Dell XPS 15 open side view

My old editing laptop managed to eject flames from the side vent after an afternoon of editing on the deck of a local bar in Eureka’s foggy winter weather. Taking my old Dell XPS 15 apart I found the GPU portion of the motherboard completely fried. Three solid years of use was a good run for the 11 pound monster but now it’s time for an upgrade.

There aren’t really a lot of high end windows laptops designed specifically for video editing. Most of them are marketed towards gamers which means glowing lights, crazy logos, and names like “Ghost”, “Stealth”, and “Razer Blade” that scream FPS domination. While I don’t do a lot of gaming the qualities that make a great gaming laptop tend to provide a great editing experience.

MSI G60 4k 80 and upgrade (1 of 1)

After doing a lot of research and talking to some other editors, I decided to pull the trigger on the MSI GS60 Ghost pro 4k-80. At just over $2000 (on ebay), the MSI GS60 sports a 2.5 Ghz i7 processor,  GTX 970M GPU, 16GM of ram, 128GB m.2 SSD, 1TB storage drive, full size keyboard, and a 4k IPS display. All of this in a 4.2 pound 15 inch form factor.

MSI G60 4k 80 and upgrade-1100185

You can raise the price another $350 and get the same laptop with a 512GB m.2 SSD, or you can buy a 512GB m.2 drive for $240 and upgrade it yourself (i’ll be doing that in a future post). If you want to save some money, downgrading the 4k screen to 1080p drops the price to around $1800 and moving to the model with 12GB of ram brings the price down another $100 or so. No matter what options you choose editing laptops are always pricey and the GS60 is no exception.

MSI G60 4k 80 and upgrade-1100177

I’ve been editing on the MSI GS60 for about 5 weeks now, so far playback has been very smooth and rendering times are in the ballpark of a GTX 680 or 770. The 4k screen is nice, but it can actually be a problem at times. By default the GS60 comes with windows icon scaling set to 200%.  I was able to scale that back to 150% without causing problems, but any smaller than that and I have trouble reading the tiny text. Things are nice and very crisp at 4k but with that kind of scaling I almost wonder if I’d have been better off with the 1080p version of the GS60. Also some apps don’t react to windows screen scale settings (adobe update for example) so you end up having to get very close to the screen in order to read things.

The design and build quality of the GS60 is good with brushed aluminum covering pretty much everything. The keyboard is responsive and once you deactivate the glowing keys it’s about as good as it gets for a laptop keyboard. There is very little bloatware installed on the GS60 other than some MSI battery life, keyboard, and game streaming software, it is pretty much stock windows.

For cooling the MSI GS60 uses two fans located at the top of the keyboard. It can get noisy while rendering, but they don’t seem to really ramp up during normal editing and they aren’t nearly as loud as my old system. It isn’t really a problem for me since I edit with headphones, but if you are relying solely on the laptop speakers fan noise could be an issue.

MSI G60 4k 80 and upgrade-1100188

I was a little disappointed with the size of the power supply. Other manufactures have started to slim down their 150 watt power supplies and added nice bits and pieces for cable management, but this is not one of them. The GS60’s power brick weighs almost a pound and the large flat shape makes it acquired to pack. There isn’t really a decent way to wrap the power cables around the supply so you end up sort of shoving them into a pocket in your backpack and untangling them later. It’s not horrible, but the rest of the unit is designed so well that it’s kind of a shame that MSI forgot about the power supply.

So far the MSI GS60 Ghost pro laptop has been a positive experience. I’ll be posting more on the upgrade process as well as the fit and finish of the laptop itself as I continue edit with it. So far so good.

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