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MSI GS60 Ghost Pro 3K review – Nvidia GTX 970M & 870M versions

MSI GS60 Ghost Pro 3K review – Nvidia GTX 970M & 870M versions
By Derek Sullivan , last updated on 12 Oct 2014
Summary: Overall, I’m extremely pleased with the laptop, especially the 970M version. The GS60 Pro offers pretty much the best that can be offered by an Ultraportable to date. And they do it without skimping on the screen and keyboard quality. I’ve only spent a short time with the 970M version but I’m sure it will fill in the gaps I think was lacking in the previous version.
Rating: 4 / 5   Price range: $1799 - $1999

THE GOOD

well constructed, stellar screen, good keyboard and trackpad, powerful configurations, solid gaming performance for both versions, but especially the 970M model, proper priced

THE BAD

bright backlit logo on the hood that can't be turned off, the trackpad is too close to the laptop's bottom lip, short battery life, some heating and throttling issues on the 870M version

For the brief time I used the GS60(FHD) earlier this year, I was very impressed.

It fell a little short of what I was looking for though, and comparing it directly to a Razer Blade, I decided it wasn’t what I was looking for. At the time, the 3k version wasn’t out yet and there were rumors of a sub-standard gamut screen being used, so I lost interest.

A few weeks ago, I got the opportunity to buy a GS60 Pro 3k version at a heavy discount. To my surprise, the 970M version was also released a couple weeks later, so I just had to try it out.

I spent a few weeks with the 870M version, but was able to get some benchmarks on the 970M version as well.   Here’s how they both looked to me.

The specs sheet for the MSI GS60 Ghost Pro 3K

MSI GS60 Ghost Pro 3K edition
Screen 15.6 inch, 2880 x 1620 px resolution, Panasonic IPS, glossy, non-touch
Processor Intel Haswell Core i7-4710HQ CPU, quad-core 2.5 GHz
Chipset Intel HM87
Video integrated Intel HD 4600 HD + Nvidia GeForce GTX 970M or 870M 3GB
Memory 16 GB DDR3L
Storage 2x 128 GB M.2 SSD SATA in RAID 0 + 1TB HDD 7200rpm
Connectivity Wireless AC Intel 7260 , Qualcomm/Atheros Gigabit ethernet, Bluetooth 4.0
Ports 3x USB 3.0, HDMI v1.4b, mini Display port 1.2, RJ45, mic, earphone, SD card reader
Battery 52 Wh
Operating system Windows 8.1
Size 390mm or 15.35” (w) x 266mm or 10.47” (d) x 19.9mm or .78” (h)
Weight 1.96kg or 4.32 lb
Extras Multi-colored backlit keyboard, trackpad, HD camera

Design

The GS60 is very well constructed. The body is made mostly of a magnesium alloy and the rest plastic. The lid has a couple stylish ridges that are subtle but give a unique look to it. The ugliest part of the entire laptop (which happens to be on the lid) is the badge they chose. It’s a shield with a dragon inside it, with the text “Gaming G series”. It also glows from the backlight of the screen. Without that badge, you could get away with discreetly using a gaming laptop in a business place but I think the glowing dragon will get a lot of attention in the conference room.

The MSI GS60 Ghost looks good and feels strong

The MSI GS60 Ghost looks good and feels strong

Under the lid is a Steelseries keyboard, which will be discussed later. The keyboard is recessed into the curved, metallic palm rest. Above the keyboard is a centralized power button and some passive vents. Centered with and below the spacebar is the trackpad. The recessed keyboard is a nice look but one thing I noticed right away is how much closer the keyboard is to the front edge than other laptops. In fact, the trackapd is also right at the front edge. This isn’t too difficult to get used to but the trackpad at the edge makes certain laptop positions more difficult. For example(and I’m getting kind of personal here) when lying in bed, I like to extend the screen past 135° and prop the keyboard at an angle along my legs. The front edge of the laptop ends up at my waist line. Even with a shirt, I was inadvertently activating the trackpad quite often.

The bottom is also metallic and has a number of rubber feet. There are also two passive vents and some thermal pads. These thermal pads weren’t in the early revisions and were likely placed there because of complaints of burning your legs. The bottom is also littered with stickers, which is kind of an eyesore especially if you’re conscious of how you look carrying it around. Most are removable but some may affect your warranty.

This brings me into the amount of branding on the laptop. In lieu of bloatware(which don’t get me wrong, there still is some) MSI basically found a way to advertise every component in the laptop. MSI logos are both on the lid and below the screen. The glowing badge is on the lid. You’re typical Intel sticker in on the palm rest. “Sound by Dynaudio” is above the keyboard and “keyboard by Steelseries” is below it. On the bottom you have Windows, Sound Blaster and Nvidia stickers. There’s also MSI warranty, customer service, serial number and regulatory stickers on the bottom. Everything on the bottom and the Intel sticker is removable but the rest you’re stuck with.

The only plastic on the laptop is the bezel surrounding the screen and the hinge/vent bracket on the back edge of the laptop. This is out of necessity as it would be really expensive to make these parts out of metal. It’s a really good blend though, as I hardly notice the plastic during use since I barely touch those parts. I also give a lot of credit to MSI on making the entire laptop comfortable to use and carry. So many metallic laptops are plagued with sharp edges on the armrest and underneath the screen. There’s not a single spot where I noticed any sharp edges.

Keyboard and Trackpad

As with all laptops, I find the keyboard and trackpad the most important since they are used daily. The Steelseries keyboard on the GS60 is quite a treat to type on. The travel on the keys is pretty good for an Ultrabook and the response is perfect. While typing this review, I have not noticed any missed keystrokes and overall I was able to adapt to using it as my daily driver. The keyboard is full sized and includes an almost proper sized right shift key (important to me) and a number pad. There is a little flex in my keyboard but it’s nothing too drastic. I didn’t notice any flex in the previous unit I used at all, so it might differ from unit to unit.

There is also a backlight on the keyboard that not only has the ability of change colors, but has 3 zones so you can use different colors in different areas. It’s more for looks, as there’s not much practical use since the colors smoothly blend across the zones instead of there being a definite line between colors. There are also options to have a pulsating color or a “wave” effect. It’s pretty cool if you’re into that sort of thing but it’s not for me. I do like the hotkeys for different colors though. Fn 1-4 allows you to quickly switch between colors, which can come in handy if some colors suit you better than others in dark rooms. Note that there’s no brightness settings for the backlight – only on and off.  The 970M version has four levels of keyboard backlight brightness, plus off.  The 870M version unfortunately only has on and off, however on is at the highest setting.

A couple oddities with the keyboard are the Windows and Fn key placements. The Windows key is on the right hand side, which is opposite to every laptop I have used in the past. It takes a little getting used to but I can live with it. The Fn key is also very far from the common keys you’ll use it for(brightness, volume, etc.) I really wish they were reversed so it would make one handed controls a little easier. Unfortunately, the Fn key is practically the only key that can’t be reprogrammed in the Steelseries software. Speaking of the software, they did a really good job making it simple to program your own macros and shortcuts as well as change your color profiles.

Now onto the trackpad. If you asked me a few months ago, I would have told you the trackpad was a piece of junk. And that’s because it was… But after a recent firmware update and an alternate driver, I find the trackpad to be quite useable. The firmware made a huge improvement and should be enough for most, but the alternate driver made a couple more options present that aren’t in Elan’s default software. The trackpad is properly sized and placed right under the spacebar. It’s a clickpad, so there are no physical buttons. Accuracy and tracing are pretty good but the texture of the pad itself could be a little smoother. It also picks up most of my gestures.

Don’t get me wrong, this is no Apple trackpad by any means but it is certainly adequate enough to get around webpages and documents through multi-touch gestures. The key to liking the trackpad is definitely tweaking the settings to your expectations.

Screen

The previous GS60 I had sported the matte FHD screen. To me, it was a good fit for the laptop, although I think it could have been a little brighter. I prefer bright glossy screens over matte, simply because of the added color pop and sharpness to the images. Early reviews of the 3k edition swayed me away from giving it a chance a few months ago though. Some reviews reported sRGB coverage of 79%, which is a bit low compared to most panels today. Needless to say, when I got the 3k version, I had really low expectations. Boy was I surprised to find out the screen is fantastic!

