Behold, a powerhouse! MSI's latest Titan, the GT75 (starting at $2,199, reviewed at $4,199) is here to prove that bigger is definitely better. Housed beneath its massive frame sits a Core i9 processor and one of Nvidia's new RTX GPUs. That means there's very little that this laptop can't handle.
But before you get swept up by all that power, let's not forget that beautiful 4K display and sublime audio system. The Titan is the ultimate multimedia machine, which is why we gave it a spot on our best VR-ready laptops and best RTX 2080 gaming laptops pages.
An imposing frame hewn from glossy black aluminum? It's just gotta be a Titan. The laptop's massive 10-pound, 16.9 x 12.4 x 1.2~2.3-inch chassis just commands your attention and asserts its dominance with steely assurance.
The GT75 is bigger than most competing desktop replacements including the Aorus X9 (8.1 pounds, 16.9 x 12.4 x 1.2 inches), Alienware Area-51m (8.5 pounds, 16.1 x 15.9 x 1.2~1.7 inches) and the Origin Eon 17-X (8.6 pounds, 16.4 x 11.6 x 1.6 inches).
Aside from its glowing customizable keyboard, the Titan is not a flashy laptop by any means. It does just enough to draw the eye. The pair of shiny metallic bright-red accents on either side of the lid conjure up imagery of blood-slaked swords brandished against ajet-black sky. And the backlit red-and white dragon emblem in the center leaves no doubt about who made this unapologetic beast.
The rear vents are lined with almost pearlescent ruby-red fins. In the center, you'll find the word Titan written in white flanked by two red screws with a red border beneath, like an emphatic underline.
The Titan's interior reveals an inky-black keyboard deck that's smooth to the touch. The palm rest is elevated ever so slightly to make typing on that clicky-clacky keyboard all the more enjoyable. To the right of the num pad, you'll find buttons for power, MSI's Dragon Center, fan speed, Windows Media Center and the SteelSeries Engine software.
Theoretically, you can take the Titan's show on the proverbial road. I actually managed to stick it in a backpack and lug it home on the subway without any lingering damage to my back. But the laptop is powered by not one, but two beefy power bricks connected by a single adapter. The more feasible option is moving it from room to room, but if you're taking the notebook to LAN parties, lift with your knees.
Pricing and Configurations
Be right back, looking into a loan to afford this thing. I had a ridiculous amount of fun reviewing the $4,199 model of the GT75 Titan. It's armed with an overclockable 2.9-GHz Intel Core i9-8950HK processor, 32GB of RAM, a 512GB NVMe PCIe SSD with a 1TB 7,200-rpm hard drive, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 GPU with 8GB of VRAM and a 4K Nvidia G-Sync 60-Hz display.
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The $2,199 base model has a 2.2-GHz Intel Core i7-8750H CPU, 16GB of RAM, a 256GB NVMe PCIe SSD, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 GPU with 8GB of VRAM and a 1080p Nvidia G-Sync 144-Hz display. For $3,399 you can get a Core i9 CPU and an Nvidia 2080 GPU.
While I wish there were a few more Thunderbolt 3 ports or at least one USB Type-C port on the GT75, you'll be hard-pressed to use all the ports found along the Titan's frame. On the right sits two USB 3.1 ports, a 3-in-1 card reader and a secure lock slot.
Along the left is a trio of USB 3.1 ports and jacks for headphones, a mic and S/PDIF for listening to high-fidelity tracks. In the back, you get a Thunderbolt 3 port, mini DisplayPort, HDMI 2.0 and Gigabit Ethernet.
MSI has some of the best displays in the business. Whether I was gaming, watching movies or even typing up this review, the Titan's 17.3-inch, 4K screen produced sharp detail and jaw-dropping color on a seriously bright panel. Watching the Little trailer was one of my favorite experiences. Details were so clear that I could see the individual curls of Issa Rae's dark brown hair as well as the deliberate blue and green paint strokes in her dandelion yellow UFO sweatshirt. The actress' flawless chocolate complexion was further accentuated by her pumpkin-colored earrings and cerulean walls in the background.
You never really think about mud, but I had quite a bit of time to think about it as I crawled into the enemy territory in Battlefield V. The burnt red clay glistened as the gentle stream I crawled through meandered along, stirring up tiny pieces of gray sediment, taking it along for the ride. And when I looked in just the right places I could see tiny veins of gold. The overcast sky played up the bold, yet lowly earthen colors as I plodded toward my final destination.
