A lot of the hardware we review at MMORPG winds up being the kind of gear we then get to keep. They’re review units, usually not intended for resale. Laptops and desktops are different though. They cost hundreds or thousands of dollars, and we must return them to the manufacturer once we’re done putting them through their paces. I won’t be returning the MSI GE72 Apache Pro, though. I’m keeping this baby, and paying MSI whatever they’re asking. It’s been that pleasurable of a machine to use, and one I’m all too inclined to keep using for the next couple of years.
Here are the specs of the machine I was sent to review:
- Windows 10 Pro
- Skylake 6th Gen. Intel® Core™ i7 – 6700HQ @ 2.6GHZ (8 CPUs)
- NVIDIA® GeForce GTX 960M graphics with higher performance
- 17.3” Full HD (1920x1080), Wide-viewing angle
- 128GB PCIe Gen3 SSD for the OS
- 1TB HDD for data and games
- 16 GB of DDR4 RAM
- The latest USB 3.1 SuperSpeed+ interface built in
- USB Type-C reversible plug
- Nahimic Sound Technology
- Sound by Dynaudio system
- Exclusive SHIFT technology boosts performance under controlled noise & temperature
- Keyboard by Steelseries with full color backlighting
- Exclusive Cooler Boost 3 Technology
- Killer Gb Lan with Killer Shield + 802.11 ac
- Xsplit Gamcaster 1 year free premium license for broadcasting, recording and sharing
- Matrix Display supporting 4K output up to 2 external monitors
Of the specs, the only two things I wish was a bit more of an upgrade is the 960M and the SSD capacity. The 960M is about equivalent to a 760 from NVIDIA’s previous generation of GPUs, which is pretty good for all of the MMOs I play, but it won’t have a super long lifespan for the top of the line single player games. Still, I was quite able to get Fallout 4 to Ultra at about 30 FPS, 20 in crowded fights. The Witcher 3 ran nimbly at Medium to High settings, but still wasn’t able to hold above 30 for long. Oddly, Just Cause 3 was able to chug right along in the 40s on Highest settings, and newer gen MMOs like Elder Scrolls Online, Guild Wars 2, and WildStar ran superbly on the highest of settings.
Note too, that none of the games were installed on the SSD, because it’s a little small to be installing games on. 128GB is pretty great for the OS, but little else save for smaller apps like Office and Adobe Creative Suite (both of which I use extensively for work). In fact, as I am buying this machine from MSI, I suspect the first thing I’ll upgrade is the OS SSD in order to make it large enough to run a few of my most played MMOs on.
The physical build of the rig is ideal, both light and thin with that much power is a testament to how far gaming laptops have come in recent years. My current CyberPower FANG laptop, with less power in CPU and GPU, weighs almost twice as much and comes in at twice the thickness. With a black plastic bottom and a polished aluminum top painted to match, a thin red line along the front of the base and red accents on the illuminated G Series logo on the back, the Apache is a sleek and stylish looking laptop. It’s made all the more pretty by the chroma backlit Steelseries keyboard. You can cycle through several different options for color cycling, from a rainbow static display to ebbing and flowing through different colors. It’s caught the eye of my coworkers and passersby on more than a few occasions.
Like all laptops, the Apache does get pretty warm when working on something intensive like video rendering or gaming, but you can alleviate a lot of that with the press of a button thanks to the efficient and quiet cooling system. The battery life is passable for a machine of this type, but for gaming and other in-depth work you’re likely going to want to plus this rig in, as the battery will only last a few hours at best. Quick hotkey controls for brightness and MSI’s proprietary Dragon Gaming Center let you easily manage power consumption and efficiency.
The audio is passable, but nothing special, with speakers that do their job but aren’t really worth writing home about. I’m not an audiophile, so long as I can hear the game and use the on-board microphone and camera for conference calls or streaming I’m set. Speaking of streaming, all of the Apache’s come packaged with a one-year subscription to Xsplit, but since I use OBS (which I believe to be far superior and less intrusive), this was a zero-sum gain for me. There’s precious little other in the way of bloatware, which is a godsend whenever getting a pre-built machine. I feel like the items on the Apache, minus the Xsplit, are all very useful. And for many, a free year’s worth of Xsplit would be wonderful.
Overall, I’m very happy with the GE72. Gaming laptops are often extremely expensive, but I feel like MSI has managed to push out a lot of power for right around $1,200. Given you configure the Apache to be even beefier (more RAM, more storage, better GPU), there’s a lot of room to improve the build if you’ve got the cash. There are even newer Skylake machines to opt for if you're in the mood for the absolute cutting-est of edges. Me? I’m a married guy with a toddler and a baby on the way, so budget is something I’m always aware of. This is right in my sweet spot for an upgrade, and I couldn’t be happier to invest in my first MSI with the GE72.