Intel’s power-sipping Core i5-8250U was the headliner of one of our recent reviews, but many readers left that review wanting to talk about Nvidia’s MX150, the graphics card paired up with the Core i5-8250U in one of our test notebooks. The MX150 proved to be an impressive entry-level graphics card, considering that it fits in nicely into ultrabooks and has a remarkably small impact on battery life. The notebook we tested was able to produce playable frame rates in The Witcher 3 at 1600×900, and that’s no small feat for an ultrabook.
As impressed as we were, though, we imagine that a lot of folks out there would prefer a notebook with a bit more gaming prowess. While there are more powerful graphics cards in Nvidia’s mobile lineup, the GTX 1050 Ti might be the natural step up from the MX150. Announced earlier this year, this pint-size Pascal powerhouse is more suited for gamers hoping to keep their display resolution at 1920×1080, even when playing contemporary triple-A games—though not typically with in-game graphics settings maxed out.
To help us assess the performance of the mobile GTX 1050 Ti specifically, and more generally to help our readers learn what to expect from this year’s midrange gaming notebooks, we sent out some feelers to the laptop folks at MSI. The company is no stranger to the GTX 1050 Ti, as it has no less than ten different laptops equipped with the graphics card. The model that MSI sent over is the GP62 7REX Leopard Pro, an attractive notebook that’s fairly representative of what folks can expect to purchase between $1000 and $1500 these days. Our particular GP62 7REX rings in at $1300 at e-tail right now.
Like many of today’s gaming notebooks, the GP62’s hardware list starts with Intel’s Core i7-7700HQ. This four-core, eight-thread processor has been the go-to mobile gaming CPU of 2017. With a base frequency of 2.80 GHz and a max turbo frequency of 3.80 GHz, it’s proven to be more than capable of keeping Nvidia’s Pascal graphics cards fed and busy. MSI pairs this processor up with 16GB of 2400 MT/s DDR4 RAM (though, regrettably, in a single-channel configuration) and the aforementioned GTX 1050 Ti. For storage duties, MSI includes a 128GB M.2 SSD and a mechanical spinner with 1TB of storage space on tap.
MSI packages this hardware up in an attractive, sensibly-designed chassis that’s a mixture of metal and plastic. While it’s not as slim as the notebooks in the company’s Stealth series, the GP62 is just a bit slimmer than MSI’s regular models. At its thinnest, the GP62 is 0.86″ thick (21.8 mm), but back by the display hinge it’s 1.14″ thick (29.0 mm). The display cover has an elegant brushed-metal cover, and it’s adorned with MSI’s red shield logo. Flipping up the lid reveals a RGB LED-backlit keyboard designed by SteelSeries that’s both visually striking and a pleasure to type on.
Like many other gaming notebooks in its price range, the GP62 has a relatively ordinary 15.6″ display with a 1920×1080 resolution and a 60 Hz refresh rate. The 6-cell 41 Wh battery is a bit on the small side, perhaps to make some room for the optical drive. The notebook’s sound system is a cut above ordinary, though, with its four speakers and MSI’s Nahimic surround-sound software.
|GP62 7REX Leopard Pro|
|Processor||Intel Core i7-7700HQ|
|Memory||16 GB DDR4-2400 (1 DIMM, single-channel)|
|Graphics||Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti with 4 GB GDDR5 RAM|
|Display||15.6″ panel with 1920×1080 max resolution|
|Storage||Toshiba XG3 M.2 PCIe NVMe 128 GB SSD
HGST Travelstar 7K1000 1 TB HDD
DVD Super Multi
|Audio||4x 2W speakers|
|Expansion and display outputs||1x USB 3.1 Type-C
2x USB 3.0
1x USB 2.0
|Card reader||1 SD card reader|
|Communications||Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 3168 (802.11ac)
Killer E2400 Gigabit Ethernet
|Input Devices||RGB LED backlit keyboard
|Dimensions||15.1″ x 10.2″ x 0.86″ (382.8 x 259.8 x 21.8 mm)|
|Weight||4.8 lbs (2.2 kg)|
6.5″ x 3.13″ x 1″ (165.1 x 79.5 x 25.4 mm)
As we noted a bit ago, Newegg sells this configuration of the GP62 for $1,299. Let’s dig in and see what it can do.
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.
