A GTX 1080 Beast
The MSI GT73VR Titan Pro is a beast. This powerful gaming machine can technically be classified as a laptop – it has a 17.3-inch display attached via a hinge – but it’s so large it’ll stay desk-bound for most of its working life. Its price tag matches its size, too: the GT73VR starts at $2,100, though top-end configurations will easily set you back more than $3,000.
What you get for the size and price is simple: MSI’s most powerful 17-inch gaming laptop. From a hardware perspective, there are no compromises here. This monster PC is kitted out with a top-end Intel Skylake processor and the fastest Nvidia graphics on the market. The display, storage, and RAM can all be configured with flagship components as well.
Like with many MSI gaming laptops, there is a collection of GT73VR models available to purchase. The one I received to review came with a Core i7-6820HK processor, GeForce GTX 1080 graphics with 8GB of GDDR5X memory, a 512GB solid state drive to complement a 1TB hard drive, 32 GB of DDR4 RAM, and a 1080p 120Hz G-Sync display. All up, this variant will set you back $3,099.
This sounds ludicrously powerful, but there are even more brutal options available. Some variants pack 4K displays, at least 1TB of SSD space, 64 GB of RAM, and even two GTX 1070s in SLI. If you have a lot of money to spend, MSI will provide an appropriately-configured GT73VR.
But let’s discuss the elephant in the room first: the size of the GT73VR.
This enormous laptop clocks in at 45mm thick and 3.9kg heavy (8.6 lbs), a good 10mm thicker and 1kg heavier than a typical 17-inch gaming system. The sheer size and especially the weight of this machine prevents it from being truly portable. Sure, it is possible to use it in different rooms of your house, or take it to LAN parties, but you’ll need a dedicated carrying bag to transport it. The GT73VR is not a portable workstation you'll want to carry around with you often, and that’s not what it was designed for.
The heft of this system is compounded by its enormous power brick. At 1.2kg it weighs more than an entire lightweight laptop, and this extra weight needs to be factored in when transporting the machine. Granted, a combined weight of 5.1kg is less than many compact gaming desktops, but it’s still much heavier than other more portable gaming laptops out there.
On the other hand, the GT73VR is averagely sized for a gaming laptop with a GTX 1080 inside. If you want something smaller, Aorus does offer a slimmer 17-inch system that weighs only 3.2kg, but outside of this you’ll have to downgrade to either a GTX 1070 or GTX 1060 for a truly portable laptop. The GT73VR’s main competitor, the Asus ROG G701VI, is a bit slimmer though just as heavy.
MSI has made the GT73VR this size so it can accommodate a massive cooling solution. There are four huge vents located around the sides of the laptop, through which you can see sizable heatsinks and even thick heatpipes in some areas. MSI has opted for a dual-fan solution, one for each side of the laptop, that intakes through an enormous vent on the base and exhausts through the sides.
Almost the entire base of the GT73VR is a series of massive vents. The laptop sits on large rubber pads that raise the base by almost a full centimeter in some areas, allowing a ton of air to flow into these intake vents.
The GT73VR has a distinct angular design with a number of ‘gamer’ elements, including aggressive red highlights around the stylized vents, and a weirdly-shaped power button. The edges of this laptop taper quite significantly, particularly at the front, which gives some areas (particularly around the side vents) an ugly, bloated appearance. Understandably it’s hard to create a decent design when the laptop is so thick, but this machine won’t be winning any style awards.
Most of this laptop has been constructed using black plastic, however there are two areas that use brushed metal: around the keyboard, and the lid. The metal areas attract fingerprints, which can be annoying if you’d prefer a clean look, although the metal looks a lot better than the cheap yet tough plastic used elsewhere.
The bezels on the GT73VR are not small, but it’s good to see MSI has resisted the urge to make them enormous like we saw with the Alienware 15. The 17.3-inch display fits comfortably in the area allocated to it, and it’s unlikely MSI could have fit anything significantly larger in this space.
The hinge assembly is tough and smooth to operate, providing a good range of angles for usage. There’s a bit of screen wobble when tapping the display, though it’s not a touchscreen so it shouldn’t wobble during normal usage.
This laptop comes with a great selection of ports in a layout that makes sense for desktop usage. The massive proprietary power connector is found on the rear edge, along with HDMI 2.0, Mini-DisplayPort, Gigabit Ethernet, and a USB Type-C port with Thunderbolt 3 capabilities.
The left edge features three USB-A 3.0 ports and four 3.5mm audio jacks, while the right edge has a further two USB-A 3.0 ports and an SD card slot.
I love the sheer number of USB-A ports found on this laptop; you’ll have spare ports even when you connect important accessories. Having four 3.5mm audio jacks also allows this system to support analog 6-channel audio output. Ideally, I’d like to see an additional USB-C port that’s user accessible on either the left or right side, but I’m glad there is still Thunderbolt 3 found on the rear.
The audio system included with the GT73VR is one of the better ones I’ve found on a gaming laptop, mostly thanks to the 5W woofer that provides depth at the low end. Unfortunately, the 3W stereo speakers let the audio experience down with mediocre mid-range performance, and the fact they fire into your desk limits their quality. On a laptop this large, surely there was enough room for top-firing speakers.