The Dominator Pro looks a lot like last year's model.
When viewed from a distance, it resembles a massive black slab with a glowing MSI logo on the top. Its mostly plastic chassis weighs 3.79kg, but it gets up to around 4kg with the power adaptor.
I like the laptop's matte screen, though it is disappointing that it does not use an in-plane switching panel.
The screen resolution is standard at 1,920 x 1,080 pixels and although viewing angles are good from either side, the screen showed significant colour shifts on the vertical axis. There is no touch functionality despite its Windows 8.1 interface.
Like previous MSI gaming laptops, the Dominator Pro has a keyboard designed by SteelSeries, which makes gaming peripherals. As is often the case with gaming laptops, the keyboard's backlight can display a veritable spectrum of colours in various patterns, such as a rhythmic pulsing.
The keyboard has a lot of depth, though I noticed a slight flex in the middle. The touchpad, which is small, basic and lacks support for multitouch gestures, is practically for show as a gamer will probably use a gaming mouse.
The stereo speakers above the keyboard are impressively loud. A small subwoofer at the bottom gives the audio some ballast. When I played a Blu-ray action movie in the laptop's built-in drive, it was a rip-roaring cinematic experience.
The laptop lasted an impressive 4hr and 44min on battery power while playing a video.
This laptop comes with Killer DoubleShot, a high-performance networking interface which claims to reduce latency for online games for both wired and wireless connections. But it uses the old wireless 802.11n standard, not 802.11ac.
Gaming performance is excellent on this laptop. Its GeForce GTX 880M chip produced a frame rate of 82 frames per second (fps) in Bioshock Infinite. This is only slightly lower than the 90-odd fps from the pair of GeForce GTX 780M chips on last year's Aftershock Titan.
The MSI laptop did well on paper in Crysis 3, scoring more than 35fps at the "Very High" setting versus the Titan's 38fps. But, at times, the game stuttered badly and this affected the gaming experience.
The optimal settings suggested by Nvidia's GeForce Experience software lowered some graphics settings for a consistent 60fps.
My review set differed slightly from the version retailed locally. The good news is that the local model has a RAID solid-state drive (SSD) configuration which is much faster than the hard drive of the review unit. The SSD is complemented by a 1TB hard drive for your data.
MSI's latest gaming laptop has just one significant upgrade in the form of the new GeForce GTX 880M graphics chip. It is not quite as fast as gaming notebooks with two graphics chips, but it comes close.