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When we think of top-of-the-line gaming computers, we generally gravitate towards desktops. Quite simply, they come with beefier hardware that can remain cooler than their laptop brethren. However, when designed correctly, it’s possible for a gaming laptop to have monster specifications that can rival even some of the most powerful gaming desktops.

We’ve decided to grab an $1,800 MSI GS70 StealthPro-024 gaming laptop and see how well it can compare to a desktop. Can it run the latest games without issue? Does it offer a comfortable feel for extended gaming sessions. All of these questions and more will be answered in this review, so keep reading to find out.

Best of all, we’re giving this laptop away to a lucky reader. That’s right, you get the chance to take home a $1,800 gaming laptop for the low cost of reading this review and entering at the bottom. So make sure you read all the way through to the bottom to find how to enter.

Introducing the MSI GS70 StealthPro-024

A trend that we are seeing more and more of in the world of gaming laptops is trying to make smaller and lighter devices. Back in the days when laptops for gamers first hit the market, they were positively massive, so heavy that no one would ever want to carry one around. Basically, they were desktops with a screen attached. Those days are gone, and this MSI laptop is on the forefront of that thin and light craze.

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While MSI might have the thinnest and lightest 17-inch model, Razer is the company that really showed us that it’s possible to make a laptop that’s small while still having high-end performance. Their line of Blade Pro laptops feature specs that are very comparable to the MSI GS70 StealthPro-024, but it comes with a higher price tag of $2,299.99 compared to the MSI’s $1,799. Part of that is the Razer brand name, which is far more well-known in gaming circles. The question is: does the MSI’s performance stack up?

Design

As far as its looks go, the laptop is quite stylish. It’s only 0.85 inches thick — so when closed, it does look like you what would expect from a powerful gaming laptop. The dark gray finish with the MSI logo in the middle is subtle, but looks good enough that you will be happy to take out publicly and show off to your friends.

Once you actually open up the laptop and turn it on, the design really impresses. The keyboard from SteelSeries, which we will dig into more heavily later in the review, looks absolutely fantastic, and the screen is large, vibrant, and with a full 1080p resolution, damn good looking.

MSI’s laptop is also well-designed from a functionality standpoint. The USB ports are placed on both sides of the laptop, which means you can plug in devices on the side that doesn’t impede your mouse usage whether you are right- or left-handed. It also has plenty of fans that feed air out the side, towards the back, keeping the laptop at a comfortable temperature even during extended gaming sessions.

Speaking of ports, this laptop has plenty, with 2 Mini DisplayPorts and an HDMI port ready to hook up external displays. It also has 4 USB 3.0 ports, a headphone in, a microphone out, and an S-PDIF port.

All in all, there isn’t really anything bad I can say about the design of the MSI GS70 StealthPro-024. It’s impossibly light and thin for a 17-inch high-performance laptop, and it looks downright beautiful. Of course, it’s what’s inside that counts, and that’s exactly what we are going to look at next.

Specifications

When you’re talking about spending big bucks on a new laptop, you worry about comfort, weight, and all that good stuff, but what you really want to know is: what’s under the hood? The specifications are one of the biggest factors in a purchase like this. So with that in mind, let’s get into the nitty gritty and talk about just what’s hiding within the MSI GS70 StealthPro-024.

Starting with the processor, we have a 2.4 quad core Intel Core i7-4700HQ. It alone has a suggested retail price of $378, which lets you see right off the bat where a pretty sizable chunk of this laptop’s $1800 price tag originates. On the memory side, it’s packed with 16 gigabytes of DDR3L RAM, which is enough to handle any game you’ll find on the market right now with relative ease.

The graphics card is the real selling point of this laptop — a beastly NVIDIA GeForce GTX 870M, which boasts a massive 3GB of dedicated graphics memory. It’s rated to handle every game at least 30 FPS, and many can be played at 60 FPS or higher, which is nothing for a desktop GPU, but in the realm of portable graphics cards, it’s no small feat.

The display that will be showing these beautiful graphics is a 17.3-inch anti-reflective display sporting a FullHD 1920X1080 resolution. Games look fantastic on the screen, and there’s no reason to hook it up to a second display, as the size and resolution of this really make your games pop, which is really all you can ask for from a high-end gaming laptop.

For storage space, you’ll be pleasantly surprised with its dual-drive setup: a 128GB SSD for launching programs quickly, and a 1TB HDD for storing large file. There is ample space for running all of your space-consuming PC games, as well as storing all kinds of media, even for the long run.

Other notable specs include a 720p webcam, a pair of fans for keeping things running cool, and integrated Killer E2200 Game Networking.

Performance

Before we get into the performance of the actual hardware, I need to mention that this laptop is running Windows 8.1, which can lead to some issues with certain games. For example, I purchased Trials Fusion the day it was released to review it here at MakeUseOf Trials Fusion Review And Let's Play: Flipping, Tricking, and Raging Trials Fusion Review And Let's Play: Flipping, Tricking, and Raging We are bringing you the best of both worlds, a somewhat traditional review of Trials Fusion, and a video showing what the gameplay offers. It's the best of both worlds. Read More , and the game just wouldn’t run at all. This was obviously an annoying issue, and one that the developers of the game were very aware of.

Another issue I’ve faced is with Dota 2, which tends to freeze on the menu. This is related to graphics drivers crashing, and can often prevent you from accepting a game, leaving you forced to restart Dota 2 and wait out a no search punishment for a few minutes. Updating to the beta drivers for the graphics card alleviated the issue slightly, but it still pops up every now and then.