The panel supplied with the unit is a Panasonic IPS 2880×1620 glossy screen. The model number is MEI96A2 VVX16T029D00 according to HWinfo. Screen brightness is measured to be just over 300 nits. I measured 92% sRGB, 72% aRGB and 68% NTSC coverage. Contrast ratio across the brightness levels averaged around 600:1.

Stellar 3K screen on this MSI GS60 laptop

Stellar 3K screen on this MSI GS60 laptop

Viewing angles on the panel are stellar. When looking at extreme horizontals and verticals, you can still read the text perfectly and the colors remain. It’s only when you get into large horizontal AND vertical angles where the colors slightly shift, but it’s nowhere near as bad as the other 4K panels I’ve been seeing lately. In comparison, it’s very much the quality of angles you’d see on a flagship smartphone. My unit did have a little backlight bleed, which is probably my only gripe with the screen at all.

The glossy panel may cause concern for some. I will say that for outdoor use, you might struggle reading on the screen due to the glare. The max brightness certainly helps and all in all the glare is actually not that bad for a glossy panel, but it’s still present. I will say that the lack of a touchscreen is a good choice because the glass panel really adds to the glare and is unnecessary.

Of all the 3k/4k screens I’ve seen this year, this one certainly is my favorite. If I had to grade them, this is how they would rank:

  • MSI GS60: A+ ; cons: minor BLB;
  • Apple rMBP: A ; cons: more brightness lost at extreme viewing angles;
  • Gigabyte Aorus x3+: B+ ; cons: not so great viewing angles;
  • Razer Blade 2014: B ; cons: not so great viewing angles + glare prone touchscreen;
  • Lenovo Y50: C+ ; cons: RGBW panel has poor yellows. BIOS somewhat fixes it at high brightness levels only;
  • Asus Zenbook UX303LN: D ; cons: same as Y50, except the yellows are not fixed.

Hardware and performance

One nice thing about MSI is they give you about every possible configuration to buy. Every GS60 I’ve seen comes with the same CPU though. Typically RAM options are either 12 or 16GB. There is always a 1TB HDD and at least one 128GG M.2 SSD, with some configs(including this one) having an option for a second 128GB M.2 in RAID 0.

GPU options are all over the place. The base unit(non-Pro) will support a Kepler 860M. There is also a version out there that has an 850M but I don’t know why anyone wouldn’t spend the extra $100 to get the better GPU. As of October 7th, the Pro model is now offered with two selections for the GPU: the 870M and the 970M. Both GPUs have a base memory of 3GB, but the 970M also has options for 6GB of VRAM.

hwinfo ssd-speedsAs for display panel selections, you have the option of a matte 1920×1080 screen and a glossy 2880×1620(3K). As of October 7th, you also have a glossy 3640×2160(4K) option for the 970M models. I would be cautious of pulling the trigger on the 4K model though, simply because the 870M had a really tough time playing modern games in 4K. You have a lot more options playing games in 3K with the 870M and even more options with the 970M. There are also scaling issues with 3K and 4K laptop screens that you just have to deal with. I find the 3K resolution much more tolerable overall.

For connectivity, a LAN port is located on the right side towards the back. There is also an HDMI port, Mini Display port and a USB 3.0 socket on that same side. On the left side is the power adapter, 2X USB 3.0, a headphone jack and a microphone jack. It pretty much as anything you’ll need to use this as a dedicated machine with dual displays as output.

There is also an Intel Wireless AC 7260 card onboard, which is fine for the most part. I was able to use it and max out the speeds at home and work with good range. At certain airports I was unable to connect though. I ended up doing some tweaks to the driver mentioned in the forums and it worked just fine after that.

The CrystalDisk benchmarks were very good, with sequential read speeds around 1055MB/s and sequential write speeds of 678MB/s. 512K speeds were 463MB/s read and 654MB/s write, which is good as well. Boot time for me is about 12 seconds for configurations in RAID 0 and 7 seconds for a single SSD configuration.

Other benchmarks were as follows:

With the Nvidia GTX 870M graphics

  • 3DMark: FS – 4402, SD – 14415, CG – 16610, IS – 99233
  • 3DMark temps: Max CPU 83°C and max GPU 94°C
  • PCMark 8 – 3094 with max CPU 80°C and Max GPU 60°C
  • Prime95:
    • Small ftf
      • Turbo 2.8Ghz @ 80C for 1 min
      • drop to 2.7Ghz@ 83C after 3 min
      • drop to 2.6Ghz @ 84C after 5 min
      • stable until 15 minutes at 2.6-2.7Ghz with max CPU temp of 90C
      • 15 seconds to idle fan and CPU under 65C
    • Large ftf
      • Turbo 3.1Ghz @ 80C for first 30 seconds
      • Drop to 2.8Ghz @ 82C after 1 min
      • drop to 2.7Ghz @ 82C after 5 minutes
      • stable at 2.6-2.7Ghz until 15 minutes. Max core temp 85C
      • 15 seconds to idle fan speed and 65C CPU
  • Furmark:
    • For first 1:30, slow rise to 92C, slow drop from 940 to 901 Mhz
    • The following 6 minutes was throttle cycles between 862 and 431 Mhz, temp locked at 93C
    • The remainder was a stable 757Mhz clock @ 93C
    • took 20 seconds to cool down to idle
  • Furmark + Prime95(small ftf):
    • 30 seconds: Turbo 2.9Ghz @ 81C, 928Mhz @ 85C
    • 1 minute: 2.5Ghz @ 82C, 901Mhz @ 93C
    • 3 minutes: stable CPU 2.5Ghz @ 83C, throttling GPU 862/431 @ 93C
    • 5 minutes: same CPU, 757Mhz stable @ 93C GPU
    • 7 minutes: same CPU, weird dip in GPU. It dropped to 405Mhz for 30 seconds with temps falling to 86C then it would clock back up to a stable 757Mhz
    • -Same behavior repeated itself every 4 minutes or so.
    • max CPU was 86, max GPU was 94C
    • 15 seconds for CPU to cooldown to 55 and GPU to cooldown to 65
    • 40 seconds for idle fan speeds.

 Gaming benchmarks

  • Skyrim – played the first dragon fight from beginning to end
    • all settings maxed out, 1920×1080 resolution – 60fps with drops in the low 50s. CPU 71°C, GPU 86°C
    • max settings but no AA or AF, 2880×1620 resolution – 60fps with drops as low as 38fps. CPU 74°C, GPU 91°C
  • Crysis 3 – Played through the opening scene for 10 minutes
    • Medium settings, no AA 1x AF, 2880×1620 resolution – 30-50fps, CPU 75°C, GPU 93°C with throttle spikes due to hitting the TDP limit
    • Medium settings, no AA 1x AF, 1920×1080 resolution – 45-60fps, CPU 73°C, GPU 86°C
    • Very High settings, no AA 1x AF, 1920×1080 resolution – 28-40fps, CPU 73°C, GPU 92°C

With the Nvidia GTX 970M graphics

  • 3DMark: FS – 6541, SD – 17907, CG – 19752, IS – 101710
  • 3DMark temps: Max CPU 86°C and max GPU 85°C
  • PCMark 8 – 3501 with max CPU 80°C and Max GPU 54°C
  • Furmark:
    • For first 1:00, slow rise to 73°C with frequency already at 772Mhz
    • Over the next 5 minutes, it slowly throttled down to 721 Mhz and temp rose to 84°C
    • The remainder of 15 minutes was a stable 721Mhz clock @ 85C
    • took 20 seconds to cool down to idle.
  • Furmark + Prime95(small ftf):
    • 1 minute: 2.5Ghz @ 82C, 759Mhz @ 77C
    • 3 minutes: stable CPU 2.6Ghz @ 84C, GPU 734Mhz @ 84C
    • 5 minutes: same CPU, stable CPU 2.6Ghz @ 85C, GPU 734Mhz @ 85C
    • 7 minutes: same CPU, GPU 721Mhz @ 86C
    • 15 minutes: same CPU, GPU 683Mhz @ 87C throttled due to thermal limits
    • 15-25 minutes stable
    • 30 seconds for idle fan speeds.

