As with most gaming notebooks, the MSI GE62 Apache comes in a variety of configurations that offer a range of performance benefits at different prices. Our review unit includes the fourth-generation (Haswell) Intel Core i7-4720HQ quad-core processor … which might not be the best choice. This processor offers amazing performance for CPU-intense activities, but it runs at a TDP of 47 watts instead of Intel’s more battery-friendly Core i7 chips that consume as little as 15 watts.
Because most modern games rely on the GPU instead of the CPU for in-game performance, MSI could have gotten away with a lower voltage Intel chip like the Core i7-4510U for around the same price, or any of the 15W Core i5 processors for about $100 less.
In terms of the GPU, MSI made an ideal choice with Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 965M. Not only does the GTX 965M offer a good balance of performance and affordability as the entry-level member of Nvidia’s upper tier of mobile graphics, but it uses Nvidia’s Optimus technology to automatically switch between the integrated Intel HD Graphics 4600 and the discrete GeForce graphics. This means that the GE62 will use either the high-power graphics for optimal performance or the low-power graphics for the best possible battery life … which is even more important because the GE62 is using a power-hungry CPU.
The average frame rate in BioShock Infinite running at 1080p resolution and “Ultra” detail settings was roughly 54 fps. The GE62 Apache still managed to deliver a playable average frame rate of around 35 fps in a more visually intense game like Thief running at 1080p with the “Very High” detail settings preset.
The GE62 Apache that we reviewed uses a single 7200 rpm hard disk drive with a 1 TB storage capacity, but MSI offers other configurations with M.2 format solid state drives or a combination of both SSD and HDD storage. The hard drive used here is relatively fast and offers ample storage for a sizeable Steam library. However, some performance-hungry gamers might want to upgrade the Windows boot drive to a M.2 format SSD for faster startup, shutdown, and a general increase in “snappiness.”
- Windows 8.1 (64-bit)
- 2.6 GHz Intel Core i7-4720HQ (6MB cache, 3.6 GHz Turbo Boost)
- 15.6-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) anti-glare display
- Nvidia GeForce GTX 965M (2GB of DDR5)
- Intel HD Graphics 4600
- 8GB DDR3 (16GB max)
- 1 TB HDD (7200 RPM, Hitachi Travelstar) with two storage partitions
- DVD Super Multi drive
- 10/100/1000 Mbps LAN (Killer E2200)
- Intel 1×1 Wireless AC 3160 + Bluetooth 4.0
- HD (1280 x 720) webcam
- 6-cell internal Li-Ion battery
- 150-watt AC adapter
- Dimensions: 1.15 x 16.5 x 11 inches
- Weight: 5.95 pounds
- 2-year warranty
- Price as Configured: $1,299.99
PCMark8 Home (Accelerated) measures overall system performance in Windows 8 for general activities from web browsing and video streaming to typing documents and playing games (higher scores mean better performance):
Heat and Noise
The MSI GE62 Apache does an adequate job with thermal management, but it gets hotter than we’d like under prolonged use when playing a game at the maximum detail settings.
The internal temperatures for the Intel CPU ranged from 40 degrees Celsius at idle to 86 degrees Celsius after one hour of gaming. The Nvidia GPU temperatures reported from GPU-Z were just 63 degrees Celsius after the same one hour gaming session. Unfortunately, the external temperature of the chassis suffered from a few hot spots. The bottom panel of the laptop heated up to 46 degrees Celsius (116 degrees Fahrenheit) in the area directly between the CPU and GPU heat sink.
Those temperatures aren’t the end of the world if you’re using the GE62 as a desktop replacement, but you wouldn’t want a laptop that runs that hot to sit on your lap for more than a few minutes.
The ambient system noise coming from the GE62 is on par with the Acer Aspire V15 Nitro that we previously reviewed. This notebook is essentially silent when idling and barely audible under normal use. If you stress the CPU and GPU with benchmarks or a game at maximum settings (or if you turn on the high fan setting using the dedicated “Cooler Boost” button next to the power button), the fan noise approaches the 50 dB mark. That’s loud, but not as loud as most 17-inch gaming notebook fans running on the highest setting.
As we previously alluded, the GE62 suffers unnecessarily in terms of battery life because of the standard-voltage processor being used. Although MSI could have extended how long the laptop lasts between charges by using a lower voltage CPU, the battery life isn’t completely out of line with other gaming notebooks in this price range.
The MSI GE62 Q2E Apache lasted for 2 hours and 58 minutes in our aggressive PowerMark benchmark test running in balanced mode. This test is a continuous loop of automated web browsing, word processing, gaming, and video playback workloads designed to simulate non-stop work in a variety of tasks. In less demanding real-life use we would expect the GE62 to keep running for around 4 hours.
That’s not great battery life for a modern travel-friendly laptop, but it’s not too far off the mark for power-hungry gaming laptops.