MSI GT72S Dominator Pro GTX980 and the extreme performance of OC

Dec 1, 2008
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In pace with the growth of the gaming laptop market and major brands releasing more types of products due to the competition, MSI took an early start on the market.
Releasing many product lines after 2011, today MSI already had 4 main gaming notebook segmentations,
from low-end to high-end, respectively: GP, GE, GS and GT.
Differing by design and positioning, its gaming laptops offer a much richer choice comparing to the company’s competitors.

Performing at the highest level GT series, the first model was a 17-inch GT72, designed at the end of the last year,
which was then first followed by an introduction GT80 18-inch featuring Cherry mechanical keyboard, with an SLI high-efficiency models created just a year after GT72.
Recently MSI introduced a GT72S refresh, with a strengthening improvement becoming GT72S 6QF Dominator Pro,
this time we tested the GT72S Dragon Edition of 29th year Anniversary model, compared general GT72 or GT72S Series models are black and consist of different exterior designs.

The top of the notebook A side, same as GT72,
has a car shape appearance. Brush metal and aesthetic lines with a laser dragon engraving are certain angles really dragon-looking.
After turning the machine on, dragon’s right eye glows LED-white. Moreover, the word “msi” is without lightening.

In addition to MSI 29 Anniversary Edition, there is a carton sleeve included in the bundle, which differentiates this notebook from others.
Looking back into 2003 and MSI overclocking motherboard, 2006 and MSI netbooks and GX600 notebook.
Hard to believe how fast the time flies.
Recent years MSI has a solid share on the high-end gaming notebooks market.

GT72S 6QF Dominator Pro accessories include CD drivers, Quick Start Guide, Product Features Guide,
special MSI mouse with a 2-year warranty, keychain with a dragon doll, 230W adapter and a power cable.

GT72S backpack is of the same style GT72 or GT80, though its vacuum package is significantly reduced in size due to its special design.
The backpack’s main color is black, with a dragon-like red line on the front side.

Underneath is the same as GT72. It is a laminar casing area with red ventilation outlets.
There is a GT72S built-in non-removable battery, 9-Cell Lithium-Ion with the power of 83wHr.
2.1 Subwoofer System is based around the surface while an XBS bass is located at the bottom right red area.

B-side goes with a FHD (1920×1080) non-glare 17.3” display which comforts your eyes while using in a long time.
Support NVIDIA G-SYNC up to 75Hz refresh rate and over 72%NTSC color gamut IPS panel.
The webcam at the top of the screen is capable of 1080p at 30FPS. Built-in microphones are on both sides with digital mic support.

C-side: the palm rest part below the keyboard for the user’s hands designed with special glasses,
this feels plastic and easy to attach more finger prints; there is a room for improvement.
The difference of GT72S’ special edition is a unique image of the MSI Gaming dragon, which contributes as a greater visual effect.
Other C side parts represent an excellent shell texture due to a matte metal design.

The dot-hole row above the keyboard, from the left to the right, contains Sound by Dynaudio speakers from Denmark.
SteelSeries keyboard consists of 3 lighting zones providing a rich choice of full color selection switch through SteelSeries Engine.
Dec 1, 2008
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5 shortcut buttons, On the other side of the power button down、UMA/GTX 980 GPU manual switch button.
Cooler Boost Button: Cooler Boost 3 cooling technology with 2 cooling modes.
GameCaster Live Streaming switch button, SteelSeries3 lighting zones, hot key and micro key setup button.
IO area is on the left side. From left to right:
4 X USB 3.0 \ Line-in \ Line-out \ Mic-in \ Headphone-out \ SD (XC/HC)

Rear I/O:
From left to right : DC power jack \ RJ45 ethernet jack \ HDMI \ Thunderbolt3 including USB 3.1 \ Mini-DisplayPort \ Kensington Lock slot.
Large set of blood-red vents on both sides

Right I/O
From left to right: MAT****A BD-MLT UJ272 ODD \ 2 X USB 3.0
SteelSeries keyboard, with a multi-colorful backlighting and attractive print design, gives a soft feeling while using.

