MSI GE72 7RE Apache Pro

SUP­PLIER www.saveon­lap­tops.co.uk

Custom PC - - CONTENTS - MIKE JEN­NINGS

With a price tag of just £1,137 inc VAT, MSI’s GE72 7RE Apache Pro is a breath of fresh air among the pricier lap­tops we’ve re­viewed re­cently, and it bal­ances its af­ford­able price with solid com­po­nents. The key com­po­nent is the GeForce GTX 1050 Ti. It’s one of Nvidia’s more mod­est Pas­cal GPUs, but don’t dis­count its 1080p abil­i­ties: it has 768 stream pro­ces­sors and 4GB of GDDR5 mem­ory too.

The GPU is bol­stered by a Core i7-7700HQ CPU, with four Hy­per-Threaded cores and a 2.8GHz fre­quency. Most games don’t need all that multi-thread­ing power, but they’ll en­able the MSI to han­dle heav­ily multi-threaded soft­ware, such as video edit­ing pack­ages. There’s also a solid 16GB stack of 2400MHz DDR4 mem­ory, a 1TB hard disk and a Toshiba SSD. The 128GB SSD won’t hold many games, though, and its SATA in­ter­face will hold it be­hind the lat­est NVMe drives.

MSI has sen­si­bly paired the GTX 1050 Ti with a 1080p screen, although the 17.3in di­ag­o­nal does mean pix­els can look ob­vi­ous, and (not sur­pris­ingly) there’s no G-Sync sup­port ei­ther, although the screen can cope with an im­pres­sively quick 120Hz re­fresh rate. The screen is also ac­com­pa­nied by four 2W speak­ers and a 3W sub­woofer. Con­nec­tions are de­cent too, with Killer Eth­er­net and dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi, plus con­nec­tors for USB 3.1, HDMI and mini-Dis­playPort.

The out­side serves up a typ­i­cal gam­ing lap­top de­sign. The alu­minium lid has MSI’s il­lu­mi­nated logo and a cou­ple of slats, and the in­te­rior has red ac­cents and smart but­tons. Mean­while, the rear has dra­matic air vents and the ma­chine weighs 2.7kg – com­pet­i­tive with other 17.3in gam­ing lap­tops. The MSI is thicker than some ri­vals, though, with a 33mm body, and its build qual­ity is in­con­sis­tent – the screen is sturdy, but the wrist-rest and the area around the key­board feel weaker. It’s pos­si­ble to get in­side, but nearly 20 screws need to be re­moved. Do­ing so gives you ac­cess to the M.2 port, mem­ory sock­ets and hard drive, although any up­grades will in­volve re­plac­ing the ex­ist­ing parts.

Mean­while, the MSI’s chi­clet key­board of­fers im­pres­sive pace and con­sis­tency when typ­ing, and it has rea­son­able travel and a solid base. The track­pad is sim­i­larly good, and its two but­tons have a fast, shal­low ac­tion that’s rem­i­nis­cent of proper gam­ing mice.

The GE72 is man­aged by MSI’s Dragon Cen­ter app, which is brim­ming with fea­tures. Its Sys­tem Tuner tool switches be­tween four over­clocked modes, and the LED Wizard cus­tomises the key­board’s RGB back­light­ing. There’s a Sys­tem Mon­i­tor for keep­ing an eye on tem­per­a­tures and clock speeds, and an app por­tal for other tools.

The GeForce GTX 1050 Ti GPU is ideal for 1080p gam­ing

Per­for­mance

The GeForce GTX 1050 Ti GPU is ideal for 1080p gam­ing. The GE72 uses MSI’s Sport mode by de­fault, which gives you the max­i­mum per­for­mance avail­able with­out ex­tra over­clock­ing. It per­formed well: its 32fps min­i­mum in Fall­out 4 is fine, and it hit 39fps in The Witcher 3. Deus Ex: Mankind Di­vided is tougher, but the MSI still man­aged a bor­der­line playable 25fps here. Only the tough­est ti­tles will need their set­tings dropped to moder­ate lev­els.

