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Home > Laptop Reviews > MSI GT72 Dominator Pro G-Sync -1666

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MSI GT72 Dominator Pro G

Editor's rating (1-5): rating starrating starrating starrating starrating star

What's Hot: Cutting edge specs like Intel Broadwell, NVIDIA G-sync, USB 3.1 and Windows 10 pre-installed. Sleek and understated for a gaming laptop.

What's Not: Nature of the big beast-- it's heavy and large compared to standard laptops. Trackpad could be better.

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Reviewed August 20, 2015 by , Editor in Chief (twitter: @lisagade)

MSI GT72 Dominator Pro G

The MSI GT72 Dominator Pro G is that cutting edge gaming laptop with a drool-worthy list of up to the minute components and features that you'd expect from a boutique brand. There's no last gen CPU here; you get the Intel 5th generation Broadwell CPU most gaming laptop manufacturers skipped since it was so delayed. It runs Windows 10 out of the box- you don't have to upgrade it. MSI has been on an impressive roll this year and they've been refreshing their specs like mad to upgrade to the new CPU line, include NVIDIA graphics cards at launch and now they've added USB 3.1 and G-Sync for better gaming visuals in the latest Dominator Pro. The MSI GT72 Dominator Pro G-1666 is the new version of MSI's 17.3" desktop replacement and gaming laptop. The Pro G model runs on the Intel Broadwell 5th generation quad core i7-5700HQ 2.7 GHz CPU with Turbo Boost to 3.5 GHz. The "G" stands for NVIDIA G-Sync technology that syncs the graphics card and display refresh rates to reduce visual tearing. It has a lovely 17.3" matte IPS 1920 x 1080 display with a 75Hz refresh rate.

The Dominator Pro G is available with the NVIDIA GTX 980M 4 GB DDR5 (our $2,099 model) or the GTX 970M 3 GB DDR5 in the $1,499 model (MXM upgradable graphics cards for both). It has 16 gigs of RAM in 4 slots (32 gigs max unless you go with 16 gig modules), 4 M.2 SSD slots (available in RAID0) and a 1 TB, 7200 RPM HDD. The laptop has a SteelSeries full color backlit keyboard, Killer WiFi 802.11ac and Ethernet, stereo Dynaudio 3 watt speakers and subwoofer, and a Blu-ray burner. The 8.4 lb. laptop has a black aluminum lid and an easily removable plastic bottom panel for upgrades. It competes with the Asus ROG G751 and Alienware 17. It's well worth a look if you want cutting edge specs in a cool and quiet laptop that doesn't throttle.

MSI GT72 Dominator Pro G

Design and Ergonomics

Esthetically, I'm neither a fan of nor displeased with MSI's gaming laptop designs. It looks a bit more like a traditional laptop rather than an overstated gaming rig (good for work, not as much fun at gaming parties). They have achieved a design uniformity: the super slim and light GS60 Ghost Pro and the Dominator GT72 are recognizably from the same line now. The sleeker GT72 is a great esthetic improvement over the older GT70 line, and its 1.89" thickness suits the machine's overall dimensions so it doesn't look super-chunky. Like Asus with the ROG G751, MSI hasn't gone overboard with slimming the laptop as Alienware did with their 2015 models. The MSI and Asus G751 might not be as slim as the 1.34" thick Alienware 15 and 17, but we're OK with that because there's plenty of room for larger, quieter fans and more cooling inside. That means the laptop is nearly silent when doing productivity tasks, streaming 1080p video and working with pro apps like Adobe Photoshop and even Premiere Pro. When gaming the fans are audible, but they aren't what I'd call loud. The keyboard never rises above human body temperature and the bottom remains cool enough for use on the lap (though at 8.4 lbs. you may find it tiring on the legs).

MSI GT72 Dominator Pro G

The lid is black brushed aluminum and it attracts fingerprints aplenty. The rest of the casing is durable black plastic. The keyboard deck's front edge is rounded so it doesn't dig into the wrist or hands, but it lacks Alienware's and Asus ROG's elegant soft touch finish. The bottom panel is removable and grants access to a plethora of upgradable internals: a 2.5" SATA drive bay, 4 M.2 2280 SSD slots with SATAIII for RAID0 compatibility, 4 RAM slots, a socketed M.2 wireless card and an MXM graphics card slot. MSI continues to use thin lids, so there's some flex if you bend the panel intentionally- why would you do that, though? The hinges are adequate but not as bounce-resistant as Alienware's super-stiff display mounts.