A screen this pretty shouldn't be marred by ugly screen tearing. To prevent jaggies and the like, the display has Nvidia's G-Sync technology, which synchronizes the display with the GPU for smoother images. The panel has a 60-Hertz refresh rate which isn't nearly as fast as the 1080p screen configuration with its 144Hz refresh and 3 millisecond response time, but it'll get the job done in a grand fashion.
When we measured for color reproduction, the Titan delivered a marvelous 178 percent of the sRGB gamut. That's higher than the 138-percent average for premium gaming laptops as well as the results from the X9 (122 percent) and Eon 17-X (104 percent).
The competition couldn't hold a candle to the Titan's brightness. Averaging 271 nits, the notebook's panel easily outshone the Eon 17-X and X9, which scored 252 and 243 nits respectively. Still, the Titan was a few short of the 278-nit average for laptops in this class.
MSI preinstalled its True Color software, which offers six presets (Gamer, Anti-Blue, Movie, Adobe RGB, sRGB and Office) so you can always have the best viewing experience possible. I didn't find the need to venture out beyond Adobe RGB, but it's definitely up to your preference. The True Color app also allows you to perform your own color calibration and to create desktop partitions.
MSI, Dynaudio and Nahimic continue to be a match made in aural heaven. Positioned along the front lip of the laptop, the four speakers with their bottom-mounted subwoofer sent wave after wave of audio that is loud, clean and rich. Are they going to replace external speakers? No, but for laptop speakers, they're exceptional.
Playing Kevin Ross' take on Outkast's "Prototype," I was treated to a full-bodied harmonies, headed up by an angelic tenor. The mids and highs were nice and bright, which is really important on a track like this: it's almost entirely acapella save for the snare drum accompaniment. The richness continued when I switched to J. Cole's "Middle Child," and my bedroom was awash in trumpets and tight wordplay. Unlike most laptop subwoofers, this one added some knock to the lows.
The explosions were so loud during my Battlefield V playthrough, it scared my dog out of a sound sleep. The booms and the accompanying sound of gravel and shrapnel punctuated my journey toward an enemy airbase. The voices of my compatriots were so clear and so present, at times I felt like I was really in the game.
I continue to be impressed by Nahimic -- particularly its surround-sound technology. Switching from the Music preset to Movie or Gaming took the audio from a warm, but somewhat one-dimensional performance to an immersive 360-degree quality. You can even adjust the vocals to make them sound closer or farther depending on your preference. At max volume, you can lose some of the accuracy despite Dynaudio's Smart Amp working to maintain levels, but it's still a great feature.
Nahimic's Sound Tracking tech continues to be some of the best I've used. It definitely came in handy during Battlefield V, preventing enemy soldiers from sneaking up on me. And for streamers, the Static Noise Suppression feature will be a favorite, especially if you're recording in a noisier environment.
Keyboard and Touchpad
Why can't all laptop keyboards be like this? This iteration of the Titan is the latest to feature a mechanical keyboard. However, unlike previous Titans, the keys are positioned toward the top of the keyboard deck instead of the front lip.
The other big change? Instead of the bulky, domed keycaps you'd find on most mechanical keyboards, the Titan has flat Chiclet-style caps like the ones on a typical laptop keyboard.
Measuring an unbelievable 2.5 millimeters of key travel with 80 grams of actuation force (1.5mm and 60g are our minimum), the keys feel better than any laptop keyboard laden with scissor-membrane switches. In practice, the keys are punchy and quick. And unlike your average laptop keyboard, there was no chance of bottoming out. Those uber-springy switches helped me improve my typing score on 10fastfingers from 70 words per minute to 80.
The 4.2 x 2.3 inch touchpad is really fast and accurate. Summoning Cortana, scrolling between open apps and zooming in or out on an image was near instantaneous. The pair of discrete mouse buttons are almost as springy as the keyboard.
SteelSeries' Engine 3 software is the secret sauce behind the Titan's alluring light show. You can program every individually lit key to glow in one of the 16.8 million hues available. If you don't feel like meticulously creating your own RGB creation, the SteelSeries button along the side of the num pad lets you cycle between eight dazzling pre-configured profiles.
If you want the lighting to have a bit more functionality, there's the GameSense feature which syncs up the lighting for certain games to blink or flash when something important happens. For instance in CS: Go, you can map certain keys to react to getting kills and scoring a headshot in addition to keeping tabs on your health and ammo. SteelSeries Engine 3 also grants gamers the ability to map several macros to one key. And once you've completed your masterpieces, the app saves all your settings to the cloud with the CloudSync feature for use wherever you go.
