example, is one of the thinnest laptops on the market, smaller than the diameter of a dime. The Macbook Air, as its name implies, is a featherweight machine that packs a decent bit of power in its components.

What's the MSI Dominator's gimmick? Equipped with the latest Nvidia GTX 970M and 980M mobile GPUs, it dominates through sheer processing power. And if its outrageous performance numbers aren't enough, it comes encased in a sleek brushed aluminum package and sports surprisingly comfortable - and completely customizable - SteelSeries keys.

But this kind of power in a laptop comes at a cost. And before you ask, no it's not the GT72's $2,999 (about £1,900, AU$3,400) price tag that I'm referring to. To pack every pixel into its 17.3-inch 1920 x 1080 screen, the GT72 is nearly double the weight and size of its closest competitor, the Razer Blade. Finding a way to bring this "portable" PC from Point A to Point B was challenging, actually getting it there was the equivalent of beating Dark Souls - impossible.

Design

The GT72 may be big, but it's an unabashedly beautiful machine. It's impossible not to admire the all-silver MSI logo and glowing MSI Dragon Army emblem on the matte black, brushed aluminum lid.

Crack open the case and you'll find the 17.3-inch Full HD anti-reflective screen. It's sharp, crystal clear and works in nearly every environment - from direct sunlight to the dimmest of gaming dens. On each side of the screen is a one-inch plastic bezel that gives the GT72 an almost picture frame-like effect.

MSI GT72 Dominator Pro review

Move down a bit further and you'll find the RGB backlit SteelSeries keys. They're not mechanical, but the membrane keys did a decent job of keeping up with the on-screen action. Even better were the custom-built MSI quick launch keys located along the left-hand side.

From top to bottom you'll see a power button, a GPU button, a fan button, XSplit streaming button, and finally a SteelSeries button that pulls up the SteelSeries Engine 3 customization software.

Having the ability to switch between the discrete graphics card and the built-in motherboard GPU should save you a few hours of battery when you're not gaming (though you'll need to restart the machine first), and the fan button can instantly set their speed to full blast when you feel your system running hot.

XSplit to the world

What's the XSplit button for? Well, like most products in their gaming range, MSI packs in six months of XSplit game-streaming software for free. One touch of the side streaming button and you'll be broadcasting live on Twitch via the GT72's built-in, 1080p webcam.

Plus, like previous models, all the laptop keys' colors and functions are customizable thanks to the SteelSeries Engine 3 software that comes pre-installed on every unit. All you need to do is hit the SteelSeries button to switch between profiles.

MSI GT72 Dominator Pro review

This level of attention to detail and gamers' wants blew me away. Sadly, the same can't be said of the the faux-glass, cool-to-the-touch touchpad.

It did a lousy job tracking my fingers which, in the case of Window 8 and its myriad unnecessary shortcuts, had me unintentionally opening window after window before I gave up and plugged in an external mouse.