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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  • Wolfpup - Friday, June 26, 2015 - link

    Sweet. No Floptimus = mandatory (try actually playing games for hours on end and you'll start hitting stability issues with Optimus).

    Mechanical keyboard = awesome.

    And easy to get in to...I'm not going to replace my main system yet, but this would be at the top of my list to check out.
  • bennyg - Sunday, June 28, 2015 - link

    Optimus bashing is sooo 4 years ago. As a GTX 680M owner for the past 2 years, my sole interaction with Optimus is having to create a few profiles (e.g. gzdoom). I have seen no such long session stability issues, I can even hibernate and resume with games open and continue. It's rock solid.
  • Tunnah - Friday, June 26, 2015 - link

    You could buy a high end rig, AND a 4K monitor for this sort of money. Putting that much GPU power for a 1080p screen seems...wasteful
  • masouth - Friday, June 26, 2015 - link

    "Putting that much GPU power for a 1080p screen..."

    You do realize that you are not limited to using only the built in screen on the majority of laptops, right?

    2 x Mini DisplayPort v1.2
    HDMI 1.4
  • sabrewings - Friday, June 26, 2015 - link

    But will it VR?
  • BMNify - Friday, June 26, 2015 - link

    why not? VR will work fine, the fact that this laptop has no optimus makes it an ideal laptop for Occulus Rift.
  • sabrewings - Friday, June 26, 2015 - link

    Just verifying, as I know a lot of laptops won't be able to. Then, it's entirely likely you could put that kind of GPU power to use.

    As a side note, I have a 980 Ti powering a 55" 1080p TV. Too much power? Maybe. I do see over 80% GPU utilization running DSR and the image quality is so so good. I did buy it primarily for VR, otherwise I would've stuck with a GTX 980 or 970. Hence, my question.
  • Gigaplex - Sunday, June 28, 2015 - link

    At which point you're better off with a SFF desktop.
  • Hrel - Friday, June 26, 2015 - link

    I would get rid of RAID and just use one single 256GB SSD.

    Then I'd get rid of SLI and just use one GTX965M GPU.

    Then I'd drop the screen size down to 15".

    Obviously power requirements would go down so you could use a smaller battery and PA. But if I could get everything else in this laptop, in my version of the laptop, for $1500 or less, I'd buy that.
  • just4U - Friday, June 26, 2015 - link

    I've been thinking along similar lines.. not only with this laptop but others as well. For me .. I like the roomie case/keyboard and larger screen which I am willing to pay a decent premium on but I'd be fine with a i5 CPU and a single 965..

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