Merging portable gaming and virtual reality has been the next step for laptop manufacturers for some time now. MSI invited us to witness their attempts at bringing both of these worlds together. At a location in London, we were given access to MSI’s latest line of gaming hardware.
Dotted along the edges of the room were eight machines, all showcasing various facets of MSI’s design philosophy. The initial presentation outlined how MSI wanted to bring five key features to their laptop division. It’s no secret that MSI are considered one of the most aggressively competitive manufacturers in the sector. Their choices of components and technical specifications made this clear. Intel’s latest generation of processors, Kaby Lake, all featured. MSI claims that they are the first in the market to bring both the power of the 7th generation Intel processors and Nvidia’s 10 series graphics cards together in a laptop device. This level of uncompromising power delivers a smooth gaming experience, which can be seen in their flagship GT83VR Titan SLI laptop, as well as their mid to lower tier devices.
Speaking of the flagship, this is a laptop to be reckoned with. The chassis is huge, and immediately demands your attention. Under the hood are two GTX 1080’s in SLI, as well as Intel’s top-grade mobile processor. Not only that, but MSI have focused a lot of their design on optimising the heat dissipation of these components. Large exhaust vents surround the back corners of the chassis, ensuring that hot air is pushed away from it’s powerful innards. With that comes the inherent issue of noise. It’s to be expected, and was noticeable even in a crowded room. Personally, I’m happy to sacrifice a bit of my peace and quiet to ensure my device doesn’t throttle due to poor temperatures.
In a confusing move, the GT83VR is equipped with an 18.4″ screen with a native resolution of 1920×1080. When you’re packing hardware as beastly as this, you would expect to be rewarded with a stellar screen. Luckily, this is an IPS panel, offering vibrant images and great colour replication. It remains to be seen if different SKUs will offer higher resolution displays. But for now, you can rest easy knowing that your hardware will easily power through all AAA titles for years to come. In an exciting move, MSI have partnered with Cherry to bring a brand new key switch to the Titan SLI. Cherry’s new MX RGB Speed Silver’s are a delight to type on. With a short travel distance, the response felt smooth, quick and satisfying. The 16.8 million colour combinations available are an industry standard now, so it’s good to see MSI not missing the trend here.
Overall, the new lineup is impressive. All of the devices on display are jam-packed with industry leading technology. MSI have packed in hi-fidelity audio solutions, tactile keyboards, gaming grade connectivity and brutally powerful processors. It’s hard to fault any of the laptops on those merits.
Having already tackled VR with their backpack desktop, the VR One, MSI are now focused on equipping their laptops with the power to bring virtual environments to a portable form factor. As I’m sure you’ve gathered, all of these devices are able to handle the task. The smart choice of utilising 10 series graphics solutions from Nvidia means that you will be ready to run your choice of HMD with ease. I was given an opportunity to test a GT73VR laptop, which was hooked up to an HTC Vive. The experience was phenomenal, and MSI have stolen my VR-ginity (see what I did there?). The laptop in question is well equipped, boasting a Kaby Lake i7 in conjunction with a GTX 1070. I didn’t notice any graphical hiccups, stuttering or lack of fidelity. You won’t have to worry about an underpowered mobile processor holding back your virtual gaming needs.
I played through a simple zombie shoot-em-up called The Brookhaven Experiment. It’s a crowd-pleaser, and a smart pick by MSI. The game, however, wasn’t the focus of this particular demo. This was an opportunity to showcase a collaborative effort with Nahimic to bring true 7.1 surround to the VR environment. By tracking the position of your headset in real time, the software cleverly changes your audio direction accordingly. The difference between standard stereo and the Nahimic VR was astounding. As soon as the representative switched on surround sound, I was immediately aware of the directional audio. Enemies were easier to pick out, allowing a more tactical approach to the game. This technology will take VR titles to a new level, with one important caveat. It’s exclusive to MSI products. I only hope that MSI will allow other manufacturers and developers access to Nahimic VR. We don’t need more exclusivity, guys!
MSI have made a statement with this new array of laptops. Their slogan; “Where best meets best” certainly captures the design philosophy well. The combination of Intel processors and Nvidia graphics seem so standard now, and you’d be forgiven for not being so impressed. Regardless, MSI have put huge efforts into the surrounding cast. A roster that includes Nahimic and Cherry will help lift these laptops to the top of the pedestal. It was a pleasure being there to experience all of this, and I’d like to thank MSI for their time and effort!