The basic specs of the display aren’t likely to attract much attention. It has a standard 1920×1080 resolution and a very ordinary 60 Hz refresh rate. Depending on which configuration of the notebook users pick up, they’ll either get an “IPS-level” display or a “wide-view” display. A quick look at the screen on our review unit from a sharp angle indicates that it’s the “IPS-level” TN panel—a risible attempt to make this display sound like something it isn’t. On the upside, a TN panel’s response times might prove better than IPS for the kinds of fast action one might see on a gaming notebook.
To assess the quality of the display, we used an X-Rite i1 Display 2 colorimeter and the free-and-open source display testing tool DisplayCal.
The display’s coverage results are pedestrian, but not problematic. DisplayCal reports that it covers 94.1% of the sRGB color space. Judging by the resulting graph, though, it looks like the display overshoots the sRGB color space in reds and greens. Gamers might not care, but folks targeting sRGB with their color-critical work might find that reds and greens aren’t represented accurately on other displays that do conform to the sRGB gamut.
Another view of our display-profiling results suggests inaccuracy across the board, but especially in blues. Subjectively, the monitor’s colors are vivid, but quite cool. These figures might improve with a calibration, but we’re mostly interested in stock performance.
While the screen’s average brightness is acceptable at 222 cd/m², its luminance uniformity isn’t. The graph above shows peak brightness levels in cd/m² at various regions across the screen, and the results are notably inconsistent. In fifteen out of twenty-five zones of the screen, DisplayCal reported that the screen “exceeded nominal tolerance.” Some hot spots near the center of the display and the expected dimming near the corners will likely contribute to any perception of non-uniformity. Still, the greatest variance from the center to the edges of this display is just about 15%, not a figure that gamers are likely to notice in practice.
Our testing methods
To test the mettle of the GP62 Leopard Pro, we ran it through our usual suite of synthetic benchmarks and assessed its performance in a variety of games. For comparison, results from our recent gaming notebook reviews are included in the graphs. The GP62 is up against some tough competition here. The Aorus X5 is a powerful rig outfitted with Intel’s Core i7-7820HK and a GTX 1070, while the Aero 15 has a Core i7-7700HQ and a GTX 1060.
As always, we did our best to deliver clean benchmark numbers. For our “Inside the Second” benchmarking techniques, we rely on a tool called PresentMon that collects frame-time data from the games in our test suite. AIDA64 Engineer, a hardware detection, monitoring and benchmarking utility, enables us to track temperatures and clock speeds, among other things.
It’s useful to mention here that there are a few settings in Windows and in MSI’s control utility that can adjust the performance of the machine. Wherever possible, we prefer to use settings that draw an appropriate balance between performance, power consumption, and total system noise. For example, we use the “balanced” power setting in Windows rather than “High Performance,” and opt not to use MSI’s Cooler Boost technology, which increases fan speeds at the price of significantly increased fan noise. Users will be able to eke out a bit more performance than we were with those settings if they’re willing to put up with higher energy consumption and increased noise. We’re shooting for the most real-world-relevant results we can produce.
The first set of tests are part of the AIDA64 Engineer benchmarking suite. Primarily, these tests will provide a quick snapshot of what kind of performance each CPU can muster. With the two Kaby Lake processors in today’s comparison, Photoworxx uses AVX2 instructions, CPU Hash uses AVX, and FPU Julia and Mandel use AX2 with FMA.
Both the Aero 15 and the GP62 have Intel’s Core i7-7700HQ under the hood, so it’s no surprise that they’re posting similar results in most of these tests. The Aorus X5, with its more-powerful I7-7820HK, takes the lead. What is surprising is the GP62’s result in the CPU Photoworxx benchmark. The culprit here is almost certainly the GP62’s single-channel memory configuration. As the notebook’s memory is all on one DIMM, a benchmark like CPU Photoworxx is going to hit a bottleneck, as it involves significant memory traffic.
The first game in our benchmarking suite is this year’s reboot of Prey, a sci-fi horror shooter reminiscent of the Bioshock series. Gamers with an insatiable itch for collecting, crafting, and bashing shadowy aliens with a pipe wrench might want to check it out, especially now that it’s starting to show up in sales.
