A Beastly "Laptop"
Do you want the most powerful gaming laptop money can buy? Do you also have a spare $5,000 just lying around? Look no further than the MSI GT83VR 7RF Titan SLI, a monster gaming laptop with dual GeForce GTX 1080s inside. This is, quite simply, the most powerful gaming laptop we’ve tested at TechSpot.
The GPU configuration is obviously the most impressive part of the GT83VR, but you’ll also be getting a top-end Core i7-7920HQ processor, 64GB of DDR4 memory, and a dual SSD solution in RAID 0. In every facet of this laptop’s hardware you’ll be getting faster, more expensive components than a typical gaming machine.
To fit in such powerful hardware, the MSI GT83VR is massive. Not only does this machine include an 18.4-inch display, it’s also 5.5kg heavy (12.1 pounds) and up to 69mm thick at its thickest. This is without factoring in the two enormous 330-watt power bricks that are required to power it. Sure, there is technically a battery in the GT83VR, but if you want to use it for more than an hour, lugging around the power bricks is a must.
So the GT83VR isn’t a particularly portable laptop, but that isn’t a problem. This machine will be sitting on a desk for most of its life, only moving from place to place when absolutely necessary. The good news is that an equivalent desktop PC with this sort of hardware inside will be even larger and more cumbersome, so if you are planning on transporting some sort of gaming machine from time to time, it might make more sense to purchase a laptop like the GT83VR.
Enormous vents on the sides and rear of the GT83VR exhaust air that’s sucked in through the base, cooling both GPUs and the CPU with reasonable efficiency. The sheer volume of metal heatsinks and heatpipes contributes to the GT83VR’s heft, although these coolers are necessary for gaming without throttling.
A second key feature is the large, space-consuming mechanical keyboard. Featuring Cherry MX RGB Speed Silver keyswitches, the mechanical keyboard on the GT83VR is unlike any other laptop keyboard I’ve used. The clicky tactile feedback, excellent responsiveness, and class-leading travel distance of this keyboard are essentially equivalent to my desktop PC’s mechanical keyboard, providing an experience that’s just as good. You won’t get this from many other (if any) gaming laptops.
As each key is RGB-illuminated, the GT83VR’s keyboard is fully customizable through the included SteelSeries software utility. There are a range of cool preset effects to choose from, or you can customize the color of each individual key to your liking. Through different profiles, you could illuminate just the necessary keys for the game you’re playing, for example. And of course, RGB is all the rage these days, so it’s great to see its inclusion on this laptop as well.
The keyboard is raised more than a traditional desktop keyboard, and there’s no wrist wrest, so it’s not the most comfortable keyboard for long periods of typing. However, I didn’t have any issues using the keyboard for lengthy gaming sessions, and that’s the primary focus of this monster laptop.
Going in this review, I was concerned about the odd position of the trackpad – a byproduct of the mechanical keyboard’s inclusion. As it turns out, while its position is certainly unorthodox, it’s not horrible to use; in fact after a couple of days getting used to it, the trackpad is perfectly fine for navigating the operating system.
The secondary function of this trackpad, which allows it to be used as a touchscreen-like numpad, is not as impressive. Trying to perform calculations or do any sort of serious work on a touch interface is poor compared to the experience provided by the mechanical keyboard right next to it. And for gaming, you’ll still want to plug in an external mouse.
With so much space around the sides of the GT83VR, MSI has included an impressive selection of ports. You get five USB 3.0 Type-A ports (three on the left, two on the right) plus two 3.5mm audio jacks, a SPDIF optical audio port, a hi-fi audio port, and an SD card reader. On the rear is Ethernet, HDMI 2.0, mini-DisplayPort, and Thunderbolt 3. There’s even a Blu-ray drive included in this laptop for those that still use discs.
The speaker system included in the GT83VR consists of four 3W tweeters and a 3W woofer. There’s more depth to the audio provided by this laptop than many other gaming laptops, but it’s still not particularly amazing, mostly due to pronounced mid-tones. With such a great range of ports to hook up external speakers, this is what you should stick to.
The strangest aspect of the GT83VR is the display. It’s an 18.4-inch 1080p IPS LCD with a refresh rate of just 60 Hz. This is a laptop with two GTX 1080s in SLI inside, which is more than enough to comfortably play modern games at 1080p 60 FPS. The hardware in this laptop is more suited to a high-refresh 1080p display, something at or above 120 Hz; or alternatively something higher resolution.
MSI could have easily included a 4K panel in the GT83VR to show off the power of its dual-GPU configuration. G-Sync would have been a cherry on the top, but there’s no variable refresh here either.
I suppose the reasoning for this display choice is MSI figures many people will be plugging in a larger external monitor for gaming. When you’re spending so much money on a laptop, it’d be a waste to game on just an 18.4-inch display, however the portability factor would be directly impacted by such a choice. Granted, plugging in a 3440 x 1440 ultrawide monitor or something 4K would really make the dual GTX 1080s shine.
The display itself is reasonable quality, with good peak brightness (329 nits) and good, though not outstanding color accuracy in its sRGB mode. The contrast ratio here is a little low for my liking, at just 710:1, however viewing angles are very solid. You probably wouldn’t want to do creative work on the GT83VR’s display, but it looks and works nice for gaming.