MSI GS70 Stealth Pro Laptop Review
We're including temperatures here, because they're such a vital part of our concluding thoughts. When you reduce the size of the chassis you reduce the size of the fan and heatsink you can squeeze in. The Stealth Pro unquestionably hits some nearly ludicrous temperatures under heavy loading despite the 'dual fan' design.
As with nearly every modern electronic device there are three main areas of interest, and how much weight you apply to them depends upon your personal preference. They are looks, performance and ease of use. To some degree you could include price, but we know when the 'desirable hardware' jitters are upon you price is more flexible than the others.
We'll start with performance. Contrary to some review samples that we receive, which come at the maximum possible specification, the Stealth Pro was equipped with a medium speed drive. The press releases and information speak highly about the RAID capabilities of the MSI laptop, but as we only have a 128GB Toshiba in ours then we can't comment upon that. However, the Toshiba is definitely a drive we'd upgrade if the option is there. It's just not fast enough and as SSDs are all low power and of similar pricing then there is little reason to stick with such a relatively wheezy performer. Fortunately the rest of the components are very good with the i7-4700HQ chomping through calculations with aplomb, ably backed up by some speedy memory. The graphics card is, as with all mobile graphics, not a patch on an equivalent desktop offering but there is more than enough oomph to provide smooth gaming in almost every title.
Looks are a bit more divisive. We have to be honest and say that we never felt a standard 30mm thick laptop was particularly problematic. The screen size is far more of a deal maker/breaker if size if your absolute be all and end all. But let it not be said that we can't ride the zeitgeist of 'thin is king' and appreciate the effort that has gone into flattening the Stealth Pro down to a tiny 21mm. Away from the thickness it's rare to find a moniker more suited than 'stealth'. The gun metal grey casing blends in, there are no obvious stickers proclaiming nVidia graphics or Intel inside. Even the keys aren't as backlit as some we've seen. Underlit probably covers it. Certainly if you want a laptop to scream to people passing by that you have your finger on the pulse of what is awesome, then you might need to look elsewhere. On the plus side it's unlikely to be stolen for its looks alone.
Finally ease of use. The Stealth Pro comes with Windows 8.1 which, whilst still an awkward and annoying OS to use on a non-touchscreen device, is at least less likely to make you want to throw it through a window. Of course your mileage may vary and we understand some people even like Windows 8. MSI have included all the necessary utilities and applications to customise what is available to you. We could definitely live without the tons of time limited trials that take up diskspace though, and it will be a cold day in hell before Norton finds its way onto a machine in OC3D Towers. Still that's a marketing thing and any user with a little savvy can swiftly dispense with them.
The thing that is perhaps hardest to live with, or rather demonstrates the inherent limitations of the design, are the temperatures. The weather at the moment isn't particularly warm and our offices are air-conditioned but we still found that after a brief run of a 3D test or game the Stealth Pro was in the 90s. Hot air pours from the vents at the side like holding your hands above a toaster and, perhaps most annoyingly, the top left of the all metal case gets extremely hot to the touch. Now it's not a place you're likely to touch in a gaming scenario but if you've got it on your lap you'd quickly notice the massive amount of heat that is generated and struggling to be dealt with. We have to balance this by saying that the Stealth Pro didn't suffer any performance issues from these high temperatures, but it is hardly comfortable to use.
So where does that leave us? It looks good, although it's most definitely understated. Performance is great and, with a better choice of SSD, is good enough to ensure no complaints in any demands you place upon it. There are definitely some cooling issues caused by sacrificing so much on the altar of thinness. Whether that is a price worth paying for such a slender laptop is up to you, for us it's enough to drop the MSI Stealth Pro down to an OC3D Silver Award.