Who Is It For?
For gaming laptop buyers on a budget, the MSI GE62 7RD Apache offers a decent range of hardware that, unlike many of today’s cheap notebooks and ultraportables, is actually capable of playing today’s games. Sure, you mightn’t be able to crank up the quality settings on the most demanding titles, but Nvidia and Intel’s new hardware for early 2017 offers better performance than before at a similar price and power consumption level.
On the CPU side, the new Kaby Lake Core i7-7700HQ isn’t revolutionary, but it does provide a handy 8 to 10 percent performance boost in intensive workloads. This is all down to the higher clock speeds Intel has achieved across all four cores, and it comes without being noticeably hotter or power consuming than its Skylake predecessor.
It’s not worth upgrading from a Skylake gaming laptop just for the i7-7700HQ, as in general this performance gain will have little effect in games, but those still rocking quad-core Haswell systems or older will see appreciable benefits from the move to Kaby Lake.
On the GPU side, the GTX 1050 is a capable entry-level mobile graphics chip. It is at least three times faster than Intel’s integrated graphics, and while it’s still several steps behind the GTX 1060 and not quite as powerful as last gen's GTX 970M, it’s well suited to an entry-level gaming experience.
Across the games I tested, the GTX 1050 wasn’t capable of playing everything at maximum quality settings at 1080p, particularly newer titles. However you can achieve playable frame rates by turning down a few sliders and tweaking some settings, or by simply sticking to older top-end games or less-intense titles like Overwatch.
If MOBAs are your thing, the GTX 1050 delivers a great experience, certainly much better than any integrated graphics solution would provide.
Other hardware in the device is mostly solid. Including 16GB of RAM, even if it is a single-channel kit, is perfect for any gaming laptop. The cooling solution is very effective, particularly at cooling the GPU, although it’s not the quietest I’ve heard. And the collection of ports around the laptop is good without going above and beyond. Plus, you get a DVD drive in case you’re still chained to physical media.
My one major complaint would be the display, which is terrible. MSI claims IPS-level quality but in reality I saw no IPS qualities here. Brightness, contrast, viewing angles and color accuracy are all well below average, and even though this is an entry-level device, I still expect much better.
The design of the GE62 is functional though the machine is a tad hefty. MSI’s minimalist style prevents the GE62 from looking too ‘gamer,’ which I appreciate. The SteelSeries keyboard is great for gaming and includes customizable RGB LED backlighting – which is all the rage these days – and the touchpad is much improved compared to previous MSI laptops, but still not perfect.
In its base model configuration, the same configuration I reviewed, the GE62 7RD Apache will cost around $1,200. This isn't as cheap as I'd like but it is notably cheaper than equivalent 15.6-inch GTX 1060 laptops. MSI's GT62VR Dominator and Asus' ROG GL502VM both have MSRPs in the $1,500 to $1,600 range, making them 25% more expensive in a best-case scenario.
However, even if your budget is restricted to $1,200, it's still worth shopping around. There are cheaper GTX 1050 laptops on the market that sacrifice some CPU performance and RAM capacity, which won't have a significant effect on gaming. MSI's GL62M in particular is excellent value at $900, although it does pack a GTX 1050 2GB variant rather than the 4GB model in the GE62.
It's often possible to purchase basic GTX 1060 laptops around the $1,200 mark as well. Newegg occasionally has sales on gaming laptops, which can bring the price of systems like the aforementioned GT62VR down to under $1,300. There are some GTX 1060 models floating around that sacrifice the SSD and some RAM to hit $1,200, and this could be worth it: the GTX 1060 is 70 to 90 percent faster, which leads to a much better gaming experience even without an SSD.
Pros: The GTX 1050 is a decent entry-level gaming laptop GPU, providing much better performance than integrated graphics. Kaby Lake brings a faster, leaner CPU than last-gen models. Functional design with great keyboard.
Cons: Terrible display. Cheaper GTX 1050 laptops exist; this model is approaching the price of GTX 1060 systems. Bulky design.