The best gaming laptops are getting better. The introduction of the Pascal GPU architecture from Nvidia has raised the bar for all gaming laptop manufacturers to hit, and the MSI GT73VR is a machine that’s poised to break every performance record we have on the book.
But raw performance alone does not a complete package make. Does the GT73VR have what it takes to make up for its battery life problems on pure speed results only? Read on in my MSI GT73VR Apache Pro gaming laptop review to find out.
Price: $3,599 on Amazon
Available: August 2016
Model #: GT73VR-6RF or GT73VR Titan Pro-201
Summary: The MSI GT73VR has handily taken the title of the most powerful gaming laptop we’ve tested to date, but all that performance still comes at a high, battery-draining price.
What We Liked
- Record-breaking performance across the board
- Gold-standard display quality
- Comfortable keyboard and trackpad
What We Didn’t
- Lacking battery life
- Could be heavy for portability-concerned buyers
MSI GT73VR 6RF Titan Pro Specs
|Processor||Intel 6th-Gen Skylake 2.7GHz Intel Core i7-6820HK|
|Storage Space||1TB SSD/1TB HDD|
|Graphics Card||Nvidia GTX 1080 8GB GDDR5|
|Display Resolution||1920 x 1080|
|Battery Life||1hr 35min full-load/2hrs 28min idle|
Although I wish there were more that I could say about the MSI GT73VR’s design that hasn’t already been regurgitated twice over in our MSI GE62VR and MSI GS60 reviews, MSI is a company that finds a good thing and sticks to it all the way through.
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The GT73VR looks nearly identical to its predecessors in every way, save for some subtle (and not so subtle) changes to its weight and overall dimensions. Because it’s packing in a refreshed Nvidia GTX 1080 GPU (no “M” badge to be found here), the GT73VR needed to schlep on a few extra pounds to accommodate at 9.1lbs total, with more heft from top to bottom at 16.85 x 12.36 x 1.76 inches deep.
Perhaps the most distinctive change for the laptop is what we found on the bottom of the unit, or perhaps more to the point, what we didn’t find. Instead of a general plastic shell with various venting ports placed around the critical components (CPU, GPU, etc), nearly the entire bottom of the laptop is taken up by one giant grate that vents heat from every orifice imaginable. This helps the massive GTX 1080 graphics card stay cool under pressure, but could also prove problematic for users who aren’t as careful around their technology as other people. All it would take is one water spill on your desk or putting the laptop down on a particularly dusty surface to put all the internal components at risk of frying.
As is the case with every MSI laptop we’ve reviewed, the GT73VR comes stock with its own collection of some annoying, and other not-so-annoying software when you boot it up for the first time. On the annoying side we have apps like MSI TrueColor which only makes shifting the windows around on your desktop more difficult, while other helpful additions like the Dragon Center help to offset some of the rage you might be feeling at the first app.
The Dragon Center has received some major improvements to its UI and overall functionality in the past few months, most notably in its “Tuning” section which lets you send the laptop into overdrive if you plan on running any graphically intense games. This process was simple and intuitive, two things that aren’t normally associated with overclocking. On the whole then, while the MSI GT73VR might be better off leaving some options like TrueColor behind, there are still plenty of other included apps which make the experience a little more bearable in the long run.
Swing it any way you want, there’s no denying that the $3,600 MSI GT73VR 6RF Titan Pro we tested is an absolute monster of a machine, and with specs like these it’s hard to even call it a proper laptop without inching into “portable gaming desktop” territory instead. The model we received from the company is at the absolute tip top of the line, with a 6th-gen Intel Core i7-6820HK processor, an 8GB GDDR5 GTX 1080, 64GB of DDR4 RAM, a 1TB PCI-E SSD/1TB HDD combo, and a 17.3″ 1920 x 1080 120Hz G-Sync display.
Connectivity options MSI GT73VR 6RF Titan Pro were just about standard for what you’d hope to see on a gaming laptop these days, including five USB 3.0 slots, one HiFi audio headphone out/mic in combo one line-in/out 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 GT73VR’s design, the laptop’s keyboard and trackpad are essentially identical to what we first encountered on the GS60 Ghost Pro. The membrane SteelSeries keyboard was comfortable to type on, responsive to game on, and was spiced up ever so slightly by the inclusion of RGB LED backlighting that can be customized to your liking. The trackpad was equally as comfortable and responsive, and its grittier polished plastic gave it a bit more grip than most.
