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Now that Pascal graphics cards have officially begun the steady process of flooding the market with new laptops and desktops, MSI has updated their GE line of laptops with the release of the comfortably portable and highly adaptable GE62VR Pro Apache gaming laptop. They are among the best gaming laptop brands. This has always been a line of devices that tries to live in the middle of the happy-medium between portability and power, but will the lack of a large battery be too much to keep the Apache running for more than a few minutes at a time? Read on to find out how this laptop stacks up against the best gaming laptops.
Read on in my MSI GE62VR Apache Pro gaming laptop review to find out.
Price: $1,599 on Amazon
Model #: GE62VR Apache Pro-001
Summary: The MSI GE62VR Pro Apache is a super-light laptop (by gaming standards) that doesn’t change a whole lot from the last generation, save for the inclusion of one big upgrade underneath the hood: its new Pascal Nvidia GTX 1060 GPU.
What We Liked
What We Didn’t
Although I’d love to take credit for being able to write a whole new review on the design of the MSI GE62VR Pro Apache, unfortunately there’s not a whole lot that could be added to what’s already been said about its predecessor, the GS60 Ghost Pro 4K.
From the MSI logo emblazoned in a deep red on the back to the SteelSeries LED-lit keyboard, nearly every detail is in the same place as it was before, save for a bit of extra chunkiness around the edges in order to accommodate the laptop’s new Nvidia GTX 1060 graphics card. I’ll layer just as much praise as I had for that machine onto this one, of course, specifically in reverence of its brushed black plastic that may come off cheap to some, but feels just right in my hand whether typing or stuffing it into a bag.
Related: If you like this laptop, you might be interested in our MSI GE75 RTX 2070 review.
Fan ports are found on nearly ever side of the laptop, including two on the back, two on front, and four on the bottom. This helps to keep the GTX 1060 cool under pressure, but might prove to be an issue if you use your “laptop” in the most literal sense of the word while you do your daily gaming.
Although ASUS currently holds the title when it comes to the worst offenders in bloatware, MSI isn’t that far behind in second place. In total from the first boot I counted a total of eight useless programs installed on the machine at stock, all covering one task or another that Windows 10 could (and does) already handle on its own without any extra help.
See also: Our Microsoft Surface Book 2 Gaming review.
That said, I’m still glad to see MSI’s own set of apps making a reappearance here, giving a special nod to their Dragon Gaming Center which lets you control how the system performs under stress, the LED configuration, and monitor your system’s vitals all from one main dashboard. The SteelSeries Engine 3 also had some surprising tricks up its sleeve, most notably the option to customize the keyboard so the backlit LEDs could correspond to in-game events, like flashing red when your health was low or blinking blue when you need more ammo. Other helpful software of note is the Killer Network Manager, the usefulness of which can’t be overestimated if you’re trying to get the lowest lag possible while gaming online. As for the rest of the apps like the XSplit Gamecaster and CyberLink PowerDVD however, they fall squarely into the category of “apps I could download in thirty seconds if I wanted to, so I don’t need them pre-installed on my machine thank you very much”.
The MSI GE62VR is one of the first of what is likely to be a flood of new laptops coming out from MSI to support Nvidia’s new line of GTX 10XX Pascal-based video cards. The model we tested is starting things out on the lower end of the GPU scale, with a 6GB GDDR5 GTX 1060, backed up by the standard quad-core 6th-gen 2.6GHz Intel Core i7-6700HQ processor, 16GB of DDR4 RAM, a 256GB SSD/1TB SSD combo, and a 15.6″ 1920 x 1080 display.
Connectivity options on the portability-centric, 5.4lb MSI GE62VR Pro Apache were just about standard for what you’d hope to see on a gaming laptop these days, including two USB 3.0 slots, one USB 3.0, one audio headphone out/mic in combo, one HDMI 1.4 out, one mini-DP out, a single RJ45 port, one Thunderbolt 3.0 port, and an SD card reader.
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Like the GE62VR’s design, the laptop’s keyboard and trackpad are essentially identical to what we first encountered on the GS60 Ghost Pro. The membrane board has around 2mm of travel time which is plenty responsive for most gamers, though the technology is still limited when compared directly to the kind of response that can be had from mechanical keyboards. Thanks to that same brushed-plastic design we spoke of earlier, the trackpad has a grippier, tactile feel to it that reduces inaccurate clicks and gives you an overall greater feeling of control once you’ve eventually dialed it in.
It took some doing, but after a bit of fine tuning in the included Nahimic2, we were able to get some relatively decent sound out of the 4W onboard speakers and 3W subwoofer that didn’t come out like what we’ve heard from other garbled, tinny speakers on previously tested laptops. In summary, they’ll be fine for movies or TV, but probably a bit underpowered/muddled for general music listening for longer than you absolutely have to.
On the whole, the improvements that the Pascal architecture makes to Nvidia cards comes down to three factors: more performance, better efficiency, and less heat. All of these factors add up in layman’s to mean that you’ll be able to run more games for longer on a single charge, while still getting a longer battery life overall without sacrificing any one aspect throughout.
In our 3DMark II tests it was clear that the GTX 1060 in the GE62VR makes some marked improvements over the GTX 960M we saw in the GS60; around a 30% improvement over that chip and even a solid 10% boost over the 980M we saw in the Acer Predator 17.
Geekbench results were actually just a bit slower than we would have liked, somehow even trailing behind the original GS60. We expect this is due to the GTX 1060 asking for more of the cooling potential that would normally be subverted to the CPU, though even after five runs through the benchmark with all other software turned off we couldn’t figure out what was causing the lag behind in stats.
The MSI GE62VR comes with a 15.6″ 1920 x 1080 display running at 60Hz, although the company’s spec sheet says a 4K model is on the way shortly (no price announced just yet). Overall, both the brightness and picture quality were pretty standard for what you see on gaming laptops these days, along with the color representation to match.
If you want a display that’s great for watching movies or doing extensive photo editing on, the 91% sRGB 72% AdobeRGB results should tell you everything you need to know about how that’s going to go. If you’re only in it for games though, it’s still serviceable enough and was plenty bright even during gaming sessions in direct sunlight.
Due to the aforementioned focus on portability first, it wasn’t surprising that the battery on the MSI GE62VR Pro Apache only reached the mid-range of what we’ve come to expect from gaming laptops in this day and age.
All the added efficiency from the upgraded Pascal GPU still can’t account for trying to lighten up the laptop’s load on your arm while you’re lugging it around the office or your college campus, and at only 5.4lbs, the MSI doesn’t concern itself as much with battery longevity as it does going pretty much anywhere you do in a snap. Of course, you won’t be able to get very far without plugging in a few times throughout the day, as in idle we only were only able to max the battery at 2hrs and 43mins of uptime (and that was just in idle). At load the results got a whole lot harder to swallow, averaging only 1hr 39min before flattening out to 0%.
As a light, lean gaming laptop, the MSI GE62VR Apache Pro should be at the top of the list for anyone who is looking to hit the perfect balance between portability and decent gaming power that can run most AAA titles at high-to-ultra settings above 60FPS. There haven’t been a whole lot of changes to the external design of the laptop, so if you want a brand new chassis to show off to your friends you’re out of luck here, but that’s okay.
MSI has sacrificed the battery life and screen quality on this model in favor of a 5.4lb weight profile, which is plenty light enough to fit in your side bag or backpack without weighing you down. We’ll hold our full reservations for the future of the MSI GE62VR line until the 4K model is released, but until then the current iteration still ticks off more than enough boxes to make it a solid recommendation for nearly all mobile gamers in the marketplace.
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