MSI GS70 2QE Stealth Gaming Notebook Review
Gaming laptops used to be thick and power-hungry mean machines that calling it portable computers almost seem inappropriate. Thanks to technological advancements, however, manufacturers like MSI can now produce notebook PCs – such as the GS70 2QE Stealth we have here – that’s thin enough to be mistaken for a first gen ultrabook, yet powerful enough to provide respectable frame rates on popular game titles.
Design and Construction
Our assessment of the MSI GS70 Stealth’s overall design can be summed up in this phrase: Simple yet elegant. Of course, we’re not going to simply leave it at that, so let us further elaborate.
We really cannot point at one specific aspect of the GS70 Stealth’s design that really stood out to us. As such, our admiration for this notebook’s aesthetics is really just a result of the combination of a lot of commendable, not to mention thoughtful, design implementations that ticked all of our check boxes.
Let’s start off with its make. The GS70 Stealth’s body is mostly made up of Aluminum/Magnesium alloy which, in large measure, added a touch of class to what would otherwise be a straightforward-looking gray notebook PC.
The outer shell of this notebook PC has a brushed metal finish and features the company’s subtly-printed logo that sits above an elaborate MSI Gaming Series emblem. The latter comes complete with its own backlight LED for added bling during night time.
Instead of the usual two-hinge implementation, the upper portion of the GS70 Stealth is connected to the main body by a single robust hinge that also hides what looks like a set of miniscule speakers.
Prying the laptop open will reveal its monolithic 17-inch display that’s bordered by a fairly thick bezel at the top and bottom portion, as well as two slightly more slender bezels on each side. We’re not sure why MSI felt the need to use a thicker bezel at the top and bottom portions, but hopefully they can trim it down a bit on their next build.
Moving further down we find a clean layout comprising of round power/reset button right smack at the middle, a speaker grill that spans almost the entire length of the notebook, a SteelSeries keyboard (more in this later) and finally an average-sized trackpad that’s flanked by generously-spaced bare aluminum portion that serves as palm rest.
A SteelSeries logo can be found just below the left CTRL key, and an Intel logo on the other side just below the secondary Enter key on the NumPad. Another set of markings, each with its corresponding LED light, can be found on the left-most lip of the notebook. These LEDs acts as a status indicator for some of the basic functions of the laptop such as battery, WLAN, Bluetooth, CAPS LOCK, NumLock, HDD activity and Sleep.
While not being billed as an ultrabook, it can definitely pass up as one thanks to its slim form factor that only measures a hair under 22mm on the sides. Oh and that measurement is across the across the board too, unlike other notebook PCs that has a tapered design.
The sides, as one would expect, house all of the ports and slots of the GS70 Stealth. On the right are two USB 3.0 ports, a 4-in-1 SD card slot, a DC jack, Kensington lock and a vent for the right exhaust. Meanwhile, the left flank houses three gold-plated audio jacks for Mic, Line-in and Audio, another pair of USB 3.0 ports two mini DisplayPorts, an HDMI out, Killer Gigabit LAN and another similarly-sized vent for added heat dissipation.
Although most users don’t typically mind how the underbelly of a laptop look like, that doesn’t mean that companies like MSI could also care less about it. In addition to three plastic stands that seemed to be integrated to the case itself, a total of six rubber feet lifts the GS70 Stealth slightly above the surface that it’s laid on for better cooling and audio performance which we’ll discuss later on.
Two additional vents can be found in this section which is surrounded with a sheet of soft velvet surface for better traction when the laptop is placed, well, on your lap.
Display and Multimedia
Despite the availability of high-resolution display panels with 2K and up resolution, MSI opted to go for a 1080p screen on the GS70 Stealth, and a Twisted Nematic (TN) panel at that. We would happily sweep the absence of touchscreen under the rug, but considering that they’re asking a pretty penny for this gaming laptop, they should’ve at least upped the screen resolution on this notebook.
