MSI GE62 6QF Apache Pro user review
Note the exact tested model is GE62 6QF-007UK. This is sold in the UK, and there may be variations in specification for models sold elsewhere.
This is a 15” gaming laptop, and will be primarily judged as such. If you want a laptop for another purpose, you might need to look elsewhere.
As background, my last laptop was also bought for gaming in the 15” form factor. It was several years old and struggled with modern games, so it was time to replace it. I wanted to stick with this screen size, as a balance between what you see, and how much fun it is to move around. For me a 17” was a bit much to carry about, even if 15” is no ultra-portable. After much searching I settled on this MSI.
This laptop was purchased in December 2015.
The lid top and surface around the keyboard is finished in what looks like black anodised aluminium, giving it a nice feel. The rest of the laptop is mostly your standard black plastic. On the lid you get the MSI logo and a “Gaming G Series” badge which wouldn’t look out of place on an Italian styled supercar.
On the left side is a collection of various port. Kensington lock, network, USB 3, HDMI, DisplayPort, USB 3, USB C, mic and headphone 3.5mm sockets. So a good selection there.
The right side has the DVD drive taking up a large part of the space, leaving only room for another USB 2 socket, SD card reader, and power connector.
There are no connectors on the rear. There are two vents for cooling.
The front has three LED indicators. Because it is sloped, you can’t actually see them with the laptop in a normal use position unless you catch some reflection off whatever surface the laptop is on.
The bottom has a selection of air vents and not a lot else. Unlike every other laptop I’ve ever owned, you don’t have access to anything like the hard disk, ram, and the battery is not removable. It looks like you have to remove the whole base cover to access anything, but spoiling the party is a warranty tamper sticker. If you value the warranty, you will not be changing any components yourself. For what it’s worth, the DVD drive is a possible exception to this and may be removable without breaking the seal. I haven’t tried.
Keyboard and touchpad
The keyboard looks great, and feels typical for a laptop. The main part itself is near enough standard size, but the number pad has been put on a diet and is a bit thin. The cursor keys have been squashed in place. The function keys are also rather shorter than standard. You get physical page up and page down buttons too, not hidden away with function key access.
This is a UK keyboard, as you’d expect for a UK model, but they didn’t go the whole way. It is in effect a US layout keyboard with the UK symbols on the appropriate keys. You still have the US half height return key, with a couple keys moved around due to that. This isn’t likely to affect most gaming, but may be a friction point if you will also be using a proper standard UK keyboard elsewhere.
Of note, the left Windows key has been moved to the right of the space bar to prevent accidental pressing while gaming. In its place you get the function key to activate the special functions. I understand it can be mapped back to the left if you really want to, but haven’t tried it myself since I rarely use it anyway.
The keyboard backlight can be varied in brightness and colour, but the colour is roughly limited to 3 banks, left, middle, right. If you want to program individual keys different colours, this is not the keyboard for you.
The touchpad material is textured to match the panel around it, but is made from a slightly different material. There is still the vertical texture to it. There is a large surface. Note even if you try and turn everything off in software, there is some acceleration to the pointer movement which I personally don’t like, preferring a true linear response.
Towards the top-right of the keyboard are 3 more buttons. One toggles between standard and high speed fan modes, in case you feel like extra cooling. The standard fan mode varies speed according to temperature as you would expect. The next button toggles effects on the keyboard. Presumably this could be programmed but I haven’t looked into it. And finally there is the good old power button.
This is a 15” 1920x1080 HD display. The finish is matte which gives a great image and no reflection problems that you get from glossy displays. Viewing angle is excellent with minimal shifts with vertical or horizontal angle. This is something you do not have to worry about.
Colour gamut is claimed to substantially cover sRGB. I don’t have a test for it, but it looks good, and less than my AdobeRGB display on my old desktop. You get a good range of brightness and contrast. The supplied software includes a colour tool where you can choose between different profiles. Personally the only two I feel I need are sRGB, and anti-blue. The latter setting cuts the blue output, which is believed to influence sleep patterns if used at high brightness late at night.
I don’t know what the claimed response time is. In practice, I don’t notice any problems with ghosting or similar.
Above link is a handy site I found to quickly checking how a display performs. The test was performed with the laptop in sRGB mode at max brightness
Quick contrast test: pass
Gamma – red maybe slightly high but others ok
Gradient – slight fine banding visible. If I compare against my desktop monitor I see it is smoother although not quite banding free. This is suggestive of a limited colour depth requiring some kind of dithering to get 8bpc output.
Black level test –If I concentrate really hard, I can just about make out level 7 so we’re not able to resolve the lowest levels here.
On white saturation things are better. I can make out level 253, but not 254.
Inversion (pixel walk) test is fine in small version.
