MSI GT70 Dragon Edition 2 first play: pictures and hands-on

Gaming laptops don't come meatier than the MSI GT70 - and we mean the physical bulk as well as the behind-the-scenes power - as the 17.3-inch Dragon Edition 2 goes to show. Pocket-lint got our hands-on the 2013 edition of the specialised series ahead of its announcement to try our mettle at Crysis 3 with settings pushed up to the max.

The MSI GT70 Dragon Edition 2 - code name "2OD-039US" - isn't all too far away from what a dedicated desktop gaming PC can offer. Under the hood of this chunky, red-topped beast there's a fourth-gen Intel Core i7 processor and the latest top-spec Nvidia GTX 780M graphics card with its own 4GB of GDDR5 VRAM, paired alongside four rows of 8GB DDR3L RAM to total up to a massive 32GB memory. Boom.

But just like a dragon all this power breathes fire. Our main concern with the MSI GT70 Dragon Edition 2 was that it would run hot and therefore need lots of noisy fan cooling. In reality, the amount of breathing space and fan cooling provided in the bulky 55mm-thick chassis sounded quiet to our ears. There's a play-off there: it's either a case of trim, transportable kit like the new (and far noisier) Razer Blade Pro, or the specced-to-the-max, quieter yet fatter MSI GT70.

READ: Razer Blade Pro first play

Elsewhere the GT70 Dragon Edition 2 certainly isn't short of ins and outs: three USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, a mini-DisplayPort out, golden 3.5mm jacks for line in, mic in and headphone out and a HDMI v1.4 output too. There's even a Blu-ray read/write drive.

But beyond the catalogue of specs, it's all down to how the MSI lets you play. And play we did. Crysis 3 set to 1080p - the GT70's maximum screen resolution - and maximum settings elsewhere saw super-smooth, high frame rate with little discernible drop-off in performance throughout. Impressive, but not a huge surprise given that the GT70 Dragon 2 runs on the latest Intel chipset and the latest Nvidia GPUs kick a step beyond their predecessors too.

One thing we weren't able to test was the use of a secondary monitor. Lovely though the GT70 Dragon 2's 1920 x 1080 resolution LED-backlit LCD screen is, that GTX 780M can cater for resolutions up to 2560 x 1600 (albeit not at as impressive a frame rate as 1080p). There's a whole lot of scope here.

The multi-coloured backlit keyboard felt springy and responsive to the fngers, while the centrally located trackpad was also comfortable - although we had our right hand firmly fixed on to a gaming mouse the majority of the time.

The external red finish and dragon emblem on the aluminium base plate away from the keyboard introduce a dash of style into what's otherwise a rather plasticky machine that lacks the higher-end build quality from the likes of, say, Alienware. But the GT70 Dragon 2 is built like a brick house and has specs which punch equally as hard where it counts. A gaming machine not to be trifled with - and much the same can be said for the price which, at $2,800 (£1,830), is no snip.



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