What is the MSI GT72VR 7RE Dominator Pro?
Our last two laptop reviews from Gigabyte both featured the Nvidia 10 series GPUs and the results received in our tests were superb, delivering performance that a laptop gamer could have only dreamed about before. We hope this continues with our next 10 series Nvidia laptop review, this time from MSI. Their VR ready, GT72VR 7RE Dominator Pro which whilst a mouthful to say, does offer a very impressive specification including a 17.3” FHD 120Hz display, GTX1070 GPU, i7-7700HQ CPU, 16GB DD4 RAM and both a 256GB M.2 SSD and a 1TB HDD. Read on to find out how this beast of a machine gets on in our tests...
Design and Connections
Once you’ve moved passed the sheer size of this beast, the all-out design is one you will either love or hate. This is in a different world when compared to the understated Gigabyte laptops that are all black with just white keyboard lighting. Here we get a black brushed metal lid, a swish of red across the edge of the lid and to a couple of areas on the rear. The full sized keyboard includes the NUM keys and has full RGB lighting. This lighting continues with the trackpad surround, SteelSeries logo and two areas on the front of the laptop of which all can be individually configured to whichever colour floats your boat. Additional white lighting is also found on the MSI Dragon logo on top of the laptop.
The battery in the GT72VR is a 9 cell 83Wh and, given the size of this gaming laptop, it’s no surprise that the connections are bountiful. To the left we have 4 x USB 3.0 ports, line in, line out, microphone and headset out/ S/PDIF out audio connectors and memory card reader. To the right we get a further two USB 3.0 ports along with the Hitachi DVD-RAM drive. No connections to the front with the rear giving us a Mini-Display port, HDMI, Ethernet, power connection and a USB C 3.1 port.
Is the specification any good?
- OS: Windows 10 64 Bit
- CPU: Intel Core i7 Kaby Lake-7700HQ (2.8GHz - 3.8GHz)
- Display: 17.3" FHD, (1920*1080) 120Hz Wide-View
- Memory: 2 x 8GB DDR4 @ 2400Mhz
- Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX1070 with 8GB GDDR5
Dual storage, which appears to be the norm now in these high-end laptops, is also featured here with a Samsung SM951 256GB Gen3 M.2 PCIe SSD. This has a quoted read speed of 2,150MB/s and write speed of 1,260 MB/s and using ATTO Disk Benchmark we received an impressive 2,253MB/s read and write of 1,299MB/s. The 1TB HDD is a HGST Travelstar 7200RPM and this, when tested, gave speeds of 137MB/s read and 118MB/s write.
Using the latest PC Mark 8 Storage test 2.0 that has been updated to provide better support for NVMe SSDs, which uses workload traces recorded from actual programs and is not affected by differences in CPU or GPU performance, we get a score of 5085 with a storage bandwidth of 588.55MB/s.
Does the FHD 120Hz display hit the mark?
Using SpectraCal software and our C3 Colorimeter, the maximum screen luminance was detected at 265.9cd/m2. The screenshot below shows the pre- and post-calibration results. MSI uses True Color Technology with a 100% sRGB visible range and is claimed to have an extensive factory calibration.
Many thanks to SpectraCal for providing the software and C3 Colorimeter for use with our reviews.
Is the audio any good? (Yes!)
GT72VR 7RE Battery Life
Battery Life Tests
|Powermark Battery Test||126minutes|
|YouTube 1080P, High Performance, 100% Brightness||125 minutes|
|YouTube 1080P, Balanced, 50% Brightness||187 minutes|
|Netflix 1080P, High Performance, 100% Brightness||132 minutes|
In our tests the Powermark result was especially poor and with Netflix it was just enough to watch a movie or a couple of episodes of your favourite show. Disabling the Battery Boost feature in the Nvidia Geforce Experience removes the 30FPS cap to gaming but unfortunately the MSI systems settings are locked to Eco mode only which significantly caps the performance. In Battlefield 1 for example under Ultra settings we received a poor 20FPS which was unplayable compared to over 50FPS using the battery with Gigabyte's P35X v6.