Gaming benchmarks

  • Skyrim – played the first dragon fight from beginning to end
    • all settings maxed out, 1920×1080 resolution – 60fps pegged. CPU 67°C, GPU 74°C
    • max settings but no AA or AF, 2880×1620 resolution – 60fps pegged. CPU 70°C, GPU 82°C
  • Crysis 3 – Played through the opening scene for 10 minutes
    • Medium settings, no AA 1x AF, 2880×1620 resolution – 40-60fps, CPU 76°C, GPU 79°C with throttle spikes due to hitting the TDP limit
    • Medium settings, no AA 1x AF, 1920×1080 resolution – pegged at 60fps, CPU 74°C, GPU 72°C
    • Very High settings, no AA 1x AF, 1920×1080 resolution – 30-55fps, CPU 76°C, GPU 79°C

*Note: All temps taken in a room @ 24C. Measurements were taken with HWMonitor and GPU-Z

Noise and Heat

Instead of lining up the CPU and GPU in series with dual fan cooling, MSI decided to have 1 fan to cool each. This is both good and bad. On the plus side, when the GPU heats up to 93°C, the CPU doesn’t automatically get that same hot air to cool it(like in the Aorus X3+). The bad thing is a single small fan is insufficient to cool an 870M by itself. It is what it is though and you’re still able to play most games just fine as long as you set the appropriate settings to not throttle the GPU.

There are two sets of intakes on the rear of the laptop and exhausts on both sides of the laptop. The GPU is located on the left and the CPU is located on the right. There are also passive vents on both the top and bottom of the laptop. It’s not detrimental to play with the laptop on your lap, but it certainly helps to keep those vents clear. A cooling pad also helps reduce overall temps by roughly 5°C.

Physically, the laptop can get pretty hot. The keyboard and palmrest stay pretty cool thanks to the vents on the top. The bottom is a different story. The middle back is the hottest spot, and you won’t want to touch it while gaming. It’s mainly due to the lack of fan there, so the heat just builds up. Heat is pretty consistent between models, but the 870M gets significantly hotter than the 970M. So during heavy gaming, the back left side was also very hot on the 870M version. The CPU side(right side) never got as hot but it probably would if running CPU intensive games.

Lap gamers will want to beware of the 870M version. I tried playing Skyrim on max settings and only got about 10 minutes in before my left leg started to hurt. It’s more tolerable if you turn the settings down, but in general you’ll want to play on a table or cooling pad. The 970M version is no treat either, but it’s noticeably better than the 870M version. I was able to play Skyrim totally maxed out for 30 minutes and Dota 2 for over 2 hours without getting too uncomfortable.

During normal use, the CPU fan will always run at a very low speed. There are custom ECC fan profiles available to use that can turn that fan off completely while idle. It never bothered me so I left it as is. I took the noise levels using Sensor Box for Android. The measurements were taken from near my head, with the laptop on my lap and in a quiet room. During normal use, I got readings of 15-16dB from the CPU fan. Light gaming resulted in about 20dB. Heavy gaming differed between the 970M and 870M versions. I pushed both GPUs to their limits but the 970M top fan speed appears to be lower than the other. On the 970M, my max reading was 23dB, while the 870M was 28dB.

Speakers

At first, I wasn’t impressed with the sound on this laptop at all. The volume was way too low. After a little tweaking in the Sound Blaster software, I was pretty impressed. It still doesn’t compare to the sound on the Y50 but it’s certainly good enough. Apparently there’s a subwoofer hidden somewhere but I wasn’t able to find it. I’m told it’s on the other side of the motherboard. It’s definitely there though because I’m able to hear bass as low as 50Hz, which is impossible for normal laptop speakers to transmit.

Battery life

My battery test consists of using the stock “Balanced” power profile, maximum brightness, wifi connected, Bluetooth off, keyboard backlit and running a 720p movie in a continuous loop at full screen with the volume muted. I start the clock when it’s unplugged and stop it when the unit performs a self- shutdown. The GS60 Pro 3K lasted exactly 2 hours and 57 minutes. This can be compared to the Aorus x3+, which got 3 hours and 30 minutes and the Razer Blade which got 4 hours and 7 minutes.

I repeated the test in the stock “Power Saving” power profile. Brightness was set to 30% (about 80 nits) and all the other settings were the same as the previous test. The X3+ lasted 3 hours and 14 minutes. This was less than the Aorus X3+ at 4 hours and 36 minutes and the Razer Blade’s 4 hours and 57 minutes.

All in all, the battery life is pretty not that great for an ultraportable. Considering the processor is a quad-core and not the low voltage U processors, this battery life is expected.

The power brick is pretty large. It’s 150W, just like the Razer Blade’s, however is much bigger. The power bricks are interchangeable though, so if you really want that smaller brick, you could always buy the Razer Blade version. It will cost you though.

huge-brick

The brick (right), next to the one on the Razer Pro (left)

Lights and Indicators

Something MSI is good at is letting you know the status of your machine at a glance. Instead of just software indicators(which they also have), the GS60 has seven indicator lights in the front. From the left, there’s sleep, HDD, Num lock, caps lock, Bluetooth, wifi and battery(charging). Sorry, no scroll lock folks. J The good thing is they chose a deep blue color, so the lights don’t stick out like a sore thumb. They also aren’t too bright, so the pulsating blue sleep light won’t scare you in the middle of the night like the first night you bought your Wii.

The power button also glows blue when you turn on the laptop, but it has a double feature to it. It will actually turn orange when the dedicated GPU is in use. At first I thought it was pretty ugly, mainly because of the orange color they chose. After a week, though, I loved it and here’s why: ever use a laptop with switchable graphics on battery and inadvertently kill your battery for little or no reason? It’s likely your GPU was on and in use and you didn’t know it(or have a way to prove it). Now it’s clear as day when your GPU is on. And thanks to Nvidia default settings, Steam being open will turn on the GPU, so that is something that I immediately saw the orange light on for and went right into Nvida settings to force it to use integrated graphics instead.

leds

Price and availability

The 970M model I have is priced at $1999 USD and I’ve bought it from Newegg. The 870M model is now discontinued, so you’ll have to grab one quick before stores sell out. I’ve seen steep discounts on most stores for the 870M version and they’ll probably go fast. Follow this link for more details.

As far as configurations go, there are dozens of them and most are available at multiple stores.

Final thoughts

Overall, I’m extremely pleased with the laptop, especially the 970M version. The GS60 Pro offers pretty much the best that can be offered by an Ultraportable to date. And they do it without skimping on the screen and keyboard quality. The trackpad could be a little better but it certainly isn’t keeping me from liking this machine. I’ve only spent a short time with the 970M version but I’m sure it will fill in the gaps I think was lacking in the previous version.

The 870M by itself is still very nice but the heat generation makes it a little less desirable. Still, if you can get one at a clearance sale, I would say go for it because the value is definitely there. I think most people can certainly tolerate the extra heat, and it’s not like the performance is bad or anything.

Otherwise, if you have the extra money, the 970M is totally worth its sticker price. You’ll be getting a light, thin gaming ultrabook, with the best possible GPU and plenty of hard drive space and room for upgrades. You’re also getting a great keyboard and a great screen. There’s no other choice out there with all of that.

In addition to being a tech enthusiast, Derek has a career as a biomedical engineer. He enjoys taking things apart, figuring out how they work and finding ways to make them better. His other hobbies include spending time with his family, "Do it yourself" projects such as home automation and running.

86 Comments

  1. Noel

    October 14, 2014 at 2:07 am

    So the power supplies can be swapped without any modding? Is that the Razer blade pro power brick?

    • Derek Sullivan

      October 14, 2014 at 8:26 pm

      That’s the power supply from the 14″ Razer Blade 2014. I’m pretty sure all their laptops use the same PSU. No mods necessary and it works fine. Expensive though…

  2. Newell

    October 15, 2014 at 12:33 pm

    Great review. Haven’t seen very many reviews of systems with the 970M in them yet and this one’s very informative. There are still a few things I think you should include, though.

    Is there any chance you could include benchmark comparisons between the native 3k and the 1080p versions? I imagine that overall performance would be a lot better on a native 1080p display as opposed to 1080p on a native 3k display.

    I’d also like to know your opinion on whether or not you think 3k displays are worth the sacrifice in balanced performance.

    • Newell

      October 15, 2014 at 12:35 pm

      Image comparisons between native 1080p and 3k would also be very helpful. Thanks.

    • Derek Sullivan

      October 19, 2014 at 5:33 pm

      I don’t have the 1080p version anymore so I can’t directly compare the two, which is why I left it out of the review. I had the 870M version a while back though and I ran the same games with the same settings. The fps results were pretty much the same. I think scaling has come a long way, so you’re probably not going to see anything more than a few fps difference between native 1080p and scaled 1080p.

