The MSI GP75 Leopard is the first gaming laptop I’ve got with Intel’s new 10th gen i7 processor, let’s see just how well it performs and what’s on offer in this detailed review.
The 10SFK model I’ve got has an Intel 10th gen i7-10750H processor, 115 watt Nvidia RTX 2070 graphics, no Super here, 16gb of memory in dual channel, however MSI have chosen to use slower DDR4-2666 rather than 2933 which the 10th gen supports. There’s a 512gb NVMe M.2 SSD and 1TB hard drive, and a 17.3” 1080p 240Hz screen. For network connectivity it’s got gigabit ethernet, WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1, but there are different specs available.
The laptop has a black metal lid, however the interior is a silver plastic. This kind of makes the interior feel a little cheap and flexible, but the build quality ok decent and there were no sharp corners or edges anywhere. MSI lists the weight as 2.6kg, which is basically spot on with what I got. With the 230 watt power brick and cables for charging included, the total weight increases to 3.55kg, or 7.8lb.
Dimensions are similar to other 17” inch laptops, it’s a little thicker compared to say the GS66, but hopefully that results in better thermals, we’ll test that soon.
The smaller footprint gives us 8.5mm thin screen bezels on the sides. The 17.3” 1080p 240Hz screen has a matte finish and viewing angles looked fine. Unfortunately there’s no G-Sync or option to disable optimus here, so you’re stuck with Optimus which will reduce performance in games.
MSI are claiming that the 240Hz panel has a 3ms response time, and well, they’re not far off the mark. I got an average 3.7ms response time, making this the best panel in terms of response time out of four or so I’ve tested so far, though there was some overshoot detected in the rises.
I’ve tested the screen with the Spyder 5, and got 94% of sRGB, 72% of NTSC, 75% of AdobeRGB and 75% of DCI-P3. At 100% brightness I measured the panel at 344 nits in the center with a 720:1 contrast ratio, so all round pretty similar compared to most other high refresh rate gaming laptops I’ve tested, though a little lower on the contrast. Backlight bleed wasn’t great and I could occasionally notice it while viewing darker content, but this will vary between laptop and panels.
The GP75 is also available with 120Hz and 144Hz panels, so expect different results to what I’ve shown with those.
There was more screen flex than expected despite the metal lid, though this wasn’t an issue and it felt fairly sturdy with the hinges being out towards the corners. It wasn’t possible to open up with one finger as the battery is up the back along with the cooling solution, but despite being more back heavy it still felt mostly ok on my lap.
Despite the thinner bezels, the 720p camera is found above the display in the center, no Windows Hello support though. The camera is pretty grainy, but the audio sounds pretty good.
The keyboard has per key RGB backlighting which illuminates all keys and secondary key functions. Brightness can be adjusted between 4 levels, or controlled through the included steelseries software, however some configurations are sold with red lighting only. As with most MSI keyboards, I liked typing with it.
The power button is to the right of the keyboard, along with buttons to cycle through keyboard lighting effects, and one to quickly change fan speed by toggling coolerboost mode. Keyboard flex was on the lower side when pushing down hard, though the palm rest area was a bit more flexible comparatively, presumably due to the plastic interior.
The precision touchpad does not click down, it’s instead got physically separate left and right click buttons, it worked well and I had no issues with it to note.
Fingerprints don’t really show up due to the silver finish, they’re more obvious on the darker keys, but as a smooth surface it’s easy to clean with a microfiber cloth.
On the left from the back there’s a kensington lock slot, air exhaust vent, gigabit ethernet, HDMI 2.0 and mini DisplayPort 1.2 outputs, USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-A port, USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-C port, no thunderbolt though, and 3.5mm headphone and mic jacks. On the right from the front there’s a full size SD card slot, two more USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-A ports, another air exhaust vent and the power input right at the back, so less cables on the right to get in the way of your mouse hand, unless you’re left handed. I confirmed that both the HDMI and mini DisplayPort are connected directly to the Nvidia GPU, so gaining a speed boost with an external monitor should be possible. The Type-C port did not provide a display signal.
The MSI website notes the HDMI port does 4K 30Hz, however I found mine to run at 60Hz. The back just has some air exhausts towards the left and right corners with Leopard text in the center, while the front has some status LEDs in the middle. The metal lid has a couple of extrusions, the MSI logo is in the center towards the top and gets lit up white from the screen’s backlight, so colour cannot be customized. Underneath just has air intake vents directly above the intake fans, but there are also other vents towards the front half of the machine, just no fans there.
Getting inside was easy enough, just remove 13 phillips head screws, the two in the back corners were shorter than the rest.
