MSI GT72 Dominator Pro

A 17.3-inch gaming laptop that's more powerful than most desktops

MSI GT72 Dominator review

Equipped with a fourth-generation Intel i7 processor, 32GBs of RAM, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 980M GPU, three external display ports, plus up to four 125GB SSDs in Super RAID 3 configuration and a 1TB, 7,200rpm mechanical hard drive to top it all off the laptop isn't hurting in the power department.

In fact, all things considered, it's hard to get better components into a laptop. Here's the MSI GT72 Dominator Pro configuration sent to TechRadar in detail:

Spec sheet

  • Processor: 2.5GHz Intel Core i7-4710HQ (quad-core, 6MB cache, up to 3.4GHz with Turbo Boost)
  • Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 980M (8GB GDDR5 RAM)
  • Memory: 32GB DDR3L (1600MHz)
  • Storage: 4 x 256GB SSD, 1TB at 7200rpm
  • Optical drive: Blu-ray writer / Blu-ray Combo / DVD Super Multi
  • Connectivity: Killer DoubleShot Pro 11ac, Killer DoubleShot Pro Gb LAN
  • Operating system: Microsoft Windows 8.1 (64‐Bit Edition)
  • Power adapter: 230W
  • Ports: HDMI, 6 x USB 3.0, 2 x mini-display, Mic-in/Headphone-out, 1 x line in / 1 x line out, SD (XC/HC) card reader, Ethernet
  • Size: 1.9 x 19.6 x 11.5 inches (H x W x D)
  • Weight: 3.78Kg (about 8 pounds w/ Battery)

Considering the 32GB of DDR3L memory, GTX 980M GPU and 2TB of storage space, there's almost no room for real improvement on this machine. In fact, the only disadvantage is that it is laptop. If it had comparable parts, but was in a desktop form factor, you would easily see a 25% improvement just by switching to a full-size GPU and higher-end i7.

Even so, what's listed above is already the "Best" of the GT72's two available configurations. The other Maxwell-equipped option - a GT72 2QD - drops the the 980M GPU down to a 970M and replaces the 32GB of RAM to 24GB. You'll save $500 by choosing this option, but overall you're buying into something with less power to play the latest games down the road.

Performance

As a gaming machine, the GT72 can pretty much tear through every title out there today, on ultra settings, with little to no problem. Now, does that mean it's future-proof? No. But the fact that we're seeing 37 frames per second on Metro: Last Light and 90-plus fps in BioShock Infinite bodes well.

MSI GT72 Dominator Pro review

Unfortunately, the max resolution you're going to get is a sharp, but certainly not blowing, 1920 x 1080. Which is disappointing when you consider the MSI GS60 Ghost Pro 3K - a machine with almost equal or even lower quality parts - already does this. Getting a machine to output that kind of resolution, however, exponentially increases the heat output - which wasn't a problem I ran into while testing the GT72.

Speaking of, here's how the GT72 performed during our tests:

Benchmarks

  • 3DMark: Ice Storm: 129,741; Cloud Gate: 22,220; Fire Strike: 8,228
  • Cinebench Graphics: 105.99 fps, CPU: 652 points
  • PCMark 8 (Home Test): 3,995 points
  • PCMark 8 Battery Life: 2 hours and 18 minutes other GPU
  • Bioshock Infinite (1080p, Ultra): 91.65 fps; (1080p, Low): 218.91 fps
  • Metro: Last Light (1080p, Ultra): 37.0 fps; (1080p, Low): 70.0 fps

Despite what MSI would have you believe, the coolest piece of tech in the GT72 isn't actually the 980M. Killer Doubleshot Pro – a completely new technology built off the back of the standard Killer ethernet technology - is. DoubleShot Pro allows the Dominator to combine both your wired and wireless connection speeds to give even more bandwidth to the apps of your choosing - whether that's a movie download, Netflix or a lag-free first-person shooter.

MSI GT72 Dominator Pro review

If you have two apps that need equal attention, it'll even split the signal for you. Playing a game of League of Legends while streaming to Twitch? No problem. The traffic needed to play League of Legends can go through the ethernet port while incoming and outgoing signal needed for Twitch can be taken care of by the 802.11ac wireless card.

Verdict

At 17.3 inches, the GT72's 1920 x 1080 screen should be large enough for media streaming sessions. Also, thanks to its insanely powerful components, this rig should easily withstand whatever the next few years can throw at it.

It's biggest weakness, though, is its form factor. The GT72 is a great gaming machine, for sure, but it's also a hulking piece of plastic with a 2 (and a half) hour battery life.

If you're a mostly sedentary gamer with an urge for owning the latest and greatest technology, the GT72 is one of the best "portable" – of course, I use that term loosely – gaming machines around.