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.
The attractive, but somewhat bulky mobile workstation (8.4 lbs and nearly 17" wide) is outfitted well for the $2,299 price. In addition to the massive HDD, there is a Blu-ray disc burner, and the very serviceable Sound Blaster Cinema 2 technology driving adequate onboard speakers. There are six USB ports (four USB 3.1 and two USB 3.0), stereo outputs and inputs, and ports for external monitors, plus a built-in modem and FireWire and Ethernet ports.
Performance for the MSI WT71 is a bit of a mixed bag. In Cadalyst's C2015 benchmark test running AutoCAD 2016, the 3D Index and 2D Index scores of 1,457 and 394, respectively, are about 20% slower than a high-end desktop and reflect the high clock speeds of the Intel CPU, which means they are pretty solid for a mobile system. As long as you don't push AutoCAD to its limits in front of clients, it should impress. The Disk Index score of 310, with the 128 GB SSD, is competitive.
As you review the SPECviewperf benchmarks, however, where the power of the graphics subsystem is primary, the compromises are more apparent. The K2200M GPU lacks the high clock speeds, large amounts of RAM, or pipelines needed to compete with a desktop system, but that is an unfair comparison to make. The WT72 20M plowed through the SPECviewperf 12 test without a hiccup, with overall scores about 40% lower than what you'd see on a desktop, and about 15–19% lower than other mobile workstations we've recently looked at.
To be sure, if you unplug any desktop, the performance drops to zero. And, while the WT72 is probably too large for comfortable laptop use, it will run off its batteries for about two hours. In our battery run-down test (looping the C2015 benchmark suite running AutoCAD 2016 with monitor brightness set to 100% and all power management turned off), the system made it an impressive 100 minutes. For a large-screen performance laptop without exotic (and heavy) extra batteries, this is very good.
The standard warranty offered by MSI is modest: two years limited parts and labor with 24-hour phone support. There is no 24-hour replacement parts service and no on-site service available from the company.
If you're looking for a system that you can take on the road for client presentations and 2D design work — for less than $2,300 — the MSI WT72 may indeed be the best choice for you.