Lowering the settings considerably did improve the frame rate to a playable level but it is disappointing that the performance is hindered so much. Clearly the battery life is the culprit here but we’d much rather have 40 minutes of high performance gaming than the 60 minutes of low performance gaming we did manage to get and given the size of this laptop, we’d hazard a guess it will be in a fixed location and plugged in most of the time anyway. To charge from flat to 100% took 133 minutes.
GT72VR 7RE Benchmarks
|1920 x 1080 Resolution||FPS (Fraps)|
|Battlefield 1||Ultra Settings||
|Battlefield 1||High Settings||
|Sims 4||Ultra Settings||115|
|Sims 4||Medium Settings||141|
|Max Payne 3||Maximum Settings||75|
|Max Payne 3||High Settings||119|
|Metal Gear Solid 5||Maximum Settings||60|
|Metal Gear Solid 5||High Settings||60|
The other test results were equally outstanding with Unigine Valley scoring 3460, the new Unigine Superposition benchmark giving 3363 (1080P Extreme setting) and 3D Mark Timespy 5140. These 10 series GPUs really are something special.
Benchmark Score Summary
|Time to Desktop||9 Seconds||9|
|Super Pi @ 1M||10.03 seconds||9|
|3D Mark - Fire Strike||13763||9|
|3D Mark - Sky Diver||29128||
|3D Mark - TimeSpy||5140||
|Passmark Performance Test 9.0||5593.2||8|
|Cinebench R15||Open GL 112.66 - CPU 752 CB||9|
|Unigine Heaven 4.0||2543||7|
|Unigine Valley 1.0||3453||9|
|PC Mark 8 - Home Conventional 3.0||4227||9|
|PC Mark 8 - Storage Test 2.0||5085||8|
System Noise and Temperature
Using MSI Shift technology, you can also quickly change between settings in the Dragon Center should you want to push the system to the maximum or to squeeze as much out of the battery as you can. We left the system on auto and it coped with everything we threw at it. Our only issue, and this may be because our review sample has been passed around a lot, was that the rear right hand fan whilst not being excessively loud did sound worn out, hopefully this is an individual fault and not commonplace.
- Outstanding onboard audio
- Excellent gaming performance
- Powerful GTX1070 GPU
- Fast Samsung M.2 PCIe SSD
- Dual Storage
- 120Hz Full HD Display
- Poor battery life
- Gaming performance heavily restricted under battery power
- Not the cheapest 1070 laptop you will find
MSI GT72VR 7RE Dominator Pro Gaming Laptop Review
Should I buy one?Ignoring the price for a moment, the MSI GT72VR 7RE Dominator Pro is a beast of a machine in terms of performance, design and size. Using the new Kaby Lake i7-7700HQ CPU and coupled with the superb GTX1070 GPU, 16GB of DDR4 RAM and a fast Samsung SM951 M.2 SSD, the gaming and benchmark scores were excellent. Considering what you would have expected with a previous generation gaming laptop with a GTX980M, you no longer have to put up with lower settings for the latest games with today’s gaming laptops.
On top of the impressive performance we also have the 120Hz Full HD display which allowed for some smooth gaming and we found the onboard speakers and audio software to provide what was easily the best sound we had ever heard on a laptop. Plus, despite the heat a high-power gaming laptop creates, the cooling system coped very well and even under high loads the system noise was impressively low. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows though as the battery life was not particularly good, with the gaming performance heavily restricted using battery alone and the sheer size of this beast doesn’t really make it that portable or something you would want on your lap. We said we'd initially ignore the price at the beginning of this conclusion but under our list of cons we should point out that the Dominator Pro it costs £2,000.
What alternatives are available?Yes, that’s right, £2,000. It’s no small purchase by any means but you really do get a fantastic gaming machine for the money. However, are the extras that MSI include above the likes of Gigabyte’s similarly specced (albeit previous gen CPU) P57X worth another £300? Or worth another £100 with the Acer Predator 17 G9-793? That’s up to you, but if you are already looking to spend £1,800 on a gaming laptop, then another £200 to get a machine as superb as this isn’t really that much to ask. Given all the above we are happy to award the MSI GT72VR 7RE Dominator Pro an AVForums Recommended badge.
Those looking to buy the MSi GT72VR 7RE Dominator Pro can find it here
MORE: Gaming Laptop Reviews
Value For Money
Our Review Ethos
To comment on what you've read here, click the Discussion tab and post a reply.