The video above shows the benchmarking run we’ve been using this for notebook reviews. The environment is the game’s Arboretum sector, a zone that’s enclosed like the rest of the spaceship that players explore in the game. It still offers long-distance views and thick foliage. We used the game’s Very High preset to stress these contenders.
Judging by both average FPS and 99th percentile frame time, there’s a significant dropoff in performance from the Aero 15 to the GP62. Most of that difference is explained by each notebook’s graphics card. The GP62 has a GTX 1050 Ti, the Aero 15 has a GTX 1060, and the the Aorus X5 has a GTX 1070. Still, the GP62 should deliver an enjoyable gaming experience, even if it’s not as fluid as those of much more expensive notebooks. Let’s dig into the numbers a bit further.
These “time spent beyond X” graphs quantify the “badness” during a benchmark, those moments when the fluidity of the animation is less than smooth—or at least less than perfect. If there are any frames beyond the 50-ms threshold, that indicates a severe hitch that brought down the average frame rate to 20 FPS or lower. 33 ms correlates to 30 FPS, or a 30Hz refresh rate—the figure you’ll ideally want at a minimum for Vsync to work at all on a 60-Hz display. Ideally, every frame should meet or surpass the 16.7-ms threshold, as that correlates to a 60 FPS instantaneous rate. The 8.3-ms threshold corresponds to 120 FPS, a very high standard for the machines to meet.
The in-game settings we use for this benchmark are useful for illustrating the differences between the notebooks, and especially the performance of their graphics cards. The 267 milliseconds that the GP62 spent past the 50-ms mark in at least one of our benchmark runs are troubling, because users are almost going to notice that slowdown. In this regard, the better-equipped (and more expensive) machines have a clear advantage. The GP62 spends only minimal amounts of time past 33.3 ms on tough frames, and it only posts 10 seconds past 16.7 ms over the course of our one-minute test run, at worst. Owners of a GP62 might not be able to brag that they can crank up all of the in-game graphics settings and play without a hitch, but they will be able to play the game with most of its eye candy turned on at a pleasant clip.
For the second round of our gaming performance tests, we sent the GP62 straight to Hell. This title might not be friendly to gamers, what with its endless swarms of hellspawn, but it’s proven to be quite friendly to a wide range of hardware. Its renderer typically finds a way to provide a smooth, hitch-free gaming experience no matter what hardware we use to play it.
For benchmarking, I’ve been loading up the opening UAC level in the game’s Arcade mode, and following a set path around the initial outdoor environment. There’s a few more unpredictably-moving NPCs in this stage than I typically like to see in a gaming benchmark, but Doom just doesn’t give players lots of time to quietly admire the scenery. I tested the game at its Ultra preset, with v-sync disabled.
This is a great showing for MSI’s notebook. While its average FPS numbers aren’t as lofty as the the numbers posted by the other notebooks, we’re still well over 60 FPS on average at these punishing graphics settings. A 17.5-ms 99th percentile frame time means that the experience is consistently smooth on the GP62, as well.
And look at that. Of the three notebooks in this comparison, the plucky GP62 manages to post the least amount of time past 16.7 ms (although you probably wouldn’t see much, if any, slowdown of that nature with the vanishing amounts of time spent past that threshold with any of these machines). The more powerful machines really separate themselves at the 8.3-ms mark, where the GTX 1050 Ti spends about three times as long as those systems on tough frames that drop its instantaneous rate of delivery under 120 FPS.
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
Having plumbed the depths of Hell, it’s time to explore an equally-inappropriate location for destination weddings: the wastes of Mordor. While Shadow of Mordor has been eclipsed by its sequel, Shadow of War, it’s proven in our recent reviews to be a tough nut for mid-range graphics cards to crack.
These results come from an early in-game sequence where players are first given the freedom to explore. In this benchmark run, we take Talion for a stroll around a rectangular plateau, admiring mountains and orc patrols from a distance. We tested this title at its Ultra preset.
As we’ve seen before, this title can make a graphics card put in a full day’s work. While the frame-time graph for the GP62 doesn’t display the fuzziness that we see in the results for the Aero 15, its average FPS numbers remain much lower. A 24-ms 99th percentile frame time suggests that there’s not a ton of pesky frames troubling the GP62, at least.
