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MSI GT80 Titan review: A crazy-fast gaming laptop with an old-school desktop keyboard

Gordon Mah Ung | March 17, 2015
MSI's has a real mechanical keyboard, and enough graphics power to tempt even the most committed desktop gamers.

What this means, according to Nvidia, is a mobile GPU that gives up about 80 percent of the performance of its desktop counterpart. To find just where the GT80 Titan falls, I first ran it against the HP Omen and Razer Blade Pro 2014. Yeah, I know, it's not exactly fair to put five-pound gaming notebooks against one that weighs 10 lbs. but it's worth seeing just what you're getting for the weight you're putting on your shoulders. 

It's no surprise: The MSI GT80 Titan is unbelievably fast against more typical gaming notebooks. So to find out how the GT80 Titan does against real hardware, I decided to run the numbers against gaming desktops. I compared it against our zero-point reference system with a Core i7-4770K, 16GB of RAM and single GeForce GTX 980 card in it.

Because 1920x1080 is a fairly low resolution for two GeForce GTX 980Ms, I ran the laptop on an 30-inch external panel at 2560x1600. For comparison, I also threw in the AVADirect X99 rig. That machine packs two GeForce GTX 980 cards in SLI and an overclocked 8-core Intel Core i7 5960X aboard.

The results are fairly eye-opening. As someone who takes the supremacy of desktop graphics over mobile as an article of faith, it's a reality check to see the SLI 980Ms open such a sizable performance gap over the single GeForce GTX 980 card.

As to Nvidia's claims that the GeForce GTX 980M offers "80 percent" the performance of the GeForce GTX 980? We can confirm that, as the GT80 Titan gave us about 80 percent of the gaming performance of the AVADirect X99 rig with its pair of 980 cards. In the parlance of our times, the appropriate phrase is: Dayum.

4K gaming, too

I know you're going to wonder whether the MSI GT80 Titan can handle even heavier workloads, so I spooled up the MSI GT80 Titan on a 4K monitor for kicks. Running Tomb Raider set on Ultimate at 3840x2160, I saw from 40 to 50 fps. That's perhaps a little lacking for a first-person shooter, which usually demands 60 fps, but respectably good gaming performance from a laptop. I might tune the settings to get to a more consistent 60 fps, but there seems to be enough performance. The performance at 4K is likely helped by the 8GB of RAM per GPU that MSI uses in the GT80 Titan. For comparison, a typical desktop GeForce GTX 980 will pack 4GB of RAM.

There are a couple of weak points of the GT80 Titan, though some may disagree. The first is the panel. It's an 18.4-inch panel at a pedestrian resolution of 1920x1080. With this much graphics grunt, gaming at 1920x1080 practically handcuffs the pair of 980 cards. The good news is, the laptop is set up to support three monitors in surround mode using a pair of miniDP ports and an HDMI port.


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