When I reviewed the last MSI laptop, the MSI GS63VR model, I expressed how I have grown tired of MSI's overall design feel of their gaming devices. Well, I had to eat my words with the GE73VR as, while it still bears the same overall colour pallet, it is one of the sexiest gaming laptops I have used in a while. The company might not be doing an overhaul in design, but it looks different and feels different too. It's sleek, striking, and its brushed aluminium design gives the laptop a great amount of character. This direction then goes hand-in-hand with its internals as the GE73VR is a beast both on the outside and the inside.
Want to watch the device in action? Take a look at our video review
Packing a Nvidia GTX 1070 with 8GB of RAM, 1TB HDD with a 256GB SSD, 16GB of DDR4 RAM, and a Core i7 7700HQ, the GE73VR Raider is a monster and there is no doubt about it. Its 17-inch 1080p display and the overall size of it all makes you wonder how it is all packed inside. It is a bit heavier and thicker than the GS63VR model coming in at 1.1-inches thin, and weighing 2.8Kgs. This is not a big deal as the device still feels portable and the fact that it does not include a MaxQ graphics chip is a big deal here as the price has not been inflated in any way.
Technically speaking, the GE73VR is just as sexy as the MSI Stealth models, packs the same power and is at least R15k cheaper thanks to the GTX 1070 being a standard chip. This just goes to show how expensive that MaxQ technology really is.
When looking at the overall design of the GE73VR Raider, it packs everything you need in a gaming laptop. SD Card slot, 3x USB 3.0 slots (two on one side and one on the other). It has a Thunderbolt 3 port, MiniDisplay port and of course HDMI, LAN, and audio as well as headphone jack. These are all standard on high-end devices today. You will never believe it but the USB ports have a strip of red LED lights on them that makes a world of difference in their look. It also makes it super-easy to find the ports in the dark. It is a little tweak but it really stands out. Yes, you can turn them off if you are boring.
When opening the laptop up, you are introduced to a decent 1080p display. Sure, it could have done with less of a bezel but it does its job. The only issue I had was the screen could have been a bit brighter. I have experienced laptops with a more vibrant and brighter display so the GE73VR kind of felt like it did not reach the same nits as others on the market. According to detailed testing, I was right. The GE73VR only reaches 276 nits of brightness, which is 13 nits lower than my Acer Aspire R13 even, and that is not even a gaming laptop.
When looking at displays, Asus has a laptop on the market with a whopping 476 nits display, which is quite a substantial step up from the GE73VR. With that being said, where the display does overperform is in its colour gamut. It is a massive step up from the GS63VR Stealth and would probably beat many competitors on the market with its colour range. The display is also 120Hz which means yay for 120FPS gaming. It goes without saying that games look fantastic on the device. I tested my latest addiction, Subnautica and wow! Of course, no gaming benchmark is complete without a run of Destiny 2 and pushing that gorgeous, yet terrible game to the limit. Overwatch was also tested and while it is an old game, it is still a great way to test out the hardware on the device.
Destiny 2 was no surprise a smooth experience to test out. Running at 1080p on the max settings, the game managed a solid 80FPS with a few dips to the 60FPS mark. This means that the laptop is capable of running the game as a smooth 60FPS and above at 1080p without a hiccup. When it came to the render resolution, increasing it to 150% dropped frames to 45 FPS and 200%, which is 4K downscaled to 1080p resulted in a 25-30 FPS output. It was strange as the VRAM was only 4GB/8GB used which means the CPU started to bottleneck which probably resulted in the lower frames at the higher render resolution. This just went to show that the GE73VR Raider has more than enough power in its graphics chip to deliver a solid game experience.
While Subnautica is not really a visual benchmark, it was still fun to test out as the gorgeous display on the device brought the game's colours to life. Running on the highest setting resulted in a solid 60FPS with a few freeze frames every so often. It was nothing game breaking and an overall pleasant test.
It goes without saying that Overwatch is a breeze for the device. 100FPS, Epic Settings, all at 1080p. The MSI GE73VR was able to pull it all off without even batting an eyelid and the entire experience was smooth and enjoyable. It also goes without saying that the overall comfort of the laptop makes the game enjoyable to play on the device too. The GPU did hit a high of 79-degrees but the cooling on the laptop is very good and the heat dispersion is handled very well.
SteelSeries Keyboard Show
Most MSI laptops released in the past few months now include a fancy SteelSeries keyboard and this is no exception. The keyboard on the GE73VR Raider is fantastic and travel time is smooth and efficient thanks to its 1.9 millimetre travel time. It is also a fully-stocked keyboard so yay for number pads and each key can be individually customized with an array of lighting options. The sky is really the limit here and it is one of the device's best new features. It also helps that you can save presets for each game and quickly change to them using the dedicated SteelSeries button (yes there is a button) that toggles through the presets you have saved.
General use of the laptop was also a breeze. While it is way too big to replace my work laptop, it is comfortable and I could see myself owning one of these and being pretty happy with it. The SSD makes everything much faster, the ports are ample to tackle any challenge you throw at it, and the keyboard lets me type this review faster than my Razer keyboard I use on a daily basis. Battery life is average as gaming laptops go with an average of 2-3 hours of use all depending on the game you are playing. This could also change the settings and power you are pulling from it. But then again it is a gaming laptop so you would normally plug it in while gaming anyway and keep the battery for non-gaming things.
Other than its not-so-bright display, the MSI GE73VR Raider is a powerful gaming machine with some pretty impressive performance. Its design feels fresh while still being part of the same old “it is gaming so it has to be red and black” theme. When comparing it to other devices on the market, it comes in fairly affordable when looking at the market and Acer's Predator Triton is sitting at double the price (R55,000). Although it does have a GTX 1080 in it. The MSI GE73VR Raider comes in at R31,999 which is not too bad. It's a hard argument really as the gaming laptop scene is so competitive these days that you really have to compare the slightest differences. At least this is cheaper than its MaxQ counterpart.
This review was based off a loan unit provided to us by MSI