      My opinion on the 3k screen is it’s worth the sacrifice. If it were 4k, I would say no, but 200% scaling in Windows settings makes the 3k screen great for everyday use. The only major issue I face is playing old games at 3k, which usually results in tiny text(Dragon Age for example). It’s no big deal to downscale to 1080p in those cases though.

      I’ll put up some comparison images soon. I already took them, I just need to format them so it can be useful to compare between.

  3. Tyler Steck

    October 16, 2014 at 4:27 pm

    I have loved the 3k screen on my laptop because it is the glossy instead of matte. After viewing the youtube video on the 3k screen it was easy to make the decision. Also as a note I do run my screen at 1080p because i have a standing work station and its hard to focus on the 3k pixel size. Also I don’t like the scaling because I have issues with some games at high resolution with the cursor disappearing (Although LOL is sweet at 3k and ultra). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGdYC1sXeK0

    Also the heating issue isn’t bad even with high/ultra. I just limit the max frame rate and my machine works admirably. Also it is great for work for supporting my two (2560 x 1440) screen and usb 3.0 1080p screen.

    I use the Razer power supply at home for my gaming (I leave the bulkier MSI one at work). It gets really hot after a nice gaming session but performs is great! It does have a .5v higher and lower amperage but hopefully I won’t have any issues. because both are a 150W supply.

    • Derek Sullivan

      October 19, 2014 at 5:35 pm

      plus/minus .5V is typical in any power supply anyways, so you should be fine. Did you pay full price for yours or were you able to get a discount somewhere?

      • Tyler Steck

        October 19, 2014 at 6:32 pm

        Nope sorry my work purchased it. I directed them to the website. I didn’t see it listed anywhere else. I Would post 3D mark between the batteries but some of them don’t run properly.

    • Kevin

      November 19, 2014 at 9:44 pm

      Hi Tyler, how are you running your 2560×1440 screens? Are you using the HDMI port or the mini displayport? Thanks!

  4. Alex

    October 20, 2014 at 6:12 pm

    Hi Derek,

    Andrei referred me to you. How would you compare Lenovo Y50 to NX500 in terms of sound reproduction? I’ve had MSI GX660R and now in the market for a new stylish and more portable laptop with great speakers like on my previous MSI. Any recommendations?

    • Andrei Girbea

      October 20, 2014 at 6:18 pm

      To be fair, I reviewed the NX500 and found the speakers pretty good. However, they lacked bass imh, since there was no longer that external subwoofer included, which Asus bundled with the older UX51 model. On the other hand, I’m not really a reference when it comes to speakers and it doesn’t take a whole lot to make me happy. And I was content with these :)

      I’ll leave Derek add his impressions on the Y50.

    • Derek Sullivan

      October 20, 2014 at 8:08 pm

      Never had the NX500, so I can’t directly compare the two. I did have the Q550LF, which had excellent sound with 4 front speakers and an external subwoofer. I really enjoyed that, but was pretty impressed with what Lenovo did with the Y50. The bass didn’t hit as low frequency or as hard as an external subwoofer but the sound quality was top notch. Having the speakers on the top really helped too.

      As for the GS60, the speakers are great but certainly a step below the Y50. Mostly because the bass vibrates more components on the GS60. My opinion is it has a lot to do with how the internals are put together. A couple things like the battery and HDD are not screwed in at all(basically held in by the casing) so they probably vibrate a little more. Another thing is the bass on the GS60 was audible as low as 50Hz while the Y50 cut off at 100Hz, which could be where some vibrations are coming from. There is also a lot of software tweaking to get the sound on the GS60 to my expectations while the Y50 was good right out of the box. I’d prefer speakers facing up, but the GS60 did o with the front side speakers in addition to the read speakers. Somehow, the surround sound is pretty convincing from what I’ve seen so far. I would never in a million years choose the Y50 over the GS60 though, even if the sound was better. Too many sacrifices to make in my opinion(poor screen, thicker, heavier, no expandable storage options, 860M, so-so trackpad, etc).

      • Alex

        October 22, 2014 at 10:03 am

        Thanks for your feedback. It sounds like Y50 has decent speakers, although it has many faults. I guess I’ll have to wait till NX500 comes out and try it for myself. Although I am not looking for perfect speakers – cause there aren’t any — it’s nice to have nice, detailed and fairly in-built speakers. I’ve seen many other laptops and frankly, I’ve always been left with an impression that the audio on laptops is one area where it gets overlooked. I think NX500 is something that might fit the bill, both aesthetically, acoustically and performance wise (although the GPU/CPU are outdated). I would have waiter a bit longer and buy one in 2015, but I need to get a new laptop in the next two months.

        • Andrei Girbea

          October 22, 2014 at 4:50 pm

          You could try to listen to the Asus G551/ N551 (without the external woofer connected) in stores, if you can find them anywhere. imh those are pretty close to the NX500 I’ve tested a while ago.

          And I don’t think manufacturers are overlooking the Audio on laptops. If you’ll look at all the latest releases, pretty much everyone advertise their “superior” Audio, working with JBL, Bang and Olufsen, etc etc. However, with cases becoming thinner and thinner, there’s less and less room for the acoustic chambers. And without those, there’s no way to get solid audio imh. Especially bass.

      • James Deano

        October 25, 2014 at 11:26 am

        Hey mate , I just got my gs60 today and I was wondering what audio settings did you tweak to get a good quality (and loud) sound out of it. TBH the speakers are not that bad as people make them out to be but could use a little volume boost. Thanks alot !

        • Tyler Steck

          October 27, 2014 at 9:41 pm

          I haven’t had any issues with loudness there are a couple of things that I have done.
          Run the Sound Blaster Cinema 2 and turn on the surround sound then pump it up to (60)
          Also you can uncheck the Loudness Equilization in “sound” then right click on “Speakers” then look at Enhancements

  5. Kokouvi

    October 25, 2014 at 8:01 pm

    Hi! Great review. One question, how blurry are the games at 1080p on the 3k screen? Or do they still look perfectly crisp and detailed?

    • Derek Sullivan

      October 28, 2014 at 4:40 pm

      Games look the same to me as if they were on a native 1080p panel. There are people out there that say they can see a difference but I’m not one of them.

  6. Alex

    October 26, 2014 at 6:13 pm

    Apologize for the delay, Andrei. I decided that I’ll wait till it’s released and see what people have to say about NX500. Would you be reviewing and updating your finished review when of NX500 when it comes? Just wondering.

    • Andrei Girbea

      October 27, 2014 at 8:36 pm

      I might not be able to get my hands on a final release, but I will update my post with links towards other reviews I consider consider good enough, as well as update certain chapters if the final unit proves to perform/behave differently than the unit I tested.

  7. Bilal

    October 28, 2014 at 6:56 am

    Just an FYI, the keyboard back-light can be adjusted in the 970M version atleast, its Fn and one of the numpad keys.

    • Derek Sullivan

      October 28, 2014 at 4:34 pm

      Wow, you’re right – I didn’t even notice that! Mine is Fn + and Fn -. The 870M version was only on and off for me. I wonder now if it was a bad keyboard or if they actually changed it. Thanks for pointing that out.

  8. Ricky

    October 31, 2014 at 10:46 am

    Hi Derek,

    Thank you very much for the review which really convinced me to get one myself. Now that I’m a proud owner of one of those, would you mind elaborating a little bit on the trackpad firmware update and alternate driver? Could you post a link to where I could download them? MSI website itself? What is the version?

    Thank you!

    • Derek Sullivan

      October 31, 2014 at 4:24 pm

      The trackpad firmware update will be on MSI website itself. The drivers I use are some old Elan Samsung drivers. The only download link I have is here: http://goo.gl/Uwhgvj

  9. rob

    November 1, 2014 at 10:39 pm

    hi – good review. r u sure battery is 73Wh? on MSI website they only list 52Wh which is really putoff for me, given upcoming asus gx500 has 96wh!

    • Derek Sullivan

      November 3, 2014 at 1:38 am

      Yes, thanks for pointing that out. I corrected it.

  10. muhammad

    November 2, 2014 at 4:54 pm

    Why would you use integrated graphic card instead of of GPU in steam? Im using GPU cause is showing orange light. So cant se why i should change that :/?

    • Derek Sullivan

      November 3, 2014 at 4:27 pm

      If you go into Nvidia Control panel, you can change the default card for each program there. Steam is one of the ones I change right away since I have it open on startup.