As with previous MSI gaming models, you get multicolored LED lighting with 3 keyboard zones, front edge lights and a light-up MSI dragon logo on the lid. You can customize the colors or turn off backlighting when you want to be subtle at work. The keyboard deck has 4 quick access buttons, one of which cycles through the 4 LED lighting presets, another that sets the fans to max (I can't imagine needing to do so), a button for switching between integrated and dedicated graphics and a program launcher. The top button is the on/off switch.

MSI GT72 Dominator Pro G

MSI gaming laptops have excellent speaker systems that are louder and fuller than other gaming laptops. The Dynaudio 2.1 speaker system has 3 watt stereo speakers and a subwoofer. MSI switched from the very good Creative Cinema 2 software to Nahimic. I have no qualms with the switch though some users prefer the old solution. The machine has four 3.5mm audio jacks: 1 headphone/SPDIF, 1 mic, 1 stereo line in and 1 line out for speakers and surround sound systems.

Ports abound on this big machine: 4 audio, 4 USB 3.0 ports, 2 USB 3.1 ports (standard USB connector rather than USB-C), HDMI, 2 mini DisplayPort, Gigabit Ethernet and an SD card slot. Killer E2200 Ethernet and Killer 1525 WiFi 802.11ac are standard.

SteelSeries Keyboard and Synaptics Trackpad

Thankfully MSI has moved away from the simply awful Elan trackpads of old. Synaptics makes excellent trackpads, but somehow MSI has found a way to make it less than perfect. Tracking reliability and accuracy are excellent and pinch zooming works well, but two-finger scrolling works only 50% of the time. Perhaps we'll get a firmware or BIOS update to improve this: our machine already got one that improved trackpad performance a bit. The trackpad is delineated by an LED outline, but there's no physical separator (it's one with the deck). That means your finger can wander off the trackpad, but it's large enough that this didn't happen often. The trackpad has two buttons (plus), but they're much too stiff (minus).

MSI GT72 Dominator Pro G

The SteelSeries Chiclet keyboard is excellent. I confess to slightly prefer the Alienware keyboard, but the MSI has deep key travel, is uniform in required pressure and as promised it doesn't ghost in games. The keys are a bit small for a 17" laptop and the number pad is crammed close, but overall this is a keyboard that's a pleasure to type on at length and it works perfectly in games.

Display and G-Sync

Good times, we have a 17.3" IPS display with 75Hz refresh rate and a good color gamut of 93% sRGB and 72% of Adobe RGB. Color tuning out of the box on the default sRGB mode was quite good and was suitable for professional graphics work and photo editing. It's also very bright at 323 nits and since it's a matte display it seems even brighter because it doesn't have to fight glare. This is a non-touch display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080. Black levels are average at 0.48 at max brightness and contrast is good at 670:1, but not as high as the 2015 Alienware models. 17" laptop displays don't get the R&D love that 13 and 15 inch panels do, so there are no 3K or 4K panels commonly available on the market as of this writing.

MSI GT72 Dominator Pro G

MSI standardized on the LG IPS panel with high refresh rate to comply with NVIDIA G-Sync requirements. What's G-Sync? It keeps the video card and display refresh rates in sync to reduce screen tearing and make gaming graphics look smoother overall. It's very effective and a better solution than Vsync that artificially caps games at 60 HZ (since that's a common display refresh rate). It's effective, and even when playing at lower frame rates games are playable thanks to the smoothness and proper syncing of screen with the game.

