I was lucky enough to be on-hand when MSI launched the GT80 Titan at CES. It was a big event for them, and all of the MSI people were quite excited about the unique device they had come out with. Over the last couple of years, there has been a lot of traction in the enthusiast market for mechanical keyboards, and MSI decided it was time to put a fully mechanical keyboard into a gaming laptop.

MSI turned to SteelSeries for the keyboard, and wedged one of their Cherry MX Brown keyboards into the GT80 Titan, creating one of the more uniquely designed laptops in quite some time. The keyboard is placed right at the front since a mechanical keyboard requires a lot more vertical depth than traditional notebook keyboards. This poses a slight problem for the standard trackpad placement, so MSI shifted it off to the right side and have made it both a trackpad and number pad. The layout works better than you might suspect, but since this is a desktop replacement, using it with a mouse would likely be the preferred option.

What’s behind the keyboard is equally as important, since this is first and foremost a gaming laptop. Here MSI has not disappointed either. Intel has finally released quad-core Broadwell parts, and MSI has shipped us the just recently updated version sporting the Intel Core i7-5700HQ processor. This is one of the new breed of 47 watt processors on 14 nm, with a base of 2.7 GHz and a turbo of 3.5 GHz. MSI pairs this with 16 GB of memory, and not one but two GTX 980M GPUs in SLI.

This plentiful processing power pushes polygons to a 1920x1080 pixel panel with proportions past the purview of most portable PCs (and try saying that five times fast). Alliteration aside, the display is right at the upper bounds of a notebook computer, with an 18.4-inch diagonal, making this one of the largest laptops around. It seems like the push for high PPI displays has been slow to come to the larger 17-inch panels, and the even rarer 18.4-inch one like in this device likely means sourcing one is even tougher. This display size at 1080p only results in 120 pixels per inch. At a point we hope that MSI might look into a 4K display at this size, although sourcing 18.4-inch 4K displays might be tricky. The device also does not support NVIDIA’s G-SYNC technology, but at least there should be fewer worries about frame rates dropping under the refresh rate of the panel.

MSI GT80 Titan
  As Tested, Core i7-5700HQ, 16 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD + 1TB HDD, 1920x1080 PLS display
Processor Intel Core i7-5950HQ (4C/8T, 2.9-3.7GHz, 6MB L3, 14nm, 47W)
Intel Core i7-5700HQ (4C/8T, 2.7-3.5GHz, 6MB L3, 14nm, 47W)
Memory 16GB-24GB DDR3L-1600 MHz
Graphics 2 x NVIDIA GTX 980M 8GB each
2 x NVIDIA GTX 970M 6GB each
2 x NVIDIA GTX 965M 4GB each
Display 18.4" 1920x1080 PLS Matte
Storage 128GB SSD x 2 (RAID 0) boot drive
Networking Killer e2200 Gigabit Networking
Killer N1525 Wireless-AC plus Bluetooth (2x2:2 866 Mbps max)
Audio Dynaudio Premium Sound Technology
Four Speakers plus subwoofer
Battery 80 Wh Battery
330 Watt A/C Adapter
Right Side 2 x USB 3.0
Left Side 3 x USB 3.0 Ports
Headphone Jack
Microphone Jack
SD Card Reader
Blu-Ray Burner
Line-in Jack
Rear 2 x Mini DisplayPort v1.2
HDMI 1.4
A/C In
Dimensions 456 x 331 x 49.0mm (17.95 x 13.02 x 1.93 inches)
Weight 4.50 kg (9.90 lbs)
Extras 1080p Webcam
Backlit Mechanical Keyboard with Cherry MX Brown switches
Pricing $2500-$3800, as tested $3400

There are a couple of different configurations available, with the processor, memory, GPU, and storage options determining price. On the low end, you can get it with SLI GTX 965M GPUs, SLI GTX 970M or just a single GTX 980M card. All of the upper tier models though are SLI GTX 980M. Memory is 16 GB as the base and 24 GB on the top model, but the laptop can support up to 32 GB if you want to add it. Ultimately the versions that end up for sale will be determined by the SIs that decide to stock the device. For our review, we have the Core i7-5700HQ processor, 16 GB of RAM, and GTX 980M SLIs graphics cards.

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  • Notmyusualid - Saturday, June 27, 2015 - link

    Funny, they didn't look anything alike to me. Try this: http://www.specsavers.co.uk/eye-health/eye-test
  • Gigaplex - Friday, June 26, 2015 - link

    How difficult is it to source compatible MXM modules these days? I've seen laptops with upgradeable graphics in the past, but no compatible upgrades were released.
  • Flunk - Friday, June 26, 2015 - link

    Everyone is obsessed with packaging now and you can get a smaller laptop if you forgo the MXM slot, you save a bit of cash too. Since almost no one needs the modules, few places sell them and they're absurdly expensive.

    The only place I know for sure that sells them is Eurocom: http://www.eurocom.com/ec/vgas(1)ec
  • hyno111 - Friday, June 26, 2015 - link

    Not very hard, but only if your laptop supports it, most laptops with upgradeable gpu only supports +1 gen gpu. And expect insane prices.
  • extide - Friday, June 26, 2015 - link

    You CAN get them, especially on Ebay and a few other sites but they are EXTREMELY expensive!
  • Meaker10 - Friday, June 26, 2015 - link

    MSI will sell them to you through your reseller who can do the upgrade for you and keep your warranty. This is a special service for GT72 and GT80 users.
  • Notmyusualid - Saturday, June 27, 2015 - link

    Source? Fleabay. I've bought a few over the years. And when 980M GTX price falls, I'll be buying a couple of those.

    Physical / electrical compatability? Here: http://www.mxm-upgrade.com/Tech_13.html
  • chizow - Friday, June 26, 2015 - link

    Wow that's a lot of GPU perf and a fast Broadwell chip too. Too bad there's no G-Sync, I'm not in the market for a "gaming" laptop, but I couldn't imagine spending that much on one today without G-Sync support.
  • ingwe - Friday, June 26, 2015 - link

    Good point. If I was going to put out the money for this, I would definitely want G-Sync.
  • Xenonite - Saturday, June 27, 2015 - link

    I would also consider a G-Sync display to be mandatory at this point for any computer aimed at providing good gaming performance, however with a 60Hz display I do not feel like it's inclusion would have had much of an impact on the smoothness of gaming on the integrated monitor (I have owned a Asus ROG Swift 144Hz G-Sync display for about a year now and I could not see much of a benefit of G-Sync, even with Nvidia's own pendulum demo. 33ms is just too long to display a single frame for; the motion is going to be unnatural and jumpy even if the frames are presented in perfect sync with the monitor).

    I would still have wanted the review to test the display's response time and input lag, but seeing as it is capped at 60Hz AND is not a TN panel, I suspect that MSI would not have been too happy with the numbers had they been posted.

    That said, when it is used as a true desktop replacement, with an external monitor, the GT80 would probably be capable of producing a very nice gaming experience, as long as the mobile SLI implementation does not intorduce unwanted frame time variances.

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