Digging in to the numbers further, we find that the GP62 spent almost nine seconds beyond the 16.7-ms mark over the course of our test run. Its slate is clean, though, at the higher thresholds we watch, suggesting that a quick change or two in the graphics settings is all this notebook needs to play Shadows of Mordor capably.
Grand Theft Auto V
For the second-to-last round in our gaming benchmark suite, we hop in a car (preferably someone else’s) and take it for a spin around Los Santos. Grand Theft Auto V has been out for several years now, but it remains one of the best open-world sandbox games on the market. We’ll see if next year’s hotly anticipated Red Dead Redemption 2 can knock off its crown.
Our benchmarking run occurs in an early mission that tasks players with repossessing a car and following the the character’s buddy Lamar on a little bit of a joyride. There are enough scripted events and vehicles in the mission that the benchmark is reasonably consistent. To emphasize the differences between the graphics cards we’re testing, in-game settings are generally maxed out, with a few exceptions.
If there are three graphs that succinctly demonstrate the differences between the mobile versions of the GTX 1070, GTX 1060, and GTX 1050 Ti, it’s these right here. The notebooks’ results are cleanly separated in the frame time graph, and the Aorus X5’s results are the lowest and most consistent. The GP62 posts the lowest average FPS and the highest 99th percentile frame time, but it’s worth remembering that we turned up the graphics settings higher than users are likely to in order to get a good look at the differences between the hardware. Even at these punishing settings, the GP62 isn’t far from delivering 99% of its frames at rates above 30 FPS.
Indeed, our time-spent-beyond analysis proves the point. The GP62 spends barely any time on frames that take longer than 33.3 ms to render in GTA V, even at these demanding graphics settings. Users should generally enjoy consistent frame delivery within the highs and lows that make up the GP62’s 39-FPS average. With a few changes in the in-game graphics settings, folks who’d like more a fluid gaming experience can likely get it.
The Witcher 3
The final game in the gaming test suite is a personal favorite. It’ll be a sad day in my house when The Witcher 3 has to be retired from the test suite alongside the other oldie-but-goodies in my Steam library.
The benchmarking run we’ve been using for gaming notebooks takes us to the Skellige Isles, where we take Geralt for a stroll along some cliffsides. The region is well-populated with NPCs, including a group of guards whom I can’t resist jostling every single time I benchmark the game. The game’s settings are bumped up to ultra, with HairWorks disabled.
As much as I love playing The Witcher 3, it’s proven to be vexing to benchmark. The fuzziness in the frame time graphs for both the GP62 and the Aero 15 notebooks demonstrates a very inconsistent gaming experience. While the GP62 posts average FPS numbers that are nothing to sneeze at, its high 99th-percentile frame time tells a very different story.
Despite its relatively high 99th-percentile frame time compared to the competition here, only a bit of roughness appears for the GP62 in our 50-ms and 33.3-ms charts. That’s probably because of the two large spikes in the frame-time plot above rather than any more general unsmoothness. That impression is bolstered by a look at the system’s time-spent-beyond-16.7-ms chart, where the GP62 and its GTX 1050 Ti spend just four seconds of our one-minute test run on tough frames that take longer than that to render. That result suggests the GP62 is more than up to delivering a generally smooth Witcher 3 experience, even if its frame rates aren’t as fluid as those of the more powerful competition.
Thermal and acoustic performance
Our gaming benchmarks clearly put MSI’s GP62 to work. Let’s take a look at how the machine handles the heat. A quick look at the bottom of the notebook reveals wide intake vents. Recall that there’s plenty of copper under the bottom cover, so it seems like MSI didn’t skimp on the heatpipes inside. The exhaust vents on the back panel are surprisingly small, though, measuring only 2.25″ wide (57 mm) each. Let’s see whether they’re up to the job.
Despite being small, the rear vents proved to be large enough to do what they needed to do. For our first thermal performance test, we dialed up Unigine’s Heaven benchmark to put a 100% load on the graphics chip. The laptop was left at the same settings as we used for the gaming benchmarks. We didn’t enable the laptop’s relatively noisy Cooler Boost fan profile.
