The MSI GS70 STEALTH is a gaming laptop computer with a fourth-generation Core i7-4700HQ processor, 16 GiB of RAM, 17” Full HD screen, two SSD units in RAID 0, a GeForce GTX 765M video card, high-end Gigabit Ethernet and Wi-Fi controllers, and much more. Let’s analyze this powerful machine.
The box of the MSI GS70 STEALTH, shown in Figure 1, is huge and comes in black and red colors.
Figure 2 shows the set of accessories that come with the MSI GS70 STEALTH: manuals, a driver disc, a 120 W power supply, and a cushioned carrying case.
The GS70 STEALTH is big compared to typical 14” or 15” laptops, but very slim and light compared to other 17” gaming laptops. It measures 16.5 x 11.3 x 0.86 inches (418.5 x 287 x 21.8 mm) and weighs 5,9 lbs (2.66 kg). With this weight, it is almost as portable as most 15” laptops.
The top cover is made of brushed aluminum, for a plain and sober look, with a nice badge at the center.
Let’s take a closer look at this laptop in the next pages.
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At the left side of the notebook, we see a ventilation opening, the Gigabit Ethernet port, one HDMI port, two mini DisplayPort outputs, two USB 3.0 ports, and headphone, line in, and microphone jacks.
At the right side, there are another two USB 3.0 ports, an SD card reader, the power connector, an opening for anti-theft devices from Kensington, and another ventilation opening.
The front and the rear sides of the laptop have no connectors.
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Figure 8 shows the MSI GS70 STEALTH with its lid lifted. The big 17” screen is anti-reflective, which is great if you work (or play) with light sources at your back. The screen resolution is Full HD (1080p, i.e. 1920 x 1080), which is excellent. At the top of the screen are the HD webcam and the embedded microphone.
The GS70 has a full-size keyboard with well-spaced keys. All the area around the keyboard is made of brushed aluminum, and the only button is the power button, above the keyboard. The touchpad is big and comfortable.
At the bottom-left corner you will find small indicator LEDs.
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Figure 11 shows the bottom of the MSI GS70 STEALTH. There is no easy access to its internal components; you can only access the hardware by removing the entire panel, which is not recommended to be done by the user. Figure 12 shows the laptop with the bottom cover removed.
The battery of the GS70 STEALTH is not removable by the user, and is shown in Figure 13. It has a nominal voltage of 11.1 V, and 5,400 mAh capacity.
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Figure 14 shows the Wi-Fi card of the MSI GS70 STEALTH. It is an Atheros Killer N1202, compatible with IEEE 802.11b/g/n standards and capable of operating at both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands (“dual band”), supporting up to 300 Mbps transfer rate.
The hard disk drive that comes with the MSI GS70 STEALTH is a Western Digital 1 TB unit, model WD10JPVX (5,400 rpm, 8 MiB cache).
Nowadays, high-end laptops come with one SSD unit, and high-end gamer laptops usually come with one SSD unit as a boot drive and a big hard disk drive as a secondary storage unit. But MSI went one step further on the GS70 stealth: is comes with two mSATA 128 GiB SSDs, in RAID 0 configuration, as a 256 GiB boot drive, achiveing twice the speed of a single SSD, at least theoretically.
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In order to access the component side of the motherboard, we had to remove it from the chassis. Figure 17 displays the motherboard, with the memory sockets at the lower right, the GPU cooler at the left and the CPU cooler at the right. As you can see, the GeForce 765M chip and the video memory are soldered on the mainboard, not on an independent video card.
The MSI GS70 STEALTH has two memory sockets, populated with two Elixir DDR3-1600 8 GiB modules, for a total of 16 GB, which is the maximum amount of memory the laptop supports.
Figure 19 shows the motherboard of the MSI GS70 STEALTH with the coolers removed. You can see the video section at the left, with four SAMSUNG K4G20325FD-FC04 GDDR5 memory chips for an amount of 2 GiB of memory, running at 4 GHz and accessed through a 128-bit bus. It means the video chip accesses memory with a bandwidth of 64 GB/s.
The Intel Core i7-4700HQ, with four cores (eight virtual cores thanks to the HyperThreading technology), 2.4 GHz (3.4 GHz maximum turbo clock), and 6 MiB cache memory, can be seen at the right, also soldered onto the motherboard.
