In the world of PC gaming hardware, we’ve come to accept gaming laptops as a fine path to get your game on, albeit a limited and expensive one. Firms have risen to challenge the limitations of the form factor for years, but MSI has gone to impressive extremes to make it happen.
But, with the launch of its GT83VR Titan laptop, MSI’s methods are growing less impressive and more impractical. What you see here is one of the most expensive pieces of computing hardware we’ve ever witnessed that, despite all of the beefy parts inside an arguably innovative design, struggles to justify the premium.
Price and availability
If you look at this monster and feel inclined to pick one up, then you better have good credit. MSI is selling two models of the GT83VR Titan. One comes packing dual Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 chips in SLI for a cool $4,199 or £3,499 (about AU$5,503).
But, should you want more power, then MSI is asking $5,099 or £4,499 (about AU$6,682) for a model housing two GTX 1080 graphics chips in SLI. All else between the two versions is identical, down to the top-end, quad-core Intel Core i7-7920HQ processor.
MSI is selling the GT83VR through various online and physical retailers in the US and UK right now. We’ve yet to find models for sale in Australia, though it’s only a matter of time, with many in the region selling the previous version at dramatic price cuts.
This is, without doubt, one of the most expensive laptops we’ve ever reviewed. At this price, we’d say the GT83VR leans too heavily on the power this setup affords, struggling to deliver the ultra-premium experience one would – and should – expect when dropping several thousands on a shiny new product.
We’ll just come out and say it: this thing is ridiculous. The GT83VR is clearly an improvement upon MSI’s first go at the mega desktop replacement, the GT80 Titan of 2015, with more style, options and power than ever.
But, at 13.13 pounds (5.95kg), the thing also weighs more than this editor’s damn dog, and isn’t any more practical than it was (not) two years ago. In fact, it's nearly 4 pounds heavier.
Sure, the GT83VR looks slick with its bold red lines and brushed black, aluminum screen lid, but the base is still encased in simple, black plastic. We’d appreciate more premium materials when spending five grand.
That said, the GT83VR makes liberal use of its gargantuan footprint. This laptop is absolutely loaded with ports, including the newest standards, like Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) and a tray-loading Blu-ray burner drive.
To that end, MSI’s latest is also still the most easily upgradeable gaming laptop in the scene. Thanks to its massive size, MSI was able to cram all of the device’s components up toward the device’s sturdy screen, placing them beneath a removable, aluminum faceplate. It’s from in here that you can access the storage, memory and optical drive for upgrades and maintenance.
(But, that still leaves the two most important pieces of PC gaming hardware, the CPU and GPU, out of the question as far upgrades are concerned.)
So, where does that leave the keyboard and mouse? With the added space, MSI was able to include the same mechanical keyboard and digital number pad-meets-touchpad beside it as it has in previous versions. Though, now it features Cherry MX’s speedy switches found in keyboard and a fully-customizable per-key RGB setup.
While a mechanical keyboard on a gaming laptop is impressive, we have two issues with this setup.
First, because of how raised the keyboard is due to the laptop’s base height, coupled with the fact that this laptop has no palm rest, typing on this keyboard is deeply uncomfortable. It might be improved with some sort of wrist rest, but the last thing someone wants to hear when they’ve just spent five grand is that they need to spend more.
Second, the touchpad beside it that can turn into a numpad with the touch of a digital button takes a few more touches than it should to activate. We still haven’t figured out the proper way to tap the button – it seems to function when it pleases.
That brings us to an important question: if you have a spare five grand to make it rain on your PC gaming hobby, is this where you should be spending it?
For all of the immense power that the MSI GT83VR Titan affords, it’s a largely impractical – and arguably incomplete – gaming laptop. For instance, think about the fact that this laptop packs two of the highest-end mobile graphics cards to date, only to power a measly 1080p display.
With that in mind, it’s pretty clear to us that MSI intends for you to hook this monster up to one or more of the for gaming, preferably at 4K resolution. But, again, the last thing someone wants to hear when they spend five grand on something is that they need to spend more to make it “complete”.
