In all honesty, I was a bit skeptical as to how well the MSI GS60 would play games at max settings with only 3GB of video RAM on hand, but it was able to run just about everything at a smooth 60 frames per second (fps). This is largely thanks to the added power of Intel's new Skylake processors and their ability to overclock almost all the time.
Playing Metal Gear V: The Phantom Pain at 1080p and all the settings turned up was a relatively smooth, 60fps experience, save for the occasional frame rate drop. For less graphically intensive games, such as Rocket League, the MSI GS60 had no problems even with the effects dials set to 11.
Here's how the MSI GS60 Ghost Pro performed in our suite of benchmark tests:
- 3DMark: Cloud Gate: 20,527; Sky Diver: 18,345; Fire Strike: 6,558
- Cinebench CPU: 671 points; Graphics: 61 fps
- GeekBench: 3,704 (single-core); 13,407 (multi-core)
- PCMark 8 (Home Test): 3,393 points
- PCMark 8 Battery Life: 2 hours and 2 minutes
- Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor (1080p, Ultra): 53 fps; (1080p, Low): 121 fps
- Metro: Last Light (1080p, Ultra): 29 fps; (1080p, Low): 97 fps
Let's just remind ourselves how that compares to the 2014 model's scores:
- 3DMark: Ice Storm: 100,052; Cloud Gate: 16,865; Fire Strike: 4,334
- Cinebench CPU: 645 points; Graphics: 97 fps
- PCMark 8 Home: 2,885 points
- PCMark 8 Battery Life: 2 hours, 4 minutes
- Bioshock Infinite (1080p, Ultra): 54 fps; (1080p, Low): 168 fps
- Metro: Last Light (1080p, Ultra): 18 fps; (1080p, Low): 75 fps
Sure enough, we can see the newer Skylake and Maxwell chipset has helped the MSI GS60 reach new heights in our benchmark tests. The new Ghost Pro is over 1,000 points ahead in the processor-intensive PCMark 8 test, and it can also play Metro: Last Light at nearly 30fps using just one graphics chip.
Having a higher-end chipset also puts the Ghost Pro well ahead of the Gigabyte P55K v4. The GS60 put up a Cinebench score of 671 over the P55K's 644 point performance, which means MSI's notebook will be faster at processor-intensive tasks, like rendering 3D models and editing media. The Ghost Pro can also play games like Shadow of Mordor at faster frame rates and with sharper graphics.
Unsurprisingly, the Asus ROG G501 comes dead last in this heat, because it's pushing quadruple the resolution compared to these two 1080p gaming machines. Trying to game at full resolution on the G501 sees frame rates drop between a disappointing 15 to 30fps, meanwhile, the MSI GS60 can play games above or at relatively steady 30fps even with every graphical flourish turned on.
While the MSI exceeds in performance and looks, it just flops over when it comes to battery life. The 15.6-inch gaming laptop lasted for a mere 2 hour and 4 minutes on the PCMark 8 battery test.
Even with the simple task of playing Guardians of the Galaxy over and over again with 50% screen brightness and plugging in a pair of headphones, the GS60 only managed to hang on for 2 hours and 28 minutes. I was able to stretch the battery life by about six more minutes while using the GS60 in a mix of everyday computing (word processing, web browsing and watching YouTube videos).
By comparison, the Gigabyte P55K v4 lasted a more respectable 3 hours and 10 minutes. Strangely, the Asus ROG G501 and its power-thirsty 4K screen lasted the longest, turning in after 3 hours and 36 minutes.
Standard screen, amazing sound
Visually speaking, the display panel MSI has gone with on the GS60 looks great, but it's nothing exceptional. As another gaming laptop utilizing an IPS screen, colors look decent and the blacks are rendered well with distinguishable levels of contrast. Otherwise the display is finished in a matte coating that diffuses all light hitting the screen.
While the MSI GS60's display won't wow you with an incredible 100% Adobe color gamut, there's a lot of software in play to make this display amazingly comfortable to use. First off, TrueColor comes pre-installed to easily color match whatever your lighting conditions are. MSI has also tuned the screen to reduce the amount of blue light it produces, which strains your eyes and makes it hard to look at a laptop for extended periods.
MSI has paid even more attention to the laptop's audio setup by adding its Nahimic sound technology. Like Dolby surround on steroids, it creates a virtual 7.1 surround sound system, which came in handy for pinpointing patrolling soldiers in The Phantom Pain.
Most gamers will want to save all their precious SSD space for games, and thankfully MSI has fully taken note of this. Aside from the usual, pesky preloaded antivirus (Norton Security in this case), there's isn't much in the way of preloaded applications to get in the way of installing games on this notebook.
However, there are a handful of useful applications you'll want to keep around. Again, TrueColor is a great way to auto-tune the white balance of your display. The Nahimic audio application, meanwhile, is instrumental for fine tuning the GS60's simulated surround sound setup. XSplit also comes preloaded, in case you want to start livestreaming gameplay right away.