When the MSI GE72MVR 7RG Apache Pro gaming laptop landed on my desk for review, I was super excited. You see, my faithful, everyday use, 10 year old HP laptop is starting to show age, and, after ignoring the symptoms for quite some time, I’ve decided it was time for an upgrade. Like most gamers, I’ve dabbled with the idea of replacing it with a proper gaming laptop , but the tremendous cost and uncertainty put me off the idea. Not only do I not have the money to invest in a proper gaming laptop, but traditionally gaming laptops just couldn’t compete with the performance of their lower cost desktop counterparts. Fortunately, this has started to change, and the last couple of years have seen a tremendous influx of gaming laptops.
Almost every brand now has a range of gaming laptops: MSI, Gigabyte, Asus, Lenovo and even (traditionally business-focused) HP. The higher specced models are still extremely expensive, but performance-wise they all claim to be on par with gaming desktops. And they don’t come more on par with gaming desktops than the MSI GE72MVR 7RG Apache Pro. I mean, just look at the specs of the model I had for review:
- Intel Core i7-7700HQ clocked at 2.8 GHz with a maximum turbo core clock of 3.4 GHz
- GeForce® GTX 1070 8GB GDDR5
- 17.3″ Full HD (1920×1080), 120 Hz Refresh Rate and 5ms response time panel (also available in an UHD 4K model)
- 16 GB Kingston DDR4 RAM @ 2,400 MHz
- NVMe M.2 SSD by PCIe Gen3 X4 up to 2200MB/s speed
And that’s not even mentioning all the bells and whistles MSI has added to enhance your gaming experience:
- Windows 10 Home / Windows 10 Pro
- Exclusive Cooler Boost 4 Technology
- The X Boost function from MSI technology supports faster storage access speed.
- Dragon Center provides six functions to get a total control of your personal computer
- WTFast free premium license for 2-month
- The latest USB 3.1 SuperSpeed+ interface built in
- USB Type-C reversible plug
- Exclusive SHIFT technology boosts performance under controlled noise & temperature
- Nahimic 2 Sound Technology delivering 360⁰ immersive audio experience
- Audio Boost 2 enhancing the gaming headset sound detail and sound stage
- Sound by Dynaudio system
- True Color Technology for increased color contrast and greater image detail
- SteelSeries Engine 3 with GameSense to personalize your play style
- Keyboard by Steelseries with full color backlighting
- Killer DoubleShot Pro (Killer Gb LAN + Killer 802.11 a/c WiFi) with Smart Teaming
- Upgraded Killer Gigabit LAN Controller with Advanced Stream Detect 2.0 and Killer Shield
- Xsplit Gamecaster 1 year free premium license for broadcasting, recording and sharing
- Matrix Display supporting 4K output up to 2 external monitors
- Elegant brushed aluminum chassis, creating an ideal fusion of aesthetics and performance
I got my first surprise when I removed the Apache Pro from its packaging. Just looking at the spec-list you expect the laptop to be massive, but MSI somehow managed to pack all of this performance into a mere 29 mm x 420 mm x 288 mm, weighing in at about 2.7 kg.
Granted, this is considered quite heavy in this era of ultrabooks and Macbook Air’s, but considering the punch this laptop packs, I was quite surprised by its weight. It doesn’t weigh much more than the HP laptop that I am used to carrying around. This made the Apache Pro a breeze to carry around for everyday tasks.
The build quality is exactly what you’d expect from MSI, but I must admit that that I was slightly disappointed when I first removed the laptop from its packaging. Don’t get me wrong though, the laptop is gorgeous. Maybe I was subconsciously aware of the laptop’s premium price and was expecting something out of this world. Instead, all I got was a normal-looking, normal-feeling, normal laptop. No flashy graphics or colours on the lid, and except for the LED-illuminated MSI logo and large exhaust fans at the rear, you wouldn’t even know that this was a gaming laptop. Normally, I am all for LED lights and flashy designs, but since I am looking for a replacement to my everyday use laptop, I actually prefer the inconspicuous styling. This meant that I could take the laptop to meetings – an area usually dominated by business laptops – and blend right in.
