The MSI GE62 7RE Apache Pro is a solid choice for those looking for a relatively affordable gaming laptop.
Like the Aftershock MX-15 Elite that I tested recently, the Apache is equipped with Nvidia's latest GeForce GTX 1050 Ti graphics chip. Although it is priced for the budget segment, this chip is fast enough to run most games smoothly at 1,920 x 1,080 pixels.
In Crysis 3 at Very High setting, the Apache managed around 41 frames per second (fps), compared with 43fps for the Aftershock. The MSI laptop also produced a smooth 67fps in Doom at Ultra settings.
These numbers are not quite good enough for virtual reality gaming - Nvidia recommends the higher-tier, mid-range GTX 1060 for that. But as the most popular online PC games, like Dota 2 and Overwatch, are not graphically demanding, the Apache probably meets the requirements of the average gamer.
Besides the new graphics chip, the Apache has an Intel Core i7 processor, which was released earlier this year, and 8GB of system memory. In short, it has a similar hardware configuration as the Aftershock.
Both models come with good in-plane switching (IPS) type screens that offer excellent viewing angles. But the Apache's display can be tweaked further using the preloaded MSI True Color app.
You can change the colour temperature, as well as pick from a number of profiles optimised for movies, gaming and office usage.
Unlike the Aftershock, the Apache still has a DVD writer, although this feature is not as important as it used to be.
The Apache uses a keyboard made by gaming peripheral firm SteelSeries. The keys feel firm and bouncy, with plenty of depth.
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Like most gaming laptops, the multi-coloured keyboard backlight can be customised using SteelSeries' proprietary app. There are three distinct lighting zones. Simply pick a colour and a lighting effect, which ranges from a wave-like effect generated by changing colours, to a pulsing, breathing mode.
My favourite backlight mode is the Audio mode, which synchronises with your tunes. The light show produced by the keyboard will make a perfect complement for your next house party. More so as the laptop surprisingly blasts music at a relatively loud volume.
This is probably a good thing, because the laptop's fan can be quite noisy once it gets going. You can switch between various fan speeds using a shortcut key right next to the power button, or go into the MSI Dragon Center app to fine- tune it. This app can be paired with a companion mobile app that lets you monitor the laptop from an iOS or Android device.
At $2,299, the Apache is more expensive than the similarly configured Aftershock MX-15 Elite ($1,702). MSI offers more software tools for enthusiasts than Aftershock, and looks less bland.
But you can always pay a small fee to get a custom paint job for the latter device.
Verdict: A solid gaming and entertainment laptop for those on a budget.Tech specs And ratings.Photo: The Straits Times
This article was first published on Feb 15, 2017. Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.