MSI GP75 Leopard 9SF Review – The Best 2070 Gaming Laptop?

The MSI GP75 Leopard is gaming laptop with
some powerful specs inside and definitely punching above its weight in gaming performance,
so let’s check it out in this detailed review and help you decide if it’s a laptop you
should consider. I’ve got the 9SF model, so we’ve got an
Intel i7-9750H CPU, Nvidia RTX 2070 graphics, no Max-Q here and 16gb of memory running in
dual channel. For storage there’s a 1TB NVMe M.2 SSD, and a 17.3” 1080p 144Hz IPS-level
screen. For network connectivity it’s got gigabit
ethernet, 802.11ac WiFi and Bluetooth 5. There are a few different configurations available
though, you can find examples and updated prices linked in the description. The lid of the laptop is a matte black, while
the interior is this sort of silver plastic, which I liked over MSI’s usual all black
colour scheme. All edges and corners were rounded, no sharp spots anywhere, and the
build quality seemed good for a primarily plastic machine. The weight is listed at 2.6kg on the MSI website,
though mine came in under this. With the large 280 watt power brick and cables for charging
included the total weight rises by over a kilo. The dimensions of the laptop are 39.7cm in
width, 26.8cm in depth, and 2.9cm high, so a little thicker than other machines I’ve
tested recently which hopefully means improved cooling. The screen bezels look very thin,
at first glance I actually thought I was looking at a 15 inch machine, and I measured them
at about 8mm on the sides. The 17.3” 1080p 144Hz IPS-level screen has
a matte finish, acceptable viewing angles, though no G-Sync. I’ve measured the colour gamut using the
Spyder 5 Pro, and my results returned 96% of sRGB and 73% of AdobeRGB. At 100% brightness
in the center I measured 301 nits with a 820:1 contrast ratio, so decent results for a gaming
laptop, and much nicer than the TN panels MSI were often using in older models. Backlight bleed wasn’t ideal, the patches
down the bottom left and right corners was occasionally noticeable while viewing darker
content, but this will vary between laptop and panel. There was a bit of screen flex, honestly not
bad considering that the lid is on the thinner side, the hinges being out towards the corners
help with stability and they felt quite sturdy. It wasn’t possible to open it up with one
finger, demonstrating more weight is distributed towards the back, as both the heatpipes and
battery are found there, though no issue sitting it on my lap. Despite the top screen bezel being on the
thinner side, MSI were still able to fit the camera and microphone here. The camera looks pretty average and the audio
sounds decent. The keyboard has per key RGB lighting which
even lights up secondary function on all keys. I’ve said it before, but I think MSI have
one of the nicest looking RGB keyboards, it will of course come down to personal preference,
but the lighting is bright and can be seen on the edges of the keys. The keyboard worked
well and I liked typing with it, here’s how it sounds to give you an idea of what
to expect. There are some additional buttons on the top
right below the power button, including a shortcut to cycle through keyboard lighting
effects, and a button to enable coolerboost mode which sets the fan speed to maximum.
