If you’ve ever got your eye on bagging yourself a snazzy gaming notebook, there’s a generally accepted rule that you simply can’t go wrong with any of MSI’s various desktop replacement offerings. Their notebooks almost always represent a fantastic balance of performance, unique features and relative value.
MSI’s GE72 6QF Apache Pro (THAT’S QUITE A NAME YOU’VE GOT THERE) once again shows that the company is deserving of their reputation. Let me tell you why.
Like all of MSI’s recent gaming notebooks, the GE72 looks the part without being garish. It’s immediately attractive but also mercifully understated, with clean curves supported by quality materials and rock-solid construction. The brushed aluminium chassis is as smoothly attractive as always, and it’s not quite as bulky as some of the other 17-inch notebooks out there either.
Pop the hood and turn it on, and you’re greeted by the now-familiar sight of the SteelSeries chiclet keyboard, complete with backlighting that boasts a few adjustable effects. The keyboard provides a comfortable experience both when typing and gaming, although I can’t shake the feeling it’s somehow a bit more compacted than on some of MSI’s other notebook models. I may be imagining this though. Perhaps it’s time to stop replacing milk with tequila in my morning cereal. The trackpad, meanwhile, is also quite pleasant to use. The pad itself and the accompanying buttons are a nice size and are textured differently enough that they stand out from the rest of the materials.
As usual, the display is fantastic. Excellent colour production and loads of brightness are complemented by an impressively wide viewing angle. Of course, MSI’s Matrix Display tech also lets you connect two external displays to the GE72 using the HDMI 1.4 and DisplayPort 1.2a ports. It supports monitors with resolutions of up to 3840×2160, but I wouldn’t bank on doing much gaming at 4K resolution with the GE72, because its hardware simply isn’t beefy enough to handle it. For everything other than gaming, however, the 4K-capable Matrix Display feature is great.
Dynaudio is once again responsible for powering the built-in audio solution, and it’s definitely one of the best built-in audio packages you’ll find on any notebook. The Nahimic virtual surround sound software definitely has a noticeable effect on speakers and headphones when it’s enabled and disabled, and it provides a number of ways to tweak the audio balance to your liking. The Nahimic suite also includes an option for high-fidelity audio recording, although my plebeian ears can’t discern any noticeable difference between recording voice with or without it. That said, I’m sure it’ll be of some use if you’re interested in recording your exploits for YouTube or doing livestreams, and to this end MSI actually bundles a year-long membership to Xsplit Gamecaster to help make your recordings and streams as professional as possible. Overall the GE72’s audio package, which also includes headphone-boosting amps and other flashy features, is easily one of the most impressive offerings on the market.
In terms of general performance, it’s tough to find fault with the GE72. It bags itself a very comfortable 6,260 points in 3DMark’s Fire Strike benchmark, which is a good score for a gaming notebook. There’s enough punch in the CPU, GPU and RAM to run most games today at high settings and still maintain a solid 30-60 frames per second, and if you spend some time tweaking options you’ll be able to get pretty close to maximising every possible video setting without butchering the frame rate. The super-fast 256GB SSD is a particularly welcome addition, ensuring that the system feels pleasantly agile during load times and general use.
Other than that, there’s a barrage of built-in value-adds like Killer E2400 networking, one USB 3.1 Type-C port, Bluetooth 4.0 support and a Blu-ray writer. Depending on the configuration you choose, the GE72’s price can be neatly justified considering the range of features and the solid performance it offers. Simply put, it’s an excellent gaming notebook.