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MSI GT60 2PC Dominator Review: A Fast Notebook With Battery Boost

MSI GT60 2PC Dominator Review: A Fast Notebook With Battery Boost
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MSI's new GT60 2PC Dominator outperforms the company's previous-gen GT60 2OC thanks to a new CPU, new GPU, and triple-monitor Surround technology. We compare both configurations, add up the differences, and gauge the effect of Nvidia's Battery Boost.

Value is defined by being the best at a given price, and MSI is constantly pushing its value message into motherboard, graphics card and even complete notebook markets. We all like a good value story, and a value saga is certain to get even more of our attention. You see, today’s GT60 2PC started its life as the previous generation GT60 2OC, and look at how far it’s come.

OK, maybe looking isn’t enough. The skinny on this one is that MSI took its $1400 mid-sized gaming notebook and upgraded the CPU from Intel’s Core i7-4700MQ to the current Core i7-4800MQ, and from Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 770M to its newer GeForce GTX 870M, without increasing the price. Its competitors occasionally make similar moves, so that’s par for the course. What really makes this notebook special is that buyers get MSI’s Dominator upgrade without the extra cost you would have paid previously. And that means that when you finally get the GT60 2PC Dominator home, you can connect three external monitors using Nvidia's Surround technology for a more desktop-like experience.

Other new features are part of the GeForce driver package, including Nvidia's Battery Boost frequency-based FPS limiter, ShadowPlay game video capature, a Twitch streaming port for ShadowPlay, and GameStream mode to allow your notebook’s more powerful hardware to serve an Nvidia Shield handheld console. While most of these features could also improve the previous GeForce GTX 770M, Battery Boost is available only with current hardware.

MSI "Dominator-424" GT60-2PC-424US Component List
PlatformMS-16F4: Intel FCPGA946, HM87 Express, MXM-3 Discrete Graphics
CPUCore i7-4800MQ (Haswell), 2.7 - 3.7 GHz, 6 MB shared L3 cache, 47 W TDP
RAMKingston MSI16D3LS1KBG/8G (1 x 8 GB) DDR3-1600 SO-DIMM, CL11
GraphicsNvidia GeForce GTX 870M: 941-967 MHz, 3 GB GDDR5-5000
Display15.6" FHD 16:9 anti-glare LED backlight LCD, 1920X1080
WebcamBison NB Pro 720p webcam
AudioRealtek ALC892 with Creative Sound Blaster Cinema
SecurityKensington Security Slot
Storage
Hard DriveHGST Travelstar 7K1000 HTS721010A9E630: 1 TB, SATA 6Gb/s, 32 MB cache
Optical DriveHLDS 8x slim internal DVD Burner model GT90N
Media DriveRTS5227 SD/SDHC/SDXC flash media interface
Networking
Wireless LANKiller Wireless-N 1202 300 Mb/s (2x2) a/b/g/n Wi-Fi/Bluetooth Combo
Wireless PANIntegrated Bluetooth 4.0 Transceiver on Wireless Combo Card
Gigabit NetworkKiller E2200 10/100/1000 Mb/s Ethernet
IEEE-1394None
TelephonyNone
Peripheral Interfaces
USB1 x USB 2.0, 3 x USB 3.0
Expansion CardNot Available
HDD1x eSATA / USB 3.0 combo port
AudioHeadphone, Microphone, Digital Out, Analog In
Video2 x Mini DisplayPort, HDMI, DVI-I
Power & Weight
AC Adapter180 W Power Brick, 100-240 V AC to 19.5 V DC
Battery11.1 V, 7800 mAh (87 Wh) Single
WeightNotebook 6.9 lbs, AC Adapter 1.9 lbs, Total 8.8 pounds
Software
Operating SystemMicrosoft Windows 8.1, OEM
Service
WarrantyTwo years labor, Two years parts
Price$1400

MSI offers its GT60 2PC Dominator in various flavors for different markets. Called the “Dominator-424” by some of MSI’s resellers, the GT60-2PC-424US we're testing includes a capacious 1 TB hard drive, but no SSD. And it only comes with one 8 GB memory module.

