MSI GT72S 6QE Dominator Pro G review: A perfect storm of performance


For the most part, gaming grade notebooks make caveats that desktops and consoles don’t need to make in order to make the pricing easier on the average buyer.

Components like the CPU and GPU are usually the sacrificial pawn in this case and do impact the overall performance of the notebook.

The problem with this is that there are other solutions that can be cheaper than a gaming notebook and that can, in some instances, offer more functionality such as video editing, gaming and more. While a desktop or console isn’t portable it is a sacrifice many are willing to make.

But what if you can’t make that compromise? What if you travel a lot and you simply cannot experience games at anything less than 1080p at 60fps or you need to be able to edit video and audio as you go?

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Well then, the MSI GT72S 6QE Dominator Pro G might be the notebook for you.

MSI GT72S 6QE Dominator Pro G: Appearance

The Dominator is massive. The 17.3inch Full HD display does have quite a large bevel but it’s the body it rests on that’s responsible for most of the bulk.

You’ll find no USB 2.0 ports here instead there are six USB 3.0 ports, one USB 3.0 Type C and an SD card reader handling interface duties. Other connectors include an HDMI 1.4 port, a mini DisplayPort, power, a Kensington lock, ethernet. While many lament the inclusion of a DVD writer it is useful for when you need it, you know, that one time somebody needs to watch a DVD.

4 USB 3.0 ports, one input, one output, a mic and headphone jack, all on one side of the notebook.

4 USB 3.0 ports, one input, one output, a mic and headphone jack, all on one side of the notebook.

There are also four audio inputs which we mention because MSI has enlisted Nahimic to create and tune the digital analogue converter (DAC) and amplifier that is used in the Dominator. This is a nice addition especially for content creators on the move that need to create crisp, clean audio but can’t carry around a DAC.

To the right you'll find the remaining two USB 3.0 ports and a DVD Writer.

To the right you’ll find the remaining two USB 3.0 ports and a DVD Writer.

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A quick note on the Nahimic audio software; unless you plan on listening to Top 40 hits and playing games you may need to adjust the settings to your preference. Thankfully the software is easy to understand though it could with a bit more options for customisation.

MSI GT72S 6QE Dominator Pro G: CPU and RAM

The 6th generation Intel Core i7 6820HK running at 2.70GHz impressed. Our Cinebench score was on par with desktop PCs running the older generation of Intel Core i7 CPUs.

Equipped with Turbo Boost, this CPU is able to reach speeds of 3.6GHz. In some games and tests we saw speeds of 3.4GHz though heat does become an issue after prolonged use

Though it doesn't show here this CPU test took 30 seconds to complete.

Though it doesn’t show here this CPU test took 30 seconds to complete.

There are two DDR4 sticks totalling 16GB running at 2100MHz included out of the box. You are able to add two more sticks of memory and if you really need it the Dominator supports up to 64GB of RAM.

Together, Skylake and DDR4 work seemlessly. After a week of use as a primary gaming machine there was no blue screen of terror, no hiccup that forced a restart. In short the Dominator functions as well as you would expect a R40 000 notebook to perform, which is very well.

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MSI GT72S 6QE Dominator Pro G: Graphics

We know that Intel has its own on-board GPU but the HD Graphics 530 can hardly keep up with the demands of the gamer on the move. That said, if you simply want to kick back and watch a movie on the plane you hardly need the 8GB of memory the NVIDIA GTX 980M packs under the hood.

For this reason there is a button that allows users to switch between using the Intel on-board graphics or the more powerful NVIDIA GPU, all it takes is a restart and you’ll be using either GPU to drive the display.

Due to a number of issues such as screen flashing and more crashes than we would like, we have not run the Firestrike benchmark. Instead we ran the SkyDiver benchmark which ran at a smooth 60 fps experience. You can view our results from Skydiver and other in-game benchmarks below. Our benchmarks were run with settings on Ultra at 1920x1080p in fullscreen, FXAA, GPU fans on and Vsync switched off.

MSI GT72S 6QE Dominator Pro G: Display

We’re going to place a warning on this section; Gsync is great and switching back to anything without is terrible.

The display itself is very nice though we really would have liked a smaller outer bezel and more on-screen real estate.

Just a bit more screen and a lot less bezel would make this a great display.

Just a bit more screen and a lot less bezel would make this a great display.

The GPU does support an external monitor with a 4K resolution runnings at 30fps though in our experience this does warm the notebook up considerably so switch the fans on and make sure the notebook is well ventilated before you attempt running at 4K.

MSI GT72S 6QE Dominator Pro G: Storage

Our review unit was equipped with a 256GB m.2 PCI-e SSD as well as a 1TB HDD. As would be expected the SSD boots extremely quickly. You can see the results of our Crystal Disk Mark tests below to see just how fast the drive performs. We have included the IOPS values for the 4K read and write tests as well.

Read in MB/s Write in MB/s
Sequential Multi Thread 1491 883.9
Random 4K Multi Thread 878.9 (214552.2 IOPS) 655.5 (160038.6 IOPS)
Sequential Single Thread 1553 879.5
Random 4K Single Thread 36.72 (8963.9 IOPS) 110.1 (26870.8 IOPS)

Unfortunately however this speed comes in the form of a rather small 256GB capacity. Which as long as all you plan to run on this storage is your OS and one or two games is fine.

We feel like asking for more SSD storage in a notebook with specs this high would be a bit greedy so we won’t but it would have been nice.

MSI GT72S 6QE Dominator Pro G: Battery Life

With specifications as high as the Dominator we weren’t expecting to see incredible battery life. A run down test where we put the display brightness to 100% and play a 1080p video on loop until the battery gives up the ghost gave us two and a half hours of life.

Switching over to the Intel HD 530 graphics and running the same test we managed to run for one hour more which is admirable.