Both of these can be done through software, but I found it nice to have a dedicated button
available, which makes it easy to change while in a game for example. There was a little keyboard flex, nothing
too bad but it depends on where you push it, no issues during normal use though. The touchpad has precision drivers, was smooth
to the touch and worked very well. The touch pad itself does not click down, however there
are separate left and right click buttons below it which are very tactile feeling and
give an audible click. Fingerprints were harder to see on the interior
due to the silver colour, however they would show up with the slightest touch on the black
metal lid and were also harder to wipe off there. On the left there’s loads of I/O, from the
back there’s a kensington lock, air exhaust vent, gigabit ethernet port, HDMI 2.0 and
mini DisplayPort outputs, USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-A and Type-C port, no Thunderbolt though, and
3.5mm headphone and mic jacks. On the right there’s a full size SD card
slot, two USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-A ports, air exhaust vent and the power input right at the back. On the back there are just air exhaust vents
towards the corners and Leopard text in the center, while on the front there’s just
some status LEDs in the middle. The matte black metal lid looked really nice
in my opinion, it’s got more of a subtle design compared to many of MSI’s previous
models. The logo in the center lights up white from the backlight of the screen, so cannot
be controlled. Underneath there are some air intake vents
directly above the two fans at the back, as well as some other random vents closer to
the front. The two three watt speakers are found towards
the front left and right corners, they sound alright though a bit tinny sounding, and they
get very loud, here’s what we’re looking at with maximum volume while playing music,
and the Latencymon results didn’t look great. The bottom panel can be removed by taking
out 13 screws with a phillips head screwdriver, and the two at the back corners are shorter
than the rest. Once inside from left to right, there’s a 2.5 inch drive bay, WiFi card,
two memory slots, and two M.2 slots, one supports both PCIe and SATA while the other is PCIe
only, while the battery is found right up the back. Powering the laptop is that 6 cell 51 Watt
hour battery. I’ve tested it with the screen brightness at 50%, background apps disabled,
and all RGB lighting off. While streaming YouTube videos I was only seeing 3 hours and
38 minutes, not a great result, and that’s with the Intel integrated graphics due to
Nvidia Optimus. While playing the Witcher 3 with medium settings
and Nvidia’s battery boost set to 30 FPS the battery lasted for 59 minutes, again lower
than usual, but at least it maintained 30 FPS the entire time. The 280 watt power brick that MSI include
with the laptop honestly seems to be overkill for these specs, I never saw any battery drain
during any of my testing. Let’s move onto the thermal testing. Just
for a recap of the cooling design, air comes in through the bottom and is exhausted out
the two vents on the back corners and side vents on both the left and right. Inside we’ve
got 7 heatpipes in total, with one of these shared between the CPU and GPU. The MSI Dragon Center software allows you
to customize the fan speed, I’ve tested with fans either at automatic speed or with
coolerboost mode enabled which basically sets the fan speed to maximum. I’ve also tested
with turbo mode enabled, which overclocks the GPU by 100MHz on the core and 200MHz on
the memory. Thermal testing was completed in an ambient
room temperature of 22 degrees Celsius, so expect different results in different environments.
I’ve tested idle down the bottom and the results were about normal. The rest of the
results are from combined CPU and GPU workloads and are meant to represent worst case scenarios
as I ran them for extended periods of time. The gaming results towards the upper half
of the graph were tested by playing Watch Dogs 2, as I find it to use a good combination
of processor and graphics. The stress test results shown on the lower half of the graph
are from running the Aida64 CPU stress test with only the stress CPU option checked, and
the Heaven GPU benchmark at max settings at the same time to fully load the system, so
kind of a worst case scenario. Starting at the bottom with the stress tests
running and fans in auto mode we’re seeing the hottest temperatures, and while power
limit throttling was hit on the CPU, intermittent thermal throttling was happening. By enabling
coolerboost to max out the fans we’re able to lower the temperatures slightly. Undervolting
the CPU didn’t really change the temperatures, and when combined with a cooling pad they
drop down just a couple of degrees on the CPU. Similar results with the gaming tests,
though in this particular game thermal throttling wasn’t being reached. These are the average clock speeds for the
same tests just shown. As the main limit with the stress tests running was the power limitation
of 45 watts, we’re not seeing any change in the stress test by boosting fan speed,
it’s the undervolt to the CPU that improves performance most, allowing us to hit the full
4GHz all core turbo boost speed of the i7-9750H. These are the average TDP values reported
by hardware info during these same tests. Basically nothing really changes until we
undervolt the CPU, it lowers a bit below the 45 watt limit as power limit throttling is
only just removed, and then there appears to be less of a requirement for CPU power
in the game tests, as identified by the lower TDP values there. Here’s what we’re looking at with CPU
only performance using Cinebench. With the turbo mode the 9750H was around other laptops
I’ve tested, most seem to be around the 2800 mark at stock, however once undervolted
we were able to achieve an 11% higher score. As for the external temperatures where you’ll
actually be putting your hands, at idle it was quite cool, at the usual 30 degree average.