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  • 4 Hide
    blackmagnum , June 18, 2014 12:33 AM
    Cue the " I can build a faster desktop at half the price " argument...
  • 0 Hide
    HT , June 18, 2014 12:41 AM
    what about the noise ? This article needs a noise evaluation. The old GT780DX's fan was terrible.

    Once burned, twice shy MSI.
  • 1 Hide
    danwat1234 , June 18, 2014 1:03 AM
    Does Battery Booster allow you have a set FPS goal, like instead of cutting back when the GPU is crunching more than 60FPS, have it cut back once FPS goes beyond 30FPS?

    The fan in this laptop is awesome. MSI is the only company I know of that puts a 12 volt fan in their laptop. This single fan can move about 25cfm of air (source; http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/gt70-dragon-edition-2-core-i7-4930mx-laptop,3545-5.html)
    which may be more air flow than the Asus G750 can supply, who knows.

    The CPU in this laptop is socketed and fully supports all the way up to a 4940MX Extreme CPU 3.1/4GHZ and supports overclocking via Intel XTU.
    The CPU in the G750 cannot be upgraded so it is just a gaming laptop whereas this can be a workstation laptop.

    The screen can tilt back significantly more than the G750 (both the GT60 and GT70 MSI laptops) and weighs less with the same computing hardware.

    The 180w AC adapter limitation and the NOS crutch can be annoying if you are fully taxing the extreme CPU and the GPU for long periods of time, it may dip into the battery. Once the battery goes down to 30%, it'll stop sucking from the battery and throttle.
    Luckily I don't think NOS ever really activates unless you have an extreme CPU in it and everything fully taxed and may be quite hard to activate since this model isn't the -2PE model with the 880m.

    The new MSI GT72 has a 220w AC adapter so I guess they've figured that they need more power headroom).
  • -3 Hide
    Plusthinking Iq , June 18, 2014 1:26 AM
    msi still have issues with cooling and noise, a laptop must be silent and cool or its pointless....
  • 2 Hide
    Crashman , June 18, 2014 2:19 AM
    Quote:
    what about the noise ? This article needs a noise evaluation. The old GT780DX's fan was terrible.

    Once burned, twice shy MSI.
    The noise wasn't bad but the room was cool so I was concerned that it might not be realistic for normal users

    Quote:
    Does Battery Booster allow you have a set FPS goal, like instead of cutting back when the GPU is crunching more than 60FPS, have it cut back once FPS goes beyond 30FPS?
    You can set other FPS targets but I left it at the 30FPS default to get the best battery benefit.
    Quote:
    msi still have issues with cooling and noise, a laptop must be silent and cool or its pointless....
    Then you're not going to find a notebook you can game on...anywhere.
  • 1 Hide
    danwat1234 , June 18, 2014 3:25 AM
    Quote:
    msi still have issues with cooling and noise, a laptop must be silent and cool or its pointless....

    The only issues I've seen are bad paste jobs from the factory. If it's done right the cooling systems work fine, from my research. What other cooling issues does it have? Thanks
  • 2 Hide
    hex2bit , June 18, 2014 4:26 AM
    Why the continued use of mechanical drives? Would not a SSD help with power, speed and cooling?
  • 0 Hide
    Plusthinking Iq , June 18, 2014 4:33 AM
    number of fans and heatpipes are a problem
  • 1 Hide
    wtfxxxgp , June 18, 2014 5:50 AM
    "Then you're not going to find a notebook you can game on...anywhere."

    I LOL'd at this. Well-said Crashman. I don't know how anyone that has ever used a laptop even for light gaming (I'm referring to something as simple as League Of Legends) could say something like "a laptop must be silent and cool or its pointless". The fact is: performance = heat = adequate cooling = noise. The amount of each of these is dependent on the other...as well as the build (obviously), but the confined space in MOBILE COMPUTERS (aka notebooks/laptops) will always be a challenge until technology can convert the effects of energy used into cold, instead of heat.
  • 0 Hide
    Crashman , June 18, 2014 6:16 AM
    Quote:
    "Then you're not going to find a notebook you can game on...anywhere."

