What is the MSI PE60 2QE?
Hot on the heels of the GE62 2QD is a laptop from MSI's Prestige Series, the 15.6" PE60 2QE. Available for an even cheaper £899 (and currently with a free MSI Panocam worth £169) this is not being marketed as a gaming laptop, but offers a very similar specification to the GE62 2QD without perhaps all the gaming bells and whistles. We get a 5th generation Intel Broadwell Quad Core CPU, the i7-5700HQ at 2.7 - 3.5Ghz, 8GB RAM, the same Nvidia GTX960M GPU as with the GE62, but no SSD, just a 1TB HDD. Given the very similar specifications we'd expect similar results in our tests which could make the PE60 2QE a very interesting proposition. Read on to see how it performs......
Design and Connections
Unlike MSI's gaming laptops, the PE60 2QE is not marketed as one and, as such, does not have the additional gaming features such as their SteelSeries engine. What it does have, though, is a white illuminated keyboard and a handy piece of software called 'Shortcut Manager'. Doing far more than the name suggests, the Shortcut Manager allows you to configure every single key to do any other function such as run a macro, a command, disable the Windows key, or if you fancy completely confusing someone you can change the G key to H or Space Bar to Enter for example. The full sized keyboard is very comfortable to use and responsive and the same goes with the trackpad and buttons.
Continuing to shy away from the ultra-thin market which we have seen cause Gigabyte no end of cooling problems, the PE60 has an identical footprint to MSI's GE62 gaming laptop of 383mm x 260mm and 27mm thick and comes in at 2.3kg. We again get a DVD drive but still no Blu-ray which continues to seem a strange omission given the low cost now of Blu-ray drives. The connections are identical to the GE62 which suggests the use of an identical chassis, with a single USB 2.0 port and SD card reader to the right side along with the power connection, then to the left we have 3 x USB 3.0 ports (one of which is a Super Charger port), HDMI (v1.4), Mini-Display port, Ethernet connection and the microphone and headphone ports. No additional connections to the front or rear.
As mentioned above there is no SSD provided with this system, we just get a single 1TB WD Blue 5400RPM drive which gave a score of 104MB/s read and 105MB/s write in our ATTO Disk Benchmark test. The system can be upgraded to take an SSD up to 256GB along with the existing 1TB HDD. Given the low cost of SSD drives these days, that would be a worthy addition to this machine. Using PC Mark 8's Storage test, which uses workload traces recorded from actual programs and is not affected by differences in CPU or GPU performance we get a fairly low score of 2021 with a bandwidth of just 6.80MB/s. Our lowest result in this test to date, but that's no surprise with the lack of an SSD and just a 5400RPM HDD.
The 1TB HDD is partitioned into two drives and this converts to an available space of 907GB. The C drive of 558GB arrived to us with 508GB free after the Windows installation and other pre-installed software and the D drive of 349GB has 348GB free to use. Plenty of space here, but an SSD drive would be a welcome addition. Manually timed from power on with a cold boot to the Windows desktop we get a decent average result of 11.74 seconds.
Is the display any good?
Using SpectraCal software and our C3 Colorimeter, the maximum screen luminance was detected at 295 cd/m2. The screenshot above shows the pre and post calibration results. As you can see the pre check gave ColorChecker error of 5.1 (an error level less than 3 is the target) and a GreyScale error of 7.29. Following the successful calibration the ColorChecker error has reduced to a reference level 0.62 with the GreyScale error down to just 1.01. A superb result and certainly suggests that MSI's True Color Technology employed here has some merit, if you can ignore the 'extensive factory calibration' that is supposed to have been done.
Many thanks to SpectraCal for providing the software and C3 Colorimeter for use with our reviews.
We also get the Killer Network Manager which gives information on network activity, bandwidth usage and blocking access for particular applications, if needed. Other than those mentioned that's really about it for any noteworthy pre-installed software. The usual free 1 month trial of Office 365, Power DVD 10 and 30 day free trial of Norton Internet Security are also present.
Is the sound any good?
Unlike with the GE62, the included Nahimic sound technology actually gave a noticeable improvement to the sound quality. Not only by giving the volume a boost (by 6dB), but with the Nahimic effects on the sound quality was significantly improved and it appeared to create a much larger soundstage. The Nahimic software also includes a HD audio recorder which works with XSplit Gamescaster and automatically detects the start of a recording and processes the sound to give an HD audio experience. Whilst XSplit Gamescaster is not pre-installed it is readily available as a free download.