Once inside we’ve got the battery right up the back along with all the heatpipes, and this is why it’s more back heavy. There’s a 2.5” drive bay on the left in the center, WiFi 6 card next to that, two memory slots towards the right, and one M.2 slot below that. I found it interesting that there’s space for a secondary M.2 drive, but the connector isn’t present, so I guess MSI are reusing the motherboard and some other model may offer that.
The two three watt speakers are found towards the front on the left and right corners. There was a little bass and they sounded a little above average compared to other gaming laptops. They got very loud, the loudest I’ve measured so far, and the latencymon results looked good.
The GP75 is powered by a 6-cell 51Wh battery. I’ve tested with the screen brightness at 50%, background apps disabled and keyboard lighting off. With the screen at the default 240Hz speed it lasted for 3 hours and 5 minutes while watching YouTube, and Optimus was enabled as it’s not possible to turn it off. While playing the Witcher 3 with medium settings and Nvidia’s battery boost set to 30 FPS the battery lasted for 62 minutes, and the FPS did not dip at any point.
When gaming or running stress tests the battery seems to drain while being plugged in, mine got down to 87% after a few hours, and this was despite the 100% option being selected through MSI’s Dragon Center software. I also had an issue with the software, here’s what it usually looks like allowing you to swap between different performance modes, however sometimes while opening it, they aren’t available and it looks like this. I’m not sure why, but it needs a reboot to fix.
Next let’s get into the thermal testing. As mentioned the dragon center software lets us pick between different performance modes, which from lowest to highest are silent, balanced and extreme performance. Extreme performance also lets us enable coolerboost mode, which sets the fan to maximum speed, however none of these modes applied any GPU overclocking or undervolting. We also have some option to manually customize the fans.
Speaking of undervolting actually, it’s disabled by default like most other 10th gen laptops, presumably due to the plundervolt vulnerability, however you can enable it through advanced BIOS by holding Right Shift + Right Control + Left Alt + F2 in the BIOS. From here go to advanced settings, go down to the overclocking performance menu, enable the overclocking feature, then change the XTU interface from disabled to enabled. This will allow you to use XTU or Throttlestop.
Thermals were tested with a 21 degree Celsius ambient room temperature. Idle results down the bottom were about average and ok. Worst case stress tests were done with the Aida64 CPU stress test with CPU only checked and the Heaven benchmark at max settings at the same time, and gaming was tested with Watch Dogs 2 as I find it to use a good combination of processor and graphics.
The CPU would thermal throttle at 95 degrees celsius which was happening at times, and GPU thermal throttling was only happening in silent mode, which is kind of expected as the goal of this mode is quieter operation. Outside of silent mode, the temperatures are still on the warmer side, though combinations of using faster fan speed, a cooling pad and undervolting was able to remove throttling.
These are the clock speeds in the same tests. The all core turbo boost speed of the new 10th gen i7-10750H processor is 4.3GHz, and we’re basically hitting that best case while gaming, and not that far off it under these worst case stress tests. In general clock speed doesn’t change too much between balanced and extreme mode. This is because the processor seems to power limit throttle at 48 watts despite software reporting PL1 as 200 watts, so we only get further gains by undervolting.
Interestingly the CPU and GPU power limits in silent mode are still pretty decent, so let’s see how well a game actually performs in the different performance modes. Silent mode is definitely capable of gaming, it’s only a few frames behind the better modes, and it was possible to gain a little more improvement by undervolting the CPU and overclocking the GPU.
Here’s how CPU only performance looked in Cinebench with the different modes in use. As the GPU is idle in this test, the processor was now able to run up to 62 watts. The stock result is pretty decent, a little higher than other 9750H laptops tested, while the undervolt result is again just a little above the last gen i7 due to the slightly higher clock speeds it can hit.
As for the external temperatures where you’ll actually be putting your hands, at idle it was in the low 30s in the center, pretty typical. With the stress tests running in silent mode it gets to the low 50s and is a little warm in the center. The keyboard is about 10 degrees cooler in balanced mode as the fan speed picks up here. Extreme mode was similar, and the wrist rest was very cool compared to the rest. With coolerboost enabled it’s not too different, the fan speed didn’t change much.The fan was still audible at idle, no coil whine detected though. In silent mode it’s still on the quieter side, especially considering the game performance we saw earlier was also pretty decent.
Remember it was thermal throttling on both the CPU and GPU, but if you want quieter operation with most of the performance that trade off is an option. Balanced and extreme modes sounded the same, then coolerboost only raised the fan speed slightly higher.
Next let’s find out just how well this configuration of the GP75 actually performs in games. I’ve tested with extreme performance mode and coolerboost enabled for best results.
