While massive 17-inch gaming notebooks are popular among many hardcore gamers, thinner and lighter 15-inch gaming laptops are selling well to players who want to enjoy the latest games without the bulk of a desktop.
The MSI GE62 Apache is one of the best-selling 15-inch gaming notebooks thanks to its variety of hardware configurations, affordable price, and stylish design. You can find thinner and lighter laptops if you don’t care about Grand Theft Auto Vor Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, but if you like playing games then you’ll appreciate things like the Nvidia GeForce GTX 965M discrete graphics and a built-in customizable SteelSeries gaming keyboard.
We took a closer look at the updated MSI GE62 2QE Apache to find out what it offers serious gamers.
The all black exterior and subtle angles are hallmarks of MSI’s current designs.
Build and Design
Older gaming notebooks from MSI featured glossy or overly plastic designs, but the GE62 Apache looks and feels like a more premium product. The brushed aluminum screen lid has a black finish with subtle angular lines that lend a distinctive appearance. The MSI and G Series gaming logos are prominently featured in the center of the lid but don’t scream, Hey! Look at my gaming laptop!
Opening the screen lid reveals a matching brushed aluminum keyboard surface and palm rests with the same black finish. The bottom half of the chassis is built from matte black plastic with a slight texture to prevent fingerprint smudges from accumulating. A thin red pinstripe on the front and rear edges provide a little flair to the all-black exterior.
Good build quality overall with some minor flex issues.
The chassis feels relatively firm but the right palm rest flexes under downward pressure. The screen lid is slightly more flexible than we hoped despite the aluminum top panel, and the screen’s hinges aren’t particularly firm but provide adequate resistance.
Although there are no quick-access panels on the underside of the GE62, you can remove the entire bottom panel after unscrewing 14 Philips-head screws. Once inside, you’ll find two standard SO-DIMM slots for the system RAM, a slot for the M.2 format SSD, standard 2.5-inch SATA drive, wireless card, and the internal 6-cell battery.
Ports and Features
While the GE62 Apache certainly delivers more ports and features than a typical 15-inch consumer laptop, MSI sacrificed a few ports in order to bring this gaming rig down to a more portable weight. The left side includes a security lock slot, Gigabit LAN (Killer E2200), three USB 3.0 ports, a full-size HDMI out (v1.4 with support for 4K x 2K output), a Mini-DisplayPort that supports 1080p at 120 Hz or 4K at 60Hz, and dedicated audio jacks for both microphones and headphones.
The right side features an optical drive, a single USB 2.0 port, SD/SDXC/SDHC card reader, and the AC adapter jack.
The DVD drive is either a great addition or a waste of space depending on who you ask.
It might seem foolish to draw special attention to the inclusion of an optical drive (in this case a DVD Super Multi drive), but the reality is that most thin and light 15-inch gaming notebooks don’t have one so they could be as small as possible. While most gamers now simply download titles from online services like Steam, some people still enjoy playing classic games that require a DVD drive.
Screen and Speakers
The 15.6-inch Full HD LCD on our review unit has a premium matte anti-glare screen surface to prevent distracting reflections from appearing during gameplay. The 1920 x 1080 resolution is ideal for most gamers and is a good choice when paired with the GeForce GTX 965M graphics.
Speaking of which, the display is linked to the GPU via an embedded DisplayPort connection for the optimal transfer of all that wonderful eye candy. There is no touchscreen option for Windows 8.1, but MSI does offer an optional 4K display (3840 x 2160 pixels). While the greater-than-HD resolution sounds nice, most gamers won’t be interested in the 4K option because the GTX 965M lacks the processing power to push modern games 4k at high detail settings with a playable frame rate. Games look better and are generally more enjoyable on the 1080p screen.
MSI doesn’t officially list an IPS display in this configuration, but the viewing angles are nothing short of extraordinary and are certainly in line with most of the quality IPS screens we’ve seen. Color accuracy is quite good (90.9% sRGB color gamut) and the maximum brightness tops out around 350 nits, but the real-life contrast ratio seems a bit weak compared to the screen on the competing Digital Storm Triton (Clevo P650SE).
Four speakers and a subwoofer deliver quality sound.
The built-in speakers are branded by Dynaudio, with that company’s audio boost and Nahimic sound technology responsible for audio processing. The four small stereo speakers are located behind grilles on the front edge of the notebook under the palm rests (two speakers on each side). This means that sound is directed toward the user when the notebook is on a desk; which is the most likely situation for a desktop-replacement gaming laptop.
However, if you’re using the GE62 on your lap, the sound will be muffled by your legs sometimes. The GE62 also includes a small subwoofer on the bottom to the rear of the optical drive for an added touch of bass.
If you plan to connect this laptop to external speakers, you’ll be happy to know the GE62 supports 7.1 channel SPDIF output.
A simple interface lets you customize the keyboard LEDs however you like.
Keyboard and Touchpad
MSI realized quite some time ago that PC gamers reallycare about keyboard quality. With that in mind, the GE62 Apache series features a SteelSeries customizable keyboard with LED backlighting. You can change the color of the LEDs behind the keyboard by using MSI’s Keyboard LED Manager app.
The Chiclet or island-style keyboard keys are flat and smooth but not glossy. Each key provides a fluid movement with a centered pressure point and a comfortable amount of resistance to prevent typos or unwanted key presses when you rest your fingers on the keyboard.
Our only minor complaint about the GE62’s keyboard layout is related to the dedicated number pad. We appreciate number pads on laptops with 15-inch or larger screens, but MSI squeezed the number pad into the GE62 by using much thinner keys and overlapping it with the arrow keys (both of which are frustrating to those who use number pads). Frankly, we would rather lose the cramped number pad and have more room for the standard keyboard keys and a row of dedicated macro buttons.
While most avid gamers will connect a dedicated USB gaming mouse to any laptop, the MSI GE62 features a very nice touchpad with multi-touch gesture recognition and two dedicated touchpad buttons for left and right clicks. The touchpad has a brushed metal surface that measures approximately 4.3 x 2.4 inches (11 x 6 cm). The dedicated touchpad buttons might look a little old school to some people, but they’re more reliable than integrated, buttonless touchpads.
We found the touchpad experience extremely enjoyable simply because every left click was registered as a left click and every right click was registered as a right click. Sometimes it’s the simple things that make all the difference.
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