I’ve been using 4k screens since they became fairly affordable over the past year. During this time I’ve missed my old 4K display more than what I’ve been enjoying the other 4k. The reasons are partly personal and partly technical, as the specs requirements of a 4K display are remarkable, both in terms of interface and graphics power.
This feature introduced in portable format seems to me even more complicated, if we take into account that the GS60 is a laptop that still relies on Nvidia Optimus, which is more a liability rather than an asset in the new generations of Nvidia graphics chips. This unit, therefore, gives way to doubts from the beginning.
Today we will work on reviewing our performance data, battery life and especially to know how a 4k screen works with a laptop of these features.
What we already know
This upgrade over the GS60 that we can buy now had the bad luck of being born before the peaceful integration of Nvidia Maxwell graphics processors on notebooks. I mean that it entered the market initially with the new Haswell processors, but with the Nvidia graphics 800 series, and therefore without the trust and the benefits of the new generation of Maxwell 9 Series chips. Now it has it, but on a design that is not quite right.
It is indeed a powerful laptop with only 20mm thickness along its entire chassis. A lightweight notebook with a 15.6” size that offers all the essential features of the best MSI gaming laptop in a more compact and lightweight format. For me it is the definite station for work and play if you need to move your computer from one place to another or rather invest in a single machine that can also be used as desktop at home, or at the office. Still, it’s not perfect, and we have seen that in our initial analysis and we continue to see it in this model.
The color of this model is somewhat exotic. I like more of a classic black, but the truth is that it is far less striking than this golden champagne color. In general it seems a very beautiful laptop built in high quality materials.
It mounts Core i7 quad-core and eight threads processors. This is a powerful processor that can serve you both to play the best games and being a powerful and flexible platform. It comes with 16GB of RAM so that memory is not a problem and has an storage system that is close to perfection. Two 128GB mSATA drives that make up a 256GB RAID with read speeds greater than GB/s. It got also added a 1TB mechanical drive to have massive storage space in the chassis itself.
There’s also quality connectivity with HDMI and Displayport graphics ports, multiple USB 3.0 ports, a card reader, etc. A laptop that anyone would like to carry in their backpack.
Geforce GTX 970M and 4k screen
Everything on this laptop is superlative on a technical level. A powerful processor, plenty of RAM, an unconventional storage system…. Everything seems to defy its format and invites you to dream of light and perfect machine. A perfect machine but that can frustrate those who seek absolute perfection, and all this due to a single factor, in my opinion, by having incorporated Optimus technology, as it practically debunks everything good that this MSI laptop model has to offer by integrating such powerful hardware in such thin space.
Optimus is a technology that saves energy using the integrated processor graphics when the power of the dedicated chip is not necessary. The problem is that for its incorporation it affects the entire graph connectivity structure, and also the dedicated graphics, as everything passes through the integrated graphics chip processor outputs. That, in a Haswell processor, results in significant limitations. On one hand it barely supports 60Hz in 4k modes on integrated screens and on the other hand it does not allow onboard outputs to access this higher bandwidth with that dedicated graphics, such as Geforce GTX 970 in this laptop. It also prevents the use of other incorporated technologies in modern eDP standards, or technologies such as Nvidia GSync.
Thus the good video connectivity this laptop is practically worthless by not being able to use 4k 60Hz external screens, not even with its Displayport 1.2 port, and having the right hardware.
4K screens in these formats are not as evolved as they really should. This model incorporates a Samsung screen with excellent PLS quality technology (similar to LG IPS) but with a frustrating perk that is that it can only work at 48Hz frequencies, no matter the resolution you use. That is, this screen is stuck at 48Hz, whatever you do, so in Vsync mode it loses a significant margin vertical frequency in games and there’s no doubt that at 60Hz you’d have something better in image quality.
What this screen does offer us is an exceptional definition. It has a 275dpi resolution with high quality colorful angles. This would be the screen that any photography lover dreams of and Windows 8.1 offers the adequate support to take advantage of it. The problem lies for those who like to enjoy the additional desktop space that these resolutions provide. I’m saying this because it is impossible to handle the font sizes or the icons in Windows natural proportions.