  11. rob

    November 2, 2014 at 10:09 pm

    Rob again here (am about to buy one in 2 days – GS60 3k)- besides the battery question (52wh batt seem lowest out there, do they really put only 52wh batt?), do u guys know if gtx970m can be purchased with 6gb? 3gb seems kind of low for me these days..

    Thanks!

    • Derek Sullivan

      November 3, 2014 at 4:37 pm

      I’m sure it varies a little, but yes. Mine is 56.5 according to HWMonitor. The battery pack is literally a pack too(no hard heavy shell), which keeps the weight low. I didn’t pay too much attention when I opened the machine up, but it felt light like they could have made it a little bigger. There’s some potential to make an aftermarket battery that takes over the 2.5″ HDD bay but I doubt anyone will take that on.

      6GB vram models are starting to become available just now. You should start to see listings for them soon, depending on your area.

  12. Mike Adams

    November 9, 2014 at 5:14 pm

    You can get the Sager NP8651 with the same i7 and 970m for $1200. This is crazy overpriced.

    • Derek Sullivan

      November 10, 2014 at 12:33 am

      Maybe a little but there’s a lot of tradeoffs if you want to switch to that model. Also, the base model is $1200, but if you add a 4k screen, 16GB of ram and an additional 128GB SSD to match the specs of the GS60, it becomes $1700(quoted from Xoticpc). Add another $80 for the operating system. Then it’s a matter of having a thicker and heavier machine, which puts the GS60 in a slightly different class.

  13. Newell Albay

    November 10, 2014 at 7:46 am

    I think it’d be cool if you guys did comparisons between MSI’s GS60 Ghost and similarly spec’d rebranded MSI’s, like the Evo15-S from OriginPC. Would be pretty pricy, though, considering they’re boutique sellers.

  14. Jason

    December 4, 2014 at 1:51 am

    I went to place an order for this laptop today and unfortunately it is no longer available in Australia and has been replaced with the 4k screen.

    Really hoping that the 4k screen is on par with your review of the 3k one. Unfortunately little is know on it at the moment so it’s difficult to gather information on just how good it will be.

  15. Mike

    December 4, 2014 at 6:40 am

    Fantastic review!

    Have you been able to prolong the battery life by adjusting any of the settings for the gpu or anywhere else? If so, for how long? If the Razer Blade had 16gb available I would choose that; a 970m would be icing on the cake! What is your opinion or choice between this and the Blade?

    • Derek Sullivan

      December 8, 2014 at 2:11 am

      I haven’t really done much besides knowing to keep the brightness low and fooling with the advanced power settings to turn off turbo boost when in power saver mode. I’ve been able to stretch it past 4 hours but not by much and not all that often really. I’ve just gotten used to dealing with it but it would still be nicer to have a little more.

      I had the Razer Blade a while back. Given the choice now, I would choose the GS60 hands down. If the Razer Blade had a 970M(which I assume it will eventually), I would be a little more leaning towards the Blade but I still think I would choose the GS60. Gaming is better on a 15″ screen, num pad is nice and you have multiple storage options. Plus the 3k screen on the GS60 is a little nicer to look at in my opinion. Razer Blade’s build quality is so amazing though. It’s literally equal to a Macbook Pro.

  16. Jason

    December 9, 2014 at 3:57 am

    As far as build quality goes, on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being a razer blade how close is the msi? Debating between the two. Razer blade 2014 or a ghost pro 3k w/970. I just love the quality of Apple products and if they made a gaming Mac id already own one, and everyone compares the razer to the Mac pro. I plan on a about a 30-30-40% split between gaming, web browsing, and school work (PowerPoint, excell, word).

    • Derek Sullivan

      December 9, 2014 at 1:25 pm

      I’d say a 7.5-8. What kills it is the lid because of the plastic bezel. The lid is very thin, so the added plastic bezel allows zero support so there’s some flex when opening and closing at the corners. It’s not permanent or anything – my lid is still straight. If they opted to put a glass pane on the lid like Apple and Razer, it would be much more sturdy. The bottom half of the laptop is just as nice as the Razer Blade. All metal, feels solid and I’d even give it a bonus for being more rounded at the edges.

  17. Lloyd

    December 10, 2014 at 8:11 am

    How does the fan noise on the 970m model compare to other systems?
    Say, for instance, the Razer Blade 2014 and Lenovo Y50.

    I currently use a Sager np8258 (Clevo p157sm) with 780m, and as much as a like it, it sounds like a hair dryer while gaming.

    Was hoping my next upgrade can be slimmer and a BIT quieter at least :)

    • Derek Sullivan

      December 10, 2014 at 2:19 pm

      When I had the 870M version and the Blade at the same time, the fans were about the same. It might be a little better now since the fan’s don’t kick on as early as the 870M did. The Y50 is quieter but it’s an 860M and in a completely different league, in my opinion. The Y50 is also throttled out of the box so it will run cooler and quieter. If you did the same throttling to the GS60, you could probably make it that quiet.

      I’ve never had the np8258, but the 780M was a major bust so I’m assuming that since yours hasn’t overheated yet, you probably have an extremely large and effective fan. All these models are likely quieter than what you have. If you want to compare with numbers, play a heavy game and use a decibel measuring app on your phone. I took my readings from head and got a max 23 dB.

      • Lloyd

        December 11, 2014 at 4:18 pm

        Thanks for taking the time to reply Derek.

        23dB seems very reasonable. It’s in stark contrast to the typical reports the GS60 receives about being an above average loudness machine.

        I hope you review a HP Omen soon as I’m quite interested in this model and your reviews really are excellent.

    • Derek Sullivan

      December 10, 2014 at 6:12 pm

      Sorry – I said the 780M was a bust when I was thinking of the 880M. I’m actually not sure how big the 780M fan is but I’m assuming it was pretty large.

  18. Pavel

    December 12, 2014 at 10:40 pm

    Bought 870M 3K Ghost two days ago. Was looking for NX500 / GX500, but the first is just about to hit the stores in neighbour countries, meanwhile in Ukraine it’s not even close yet. And the price equals top rMBP for pre-order (ASUS, what’ya smoking out there? Must be some heavy sh#t…) GX500 is even far from that as delayed due to some production issues or whatever. So I was just tired of waiting and then a bargain came out and I got this one for 1.5k only (running 16Gb RAM & 256 SSD Raid 0 + 1Tb HD).

    As for now, totally worth its price tag. Screen is impressive enough though it’s glossy, heat during my everyday work stuff is not disturbing. Was expecting some better keyboard in terms of travel, but maybe I’m just getting used to it. And it’s so amazingly lightweight and solid-like I first thought it’s a somekind’a user manual magazine when I opened the box.

    Wish there was a black or silver 970M model available, but there were only “limited” weird golden ones in the stores which is totally unacceptable for my work. Otherwise would go for it to. Still, I don’t run games for quite a while so I guess this is a just a perfect buck4value deal now.

  19. Michael

    December 15, 2014 at 9:16 pm

    I just got approval from my work to spend $2,000 on a laptop. I think I can go over a little. The Office Manager said, “Not a gaming laptop”. Well, that just means I need to find one that doesn’t look too much like a gaming laptop. I want the Asus NX500 but its too much $. The MSI GS60 might be too “gamer”. I need help!

    • Derek Sullivan

      December 18, 2014 at 2:05 pm

      I was in the same boat as you a few months ago. The NX500 was my ideal laptop but is far too expensive. The GX500 was my alternative but it’s been postponed indefinitely and there’s still the price that I believe will be too high for me. I ended up settling with the GS60 and just learned to make it work in a business environment. There are 3 things with the GS60 that make it too “gamer” for the business environment: the logo, colored keyboard backlight and the font. Other than that, you could totally get away with it. The backlight, you could always turn to white or turn off if you needed. Unfortunately there’s nothing you can do with the font, but I haven’t had any comments on it at work(yet). I think the lid logo is the biggest giveaway and you have a few options. You could cover it up with a sticker, but there is a bulge to the shield, so it would stick out. You could also remove the shield and place a decal over it(might mess up your warranty though). There are also GS60 clones out there that have the exact same specs but different lids. The Origin EVO-15S, for example, has a very subtle look with gaming laptop specs.

