MSI's latest gaming laptop brings a more grown-up design, a couple big-ass fans

It seems like just yesterday we reviewed MSI's beastly GT70 Dominator gaming laptop. Indeed, that was only a month ago, but it seems MSI has already moved on: The company is now showing off the GT72, a redesigned version with a slightly thinner profile, an improved cooling system and a less dorky aesthetic. We'll get to that last bit in a minute, but first: the fans. MSI apparently took a lot of flak for the GT70's single-fan setup. Not effective enough, according to some hardcore users. Well, in case that wasn't heavy-duty enough for you, MSI has stepped up to two fans, with the vents taking up pretty much the entire bottom side of the notebook (have a look at the photo after the break if you don't believe us). Only time (and review-testing) will tell if the new setup is quieter, but MSI says if nothing else the heat management should be better this time around.

Gallery | 19 Photos

MSI GT72 Dominator hands-on

Those gigantic fans aside, the GT72 otherwise has a more streamlined look, with fewer plastic elements, a glass-composite palm rest, discreetly placed multimedia buttons and a seamless trackpad that doesn't flex or bend as you press down on it. The bottom meanwhile is covered by a single piece, sealed by a handful of screws in the corners. Hopefully that'll make in-home upgrades a little easier the next time you wanna replace the RAM or storage. Finally, the whole thing is slightly thinner and lighter than the last generation, measuring in at 48mm, or 1.9 inches (down from 2.1). Make no mistake, this thing's still pretty cumbersome. But then again, this is a 17-inch gaming laptop we're talking about and also, NVIDIA's current-gen 880M GPU requires a bit of space for the heat sink, anyway. (The more you know!)

Lest you think the all-black design is too safe, MSI is keeping the same backlit SteelSeries keyboard used on the GT70. And that's a good thing: Not only are we suckers for programmable LEDs (aren't you?), but this is also one of the most comfortable keyboards we've tested on a gaming laptop. This time around, too, the perimeter of the touchpad lights up, sort of like Dell's older Alienwares. Also intact: the Dynaudio speakers. Which is great, because we loved the audio quality on the last-gen model. Not something that needed to be changed, in our humble opinion.

On the inside, the GT72 makes do with last season's specs -- at least for now. At launch, it will ship with a 1080p display and either the NVIDIA 870M or 880M, though an MSI rep told us it will update the specs as NVIDIA and Intel announce fresh chips. In additon, MSI will offer the GT with its "Super RAID 3" storage setup, which includes four SSDs arranged in a RAID 0 configuration. As for connectivity, MSI says this will be the first to ship with Killer's DoubleShot Pro setup combining an 802.11ac WiFi radio with 1Gbps Ethernet, which you can use at the same time.

Look for these to ship soon, with prices ranging from around $2,499 to $2,899 to start. Over time, though MSI plans to add more configurations at both ends of the price spectrum. And, of course, there are new chips a'coming. So best to wait, even if you do choose to check out the hands-on pics now.

Update: A previous version of this story reported that the "Super RAID 3" storage setup includes three SSDs. In fact, it includes four.