In Battlefield 5 I’ve got the GP75 highlighted in red. The older 9th gen GP75 is also there, same RTX 2070 graphics but slightly older i7-9750H processor, and in this test we can see it’s less than 3 FPS behind, however the 1% low with the newer 10th gen model is higher comparatively. In any case, this is one of the best results in this game that I’ve gotten so far.
These are the results from Far Cry 5 with ultra settings in the built in benchmark. Again this config of the GP75 was close to the top of the graph, and the 9th gen model wasn’t too far behind it. This is typically a more CPU sensitive test, which may explain why it’s the highest result out of any 115 watt 2070 laptop I’ve tested.
These are the results from Shadow of the Tomb raider with the built in benchmark at highest settings. This more GPU demanding test again only resulted in the 10th gen 10SFK model we’re looking at here come out 3 FPS ahead of the 9th gen model. It’s also no longer the best 115 watt 2070 result though, the ASUS Zephyrus GX502 is slightly higher, probably due to the FPS boost it receives by allowing you to disable optimus.
Overall the gaming performance with the GP75 10SFK was excellent, as expected due to the RTX 2070 graphics. Even at max settings most games were playable no problem. We could probably gain a couple extra FPS by upgrading to DDR4-2933 memory too.
I’ve used Adobe Premiere to export video at 4K, and the results were decent and in line with other similarly specced laptops, though there’s still big diminishing returns in this test once you have a 1660 Ti.
Now for the benchmarking tools, I’ve tested Heaven, Valley, and Superposition from Unigine, as well as Firestrike, Timespy and Port Royal from 3DMark. I’ve used the OpenVR benchmark to test the HTC Vive Cosmos Elite, and the GP75 with this hardware was giving one of the better results however it seems that the lower wattage 2080 Max-Q parts offer an advantage here. I’ve also tested SPECviewperf which tests out various professional 3D workloads. I’ve used Crystal Disk Mark to test the storage. The 512GB NVMe M.2 SSD was going alright, the 1TB hard drive seemed decent for spinning rust and the SD card slot was on the slower side with my V90 rated card. The SD card clicks in and sticks out by this much.
In the US this configuration of GP75 goes for $1600 USD, but it looks like you can get the smaller 15” model with 144Hz screen for $100 less, which I think sounds pretty fair for 2070 level performance when you consider thinner machines with similar specs can be around $500 more. Here in Australia we’re looking at about $3800 AUD, but again there are cheaper models. With all of that in mind let’s conclude by summarising the good and bad aspects of the MSI GP75 10SFK gaming laptop.
At the end of the day, the 10th gen model of GP75 seems essentially the same as the 9th gen model, just with the newer processor inside. The metal lid was a nice touch, but I didn’t really like the plastic interior which made it feel a little flexible and cheap, but at the same time it’s probably cost cutting measures like this that allow it to be cheaper compared to many other laptops with similar hardware.
There was a little performance boost to be had with the 10750H over the last gen 9750H, but you’re only really going to notice this once you can get past power and thermal limitations, and realistically the scores in Cinebench were only a little higher. It did run on the hotter side despite being closer to 3cm thick, but it was possible to improve performance and thermals with a combination of undervolting, boosting fan speed, and using a cooling pad. Further performance gains could also be had by tuning in the advanced BIOS, such as unlocking undervolting.
The gaming performance on offer was quite good, consistently giving me some of the best FPS out of all laptops I’ve tested with the RTX 2070, probably as it’s also the first 10th gen processor I’ve had paired with this graphics. You’ve also got the option of gaming with still good performance in silent mode if you prefer quieter fans at the expense of heat. The GP75 is back heavy as the battery is placed up the back.
The battery life was on the lower side too, I would have preferred if they just accepted worse battery life and got rid of optimus in favour of say G-Sync to really prioritize the gaming experience, but that’s me. If MSI used faster DDR4-2933 memory instead of 2666 we could have gained some extra performance, though from my testing it’s not that big of a difference in most games.
The screen is great for gaming, although there was some bleed and contrast was on the lower side, however colour gamut was decent for a 240Hz panel, brightness was above average, and I measured the response time at around 3.7ms, so close to MSI’s advertised 3ms number. It’s good that the majority of the I/O is on the left hand side, as most people are right handed this will mean less cables getting in the way of your mouse hand.
The internals were almost perfect, I can understand having a 2.5” drive bay option in a larger 17” machine like this, but it kind of sucks that there’s just the one M.2 slot when there’s clearly space on the motherboard for a second one, it’s even marked out. Otherwise keyboard and touchpad were decent, speakers were above average and the loudest I’ve ever tested, and I hope MSI fixes the weird bug that prevented me from swapping between performance modes at times in an update. Let me know what you thought about the MSI GP75 10SFK gaming laptop down in the comments.