The audio interface is generated by the chipset using the Realtek ALC892 codec, which is a good solution, providing a 97 dB signal-to-noise ratio for the analog outputs, 90 dB signal-to-noise ratio for the analog inputs, and up to 192 kHz sampling rate for both inputs and outputs, with 24-bit resolution. These specs are good for the mainstream user, but not enough if you are looking into working professionally with audio editing.
The MSI GS70 STEALTH comes with Windows 8.1. There are a few programs installed, most of them configuration utilities for the laptop features (such as keyboard illumination), and also Skype, BlueStacks (Android app emulator), and Norton Internet Security (a 60-day trial version).
Figure 23 shows how the desktop looks like after turning on the laptop for the first time.
With such a high-end configuration, using the MSI GS70 STEALTH is a real pleasure. The Core i7-4700HQ has four physical cores, and thanks to the Hyper-Threading technology, it is detected as an eight-core CPU by the operating system. The default clock rate is 2.4 GHz (3.4 GHz in Turbo Boost mode).
As a gamer laptop, the embedded video card is also one of the highlights of the GS70 STEALTH. The GeForce GTX 765M with 2 GiB of dedicated GDDR5 memory is powerful enough for most current games.
Thanks to the configuration with two SSDs in RAID 0, it takes about five seconds to boot the operating system. We tested the boot drive with DiskSpeed32, and it measured an average read speed of 744 MiB/s, which is impressive.
The absence of an optical drive (DVD or Blu-Ray burner) is justified by the slimness of the laptop. And as games and movies are bought online nowadays, optical drives are not as essential as before.
The Full HD (1080p, i.e. 1920 x 1080) resolution screen is excellent for both work and gaming.
The sound quality is good, but not impressive. The keyboard grants precise and quick typing, as well as a comfortable gaming experience. The retro illumination with programmable colors and effects is a nice plus.
In order to check battery life, we ran the Powermark program from Futuremark, which simulates the average usage of the laptop (web browsing, text typing, video playing, and 3D graphics) and estimates the battery duration. Powermark estimated battery life at two hours and 10 minutes, which is a good mark for a gaming laptop.
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The main specifications for the MSI GS70 STEALTH which we analyzed include:
- Dimensions: 16.5 x 11.3 x 0.86 inches (418.5 x 287 x 21.8 mm) (H x D x W)
- Weight: 5,9 lbs (2.66 kg)
- Screen: 17”, 1920×1080 native resolution
- Processor: Intel Core i7 4700HQ (four cores, 2.4 GHz, 6 MB cache)
- Chipset: Intel Mobile HM87 Express
- Memory: 16 GiB DDR3-1600 (two modules of 8 GB)
- Graphics chip: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 765M
- Storage: Two SanDisk 128 GiB SSDs (SD6SF1M-128G) in RAID 0, and one Western Digital WD10JPVX hard disk drive (1 TB, 5,400 rpm, 8 MiB cache)
- Optical drive: none
- Webcam: 1.0 Megapixel
- Network: Atheros Killer E2205 Gigabit Ethernet
- Wireless network: IEEE 802.11b/g/n Atheros Killer N1202
- Ports: Four USB 3.0, HDMI, two DisplayPort, Gigabit Ethernet
- Memory card reader: Yes, SD card
- Operating System: Windows 8.1
- More information: http://www.msi.com/
- Average price in the US*: USD 1,600
* Researched at Newegg.com on the day this review was published.
The MSI GS70 STEALTH is the proof that a powerful gaming laptop with 17” screen does not need to be heavy and thick. It can be called a “huge gaming ultrabook.” Of course it is not intended to be put inside your backpack and carried along all day, but it is as portable as most of the 15” laptops.
The hardware configuration is excellent: a powerful CPU, a powerful GPU, and a true high-end storage configuration. There are not many laptops on the market (at least, not offered in large scale by a global company) that already comes with a RAID SSD array configured. The inattentive user will not even notice that: he will only notice that programs are loaded really fast.
The only “problem” we found is that the GS70 STEALTH is not easily upgradable. The internal parts are not accessible to the user, and there is no way to change the video card, CPU, or install more RAM. But to be honest, with such a great configuration, the lucky owner of one of them will not have to worry about upgrading for a while.
- Powerful hardware configuration
- Two SSDs in RAID 0 configuration
- Slim and light for a 17” laptop
- Full HD anti-glare screen
- Four USB 3.0 ports
- High-end Gigabit Ethernet and Wi-Fi controllers
- Excellent keyboard
- Sturdy and beautiful aluminum case
- Not upgradable configuration
- It could use a high-end audio codec