With laptop manufacturers offering Nvidia’s latest generation of desktop-grade GPUs in their mobile platforms, the parity between desktop and laptop performance has never been so close. There are still numerous advantages to a desktop, but these desktop-replacements are powerful systems that can tackle everything the game market can throw at them, including virtual reality. One such device is the MSI GT73VR Titan Pro, but the laptop is far more than a pile of impressive specs.
Armed with a responsive steelseries 3 keyboard and a 17.3-inch 120Hz matte display, the notebook offers one of the most complete portable packages on the market. Read this MSI GT73VR Titan Pro review to find out why.
Desktop replacements typically aren’t known for their stylish designs, but the MSI GT73VR Titan Pro bucks the trend. MSI has taken a lot of its design aspirations from high-end sports cars and it shows. The protective lid has constant slow moving curves as the surface slopes downwards towards the outer edges. While the powerful back red lit grills are reminiscent of something you find on a Ford Mustang.
However, our favorite aspect of the GT73VR Titan Pro has to be the stylish painted lid courtesy of Xotic PC. The custom reseller offers a wide selection of lid design options, including the ability to choose your own custom design (though it’s a bit pricey with some options costing over $300). The unit that we reviewed had a stylish red, grey and white graphic that really popped along the black aluminum lid. It’s loud and aggressive fitting in perfectly with the traditional gaming aesthetic, and helps to separate the Titan Pro from the other powerful portables on the market.
Xotic PC customized our MSI GT73VR Titan Pro review unit.
The notebook’s deck is also comprised of black aluminum with a vertical stration design. The power button along with the quick command buttons are located (including shortcuts to independent fan controls and steelseries engine 3). The placement is a bit awkward, but it fits in with the aggressive ambience, and helps to break up the machine’s symmetry. The bottom of the device is coated a thick black plastic shell, though most of the underside of the chassis is comprised of red and black ventilation grills.
While undeniably attractive the GT73VR Titan Pro is anything but sleek. Measuring 16.9 x 12.4 x 1.8-inches and weighing 8.6 pounds the Titan Pro is a hefty load to bare. However, the bulky design and heavy chassis is par for the course with desktop replacements. The Asus ROG G752VS is even heavier at 9.6 pounds. There are lighter options for those that may want them, such as the Gigabyte P57Xv6-PC3D at only 6.6 pounds, while still managing to cram a current gen desktop-grade GPU under the hood. However, with an incredible heating system, room for upgrades, and a wide selection of features there is more than enough packed under the hood to make the extra weight and size of the GT73VR Titan Pro well worth it.
If there’s one thing that gaming oriented desktop replacements want it’s multiple video outputs. Luckily MSI continues to offer its Matrix Display feature allowing for 4K (3,840 x 2,160) resolution (at a 60Hz refresh rate) video output on up to three monitors via its HDMI, Mini DisplayPort 1.2, and Thunderbolt 3 (Type-C) ports. Like most MSI devices the video outputs can be found along the back end of the device in addition to an Ethernet connector and power jack.
The left side of the MSI GT73VR Titan Pro houses three USB 3.0 ports, a line-out audio jack, a line-in audio jack, a microphone jack, and a headphone jack. The rights side features two additional USB 3.0 ports, a card reader, and a Kensington lock-slot.
Screen and Speakers
One of the most exciting features of this device is the 17.3-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) resolution matte display. Sure all of that is standard in today’s market — in fact some would argue that a UHD resolution panel is expected in the higher-end market — but what sets the MSI apart from other devices is the screen’s 120Hz refresh rate. Most gaming laptops screens are considerably less responsive, only offering a 60Hz refresh rate. Now for most activities the increased rate isn’t going to make a difference, but it can be a big deal for gamers. The more responsive screen can help make your inputs feel more fluid and controlled, especially in games requiring twitch reflexes such as shooters like Counter Strike: Global Offensive and Overwatch. Having become a recent convert to a 144Hz panel at home, I can personally attest that the added responsiveness makes a big difference.
The FHD panel is perfect for media with a 315 nits brightness and robust color contrast. NBR was impressed by how rich and detailed Blizzard’s latest action shooter Overwatch appeared on screen. The rich brown leather jacket and bright yellow track pants of Tracer’s costume popped against the glossy white background.
As you’d expect the bright matte panel affords flexible visibility. Images hold up well past 90 degrees without any deterioration. The matte surface also fares well in direct light with minimal glare. Direct or heaving lighting with cause a small sheen to appear on screen and colors to lightly wash out. Similarly tilting the display too far back will also cause colors to distort. However, from most viewing angles you’re going to get a pristine viewing experience.
Equipped with Dynaudio speakers the MSI GT73VR Titan Pro features a pretty solid sound system. Amplification is solid, as the Titan Pro is capable of filling a modest size with audio with relative ease. NBR was also impressed by the system’s clarity. Our MSI GT73VR Titan Pro review unit did a fantastic job capturing the jousting acoustic guitar and violin in the orchestral track Histoire du Tango – Nightclub 1960 by Duos Sonidos. The titan pro also packs a satisfying kick with strong bass, providing weight to sound effects, such as a gun fire in Overwatch feel satisfying.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The MSI GT73VR Titan Pro features a SteelSeries 3 chiclet style keyboard with LED backlighting. MSI makes the most of its sizable chassis offering solid key spacing, save for the arrow keys which merge into the keyboard’s number pad. Key travel and feed back are solid, providing a comfortable typing experience and reliable performance for games. The device also comes preloaded with Steelseries Engine 3 support, which provides the ability to set up individual key macros and assign specific macro loadouts to programs or games.