MSI PE60 battery life
The poor battery life results were echoed across the board unfortunately. With our YouTube video test, which is a 4 hour loop of a standard 480P video, the laptop set on high performance and the screen at 100% brightness, we managed just 97 minutes. With the system turned down to the balanced setting and brightness lowered to 50% we increased that slightly to 114 minutes. Testing with Netflix and using the same 50% settings we managed a slightly better 127 minutes, not quite enough for one film at today's 2 hours plus length that they seem to be.
Gaming performance under battery power alone is significantly restricted as appears to be the case with all laptops of this type. The power settings cannot be altered and games will be restricted to a maximum 30FPS. With a full battery charge all we managed to get was a poor 44 minutes. If you fancy gaming with a laptop then it seems it has to be plugged in to get the best performance and to game for any length of time. From flat to recharge to 100% took 114 minutes.
PE60 2QE benchmarks
Benchmark Score Summary
|Time to Desktop||11.75 Seconds||8|
|Super Pi @ 1M||11.19 seconds||9|
|3D Mark - Ice Storm 1.2||51980||4|
|3D Mark - Cloud Gate 1.1||16807||4|
|3D Mark - Fire Strike||3916||4|
|3D Mark - Sky Diver||12180||4|
|Passmark Performance Test 8.0||2478||4|
|Cinebench 11.5||Open GL 55.76FPS - CPU 6.61pts||6|
|Unigine Heaven 4.0||630||4|
|Unigine Valley 1.0||858||4|
|PC Mark 8 - Home Conventional 3.0||2986||5|
|PC Mark 8 - Storage Test||2021||4|
|1920 x 1080 Resolution||FPS (Fraps)|
|Battlefield 4||High Settings||52|
|Battlefield 4||Ultra Settings||38|
|Sims 4||Medium Settings||90|
|Sims 4||Ultra Settings||70|
|Max Payne 3||High Settings||36|
|Max Payne 3||Maximum Settings||30|
|COD: Advanced Warfare||Maximum Settings||51|
System noise and heat
MSI have certainly cracked the cooling of their laptops. Compared to the huge issues we've found with some of Gigabyte's machines, the Cooler Boost 3 system employed by MSI which uses three heat pipes for the graphics card and 1 for the CPU works very well. During out tests and gaming the maximum noise level was an excellent 34dBS, the system fans do stay on quite a while after the tests and gaming have finished but this is a small price to pay to get such a quiet and cool system. At normal times with the system idle the fan noise is barely noticeable.
- Decent specification for the price
- Nice looking silver design
- Great build quality
- Superb onboard sound
- Poor battery life
- No SSD
- No Blu-ray drive
MSI PE60 2QE Prestige Laptop Review
Should I buy the MSI PE60 2QE?
A sub £900 laptop that can play recent games on high to maximum settings? That would have been unheard of before MSI's 15.6" PE60 2QE came along, but that's exactly what we get here. Available for £899 this laptop offers very decent value for money. The specification hasn't been sacrificed to reach that price either, with an Intel 5th generation Broadwell Quad Core i7-5700HQ CPU, 1TB HDD, 8GB of RAM and a mid range GTX960M graphics chip, though perhaps a Blu-ray drive would have sweetened the deal even more.
With a very similar specification to MSI's GE62 2QD the performance for gaming and in our benchmark tests gave almost identical results showing that MSI have created a system that can play games on high or even maximum settings and using the same superb cooling system of the GE62 we have a very quiet system, even under load. It certainly isn't ultra thin or lightweight, but the last few Gigabyte laptops we've reviewed have shown what happens when you try and squeeze too much into an ultra thin shell.
The onboard sound system is superb and the display uses an excellent IPS LCD panel with MSI's True Color Technology which we calibrated to almost reference levels of quality. There isn't the gaming bells and whistles that you'd get with MSI's gaming range of laptops, but then those are not essential anyway. Unfortunately battery life is again an issue, with just a 41Wh battery, we barely managed 44 minutes for gaming (capped at 30FPS) and under 2 hours with YouTube.
What alternatives are available?
We struggled to find any alternatives for the £1000 GE62 2QD, but in the computer world it doesn't take very long for prices to fall and this is evident in other systems now available. A different version of this PE60 2QE is available with a less powerful i5 CPU for only £800 with everything else identical, plus even cheaper is the recently reduced £730 Acer Aspire V-Nitro VN7-591G offering an almost identical system although with a less powerful i5 CPU and no DVD drive. Compared to other systems MSI's PE60 2QE still offers excellent value for money when you weigh up all the features and benefits, despite again seeing a shocking battery life and as such is a worthy winner of our AVForums Recommended Award.
Value For Money
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