A tour of the GP62
Opening up MSI's GP62 involves nothing more complicated than a Philips-head screwdriver and a willingness to break "factory seal" stickers. Take a look at the view underneath the laptop's plastic bottom panel:
That's a healthy amount of copper, right there. The GPU and its circuitry get four dedicated heat pipes, while the processor gets two. Nestled next to the rows of heat pipes, right by the back vents, is the battery. It's held down by a plastic bracket. In the middle, users will find the RAM slots readily accessible for upgrades. Out of the box, the GP62 just has one DIMM installed. We think this is a regrettable choice, given the beneficial effect that dual-channel memory can have on performance. We get that upgraders might feel put out by being forced to remove a pair of memory sticks in exchange for another, more-expensive dual-channel kit, but RAM is best when it's in pairs.
Along the left panel, users will find the majority of the GP62's ports. An HDMI port and a Mini DisplayPort handle external display duties, and there's a trio of USB ports in two flavors: Type-A and Type-C. Audio jacks, a Gigabit Ethernet port, and a Kensington lock slot round out the selection.
There's no ports on the back of the GP62, but there are a pair of relatively-small exhaust vents. Gaming notebooks often include much larger vents than these, but as we'll see in the thermal testing benchmarks, the GP62's cooling system is more than up to the task of keeping its components cool. Over on the right panel, MSI includes an optical drive, an SD card reader, a USB 2.0 port, and the power jack.
The GP62 has a generally attractive exterior, but there are two places where the chassis exhibits more than a little flex. The first is the display. The display hinge is sturdy enough that it can't be easily opened with one hand, and the panel is rigid enough at the top near the webcam, but the panel flexes quite a bit on the bottom bezel right in the center. The chassis also has a fair amount of flex right in the center between the trackpad and the keyboard. That might be a consequence of the plasticy chassis, but it's a little disappointing from a $1300 notebook.
MSI touts the Steelseries-designed keyboard installed in the GP62 front and center, and it's easy to understand why. If colorful illumination is your thing, keyboards are a natural location for RGB LEDs. The backlighting here is attractive. It's well-emphasized by the shape of the keys and the gaps between them, and it's easily controlled by an intuitive interface. There is one aesthetic choice regarding the keyboard that might deter some: the font for the lettering. Some folks are sure to find that the retro-futurist font draws too much attention to itself. Still, given that this is one of the few truly gamer-y styling choices on the GP62, we're OK with it. We could do without the retailer-friendly labels on the palm rest, though. Those labels will just go in the trash for most, and peeling them off is an annoyance.
Even on a 15.6" laptop, a number of keys have to play double duty. With the function button pressed, the up-and-down arrow keys adjust the display brightness, and the left-and-right arrow keys adjust volume. A number of functions aren't intuitively placed, like the Page Up and Page Down keys in the top right-hand corner of the keyboard. More egregiously, users can't toggle Insert or hit Delete without using the function button. I could take or leave Insert, but hiding Delete under a function layer is inexcusable. Those foibles aside, the keyboard is pleasant to type on. The spacing between the keys is just right, and the keys themselves bounce back pleasantly after being pressed. Spreadsheet jockeys like myself will appreciate having a numpad handy, too.
The trackpad is a Synaptics model that I'd describe more as functional than exceptional. Sadly, it's not recognized as a Precision Touchpad in Windows 10, which means that certain gestures and features might be implemented only at Synaptics' leisure. The pad has a textured surface rather than a smooth one, so its tracking area is easy to tell apart from the surface of the notebook by feel. The buttons beneath are a bit stiff, requiring just a little more force to actuate than I anticipated. Still, I've worked with enough sub-par clickpads to appreciate the simple clarity of having left-and-right click buttons at hand.