Nitpicking aside though, full-HD resolution on a 17-inch display is still pretty respectable even in today’s standards. Despite the horrible viewing angle, particularly in vertical anngles, brought to us by the TN panel, the GS70 Stealth’s screen is pretty commendable in the sense that the panel is capable of producing deep blacks and vivid colors.
Although the GS70 Stealth’s display just barely met our standards, its audio prowess is everything but pedestrian. Whether you’re listening with a pair of headphones or blasting the sound out through its very capable loudspeakers, you’ll surely be in for a treat.
If you know what you’re doing, the already impressive audio performance of this gaming notebook can be further enhanced (or suit your personal sound preference) by managing the sound output using the pre-installed Sound Blaster Cinema 2 and Audio Boost software.
Keyboard and Trackpad
Aesthetically and function-wise, the GS70 Stealth’s keyboard is probably one of the best keyboards we’ve seen and used on a laptop. Of course, your mileage will vary depending on your personal biases for keyboards, but even so, we feel that users will be happy with the stuff that it brings to the table.
Let’s start off with the keyboard layout. We’re happy to report that most of the keys are where they’re supposed to be, are evenly-spaced, and are aptly-sized for comfortable use. There are, however, a few quirks that we noticed on its keyboard that one wouldn’t normally mind, but for the sake of this review we’re obliged to point it out:
Questionable button placement of some of the keys aside though, we feel that SteelSeries really did a fine job with the GS70 Stealth’s keyboard. The keys provide a satisfying tactile feel when pressed and have a fairly decent travel.
What really impressed us the most, however, is the pre-installed SteelSeries Engine that allows users to personalize the keyboard according to their liking. Inside the app, users can assign macro to a certain key, swap out key functions to match their preference, automatically activate a keyboard profile when a specific program is launched, and the program can even provide a statistical data of the number of presses you’ve done on your session.
Lastly, the SteelSeries Engine can be used to control the keyboard backlight settings. With it, users can choose the color of the backlight and what zones will that color be applied to (the whole keyboard is divided into three sections/zones) or across all the keys, as well as select from six (6) available lighting effects for further customization.
As excited as we were with customizability of the keyboard, we don’t have the same sentiment for its trackpad. Well, it’s spacious enough for comfortable use and is able to quickly recognize touch and click inputs, thus making it a viable input device for day-to-day use but apart from that, there’s really not much to write home about. Besides, you’ve already spent a lot in getting the GS70 Stealth, so we expect that a few more moolah wouldn’t hurt so bad to get a decent gaming mouse along with it.
Unlike on our smartphone and tablet reviews, we don’t usually delve too much on the pre-installed software on our notebook reviews, but we’re ready to make an exception for the GS70 Stealth.
So far we’ve already mentioned three pre-installed apps (Sound Blaster Cinema 2, Audio Boost and SteelSeries Engine) that you wouldn’t normally get on other notebook PCs. In addition to those, there are software like the MSI Dragon Gaming Center which gives us an overview of the vital information about the system (temperature, battery status, fan speed, etc.) and it also acts as a portal to other helpful apps (seen below) that helps you manage how the components behave during use.
Qualcomm Killer Network Manager
NVidia GeForce Experience
Instant Play – used to assign a P1 key to launch a specific game. Adjusts settings like volume, brightness and mouse sensitivity.
Shift Mode – Lets user shift from three available modes (Green,Comfort and Sport) on the fly that adjusts system settings according to the user’s liking (more performance and faster fan speed at the cost of battery life, balanced, or better battery mileage at the cost of performance).
There’s also an app called System Control Manager (SCM for short) which is basically a GUI that allows users to control other aspects of the device such as wireless connectivity, webcam and display settings based on five available presets (Movie, Presentation, Game, Office and ECO).
Along with the aforementioned apps, the GS70 Stealth also comes with Norton Security Suite and X-Play GameCaster (free six months trial). The former may or may not be appreciated by users depending on their preference, but the latter will certainly come in handy especially for gamers who like to cast while their playing.
Performance and Benchmark
As good as the design of the MSI GS70 Stealth is, none of it will matter if it can’t produce the firepower needed to run resource-heavy games, and we glad to report that it didn’t disappoint.