    I LOL'd at this. Well-said Crashman. I don't know how anyone that has ever used a laptop even for light gaming (I'm referring to something as simple as League Of Legends) could say something like "a laptop must be silent and cool or its pointless". The fact is: performance = heat = adequate cooling = noise. The amount of each of these is dependent on the other...as well as the build (obviously), but the confined space in MOBILE COMPUTERS (aka notebooks/laptops) will always be a challenge until technology can convert the effects of energy used into cold, instead of heat.

    BTW, I came up with 40-50db at full load. Your mileage may vary.
  • 1 Hide
    xenol , June 18, 2014 8:29 AM
    Call me vain, but could they at least design these things so they aren't so fugly? Like those ports on the back how the ethernet and DP ports are offset slightly.

    I don't know, I just feel like they gave the design job to a freshman intern.
  • -1 Hide
    xenol , June 18, 2014 8:37 AM
    [Double post]
  • 0 Hide
    Amdlova , June 18, 2014 9:03 AM
    too heavy to call notebook. maybe mechbook...
  • 0 Hide
    gxpbecker , June 18, 2014 10:32 AM
    very nice, my wife has a 1.5 year old MSI GT60 with the 670MX vid card. It runs amazingly cool but the fan can get a bit noisy (like a desktop). It still runs fantastic and she consistently plays ESO with me (high settings low shadows). Lil brother has the GX60? (with the AMD10 and 7890M) that is also a fantastic machine.
  • 1 Hide
    HT , June 18, 2014 10:39 AM
    Thanks crashman for the db info, tho 40-50 is a long gap and for my money it's not even close to being quiet at idle when sitting close to it for 8-12hours a day. i've had my gt780 for 2 years and i decided to buy a cheaper lappy just to get some quiet for work/vid/internet. Tinnitus is a real thing, my ears would ring after using it for a while. Protect those ears, they're the only pair you've got !


    it's been 3months since i last gamed on it, and i don't miss it. My desktop tower keeps my big cpu & video card super quiet compared to that laptop. all i can say is its been a slice but now i'm looking to get rid of it. i'll miss the backlit keyboard its really usefull in the dark but i'll make due.

    Going back to desktop for gaming and using a cheapo lappy for work makes more sense and is much quieter, that's kind of a biggie since i'm on it more than 12hrs a day.

    cheers and thanks for a good article,
    Smitty
  • 1 Hide
    Wisecracker , June 18, 2014 11:22 AM

    It's always good to see new stuff like "battery-boost" but sadly it screams, "We need new battery tech!"

    Or, maybe 18-cell batteries.

  • 0 Hide
    cobrax5 , June 18, 2014 1:21 PM
    The single stick of memory and rotational drive are inexcusable. If they allowed people to upgrade, I'd say it's a great idea as it lets people put in more memory and an SSD for a lower price than the manufacturer would charge. However, it voids your warranty!!

    Like many MSI notebooks, this one will only be good if you get it rebranded by a manufacturer who allows upgrades or equips it properly.
  • 2 Hide
    danwat1234 , June 18, 2014 2:05 PM
    You can upgrade the RAM and hard drive without voiding the warranty. Their aren't any warranty-void sticker to tear off to replace those items, at leas the DIMM slots on the bottom side of the laptop & hard drives/mSATA. You have to break a warranty-void sticker to mess with the CPU though but I have heard in the forums that that doesn't necessarily void the warranty if you check with MSI first, for the purpose of repasting.
  • 0 Hide
    dilbert , June 18, 2014 4:37 PM
    I have last year's GT60 2OC 24US, a more balanced option. It has a mSATA SSD + the 1TB HDD, and 12GB of RAM (8+4). It also has a Blu-ray drive. The rest of the specs are the same. It's a fantastic machine, I have nothing to complain about. When I have time to play games for several hours, noise is not an issue, nor temperatures.
  • 1 Hide
    Crashman , June 18, 2014 4:50 PM
    Quote:
    You can upgrade the RAM and hard drive without voiding the warranty. Their aren't any warranty-void sticker to tear off to replace those items, at leas the DIMM slots on the bottom side of the laptop & hard drives/mSATA. You have to break a warranty-void sticker to mess with the CPU though but I have heard in the forums that that doesn't necessarily void the warranty if you check with MSI first, for the purpose of repasting.
    Take another look at the photos and description, the sticker covers a screw that needs to be removed to get into the notebook from either side.

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