​MSI GT72VR 7RE (Dominator Pro) gaming laptop review

MSI’s latest gaming notebook fits a fast and more-affordable sweet spot

MSI GT72VR 7RE gaming laptop
  • MSI GT72VR 7RE gaming laptop
  • MSI GT72VR 7RE gaming laptop
  • MSI GT72VR 7RE gaming laptop
  • Expert Rating

    4.50 / 5

Pros

  • Fast as a desktop
  • Less expensive than rivals

Cons

  • None

Bottom Line

It's hard to fault the GT72VR. It does pretty much everything well and represents a reasonable choice of components for the price point.

Would you buy this?

MSI’s GT72VR 7RE is on of the the latest evolutions in its GT series. We’ve seen these gaming laptops before and they can be incredibly powerful – running dual NvME hard drives and SLI graphics. There are many SKUs in the range but now they’ve been modified to run Intel’s 7th Generation ‘Kaby Lake’ processors.

This ‘Dominator Pro’ model is actually some distance behind the older Titan in specs but that makes it considerably-less expensive than its $4,999 older, more-powerful sibling. And this is hardly a slouch.

Key specs

17.1-inch, matte, 1920 x 1080, 120MHz, non-touchscreen LCD; 2.8-3.8GHz Intel Core i7-7700HQ processor; 16GB RAM; 1TB mechanical HDD; 256GB SSD; Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070; Blu-ray writer; 9-cell 83Wh battery; 3.85KG. SKU: 615AU. Full specs here.

In terms of ports, appearance and general usage, we’ve described everything before in our review of the MSI GT73VR Titan laptop.

What’s different here is that we’re using a slightly-less powerful but newer Kaby Lake processor – the i7-7700HQ which runs stock at 2.8GHz but pushes all the way to 3.8GHz in Turbo mode. We’re also using Nvidia 1070 graphics instead of 1080 and the battery is bigger.

It’s worth starting off mentioning MSI’s Dragon Center which lets you adjust everything from fan speed, automatic overclocking, screen temperature and LED lighting. Whereas this has confused people in the past with its jargon-rich settings, simply flicking between Turbo, Comfort, Eco and Sport modes is very simple.

The Dragon Center app lets you quickly adjust performance, appearance and audio settings.
The Dragon Center app lets you quickly adjust performance, appearance and audio settings.

While the CPU naturally fluctuates depending on workload, we found Turbo (the top setting) generally didn’t drop below 3.4GHz while Eco Mode happily idled at 800MHz. You don’t have to reboot or even select OK when choosing between different modes. We also found that the whole system stayed cool whatever we threw at it but if you do work/play in a hot environment you can easily whack up the fans manually.

Performance

In PC Mark, in Turbo Mode, it achieved a very impressive 4,174 – that’s more than the PC World Test Rig’s stock speed of 4,040. It’s safe to say that this is a speedy desktop replacement.

In 3D Mark, however, its score of 5,197 was some way behind our rig’s 5,590 despite both computers sporting Nvidia’s 1070 graphics. It appears that the mobile variant can’t quite match the desktop graphics card here.

We also ran 3D Mark’s Firestrike Extreme for comparison to other notebooks. It scored 7,567 which compares with the 6th-gen CPU and 1070-GPU-sporting Asus ROG G752’s score of 7,457.

Battery

In a beastly desktop replacement like this don’t expect to be travelling too far without the 1KG power supply.

Nonetheless, the large battery isn’t entirely useless. It ran PC Mark’s intensive battery test for 2hrs 1min. It also played our Full HD movie for 3hrs in Turbo Mode and 3.5hrs in Eco Mode. That ain’t bad and will make for a decent mobile movie night unless you’re watching LOTR: The Return of the King Extended Edition.

Conclusion

Read more: ​Venom Blackbook Zero 14 laptop review

We’ve been impressed with this laptop line before and this is a worthy member of the family. We suspect all the bulk and cooling is a bit overkill for this lower-high-end machine but you can’t just drop down to MSI’s Slim range without dramatically losing performance. At $3400 it’s expensive, but significantly more-affordable than its older brother while remaining very fast indeed. As such we’re recommending it.

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