MSI GT83VR Titan SLI: Australian Review

Image: MSI

This laptop has two top-of-the-line graphics cards. This laptop has mechanical keyboard switches, and Intel's latest high-performance CPU, and an 18.4-inch screen and a subwoofer. This laptop is massive and massively expensive. This laptop is barely a laptop. It's a monster.

What Is It?

MSI's GT83VR 6RF Titan SLI, to use its full Christian name, is the biggest and most badass laptop ever to have walked the land. Forget your Razer Blade Pros and your Aorus X7s — the MSI GT83VR is the big daddy Argentinosaurus. It weighs 5.5kg, it's 69mm thick (458x339x42~69mm, to be precise), and it's built around an 18.4-inch LCD screen.

Half of the GT83VR's keyboard tray is devoted to its full size, 104-key mechanical keyboard. Strictly speaking, the numeric keypad isn't mechanical — it's a touch-sensitive flat panel off to the side, which is also the GT83's touchpad. Its odd positioning belies the fact that MSI doesn't really expect you to use it as a laptop and rely on the trackpad a lot of the time, and instead to use an external mouse and mousemat. The keyboard is the first on a laptop to use Cherry's ultra-low-travel MX Speed mechanical switches, with a mere 1.2mm of travel before actuation — this translates into quicker response times and more frags. (MX Browns are also available.)

It's also $7499. That's a lot of money, huh? That's enough to buy two of the GT83VR's closest non-SLI'd GeForce GTX 1080 competitors. But the top-of-the-line GT83 from MSI has always been the biggest and baddest and most powerful all-in-one desktop replacement laptop in existence, and it has a price tag to match that. It's the price premium you pay for a Ferrari or Maserati or Bugatti or Lamborghini, with more power than you're likely to ever use. It's also not likely to be the highest volume seller for MSI in Australia, but the GT83VR nonetheless serves to create a halo effect on other MSI gear.

It's worth mentioning early on that I don't think the GT83VR is an especially pretty laptop. MSI makes some nice, understated laptops in its GS Stealth Pro series, but with the GT83 function definitely triumphs over form. Everything with this laptop — keyboard placement, screen size, the fact that you can remove the laptop's top panel to access RAM and SSD rather than the base — is designed to make it appropriate for gamers and hardcore, long-time PC enthusiasts that like to tweak and tinker with the machines that they own. Not that you'd ever see me taking a $7499 laptop apart...

What's It Good At?

If you're looking for power, the MSI GT83VR Titan SLI just has it. This is a laptop that is more powerful than almost any desktop PC. Its twin Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 graphics cards — and yes, they're not gimped in laptops for the first time ever — output a phenomenal amount of graphical grunt, especially considering the relatively low resolution of the GT83's screen. It'll fly through absolutely any gaming title that you throw at at its native 1080p resolution, and in games with SLI support the option for supersampling to improve visual quality is also there.

That graphical power — the most important spec in any PC that's going to be used primarily for gaming — is backed up by every single other spec on the GT83VR being one of the best that you could possibly hope for. Its CPU is a factory-overclockable Core i7-7920HQ, the most powerful seventh-gen Kaby Lake chip that's out there, it has dual M.2 NVMe SSDs in RAID 0 for stupidly fast 1000MBps-plus transfer rates, it has Killer's newest and best LAN and Wi-Fi chips, it has a swathe of up-to-date connectivity like Thunderbolt 3 and USB Type-C. I mean, MSI makes a slightly lesser spec that uses dual 1070s rather than 1080s, but I don't know why you'd bother.

By virtue of its size, too, the MSI GT83VR stays cool and even relatively quiet during intensive 3D gaming. MSI engineered an extra 15 heatpipes into this massive laptop's chassis to funnel heat quickly and efficiently. For anything less than full-power 3D gaming, you won't even hear the laptop's fans spin up to push heat out. That's good, because you'll probably be listening to its 2.1-channel sound system — yep, the GT83 has a subwoofer. It's quite a good audio setup, and it'll spoil your games more than most other laptops could. Of course, you'll probably be playing on headphones, so it's a bit of a moot point anyway.

What's It Not Good At?

The reason for choosing a 1080p display in the GT83VR is obvious — it's going to be pushing some fast frames out at that resolution, exponentially more than you'd see at 1440p or 1800p or 2160p. But it's not a great display in the first place — as an IPS panel its viewing angles are good, but it could be a lot brighter, and its pixel density at 1080p and 18.4 inches is one of the worst we've seen in the last couple of years. If you're buying the GT83VR, do yourself a favour and get a nice external display to hook it up to.

The amount of power required to drive the Titan SLI is phenomenal, too. It uses a 2x 330-Watt power adapter, drinking up more power than ten Asus Zenbook ultrabooks combined when you're pushing it to its maximum. It's a massive power adapter for a massive laptop, and you're going to need a special backpack — or even some kind of rolling luggage — to move this machine around. Please, please don't try to carry this in a satchel. You'll break your goddamn shoulder and your goddamn laptop too. This is not a laptop you can carry every day between office and home.

Battery life is not something you'd buy this laptop for, despite the fact that its 75Whr 8-cell nonremovable cell is quite good — in theory — in its size. Even when powered down and idling along, the high-end CPU and GPUs, massive screen and all the add-ons like a second SSD and light-up RGB keyboard all contribute to squarely mediocre performance in the battery life department. And don't even think of gaming on the go: my session of Battlefield 1 didn't even last half an hour.

Should You Buy It?

I could count the number of people I know that could potentially buy the MSI GT83VR on one hand. I genuinely don't think any of them would. But that doesn't make it any less appealing in a grotesque way, like you might stare at a distance at a supercar. It's phenomenally powerful in a way that you're unlikely to use the full potential of. It's phenomenally big in a way that really makes it quite unpractical. But that doesn't make it any less appealing.

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