      Alternative laptops are out there but they all have some sacrifices. The Y50 has a mild gamer look with an 860M but has horrible screen choices. The HP Omen looks almost professional except for the off colored WASD keys. The Acer V15 Nitro Black is probably the most subtle of the “gaming” class but now you’re pushing almost an inch thick. I’ve never reviewed the Omen and the V15 Nitro, so I can’t comment on them much. Reviews on the Omen have been pretty decent, so that might be an option. My stipulation would be how the keyboard looks with the backlight off, because having WASD keys that stand out is a dead giveaway for a gamer laptop.

      • Michael

        December 18, 2014 at 6:30 pm

        Awesome response Derek! Just what I was looking for.

        I have been look at the Origin EVO-15s for the very reason of the front of the lid on the MSI GS60! I’m going back and forth, having a tough time. I have narrowed it down to:

        Origin EVO-15s – For the reasons you and I already mentioned.

        Gigabyte 34W v2 – I love that its a 14″, but doesn’t have 4k screen

        Asus ux303ln – I like that its really small, and still has 4k. The 840M might be tolerable because it is at least faster then integrated gpu’s. The battery life of 9+ hours is tempting!

        I only play DOTA 2 right now and not very often, however, I don’t because I don’t have anything that plays it well other then my desktop. I don’t plan on playing much more, but I sure do like being able to if I ever want to. I might be a little obsessed with future proofing the machine, hence my interest in the Origin.

        If I had the money i wanted i would go Origin and an iPad Air 2!

        • Andrei Girbea

          December 18, 2014 at 7:31 pm

          That UX303LN won’t last 9+ hours unless you keep it idle. More like 6, maybe 7 tops. And you do have to consider the faulty panel with skewed colors (especially yellows). Asus haven’t released a fix for that if I’m not mistaken, although they said they were working on it and was scheduled for November. On the other hand, it only sells for $1300 and that 840M is enough for Dota 2, unless you plan on playing at native res (if supported, I don’t know, haven’t played it in years).

        • Derek Sullivan

          December 18, 2014 at 7:34 pm

          The 840M should be able to handle Dota 2 just fine on the UX303LN. Just play in 1600×900 instead of 4k. The 970M will allow you to play at 3k with 60fps on ultra with no problems. My temps still run 70-75C for long sessions.

          • Michael

            December 18, 2014 at 7:50 pm

            I would love some extra battery life but, if the UX303LN won’t give me much more then the Origin or Gigabyte, then I might as well go big. If the UX303LN = 6.5Hrs, what should I expect from the Origin and Gigabyte?

            Also, there might be times when I need to use the laptop on my lap for work (1-2 hrs). Is this possible on the Origin and Gigabyte?

          • Andrei Girbea

            December 18, 2014 at 10:23 pm

            I haven’t tested those two so can’t comment, but I did test the UX303LN for quite a while, that’s why I jumped in.

          • Derek Sullivan

            December 19, 2014 at 1:57 pm

            You won’t get anywhere near as much battery with the Origin or Gigabyte as the UX303LN. They all have similar sized batteries but the Quad core processors have a TDP of 47W while the Ultrabook processor in the UX303LN has a TDP of 15W. It makes a huge difference having the different processor, let alone having less hard drives to power, less ram, less fans, etc. That said, you will get about as much battery life out of the Origin unit as the GS60, which is about 3 hours tops if you manage your settings right. The gigabyte has a slightly larger battery and the P34G was pretty much on par with Razer, so the P34W should be similar. There’s no formal review that I know of yet, so I don’t know for sure.

  20. James Cygnus

    December 26, 2014 at 7:25 am

    I have the Ghost Pro 3K with the 870M and the fans on the GPU spin up to freight train levels within a minute of playing any game at 1920 x 1080, even on medium settings.

    Higher resolution are even worse. MSI support wanted me to check GPU temps, which ended up being impossible because no program could find the GPU sensors. I have a feeling there are some serious issues with this model – MSI now wants me to RMA this (I pay for shipping to them) so I’m now in the market for another laptop.

  21. Max

    January 6, 2015 at 6:06 pm

    Hi Derek,

    Awesome review! Read it through three times, super informative and very convincing!

    What is the best online store for me to buy one of these bad boys? I can’t seem to find one on amazon that offers the same specs that you mentioned.
    (Tried Newegg, can’t find anything either)

    Looking for:
    3k model, 970M, and 2 x 128gb RAM.

    Also, quick question: is 3gb of vram enough to cope with the 3k display?

    Thank you!

    • Jason

      January 6, 2015 at 9:08 pm

      Not sure what country you are in Max but I was not able to buy the 3k model in Australia as it had been superseded with the 4k model.

      I’m using the 4k model and for what I need it doing ok but I’m not 100% sold as I was moving from a 15″ Retina MBP. The screen is not a Panasonic but a Samsung so this review isn’t valid in regards to the screen, this was actually my main reason for wanting the 3k model as Derek’s review of the screen had me sold. The 4k screen is 48Hz too not 60Hz, but this for me isn’t a huge issue but there is plenty of debate online about it.

      The main issue I am having is that DPI scaling in windows is just plain annoying. On my rMBP I never had one issue with an application installing or viewing any content online but under Windows you constantly get applications that do not scale correctly. I play World of Warcraft and the launcher is tiny, YouTube in a browser the play button and controls are so small you can hardly get the mouse to hit stop or change the quality and possibly the worst application is VMware Workstation 11. My work VM (Windows 7) under VMware Fusion on OS X ran like a dream not the case on this laptop. You could specify it not to take the host graphic resolution (retina 2880×1800) and full screen it would use 1440×900, I could Apple(alt) – Tab across from the VM back to OS X and then tab back, you can forget it under Windows as the host OS.

      The constant reminder that with a AU$2800 laptop that the operating system is a borked hunk of junk really has me thinking of selling this laptop and going back to a rMBP.

      Is 3GB vram enough for 4k? I would of got the 6GB version had it of been an option in Australia but it wasn’t, but it plays WoW, World of Tanks, 7 Days to Die, Star Wars- The Old Republic and Diablo 3 fine for me.

      Cheers.

      • James Cygnus

        January 7, 2015 at 9:56 pm

        You’re comparing apples to coconuts… No Apple product even comes remotely close to the role that this notebook fills. Macs never have been and never will be, gaming systems. Period.

    • Derek Sullivan

      January 7, 2015 at 1:39 pm

      I read the 3k models are being phased out and being replaced by 4k, which is unfortunate. The 4k screen they are using is stuck at 48Hz, and from my experiences with the Y50 it’s not all that great. It uses a RGBW pentile display made by Samsung which is much different than the typical RGB IPS displays we see in other laptops. I haven’t heard confirmation from 4k GS60 owners yet, but the Y50 had much different looking yellows than your average IPS display. They were a little darker and looked off. Given the choice, I would take a FHD screen over the 4k. The main reason is the scaling issues on 4k bring it to the intolerable level. Legacy applications are impossible to use and/or read without major effort. With the 3k display, the scaling is not ideal but is certainly tolerable when you set everything to max(200% I think) in windows display settings. On top of that, playing games in 4k is pretty much out of the question since your card is driving 2x the pixels when compared to 3k and 4x when compared to FHD(1080p).

      That said, there are still 3k models out there in stock. Might want to grab one while you can if you’re set on 3k. I didn’t find a 2x 128GB option either but I did find a 256GB option here: Amazon GS60-3K Xotic PC is a pretty well known custom retailer and they claim they can make upgrades without voiding the warranty. This might be a better option than the RAID version imho. From my experience, when RAID is enabled, boot times typically get higher. You also increase the likelihood of disk failure while adding only minimal real life disk speed. At least with the model in that link, you’d have a spare M.2 slot open for future upgrades.

      As for your Vram question, I think for most people 3GB will be enough. The only game I have found so far that uses more than 3GB of Vram is Shadow of Mordor. The thing is, I can’t play it on max settings anyways, so it doesn’t matter. I get about 50-55fps on high settings at 1080p resolution and it looks fantastic. I think many future games will utilize 6GB of Vram but since the 970M will likely not be able to handle it on Ultra settings anyways, it doesn’t matter. If I had the choice of 6GB(which I didn’t in the US), I certainly would have taken it just for the heck of it. Hope this helps.

      • Max

        January 7, 2015 at 5:41 pm

        Thanks for your fast and detailed response Derek!

        One last thing:
        I’d like to know your opinion on whether or not I should get the 3K version on this 15.6″ laptop.

