Earlier this year, Intel and Nvidia released new products for powerful mobile devices. On the processor side, Intel has launched the quad-core Kaby Lake CPUs of the H series, which have higher clock speeds compared to the Skylake modes they replace. In graphics, the new GTX 1050 and GTX 1050 Ti from Nvidia offer better GPU performance for more value-based gaming notebooks and larger ultraportables.
To test this new hardware in an actual device, I contacted MSI, who kindly provided me with the GE62 7RD Apache. This is a entry-level gaming notebook equipped with the new Core i7-7700HQ processor from Intel and a GeForce GTX 1050. It's not the most terrifying notebook, but it does offer budget-conscious shoppers a wallet-friendly option to play games with today, albeit with reduced quality settings.
I will talk more about the hardware of this laptop later, but first it is worth checking the design and functions of the laptop. With a thickness of 29 mm and a weight of 2.4 kg, the GE62 Apache is not a laptop designed for everyday use. Instead, this 15.6-inch system is designed to spend most of your time tied to a desk, and that's not surprising: portability is a bonus feature that gaming laptops don't require, so a budget computer like this one would never strive for slenderness. Sure, it's not an incredibly large device, but I don't want to carry this machine around very often.
The design and construction of the GE62 are typical of modern MSI laptops. There is brushed black metal on the lid and around the keyboard, cheaper plastic is used elsewhere. Subtle angles are used around the base and lid to remind you that this is a gaming laptop, while the edges are angled more aggressively, so this system doesn't look as chunky as the dimensions suggest. A few red highlights, including the MSI Gaming Shield logo on the lid, give a little interest to an otherwise stealthy design.
I appreciate that MSI's modern gaming laptops aren't that open, which helps make some of their builds – especially the slim and light stealth series – look very attractive. Unfortunately, you won't get the most attractive designs on budget-oriented products, and the GE62 is no exception. It's just too bulky to be more than a simple 15.6-inch gaming laptop.
But hey, if it's cheap and you get decent hardware to run modern games, the look isn't too important.
The collection of ports on the GE62 Apache is exactly what you'd expect from an affordable gaming laptop. On the left are Ethernet, two USB 3.0 Type A ports, a single USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type C port (without Thunderbolt 3 support), an HDMI 1.4 port, a mini DisplayPort and two 3.5 mm audio jacks. A proprietary power connector, SD card slot, and USB 2.0 port are also on the right.
MSI has also added a DVD drive to the GE62. Yes, in 2017 you still seem to be able to buy laptops with DVD drives. I do not expect the drive to be used so often, and I would have preferred if the space used by the drive had been used for additional hardware or a larger battery.
The cooling solution in this laptop is simple and that's not surprising when you consider that the CPU and GPU only have 45 and 75 watts, respectively. Air is drawn in from the ventilation slots on the underside, passed through small fans – one for the CPU and one for the GPU – and expelled from small ventilation slots along the rear edge.
The 15.6-inch LCD is available in two resolution options: 1080p and 4K. My test device came with the simple 1080p panel, and I think this is the best option for most people. Although the 4K display would deliver sharper images, 1080p should provide adequate desktop resolution for most, while the GTX 1050 is far better suited for 1080p gaming.
MSI claims this is an IPS level display, but in reality the display is very poor and has no IPS-like properties. The viewing angles are poor, the maximum brightness is extremely poor 216 nits and the contrast is miserable 330: 1 due to terrible black levels. While the True Color app switches from MSI to "sRGB" by default, the accuracy is not particularly high either.
The 1080p display is limited to a refresh rate of only 60 Hz. I didn't expect anything better from an affordable gaming laptop, but nowadays gamers expect higher refresh rates at this resolution.
The keyboard included in the GE62 Apache is the same SteelSeries unit as most MSI gaming laptops. This keyboard is suitable for both gaming and typing thanks to clickable tactile feedback and adequate range. The layout of the keyboard is excellent, and although the island-style keys themselves are not particularly large, I had no problems typing on this laptop at my normal speed. I also appreciate the full-size Enter key, the backspace and arrow keys, and the handy number pad.
For those who like RGB LEDs, the keyboard is illuminated with three adjustable RGB lighting zones. You can't control the color of individual buttons like you do with Razer notebooks, but you do get some cool lighting effects and modes.
With the GE62, MSI has finally removed an ELAN trackpad and opted for hardware from Synaptics instead. This leads to a much more responsive and accurate tracking experience. Gesture support is not as good as other laptops, but far from the trash trackpad experience of previous MSI laptops.
Unfortunately, the trackpad is not perfect. MSI has decided to give it a brushed metal finish that feels strange when used when touched and stroked. I would only prefer a simple, flat trackpad here, although I suspect that people mostly use external mice to play.