Review: MSI GE62 Apache Pro, a gamer’s dream
By Ajith Ram April 21, 2016
MSI is a familiar brand name to gamers around the world. From its dedicated gaming motherboards to SteelSeries keyboards, the brand is a familiar sight in e-sports venues and hardware enthusiast shops.
During the last couple of years, MSI extended its reach into the gaming laptop segment with a series of powerful ‘limited edition’ devices which were well received by reviewers. The new MSI GE62 Apache Pro that we received recently is also a true gaming laptop which continues that tradition.
The GE62 Apache Pro is a black beauty. Although not as sleek as some of the ultrabooks, it is still commendably thin for a laptop aimed at the gaming segment. Weighing in at 2.4kg, it measures 383x260x27mm. But keep in mind that the power brick weighs around another half a kilogram.
The all-metal top lid has four ridges on it with the large MSI dragon logo in the middle. The sharp ridges and angles extend to the two rear exhaust ports and front speakers. All the metal surfaces have a nice brushed metal matte finish which seems to be all the rage among consumer device manufacturers these days.
True to its gaming credentials, the GE62 also features a backlit SteelSeries gaming keyboard. Unfortunately, the key gaming-related WSAD keys are not highlighted or coloured differently. Even so, the keys have a nice feel to them and using them for extended sessions is not a problem. You can also program different sets of keys based on your game preferences.
The GE62 Apache Pro comes with a Full HD 15.6-inch display. Fortunately, it has an anti-glare coating. Therefore, gaming for long periods using the laptop should not produce any severe eye strain. The panel also has a very wide viewing angle.
In an age when laptops are completely eschewing disk drives, it is interesting to see the GE62 come with one. Our test laptop came with a DVD writer while a Blu-Ray upgrade is also available.
As befitting a full-fledged laptop, this MSI laptop has a lot of connectivity options including an SD card reader, low latency Killer LAN, Bluetooth 4.0, one HDMI 1.4 port, four USB ports, one mini DisplayPort, 802.11ac Wi-Fi and analogue mic in and headphone output.
MSI documentation says that the Apache Pro is available with the latest Intel 'Skylake' generation of Core i7 CPUs. But strangely, our test version came with the older Intel Core i7-4710MQ 'Haswell' CPU which clocked in at 2.6GHz. It also had an impressive 16GB of RAM.
Like most high-end laptops, the Apache Pro has a hybrid GPU setup. While the integrated Intel GPU handles all the mundane display jobs, the discrete Nvidia GeForce 970M with 3GB of RAM kicks in when 3D applications are launched.
Similar to the hybrid GPUs, there are also two disk drives inside. The smaller, faster SSD houses the operating system while the larger 1TB 7200RPM disk drive can be used for the applications.
There is no question that the GE62 Apache Pro packs a decent punch. Although smaller and lighter than the limited edition beasts that MSI shipped last year, it still managed to come within touching distance of those laptops. Thanks to the SSD, booting it up is also a speedy experience.
The laptop is capable of doing a lot more than playing games. Thanks to its ample memory and beefy GPU, it can also be considered by 3D artists. Our Maxon Cinebench OpenGL benchmark showed over 80 frames per second, which is more than sufficient for pre-vis work in a CG application like 3DS Max or Maya.
MSI makes a big deal of the audio capabilities of the Apache Pro, regularly touting its Dynaudio and Nahimic Audio Enhancer technologies. Nahimic software offers a virtual surround experience through plain headphones and speakers with no special hardware required. It also enhances voice clarity in-game or over Skype using noise reduction.
But on a slightly sour note, we found that the Nahimic magic only really works well with headphones and not the built-in speakers. While the front-facing speakers are adequate for a laptop, they are not ideal for the audio range of modern games.
The GE62 Apache Pro is also not the quietest laptop when games are in full flow. To be fair, the internal fans usually will not be heard above the game's sound effects. Battery life is also not the greatest. Plugging in to the mains is an absolute necessity during long gaming sessions.
Rather puzzlingly, our version of the Apache Pro came with Windows 8.1 instead of Windows 10. Although there is very little performance difference between the two in games using DirectX 11 or older, it is still a strange choice. Users might want to upgrade to Windows 10 or choose a version of the Apache Pro which has Windows 10 pre-installed.
MSI also bundles a two-month licence for WTFast which is billed as a private network for gamers. Built just for MMO gamers, it claims to reduce average ping time by reducing connection flux, spikes and packet loss during multiplayer sessions.
Like the legendary Native American tribe and attack helicopter, MSI's Apache Pro laptop is a true gaming warrior. With excellent build quality, components and performance, it is guaranteed to delight gamers and performance enthusiasts.
Rating: 4 out of 5
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