        I’ve read that FHD is more than enough for this and it’s also cheaper for better specs. You have the 3K model, do you think it’s really worth it to get the 3k version based on your experience with it? Or is it equally good to get a FHD version with let’s say 2x128gb SSD and 6gb Vram?

        I’d really like to have a beautiful display to game on and i guess what i’m asking is if 3k is really much more of an upgrade from FHD on a 15.6″ screen after scalling?

        Thanks once again!

        • Derek Sullivan

          January 7, 2015 at 9:49 pm

          It’s really a matter of preference. After seeing the Zenbooks last year with the 2560×1440 display, I’ve been hooked on finding an Ultrabook that can play games and have a high res screen. Unfortunately everyone skipped that res this year and went straight to 4k, which no mobile processor can decently game on. So the 3K GS60 was close enough for me, and given the screen size difference between it and the Zenbook Infinity, the pixel density is virtually the same. Some will argue that you don’t need 3k because you can’t tell the difference on a 15″ panel. Most of them likely have never seen the 3k/4k display and/or need glasses(true possibility – my friend at work couldn’t understand what I was talking about until he got his first pair of glasses about a month ago. He was shocked at the difference). I’ve used the FHD and 3k panels on the GS60 and the 4k panel on the Y50. I 100% agree with Jason’s comment on the issues with the 4k panel. I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone. The difference between rMBP and Windows machines is Apple was READY for high ppi displays. Microsoft basically put a band-aid on it with Windows 8.1 and left the legacy software in the dark. Hopefully Windows 10 will be better but that’s months away and there is no certainty. 3k is better but still has slight scaling issues that I tolerate: like Steam chat windows being super small when playing a game at 3k and the Origin app being kind of small. The media controls on WMP are smaller but it’s nowhere near as bad like in Jason’s case with 4k. It’s still usable and the pros outweigh the cons for me. It might not feel that way for everyone though which is why I say it’s really a matter of preference.

          One thing that might aid in your decision is if you don’t like 3k, you can certainly just set the resolution to 1080p and run the laptop like that. Some claim there is distortion but I literally can’t tell the difference. I zoomed in with a DSLR and took pictures at 3k, 3k on FHD settings and a native FHD panel of the same size. I couldn’t tell a reasonable difference between the native FHD and the 3k at FHD. I also play quite a few games at FHD and am not disappointed or annoyed one bit. I’d guess if you spent a good amount of time using productivity software and the web, you’ll be quite happy with the 3k version. If you primarily game, you’ll probably prefer the FHD, mainly because the library of games you can play in 3k isn’t that large. Also if you prefer matte and/or use it outdoors a lot, you’ll want the FHD. The beauty of this laptop is it was made for people who do a little bit of everything. I still use this laptop for almost everything I do. The only exception is on an airplane which I use an 11″ Ultrabook. Let me know if you have any more questions.

  22. Max

    January 9, 2015 at 7:26 am

    Thanks Derek and Jason!

    I’ve decided to go with the FHD version for the 6gb Vram and more storage.

    Buying it off Amazon at this link if anyone’s interested:
    amazon.com/Custom-Pro-064-256GB-Notebook-Upgraded-i7-4710HQ/dp/B00PHS7QNO/
    Cheers everyone!

    Thanks for the review once again Derek!

  23. butch

    January 17, 2015 at 10:25 am

    hey. I got a some small problem on my msi gs60 3k, because it comes in point that its laging and suddenly turns to blue screen and go back after a few seconds.

    • Derek Sullivan

      January 19, 2015 at 7:16 pm

      I’ve never had that problem and have never heard of anyone in the forums having it either. It could be software or hardware but would take some testing to identify which. You should probably consult MSI and/or your retailer for a possible repair or replacement. That’s certainly not normal behavior.

  24. DN

    January 17, 2015 at 11:35 pm

    Thanks for the review! I just got one of these and the trackpad leaves much to be desired. In fact, I am seriously considering returning the thing (using a Macbook for work has sort of spoiled me with trackpads). Could you share where you got the alternative drivers for the trackpad? Thanks!

    • Derek Sullivan

      January 19, 2015 at 1:42 am

      This is the driver I use. http://goo.gl/Uwhgvj
      You might also want to make sure your firmware is up to date.

      Note that even with this driver, it will never be as good as your Macbook’s trackpad. I’ve certainly gotten used to it over the past few months but if I had to go back and forth between great trackpads and this one, I would probably be annoyed with it.

  25. Mikell

    February 24, 2015 at 7:59 am

    I’ve done at least a full time job week’s worth of research to find the perfect gaming laptop. My budget is virtually unlimited at this point in time, so imagine my disappointment when I discovered that the perfect gaming laptop doesn’t exist.

    Obviously I’m using the term “perfect” loosely, but basically something that was thin, light, cool, and super powerful, with good battery life. Sadly everything suffers in one area or another but I had it narrowed down to 3 or 4 picks and I have to say Derek, this review is what nudged me over to make the MSI my final choice. Such a well written and thorough piece. Thank you so much.

    Just in case you were interested, I was down to the Alienware 15, the Aorus x7pro, the Gigabyte P35x, and this guy. Alienware was too big and heavy, Aorus to hot and lous, Gigabyte WAY too hot, and very blah looking. The GS60 really seems to have it all, at least as much as a modern gaming laptop can. Only real downside seems to be the weak battery, but of all things that was my lowest priority. Battery was gonna suck no matter what, so this one sucks a little more, no big deal lol.

    Anyway, thanks for this. I’m confident this is the right solution for me.

    • Derek Sullivan

      February 24, 2015 at 4:55 pm

      Glad to have been of help! I feel your pain – there is no perfect gaming laptop yet, but this one still fits my needs as well. Battery life is a big loser for this one but I keep an Ultrabook on standby for when I need it(which isn’t that often).

      • Mikell

        February 24, 2015 at 5:32 pm

        Hey, thanks for the reply!

      • Mikell

        February 24, 2015 at 5:33 pm

        Oh, also in getting the 064 variation, had the gtx970m 6GB

  26. Michael

    March 1, 2015 at 8:23 pm

    I am confused about the fan system.
    You say that there is only ONE fan while the product description on the MSI website talks about a Dual Fan Thermal Cooling System..(msi.com/product/nb/GS60-2QE-Ghost-Pro.html)
    I looked at different models of the GS60 Ghost Pro on the MSI website and I always found 2 fans.
    Is it an error?
    Thanks

    • Mikell

      March 1, 2015 at 10:23 pm

      I didn’t catch that but as far as I know it’s two fans but they are independent. One is for the CPU and the other for the GPU and they can’t help each other.

      • Michael

        March 1, 2015 at 10:56 pm

        I think I misread the review. It is 1 fan to cool EACH so there are still 2 fans. I just thought the review said there is only 1 fan in total.

        I can see in your comment that you chose the GS60 Ghost Pro with the 970m.
        How is it going so far? I am also looking at the new Gigabyte P35.

        I’m looking for a laptop where the fans will not be constantly running when I just browse the internet or things like that.

        • Mikell

          March 2, 2015 at 5:25 am

          I was considering the P35 as well, it looks to be more powerful with that 980m but from what I’ve read it also gets much hotter because of it. Like, it has a worse cooling system and generates more heat to the point where where after like 10 minutes of a modern game on high settings the back middle and right (where the card is) is too hot to touch.

          So I’d you’re gonna be on a desk or hard surface all the time, it’s got extra muscle, but for my purposes or wouldn’t work. It does have superior battery life though.

          Haven’t gotten in yet. In fact I only just placed my order with XoticPC on Friday so they won’t even process it until Monday. Will most likely be another week or two till I have it. But I will gladly come back here and let you know what I think I’d you’re willing to wait that long to decide.

          • Michael

            March 2, 2015 at 11:57 pm

            Yes I agree, I am not interested in the 980M either.
            However the P35 also has the options of a 965M or a 970M on XoticPC.
            Did you find out that the P35 still gets much hotter with those?
            Thanks

          • Mikell

            April 16, 2015 at 3:21 am

            Okay so I don’t know if anyone is gonna see this but after a moderate debacle with XoticPC that I won’t get into here (hint: by from someone else), I have my brand new Gs60 Ghost Pro 2k. Decked it out with two 256gb ADATA m.s SSDs in RAID 0 for my OS and games, a 500GB Crucial MX500 SSD for my files and media, 16GB of 1833mhz Crucial Ballistics RAM, and of course the GTX970M.