GT72S size and weight are 428(W) x 294(D)x 48(H)mm and 3.78Kg.
Display opened angle is high up to 180 degrees, which is going to have a better utility ratio for some applications.
Even though GT72S and GT72 are similar, there is less difference in the exterior design, Thunderbolt 3 with Type-C interface,
LED keyboard and internal hardware multi-upgrade option are the main parts to notice. Below will have detailed performance test.

There are 2 red light-bars in the front for increasing the sense of speed, whose light color which is possible to change through SSE software.
When wearing headphones, audio jack will turn to use ESS SABRE HiFi DAC sound.
Thanks to 9016K2M capability of the Lossless Hi-Res Audio Playback, and it isn’t in charge by Realtek ALC898.

GT72S has more versions, depending on the price and hardware configuration.
Below is GT72S 6QF Dominator Pro hardware information
CPU uses Intel Skylake Core i7-6820HK 2.7GHz, Quad-core support HT technology 14nm processor,
TurboBoost with automatic overclocking reaching up to 3.6GHz,Intel CM236 chipset.
Due to an introduction of K series, it is possible to change the design of the frequency multiplier.
Also, L3 is up to 8MB, almost the same as Desktop specifications.
These stunning characteristics give people new expectations regarding the overclocking performance.

The company’s exclusive software MSI DRAGON GAMING CENTER has new features.
Except for the main hardware status, quick applications, Instant Play and Device Setting items, Device Setting with Shift Mode, you can easily select a suitable mode.
The following is the Sport mode testing which could set CPU Ratio 37x and its clock speed 3.7GHz.

Switching to the new sound software - Nahimic with Audio setup including Music,
Gaming and Movie modes which let you adjust the settings according to your needs.
Below are sound settings for individual’s comfort zone.

Adjusting microphone settings is helpful whether you want to play a game or chat online.

HD Audio Recorder
Nahimic provides an anti-noise function for both microphone and HD Audio Recorder.
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The headphones output is equipped with ESS SABRE HiFi DAC, which will give a more in-depth sound.
The feeling perceived by an ear is similar to the one by professional headphones SENNHEISER HD6 MIX.

Compared the difference of 24Bits-192KHz audio quality by trying more on ASUS ROG G751.
When using Realtek sound solution G751 model, High and low frequencies are less satisfying in sound performing.
When using Alienware 17 with Creative Sound Core 3D, low and high frequencies are at very good level, especially greater in midrange sound details.
MSI GT72S is equipped ESS SABRE HiFi DAC to export the headset sound, the performance is great at both high and low frequencies, also good at midrange frequency.
The grading for the sound quality: Alienware 17 – 92 points; GT72S: 90 points. But where is the last one?

MSI GT72S Dominator Pro speakers are still in collaboration with the Danish brand Dynaudio.
Below is the description of the listening experience.
This part is quite subjective, Notebook built-in speakers are taken as a benchmark.
When adjusting to the maximum volume, the Maxima volume is very loud, which makes you not to worry about a problem of quite speakers.
At the high frequency, the sound isn’t sharp. Going deep into details, the performance is above average.
At the middle frequency, the sound is quite clear, vocals sound solid though there is a room for improvement.
At the low frequency, it wins among the three frequency range, with a shocking good bass, with blooming sound experience.
If you want to watch a video or play a game, GT72S in overall proves to have a higher level sound quality.
When listening to the music, even though the middle frequency isn’t top-class, there are only a few which are excellent in this area.
As a high-performance gaming notebook, GT72S is also quite competent in terms of sound.
Comparing to Alienware 17, GT72S high and low frequencies sound great, only middle frequency still could make improvement.
GT72S storage design is its major feature.
It includes the newest Super RAID 4 technology.
You can install PCI-E Gen 3.0 SSDx2 and M.2 SATA3 SSDx2 at same time,
This model comes with NVMe PCI-E interface of 256GB SSDx2 at Raid 0 SSD.
Installed TOSHIBA THNSN5256GPU7 using 16nm MLC IC
AS SSD Benchmark - 3348
Seq Read - 2816.64 MB/s Write - 1502.44 MB/s
4K - 64Thrd Read - 1181.42 MB/s Write - 876.30 MB/s

