Slim and elegant chassis; Extremely portable; Blazing SSD; Solid battery life; Vibrant 1080p display
Runs hot while gaming; Display colors not as accurate as competition
The MSI GS70 Stealth Pro is a svelte 17-inch gaming laptop that pairs a fast Core i7 processor with a powerful Nvidia 800 GPU.
The secret to any successful update is to keep the things you love while improving the things you don't. MSI has accomplished that with the new MSI GS70 Stealth Pro. The $2,099 (starting at $1,999) laptop gets a welcome boost of power with an updated Core i7 processor and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 870M GPU. It also adds some impressive software, including XSplit Gamecaster to capture the play-by-play action. You get all this in a 6-pound, 0.85-inch frame that continues to turn heads. With a chassis this slim, there's bound to be some compromises, but overall, the Stealth Pro is a summer blockbuster gamers shouldn't miss.
The Stealth Pro inherited the sleek looks of the original GS70, including its remarkably thin chassis. The inky black aluminum lid is cool to the touch and resistant to most fingerprints. The backlit red-dragon coat of arms continues to be the defining accent on the notebook's lid, highlighted by the chrome MSI logo and the hard strip of plastic residing at the top.
The notebook's black aluminum interior, with its large chrome power button centered above the keyboard, continues to remind us of the Razer Blade. However, what sets this MSI apart is the placement of a large speaker grille along the top of the keyboard and a smaller one in the hinge.
A large rear panel on the laptop's bottom is covered with a gray pleather that ensures a good grip when you're carrying the notebook.
Similar to the original GS70, the 16.47 x 11.29 x 0.85-inch Stealth Pro weighs 6 pounds, making it slimmer and lighter than the 6.6-pound, 0.88-inch Razer Blade Pro. The Digital Storm Krypton (8.6 pounds, 1.81 inches thick); ASUS G750JX (8.8 pounds, 0.66~1.9 inches); and the Alienware 17 (9.2 pounds, 2.26-2.23-inches) look corpulent by comparison.
Lighting and Macros
In addition to setting colors and effects on different keyboard zones, you can create custom profiles for different applications. Just like on Razer's Synapse 2.0 software, gamers can assign actions to each key on the keyboard. Setting individual keystrokes and macros was as simple as selecting a key, entering the command and hitting Save. A Statistics feature shows how a particular user engages with the keyboard, highlighting the most frequently used keys.
We still love setting up our own personal light show. The SteelSeries utility offers seven effects, including Breathing, Wave and Gaming. Depending on the effect, these split the keyboard into up to three zones. After picking an effect, we clicked one of three zones to customize the color. SteelSeries lets you create four separate color layers in one profile, allowing GT60 owners to switch lighting setups on the fly.
The 1080p trailer for "Guardians of the Galaxy" also presented a cornucopia of color. The blues looked lovely, as evidenced by the periwinkle suits worn by Glenn Close and John C. Reilly. Gamora's emerald-green skin was striking and made the perfect contrast to the intricate red markings on Drax the Destroyer's skin.
The vibrancy extended to our play-through of "South Park: The Stick of Truth," serving up bright yellows, reds and greens. We were particularly impressed with the fart-destructible objects as they slowly undulated from deep emerald to neon orange.
The Stealth Pro averaged 281 nits on our light meter, which is brighter than the 264-nit desktop-replacement average. Both the Alienware 17 and the G750JZ delivered a lower 268 nits, while the Digital Storm registered a sparkling 304 nits of brightness.
On our colorimeter test, the Stealth Pro produced only 89 percent of the sRBG gamut. This edges out the Krypton's 88 percent but fell short of the category average (100 percent) as well as the G750JZ (101 percent) and the Alienware 17 (106 percent).
During our Delta-E test, we discovered the Stealth Pro doesn't have the best color accuracy; it registered 8.4 (a score of 0 is perfect). That's worse than the 4.67 average but better than the Krypton (10.7). The G750JZ and Alienware 17 were mere tenths of a point from perfection, hitting 0.9 and 0.6, respectively.
Michael Jackson's posthumous track "Love Never Felt So Good" blanketed our test space in rich guitar and piano. However, Jackson's vocals sounded flat, as did Justin Timberlake's contribution. The percussion section of the track sounded lighter than it should have, despite our attempts to tweak the audio via the SoundBlaster Cinema 2 software.
The flat audio persisted during our "South Park" play-through, relegating our epic rumbling farts to chuckle-inducing squeakers.
On the Laptop Mag Audio Test, which measures the volume of a notebook's speakers from 23 inches away, the GS70 hit a very loud 94 decibels, surpassing the 89-dB average. The Krypton and G750JZ registered 82 and 80 dB, respectively. The Alienware 17 continues to rule the audio roost with an earsplitting 99 dB.
Keyboard and Touchpad
Measuring 4.1 x 2.7 inches, the Elan touchpad is comfortably large, enabling us to seamlessly summon the Charms bar or perform pinch-to-zoom, two-finger rotation and three-finger flicks. The bottom corners of the touchpad provided bouncy feedback with an audible click.
Following our 15-minute play-through of "Child of Light," the touchpad and G and H keys measured 88 and 93 degrees, respectively. The notebook's undercarriage hit a hot 110 degrees, while the hinge measured 95 degrees.
With a name like the Stealth Pro, you'd expect a fairly quiet experience. However, whether we were watching video or playing "Child of Light," the laptop's fan was a noticeable distraction. The noise is really pronounced in a quiet setting such as our office.
On the laptop's left side, you'll find another two USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI port, dual mini DisplayPorts, a Gigabit Ethernet port and three jacks for S-PDIF, headphones and mic.
