Friday, 19 December 2014

MSI WS60 Workstation Laptop Review

Weighing in at just under 2KG’s, the MSI WS60 Workstation Laptop is aimed at those who need to run demanding software on the go, and while stationary. Let’s first take a look at the extensive specsheet of this powerhouse laptop.

Intel® Core ™ i7 4710HQ
Intel, HM87 Chipset
16GB DDR3L 1600MHz Memory
NVIDIA Quadro K2100M 2GB Workstation Card
15.6” WQHD+ IPS Display (2880x1620)
2x 128GB m2 SATA SSD In MSI Exclusive SuperRAID
1TB Hard Drive
SteelSeries Full-Colour Backlit Keyboard
6-Cell 4840mAh Battery
Price: $3299

I’ll start off on the display, because when you start it up for the first time it’s the first thing that immediately gives you that ‘wow’ factor. The huge resolution gives the end user an ample amount of real estate for work and play. You are going to need a super set of eyes or a good set of glasses at that resolution though, even with windows text scaling, every text does look very small in amongst all those pixels. Work applications like Maya, 3DS Max and even Photoshop are slightly immune to this problem but you may have troubles reading the screen with general web applications like reading the news or social media management, however I don’t expect many people who invest in this machine will use it for such small daily things!

Booting up the machine and logging in you’ll notice the slick black background with the big proclamation ‘Best Laptop for CAD & 3D Modelling’ and I will have to partially agree to that statement. Putting the internal specifications aside for a few minutes the WS60 is not just about function over form. It is able to pack all that power in a super thin, lightweight and stylishly modern enclosure. It is plastic all around but not that cheap skimpy one you would feel on the $300 laptops on the market. Sure, it would have been very nice to add in some aluminium or metal trimming or detailing but in its current state it is a very good looking laptop. Don’t let the thin and lightweight design put you off, even with the reduced footprint it does manage to stay relatively cool and quiet for most of the medium to heavy work I did. I only heard and felt the true heat of the laptop come out after a few renders in Maya.

The addition of the SteelSeries full colour backlit keyboard takes it to a whole new level of workstation laptops. No longer are we seeing those big bulky workstation laptops that require a two man team to carry around with dedicated trolleys to pull them around. A lot more style and thoughtful design is going into the higher end laptops and it’s definitely something pleasing to see. The keyboard does come with a full array of software that lets you control the backlights to an almost unlimited number of combinations, colours and even effects. For a laptop marketed towards a more professional and mature audience it’s definitely a nifty little addition. The keys and keyboard itself has a comfortable layout although they have moved around some of the keys like the ‘DEL’ button so I did find myself having to quickly skim my eyes over the keys to find what I was looking for at times. The better news is even under load I did not feel the heat of the machine coming up through the keyboard which meant I could comfortably continue to use the keyboard under load and not feel distracted by the heat.

 The performance of the laptop is written in the specs. Powered by a quad core i7 processor and a beefy Quadro K2100M workstation GPU this laptop will run and handle complex 3D files and CAD drawings with ease. There’s also sufficient amount of memory to keep you multi-tasking with ease and the super high resolution always comes in handy when working in creative. All that screen real estate is perfect for 3D scenes, video editing and even Photoshop.

At $3200, who is this laptop actually designed for? It’s a hard case to consider this laptop for gamers but if you’re in the business of design or architecture work and sometimes wish you had something you could carry around with you for those last minute touch-ups or to show off that master 3D file you’ve been working on on-the-fly in your next meeting, this is the laptop you want. It has the power, the performance and just enough battery while running heavy applications to get you through a meeting over an hour long. The super lightweight and thin design makes it easy to carry around anywhere you go.

Sahin Selvi