Beyond the technical problems of incorporating this screen with other technologies of the past, what we found also is the need to feed a screen that for pure arithmetic it is four times more demanding than a 1920×1080 points screen, which is by today the typical resolution in high midrange gaming laptops. This screen has a 3840×2160 pixel resolution and that in itself is a challenge, even for high-end hardware desktop.
Performance Analysis and battery
The first unit that we received from this model lacked the MSI “Shift” technology and therefore we received erroneous readings from the graphics performance of the Geforce GTX 970M card. This model already has all the necessary software to fulfill its purpose, though it also results in more noise. In our tests, in Sport mode, the graphics maintain stable, with higher frequencies than expected. This improves our original results.
The frequencies are normal, with some more noise but the graphics performance is well above our last experience with the MSI GS60 2QE.
What has not improved is battery life, which is still at fairly low levels. With just two hours of use and the PCMark 8 test results are reduced to little more than an hour. This laptop is definitely not meant to be a prodigy in battery but it certainly serves to accommodate high-performance components that we normally see on laptops that are more than twice as thick. This creates the need to increase the dissipation surface, regardless of other elements, such as a large battery that compensates for the high consumption of components. If we seek greater thicknesses, we can get more balanced things, such as the ASUS G751JY that we tested a few days ago.
We have updated our usual battery of tests and have added two actual gameplay videos captured at 1080p, but at a real 4k resolution. More data on each video. Let’s begin by saying in Diablo 3 we had to use the native resolution of 3840×2160, as at 1920×1080 the cursor disappeared. I’ve had similar experiences of little support for this and other 4k games, both for desktop and laptop, and also we have the problem of selectable jumps in available resolutions that are often poor, between 2048 and 3840 points.
Performance test result:
Professional software test data
|Test items||Score (Higher score indicate Higher performance)|
|HD Tune(HDD)||Average read speed: 113.1MB/s|
|HD Tune(SSD)||Average read speed: 1040.8MB/s|
Gaming Benchmark results:
|Test items||1920×1080 High quality||2880×1620 High quality|
|Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag||33.365 fps||18.87 fps|
|ARMA 3||36.3 fps||17.1 fps|
|Splinter Cell 6: Blacklist||79.7 fps||41.5 fps|
|Castlevania: Shadow King||91.4 fps||51.4 fps|
|Deus Ex 3||141.933 fps||71.733 fps|
|Left 4 Dead 2||199.917 fps||148.244 fps|
|Call of Duty 9||114.67 fps||69.99 fps|
|Metro 2033 Redux||
|Metro: Last Light Redux||29 fps||12 fps|
|Dust 3||148.69 fps||112.50 fps|
|Sacred 3||112.5 fps||76.05 fps|
|Lost Planet 2||123.2 fps||66.1 fps|
|Glorious mission||74.1 fps||42.2 fps|
|Resident Evil 6||SCORE：10662||SCORE：5645|
|Street Fighter 4||309.19 fps||212.66 fps|
Besides its exotic appearance with a black color, you can also find it in golden, but this variant with 4k screen would not be the version I recommend it to anyone with an eye on this laptop. It is a laptop that I personally love, it escapes my budget with its price of more than 2000 dollars but that does not mean that overall you can recognize a great laptop when you see it and test it. The GS60 is a wonderful instrument to play with an unconventional design and very special finishes but the variant with 4k screen makes absolutely no sense.
It makes no sense because it forces the hardware above its electronic design and beyond the possibilities of the current hardware. Its panel is also unsatisfactory with that vertical frequency of 48Hz and the Optimus techonology just kills it. Not the variant that I would buy but, to me, it gives even more value to the 2k screen option that we tested a few weeks ago. That GS60 variant is much more appetizing, though it seems that it is disappearing in favor of this model and, therefore, it will become more difficult to find, quite a shame.