The MSI GT70 2PE Dominator Pro is a high-end gaming laptop computer with a fourth-generation Core i7-4810MQ processor, 32 GiB of RAM, 17.3” Full HD screen, three SSD units in RAID 0, a GeForce GTX 880M video card, high-end Gigabit Ethernet and Wi-Fi controllers, and much more. Let’s analyze this powerful machine.
The box of the MSI GT70 2PE Dominator Pro, shown in Figure 1, is huge and comes in black and red colors.
Figure 2 shows the set of accessories that come with the MSI GT70 2PE Dominator Pro: manuals, a driver disc, and a 120 W power supply.
Due to its powerful hardware, the GT70 2PE Dominator Pro is big and heavy compared to typical 14” or 15” laptops. It measures 16.9 x 11.3 x 2.2 inches (428 x 288 x 55 mm) and weighs 8.6 lbs (3.9 kg).
The top cover is made of plastic and brushed aluminum, with a badge at the center.
Figure 3: The MSI GT70 2PE Dominator Pro
Let’s take a closer look at this laptop in the next pages.
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At the left side of the laptop, we see a ventilation opening, three USB 3.0 ports, an SD card reader, and 5.1 analog audio connectors.
At the right side, there are two USB 2.0 ports and the optical unit (Blu-Ray writer).
At the front side of the laptop you will find the status LEDs.
At the rear of the GT70 2PE Dominator Pro, there is an opening for anti-theft devices from Kensington, the power connector, the Gigabit Ethernet port, a VGA output, a Mini DisplayPort output, an HDMI output, and another ventilation opening.
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Figure 8 shows the MSI GT70 2PE Dominator Pro with its lid lifted. The big 17.3” screen is anti-reflective, which is great if you work (or play) with light sources located behind you. The screen resolution is Full HD (1080p, i.e., 1920 x 1080), which is excellent.
The GT70 has a full-size keyboard with well-spaced keys, from SteelSeries. The keyboard is LED-backlit with programmable colors, divided in three zones.
Above the keyboard are the speakers, and the power button is located between them. There are also some touch buttons with funcions such as a sortcut to the media player, set the cooler at full speed, change the keyboard backlight, turn off the screen, turn on the airplane mode, and also a shortcut to MSI’s control panel for the computer.
At the top of the screen you will find the HD webcam and the embedded microphone.
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Figure 11 shows the bottom of the MSI GT70 2PE Dominator Pro. At the bottom left corner is the space for the battery, and the rest of the area is covered by an easily removable cover. There is also a subwoofer.
The 11.1 V battery of the GT70 2PE Dominator Pro is shown in Figure 12. It has a capacity of 7,800 mAh.
Figure 13 shows the bottom of the GT70 without its cover. The motherboard is at the center, with the coolers at the top right corner. At the bottom there is a bay with a 2.5” hard disk drive installed, while at the upper left there is a second bay, with the three mSATA SSDs.
Figure 13: bottom cover removed
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Figure 14 shows the optical unit, which is a Blu-Ray burner model SN-506 from Toshiba/Samsung. It reads and writes CDs at 24x, reads and writes DVDs at 8x, and reads an writes Blu-Ray discs at 6x speed.
The hard disk drive that comes with the MSI GT70 2PE Dominator Pro is a Western Digital HGST Travelstar 7K1000 1 TB unit (7,200 rpm, 32 MiB cache).
We were amazed with the MSI GS70 Stealth because it comes with two mSATA SSDs in RAID, but the GT70 2PE Dominator Pro goes one step further: it comes with three 128 GiB mSATA SSDs in RAID 0 configuration. This means it the laptop has a 384 GiB primary drive, with a theoretical speed of about 1,500 MiB/s.
The MSI GT70 2PE Dominator Pro has four memory sockets, populated with four ADATA DDR3-1600 8 GiB modules, for a total of 32 GiB, which is the maximum amount of memory this laptop supports. Figure 17 shows two of the memory modules that come with the laptop.
Figure 17: two of the four memory modules
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Figure 18 shows the main components if the GT70 2PE Dominator Pro, with the coolers removed. The CPU that comes with the model we reviewed is the Core i7-4810MQ, with four cores (eight virtual cores thanks to the Hyper-Threading technology), clock of 2.8 GHz (3.8 GHz at turbo mode) and 6 MiB of L2 cache.
Figure 19 shows the coolers of the GT70. There is only one fan for both coolers (one cooler is for the CPU while the other is for the video card).