Horsepower, Performance and Temperatures

It's chillin' here: MSI has been making gaming motherboards, graphics cards, laptops and desktops for some time, and their expertise with cooling is impressive. The MSI GS60 Ghost Pro impressed us with its quad core i7 and GTX 970M graphics in a crazy slim, 4.5 lb. chassis--it got (relatively) hot and loud but has kept on ticking for 9 months since I bought it. With the much roomier and thicker 17" chassis on the GT72 Dominator line, MSI has room for larger fans that are both effective and quieter. There's also plenty of room for heat sinks and pipes, so this machine runs impressively quiet and cool despite being one of the most powerful laptops on the market. If you can bear the weight, the GT72 with the top of the line NVIDIA GTX 980M graphics card stays cool enough to game with the notebook on your lap (it helps that heat is vented through the back edge). You won't need to crank up the volume from the excellent Dynaudio 2.1 speaker system to drown out the fans. Sweet. When gaming with today's most demanding titles the CPU cores rarely passed 65 C, and the GeForce GTX 980M ran at 54 to 70 C. That's well below the thermal ceiling and we saw no thermal throttling even after an hour of gaming. Though the machine is quiet and relatively cool, I do suggest using a passive laptop cooler that keeps the bottom air intakes clear--it reduces CPU and GPU temps up to 10 C. The 230 watt power supply is adequate for this graphics card, so it doesn't throttle to reduce power consumption when plugged in.

MSI GT72 Dominator Pro G

Broadwell 5th generation 47 watt quad core CPUs have been almost a no-show since Intel delayed them so long (soon, Skylake 6th gen will be announced). Better late than never, and we're glad that MSI chose to release laptops with the Core i7-5700HQ. This is a standard laptop BGA CPU that's soldered on board since Intel no longer makes socketed laptop processors (these were only used on a handful of high end gaming laptops, so we can understand why Intel didn't find it economically worthwhile). The 2.7 GHz CPU has Turbo Boost to 3.5 GHz and it can maintain that boost without throttling early. Broadwell represents a 5% performance gain over Haswell, and more important for laptops, it's a cooler and more power efficient 14nm CPU vs. Haswell's 22nm (Skylake and the next gen Kaby Lake will also be 14nm). That said, it's not a night and day difference from Haswell, but every little bit helps. Skylake should bring another 5% performance improvement but likely little new in the cooling department. For those of you who thought this paragraph was techno mumbo-jumbo, here's a quick translation: this laptop currently runs the latest generation quad core laptop CPU, and it's one of the very few to do so as of this writing. It's extremely fast and this laptop can handle the most demanding tasks from video editing to 3D gaming and CAD. You won't find a laptop appreciably faster than this.

MSI GT72 Dominator Pro G

The Dominator Pro G is available with your choice of a GeForce GTX 970M 3 GB DDR5 or the GTX 980M 4 GB DDR5 in our review unit. Both are latest generation Maxwell architecture and support NVIDIA G-Sync. The 980M is the fastest and most expensive graphics processor in this generation of NVIDIA graphics cards. Expect to play today's top titles on high settings and 1920 x 1080 resolution at 60 fps or higher. It can play quite a few games on ultra settings. If you want the best money can buy, the Pro G and the much more expensive 18.4" MSI GT80 Titan are it in MSI's lineup.

 

Deals and Shopping:

 

MSI GT72 Dominator Pro G Video Review

 

MSI GT72 Dominator Pro G Gameplay Demo

 

Benchmarks

PCMark 8 Home: 4432
wPrime: 10 sec.
Geekbench 3: 3586/14,144
Unigine Heaven (1080p, high, DX11, AA off, no tess) 73.1 fps, GPU temp 72 C
Cinebench R15: OpenGL 74.2 fps

3DMark 11: P11,032, X4243

3DMark Tests:
Fire Strike: 8402
Cloud Gate: 13,414

Benchmark Comparison Table

  PCMark 8 3DMark 11
MSI GT72 Dominator Pro G 4432 P11,032, X4243
Alienware 15 2970 P9170, X3252
Origin PC EON15-X (desktop Core i7, 980M) 4886 P12,013, X4346
Dell XPS 15 4K 2573 P2977, X984
Dell Inspiron 15 7000 4K (Core i7, 16 gigs RAM, SSD) 2913 N/A
Asus ZenBook Pro UX501 3050 P5390, X1780
MSI GS60 Ghost Pro 2QE-064 (GTX 970M) 3929 P9112, X3224
HP Omen 15 3494 P5081, X1645
Lenovo Y50 Touch Core i7-4700HQ, GTX 680M Kepler, HDD 2874 P4790, X1621

