With last year’s development of NVIDIA managing to tame the GTX 980 for notebook use, it opened up a lot of possibilities in miniaturizing the technology and making discrete GPU more compact leading to desktop-class performance on notebooks and compact form factors. That said, only the GTX 980 made its way in this MXM form factor for notebook and it was never mentioned if the company had plans to develop the GTX 970 or GTX 960 for the same form factor. In that regards, NVIDIA was theoretically trying out the waters for these mobile versions of their high-end GPUs and with the release of the new Pascal GeForce cards it was inevitable that the GPU giant would execute a full-pledge plan on this segment given the great efficiency values and thermal performance that the Pascal GeForce cards demonstrate.
As expected, NVIDIA decides to forego the dedicated mobile GPUs and dive directly into the high-end GPU with the new GeForce GTX high-end GPUs make their way into mobile MXM form factor with the new GTX 1070 and GTX 1080 getting compact versions and we have another one of the launch models that MSI revealed. In today’s bench we have the MSI GT72VR Dominator Pro gaming notebook with integrated Tobii eye tracker. The Tobii is a cool, little accessory that provides a new way to interface with supported games via eye tracking.
MSI has been one of the strongest force in the high-performance notebook game, recently announcing their top spot in terms of global sales versus other brands but its their sheer variety that has helped them push out their notebook division to a whole new level, giving gamers from all budget segments and with varying requirements something to choose from. With the new MSI GT72VR Dominator Pro, this series is one of MSI’s high-performance products marrying high-end performance with decent portability and excellent build quality. For this review we have the MSI GT72VR Dominator Pro model equipped with the latest Intel Core i7-6700HQ quad-core processor and the new NVIDIA GTX 1070 mobile GPU. Read on!
Build and Design
MSI improved a couple of things from the older Dominator chassis like adding red highlights but overall, the tooling is still the same. We get a black, brushed metal top with the MSI logo.
Intake grills at the bottom cycle air from the bottom to dump at the vents. The Dynaudio sub is also in this location. Notice that this model does not allow have a removable battery compartment.
Mini-DisplayPort, USB Type C, HDMI, Ethernet and the AC jack are located at the back.
Our sample is the 60hz panel but a model featuring a 120Hz screen is also available. As for this model, you can see above the viewing angles.
MSI’s True Color technology is a real-time color setting tool that tweaks the display to various profiles which allows the MSI GT72VR Dominator Pro users to adjust to various scenarios. We tested with 100% maximum brightness along with sRGB setting and colors are vibrant and clear.
Text display test for clarity.
Almost no bleeding on this monitor.
The highlight of this release is definitely the GPU and as we’ve seen from the GTX 980 for notebook before, the desktop version is still faster but only in clock speeds as the mobile version sports pretty much everything that the desktop one save for shader count. As you can see below a GPUZ screenshot of the GTX 1070 for mobile and a GTX 1070 MSI GAMING card for desktop:
Both cards sport 8GB of GDDR5 VRAM which run at 10,000Mhz effective. The main difference really lies in the shader counts, like the GTX 980 before it, the GTX 1070 has 2048 shaders which is more than the 1920 shaders found in the desktop 1070. Mobile GPUs are also tightly selected with the ones yielding lower consumption being chosen for this specific application.
Another benefit we get here is the ability to overclock our GPU. While we’re set back by a few hundred Mhz in clock rate, overclocking our GPU via MSI Afterburner allows us to tweak the system and get better GPU performance than its stock configuration.
From our previous review, we were able to bump our GPU to 1643Mhz base clock with a boost clock of 1845Mhz and 2189Mhz on the memory. We used the same OC results in this model and yielded stability at the same level so its safe to say that the notebook GTX 1070 variant OCs at this level with adequate cooling.
For our gaming benchmarks please see our benchmark methodology for our choice of games and benchmark method. While the GTX 1070 is capable in both 1440p and some 4K scenario, with the native display of the MSI GT72VR 6RE Dominator Pro only a 1080p display, we decided to forego the higher resolutions in favor of dedicated monitor performance.
It can be inferred that this model can easily do higher resolutions given a few tweaks but we’ll leave that for a separate test. As mentioned, we’d like to focus on the built-in display for this model review first.
We use 3DMark stress test of 20 loops of 3DMark Fire Strike Ultra to stress the GPU and record the peak temperatures we get from normal operation. For the unified system load, we use AIDA64 system stability test. We record whichever temps clock in higher as peak. For idle temps, we leave the notebook in a 25*C ambient room and record the lowest idle temps with the system just idling in desktop but not in standby.
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The MSI GT72VR Dominator Pro is packing some serious power under the hood and so a relatively good battery pack is needed to keep that power running. The efficiency of the Pascal architecture shines through as the notebook runs up to 2 hours of heavy work and games mix. In purely work scenarios with browsing included we clock in a bit longer at 3 hours. In a pure gaming session, we clock the MSI GT72VR at around just above an hour in heavy gaming but titles like DOTA2 extend a bit longer.
The MSI GT72VR Dominator Pro is the second flagship of MSI’s gaming lineup and its specs alone speaks for itself. While this variant only carries a GTX 1070, in our gaming tests it was enough to bring 60FPS+ performance in our most demanding game titles. With the option for a 120hz panel, this notebook brings smooth gameplay whatever your preference may be. All this performance is complimented by a great screen and powerful audio that completes the gaming immersion.
The Tobii eyetracker is one that’s something you don’t really expect but while its a developmental technology with plenty of potential, MSI’s adoption here is mostly for proof-of-concept and while it doesn’t add an entire level of features to this notebook, Tobii does add to the immersion possible with this notebook. Couple that with the VR performance and you have plenty of options to enjoy games in a new dimension.
One may be wondering why are all the high-end notebooks really huge and I feel that’s a question best left to the one’s buying it. For certain, if you’re looking for power that is portable in some way, the likes of the MSI GT72VR Dominator Pro is already compact enough for you and that is the kind of market that this notebook targets. If you’re a mobile professional or just a rockstar gamer looking for a desktop replacement, this notebook is good option if you’re looking for a rich assortment of features with a decent amount of gaming horsepower under the hood.
Overall, if you’re looking for a portable powerhouse, the MSI GT72VR Dominator Pro is one of the most powerful, gaming-centric models available right now.
Price / Where to Buy
SRP: US $2599 – MSI GT72VR Dominator Pro PH – TBA
MSI backs the GT72VR Dominator Pro with a solid 2-year warranty. We give it our B2G Silver Award!