MSI GS60 2PE Ghost Pro gaming laptop review

MSI GS60 2PE Ghost Pro gaming laptop review

Few gaming laptops challenge Ultrabooks on size, but this MSI manages it. Read our MSI GS60 2PE Ghost Pro gaming laptop review. (Also see: Best gaming laptops 2014.)

Gaming laptops are shrinking, but few challenge Intel’s Ultrabooks for size. The MSI GS60 2PE Ghost Pro manages it with dimensions that scarcely seem believable for a gaming notebook: it’s 19.9mm thick and weighs 1.96kg. 

Chillblast’s Helix is marginally thicker and weighs 2.66kg, and the Gigabyte P35W v2 is 20.9mm thick and tips the scales at 2.5kg. The MSI GS60 2PE Ghost Pro's lightweight design is paired with a good-looking exterior that’s made from magnesium-lithium alloy. It’s finished with a subtle brushed pattern, and the lighting is subtle – a backlit keyboard, a couple of illuminated logos, and that’s it. 

The 4mm-thin screen bends back- and forward easily, and the base’s bottom panel feels similarly flimsy. We’d protect the MSI GS60 2PE Ghost Pro with a sleeve or case. It’s not upgrade-friendly, either, with most of the laptop's components underneath the keyboard and difficult to reach. (Also see: 20 best laptops 2014.) 

The keyboard comes from expert firm SteelSeries, and there’s a firm base despite the MSI GS60 2PE Ghost Pro's slim dimensions. The keys hammer down rapidly, which works well during frantic games, and the laptop's touchpad is similarly snappy. 

Despite the slim chassis MSI has deployed an nVidia GeForce GTX 870M 3GB. It’s a potent GPU with a 941MHz core, and it’s the same hardware used by Chillblast and Gigabyte for their gaming laptops. 

We ran Batman: Arkham City at full-HD with every setting turned to maximum, and the MSI GS60 2PE Ghost Pro averaged 45fps: ample for smooth play and 3fps ahead of the Gigabyte, but 5fps behind the Chillblast. At Tomb Raider’s top settings, the MSI averaged 39fps, one frame slower than the Gigabyte. The easier Stalker benchmarks proved no problem. (Also see: Should I buy a refurbished laptop?)

The MSI GS60 2PE Ghost Pro's GPU is partnered with a Core i7-4700HQ processor clocked to 2.4GHz with 8GB of memory, and that’s enough for a score of 5,655 points in PC Mark 7, which isn’t far behind both rivals.  

Gaming laptops aren’t known for their longevity, and the MSI GS60 2PE Ghost Pro continues this trend. In our standard streaming video test the GS60 lasted just short of two hours, which isn’t as good as either rival could manage. If you’re playing games, expect about an hour of life from its 52Wh battery. 

The storage is special: the 237GB boot drive is a Raid 0 array made from two 128GB SSDs connected using the new, fast M.2 standard. It’s a performance configuration, so there’s no data duplication, but the sequential read speed of 1,012MB/s is spectacular, and the 367MB/s sequential write is reasonable. The MSI GS60 2PE Ghost Pro's nine-second boot time also outpaces every competitor.  

The MSI GS60 2PE Ghost Pro has an excellent screen. The 1,019:1 contrast ratio is one of the best results we’ve seen, and the Delta E of 2.16 is superb, and helps to deliver a wide range of accurate colours. The sRGB gamut coverage is the final tick in this screen’s box: at 93.6 percent, it’s fantastic. 

The matt layer successfully eliminates reflections without a grainy finish, the 1920x1080 resolution is just right, and viewing angles are reasonable: excellent from above and below, but merely mediocre from the sides. It’s not a touchscreen, but that’s less important on gaming notebooks. 

Only one recent system, the Asus G550JK, has a better panel – and there’s not much to choose between the two.  

The MSI GS60 2PE Ghost Pro gaming laptop even has good audio. The high-end is snappy, the mid-range churns out good, crunchy sounds, and there’s even a decent amount of bass. 

Our biggest issue concerns thermals. The processor’s top temperature of 90°C wasn’t far ahead of the graphics card, and the rear of the base panel became too hot to use on a lap.

Also see: Which laptop to buy: 2014 laptop buying advice, and the best laptops of 2014.

MSI GS60 2PE Ghost Pro: Specs

  • 2.4GHz Intel Core i7-4700HQ processor
  • Windows 8.1 64-bit
  • 8GB DDR3 memory
  • 2 x 128GB SSDs iN Raid 0
  • 1TB hard drive
  • 15.6in IPS LCD display with 1920x1080 resolution
  • nVidia GeForce GTX 870M 3GB graphics
  • 2x2 MIMO 802.11ac Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • HDMI 1.4
  • Mini DisplayPort
  • 3 x USB 3.0
  • 2 1 x line-in
  • 1 x line-out
  • SD card reader (SD/SDHC/SDXC)
  • 52Wh battery
  • Dimensions – 390 x 266 x 19.9mm
  • 1.96kg
  • 2.4GHz Intel Core i7-4700HQ processor
  • Windows 8.1 64-bit
  • 8GB DDR3 memory
  • 2 x 128GB SSDs iN Raid 0
  • 1TB hard drive
  • 15.6in IPS LCD display with 1920x1080 resolution
  • nVidia GeForce GTX 870M 3GB graphics
  • 2x2 MIMO 802.11ac Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • HDMI 1.4
  • Mini DisplayPort
  • 3 x USB 3.0
  • 2 1 x line-in
  • 1 x line-out
  • SD card reader (SD/SDHC/SDXC)
  • 52Wh battery
  • Dimensions – 390 x 266 x 19.9mm
  • 1.96kg

OUR VERDICT

The MSI GS60 2PE Ghost Pro has enough power to handle current games, and it’s got the screen quality to match – and all while costing less than the Gigabyte P35W v2, which has a poorer screen but a tad more gaming power. The storage, keyboard and speakers all impress, but this slimline gaming laptop struggles for longevity and has poor thermal performance. It’s thin and impressive, but be aware about the MSI’s limitations before spending any cash.

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