Located below the spacebar is a sizable Synatpics touchpad. The soft rubber pad is outlined by an LED light strip and has two physical mouse buttons along the bottom edge. The pad allows for smooth frictionless travel, providing excellent precision. Swipes, clicks and multi-finger gestures all register without a hitch.
MSI is touting the GT73VR Titan Pro as a VR ready machine (i mean heck it’s even in the name). While NBR wasn’t fortunate enough to test the device with a virtual reality headset, we feel comfortable stating that the MSI is more than capable of meeting those demands. Equipped with a 2.7GHz sixth generation Intel Core i7-6820HK CPU, a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 GPU (with 8GB of GDDR5X), 32GB of DDR4, a 512GB PCIe SSD, and a 1TB HDD; the GT73VR Titan Pro offers some of the best performance we’ve seen from a laptop. Though users can expect to pay for that performance, as the unit NBR tested is currently listed at $3,594.82.
The strong all around benchmarks are proof that the GT73VR Titan Pro is a monster. The laptop excels in nearly every single avenue. Whether you want to play game, edit videos in 4k resolution, or take the plunge into the world do virtual reality, the PC is more than up to the task. While the system is great at pretty much everything, it was made from the ground up with the intention of playing games and it shows. While testing Overwatch at 1080p resolution on Ultra settings the notebook recorded an average of 197 fps (frames per second).
The GT73VR Titan Pro is not only powerful, but flexible. Having tested the device from Xotic PC, there was a cornucopia of customization combinations available to choose from. The desktop replacement offers an extensive list of spec options including a 4K display panel (though it sadly offers a 60Hz refresh rate), up to 64GB of DDR4, RAID-1 and RAID-0 configurations, wireless networking, and a wide selection of thermal cooling options. Xotic PC along with other custom resellers also offer a number of different models including options like the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070, along with an SLI option that uses two GTX 1070’s for a total of 16GB of GDDR5.
The only issue with having so many configuration options to choose from is that it can be a bit intimidating. It’s hard to find that sweet spot between performance and price. The configuration that we tested is certainly leaning more towards the cutting edge. The Titan Pro is able to easily handle pretty much any game currently on the market at max settings, and is even capable of running most recent games at a 4k resolution at a steady 60fps. However, if you’re looking to future proof then something like the GT73VR Titan Pro is an excellent choice, because it will be able to handle the most demanding titles for the next few years with relative ease.
Our MSI GT73VR Titan Pro review unit had the following specifications:
- Windows 10 Home
- 17.3-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) 120Hz (with 5ms response) Matte Display
- Intel Core i7-6820HK 2.7GHz
- Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 (8GB GDDR5X)
- 32GB of DDR4
- 512GB SSD PCIe
- 1TB HDD
- Killer Doubleshot Pro
- Killer Wireless n/a/ac 1535
- Price as configured: $3,594.82
- Starting Price: $2,799
PCMark8 Home (Accelerated) measures overall system performance in Windows 8 for general activities from web browsing and video streaming to typing documents and playing games (higher scores mean better performance):
PCMark8 Work (Accelerated) measures overall system performance in Windows 8 for work-related productivity tasks (higher scores mean better performance):
3DMark Fire Strike is a newer benchmark measuring overall graphics card performance for visually demanding games (higher scores mean better performance):
3DMark 11 measures the overall gaming performance of the GPU (higher scores mean better performance):
CrystalDiskMark storage drive performance test (C left, D right):
Heat and Noise
The GT73VR Titan Pro has a robust cooling system.
Part of the reason the the chassis of the MSI GT73VR Titan Pro is so large is so that it houses a total of 10 heat pipes to help direct heat away from both the machines CPU and GPU simultaneously.
Despite the rather robust cooling system, the machine actually runs quietly, especially when idle. During benchmarks and game testing a faint hum of the fans did become audible. The laptop also remained moderately cool throughout our testing. After 45 minutes of gameplay there were a few areas that were warm to the touch, including the middle bottom portion of the chassis and the middle of the keyboard. However the machine never got hot enough to the point where it would cause serious discomfort, or the thermals would threaten overall performance or system health.
To test battery life, we used Futuremark’s PowerMark benchmark in balanced mode. The test consists of a combination of automated web browsing, word processing, gaming and video playback workloads. The test is far more strenuous than typical web browsing alone, measuring the machine under a litany of scenarios to better simulate high-stress usage. With the test being far more demanding the scores are understandably lower than what you’ll experience just checking Facebook or watching Netflix.
PowerMark “Balanced” battery life test results listed in minutes (higher scores mean better life):
The one true definable weak point of this machine is its battery life. Our MSI GT73VR Titan Pro review unit lasted one hour and 54 minutes before shutting down. With a score of less than two hours users need to have the power brick on hands at all times if they plan to use the Titan Pro. However, that’s to be expected given the array of powerful specs inside this device. Considering that the GT73VR Titan Pro isn’t all that portable to begin with, the limited battery life isn’t too big of an issue.
The MSI GT73VR Titan Pro is one of the most robust portable gaming options on the market. Sure that chassis is a bit bulky, but that space is well utilized to offer an excellent cooling system and space for SLI GPU options. Battery life is weak, but that’s only because the Titan Pro houses power intensive specs that provide excellent performance. With loads of customization options and one of the only built-in 120Hz monitors on the market, the GT73VR Titan Pro is also more than just a collection of expensive specs.
All of this culminates in one of the best gaming devices on the market, capable of tackling VR or any other task you may want to throw at it.
- market-leading performance
- responsive 120Hz Matte Display
- attractive unique design
- excellent cooling system
- wide variety of configuration options
- poor battery life