Power, HDMI, mini DisplayPort, USB Type C and power all connect at the rear of the Dominator.

Power, HDMI, mini DisplayPort, USB Type C and power all connect at the rear of the Dominator.

We wouldn’t recommend gaming on battery life alone as this may throttle the performance but for check your mail and even watching a movie you’ll get by.

MSI GT72S 6QE Dominator Pro G: Dressed up and everywhere to go

This marks the point where we conclude the review, dish out scores and tell you whether you should buy one, but you’ll have to wait a moment longer because the Dominator has a few features that we must point out.

MSI has once again partnered with Steelseries to produce a good laptop keyboard. Typing is comfortable but for gaming it can be a bit confusing as the keys feel all the same and the raised bit on the “W” key is far from useful.

You can customise the lighting on the keyboard, trackpad and accenting on the body to match your setup which is a nice touch.

Fully customisable backlit keyboard is nice but gaming suffers a bit.

Fully customisable backlit keyboard is nice but gaming suffers a bit.

The trackpad is large but it is still a notebook trackpad so using a mouse for gaming and any work that requires fine mouse movements is advised.

Finally the internal speakers are located above the keyboard and a sub-woofer of sorts sits at the bottom of the notebook. The audio is loud for just you in the room alone but you’ll need to plug into bigger speakers should you want to watch a movie with a group of people.

There are a ton of air vents on the Dominator and as a result it never got so hot that it was uncomfortable.

There are a ton of air vents on the Dominator and as a result it never got so hot that it was uncomfortable.

MSI GT72S 6QE Dominator Pro G: Conclusion

While numbers never lie we know you need more than a high score to make a decision when faced with the threat of dropping R40 000 on a notebook.

Describing the Dominator in a word is simple, glorious.

You see at this pricing point MSI has squarely aimed the Dominator at the enthusiast market. The PC users that still argue over which GPU offers better price to performance or whether you really need an optical drive are not who MSI wants looking at this notebook.

Instead this notebook is aimed at the PC gamer streaming to Twitch or even trying to get that video footage from an event out onto YouTube as quickly as possible.

Yes, the battery life is poor, the keyboard and trackpad could do with more attention and the price is high but there is no doubt that MSI has a gem here.

For those that are looking for an all encompassing tool to use for content creation and serious gaming and that have the money needed for this notebook we highly advise putting the Dominator on your short list, you won’t be disappointed.

Details

Price R40,729

Processor 6th Generation Core i7-6820HK @2.70GHz(3.6GHz Turbo)

GPU NVIDIA GeForce GTX980M/Intel HD 530

RAM 2 x 8GB DDR4-2133 (4 x DIMM slots supporting up to 64GB)

Storage 256GB M.2 PCI-e SSD + 1TB HDD Display 17.3inch 1920 x 1080p, Gsync, 75Hz

Interface 6 x USB 3.0, HDMI 1.4, mini DisplayPort, Ethernet, USB 3.1 Type C, SD card reader, DVD writer, audio input, audio output, mic and headphones.

Operating System Windows 10

Weight 3.78kg without battery

For the most part, gaming grade notebooks make caveats that desktops and consoles don't need to make in order to make the pricing easier on the average buyer. Components like the CPU and GPU are usually the sacrificial pawn in this case and do impact the overall performance of the notebook. The problem with this is that there are other solutions that can be cheaper than a gaming notebook and that can, in some instances, offer more functionality such as video editing, gaming and more. While a desktop or console isn't portable it is a sacrifice many are willing to make. But what if you can't make that compromise? What if you travel a lot and you simply cannot experience games at anything less than 1080p at 60fps or you need to be able to edit video and audio as you go? Well then, the MSI GT72S 6QE Dominator Pro G might be the notebook for you. MSI GT72S 6QE Dominator Pro G: Appearance The Dominator is massive. The 17.3inch Full HD display does have quite a large bevel but it's the body it rests on that's responsible for most of the bulk. You'll find no USB 2.0 ports here instead there are six USB 3.0 ports, one USB 3.0 Type C and an SD card reader handling interface duties. Other connectors include an HDMI 1.4 port, a mini DisplayPort, power, a Kensington lock, ethernet. While many lament the inclusion of a DVD writer it is useful for when you need it, you know, that one time somebody needs to watch a DVD. 4 USB 3.0 ports, one input, one output, a mic and headphone jack, all on one side of the notebook. There are also four audio inputs which we mention because MSI has enlisted Nahimic to create and tune the digital analogue converter (DAC) and amplifier that is used in the Dominator. This is a nice addition especially for content creators on the move that need to create crisp, clean audio but can't carry around a DAC. To the right you'll find the remaining two USB 3.0 ports and a DVD Writer. A quick note on the Nahimic audio software; unless you plan on listening to Top 40 hits and playing games you may need to adjust the settings to your preference. Thankfully the software is easy to understand though it could with a bit more options for customisation. MSI GT72S 6QE Dominator Pro G: CPU and RAM The 6th generation Intel Core i7 6820HK running at 2.70GHz impressed. Our Cinebench score was on par with desktop PCs running the older generation of Intel Core i7 CPUs. Equipped with Turbo Boost, this CPU is able to reach speeds of 3.6GHz. In some games and tests we saw speeds of 3.4GHz though heat does become an issue after prolonged use Though it doesn't show here this CPU test took 30 seconds to complete. There are two DDR4 sticks totalling 16GB running at 2100MHz…

Scores

Appearance - 8
CPU - 9
RAM - 8
Graphics - 9
Display - 8
Storage - 9
Extras - 9

8.6

1337

This notebook is aimed at enthusiasts and with its unabashed performance it will please them and anybody else willing to part ways with the cash needed to make this notebook yours.

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