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Under The Hood: MSI's Massive GT80 Titan SLI Gaming Laptop With Mechanical Keyboard

MSI brought plenty of gaming goodies to CES, and one of the most prominent is the company's massive GT80 Titan SLI gaming laptop, which is the first to offer built-in mechanical switches.

MSI opted to use Cherry MX Brown switches, giving the keys haptic feedback without the auditory click, which will certainly be appreciated by guests around you if you decide to work (or play) in, for example, the library.

The keyboard includes gold WASD keys (there's a replacement kit that includes WASD keys in black, as well), and there's a touchpad on the right side of the keyboard that can function as a numpad. A touch numpad sounds absurd, but MSI built in haptic feedback so you get a sense of what you're pressing. Of course, the whole keyboard is backlit.

The laptop itself is massive. It measures 17.95 x 13.02 x 1.93 inches and weighs over 10 pounds, although that's not unreasonably heavy for a monster gaming notebook like this one.

It will be available in two versions: one with the Intel Core i7-4720HQ processor with 16 GB of RAM, and another with the Intel Core i7-4980HQ processor with 24 GB of RAM. Contrary to what you'd expect from the product name, however, it doesn't come with a GTX Titan, but rather two GTX 980Ms in SLI. You can swap these out for Nvidia MXM cards with more horsepower later on down the line.

The entire laptop is also built to be upgradeable, and you can simply remove a couple of screws to easily remove the top cover to access four M.2 slots, two SODIMM memory slots, and the hard drive bay. To get to the graphics cards, you need to pop the back off, which will take a bit more effort than pulling off the top cover.

The GT80 Titan SLI has an 18.4-inch TN panel with Full HD resolution.

For storage, MSI has plenty of options thanks to the numerous M.2 slots. In at least one configuration, the notebook has a pair of 128 GB M.2 SATA in RAID 0 with a 1 TB 7200 RPM HDD. There's a Killer Gaming Network plus Killer N1525 combo for networking.

We were a bit taken aback at how large the 350 W power brick was. It's enormous, about the size of an Xbox brick.

Both versions of the GT80 Titan SLI will be Newegg exclusives at launch:

Follow Niels Broekhuijsen @NBroekhuijsen. Follow Seth Colaner @SethColaner. Follow us @tomshardware, on Facebook and on Google+.

  • dwatterworth
    2 980m GPUs in SLI and only a FHD panel?! I sure hope there is an upgrade option to justify that graphics horsepower.
    Reply
  • Vlad Razvan
    2 980m GPUs in SLI and only a FHD panel?! I sure hope there is an upgrade option to justify that graphics horsepower.

    You do realise that the GTX 980m has nothing to do with the desktop version of the GTX 980 right?

    Performance-wise, the 980 mobile is someware around the GTX 780 (non-ti version), witch makes it good for playing most games at 1920x1080 + high to ultra details depending on the game. While two GTX 980s for the desktop could drve most games at 4k, two GTX 980m s will not be able to do so.

    The 980m has 1536 cuda cores, while the GTX 970 (desktop) has 1664, and the GTX 980 (desktop) has 2048 - witch puts the GTX 980m in between the GTX 780 and the GTX 970 - performance whise.

    Please don't be fooled by the names of mobile GPUs. For example the R9m 290x is basicly a HD 7870 - it has nothing in common with the desktop version of the 290 witch is about 3 times faster.

    Also, please STOP REQUESTING ludicrous resolutions on laptops. Scaling down the resolution makes the image quality blurry and pixelated. Also, 30fps is not an acceptable framerate for gaming. I'd rather game on 1080p @ 60-80fps then on 4k at 30fps.
    Reply
  • dwatterworth
    14988156 said:
    2 980m GPUs in SLI and only a FHD panel?! I sure hope there is an upgrade option to justify that graphics horsepower.

    You do realise that the GTX 980m has nothing to do with the desktop version of the GTX 980 right?

    Performance-wise, the 980 mobile is someware around the GTX 780 (non-ti version), witch makes it good for playing most games at 1920x1080 + high to ultra details depending on the game. While two GTX 980s for the desktop could drve most games at 4k, two GTX 980m s will not be able to do so.

    The 980m has 1536 cuda cores, while the GTX 970 (desktop) has 1664, and the GTX 980 (desktop) has 2048 - witch puts the GTX 980m in between the GTX 780 and the GTX 970 - performance whise.