Gaming and Graphics
On the 3DMark Ice Storm Extreme benchmark, the Stealth Pro notched 100,109, sailing past the 86,596 desktop-replacement average. Outfitted with more powerful Nvidia GeForce GTX 880M GPUs, the Alienware 17, ASUS G750JZ and Digital Storm Krypton scored 95,245, 101,899 and 114,079, respectively.
When we ran the "BioShock Infinite" benchmark, the Stealth Pro notched a frame rate of 124 fps at 1920 x 1080 pixels on Low, which is several frames below the 127-fps average. The Krypton delivered 151 fps, while the Alienware 17 and G750JZ posted 144 and 141 fps, respectively.
The Stealth Pro's frame rate dropped to 53 fps on High, short of the 54-fps average. Both the G750JZ and Krypton hit 65 fps, while the Alienware 17 obtained 63 fps.
During the "Metro: Last Light" benchmarks, the Stealth Pro notched 70 fps, which is below the 84-fps average, as well as the Krypton (88 fps), the Alienware 17 (82 fps) and the G750JZ (81 fps).
At maximum settings, the Stealth Pro's frame rate dropped to 17 fps. That's below our 30-fps playability threshold, but almost nothing we've tested so far can hit the mark on this game. Our desktop-replacement average is 21 fps, while the Alienware 17 hit 20 fps and the Krypton and the G750JZ were in a dead heat, at 24 fps.
On the PCMark7 benchmark, the Stealth Pro hit 6,193, beating the 5,496 desktop-replacement average. The Alienware 17, with its 2.9-GHz Intel Core i7-4910MQ CPU, hit 5,838, while the ASUS G750JZ's 2.4-GHz Intel Core i7-4700HQ CPU scored 5,969. The Digital Storm Krypton's 2.8-GHz Intel Core i7-4810MQ CPU topped the competition, with a score of 6,437.
Perhaps MSI should have named the GS70 "Swift" instead of "Stealth." The laptop's pair of 128GB solid state drives (SSDs) in Super RAID 2 configuration, which is faster than a RAID 0 setup, booted Windows 8.1 in a speedy 9 seconds.
The Stealth Pro duplicated 4.97GB of multimedia in an absurdly fast 9 seconds, for a file-transfer rate of 565.5 MBps. That's more than twice as fast as the 201.1-MBps average. The Alienware 17 scored 463 MBps, while the G750JZ and Krypton were far behind, at 283 and 159 MBps, respectively.
During the OpenOffice Spreadsheet Macro Test, the Stealth Pro paired 20,000 names and addresses in 3 minutes and 53 seconds. That's enough to top the 4:40 category average as well as the G750JZ's time of 4:03. However, the Krypton and the Alienware 17 clocked in with faster times of 3:33 and 3:29, respectively.
Software and Warranty
Other utilities include the System Control Manager, which you can use to adjust screen brightness, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, volume and the webcam. MSI Dragon Gaming Center lets gamers monitor general system health and set utilities to launch at start.
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After initiating the software overlay (by pressing CTRL + Tab), simply hit the Stream button to begin capturing footage and the Webcam button to add video of yourself. Gamers also have the option to share or stream footage to Twitch and YouTube.
The MSI GS70 Stealth Pro is available in two flavors. Our $2,099 configuration features a 2.5-GHz Intel Core i7-4910HQ processor with 16GB of RAM, a dual 128GB SSD in Super RAID 2 configuration, an Intel HD Graphics 4600 GPU and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 870M GPU with 6GB of VRAM.
The $1,999 base model has a 2.5-GHz Intel Core i7-4910HQ processor, 16GB of RAM, a dual 128GB SSD in RAID 0 configuration, an Intel HD Graphics 4600 GPU and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 870M GPU with 6GB of VRAM.
However, some sacrifices were made in the name of portability. In the case of the Stealth Pro, it's not as powerful as its bulkier competitors equipped with Nvidia 880M GPUs. An Alienware 17 with a Core i7 CPU, Nvidia GTX 860M graphics, 16GB of RAM and a 1TB hard drive costs $2,199 and offers a brighter display, better sound and a cooler keyboard, but it's 1 inch thicker and a full 3 pounds heavier.
Overall, gamers seeking a 17-inch laptop that's powerful but doesn't break their back will find the MSI GS70 to be an excellent choice.
|CPU||2.5-GHz Intel Core i7-4710HQ|
|Operating System||Windows 8.1|
|RAM Upgradable to|
|Hard Drive Size||Dual 128GB|
|Hard Drive Speed||n/a|
|Hard Drive Type||Dual SSDs|
|Secondary Hard Drive Size||1TB|
|Secondary Hard Drive Speed||7,200|
|Secondary Hard Drive Type||SATA Hard Drive|
|Optical Drive Speed||n/a|
|Graphics Card||Nvidia GeForce GTX 870M|
|Video Memory||6 GB|
|Wi-Fi Model||Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7260|
|Touchpad Size||4.1 x 2.7 inches|
|Ports (excluding USB)||Headphone|
|Ports (excluding USB)||HDMI|
|Ports (excluding USB)||Gigabit Ethernet|
|Ports (excluding USB)||USB 3.0|
|Ports (excluding USB)||DisplayPort|
|Ports (excluding USB)||security lock slot|
|Ports (excluding USB)||S/PDIF|
|Ports (excluding USB)||Microphone|
|Card Slots||3-1 card reader|
|Warranty/Support||2 Years Limited Warranty (Includes 1 Year Global Warranty)|
|Size||16.47 x 11.29 x 0.85 inches|