Say Hello to Nvidia RTX
After a year of waiting, Nvidia's new RTX chips have finally made the jump to mobile systems. According to Nvidia, the new chips, dubbed Turing, are its fastest ever, boasting structural efficiencies and advanced shaders among other things. Some of the immediate benefits are more powerful performances when gaming, such as faster, smoother gameplay. The company's Optimus and Battery Boost technology has gotten a bump, making for more power efficient systems. There's even a WhisperMode to ensure even big boys like the Titan don't sound like jet turbines.
But the most RTX's most important (and exciting) features are Ray Tracing and DLSS (Deep Learning Super-Sampling). Ray Tracing essentially follows the light from a game's virtual camera to the original in-game lighting source. Along the way, the technology mimics how a real light would interact with in-game objects, making for a more photorealistic look. The best example of this would be in-game reflections. In many popular games, reflections either look weird or don't show up at all (which I call the Nosferatu effect).
With Ray Tracing you'll get normal looking reflections, which seems small in the grand scheme of things, but is a serious step forward when it comes to rendering graphics. But Ray Tracing is more than reflections, it's the ability to recreate how light behaves in the real world means more realistic animations, which means better looking games. Currently, there are 11 games on tap that will work with Nvidia's Ray Tracing tech including Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Metro: Exodus, Control and Battlefield V to name a few. And as the year progresses, the catalog with definitely grow.
Ray Tracing requires a lot of heavy lifting and wouldn't be possible without DLSS technology. DLSS is Nvidia's proprietary artificial intelligence, which the company is calling the first AI for games. DLSS is trained to play a game at super high resolutions, capturing a large number of scenes. When it's time for the consumers to play the finished product, DLSS takes what it learned from those hours of training sessions and renders those super high-res scenes at a much lower rate, constructing high-quality graphics from elements of many different scenes. The shortcut translates into improvements on the graphics and performance front.
Gaming, Graphics and VR
The new king of mobile GPUs is here and its name is GeForce RTX 2080 GPU. Paired with its 8GB of video memory, the card is a certified beast. During my assault of an enemy base in Battlefield V, I sent three soldiers scrambling for cover by throwing a grenade. When it blew, it sent up a fine cloud of dust, giving me some time to sprint to my next position at 72 frames per minute on 4K on Ultra settings. The frame rate jumped to 91 fps when I switched to 1920 x 1080.
The Titan also had a strong showing during our synthetic benchmarks achieving 76 fps on Rise of the Tomb Raider, beating the 63 fps premium gaming laptop average. The GTX 1080-equipped Aorus X9 and Origin PC notched 73 and 69 fps, respectively. But the Alienware Area-51m with its own RTX 2080 reached 92 fps.
When we ran the Hitman benchmark, the Titan got a whopping 140 fps, surpassing the 96 fps obtained by the Eon 17-X and X9, matching the category average. However, the Area-51m pulled out the win with 143 fps.
During the Grand Theft Auto V test, the Titan delivered a strong 90 fps, handily defeating the 75-fps category average as well as the 85 fps and 55 fps put up by the X9 and Eon 17-X. Still, it wasn't enough to take down the Area-51m, which hit 105 fps.
On the Middle-Earth: Shadow of War benchmark, the Titan reached 112 fps, owning the 86-fps average and the 99 fps from the X9. The Area-51m was still better at 132 fps.
The Titan is ready, willing and able to take you to a virtual reality wonderland. The laptop passed the SteamVR performance test with flying colors, hitting the maximum score of 11.
In those instances that you actually have to do some work, know that the Titan's 2.9-GHz Intel Core i9-8950HK processor with 32GB of RAM is primed for action. I opened 32 tabs in Google Chrome, some streaming Twitch, others running Tweetdeck and some streaming YouTube, while I watched Voltron: Legendary Defender on Netflix. I couldn't detect any lag as I went from tab to tab. In fact, I only started to see some latency when I launched Battlefield V in a separate window. And while the processor is pretty powerful already, you can overclock it, in case you need even more power.
The Titan faced off against competing system little worse for wear. It notched 22,765 on Geekbench 4, which measures overall performance. It sailed past the Eon 17-X's (21,273) desktop-grade Core i7 CPU as well as the 21,118 premium gaming laptop average. However, the X9 with its own i9-8950HK chip delivered 25,915 while the Area-51m with its i9-9900K CPU hit 29,989.
