MSI WT72 20M20 Aug, 2015 By: J.V. Bolkan
First Look Review: Affordable mobile workstation with big, bright display is well suited to client presentations, but not equipped for demanding design work.
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MSI's WT72 20M is billed by the company as the "Best Laptop for CAD and 3D Modeling." Of course, statements that broad can't apply to every CAD user. When it comes to mobile workstations, there are so many considerations, compromises, and variables — including price, weight, components, and capabilities — that you must clearly define your mobile CAD needs first, then search for a solution that suits your situation. If you're in the market for a machine designed primarily for display and playback of renderings, simulations, and models, the WT72 may be right for you. And although this machine won't replace your desktop system, its benchmark scores show it is capable of basic drafting and design chores as well.
Two factors make the WT72 a strong choice as a mobile display unit: its excellent display and the combination of a very fast solid-state drive (SSD) and sizable 1-TB hard drive. The large 17.3" screen is bright and features a very wide viewing angle, making it an excellent choice for group presentations. The SSD ensures that your system starts up quickly, and the large secondary drive allows you to carry every file the client may want to see.
Driving the screen is NVIDIA'S Quadro K2200M graphics processing unit (GPU) with 2 GB of GDDR5 RAM. Once again, choosing a graphics subsystem for a laptop is all about evaluating tradeoffs. The K2200M is the least-expensive Quadro option NVIDIA offers for a 17.3" platform, meaning performance is moderate — and that's reflected in the test scores below — but the price and power consumption are lower than they would be with a more powerful GPU. The K2200M is perfectly suited to 2D drafting, plus you can run as many as three external screens and get 4K resolution when connected to the display port. And at 65 watts, the K2200M requires about one-third less power than the K4100M or the K5100M, helping to extend battery life.
The MSI WT72 also incorporates Intel's high-end i7-4720HQ mobile CPU, which runs at 2.6 GHz with Intel's Turbo Boost technology overclocking the system as high as 3.6 GHz on a single core, which works well for AutoCAD. This CPU competes favorably with any other mobile processor.