ATTO DISK Benchmark, when exceeding128k, achieves maximum Read speed of 3221Mb/s and maximum Write speed of 1926 MB/s
Seq Read - 3208 MB/s Write - 1949 MB/s

The performance of NVMe M.2 SSD is quite excellent, it only requires 2 M.2 slots of Raid 0 is faster than the one applied on GT80 half a year earlier of 4 MSATA slots.
In addition to the design, more bandwidth is provided with PCI-E Gen 3.0. The new NVMe protocol of M.2 SSD sharply increased the access speed.
In order to achieve above-high bandwidth transmission,
4K efficiency has also improved significantly with the greater performance.
And one more HGST HTS721010A9E630 1TB 2.5-inch HDD for data storage.
System benchmark test
PCMARK8 - 5503

PCMARK8 score also very high in the entire system performance.
The bottom picture shows GT72S already exceeding of 99% of the overall PC performance.
CrystalMark 2004R3 => 435959
Fritz Chess Benchmark => 29.92/14360

CrystalMark 2004R3 score was also high. Even though Skylake and Haswell have a little design difference, below are Fritz Chess Benchmark test results.
Since 6820HK has an overclocking ability and set to 3.7GHz, the CPU multitask effectiveness also obviously enhanced a lot.
CPU Benchmark test (Sport mode setting: CPU by 37x)
Running Time => 4m 27s
x264 FHD Benchmark => 27.2

CPU => 798 cb
CPU(Single Core) => 158 cb

If comparing Intel Core i7-6820HK’s preset clock to the previous generation, 4980HQ, it only has a small enhancement.
But when turning on GT72S overclocking mode, the performance increased about 32.78%, which is outstanding.
Using Sport mode for overclocking, could enable Cooler Boost 3 with push a button on left side, which will let the fan operate at its full throttle.
To boost on the 6820HK and GTX 980, it will be a great help with performance and temperature.
However the fan noise will also be increased.
Recommend to use Cooler Boost mode when ultra-loading usage, normally use the standard mode with silence.
The 6820HK at this GT72S is powerful running at 40x, overclocking CPU reach 4GHz, and it’s also completed all the critical tests.
Fritz Chess Benchmark => 32.57/15635
x264 FHD Benchmark => 29.4

Overclocking up to 4GHz in comparison to 3.7GHz
Fritz Chess Benchmark increases by about 8.9%; x264 FHD Benchmark increases by about 8%
Of course if setting only 3.2GHz with 6820HK, the 4.0GHz performance will increase by about 14%
DRAM Benchmark test
DDR4 2132.2 CL15 15-15-36 2T
ADIA64 Memory Read - 30308 MB/s Sandra Memory Bandwidth - 25789 MB/s MaXXMEM Memory-Copy - 28139 MB/s

Using DDR4 memory is also Skylake’s highlight on new PCs, lower voltage and higher frequency are improvement.
Moreover, bandwidth is also become higher. Of course, there will be single 16GB DRAM with better capabilities soon.
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3D specifications remain GT72S’ biggest advantage.
MSI was the fastest to release nVIDIA GTX 980 graphics product, not like others still stay on GTX 980M only.
The fact that mobile GTX 980 with 8GB GDDR5 is new and works great, same CUDA Cores as 3D Desktop PC GTX 980,
it’s a currently the market peak for this extreme level graphics card.
3DMark11 => P14901,comparing to 980M, the performance has increased big by about 24% higher.