I will mention at this point, in one of my games I did notice an odd effect. In Elite: Dangerous, I was flying towards an Earth-like world. What I found was a banding pattern in some of the sea areas, which moved around as the view did. I took a screenshot, and I could reproduce this effect outside of the game also. After further investigation, it appears to be sensitive to green channel spatial dithering patterns. My best guess is the panel doesn’t have the full bit depth required and has to resort to dithering in some form. It appears the game rendering engine produces a dither pattern in its output which is not visible normally, only when you magnify the output. If you scale the image at all, the banding disappears presumably as the dither is broken up. This part of this game is the only place I have noticed it so far, so it doesn’t appear to be a major problem. Still it is something to be aware of.
There are built in stereo speakers somewhere under the laptop, directed through vents on the front edge. These are capable of a decent volume level. Quality is ok for a laptop. You’re not going to replace a hi-fi with it, but if you want to make a noise it is sufficient.
The sound comes with Nahimic software. This allows you to apply effects to the sound, such as bass boost, frequency leveller, virtual surround, volume boost, reverb and voice clarity. It comes with three customisable profiles for music, gaming and movie. Or you can turn it off. In general it does add an extra richness to the sound from the laptop, but it sometimes seem to struggle at higher volume playback. This appears to be a weakness of the software, as disabling it gives a more consistent if less rich sound.
It also comes with microphone processing settings which I haven’t tried.
This uses Optimus to seamlessly switch between the built in Intel HD Graphics 530 to save power, or the Nvidia GTX 970M when you do need to push harder.
Clocks under load were reported by GPU-Z to be 1037.4 MHz core and 1252.8 MHz memory, so there is a bit of a core boost over standard, but ram is at stock speed.
The 970M actually uses the same core as the desktop 970, but with less units active, and lower clocks. How fast it is will depend on exactly what is limiting. Ram bandwidth is slightly higher than on the 960 due to the bus width more than offsetting the reduced clock. So the stock 970M should be a bit faster than a stock 960. Of course, most of those on the market are factory overclocked, so the typical 960 may well be as fast as the 970M in practice.
Comparing the 970M against the 970, performance will be lower, depending on what’s limiting, and not considering possible factory overclocks.
Past experience had shown that decent performance is possible from the GTX 960 at 1080p resolution and 60 fps. You might not be able to have all eye candy on maximum in that case but will still be in the upper realms of in game pre-set configurations.
How about some benchmarks I hear you say? Well, I don’t have a desktop 960 available any more, and it isn’t exactly fair to run it against a 980 Ti! If anyone has a specific benchmark that is free to download and run, I can do so on request.
Side note: one of my hobbies is photography. I tried to install DxO Optics Pro, but it kept BSOD during install when detecting GPU functionality. After much tinkering, I suspected it may be getting rather confused by the GPU switching. Could I force the 970M to be active? I ran a benchmark in the background while running the install, and that did the trick! It installed fine and has been fine since. For powered use, I’d actually prefer to disable the Intel GPU anyway and just leave it fixed on the nvidia. I don’t know of any way to force this.
Wireless connectivity is provided by Intel dual band wireless AC 3165. This is rated for speeds up to 433 Mbps which is plenty for internet things. If you need a bit more speed for local transfers, you can plug a cable into the Killer e2400 gigabit Ethernet. Bluetooth is also included.
I haven’t tested the transfer rates but connections to my Asus AC router are reliable and stable.
The laptop has two storage drives in it.
Firstly there is a Toshiba THNSNJ128G8NU 128 GB SSD. This gives peak read speeds to about 550 MB/s over SATA, so doesn’t make use of the extra bandwidth potential from the M.2 interface. To be fair, the difference from a faster SSD isn’t very noticeable outside of benchmarks so that isn’t really important.
The second drive is 1 TB regular hard disk, part HGST HTS721010A9E630. This peaks around 130 MB/s. Looking it up, this is a 7200rpm 2.5” drive from around 2013.
I can’t but feel the fitting of a 128 GB SSD is penny pinching too far. At a point, to save a little money you give up too much potential, and that line has been crossed here. At retail prices, the cost of a 240 GB SSD is hardly much more than 128 GB class drives, and would offer much more flexibility. I’m sure a large OEM would get far better pricing than at retail, so the differential could be lower. With a 128 GB drive, you’re going to be forever debating if you want to install software on the SSD or the hard disk. Given that this laptop is not a budget model anyway, the small extra cost for a 240 GB SSD I feel would have been welcome by buyers and potential buyers. As mentioned earlier, you can’t access the SSD without breaking the warranty sticker, so you have to think twice about buying a replacement and fitting your own.
The 1 TB hard disk feels fast enough, although of course it is no SSD. It does provide a bulk storage solution. The only open question I would have is, if it might be overall better to have gone for a hybrid drive. That is one that that also includes a quantity of NAND such that for data on it, you get SSD like performance.