MSI GP70-2PE ‘Leopard’ Gaming Notebook Review

/ 6 years ago

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A Closer Look – Outside

Built with smooth clean lines and rounded corners and edges, the GP70 has a matte black brushed effect finish which is used throughout most of MSI’s Gaming Series products, Built in to the same 17.3″ frame as the previous generation GP70, this newer model is as good as identical in appearance. Even though this system has a bigger display than the GS60 Ghost Pro which we recently looked at, the Leopard width and depth wise is not much different. It may be near twice as thick as the GS60 as well as 50% heavier, but in this area of the market, a slightly heavier build is somewhat expected.


Anti-glare displays are starting to become a more popular option for notebook displays, eliminating the reflection that is typically found on a glossy panel. If you have used a glossy panel then you will know where I’m coming from here. Built in to a 17.3″ frame, the GP70 features a FHD 1920 x 1080 panel with the anti-glare coating that is a better option for a gaming system in my mind.


On the back of the display is the only indication that this is a gaming system. Set into the plastic frame is an MSI badge with the gaming series logo below. Unlike the GS60 the badge sadly does not light up when the system is on, it should have been nice to see it here, but even as a small addition, lighting up the badge does come with a price tag – even if it is small. For a system that is more price conscious, I’m therefore not fussed about the LED.


Running down the left hand side of the chassis we find a Kensington lock point, DC power jack, a grill for exhausting heat, a HDMI output, two USB3.0, headphone-out and microphone-in jacks with gold-plated terminals to give a better and clearer audio experience and finally a SD card reader.


The rear of the notebook is clear of any I/O or grills however we can get a look at the tall feet that lift the notebook clear from a desktop surface to provide the fan with a good supply of air, resulting in a cooler running system.


A BD/DVD-RW combo drive takes up over half of the space available on the right hand side of the chassis, although MSI are still able to cram in a couple of USB2.0 ports, one of which features MSI’s Super Charger technology, delivering a higher power throughput for charging power hunger devices such as iPads. Towards the rear of the chassis is finally a VGA output and an Ethernet port for network connections through the KillerLAN NIC.


Whilst using the GP70, purely by chance I made a discovery which has stumped me a little. If we look closely at the USB port (and the VGA and Ethernet ports as well for that matter) we can see that they are in fact upside down. Naturally the only way I found this out was when I tried to use the Super Charger enabled USB port to charge my phone, only to find my USB cable didn’t go in the port first time. Now we have all had the situation where we’ve gone to insert a USB cable upside down by mistake, but to have it not insert the right way up is a little unusual. I have quizzed MSI as to why these ports are upside down and I am waiting on a response. Perhaps someone made a mistake whilst designing the notebook in the first instance? Once I find out the reason for this, I’ll be sure to give the reason right here.


A webcam is another feature that we expect to see on any notebook system these days, although whilst a large number of these give a just-do image, MSI ensures that their gaming notebooks offer more than a just-do feed with a 720p sensor in their cameras.


The keyboard for any gamer is almost certainly one of the most important parts of a gaming system. Forget what the game looks and sounds like, if you don’t have a board that feels right or doesn’t respond in the right way, you are almost likely going to get frustrated. Personally the feel from the Steelseries boards that MSI use on their notebooks for me is not that bad for the purpose of typing like I do virtually all the time I’m using a computer, however as I don’t play games all that much, I am not able to speak from the gamers perspective. Rest assured though that I have spoken to a pair of professional gamers in the past who can confidently say that they are happy with the Steelseries keyboards that are found on these notebooks. If they are good enough for the pro’s then they are good enough for me.


Backlit keyboards are, like a number of other features, becoming very popular on notebooks, especially those that are gaming orientated. In order to manage the price point of the GP70 however, there is no lighting to be seen on this board.


Running above the keyboard is a row of seven hot keys. From left to right these are; ODD Eject, display output, airplane mode, cooler boost, WLAN on/off, MSI gaming panel and the power button. Like the Ghost Pro, the power button alternates between blue and orange to indicate when the NVIDIA GPU is being utilised and you’re getting the higher level of performance that is on offer.


Working with the Realtek audio codec and MSI’s audio boost technology, a pair of small stereo speakers are positioned to either side of the hot key buttons.


Below the keyboard, the track pad consists of a recessed area with a series of raised dimples as such which mark out the working area. Compared to the smooth surface of most touchpads, personally this one is not that great to use, the patterned surface I feel has lost its edge so to speak and I feel like I have to correct cursor movements more often than not. Just above the touchpad is a key which disables the pad when an external mouse is being used, eliminating any interference when part of your hand touches the pad during a gaming session for example.


Although the touch pad itself is not to my taste, the left and right buttons are, on the other hand, quite nice. Although not easily seen in the image below, the button has a glossy finish with a subtle glitter effect embedded into it and a thin metallic strip running along the back edge. In front of the button are the system LEDs. Marked on the upper surface and visible from the front where they can be seen when the lid is closed, the LEDs indicate (from left to right): drive activity, Bluetooth status, WLAN status, battery charging status, Caps lock, num lock and sleep state.


On the underside of the system we find a number of small grills through which air can circulate, whilst a removable cover surrounds what appears to be most of the motherboard. A warranty sticker is placed over one of the screws so I will make it clear, if you haven’t already guessed, that any upgrades that you make to the system during the two-year warranty period will invalidate your notebooks warranty. If you wish to have more than 8GB of RAM then you are best off in purchasing the notebook with this upgrade already done and still have your shiny warranty still intact should you need it.


At the back of the notebook we have a removable battery (something that the GS60 Ghost Pro does not have). The 6-cell battery here holds a 4400mAH / 49wH capacity which should see a typical running time of around 2-3 hours when in balanced or power save modes. When we come to the battery test later on we will get a clearer idea of how well the battery performs.


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