Last June at ComputeX 2015 you could see that nVIDIA released G-SYNC technology.
Coordinating with the 75Hz IPS panel on GT72S, it can synchronize GPU 3D frame and the screen refresh rate dynamically.
Even though running the PC will let 3D performance decrease a bit, as shown below, 3DMark11 => P13392.
G-SYNC will let high-speed movement FPS games have smoother visual effects and complete image quality, decrease jitter and input lag effectively.

Below is a 3D Benchmark test also disabled nVIDIA G-SYNC, which shows the bigger performance gap compared with GTX 980M
3DMARK => 11353 / 28115 / 28419 / 14659

3DMARK FIRE STRIKE compared with 980M increases by about 39.49% in performance improvement
Heaven Benchmark 4.0
DX11 1920 X 1080 => FPS 130.0

GTX 980 on average is 130 pages while previous GTX 980M test showed 82.8 pages.
There is a 57% performance improvement when playing FAR CRY 4.
Far Cry 4 is currently one of the most demanding 3D games with a resolution of 1920 X 1080 75MHz,
allowing 3D to run at an Ultra mode with 200 FPS, when at the beginning of the game it’s 83FPS.

The performance of 980, comparing to 980M, increases by 41.8% on the start and by about 22% while entering the game.
Assassin's Creed Syndicate
The frame rate right after entering the game - 69FPS

Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six® Siege
1920 x 1080 75MHz, graphics setup: Ultra
The frame rate is right after entering the game - 112FPS

Mobile nVIDIA GTX 980 is currently the best at GPU performance on the notebook market.
After supporting 3D Game FAR CRY 4 using Ultra mode it’s also possible to enable furthermore 3D special effects.
When playing the latest on the market game Rainbow Six® Siege, it’s also possible to turn on all 3D effects.
When playing Assassin's Creed, the higher demand for 3D graphics. However 69FPS is already a great performance indicator.
Press Fn+A to turn on TRUE COLOR PROFILE selection mode for IPS panel whose color accuracy is already very high.
After switching Spyder color feature, the color difference is really small. You can select 1 out of 6 color effect modes.
Excellent color accuracy provides different environments for the user.

With room temperature about 24 degrees, proceeding to CPU cooling capacity test and CPU being at a preset value of 2.7~3.6GHz,
GPU running with nVIDIA GTX 980, with power supply on the balance mode, Cooler Boost 3 off,
the system’s temperature on standby mode is about 31~35 degrees.

With Cooler Boost 3 off, LinX 0.6.5 discovers CPU temperature to be 79~89 at its full running speed.

LinX 0.6.5 is currently the strictest burn test software.
The fan is fairly quiet at a low running speed.
The temperature indicator is outstanding during stand-by and burn-in mode. It doesn’t exceed 90 degrees C during the burn-in mode.
With the sound muted, the system’s temperature and performance are at a balanced setup.
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When enable nVIDIA GTX 980 GPU and runs at the high-performance mode with overclocking up to 3.7GHz
Set Cooler Boost 3 on, the system’s idle temperature is about 27~31.

With the Cooler Boost 3 on, LinX 0.6.5 discovers CPU temperature to be 67~75 at its full running speed.