Overall compute performance is handled by an Intel Core i7-4710HQ quad-core processor with up to 16GB of DDR3L RAM. On the graphics side, the GS70 Stealth is one of the first locally-available gaming laptops that comes equipped with the new GTX 970M from NVidia. This hardware setup alone will already give you an idea of what kind of performance you can expect out of this machine, but in case you need proof, here are the result that we got from our benchmark tests:
Note: The tables below are only meant to illustrate the results, not necessarily compare them to one another.
3DMark 11 (Performance and Extreme)
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3DMark FireStrike (Performance and Extreme)
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3DMark Vantage (Performance and Extreme)
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FurMark (1080p and 720p)
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Unigine Heaven 4 (Basic and Extreme)
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As evident on the benchmark test results, the GS70 Stealth pretty much blew by all of the test with relative ease and got a remarkable score from each of them. That was the same case when we ran popular games on this bad boy:
As you can see, the frame rates we got out of this beast were very satisfactory. Needless to say, the gaming experience while using the GS70 Stealth was truly immersive, not to mention buttery smooth thanks to the raw power of the GTX 970M.
Note: The tables above are only meant to illustrate the results, not necessarily compare them to one another.
Battery Life and Temperature
Apart from sheer performance, most gaming laptops are known to exhibit this awful trait: Poor Battery Life. And while we were kinda expecting that GS70 Stealth, the mileage we got was actually not as worst as we initially thought it would be, albeit it’s not gonna win the hearts of road warriors anytime soon.
When used for light productivity, the GS70 Stealth managed to give around 4-5 hours of battery life on a single full charge, and we were to stretch it to around 6 hours when we dim down the display and don’t keep the Wi-Fi on every time. During gaming, the gaming laptop lasted a few minutes shy of an hour when not plugged in to the wall outlet.
Despite the generously-sized vents placed on almost every possible (and logical) location on the GS70 Stealth, things can still get a little bit toasty (particularly the upper-left corner of the notebook) during prolonged gameplay with the in-game settings cranked to its max.
In an effort to try and dissipate heat as much as it can, the fans inside the GS70 Stealth spun like crazy when its CPU and GPU were pushed to its limits, creating a soft but really audible whirring noise in the process. But try as they might, the well-placed vents and fans proved rather insufficient as we experienced thermal throttling, both on CPU and GPU front, especially when we subjected it to various stress tests.
Gaming laptops have evolved from being a colossal piece of hardware to a thin and sleek gaming machine without too much compromise in performance. One of the best example of that is the MSI GS70 Stealth which combines the portability of conventional notebook PC and raw performance of a decent desktop computer with a few extra features on the side for added functionality and swag.
MSI GS70 2QE Stealth specs:
17-inch HD (1920X1080) , Anti-glare display
4th Gen. Intel Sharkbay Core i7-4710HQ Processor
Intel HM87 chipset
Nvidia GeForce GTX 970M, GDDR5 3GB GPU
16GB DDR3L RAM
1TB HDD 7200rpm
Audio Boost /Sound Blaster Cinema
SD/XD/MMC (support SD 4.0) card reader
Killer N1525 Combo WiFi (2*2 a/c)
Mini-Display port (x2)
USB 3.0 port (x4)
6-Cell Li-Ion battery
Windows 8.1 OS
418.5 x 287 x 21.8 mm
2.66 Kg (w/ Battery)
Despite the drawbacks that we saw on this gaming laptop, we can definitively say that those were outweighed by the solid performance we got from its internal components, respectable design and build quality, impressive keyboard with highly-customizable backlight settings and functions, outstanding audio quality and above average battery life.
If you have the resources, the MSI GS70 Stealth Pro should be among the top of your list when shopping for your next/first gaming laptop. This laptop, with the aforementioned specs listed above, can be had for Php119,995 and is available locally courtesy of IonTech Philippines and its authorized partners and resellers.
What we liked about it:
What we didn’t like about it: