MSI GE70 2PE Apache Pro review
A power-packed 17.3in gaming laptop and capable desktop replacement, the Apache Pro provides plenty of bang for your buck
MSI's bombastically titled GE70 2PE Apache Pro serves up serious gaming power in a hefty 17.3in chassis. With a quad-core Core i7 processor taking the reins alongside one of Nvidia's latest GTX 800 Series GPUs and twin SSDs in RAID, the Apache Pro promises blindingly quick performance for £1,299 inc VAT. See also: The best laptops of 2014
It certainly looks like it means business. It's a foreboding piece of kit, measuring almost 4cm thick and weighing a lumpen 3kg, and the chassis feels seriously tough. The metal wristrests give no flex during typing, and metal extends all around the keyboard, giving the laptop's entire base a reassuring solidity. The lid is plastic, but combines rigidity and good looks with a luxurious, all-black, faux-brushed-metal finish.
Maxwell meets Haswell
One of the Apache Pro's key assets is its Geforce GTX 860M dedicated graphics chip, which sits in the middle of Nvidia's new 800 Series range, and boasts the new, power-efficient Maxwell microarchitecture. In contrast to the previous Kepler architecture, the Maxwell generation distributes its CUDA cores into several separate blocks, each of which can be dynamically toggled on and off to minimise power usage. As a result, Nvidia claim that the new Maxwell GPUs deliver twice the performance per watt of their Kepler predecessors.
The GeForce GTX 860M finds itself in good company. Working alongside is a quad-core Core i7-4700HQ CPU supported by 16GB of DDR3 RAM, a pair of 128GB SSDs in a RAID0 array and a 1TB HDD. As you'd rightfully expect, it's a combination capable of blisteringly quick benchmark scores across the board. The pair of SSDs ensures lightning-quick boot-up and application-load times, and recorded sequential read and write speeds of 836MB/sec and 505MB/sec in the AS SSD benchmark. And it came as no surprise to see the Apache Pro breeze through our suite of Real World Benchmarks with an Overall score of 0.97.
Gaming performance is equally impressive. The GeForce GTX 860M cruised through our Crysis benchmark – run at 1,920 x 1,080 resolution and High detail settings – with a silky-smooth average frame rate of 65fps. Even with Crysis cranked to its maximum Very High detail settings, the Apache Pro eased to a playable average of 42fps.
Such powerful hardware takes its toll elsewhere, however, and the MSI's battery life was mediocre. In our light-use battery test, with the screen set to 75cd/m² it managed to survive for only 4hrs 21mins, and pushing the CPU flat out saw the GE70 2PE shut down after only 46mins.
|Warranty||2yr collect and return|
|Dimensions||418 x 269 x 39mm (WDH)|
Processor and memory
|Processor||Intel Core i7-4700HQ|
Screen and video
|Resolution screen horizontal||1,920|
|Resolution screen vertical||1,080|
|Resolution||1920 x 1080|
|Graphics chipset||Nvidia GeForce GTX 860M|
|VGA (D-SUB) outputs||1|
|Replacement battery price inc VAT||£0|
|USB ports (downstream)||2|
|3.5mm audio jacks||1|
|SD card reader||yes|
|Pointing device type||Touchpad|
|Hardware volume control?||yes|
Battery and performance tests
|Battery life, light use||4hr 21min|
|Battery life, heavy use||46min|
|3D performance (crysis) low settings||137fps|
|Overall Real World Benchmark score||0.97|
Operating system and software
|Operating system||Windows 8.1 64-bit|
|OS family||Windows 8|