En­abling the MSI’s Turbo mode boosted the GPU core and mem­ory clocks by 200MHz and 250MHz, tak­ing the Deus Ex min­i­mum up to 28fps – a de­cent per­for­mance boost. There’s also a Com­fort mode, which man­ages clock speeds ac­cord­ing to tem­per­a­ture.

The MSI de­liv­ered solid ap­pli­ca­tion per­for­mance in its Sport, Turbo and Com­fort modes, where its overall re­sult of around 122,000 is am­ple. The SSD de­liv­ered un­spec­tac­u­lar read and write speeds, though, of 513MB/sec and 353MB/ sec re­spec­tively. That per­for­mance is fine for gen­eral Win­dows use, but the lat­est NVMe drives are much quicker.

There’s also an Eco mode, which reins in the CPU speed to 1.4GHz, caus­ing a sig­nif­i­cant drop in the sys­tem score to 48,290. In­ter­est­ingly, chang­ing the MSI’s modes didn’t have a huge im­pact on noise and tem­per­a­ture lev­els. In Sport, Turbo and Com­fort modes the GPU re­turned peak delta Ts of around 50°C, while the CPU topped out at 72°C, which is a tad high, but within ther­mal lim­its. That’s a slight worry, but a more con­ven­tional gam­ing test – with­out the CPU run­ning at 100 per cent load – saw the pro­ces­sor delta T reach a more sen­si­ble peak tem­per­a­ture of 55°C.

Thank­fully, the MSI does a good job of dis­si­pat­ing heat. Even in Turbo mode, the key­board only be­came a lit­tle warmer than usual, and the base stayed chilled through­out. It’s qui­eter than some gam­ing lap­top ri­vals too – we never had to veer away from its au­to­matic fan con­trols.

Don’t ex­pect mir­a­cles from the bat­tery though. With the screen at full bright­ness and Sport mode ac­ti­vated, the MSI lasted for around 50 min­utes in a gam­ing test, although

en­abling Eco mode pushes that fig­ure to 107 min­utes with the screen at 50 per cent bright­ness, and the frame rates are still pretty good at this set­ting.

The screen qual­ity is mid­dling, how­ever. Its high bright­ness level of 319cd/m2 is matched with a de­cent black level of 0.23cd/m2, which means con­trast of 1,387:1 – a solid fig­ure that pro­vides good depth. The av­er­age delta E of 7.04 is medi­ocre, though, and the colour tem­per­a­ture of 7,094K re­sults in a cool blue tint in its de­fault Gamer mode. Still, that’s bet­ter than the red pall found across the sRGB, Movie and De­signer op­tions.

Mean­while, we found that the speak­ers’ Mu­sic mode is the best op­tion for au­dio. Vo­cals are clear and the sub­woofer pro­vides sur­pris­ingly solid bass, with the only mi­nor is­sue be­ing a murky mid-range.

Con­clu­sion

The MSI GE72 7RE Apache Pro isn’t ground­break­ing, but it gets the bal­ance just right in its price league. The GTX 1050 Ti has enough power to play 1080p games smoothly, the pro­ces­sor is fast, there’s loads of mem­ory, and the stor­age setup gets a good bal­ance of solid state and me­chan­i­cal ca­pac­ity, although there are much faster M.2 SSDs avail­able.

The key­board and track­pad are good as well, and while the MSI’s screen is only av­er­age, you can’t ex­pect to get the best of every­thing at this price.

Bet­ter screens and slim­mer de­signs can be found if you’re will­ing to spend more money, but if you’re on a tight bud­get, the GE72 7RE Apache Pro is a great op­tion if you’re look­ing for a portable 1080p gam­ing ma­chine.

1 A 128GB SSD sits in the M.2 slot, although it’s a SATA model, not NVMe 2 There’s a solid 16GB stack of du­alchan­nel 2400MHz DDR4 mem­ory 3 The cool­ing sys­tem does a great job of dis­si­pat­ing heat with­out mak­ing a racket

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