MSI GT60: Faster, Better Value, But Not Quite Perfect
Even before considering the added support for Nvidia's Surround technology, MSI’s GT60 2PC Dominator has all the performance needed to make it the perfect replacement for last-year’s GT60 2OC. The thing is that, in the month we've had this notebook, preparing its review, upgrading to this system from MSI's previous-gen offering is no longer free. The older version dropped $100 at the boutique builder that still carries it.
This means, at least for now, you can save a few bucks on last year's configuration. Of course, we don't expect it to last, and we're certain that once it sells out, it'll be gone for good. And that'll leave us with the GT60 2PC.
Would you even want to spend $100 less, though? No, actually. Even after the old system's price drop, the new model's internal components offer a large-enough performance increase to justify a higher cost. And the situation gets even better when you fold Surround support into the equation. Nvidia's GeForce GTX 870M is fast enough to play a great many taxing games at medium quality settings and a 5760x1080 resolution. That’s a big accomplishment for a notebook that weighs less than nine pounds including the power adapter.
Yet, in spite of its Battery Boost technology, you can't tap into all of that extra performance without sacrificing battery life. You can choose between giving up game detail, letting Nvidia's new feature bring frame rates down to a more modulated target for the sake of longer run time away from the wall, or play at more taxing levels, cutting into Battery Boost's available headroom. At least you're given a choice. Moreover, Battery Boost's frame rate target is configurable. And of course, because it's intimately tied to GeForce Experience, you can always lean on that software to configure your game settings for you.
Just remember: the technology works best in games that have high average, but low minimum frame rates, giving you full GPU power only when the game needs it and scaling back when the extra power isn’t needed. The tough choice you'll need to make will be whether to use high-quality settings for an hour of game time or lower details for two hours.
But the best part about the GT60 2PC Dominator is what it can do for you when you’re not gaming. For instance, I could write up all of my Computex coverage on the way back from Taiwan, catch a few hours of sleep, plug back into the wall when I get back, and game across three monitors at home. All of that from one machine.
While the GT60 2PC isn't fast enough to justify upgrading from the GT60 2OC (for those of you who already own that laptop), I can heartily recommend MSI's updated platform to anyone previously considering last year's configuration and still on the fence.
MSI doesn't escape my judgement unscathed, though. Two problems carry over from the GT60-2OC-022US. First is the single DIMM that seriously cuts back on memory bandwidth. This shouldn't be an issue. The chassis supports up to four DIMMs, so it'd be easy to use two 4 GB modules to maximize throughput. Second, the 1 TB mechanical hard drive feels amazingly slow after spending as much time as I do with SSDs. Fixing either shortcoming on your own would require opening the chassis and violating MSI's warranty.
For those reasons, I can only recommend purchasing the GT60 configured more optimally from a boutique builder that'll apply its own warranty to the system. MSI could earn more enthusiastic approval from us by finishing the GT60 2PC the way a Tom's Hardware reader would want it. Value-oriented or not, nobody wants to make noticeable compromises over trivial expenses.