We ran the laptop through 3DMark’s benchmarking software, and it scored fairly well, with most of the tests hovering right around 30 FPS. You can actually check out the exact results of the test at 3DMark’s website. On 3DMark’s performance test, it scored 7043, which is decent, but not exactly a score that will blow you away. Of course, the higher scores on the service come from desktops, and relative to other laptops, the score is good. It is worth noting that these tests push the system quite hard, the components heat up and the fan kicks in at full speed. While playing games, even graphically intense ones, the fans were never whirring as loudly as they were during the test.

Numbers aside, I will say I was happy with the performance of the laptop. Most games ran at high resolution, with less intense games like Dota 2 running with everything at full resolution without issue. While it just can’t compare to a desktop, as far as gaming laptops go, there is not much to complain about.

Aside from the actual gaming hardware, the built-in microphone works well, though I did find that you have to speak with some authority in order for people in chat to hear you clearly. Of course, most built-in mics are not great, and it definitely gets the job done, just don’t expect to be blown away. The speakers are a little better, offering some impressive sound for a laptop. Again, it won’t compare to a pair of high-end desktop speakers, but your games will sound pretty good, and that’s a solid deal.

Battery

The battery life will not blow you away by any means, but that shouldn’t come as a shock, as this is a beast of a laptop that has a very small form factor. As such, it’s just not possible to have a massive battery tucked inside of it. Still, I was able to squeeze just under 2 hours of continuous use on a single charge, which isn’t terrible especially for running demanding games.

While the battery life isn’t great, I can’t really knock it too hard. This laptop is not really designed for long periods of unconnected use. Rather it’s meant to be brought to a LAN event and plugged into a power source. With that said, longer battery life is always a good thing, so it really comes down to whether you are willing to sacrifice that for a smaller laptop. Personally, I’m okay with that trade off, as I generally use my laptop while plugged in, and a couple of hours is enough to get me through most situations, but it’s definitely something to keep in mind before you go out and drop a massive chunk of cash.

Comfort

If you are hanging out playing games on a laptop for a long period of time, comfort is key. You want to make sure you can rest your hands on the keyboard without getting cramps, and view the screen without developing eye strain or other issues. This laptop delivers in all regards. The SteelSeries keyboard feels comfortable, so you can press the keys without too much effort, and you can rest your hands on it happily. The vibrant screen looks great for long usage periods as well. While the laptop produces a tremendous amount of heat, the area where your hand rests feels cool, which is indicative of a well-designed cooling system.

Most of the time when playing games, you are going to have the laptop set on a table, so placing it on your lap won’t be something you think about. It’s light, but like any 17-inch laptop, it feels massive when it’s on your lap. Additionally, the large fans that are so crucial to keeping it running smoothly dispel a lot of air, and after an extended use, you will definitely feel the air blowing on your legs. It’s a minor annoyance, but it’s something you should expect from a highly powerful computer.

Overall, I quite like this laptop from a comfort perspective. Even if you are not using a mouse, the touchpad actually feels quite good, and it’s certainly large enough. For anyone planning on using this laptop for extended sessions, it will do the job with ease.

SteelSeries Keyboard

One of the cool selling points of this particular laptop is the SteelSeries keyboard. SteelSeries is a company known for making all kinds of high-quality gaming peripherals used by a huge number of eSports players, and to see them release a keyboard designed for gaming on a laptop is really great.

As far as the quality of the keyboard, it doesn’t feel a whole lot different from most laptop offerings. It’s touted as having better precision and feedback than a standard keyboard, but to be completely honest, I really can’t feel the difference. Of course, I use a mechanical keyboard with a desktop, and at the end of the day, no laptop keyboard can compete with that setup.

However, what is great about the keyboard is the backlight customization. You can use the included software tweak the way it looks. Different zones can be set to be different colors, making the keyboard look truly unique.

While the SteelSeries keyboard shouldn’t be the deciding factor as to whether or not you buy this laptop, it’s definitely a cool bonus. And if you are thinking about purchasing this laptop anyway (which you probably should be, because it’s quite good), then it’s something you will definitely enjoy having. At this price point, every little advantage is a good thing, and the SteelSeries keyboard definitely offers a slight edge over some other gaming laptops (though the Razer Blade Pro features a keyboard designed by Razer, another company known for quality gaming peripherals).

Wrapping Up

Overall, this is a fantastic gaming laptop. Put head to head with other top-of-the-line gaming models, it comes out with specs that are as good, if not better; at a price point that’s a little lower. Now, it can’t compete with a dedicated gaming desktop, but if you need some portability and still want a high level of power, the MSI GS70 StealthPro-024 is a great choice. It looks awesome, has fantastic performance, is comfortable enough to get through long gaming sessions, and features hardware that will impress even the most hardcore PC gamers.

Our verdict of the MSI GS70 StealthPro-024:
Buy it if you want a gaming PC but cannot have a desktop due to lifestyle reasons.
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The Winner

Congratulations, Michael Grammer! You would have received an email from jackson@makeuseof.com. Please respond before August 9 to claim your prize. Enquires beyond this date will not be entertained.

This giveaway begins now and ends Friday, July 18. The winner will be selected at random and informed via email. View the list of winners here.

Send your products to be reviewed. Contact Jackson Chung for further details.

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