Just buying this laptop and a gaming keyboard as well as a gaming mouse would be an immense waste of those dual graphics chips in SLI. So, for five grand, where in the world is the UHD display?
Understandably, the thing has “VR” in its name, but surely a laptop costing this much should suit both VR and traditional, high-end 4K gaming, right?
If you were to take the , with its single GTX 1080, UHD touchscreen, 32GB of RAM and one of last generation’s top-end Intel Core i7 chips, and then maxed it out with 2TB of solid-state storage, you still would spend 500 fewer bucks on a machine ready for 4K and VR gaming out of the box. (And, it’s a far more portable device at that.)
The same goes for the latest . In matching MSI’s GT83VR Titan spec for spec (save for the SLI business) before checkout, you can spend nearly $800 less for a comparable experience. That’s one with a GTX 1080, a UHD display and a desktop-grade Intel Core i7 processor. You can even have Origin overclock your components for you in advance – and still save hundreds versus buying the MSI GT83VR Titan.
It would be an understatement to call the GT83VR a benchmarking beast. But, for five grand, we’d be upset if it were anything less. But, it’s not nearly as superior to its rivals as it should be for that cost.
For instance, the EON17-X actually scored four more frames per second (fps) in the Grand Theft Auto V test at Ultra settings than this MSI. The same laptop also far outscored the GT83VR in the processor-punishing Geekbench 3 test, both unsurprising feats considering Origin put a desktop-grade chip in there.
While the performance of an SLI setup depends quite a bit on whether the games being played fully support or benefit from the tech, we’d expect twice as many GTX 1080s to easily spank these rival giant gaming laptops. Judging from these benchmarks, it’s tough to see a substantial benefit to SLI in a gaming laptop over a single GPU.
At the very least, we enjoyed gaming on an 18.4-inch portable screen with wide viewing angles and serious brightness – a screen that makes movies like Guardians of the Galaxy look even more gorgeous.
Finally, and simply put, don’t rely on this laptop’s 75Wh battery to last you through more than a single movie, much less any more than an hour of gaming. This isn’t so much a complaint lobbed at this device as it is the reality of gaming laptops.
Though, the Razer Blade Pro has upended that assumption a bit, boasting nearly 4 hours of juice in our testing. Regardless, just be sure to bring the charger along.
Well, make that two chargers for the GT83VR, technically. That’s right, because this laptop houses two graphics chips, it needs two sources of power siphoned into a single, giant pinned cable. So, not only are you expected to carry around a 13-pound laptop, but two massive power supplies joined into a sort of two-headed morning star with thick, heavy cabling.
It’s just too much hassle to take this thing to a friend’s house or your next tournament – or nearly as much as it would to just lug a microATX gaming PC there.
If there’s one thing we can say that we enjoy about the GT83VR Titan, it’s that you can rest assured that any game you throw at this device for the next few years should play at Ultra settings without issue. There’s also the fully customizable RGB keyboard backlighting, and the hardware-controlled cooling fans when you want to overclock. The laptop also offers Hi-Res audio through a dedicated port for the audiophiles out there.
Some of MSI’s design decisions in building the GT83VR Titan, from the keyboard positioning to the pairing of SLI graphics chips and a 1080p display, are downright baffling. Worse off, the included trackpad that doubles as a number pad doesn’t function with 100% reliability. Couple that with oodles and oodles of bundled apps varying in usefulness (read: and subsidizing production costs), and it becomes impossible not to question the enormous price tag.
Frankly, when put up against competitors, the GT83VR Titan seems downright impractical. For its price, we shouldn’t have to anticipate spending more money to draw out this product’s true potential – it should be there in the box.
This laptop is beset on all sides by options that are arguably better for far less. And, while we’d love to say that this price gets you unparalleled performance, even that is not necessarily the case, judging by our benchmarks.
In short, seriously research what your five grand could net you before clicking the “buy” button on the MSI GT83VR, as you’ll quickly learn that it’s much more than this gaming laptop.