When we ran the Excel Spreadsheet test, the Titan matched up 65,000 names and addresses in 36 seconds, beating the 0:40 category average. The X9 was just a few seconds faster at 0:31.
Despite its bulky size, the Titan is fleet-footed in certain areas. The notebook's 512GB NVMe PCIe SSD duplicated 4.97GB of multimedia files in 6 seconds. That's a transfer rate of 848.2 megabytes per second. It torched the 558.2 MBps average, also beating the Eon 17-X (512GB NVMe PCIe SSD) and X9 (1TB m.2 PCIe SSD) which hit 566 and 424 MBps, respectively. But it was no match for the Area-51m's dual 1TB PCIe M.2 SSDs in RAID 0 configuration which achieved a smoking 1,272.3 MBps.
During the Handbreak test, the Titan took 8 minutes to transcode a 4K video to 1080p, outpacing the X9 (8:15) and the average (9:44). But it was nowhere near the 6:00 the Area-51m clocked.
Stacked with so much power, I'm not surprised to see the Titan took a hit in endurance. The laptop only lasted 2 hours and 20 minutes on the Laptop Mag Battery Test (continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness).
That result matched the X9, but it's shorter than the 3:15 premium gaming laptop average and the Area-51m's 2:36. Still, it outperformed than the Eon 17-X's time of 1:52.
Thanks to MSI's Cooler Boost technology, this is one cool, albeit kinda loud Titan. Sporting a pair of dual fans with 11 strategically placed heat pipes, the laptop is able to dissipate most of the heat before it gets to searing levels.
I waged war in Battlefield V for 15 mintues. After which, I measured the touchpad and got a temperature of 86 degrees Fahrenheit. The center of the keyboard hit 94 degrees while the undercarriage blew out a warm 103 degrees. The last measurement is above our 95-degree comfort threshold, but since you're rarely going to have the system in your lap, it's not a big concern.
After letting the system sufficiently cool down, we reran the test -- this time running a fullscreen HD video for 15 minutes. The touchpad, middle and bottom of the laptop measured 88, 94 and 95 degrees.
MSI is one of the few companies that puts a 1080p webcam in its gaming systems. Like most integrated cams, the quality is mixed at best, but can still work in a pinch.
Test shots I took in my bedroom produced accurate color, particularly with my striped denim shirt and my midnight blue walls. And even though the pictures were grainy, I could still see individual locs in my braid as well as some of the delicate stitching in my shirt pocket.
Software and Warranty
MSI has preinstalled a host of helpful gaming utilities on the Titan, most of which can be found in Dragon Center. From this hub, you can review and adjust system diagnostics including CPU, GPU and fan speed. You can also adjust VoIP audio and game audio with the VoiceBoost feature and switch between several different optimized system presets with the System Tuner. Dragon Center also has Gaming Mode which automatically optimizes the laptop complete with GameSense lighting for games like Dota 2, Overwatch, PlayerUnknown Battlegrounds and Starcraft II.
Other utilities housed in Dragon Center include Burn Recovery and Battery Calibration.
MSI also added some gamercentric third-party apps to further improve the gaming experience. There's Killer Control Center, which prioritizes network bandwidth to data-intensive software. The laptop also comes with Nvidia GeForce Experience, which has its own set of helpful functions, including Battery Calibration, Game Optimization, Whisper Mode and In-Game Overlay.
Thanks to Windows 10, the system also comes bearing a fair amount of bloatware. I seriously doubt someone investing in this system would install the likes of Candy Crush Saga, Candy Crush Friends Saga and Cooking Fever. Evernote and MusicMaker Jam maybe, but not the rest of it.
I just love a kitchen-sink gaming laptop. MSI threw just about everything under the sun into the GT75 Titan, and it works beautifully. From its stately, imposing figure, to its show-stopping display, crowd-pleasing audio and powerful Core i9 processor and Nvidia RTX 2080, this Titan is just a smorgasbord of awesome. However, the $4,199 price will put this powerhouse out of the reach of many gamers.
If you're looking for something a tad more affordable (and I do mean a tad), check out the Aorus X9. For $3,899, you get a system that's extremely lightweight for a desktop replacement and powerful in its own right. But if you're looking for a unmitigated multimedia beast, the MSI GT75 Titan should sit at the top of your list.
Credit: Laptop Mag