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October 2017

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Page 37 of 43 36 POST OCTOBER 2017 REVIEW he MSI WS63 7RK was an intrigu- ing machine for me, because I have been fascinated with thin and light workstations for quite a few years now. Ever since the HP ZBook 14, one of my favorites, I've been convinced that a workstation didn't have to crush my lap, and tear through my backpack. Since that time, I've looked at a few HPs and Dells, but this is the first time I've had the chance to review an MSI laptop. Known for its gaming machines, MSI is coming to the table with an elegant bat to swing around. OUT OF THE BOX When I first unboxed the machine, I was very pleased with the feel of the four-pound chassis. A gunmetal mag- nesium-lithium with a very nice brushed finish on the lid feels sturdy, almost like a unibody machine from Apple. The underside is covered with a nice soft felt, that gives a very good grip and is comfy on the lap, also giving it a nice finishing detail. I'm just not into flashy, over-the-top looking laptops, so I really prefer the un- derstated and the WS63 fits that descrip- tion like a glove. And though I like an understated out- side, I prefer a raging monster on the in- side and on paper, this delivers in spades. My review unit sports an Intel Core i7-7700HQ @ 2.80 Ghz with a maxed out 32Gb of DDR4 memory. Good. Where it gets my ears perked is the Nvidia Quadro P3000 GPU inside, surrounded by 6Gb of GDDR5 memory like a pearl in its shell. Daddy likes the 1280 CUDA cores. Most of the thin and lights I've reviewed have had the lower-end Quadros, like the M1000M. While I am fond of Quadro cards, the 1000 series represents the lower echelon of their lineup; this Pascal- based 3000 represents the middle of the Quadro lineup. Sure, MSI's upper end WT73VR has the high end Quadro P5000 (as well as a Xeon), but it's not a thin and light laptop by any measure. The P3000 is a dedicated GPU, but it trades off duties with the integrated Intel HD Graphics 630 to maintain a better battery life. Nvidia's control panel does a fine job managing the two, though for some of my benchmarks I found myself having to force the software's hand to use the Nvidia GPU. Whichever GPU is running the show, it gets to drive a 15.6-inch IPS panel that is clear, bright and crisp. There is a 4K ver- sion available, but I shy away from 4K on anything less than a 24-inch screen, per- sonally. With computer graphics apps like Maya and 3ds Max not scaling very well under Windows 10 scaling, I need scaling at 100 percent, so it gets super hairy try- ing to read menus and dialogs with that resolution on less than 16-inches. And I'm not getting any younger, either. But you can run up to three external displays (USB-C/Thunderbolt) as well as 4K at 60Hz through the HDMI port, so you're well covered if you're a screen queen like I am. So not only do I not mind it being only 1080p, I welcome it, but I do drive 27-inch, 4K external dis- plays when at my desk. WORKING THE MACHINE What I do once I welcome a machine like this into my home office, is to beat it up as much as I can. I run loops of benchmarks on it for days at a time to see if it gets too hot and quits, and our WS63 held its own admirably. In fact, it didn't flinch once. While it certainly got warm to the touch, it didn't feel like it was too hot. The fan noise was audible for sure when the system was pegged, but I've heard worse in other laptops. I felt the cooling was adequate and didn't feel compelled to slow down the tasks I threw at it. One such benchmark was Chaos Group's V-Ray Benchmark app, which launches CPU- and GPU-based render- ings on the system. The CPU faired ok at about 3:02, putting it in line with perfor- mance from a Haswell desktop i7 4770 Quad core CPU running at 3.9Ghz. Keep in mind that this is a laptop i7 running at 2.8Ghz, so it's much more efficient, and is MSI WS63 7RK T STURDY ON THE OUTSIDE; A RAGING MONSTER ON THE INSIDE BY DARIUSH DERAKHSHANI VFX SUPERVISOR, LECTURER LOS ANGELES KOOSH3D.COM

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