Review: MSI GS40 notebook
When MSI delivered the GS40 to me I thought someone was pulling a fast one on me. I review gaming notebooks, not tiny machines that can barely handle having Google Chrome open. “Check how it runs Rise of the Tomb Raider,” I was told. I unpacked the little machine, a 14″ 1080p display staring at me and a 970M showing up the control panel.
This Skylake notebook looks like something you would spot in a work environment, but inside the guts are pretty impressive. An Intel Core-i7 6700HQ running at 2.6 GHz with a Nvidia GTX 970M with 3GB of VRAM is pretty powerful. Here is the machine running a Firestrike benchmark:
This is a massive jump when compared to the output of the GE72, MSI’s i7-5700HQ running a GTX960M, showing just how big a jump there is between a 960M and a 970M. Firestrike Extreme gets 3409 points, while Firestrike Ultra runs at 1723
Gaming-wise this translates into pretty solid performance. For 1080p gaming, you can run games on ultra settings with an average frame rate near 45. Rise of the Tomb Raider looks amazing, though sadly this game doesn’t have a benchmark tool like the previous title did. Still I used fraps to catch some information during the prologue when you are climbing up a glacier in a snowstorm.
During these sequences: Fraps recorded the following info:
A similar performance is found in Batman: Arkham Origins, which is still a handy game to use as a benchmark, despite being a bit older. *cough* Arkham Knight *cough*
My biggest issue is the temperature that the machine runs at. While I couldn’t get HWmonitor to play along nicely, after running several benchmarks the heat of the internals can be felt in the keyboard, most notably in the top and middle of the keyboard. It wasn’t so hot as to make using it impossible, but it felt pretty darn warm. This is the trade-off for running that kind of hardware in a tiny package.
Most notebooks that have gaming chops tend to be large, bulky affairs. The GS40 is light enough to be carried in one hand, without any strain or worry. If you move your laptop around or lot, or have had one burden your back while travelling long distance, you will know how useful this can be. Seriously, you don’t see many 14″ models with this kind of power, which will really confuse people when you unpack it at an airport and start playing games on high settings.
When you need something that can play a game, as well as be mobile, this machine is a quality contender. Heat issues are a concern though and machines with much more graphical clout are in the same price bracket, thanks to a weak Rand making Haswell alternatives look a lot more appealing than new Skylake stock. It is great to see Skylake machines but man, getting the pricing information hurt my teeth.
Processor: Intel Core i7-6700HQ 2.6 GHz (Intel Core i7)
Graphics adapter: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M – 3072 MB, Core: 924 MHz, Memory: 2500 MHz, GDDR5, 10.18.13.5374 (ForceWare 353.74), Optimus
Memory: 16384 MB DDR4-2133, Dual-Channel (2/2 slots occupied), up to 32 GB
Display: 14.0 inch 16:9, 1920×1080 pixel, LG Philips LP140WF3-SPD1 (LGD046D), IPS, Full HD, glossy: no
Mainboard: Intel HM170 (Skylake PCH-H)
Storage: Samsung MZFLV128 NVMe, 128 GB, M.2-SSD + HGST Travelstar 7K1000 HTS721010A9E630, 1 TB HDD @ 7200 rpm
Weight: 1.84 kg, Power Supply: 514 g