Figures 20 and 21 show the GeForce GTX 880M video card that comes with the GT70 2PE Dominator Pro, which is available as an MXM module. It uses the top-shelf mobile GPU from NVIDIA, with 1,536 processing cores and 16 GDDR5 memory chips for a total of 8 GiB of video RAM, running at 5 GHz and accessed through a 256-bit bus. It means the video chip accesses memory with a bandwidth of 160 GB/s.
Figure 21: video card (solder side)
The MSI GT70 2PE Dominator Pro comes with Windows 8.1. There are a few programs installed, most of them configuration utilities for the laptop features (such as keyboard illumination), and also Skype, Office 365 (demo version), and Norton Internet Security (a 60-day trial version).
We liked that the desktop comes clean the first time the computer is used, without any “bloatware.”
The MSI GT70 2PE Dominator Pro has such a high-end configuration, that there is not much to tell about its performance. The Core i7-4810HQ has four physical cores, and thanks to the Hyper-Threading technology, it is detected as an eight-core CPU by the operating system. The default clock rate is 2.8 GHz (3.8 GHz in Turbo Boost mode).
As a gamer laptop, the video card is also one of the highlights of the GT70 Dominator pro. The GeForce GTX 880M with 8 GiB of GDDR5 memory is one of the most powerful mobile GPUs available, and it should run any recent game in high quality settings. Just for you to have an idea and compare with your own machine, in 3DMark it scored 5,578 in the Fire Strike benchmark and 20,031 in the Cloud Gate benchmark.
Thanks to the configuration with not “only” two, but three SSDs in RAID 0, it is very fast in any disk-intensive tasks. We tested the boot drive with DiskSpeed32, and it measured an average read speed of 1,525 MiB/s, which is impressive. In real life, this means faster loading times for programs and games, not to mention the time it takes to load the operating system.
The Blu-Ray burner is what we expected in such a high-end laptop.
The audio system is excellent, with Dynaudio speakers and Creative Sound Blaster Cinema software.
The Full HD (1080p, i.e. 1920 x 1080) resolution screen is excellent for both work and gaming.
The only issue about the GT70 is regarding mobility: it is big and heavy, but it is expected for this kind of laptop, which is focused on performance and not on mobility.
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The main specifications for the MSI GT70 2PE Dominator Pro which we analyzed include:
- Dimensions: 16.9 x 11.3 x 2.2 inches (428 x 288 x 55 mm) (H x D x W)
- Weight: 8.6 lbs (3.9 kg)
- Screen: 17.3”, 1920 x 1080 native resolution
- Processor: Intel Core i7 4810MQ (four cores, 2.8 GHz, 3.8 GHz turbo clock, 6 MB cache)
- Chipset: Intel Mobile HM87 Express
- Memory: 32 GiB DDR3-1600 (four modules of 8 GB)
- Graphics chip: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 880M
- Storage: three Toshiba 128 GiB SSDs (THNSNJ128GMCU) in RAID 0, and one Western Digital HGST Travelstar 7K1000 hard disk drive (1 TB, 7,200 rpm, 32 MiB cache)
- Optical drive: Toshiba Samsung SN-506 BLu-Ray writer (CD 24x, DVD 8x, BD 6x)
- Webcam: yes, 1.0 Megapixel
- Network: Atheros Killer E2200 Gigabit Ethernet
- Wireless network: IEEE 802.11ac
- Ports: three USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, HDMI, mini DisplayPort, Gigabit Ethernet
- Memory card reader: Yes, SD card
- Operating System: Windows 8.1
- More information: https://www.msi.com/
- Average price in the US*: USD 2,700
* Researched at Newegg.com on the day this review was published.
The MSI GT70 2PE Dominator Pro is a laptop for the gamer enthusiast who wants an extreme mobile gamer hardware. All of its components are top-shelf parts, and its configuration with three SSDs in RAID 0 is unique.
The only “problem” of the GT70 2PE Dominator Pro is its mobility. If you want a good gamer laptop and want it to be slim and light, the MSI GS70 Stealth is a better choice. The MSI GT70 2PE Dominator Pro is designed to be powerful, not to be easy to carry around.
- Powerful hardware configuration
- Three SSDs in RAID 0 configuration
- Full HD anti-glare screen
- 7,200 rpm hard drive instead of a 5,400 rpm model
- High-end Gigabit Ethernet and Wi-Fi controllers
- Excellent audio quality, with built-in subwoofer
- Excellent keyboard from SteelSeries
- Expensive (of course)
- Big and heavy
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