The shell of the device is made from black alloy, and while it is very pretty and sleek-looking, it is prone to pick up fingerprints that are slightly difficult to clean. On the inside you’ll find a Steelseries RGB keyboard, which comes with all the customization options you’d expect. You can change the colours, the lighting effects, and turn on gaming mode, which illuminates only the left-hand side of the keyboard. It is a proper gaming keyboard with decent key travel, and the palm rest at the bottom makes it really comfortable to use.
You can even use the laptop in areas where excessive noise is a potential problem. The cooling is exceptionally well done and under normal operating conditions the noise from the cooling fans never becomes an issue. Under heavy load the fans do a proper job of keeping the device cool, and the noise never becomes bothersome. Granted, the bottom of the laptop does get slightly warm, but true to its name, you can use the device on your lap. I wouldn’t recommend this for gaming, though. I never experienced temperatures too extreme, but this kind of power generates enough heat to be uncomfortable (not to mention recent studies indicating that the heat radiating from laptops is unhealthy to the groin area). Another disadvantage of using the device on your lap is that the magnificent Dynaudio sound system, positioned at the bottom of the laptop, is slightly muffled. Not enough to be detrimental, but the audio emanating from the speakers is so magnificent that you would want to hear it unobstructed.
This all said, there is one issue in the laptop’s design. Due to the large screen, and the fact that it is only supported by two hinges on its edges, it is slightly flimsy in the middle. It’s not an issue if you plan on using the laptop on a stationary surface, but if you plan on moving it around with the lid open, you have to careful. In the video below, I am just lightly pressing the back of the screen, like you would if you moved the device around while supporting the screen at the back. Notice the deflection and how the plastic separates from the panel:
Another issue with mobility is the laptop’s battery life. During general usage (i.e. Word processing, Powerpoint, internet browsing, and listening to music) I was able to get between 2.5 and 3 hours on a single charge with the battery optimization settings on default. This is not terrible, but it is less than you would get if you opt for a purely business-oriented laptop, or an ultrabook. When playing games, however, the battery life is significantly reduced – as can be expected with this amount of power. Depending on the performance, you get about an hour on maximum or ultra-settings in more modern games.
This brings us to the important question: Can it run Crysis? Well, I’m so glad you asked Late-2009-meme user. I only had the laptop for roughly one week. During the time, my internet fluctuated between barely-working and absolutely-not-working, but I managed to download and play some of the original Crysis. I couldn’t perform a framerate test since the benchmark tool I used kept crashing given the game’s old age, but I was able to run the game on full HD with ultra-high settings perfectly fine. 2013’s Tomb Raider reboot looked absolutely gorgeous on the full HD screen, running at an average of 94.2 fps.
The 3DMARK benchmark yielded some impressive results:
The observant among you might have noticed the “VR” in the laptop’s name. Yes, this is indeed a VR capable laptop. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any VR headsets to test it with, but if the VR benchmark, VRMARK, is anything to go by, this laptop should have no problem delivering the performance needed for VR.
So, would I spend my hard earned cash buying the MSI GE72MVR 7RG Apache Pro gaming laptop? Well, this is slightly difficult to answer. If you asked me a couple of days before I had to return the laptop, my answer would’ve been “no”. Again, this is a remarkable laptop and MSI has done a fantastic job in creating a laptop capable of desktop-grade gaming performance, but I can build a gaming PC for roughly the same price (R28 000 on Evetech), maybe even less. However, as I am typing this review on my 15.6” HP laptop, I find myself missing the Apache Pro. I miss having the performance. I miss having the extra screen real estate, and I miss the style and comfort that came with it. In fact, I generally just miss having it. Sure it is slightly on the expensive side, but compared to other laptops in this price range, you get one hell of a machine. It is truly a machine that lives up to the gaming moniker. If only I had money…