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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.

The other weakness will bug those who intend to use the GT80 for CPU intensive tasks. Despite its bulk, the GT80 Titan is really no faster than the HP Omen and Razer Blade Pro 2014. 

That's a little disappointing. For gaming loads, it's really no big deal. In fact, for someone who is primarily interested in a gaming laptop, I generally say skimp on the CPU and throw it all at the GPU. Still, to see the thick GT80 pull even with the thin-as-  hell HP Omen is, well, a letdown. It's like stomping on the gas pedal in your vintage muscle car at a stop light, laying some rubber, and then arriving at the next light to see the funny electric car you thought you burned sitting right next to you. And yes, I included the encoding performance of the AVADirect X99 and its 8-core beast to show you who is large and in charge.

MSI may have skimped on CPU in our config, but it was generous with storage. The company takes advantage of the plentiful space to give you the ability to run up to four M.2 SATA drives in RAID 0. Our unit came with two Kingston 128GB M.2 SATA drives in RAID 0, and performance of both was a blistering 1,000MB/s reads and 600MB/s writes. Call us picky bastards, but we wonder what performance would be like with even faster drives, or with four.

Getting to those drives is easy, too. Just unscrew two Philips heads on the bottom and slide open to access all four M.2 slots, as well as two additional SO-DIMM slots for RAM, the optical drive (a Blu-ray burner in this case), and a 1TB Hitachi HDD.

It's also worth mentioning the acoustics of the GT80 Titan. Under a CPU load it's quiet, but after a long session of gaming the fans will spool up enough to let you know they're there. It's not loud, but it's right on the border at times. Fortunately it's a dull roar, not a shrill whine. There's even a button to spool the fans up to max rpm's, but with overclocking currently disabled on the mobile GTX 980 parts, I'm not sure what the point is.

The other big cost is the actual cost. Such an odd-duck laptop packed to the gills with hardware won't be cheap. The configuration I reviewed, the GT80 SLI-001, will set your credit card back $3,400. Most high-performance gaming notebooks with a single GeForce GTX 980 will set you back $2,300. That  means you're definitely paying a hefty premium for the GT80 Titan SLI, but you're really getting desktop-like performance and that slick mechanical keyboard.


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