It's true the iBuyPower Battalion M1771 (MSI GS70) cribs from Razer's playbook (in turn cribbing very liberally from Apple's), but it's also a smart choice on MSI's part. Even if you're not among the Apple devoted (and happily I'm not), it's difficult to find too much fault with Apple's industrial design on their notebooks. Lifting that, painting it black, and sticking it on a gaming notebook is a pretty solid plan, all things considered.

The GS70's chassis is all black brushed aluminum, and it's a fairly smart and sleek design. MSI says it's styled like a stealth fighter; however they want to qualify it, it's in the right direction. It's also actually ever so slightly smaller in every dimension than the Razer Blade Pro, and lighter too. This is no mean feat; Razer's engineering on the 2013 Blade Pro is pretty impressive in its own right. Given the near identical specs between the GS70 and the current Blade Pro, it's not hard to imagine this notebook as a torpedo aimed squarely at Razer.

Where the bag mixes is the keyboard and touchpad. The keyboard features subdued user-configurable RGB backlighting and has decent enough response if a little mushy and with poor travel (par for the course in a notebook this thin); while I don't like that MSI is continuing to use exactly the same chassis for international and North American notebooks and thus has a slightly awkward and fouled up keyboard layout, it's at least livable. I just wish they'd do a better job adapting the layout, since that's something that can be handled in software. Having Home and End shared with Page Up and Page Down is frustrating for people who do a lot of writing, especially when we have literally no use for Scroll Lock or Pause/Break.

The clickpad, while attractive with its silver aluminum trim, is nigh unusable. Response and traction are poor. This is something that could have and should have been a homerun; the Switchblade UI is a decent amount of the cost of the Razer Blade Pro and its placement on that notebook is awkward. If you're not a fan of it and wanted a more traditional keyboard and touchpad with a physical 10-key, MSI could've nailed it, but the poor quality touchpad could be enough to drive you back into the Switchblade's arms.

While MSI and iBuyPower don't expect you to crack open the GS70, it can be done with a modicum of patience. There are 17 screws on the bottom of the GS70 that have to be removed before you can take off the shell. You get a good idea of the smart internal layout, though; the fans intake air from the bottom and exhaust it out of the sides, cooling the GPU and CPU separately, and it's actually remarkably quiet given the dimensions of the notebook. MSI also makes effective use of internal real estate; by having moved the keyboard down slightly they placed all of the hotter components above it where they can get a little bit more headroom. The battery and 2.5" bay then live in the wrist rest, keeping it cool.

Introducing the iBuyPower Battalion M1771 (MSI GS70) System and Futuremark Performance
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  • Mil0 - Tuesday, December 31, 2013 - link

    As far as I'm aware the GE40 with 1080p screen comes with a decent panel, should be the same as the p34g (which was great according to the preview here). At least, this is what I based my purchase decision on. (the p34g isn't available in the Netherlands yet, also they seem to have a bending issue, not sure if thats fixed yet).
  • Connoisseur - Wednesday, January 1, 2014 - link

    The ge40 is about 30% thicker than the blade. If they can make a laptop that's thinner than the blade pro I'd think they could make one closer to the thickness of a blade but with a better screen.
  • Mayuyu - Tuesday, December 31, 2013 - link

    Why does this and the Razer Blade cost so much. I look at the Y410p and it offers a i7-4700MQ, 1600*900 display, 8GB RAM, 2GB Nvidia 755m, and a 1TB Hard Drive for $769

    Where is all that extra money going to?
  • Meaker10 - Tuesday, December 31, 2013 - link

    Screen, chasis, graphics, ssd, heatsink.
  • Mil0 - Tuesday, December 31, 2013 - link

    The 765 is a substantially faster chip, thus both more expensive and requiring better cooling. Also Msi seems to charge more for the 17", the ge40 is basically the same but quite a bit cheaper.
  • Sancus - Tuesday, December 31, 2013 - link

    I think calling this a competitor to the Razer Blade is a surprisingly inaccurate, questionable statement coming from Anandtech -- How many people looking for a thin, light 14" gaming laptop are going to even CONSIDER 17", 6lb machines, let alone actually purchase one?

    This machine would be FAR better if it was 14" with a 1600x900 screen(which is also nicely within the performance envelope of the 765M -- 1080p is not). The razer blade is good machine because it is weight and (almost) battery life competitive with a 15" Macbook Pro, with superior gaming performance.

    The GS70 is inferior in terms of weight, portability, and battery life. It's not even in the same class as the Razer Blade, let alone competitive, in any key metric for a "thin, light" machine except price...
  • TheinsanegamerN - Tuesday, December 31, 2013 - link

    you know, there is a 14 inch 1600x900 laptop from msi. the GE40. its got the 760m, but they are the same chip, the 760m is just clocked slower.
  • Mil0 - Tuesday, December 31, 2013 - link

    If you're considering the ge40, do yourself a favour and get the 1080p screen. Though 900p fits the 760m better, the difference in screen is supposed to be dramatic.
  • Mil0 - Tuesday, December 31, 2013 - link

    He's calling it a competitor to the blade *PRO*, which is also 17". Both are thin and for the screensize light. Whether that's thin, light & portable enough is subjective, of course. I've considered it, but it was just outside of my budget.
  • jigglywiggly - Tuesday, December 31, 2013 - link

    you have to send it back? don't reviewers normally keep the hardware they are sent?

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