Most modern, high performance gaming laptops take their design cues from super cars, with powerful hardware wrapped in sleek, angular cases. The MSI GT72S Dominator Pro has a lot of power, but that's where the comparison to a super car ends. In fact, with lackluster features and a cheap, plastic feel, the 17-inch rig has more in common with a Camaro than a Lambo.
That's not to say the GT72S isn't a powerful laptop. It has plenty of horsepower thanks to an Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 graphics card and a decent i7 CPU. It also has a bright, 17-inch 4K screen and an honest-to-goodness Blu-ray drive. But to take the car analogy even further, when it comes to battery life, this thing is a gas-guzzler.
MSI brought out the GTX 980M “Dominator” version of the Dragon Edition in 2015. The special Dragon Edition here adds a few visual and subtle technical changes to the design. As far as the visual changes are concerned, some will love them; others will hate them. Unfortunately, I fall into the latter category.
The Dragon Edition is one of the gaudier-looking notebooks on the market. It has a striking red chassis with a dragon graphic emblazoned on its front that looks very Game of Thrones. Again, maybe that’s your thing. It’s not mine.
PERFORMANCE MSI GT72S DRAGON SERIES
- Windows 10 Home
- Unlocked 6th Gen Intel Core i7 K Processor
- Extreme desktop gaming graphics with GeForce® GTX 980
- See gaming differently with a 17” IPS display powered by NVIDIA G-SYNC
- Configurable and accurate color display with True Color Technology
- Exclusive Super RAID 4 (Dual PCIe Gen3x4 SSDs utilizing NVMe technology in RAID 0) (Optional)
- Thunderbolt™ 3 supporting 40Gbps ultra speed data transfer rate, 4K monitor output, and portable charging power up to 5V/3A (optional)
- Streamlined performance with support of up to 64GB DDR4 memory
- Fast, accurate and responsive programmable gaming keyboard by SteelSeries
- Powerful customization with SteelSeries Engine
- 360° virtual surround sound powered by Nahimic
- Exclusive ESS SABRE HiFi Audio for an enhanced headset audio experience
- Immersive audio experience with Dynaudio Speakers + Subwoofer
- Protect your network from lag spikes and jitter with Killer Shield technology
- Intelligent wired and wireless networking with Killer DoubleShot Pro (Killer Gb LAN + Killer 802.11 a/c WiFi) and Smart Teaming
- Ready to stream with XSplit Gamecaster (includes 1 year free subscription)
- Ultimate flexibility with an easy-to-upgrade design and upgradeable graphics cards
- Display: 17.3" Full HD (1920 x 1080) Anti-Glare Wide View Angle 120Hz 5ms 94%NTSC | Graphics Card: NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 1070 8GB GDDR5 (VR Ready).
- Processor: 7th Generation Kaby Lake Intel® Core i7-7700HQ Quad Core (2.8GHz-3.8GHz, 6MB Intel® Smart Cache, 45W).
- RAM: 64GB (4x 16GB) DDR4 2400MHz | Hard Drive: 1TB Samsung 960 EVO NVMe SSD (Seq. Read 3200MB/s, Seq. Write 1900MB/s) + 1TB 7200RPM HDD | Optical Drive: Super Multi 8X DVD+/-R/RW Dual Layer.
- OS: Microsoft® Windows 10 (64-bit) Multi-language | Warranty: 1-Year MSI USA Warranty Parts & Labor (include 1 Year Global Warranty) + Lifetime Tech Support from EXcaliberPC.
DESIGN MSI GT72S DRAGON
The lid on the laptop is an attractive, brushed aluminum panel, with the red MSI badge prominently on display. The cooling vents have the same angled, sports car look other high-powered gaming laptops have adopted, but the GT72S is more of a tank than a supercar. The keys feel firm, with good travel and are spaced well. The 17-inch behemoth means there's plenty of canvas for a full-sized keyboard, but some of the keys aren't where I expect them to be.
Unlike its metal top, the bottom of the computer is plastic and very cheap-feeling at that. It seems like the same filmsy plastic used on budget, sub-$500 laptops. This is partially thanks to the heavily vented bottom, which is necessary to facilitate cooling but it compromises its structural integrity.
The Dynaudio speakers are loud. It's one of the louder laptops I've tested. At full volume, it doesn't become distorted, which is great. While it retains its fidelity even at its loudest, the sound isn't particularly great to begin with. It's passable for casual listening, but there's no richness to it.
Sound also seems off-balance. There's a sub-woofer on the bottom left of the computer, and the equalizer pushes an excessive amount of bass through it.
DISPLAY MSI GT72S DRAGON EDITION WITH NVIDIA GTX 980
MSI has also ensured the Dragon Edition can cater to gamers’ hankering for some 4K action. The Dragon Edition’s display can connect to multiple higher-resolution screens using HDMI 1.4, Mini DisplayPort or a USB 3.1 Type-C port, which support 4K resolutions at 60Hz. The Dragon Edition’s sizable 17.3-inch Full HD display is one of the best I’ve seen on a gaming notebook.
Running my standard set of screen tests using my trusted X–Rite colorimeter, the Dragon Edition performed admirably and ran in with a 6,536K colour temperature and 0.13 Delta E. That’s less than 40k away from the 6,500k ideal. Anything lower than a 1.0 Delta E score is pretty darn good.
The screen covers only 85.9% of the sRGB gamut and 62.9% of the Abobe RGB, but considering this is a gaming machine, not a design tool, the figures are more than good enough.
The inclusion of Nvidia’s G–Sync technology is another positive. G-Sync is a custom tech similar to AMD’s FreeSync. It works to reduce screen tearing and input lag by synchronising the display’s refresh rates to the GPU.
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