MSI GE72VR Apache Pro: Review

We’ve had the MSI GE72VR for a few weeks now and it’s been an absolute delight to try out the next generation in PC gaming and graphics. If you missed our first look, then check it out and come back for the full review.

Inside the box

MSI took some care packaging its newest and VR-ready gaming line with the Nvidia GTX 1000 Series graphic cards. At the outset you see a sleek and thin box with a carry handle and your first thought is “that’s quite thin”. That’s a pleasant first impression. When you open it up you see the laptop nicely wrapped in a cloth sleeve that’s wrapped in a plastic sleeve with the charger cables on one side and a basic SteelSeries gaming mouse towards the top. The mouse was again a pleasant surprise. The box is designed in such a way that you could actually use it to transport the laptop when you’re heading to a LAN party if you’re not someone who’s already geared up for it. MSI’s emphasis on the small things are what makes it a favourite for seasoned gamers.

The laptop is surprisingly thin and light to what one would expect in a device that comes with a desktop-standard graphic card and the cooling power required to run this powerhouse smoothly. At first touch, it’s a beautiful brushed aluminium finish, curvy exterior and geometrically inspired patterns on the cover with only the MSI word mark and logo to define it. Unlike more mainstream laptop makers, MSI always aims for a touch of subtlety in design and that’s evident in this GE72VR.

The laptop has a sturdy build and doesn’t feel too meek for its size. It could easily go through the daily rigour a laptop would face without needing to be too careful around it. The base is strong and the screen equally resilient.

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Inside the GE72VR

This laptop full of surprises also fits in an optical DVD drive that would baffle younger gamers and give gamers of my generation some serious nostalgia while going out of their way to find a game on a disc to install from. Luckily I had World of Warcraft Legion on disc to install for some good ol’ nostalgia.

The spec sheet for the laptop features Intel’s sixth-generation Skylake processor, the Core i7-6700HQ with 8GB*2 of DDR IV RAM, a 128GB SSD along with a 1TB HDD. Of course the highlight of the laptop is Nvidia’s desktop-grade and VR-ready GTX 1060 with 6GB DDR V. The screen is a beautiful 17.3-inch Full HD, IPS display with anti-glare. The sides are filled with a great number of connectivity ports: 1 USB 2.0, 1 USB 3.0, 1 USB Type-C, a SD card reader, 1 HDMI port, 1 Mini-DisplayPort, Ethernet and the headphone and mic jacks.

Opening the screen, you find a beautifully lit SteelSeries keyboard once the power button is pressed. The keyboard is a stand chiclet that’s smooth, tactile and easy to get used to. The lettering and four sides of each key are transparent that enact quite a light show on the press of the SteelSeries Engine button located next to the power button. Obviously the entire thing is customizable to your heart’s desires.

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Performance

The GE72VR packs in a lot of power and delivers wonderfully. Thanks to Intel’s sixth-generation i7 processor and the 128GB SSD with the boot files, the start-up is almost immediate and all launcher tabs load up in seconds, even memory suckers such as Origin and Steam, though the built-in Norton AntiVirus does get annoying with its constant notifications at start-up. Every other conceivable function of the laptop is as smooth as can be. I adopted this laptop as my full-time companion for work, gaming and everything in between due to its acceptable bulk in day-to-day use.

I was very excited to try the latest Doom on the GE72VR thanks to how graphic intensive and fast-paced the game is. With graphics and all settings on maximum, I was average 60-65 FPS and thanks to the beautiful IPS display and anti-glare, the colours were rich and deep and popped beautifully without straining the eyesight at all. Playing Doom was a marvellous experience on this beast.

While running Doom on full intensity, the two cooling fans were hard at work and revving as loud as they ever got in the test. The noise level at this point wasn’t as bad as you would expect. It’s definitely far from a gentle hum but nothing new to gamers who often push their PCs to the max. The base gets warm at this stage so an external cooling fan or something to give the base some breathing room is always recommended. The keyboard and palm rest would get a little warm but definitely not hot. MSI includes a feature called Cooler Boost that increases the fan speed at the cost of noise level. A fair concession from most perspectives.

doom-2-1280x760The battery of the GE72VR is a slightly scaled-down version to keep the size low compared to its GTX 1070 and 1080 variants. At nominal use outside of games the battery will easily give you 3-4 hours depending on the programs you use and how bright you like to keep your screen.

Audio on the GE72VR was a delight thanks to a built-in subwoofer. I tend to use headphones more often than not while gaming but in this review I ended up using the laptop’s audio frequently. Thanks to the subwoofer, your ears are treated to something they’re not usually used to while listening to audio on a laptop. The extra bass definitely added to my demon hunting experience in Doom.

Pre-installed apps are a standard on gaming machines. MSI comes with the Dragon Center that gives you access to the Killer Network Manager, Nahimic audio enhancer, the GeForce Experience along with much more. You can also customise all the LED keys from here. It’s a comprehensive control panel for the entire laptop. MSI also installs an introduction wizard that introduces new users to all the options available to them.

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Wrap-up

It’s worth noting that thanks to the GTX 1060, the laptop is technically VR-ready though not VR-ideal. The GTX 1060 provides the basic requirements for VR so you could technically test out some of the Rift and Vive demos but to really experience VR, MSI’s more powerful versions with the GTX 1070 and 1080 would be required.

The laptop’s light, weighing in at 2.7kg, mobile-friendly and a delight for gamers looking for a great product with some of the best possible gaming graphics and power packed in. Aside from pure gaming, it also works nicely as a work and leisure laptop for folks who don’t use desktops at home or at work.