Even after about twenty minutes of a GPU stress test, the GP62 didn’t show much sign of actually being stressed. The graphics card warmed up to about 67° C after a couple of minutes and stayed there. At no point did it exceed 70°. Because the temperatures stayed warm rather than hot, the GPU core clock was able to stay right around 1670 MHz, which is just a bit higher than the GTX 1050 Ti’s listed boost clock. That’s impressive. The infrequent dips in the GPU clock rate aren’t due to thermal throttling, but rather indicate moments when the benchmark transitioned between scenes. Notice the clockwork regularity of some of the dips.
To put the notebook’s Core i7-7700HQ under similarly-stressful circumstances, we loaded up Prime95‘s “blend” torture test. As before, we tracked clock rates and system temperatures for about twenty minutes while running the stress test.
With a 100% CPU load for the entirety of the stress test, one might expect to see the temperatures climb higher. However, processor temperatures were very stable, hovering around 80° C for the most part. There are two stretches where temperatures inched up to about 85°, and the CPU clock rates dip down just a bit to compensate. The average CPU clock rate was about 3.3 GHz, well above the Core i7-7700HQ’s listed base frequency of 2.8 GHz, but also well below its max turbo frequency of 3.8 GHz. To be fair, we wouldn’t expect to see that 3.8 GHz anywhere but under single-core loads, which Prime95 most definitely is not.
For a final look at the notebook’s thermal performance, we’ll set aside the artificial stress tests and take a peek at temperatures while gaming. We gathered twenty minutes of data while sailing around the Skellige Isles in The Witcher 3, tracking clock rates, system temperatures, and CPU and GPU usage.
This approach puts more stress on the graphics card than the processor. GPU load, on average, was about 95%, while the CPU load only averaged about 40%. During the run, both the CPU and GPU temperatures hovered right around 70° C. Neither component even came close to 80° C. Those are very comfortable temperatures for contemporary hardware, and show that MSI’s engineering team did an excellent job with the GP62’s cooling solution. Gamers should expect the notebook’s hardware to perform up to its full potential, even without cranking up the fans.
The GP62 not only does a good job keeping its hardware cool, it also does so quietly. The “Auto” fan speed profile that we used for thermal testing is tuned to keep the fans quiet, and spun down entirely if possible. The CPU and GPU fans are controlled separately, and will spin up to about 4500 RPM under load. At this speed, the fans produce about 39 dBA of noise, which is rather negligible. The notebook’s Cooler Boost settings cranks the fan speeds up between 5000 and 6000 RPM. At these speeds, the fans produce upwards of 50 dBA of noise. Most users won’t need Cooler Boost, though, unless they’re particularly fond of running torture tests on the CPU and GPU simultaneously.
At only 41WH, the GP62’s battery looks small just from the specification sheet. With that kind of capacity, it’s no surprise that the GP62 doesn’t survive very long away from an outlet. The first of our battery life tests simulates web browsing using our in-house BrowserBench tool, which loads and reloads an old version of our sites home page, cycling through content every 45 seconds. Notebooks in the test are set on their “balanced” power profile with the screen at 50% brightness, and are connected to the internet through Wi-Fi.
With just four hours of battery life in light usage, the GP62 is no mobility champion compared to some of the notebooks we’ve tested recently. That’s probably down to the large screen and relatively power-hungry components inside this system.
Both the Aero 15 and the Aorus X5 have monstrous 94.24 Wh batteries, so it’s not all that surprising to see the GP62 fall to second place versus the Aero 15, especially since the Aero 15 was specifically engineered for long battery life. It is a little more surprising to see the GP62 beat out the Aorus X5, considering the relative size of their batteries. Chalk that victory up to Nvidia’s Optimus technology, which Gigabyte opted not to include in the Aorus X5 so that it could provide G-Sync instead.
To test battery life while gaming, we give notebooks a pretty light task. Current notebook batteries just can’t supply enough power to let processors and video cards stretch their legs. It’s worth noting, however, that Nvidia’s latest mobile graphics chips acknowledge this reality, and they’ll cap frame rates and pace frames in hardware to extend battery life while maintaining a smooth gameplay experience. With the same power setting as we used for the web browsing tests, we played a fresh round of Civilization V with one eye on a stopwatch.
Even that battery-saving mojo can’t quite help the GP62 last away from an outlet when gaming. While none of these laptops really give users the portable gaming freedom of their dreams, the GP62 couldn’t even manage an hour in our test. The Aorus X5 doubles that score, and the Aero 15 triples it.
