The GTX 980's placement in notebooks heralded the now-present era of desktop GPUs in laptops, but was still sort of a trial of the tech. NVidia and AMD have both introduced their Pascal and Polaris architectures in full, uncut versions to notebooks this generation, with performance generally within about 10% of an equivalent desktop build. Despite the desktop-level power, battery life should also be improved resultant of an overall reduction in power consumption by the GPU and the CPU alike. And almost every other component, for that matter – like DDR4, which requires lower voltage and draws less power than DDR3.
Today, we're looking at the MSI GE62VR 6RF Apache Pro laptop with GTX 1060 & i7-6700HQ, priced at $1600. The benchmarks follow our previous notebook 1070 vs. 1080 tests, but with proper depth and hands-on. Note also that we already wrote about the GE62VR's bloatware problem.
In this review of the MSI GE62VR 6RF Apache Pro ($1600), we'll be testing FPS on the GTX 1060, temperatures, noise levels, and build quality.
MSI Apache GE62VR Specs
The GE62VR is part of the Apache family of MSI notebooks, with the '6' indicating a 15.6” display and the '2' indicating a second generation chassis. The unit's crowning feature is its GTX 1060 desktop GPU, which runs a full 10SMs for 1280 CUDA cores. This is identical to the GTX 1060 in add-in boards, with the only difference being the clock-rate. 10-series notebooks have about a 10% range permitted for pre-overclock or underclocks on the GPU, likely to be the largest contributor to FPS differences between laptops this generation. That is, aside from the bloatware that we already talked about.
As for the software, MSI pre-installs Nahimic, Norton, MSI Control Center/Dragon Center, SteelSeries color control, Killer networking, and more. Here's a screenshot:
But let's focus on the hardware for now. The GTX 1060 runs at 1670MHz stock and runs the same 8Gbps 6GB of GDDR5 as the desktop counter. As for the CPU, MSI's GE62VR is using a 6th Gen i7-6700HQ at 2.6GHz. This is the non-overclocking SKU of the current Skylake notebook CPUs. Kaby lake will undoubtedly see inclusion in notebooks soon, though its performance difference will almost certainly be negligible for gaming.
Our unit uses 16GB of DDR4 SODIMM memory, with a maximum supported capacity of 32GB for higher density modules. An NVMe M.2 SSD is included at 240GB, with a 1TB SATA hard drive for mass storage.
The GE62VR uses either a 15.6” 1080p display or 15.6” 4K display, both IPS panels with accurate color from most viewing angles. Our test model has a 1080p display, but we connected a monitor for additional 1440p testing. It's a shame that the laptop doesn't have a 1440p option natively, since the 1060 can definitely handle 1440p – it does struggle with 4K, though. You'd have to buy a 4K display and just run games at 1440p to get that experience.
NVIDIA GTX 10 Series Notebook GPU Specs
|GTX 1080 (Notebook)||GTX 1070 (Notebook)||GTX 1060 (Notebook)|
|Memory Config||8GB GDDR5X
MSI Apache GE62VR Accessibility & Thermal Solution
Removing the back panel is a bit of a pain. Rather than a design like Dell's, which generally uses a single screw (1-3, worst case) and a panel exposing just the storage and RAM, MSI's entire rear back panel is a single plastic mold. It's also clipped into the rest of the chassis, so you've got a limited number of removal cycles before those inevitably start to break – make your maintenance decisions wisely.
One of the screws is hidden under a “warranty void if removed” sticker – a sticker which we disagree with on a philosophical level. It makes sense that a manufacturer might void a warranty if a user, for example, tries to reflow a GPU, but voiding the warranty for gaining access to the RAM and storage is insulting. It's also of questionable enforcement and legality.
Regardless, access is relatively easy once past the dozen-or-so screws and hidden warranty screw. There are also 3 more screws hidden under the optical drive, once that's removed.
Internally, MSI's laptop is running 6 total copper heatpipes, with copper coldplates and aluminum heatsinks interspersed between the silicon components. Two fans (top left and top right, near the display) dissipate the heat out of rear ventilation ports, with intake from the bottom. This laptop shouldn't be set on “deformable terrain,” so to speak, as a blanket would suffocate its intake.
Continue to Page 2 for test methodology.