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New Computer, hooray! [Updated: I still love it]

October 20, 2016

Update:

I absolutely love my MSI GT72. Easily the best purchase I’ve made in recent memory. Dollar for dollar it’s the best computer I think I’ve ever bought. I don’t know exactly how many frames per second I get in Fallout 4, but on max settings, 1080p it plays very fluidly, even during intense firefights. The lighting effects are fantastic. WoW plays at 30 to 72 (the max the monitor supports) at all times – usually above 50, on all settings to Ultra except Shadows were are only on High. Oh, and that’s with MSAAx8. Absolutely mind blowing. Some zones in WoW are stunning – almost Skyrim level of detail and atmosphere, namely Azsuna, Val’sharah and the city of Suramar. The other zones look good too – but those three are absolutely jaw dropping on maxed out settings and +60 fps. On the GT72 7 Days to Die is a very attractive game. It’s not stunning the way Fallout 4 and WoW are, but it is actually a decent looking game. On my last machine I was getting 5 to 15 FPS during the zombie horde invasions – absolutely unplayable, on bare-ass minimum settings. It was awful. Now, I have most of the settings on max and I rarely dip below 40 FPS, ever – and when wandering around I’m usually around 60 FPS. I went from having the lowest zombie kill score of my group (by about HALF the total kills) to being the top zombie slayer, by a good margin too. I attribute most of it to the difference in how well the game plays on the GT72.

Normal windows tasks on a fast processor and quick SSD is nothing new to me – so all my daily stuff is still just fine (as it was on the ASUS GL771) – but the gaming performance on the MSI GT72 is truly amazing in comparison.

Thankfully my family is getting great use out of the GL771 – it’s blazing fast for daily tasks and web browsing, which my family appreciates. The computer it is replacing used budget processor and 5400 mechanical hard drive – so it was awful in comparison. Moreover I made the mistake of updating from Windows 8 to Windows 10 on that computer, which basically broke it. It would bluescreen and randomly reset on a regular basis – and often wouldn’t even start up. It was hard to live with before Windows 10, and it was just broken after Windows 10. <shrug> I’ll fix it and use it as a media player or emulation arcade / party machine. <shrug>

Original post:

I finally pulled the trigger on replacing my P – O – S ASUS GL771 with a computer that works. I should rephrase that, the GL771 works just fine, it just can’t game. It overheats like a fat elephant in a sauna, and will downclock to an amazing 800 mhz. I literally have a coaster that is faster. I use a 2009 ASUS 10 inch netbook as my coaster at home* and it never downclocks and runs at a native 800 mhz.

I had already shopped out my somewhat affordable “dream computer”, which was the MSI GT73VR. I liked it enough that I had already convinced a friend of mine to buy one for himself. It’s an awesome computer, but after his arrived and I got a chance to see it I was disappointed that it still stuttred a bit in WoW, and I wanted to spend a bit less than $2400.

So I picked up the previous generation GT72. I figured the older nVidia 9-series gaming laptops would start going on sale now that the 10-series cards are available and are substantially faster than the 9-series. Well, I caught a short-term sale on a GT72 980m with a good processor, 512 gb SSD, 1 tb HD, 16 gb DDR4 ram, 1080p with G-sync for about $900 less than the GT73VR GTX 1070 equivalent. Literally, other than the video card it was exactly the same machine. The savings is easily a PS4 Pro and a lot of games, or a few trips to Seattle with my family.

It’s on its way to my house right now – but based on the videos I’ve watched I’m going to be very satisfied. I’ll be going from 10 fps in Fallout 4 (on minimum graphics) to 60 fps with ultra. 15 fps in WoW to 60, etc. What’s not to like!?

I saw 4K gaming (on a 17.3″ laptop screen) and it’s neat but way, way overkill, and not worth the price for the screen (+$200 more than what I would pay for 1080p) and definitely not worth needing a card that is $500 to $700 more. Likewise, I don’t think I’m going to be a VR guy. I can’t see 3D very well as-is, I’m just one of those people. The thought of spending $1000 on a VR set up just to barf my guts out after 30 minutes of gaming (or to have to pound ibuprofen to alleviate the headache) is not something I am interested in. I’m sure I’ll have enough friends that adopt it that I can get a taste and get sick of it without the up-front cost.

Otherwise the price bump went to buying the “next version” of the exact same laptop. It was so similar that I could barely tell them apart. The new version lacks an optical drive – which I appreciate, but it didn’t include extra hard drive space. In fact, it has LESS than the GT72. wtfh? The GT72 (earlier versions anyway, before they neutered the new versions to be less competitive with the GT73) offered FOUR M.2 slots and TWO 2.5 HD slots – apparently THREE 2.5 slots if you ditch the optical drive. Holy fuck. That’s insane. Those M.2s could be put into a RAID array as well. I’m not interested in RAID since it wouldn’t give me an improvement that would warrant the entry fee – but the extra bays are really nice, since I do tend to keep a ton of movies and music on my computer. Expandable memory? Yes please.

Beyond the lack of memory and optical drive, and a 120 Hz display (with 4k option), I couldn’t tell you what it offered. I really couldn’t.

So to anyone that reads this, I recommend checking out clearance-ish sales of the GT72 instead of jumping on the MSI GT73VR bandwagon.You might save a grand, especially if you catch them on sale.

* How the netbook became a coaster. While I was going to college I commuted about 3 hours a day total by bus. I did most of my homework on the bus, and at the time a 15.6″ laptop was NOT an option on a crowded city bus, and the neato tablets / convertibles / ultrabooks of today just didn’t exist. My only option was a “netbook” – a long since dead market segment. 7 to 11 inch notebooks with good battery life and Meh horsepower. I picked up an ASUS Eee PC 1000 and it was easily one of the best purchases I’ve ever made. It was a legitimate computer – I ran everything on that – MS Office, Adobe Illustrator (in a pinch), Photoshop, and so on. People were amazed that such a little computer could do so much – even played my collection of movies. It could play WoW, back in the Burning Crusade era, at about 6 to 10 fps (playable! but it made me nauseated after 20 minutes). Time wore on, I replaced it with a much better 11.6″ convertible laptop, and the Eee PC ended up being our “Amazon.com impulse purchases / google fact check” machine next to the couch. After a while, it moved from there to my center arm rest (over the recessed cup holders in my couch) to create a flat, firm surface to put my mouse on – or my beer mug that doesn’t fit into the cup holder. After a long, traveled life, the ASUS Eee PC is now a coaster. Literally.

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