    Please don't be fooled by the names of mobile GPUs. For example the R9m 290x is basicly a HD 7870 - it has nothing in common with the desktop version of the 290 witch is about 3 times faster.

    Also, please STOP REQUESTING ludicrous resolutions on laptops. Scaling down the resolution makes the image quality blurry and pixelated. Also, 30fps is not an acceptable framerate for gaming. I'd rather game on 1080p @ 60-80fps then on 4k at 30fps.

    Thanks, I fully understand the mobile nomenclature. No need to get snarky. If the 980m is near the 780 performance as you so kindly pointed out, 2 in SLI are just unneeded for 1080 gaming! I'm just trying to understand the point of the product.

    The balance of the product just seems off. I'm not requesting a 4k panel, but that graphics hardware would drive a 1440 panel nicely. There are many resolutions of very good use to people who would consider products such as this for more professional work with gaming on the side. If the panel would support variable framerate, even better.

    If the products were more optimized to take advantage of the current technologies rather than just throwing huge amounts of horsepower at the situation, it would make even better use of the increased efficiencies of the hardware itself.
    Reply
  • falchard
    If I was a CNET reviewer, my 2 main criteria would be Battery Life and Portability.
    Reply
  • bluestar2k11
    That huge system, that likely costs a good 3,500+, and only a laptop grade CPU? Why not a desktop CPU?

    And why a TN panel on such a high end laptop? Wouldn't an IPS panel be a lot better option for higher end gamers on the go? If they care enough about fidelity to want SLI'd 980's, wouldn't they also want a better visual display?

    MSI makes some nice laptops, I've been wanting to get one and drop my Asus easy-bake oven, but it feels like they sometimes focus too little on elements that can improve the experience they're trying to offer.
    Reply
  • Quixit
    Why not just buy a desktop? For the $3,200+ asking price I'd build a desktop and buy an Ultrabook for when I'm not at home. I can see this being a very limited market and most of those people will regret buying it (I've found this is often the case when people buy huge laptops).

    Actually, I own an Alienware 14 and a desktop computer. They cost less than this and the desktop is massively more powerful and the notebook is massively more portable. A notebook that weights 10lbs kinda defeats the purpose of it being a notebook and then you're just stuck paying the premium for notebook components and living with the decreased performance.
    Reply
  • TechyInAZ
    Cool!! However you can buy an i7 4790K two gtx 980s 2400mhz 32GB RAM and mechanical keyboard and three monitors for cheaper than $3200.

    I would only buy this laptop if it was gona be my work machine for 8 years or I was a millionaire.
    Reply
  • SylentVyper
    Vlad Razvan,

    A single 980m is more than enough for 1080p. You're saying it's comparable to a 780, which is only good for high-ultra at 1080p? I have a desktop 760 and 970m in my laptop, and I run pretty much everything at Ultra with AA at 60 FPS. There are only a couple of games where I don't get 50 FPS or more. The 780 by itself will handle High/Ultra at 1440p.

    Here's the 780 running Far Cry 3 at 1440p in Ultra averaging 55 FPS:
    http://www.anandtech.com/show/6973/nvidia-geforce-gtx-780-review/12

    1440p would have been a perfect resolution for the laptop - for gaming.
    Reply
  • TechyInAZ
    14988826 said:
    Vlad Razvan,

    A single 980m is more than enough for 1080p. You're saying it's comparable to a 780, which is only good for high-ultra at 1080p? I have a desktop 760 and 970m in my laptop, and I run pretty much everything at Ultra with AA at 60 FPS. There are only a couple of games where I don't get 50 FPS or more. The 780 by itself will handle High/Ultra at 1440p.

    Here's the 780 running Far Cry 3 at 1440p in Ultra averaging 55 FPS:
    http://www.anandtech.com/show/6973/nvidia-geforce-gtx-780-review/12

    1440p would have been a perfect resolution for the laptop - for gaming.

    Agree that 1080P is too small.

    But since there is two gtx 980ms in there, a 4k or 144hz 1440P monitor would be better.
    Reply
  • g-unit1111
    14988815 said:
    Cool!! However you can buy an i7 4790K two gtx 980s 2400mhz 32GB RAM and mechanical keyboard and three monitors for cheaper than $3200.

    I would only buy this laptop if it was gona be my work machine for 8 years or I was a millionaire.

    Yeah seriously the price of that thing is insane. I had a huge laptop like that and hated it. I think my next laptop however will be a MSI GS60, I love the Steel Series keyboard on that thing.
    Reply