Virtual reality performance
To assess the Aero 15’s virtual-reality gaming capabilities, we tried out Futuremark’s VRMark utility. After running its benchark, VRMark spits out a “score” and an average FPS number that can be compared to those from systems that exactly match the minimum and recommended hardware requirements for the Oculus Rift.
VR-capable laptops typically advertise themselves as such, and MSI makes no boasts about the GP62’s ability to push enough pixels to keep an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive happy. It did manage an average frame rate of 82.76 FPS, which is just above the rate acheived by a system outfitted with the absolute minimum hardware specified by Oculus. Even if one did want to chance Oculus’ Asynchronous Spacewarp tech on the GP62, it’s unclear whether MSI wired up the machine’s HDMI port to give the GTX 1050 Ti a direct path to the headset. Given this machine’s modest VR ambitions, it seems unlikely. We’ll let you know if we learn more.
Implementation questions aside, the GP62’s result is definitely short of the 109-FPS average that VRMark uses as the target frame rate for the benchmark. VRMark suggests that the machine is capable of VR, but advises would-be VR gamers to try before they buy.
All told, MSI’s GP62 Leopard Pro notebook is a competent gaming platform. Our testing suite didn’t reveal a machine capable of playing most contemporary games at maxed-out settings, but we did find that the GP62 is generally just a settings tweak or two away from optimal frame rates. Considering the notebook’s price tag, that’s not a bad place to be. In the best-optimized title in our testing suite, Doom, we’re able to say that gamers can happily crank up the settings as far as they like before diving into the action.
The strongest point of the GP62 is its thermal performance. Its cooling solution is more than up to the task of getting heat out of the machine, and it does so without making a racket. Users can be confident that excessive heat won’t shorten the life of this notebook or reduce their hearing abilities. To be fair, the GeForce GTX 1050 Ti isn’t exactly a hot, power-hungry graphics card, so the GP62’s cooling solution didn’t have the toughest job to do. Nvidia rates this card’s “total graphics power” at 64 watts. For comparison’s sake, Nvidia rates the mobile GTX 1070 at 115 watts. Still, MSI deserves credit for the system’s cool and quiet operation.
The SteelSeries keyboard is also definitely a plus, as is the attractive brushed-metal cover on the GP62’s lid. This machine looks sharp. Perhaps the shield logo on the cover is a little on the large side, but it’s hard to criticize a company for putting its logo in its products, especially when other notebooks on the market are much more garishly designed. Somebody out there’s happy that this notebook includes a DVD drive, and we were pleased to see signs of solid construction, as evidenced by the notebook’s sturdy display hinge.
The GP62 isn’t without its faults, though. The biggest disappointment is the battery life. With four hours of light web-browsing endurance and just under an hour of gaming battery life, the GP62 just isn’t a road warrior. Other concerns include some portions of the chassis that exhibit too much flex between the keyboard and trackpad, and MSI’s decision to hide one of the bottom panel’s screws under a factory-sealed sticker. Users are going to be discouraged from upgrading any of the laptop’s hardware. That’s a shame, because owners will almost certainly want to replace the GP62’s relatively small 128GB SSD and unfortunate single-channel memory configuration at some point. Buyers also shouldn’t be fooled by the GP62’s “IPS-level” TN panel, although that screen’s relatively fast response times could prove handy for games.
The biggest complication for the GP62 is the ready availability of laptops outfitted with a much more capable GTX 1060 6GB graphics chip for not that much more scratch—if they cost more at all. Take MSI’s own GL62VR. That machine has a slightly thicker chassis, a GTX 1060 with 6GB of GDDR5, and a 512 M.2 SATA SSD on board instead of the SSD/HD combo in the GP62. The GL62VR runs just $1130 at e-tail right now after a rebate—much cheaper than the $1300 GP62 in the config we tested. That alone makes it hard to recommend the GTX 1050 Ti machine.
Even though it’s tough to recommend the GP62 at its current price, we can commend MSI for the qualities that we liked about the laptop, and we encourage interested readers to look for those same features as they shop for a notebook. We think MSI did an especially good job with the GP62’s heatsink and fan system, and would love to see how it performs with a hotter chunk of silicon under the hood. Considering the wide variety of mobile PCs that MSI has on the market, we’re confident that users can find the right notebook to fit their needs from the company’s wide selection.