Cooler Boost 3 low-frequency noise increased, which though will be overshadowed by the game sound.
However, even when the overclocking is at a low mode, in addition to full speed burn-in at 3.2GHz the temperature is 12~14 degree C lower.
While overclocking, 3DMark or other software can show the CPU speed to be 3.7GHz. The burn test AIDA64 shows the results of 3.2~3.3GHz.
LinX 0.6.5 shows 3.2GHz.
Because of the cooling module limitation, with a high level of heat, 6820HKmight look like it can’t achieve overclocking speed at 100%p performance.
However, in most of the environments it is possible to overclock effectively.
Most of the other high-end notebooks are thinner than GT72S.
They are less likely to perform overclocking, and much harder to install GTX 980...
Battery life endurance, Windows 10 at balanced power.
When running GTX 980 and playing DVD video, approximately 2 hours 08 minutes,battery performance is similar to GT72 one.
With CPU Intel HD Graphics 530, after playing DVD video for 3 hours, the battery life is about 15%. The performance is similar to GT72.
The summary of GT72S 6QF Dominator Pro limited edition.
Most features and advantages.
1. High-end model GT72S includes Intel Core i7-6820HK and has high overclocking capabilities.
2. Currently on the top of the market with nVIDIA GTX 980 graphics card with the strongest 3D GPU.
3. Wireless and wired internet usage Killer Gaming feature supports Killer DoubleShot Pro technology.
4. 2-slot M.2 interface PCI-E Gen3 x4 of SSDx2 RAID combination and 2-slot M.2 interface SATA3 RAID0 combination.
5. High-quality colors and wide-viewing angle IPS panel is supported by True Color correction technology
6. The combination Steelseries Engine 2, lighting management, rich macro keys set and 4 sets of virtual keyboard functionalities
7. Cooler Boost3 double fan allows GT72S to have a strong cooling performance in a high-end gaming market.
8. Dynaudio technology featuring Audio Boost 2 with gold-plated connectors and 3 independent amplifiers gives an excellent sound experience.
9. Matrix Display technology, HDMI with a highest resolution of 4Kx2K, ability to have 3+1 screens used at the same time.
10. Nahimic 3D professional audio software and featuring ESS SABRE HiFi DAC audio technology effectively enhances the sound quality in the headphones.
11. MXM upgradable design also supports nVIDIA’s newest G-SYNC technology.
Potential for future improvements
1. Touchpad sometimes skips the function rows or not sensitive, which makes it require more effort while use.
2. Backpack weight and dimensions could be optimized smaller, so could be more convenient to lift and carry.
3. SteelSeries keyboard touch feeling is sometimes soft; the feedback for the hand use could be better.
4. The palm rest area and D side are both plastic material, which could be substituted with metal or carbon for the better texture improvement.
5. Although better than G751 and many other notebooks, the camera could also be improved.

Performance ★★★★★★★★★☆ 95/100
Material ★★★★★★★★★☆ 90/100
Specification ★★★★★★★★★☆ 93/100
ID design ★★★★★★★★☆☆ 82/100
C/P value ★★★★★★★☆☆☆ 75/100
GT72S launched many models, recently with 4K display or lower GTX 980M version.
No matter whether talking about CPU or GPU performance, GT72S is undoubtedly one of the best than most of others.
6820HK has an overclocking feature, moreover GTX 980 GPU is now only equipped on GT72S and runs at a batter thermal design of heating capacity.
Isn’t there an extra value of overclocking when singing, dancing or playing games? Where else could you find such a good overclocking notebook on the notebook market now?

As previously mentioned, only change of the product’s exterior color or the printing or logo can certainly be called as Gaming.
Apart from the basic 3D performance, remarkable appearance、comfortable screen or keyboard touching sense,
the sound is on a high level as the speakers and the headphones sound quality is one of the key features of the notebook.
Compared 3 top level gaming notebooks of their sound quality.
GT72S had almost caught up with Alienware. This is what GT70 can’t catch up away from those.
Moreover, G751 notebook in these 2 aspects is far behind.
GT72S 6QF, except for being a top in efficiency performance, is also one of the leaders in other hardware.
Of course it still has few points could be better.
Outer texture could be improved as plastic surface could be better, no matter what the market price will be,
cost still be the biggest disadvantage for the budget consumers.
Material quality and extra product features always better at higher price range products.
On the other hand, hardware and design will have fewer disadvantages because of the cost increased a lot as well.
I am hoping to provide users with the most reliable and necessary information as a product reference.
GT72S overview is shared by windwithme.
This article also post on my own blog WIND3C, welcome to visit and feedback!

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