Just when you think MSI has played every card in its hand, it pulls an ace from its sleeve. Just in time for the summer gaming season, the company unveils the 17.3-inch MSI GT72 Dominator. Available July 18, MSI's latest monster will have a starting price of $2,499 and be jam-packed with powerful goodies including a Intel Core i7 processor, Nvidia graphics and a 1080p display. MSI stopped by our offices and gave us a sneak peak at their latest behemoth.
The GT72 is a beast, a sexy beast. The company has heeded the words of consumers and reviewers alike and ditched the bulky plastic bumpers in favor of a nearly all-aluminum lid. The black brushed finished is lovely and reminiscent of the four star, MSI GS60 Ghost. The muscle lines running down the sides of the lid are a bit more defined on the GT72 creating a look that is both sleek and smooth. The backlit red dragon emblem, synonymous with the company's gaming series sits dead center in the lid. A blood red accent line runs along the rim of the lid, adding a nice pop of color.
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As nice-looking as the lid is, the interior is even better. Taking more than a few design cues from the Ghost, MSI has given this Dominator a whole new look. The first thing we noticed was the set buttons on the left side of the deck. The five buttons (Power, GPU, Fan, GameCaster and SteelSeries Engine) replace the touchscreen controls that were normally found at the top of the deck.
The touchpad and palm rest have gotten a new look, merging them into a single piece of faux glass that's fingerprint-resistant and easy to clean. Outlined in glowing LEDs, the touchpad is massive. Since the pad is a part of the palm rest, MSI has added a pair of large discrete mouse buttons for all your clicking needs.
The front lip of the notebook has a pair of deep red vents wrapping around the right and left respectively. Borrowing a page from the Alienware's playbook, an LED strip rests below the speakers for dramatic effect. But MSI didn't stop there, installing a large set of vents on the laptop's undercarriage. Like the vents on the side of the device, these larger versions are blood red. They're not just for show however, as they're designed to increase air intake for the new dual fan system.
Measuring 8.59 pounds, 16.85 x 11.57 x 1.88-inches, the Dominator is a thicker than the Digital Storm Krypton (8.6 ounds, 16.3 x 11.26 x 1.81 inches), but slimmer than the Alienware 17 (2014) (9.2 pounds, 17.9 x 12.9 x 2.26~2.23 inches).
Display and Audio
As much as some things change, others stay the same. In the case of the Dominator's 1080p display, that's most definitely a great thing. We're consistently compressed by the color reproduction, brightness and viewing angles on MSI panels. While we didn't have time to whip out the light meter and gamut test, colors looked nice and vibrant. We were surprised to discover that the panel can nearly fold back on itself like a giant version of the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga series.
Like other MSI gaming laptops, the Dominator is outfitted with a pair of Dynaudio speakers with a bottom-mounted subwoofer. We didn't have time to test them, but we're looking forward to doing so at a later date.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The laptop is outfitted with a SteelSeries keyboard similar to the GS60 and GS70 notebooks. However MSI has pumped up the wattage making the keyboard noticeably brighter than past entries. Similar to other rigs in this series, every key on the keyboard is customizable using the SteelSeries Engine software. The medium-sized keys are well spaced with firm, strong feedback.
Running our fingers across the massive psuedo-glass touchpad was a smooth seamless experience, with a fast accurate response. We quickly performed a few Windows 8 gestures like swiping in from the right to open up the Charms menu.
Specs, Ports and Features
As great as a gaming laptop can look on the outside, it's only as good as its specs. When it ships, the MSI GT72 Dominator will run Windows 8.1, a 2.5-GHz Intel Core i7-4710HQ processor with up 32GB of RAM, up to 4 128GB SSD in RAID 0 configuration with 1TB 7,200-rpm hard drive and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 880M GPU with 8GB of VRAM. There's a plethora of ports, including a whopping 6 USB 3.0 ports, a pair of gold-plated audio ports, a headphone jack, a microphone jack, a pair of mini DisplayPorts, HDMI and Gigabit Ethernet.
The laptop will also feature the Killer E2200 Game Networking Platform alongside the Killer N1525 Wireless AC and will be the first laptop to feature Killer DoubleShot Pro, which consolidates Ethernet and Wi-Fi for a faster connection. In addition, the platform has the ability to prioritize the network for specified programs allowing the wired networking to be assigned to handle multiplayer gaming will the wireless component will handle streaming duties.
The MSI GT72 Dominator successfully made a good impression on its first media tour. We were excited to see that MSI finally got rid of all that unsightly plastic in favor of a sleek aluminum chassis. It finally looks like a gaming notebook that we'd be proud to show off at a LAN party. The best part of the redesign is while it added a bit of flare, it's still looks like an MSI machine. While we can't make any judgments on the performance, we're chomping at the bit to get the Dominator in the office and put it through its paces for a full-on review.
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Sherri L. Smith has been cranking out product reviews for Laptopmag.com since 2011. In that time, she's reviewed more than her share of laptops, tablets, smartphones and everything in between. The resident gamer and audio junkie, Sherri was previously a managing editor for Black Web 2.0 and contributed to BET.Com and Popgadget.