With the stress tests going and fan at auto speed the keyboard gets to the mid 40s, so
warm to the touch but not really a problem. While gaming with the fan at max speed it’s
perhaps a little cooler, though quite similar. As for the fan noise produced by the laptop,
I’ll let you have a listen to some of these tests. At idle the fans were usually silent, however
they would ramp just slightly at times. With the stress test running and fans on automatic
the noise level is fairly average compared to many other gaming laptops I’ve tested,
while with the fan set to maximum with cooler boost mode it’s a bit louder. Overall the GP75 with these specs is running
on the warmer side in these tests, however as we’re about to see, this is probably
fair considering the high levels of performance the specs are able to provide us. Next let’s take a look at some gaming benchmarks.
I’ve tested with turbo mode enabled, which does overclock the graphics, and with coolerboost
enabled, so maximum fan speed. The Division 2 was tested with the built in
benchmark, and this game is a recent addition for me. From what I’ve seen so far ultra
settings always seems to have much lower 1% low results compared to average FPS. Despite
this the averages at ultra and high were noticeably better over the other lower powered machines
tested in this game. Battlefield 5 was tested in campaign mode,
and the results here were very good, as we’ll see later when we compare against some other
laptops. Even RTX was playing ok at higher settings, just below a 60 FPS average with
high settings, though if you want best performance with decent looks leaving RTX off and just
using ultra is the way to go. Apex Legends was tested with either all settings
at maximum, or all settings on the lowest possible values, as it doesn’t have predefined
setting presets. It was playing very well, I seem to test in a more demanding area, because
even lower specced machines will hit the 144 FPS cap at times at different areas, so these
are great results where I test. Shadow of the Tomb Raider was tested with
the built in benchmark, and the results here are again quite good, though a bit lower at
lower settings compared to even lower specced machines, which seems to indicate possibly
lower CPU power in games while the powerful GPU holds it up at higher settings. Far Cry New Dawn was tested with the built
in benchmark. This game seems to be fairly CPU heavy, and while we’re not seeing much
higher results compared to other lower specced laptops, the extra GPU power does seem to
help more at higher settings. Fortnite was tested with the replay feature,
and at max settings it was working extremely well, easily surpassing 100 FPS for the 1%
low at max settings in my test, absolutely no issues at all in this less demanding game. Overwatch is another well optimized game and
was tested in the practice range, again extremely nice frame rates for a laptop are being seen
here, with almost 200 FPS at max settings, while low was reaching the 300 frame cap. CS:GO was tested using the Ulletical FPS benchmark,
and again pretty good results, above average over most other laptops given the specs, though
not really by much considering how much extra GPU power there is, as this is more of a CPU
driven test. Rainbow Six Siege was tested with the built
in benchmark. Even with maximum ultra settings we’re getting well above 100 FPS for the
1% low on a 100% render scale, so great performance once more. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey was tested with
the built in benchmark, and as a CPU heavy test the results at lower settings aren’t
too different from many other machines, however the extra GPU power does put it in front at
higher levels. Dota 2 was tested playing in the middle lane
with an average amount of action going on, and was playing quite well even with ultra
settings with very high frame rates and no issues that I could notice. Watch Dogs 2 uses a lot of resources, though
the results were still pretty good here, with above 60 FPS averages at ultra settings it
was playing perfectly fine maxed out. The Witcher 3 was also playing well at ultra
settings, and I’ve found this one to work favourably with more GPU power, which was
also the case here. Even ultra settings was running above 100 FPS and playing great. If you’re after more gaming benchmarks check
the card in the top right corner where I’ve tested 20 games in total. Let’s also take a look at how this config
of the MSI GP75 compares with other laptops to see how it stacks up, use these results
as a rough guide only as they were tested at different times with different drivers. In Battlefield 5 I’ve got the GP75 highlighted
