Do you think this is a game? You do? Good for you. Everything in life is a game. Including, oddly, actual games and there are a number of ways to play those. You could go outside in the sun like a caveman and chase an oddly-shaped ball around or you could stay indoors and play a game that involves less running. But, arguably, about the same amount of adrenaline. The question then becomes: What do you play your games on? MSI’s GT76 Titan really wants to be your pick there. The major question is: What are you willing to pay to play on the biggest beast around?
How big, exactly?
It’s big. It’s very big, it’s shiny, it’s got grilles and fans all over the place, as well as a spot of carbon fibre underneath. It’s not a supercar, though it certainly brings on to mind. The GT76 Titan, of which we had the very top-spec model, has dropped the company’s signature red-and-black for some gunmetal and an evocative design. A design that, unfortunately, makes it look like the competition. Under the godly skin, though, the GT76 is all business. Intel’s unlocked Core i9-9900K processor is there, as is 64GB of RAM and a GeForce RTX 2080. Them’s serious fighting specs, if you’re comparing digital er… endowment (that’s a thing that totally happens).
The 17.3in panel sports skinny bezels and a slim – though tough – thickness. Most of the bulk here is the internal system. The 240Hz HD display is speedy enough for all your gaming needs. And all of the other needs you might happen to have. There’s also a 4K panel option, but that doesn’t have quite as fast a refresh rate. The keyboard’s a chiclet type, with deeper travel than you’re expecting. We’ve seen these machines with full-sized mechanical keys in the past but they’ve been dropped here. You’ll be able to use the keyboard for fragging but the trackpad, while solid, is just begging to be replaced with an adjustable-DPI gaming mouse.
It’s not a gaming notebook unless there’s garish (but customisable) lighting all over the place. The GT76 Titan uses MSI’s Mystic Light across the Steelseries keyboard but it’s especially Need for Speed-y thanks to the new underglow strip. Another great touch is the cooling system, comprising four fans and eleven pipes, that speed blistering temperatures away from the main components. It’s quite an attractive arrangement, which is (partly) why MSI’s left them visible from the underside. The other reason? That heat’s gotta leave the chassis somehow.
Every port in a storm
In terms of connections, you’re got enough choice to let you connect everything you need, as well as a few things you don’t. Along the right side of the Titan you’ll find two USB 3 ports (Type A), a lone USB-C, a DisplayPort and space for an HDMI as well as a microSD card slot. On the left, you’ll find a Thunderbolt connection, ethernet, as well as another two USB 3 (Type A) and another USB-C option. The left also plays host to 3.5mm jacks for connecting a wired headphone/mic combo.
We’d have been far more surprised if MSI had included fewer ports in this one. It’s powered by two massive power bricks and the notebook itself weighs in at a little over 4kg. If they’d been more sparing with the port situation, we’d have serious questions about why. It’s not like there isn’t space along the sides — the notebook’s height (when the lid is closed) at its greatest space is more than 4cm. We think they could have gotten away with an optical drive as well. They didn’t, which left plenty of space for the included cooling, but they could have.
Sure the GT76 Titan sounds like a plane taking off — to the point where you might want to invest in some noise-cancelling headphones with a uni- or bi-directional mic. An omnidirection microphone may pick up too much of the fan noise — which could be handy in certain online situations. Psychologically, we mean. Back to the cooling though — the internals in the Titan are very high-end and you can overclock ’em if you wanna. Those fans and pipes are essential as well as attractive because, in practise, the only way to slow the Titan down is to set it on fire.
And without MSI’s cooling tech, that’s basically what would happen. There’s a lot of heat generated by the machine and while it’s effectively dispersed, poor planning could have meant a laggy machine. Or a flammable one. Not so with the benchmarks we hit the notebook with — we pulled a score of 10375 out of 3DMark’s TimeSpy test, with an average of 35 frames per second. That’s completely stock, out of the box, without resorting to turning on any of the software switches MSI includes to give you a boost while gaming. We ran it through Firestrike just for fun and came back with a score of 21,139 while smashing the magical 60fps barrier. If you know your gaming profiles, a spot about overclocking and keep your drivers current we’d expect far better performance from this one.
Rendering is quick and clean and while we reckon you might be able to slow this one down (say, using this), whatever you find’ll probably also crush every other PC you try it on. Hardly fair. The Titan boots in seconds and wakes from sleep even faster. There’s no point in ramping up your graphics to 4K if you’re not connecting an external 4K monitor, at least on this model, so there’s quite a lot of visual headroom. Turn those graphics settings up — your ears will complain about the noise before your eyes get tired of all the pretty textures.
MSI GT76 Titan DT 9SG Verdict
The GT76 Titan’s price tag (the headliner we have here will set you back some R80k…) seems excessive but this is a true desktop replacement. You can swap everything bar your headphones and gaming mouse with a single 4.2kg unit with everything from a high-end 240Hz monitor to some of the best internals available. Just the processor, GPU, and RAM – for a desktop system – will cost more than R30k.
When you factor in the clever cooling, the rest of the tech, and that you can just pop it in a bag, swing it into a car and then set it up next to a plug-point using less effort than it took to type this sentence, the Titan starts to make a whole lot more sense. If it’s out of range of your budget (and R80,000 is out of range for most), that’s not going to stop you from wanting one. And if you demand the absolute best from your specs while maintaining ‘portability’? This is something you want to consider trading your desktop for. Just… don’t set it up at McDonalds while you’re waiting for your morning coffee. You’ll get… looks.
Display 17.3in FHD 240Hz
CPU Intel Core i9-9900K
RAM 64GB DDR4
GPU Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 8GB
Storage 1TB HDD, 1TB SSD
OS Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
Connectivity 4x USB 3, 2x USB-C, 3.5mm
Dimensions 397 x 330 x 42mm