NVIDIA’s Pascal architecture has totally revolutionised the gaming laptop world. In the past, laptop owners would buy a machine with a GPU that had a nearly identical name to a desktop GPU, but the chip itself would be totally different. Pascal has changed all that, with the desktop and mobile GPUs basically identical, giving mobile gamers real desktop performance for the first time ever. We’ve checked out the mobile GeForce GTX 1080, 1070 and 1060; now it’s time to take a peek at the GeForce GTX 1050 Ti powered MSI GE72 Apache Pro.
As a relatively affordable laptop, there’s an odd mix of hardware within, but first let’s look at the exterior. The 17.3-inch screen means it’s quite a slab, yet doesn’t weigh too much, at 2.7kg. The screen is a standard 1920 x 1080 panel with no touch capability, but it does run at 120Hz. It seems to be based on TN technology, as the viewing angles aren’t spectacular, but the pay-off is that super fast refresh rate. Strangely it’s not G-sync compatible, which is relatively simple to include in high-speed laptop panels.
The Steelseries keyboard is extremely comfortable to use, and is emblazoned with the usual RGB madness. The touchpad isn’t so great though; it’s got a rough surface which can see the mouse cursor unexpectedly jump, but most gamers will be using a mouse so it’s no biggie. A DVD multi-drive is included, while the onboard speakers are rather average. Thankfully plugging in headphones delivers excellent audio thanks to the Nahimic audio system.
It’s on the inside that things get a little confusing. The GTX 1050Ti is basically the entry level for Nvidia’s mobile GPUs, yet it runs at 16% faster than the desktop part… provided the laptop maker gives it good enough cooling. So why has MSI paired this entry-level GPU with the top of the line Intel 7th Gen i7-7700HQ, a quad-core HT chip that Turbos up to 3.8GHz? It simply feels like an unbalanced matchup. There’s also 16GB of DDR4, a single 128GB SSD and another 1TB drive. Our benchmarks show this is fine for 1080p gaming, but anything more is a bit of a stretch.
With competing laptops like Gigabyte’s P55W v7 packing a slightly slower CPU but with a GTX 1060 for basically the same price, and offering a significant overall performance increase, we have to scratch our heads as to why MSI paired one of the fastest mobile CPUs with the GTX 1050Ti. It simply doesn’t make a lot of sense to us.