            I absolutely love it. Typing from it right now and it’s easily the best laptop keyboard I’ve ever used. The trackpad definitely needed the software update (it seriously sucked ass before it), but once it was updated it works really well, very smooth and responsive and accurate. It’s SOOOOOO light. My Lenovo U430 touch feels almost twice as heavy. The footprint is definitely larger than average for a 15.6 inch laptop but it’s so thin and so light, the increased size simply won’t matter. It feels solid, premium, and looks sexy as hell.

            Heat is not a problem at all, though admittedly I haven’t played anything extremely demanding. But it’s very comfortable, very quiet, the speakers are very good, the display is gorgeous, and it’s so blazing fast with everything it’s stupid. Like seriously, some of my games that used to take 20 to 30 seconds to load on my previous laptop (that had a hybrid drive) load in less than 5 seconds. And I’m talking levels/maps while playing. I’m running some sort of demanding games; Homeworld Remastered, Sins of a Solar Empire Rebellion (big maps), Supreme Commander Forged Alliance, Skyrim with quite a few graphics mods, etc. at absolutely MAX settings with no framerate issues or stuttering or slowdown of any kind.

            Yes, battery life kind of sucks. But what can you do? If I’m babying it and basically just word processing and internet browsing at low brightness I can get close to 3 1/2 hours. Gaming I get an hour or so, so most reviews have it right.

            It’s good enough honestly. I used it for a little over and hour one day, closed it, let it turn off, used it for an hour and 40 minutes or so the next day, closed it, let it turn off, then used it for about an hour the third day (all just browsing and typing emails and social media and stuff) and still have 18% left when I finally decided to charge it.

            Anyway, this is already too long lol sorry but this is the most amazing piece of technology I’ve ever owned, I have ZERO complaints.

  27. Mikell

    March 3, 2015 at 3:12 pm

    @Michael no reply button for your comment for some reason.

    I didn’t know that! O_0

    I believe you have a really tough decision lol. This is only from stuff I’ve read (though I’ve read quite a lot) but basically it seems to look like this

    Performance: Tie (970m on both)
    Screen MSI
    Battery Life: Gigabyte
    Temperatures: Tie (with the 970m on the gigabyte)
    Portability: MSI (thinner and lighter)
    Expandability:Gigabyte (can have an optical drive, which is pretty amazing)
    Design: MSI (completely subjective)

    Basically it’s a toss up. MSI is thinner and lighter with a slightly better screen. Gigabyte has better battery life and more drive options. Good luck picking between that!

    • Derek Sullivan

      March 4, 2015 at 3:26 pm

      Did you read any reviews on the screen to confirm what the model is? I just assumed it was the same panel as the GS60 since there are hardly any choices for a 2880×1620 screen. There’s also a glossy and matte version. I’ve read the FHD panel is really nice and bright(400 nits). I’ve been contemplating trying one out but it would be an expensive switch for me and I really don’t have a whole lot of complaints for the GS60.

      • Mikell

        March 7, 2015 at 8:30 pm

        Sorry man, didn’t notice this before, as far as I know it’s a 3k IPS matte but the color depth and reproduction and brightness isn’t as good as the panel MSI uses.

  28. Soso

    March 5, 2015 at 10:22 am

    I’m considering this laptop (GS60 line) for my next software development machine. I planned to buy the configuration with 2*128GB SSD in RAID 0 mode because I assumed it would be faster for boot and overall usage (Visual Studio, lots of small files). Based on your review it does not seem to be the case. Can you give more details? Because if what you are saying is true, then I’ll go with the configuration that includes only the 1 TB HDD, no SSD, (it’s cheaper) and then replace the HDD with a Samsung 850 SSD.
    Thanks.

    • Derek Sullivan

      March 5, 2015 at 3:07 pm

      The only thing I can think of is the fast boot option was not set up correctly in my bios. It SHOULD have booted faster but it seems like it got hung up on the RAID screen for a few seconds, which is why it was slightly slower than the non-raid configuration. In many UEFI menus, the fast boot option is enabled, which bypasses many of the checks to provide a quicker boot. There may be that setting and it may actually boot faster, but I don’t have that configuration set up anymore to test it further.

      That said, the SSD included is not the greatest for small files anyways. The built in latency with RAID controllers sometimes drops the 4k read speeds and that is the case here. 18MB/s is nothing to write home about. A single SSD option would be a better choice for you since you deal with the small files. Except for sequential R/W, the Evo 840 has better speeds over the build in RAID 0 config in every other category. I wasn’t aware they sold a non-ssd version. If I purchased my unit today, I would probably go with that one. I currently have a 1TB Evo 840(boot) + the SSDs in my unit and I would have loved to save money and have the empty bays to put better M.2 drives in it in the future. This should not the case for most people though, because the M.2 bays are super hard to get to(requires almost a full disassembly).

      • Mikell

        March 5, 2015 at 3:11 pm

        Great response!

        I loaded up all three slots, 2 m.2 ADATA 256gb SSDs I’m raid 0 for boot and games, and another 500gb corsair mx200 500gb SSD for everything else. Did quite a bit of research to see what would work best. Hopefully it plays out like I imagine. One of the best things about the SSDs is the low heat and power draw.

      • Soso

        March 5, 2015 at 4:32 pm

        The model you have probably comes only with SSD, but I’m looking to other models in GS60 series that come only with HDD and a mid range video card. It will be used mainly connected to an external monitor so the FullHD screen is fine for me.

    • Steck

      March 5, 2015 at 3:21 pm

      I have been using this machine as my main development machine for 6 months now and absolutely love it! I used to use a z800 with dual CPU, PCIe SSD, and running 5 displays. I have the 128 x2 Raid 0 ssd and it performs amazing (10 sec bootup in my tests when I had auto-login setup). The build and file copy are so fast I don’t notice them too much. I do place most of my development files on my 1TB HDD which isn’t optimal fast but haven’t really had any issues. I wish I had the 256 x 2 mSata drives because I seem to have to clean up my root drive because I have just 1 VM on there and everything required for the system to run.

      The only downside to this laptop is the trackpad is not a top performer. One thing to mention is the fan noise is not too bad especially when compared to my co-workers MacBook Pro Retina 13″. Plus it is nice that I can jump on Titanfall & BF4 with my co-worker during lunch :) Feel free to reply and I can get you some more information on my setup. BTW I use 4 screen (main 1080p, hdmi 2560×1440, mdp->hdmi 2560×1440, and usb display 1920×1200).

      • Steck

        March 5, 2015 at 3:27 pm

        Sorry correction 15 sec bootup to the desktop. Then maybe 25 till all my startup actions are done. I hardly ever just leave my laptop in sleep because of how fast the bootup is. Ohh one other really wierd quirk on my laptop and if anyone else has this let me know. If I hold the left shift and type something like HOME then the “M” doesn’t register unless I wait a second before pressing the key. Please if someone else has this issue. If I type without holding shift no problem.

      • Mikell

        March 5, 2015 at 5:39 pm

        That is a serious set up, this thing really is a beast. Do you notice an increase in speed in any other areas besides the boot up time with the RAID 0? Do you install your games to the RAID drives?

        • Steck

          March 5, 2015 at 6:47 pm

          Everything is very responsive as far as windows is concerned. I don’t install my games to the main drive because of the space but I am able to play games great… I beat my friend into every game. The biggest things is a nice GPU and plenty of ram for the game. I have played with the under and overclocking but eventually gave up on it because it was more trouble than it was worth. If I was only using it for gaming I would just leave on the overclocking and not worry about the noise… but since I want both it was not worth fine-tuning it. The WIFI works great for me no concerns there and I bought a razer power supply so I had a lighter one to carry around and leave the other one at work.

          • Mikell

            March 5, 2015 at 9:53 pm

            Right yeah I doubt I’ll ever bother with over and under clocking. Good idea getting the razer power brick.

            I’m betting that if windows is more responsive/a little snappier on the RAID then any home a game installed there has to load and read info from the mSATAs it will decrease those times, which is great. Less time loading, more time playing, and I’ll get more time actually in game on battery. That’s the plan anyway. I know a lot of these things create very minor differences but every little bit helps and adds up. Thanks for the reply!

  29. Caleb

    March 17, 2015 at 2:23 pm

    Hey, great review! my main concern is what the fan volume may be. I am planning on taking this to college and just want to make sure the fan is not too loud for the times that I may be bringing it to class. As a note, I am looking at the 970m version

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