in red near similarly specced machines. It’s performing quite well in this game, actually
coming out in first place in terms of average FPS out of these specific laptops shown, so
basically beating 2080 Max-Q machines with G-Sync. The 1% low isn’t quite as impressive,
though it’s still up there. These are the results from Far Cry 5 with
ultra settings in the built in benchmark. Again we’re seeing great results here, with
the GP75 coming in at third place. It’s behind the Razer Blade Pro 17 with a Max-Q
2070, but keep in mind it’s running with a much higher than normal power limit for
that GPU, is also overclocked, but also has the CPU undervolted by default. Otherwise
the 1% low was in second place out of all machines, and still outperforming MSI’s
GS75 with 2080 Max-Q. These are the results from Shadow of the Tomb
raider with the built in benchmark at highest settings. Once more very good results here,
with the GP75 clearly ahead of the other two 2070 machines I’ve tested just below it,
the ASUS Scar III and Aorus 15. This time it’s performing equally to the blade pro,
but not quite able to keep up with the 2080 Max-Q machines. Overall the GP75 is performing very well here,
the full RTX 2070 is performing a fair bit better over the other two 2070 laptops I’ve
tested, and the only difference I can really pinpoint is that MSI are overclocking the
GPU with turbo mode, which is clearly helping. I’ve also got the results from 3DMark’s
Fire Strike, Time Spy, Port Royal and VRMark, overall good results again, especially in
the graphics scores thanks to the overclocked 2070. As we saw earlier we’ve got the option of
undervolting the CPU to help improve performance, so let’s see what this actually does in
games. I’ve tested Far Cry 5 with the built in
benchmark at 1080p. Basically there’s no real difference, at least in this specific
title. Results were mostly within margin of error in terms of average FPS at low, normal
and high settings, with what appears to be a slightly higher improvement at ultra. I
admit this surprised me a little considering the lower results at lower settings mentioned
earlier which would appear to be due to the CPU performance, but undervolting didn’t
seem to help. I’ve used Crystal Disk Mark to test the
storage, and the 1TB NVMe M.2 SSD was performing quite well, while the SD card wasn’t doing
too well with my V90 card, though still better than not having one at all. For updated pricing check the links in the
description, as prices will change over time. At the time of recording in the US I could
only find the 9SD model with 1660 Ti for around $1500 USD. I’m not too sure of the specs
available around the world, however this model is available here in Australia for $4000 AUD.
For my international viewers once you remove our tax and convert the currency that’s
around $2500 USD, however tech in general does cost more here too compared to the US
which has not been factored in so it’d be less than this rough guess. With all of that information in mind, let’s
review the good and the bad aspects of this machine. Overall, I personally like the design,
the metal lid and silver interior are more subtle compared to previous MSI designs, though
the plastic interior did flex while pushing it in some areas, though this wasn’t a problem
practically. The thin screen bezel was great, at first
I honestly thought I was looking at a 15 inch machine as it’s smaller than many 17 inch
models I’ve used, though the backlight bleed in my unit was unfortunate, however that will
always vary between units. The battery life was quite poor compared to
many other machines I’ve tested, and it can run on the warmer side while under high
levels of load. This seems to be due to the high end specs we’ve got inside though,
so we are able to get very high levels of performance in games out of the RTX 2070. The keyboard and touchpad worked well, I personally
thought the lighting looked good and has a lot of different effects, there’s a good
selection of I/O, most of which is on the left and away from your mouse hand if your
right handed, and having a dedicated button to quickly boost fan speed was nice to have. Given the performance is above other similarly
specced machines I’ve tested, it will be interesting to see how the price stacks up
in the US compared to those. Let me know what you thought about MSI’s
GP75 leopard 9SF gaming laptop down in the comments, and if you’re new to the channel
consider getting subscribed for future laptop reviews and tech videos like this one.


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