After we tuned the onboard 3W speakers using the Nahimic soundboard app, they were “acceptable” for movies, but probably wouldn’t be your first choice for longer gaming or music listening sessions due to their lacking bass response.
As was to be expected, with a GTX 1080, from a graphics standpoint alone the GT73VR absolutely smoked all the previous results we have listed in these tables, though we were surprised to see it take a hit or two when it came to base HDD speeds.
|Fire Strike (3DMark)||SkyDiver (3DMark)||Cloud Gate (3DMark)||TimeSpy (3DMark)||Geekbench 3 (Single-Core)||Geekbench 3 (Multi-Core)|
|MSI GT73VR 6RF Titan Pro||15210||29867||N/A||6215||4308||16513|
|MSI GE62VR Pro Apache||9470||20702||N/A||3547||3664||12994|
|ASUS ROG GL752VS||13961||30069||N/A||5272||3364||13472|
|ASUS Zenbook Pro UX501VW||4027||12630||15962||309||3228||12688|
|MSI GS60 Ghost Pro 4K||6616||17844||18466||N/A||3693||13339|
|ASUS ROG Strix GL502VT||6564||18473||20246||N/A||3234||11423|
|Acer Predator 17||8174||N/A||N/A||N/A||3324||13139|
In every test we ran, whether it was 3DMark 11, FPS runs on The Witcher III, or our CPU tests in Geekbench 3, the GT73VR absolutely excelled in all situations and crushed the rest of the competition by a significant margin.
|The Witcher III |
|Tomb Raider |
|MSI GT73VR 6RF Titan Pro||3219MBs|
|135FPS (Extreme)||75 FPS||N/A||118 FPS||88 FPS|
|MSI GE62VR Pro Apache||557.2MBs|
|110 FPS (Extreme)||41 FPS||N/A||93 FPS||63 FPS|
|ASUS ROG GL752VS||745.6MBs|
|156 FPS (Extreme)||68 FPS||N/A||108 FPS||69 FPS|
|ASUS Zenbook Pro UX501VW||2205.3MBs|
|N/A||41 FPS||5 FPS||14 FPS||63 FPS||N/A|
|MSI GS60 Ghost Pro 4K||553.9MBs|
|73 FPS||11 FPS||25 FPS||89 FPS||N/A|
|ASUS ROG Strix GL502VT||538.3MBs|
|107 FPS||26 FPS||66 FPS||92 FPS||N/A|
|181 FPS||59 FPS||114 FPS||N/A||N/A|
|165 FPS||47 FPS||69 FPS||N/A||N/A|
|Acer Predator 17||2146MBs|
|170 FPS||55 FPS||60 FPS||N/A||N/A|
The MSI GT73VR is equipped at the highest end of the gaming laptop spectrum with a 1920 x 1080 17.3″ FHD 120Hz G-Sync ready display, with the option to up that to a 3840 x 2160 option if you so choose.
From the outset it was obvious that MSI had taken special care to make sure their display beat out the rest of the options we have in the upscale gaming laptop right now (looking at you, ASUS GL752VS), and they’ve done their job splendidly.
In our Spyder5Pro tests, the display clocked a perfect sRGB score of 100%, with a follow up record-breaking score of 88% of Adobe RGB. During both movies and games colors were vivid and popped right off the screen, while the latter half of the equation looked even better thanks to the rapid-fire 120Hz refresh rate.
Unfortunately, with all that power under the hood there was one area we were concerned the MSI GT73VR may not measure up, and that was in battery life.
While it’s not a totally terrible result as far as gaming laptops go, the 1hr 35min score we reached at load and 2hr 28min idle times could have definitely been better for gamers who are on the road often and need something that can last the long haul between plug-ins.
The MSI GT73VR takes the winning formula that the company has spent its past generations of laptops building up, and cranks every possible dial to 11 to create the single most powerful gaming laptop we’ve tested at Gadget Review to date.
If you want a lean gaming laptop that’s made for ultimate portability with a long-lasting battery, you’re probably better off going with something like the MSI GE62VR. If you want a beautiful, hyper-performance beast of a mobile machine, though, the GT73VR is the laptop that’s made for the power-hungry gamers in all of us.
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