Hands on: MSI GT75 Titan review

Intel Core i9 makes this desktop replacement even better

What is a hands on review?
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Our Early Verdict

The MSI GT75 Titan looks to deliver unrivaled power for both gaming and productivity, thanks to its new hexa-core Intel Core i9 processor.

For

  • Extreme Intel Core i9 performance
  • Superior mechanical keyboard
  • 120Hz monitor

Against

  • HDD only on entry level models

Intel Core i9 has brought some of the highest core counts we’ve seen in desktop processors, and now the series of chips is doing the same thing on laptops. For the first time, we’ll have hexa-core processors on laptops for even more impressive gaming, silkier virtual reality experiences and even more mega-tasking potential.

The MSI GT75 Titan is just one of three gaming laptops to feature Intel’s new killer processor. What’s more, it’s a brute of a 17-inch gaming laptop equipped with a low-profile mechanical keyboard, high-end Nvidia graphics and Full HD 120Hz G-Sync displays as standard features. 

Price and availability

The MSI GT75 Titan will be up for pre-orders starting on April 3rd for $2,399 (about £1,710, AU$3,120) with units beginning to ship April 16th. At this price point, the 17-inch gaming laptop comes equipped with an Intel Core i7-8850 and Nvidia GTX 1070, 16GB of RAM and a 1TB hard drive. For about 400 more bucks, you can move on up to a Nvidia GTX 1080 with the $2,799 (about £1,990, AU$3,640) model.

The Intel Core i9 SKUs start at $3,299 (about £2,350, AU$3,640) equipped with the Intel Core i9-8950 and the same specs as lower-end models. Spending $3,999 (about £2,850, AU$5,200) nets you an additional 512GB of solid-state storage, bumps up the RAM to 32GB and an OS upgrade to Windows 10 Pro. Lastly, the highest-end $4,499 (about £3,200, AU$5,850) model comes with a 4K display alongside an 1TB SSD.

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Design

Aside from packing an Intel Core i9 on high-end configurations, the MSI GT75 Titan’s headlining feature remains to be its low-profile mechanical keyboard.

Although it’s almost been a year since it debuted last May, no other hardware manufacturer seems to have matched its tactile feel. Every key press responds with a distinct click and a discernible amount of physical feedback. We dare to say it feels even better than Razer’s implementation seen in the Blade Pro.

One unique thing you’ll find on this 17-inch gaming laptop is the LED bar slipped right above the trackpad buttons. As with the keyboard and other RGB lights on this machine, users will be able to customize their illumination through the SteelSeries Engine software.

Game Profiles, where in which lighting ties directly to ability cooldowns and other gameplay notifications, has been a big feature on MSI’s latest hardware including gaming monitors, so the trackpad offers just another way to serve up that information to gamers on top of adding even more RGB.

Most of the MSI GT75 Titan design seems unchanged since last year. It’s still a big gaming laptop in the most classical sense, measuring up to 2.28-inches (5.79cm) at its thickest point and weighing 10.05 pounds (4.56kg).

Performance

We only had a short time to play with the new MSI GT75 Titan, but it was an impressive experience nonetheless. Intel setup to run Fortnite and encode a video at the same time.

If you were to take on the same workload with mid-range processor, the two tasks would end up slowing down the either for an overall bad experience. Meanwhile, with six-cores on hand, the MSI GT75 Titan runs both tasks at the same time as if they were the only thing we were working on.

This same high-level of processing power should also help with mega-tasking – think multitasking times two or four – and generally gamers that stream while they play.

On top of adding more cores to the mix, Intel’s mobile Core i9 chip adds a little more performance through what the company is calling Thermal Velocity Boost. In this mode, users can expect 200 extra megahertz of performance to help them get through taxing workloads.

Intel stresses that this mode is only meant for burst operations. Unfortunately, you just can’t keep this laptop at a sustained maximum overclock – not that you would really need that much power for gaming in most cases.

Early verdict

The MSI GT75 Titan seems like a worthy platform for Intel’s first Core i9 processors. With ample cooling to support Thermal Velocity Boost, it should be the ultimate portable production machine. Paired up with the Nvidia GTX 1080 graphics card, it should also deliver unparalleled gaming performance.

Though $3,299 (about £2,350, AU$3,640) is a fortune to spending on a gaming laptop, it’s not totally unheard of before. Previously, we’ve seen enthusiast notebooks, like the Origin EON17-X, go for the same 3K price because they packed an actual desktop processor. Only now Intel Core i9 will be less of a ramshackled solution for squeezing desktop-grade processors into a gaming laptop.

Based on what Intel tells us and what we’ve experienced so far, the MSI GT75 Titan should deliver the highest level of performance. Naturally, we can’t wait to do a full review on this monster gaming laptops.

What is a hands on review?

'Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.