MSI GE Series GE70 Apache Pro-681 Review

June 16, 2015
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MSI GE Series GE70 Apache Pro-681 consists of high-end components like i7 processor, dedicated graphics and 12GB RAM. So it is a… budget laptop? office laptop? Nope, a gaming laptop! Such specifications should indeed be able to play most titles with appropriate frame rates. But is there something one should be wary about? Might be, read on to find out…

Is it fast enough?

MSI GE Series GE70 Apache Pro-681 has enough performance for the majority of gamers. Starting with the processor, the laptop features powerful Intel Core i7-4720HQ. It’s a chip often seen in notebooks meant for heavy use (gaming laptops indeed), offering a quad-core design and high 2.6GHz base speed that will go all the way up to 3.6GHz with turbo boost. This thing gets over 8000 points in the popular benchmark called CPU Mark, leaving most processors behind. General use laptops often receive some 3000 points in the same test. So processing power is plenty in this MSI, you don’t need to worry about your games lagging due to poor CPU.

Another good news for gamers is the memory amount. The MSI has 12GB DDR3L (1600MHz) RAM installed. Distribution is one 4GB and one 8GB chip. If you want a small memory boost you can always replace the 4GB chip with a new 8GB module. Doing that doesn’t bring significant improvement, RAM is already plenty and 4GB increment from that is little.

MSI GE Series GE70 Apache Pro-681 has one terabyte 7200RPM drive for storing your files and games. You won’t run out of space but performance of such a hard drive might raise your concern. Thankfully, the system has one mSATA connector as well, so you can add a quick solid-state drive inside to increase the performance.

How’s the display?

MSI GE Series GE70 Apache Pro-681 has a 17.3″ non-reflective display. Resolution is 1920×1080, the only acceptable amount for devout gamers. Refresh rate is 60hz. The screen doesn’t support touch but this might not be feature a gamer would appreciate, anyway.

Can it run games smoothly?

The graphics engine is called GeForce GTX 960M (GDDR5 2GB). It’s a fast dedicated card, entirely in a different league than integrated units of cheaper laptops. The GTX 960M can play most 2014-2015 games with high settings and 1920×1080. For example, GTA V reaches ~35FPS on such details. Another heavyweight title, Assassin’s Creed Unity, gets similar frame rates at least on medium settings. If you’re playing older games than that, you’ll end up with far better frame rates even with full eye candy on.

One thing to bear in mind, the graphics engine is embedded. You can’t change it for a faster one. However, I don’t think this is an issue, the GTX 960M is a solid card and will remain so for a year or two.

Are connections good?

MSI GE Series GE70 Apache Pro-681 offers four USB ports, two of them being USB 3.0. Besides peripherals, you can also connect an external monitor thanks to the laptop’s HDMI and VGA outputs.

The unit has Gigabit RJ-45 port and Intel 3160 AC WiFi card to ensure good network connectivity. Bluetooth 4.0 is also supported.

The laptop features a DVD burner on the right hand side, feel free to install games from discs and create your own DVDs. It doesn’t support Blu-Ray, for that you should attach an external BR drive.

Other things you might find useful include SD card slot and HD (30fps @ 720p) front-facing webcam.

Miscellaneous things

Like all gaming laptops, also MSI GE Series GE70 Apache Pro-681 is big. The weight is 6.6 pounds, far more than portable notebooks often are. So think this unit more like a desktop replacement than a notebook you travel with. Also the 6-cell battery won’t be very road warrior friendly, it will last ~3 hours web surfing and only one when gaming.

The keyboard features full-color backlit keys and a 10-key pad on the right.


MSI GE Series GE70 Apache Pro-681 is a laptop that was made with budget gamers in mind. It’s much more affordable than super notebooks that cost two grands, while the components are easily enough for many kinds of games and high frame rates. The GeForce GTX 960M unit handles latest 2015 titles without issues, and is able to keep nice FPS even with the heavyweight ones such as GTA V. Windows 8.1 might bother some, but if you’re fine with that – or install Windows 7 – you should find this MSI an excellent companion to keep your (new) games running and fragging!

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