Battery Life

As with the 2015 Alienware 15, battery life doesn't have to suffer greatly just because you're using a big gaming rig. The MSI has a dedicated hardware button for switching between Intel HD 5600 integrated graphics and the NVIDIA dedicated card. After you press the button, the machine will restart rather than switching on the fly using NVIDIA Optimus (we're told this has to do with G-sync support). I actually don't mind having control over graphics because I can ensure that I'm using faster dedicated graphics when needed, and be sure that the machine won't switch to power hungry dedicated graphics when on the go away from an outlet. When using integrated graphics with brightness set to a very adequate 40% and WiFi active, I averaged 6 hours of actual use time in productivity and 1080p video streaming tests. That's simply marvelous for a quad core 47 watt CPU and a big 17" display.

The good news is that MSI includes a proper 230 watt power adapter that provides enough juice to prevent battery drain when gaming plugged in. Occasionally we see a gaming laptop with a high consumption GPU like the GTX 880M or 890M with a 180 watt power supply and that results in power based throttling to prevent battery drain. No such problem here. The GT72 has a 9 cell battery that's sealed inside. While most upgrades are easy once you remove the bottom panel, the battery is hidden under a plastic shield and it takes additional work to access it should you need to replace it in the future.

Conclusion

MSI might not have the brand cache of Alienware or even Asus Republic of Gamers here in the US, but they make a mighty fine collection of gaming laptops and desktops. If you're in the market for a desktop replacement laptop that can do it all, or a gaming laptop that has the best possible specs, the MSI GT72 Dominator Pro G is a top pick. It runs cool and quiet, has a lovely matte IPS 17.3" display with good colors and brightness, the enjoyable SteelSeries keyboard and a 2 year warranty. Even more exciting are the cutting edge components including G-sync support, the rare Broadwell quad core CPU, USB 3.1 and top NVIDIA graphics cards. Heck, you can even upgrade the graphics card a few years from now, since it uses a standard MXM connector.

Website: www.msi.com

Price: $1,499 & $2,099 models

Warranty: 2 year

Related Reviews:

MSI GS60 Ghost Pro Review

Alienware 15 Review

MSI Apache Pro GE62 & GE 72 Review (Skylake)

Origin PC EON15-X Review

Dell XPS 15 with 4K Display Review

HP Omen 15 Review

2015 15" MacBook Pro with Retina Display Review

Asus ZenBook Pro UX501 Review

Lenovo Y50 Touch Review

Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Review

Lenovo ThinkPad W550s Review

HP ZBook 15 Review

 

MSI GT72 Dominator Pro G

 

 

 

MSI GT72 Dominator Pro G

 

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Specs:

Display: 17.3" IPS matte display (non-touch),1920 x 1080 resolution. NVIDIA G-sync. Intel HD 5600 integrated graphics and NVIDIA FeForce GTX 970M 3GB DDR5 or GTX 980M 4GB DDR5 dedicated graphics (MXM slot, upgradable). HDMI and 2 mini DisplayPorts.

Battery: 9 cell Lithium Ion rechargeable, sealed inside. 230 watt charger.

Performance & Drives: 2.7 GHz Intel Broadwell 5th generation Core i7-5700HQ quad core, 47 watt processor. Turbo Boost to 3.5 GHz. 4 RAM slots, typically ships with 16 gigs RAM. 4 M.2 2280 SSD slots with RAID0 support. Typically ships with a 128 gig SSD. 1 TB, 7200 RPM 2.5" HDD. DVD burner or Blu-ray burner optical drive.

Size: 16.85 x 11.57 x 1.89 inches. Weight: 8.4 pounds.

Camera: 1.3MP webcam.

Audio: Built-in 2.1 Dynaudio 3 watt stereo speakers with subwoofer and built-in mic. 4 3.5mm audio jacks for headphones/SPDIF, mic, line in and line out. Nahimic audio software, Realtek hardware.

Networking: Killer Gigabit E2200 Ethernet and Killer 1525 dual band WiFi 802.11b/g/n/ac and Bluetooth 4.0.

Software: Windows 10 Home. MSI Dragon utilities, MSI Afterburner, Killer networking suite.

Expansion and Ports: 4 USB 3.0 ports, 2 USB 3.1 ports, HDMI, 2 mini DisplayPort, 4 3.5mm audio, Ethernet and SD card slot.

 

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