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Test drive: The Intel Core i9-13950HX and NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090 Laptop GPU with the MSI Titan GT77

By The Count - 19 Feb 2023

Test drive: The Intel Core i9-13950HX and NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090 Laptop GPU with the MSI Titan GT77

Note: This article was first published on 9 February 2023.

For this test drive, MSI has kindly loaned us their latest Titan GT77, the very best that they've to offer.

An amazing showcase of portable power

The Titan GT77 series is MSI's top-tier line of gaming laptops (just like last year's GT77 we tested), built for speed and power. For 2023's Titan GT77, we see this design philosophy carried further with the incorporation of new cutting-edge mobile hardware. Intel’s latest Raptor Lake-HX CPUs are now available for the laptop, complementing NVIDIA's new GeForce RTX 4080 and RTX 4090 mobile GPUs. MSI also outfits this top-end model with a 4K@144Hz Mini-LED display in the latest Titan GT77.

The model I received from Intel will not be available for purchase as it has a 13th Gen Core i9-13950HX instead of the Core i9-13980HX that MSI is including for the Titan GT77, so you can expect to see a slight boost in performance with a retail unit over what we are able to achieve with this laptop. For context, the i9-13950HX and i9-13980HX are similar in every ways but the former comes with vPro Enterprise support and with a 100MHz reduced boost of the P-cores.

That explains the minor discrepancy, but for the purpose of our testing, the show will go on.

While other markets seems to have three different configurable models of the Titan GT77, here in Singapore, gamers will get the aforementioned Core i9-13980HX, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090 Laptop GPU (16GB), 64GB RAM, and M.2 PCIe 4TB SSD. It will cost you a whopping S$9,299 model too.

 

A titan class

The MSI Titan GT77 is built with its performance as the primary focus of its design. The NVIDIA GPU and the Intel processor take centre stage, and the laptop is effectively constructed around both of these components. It has some very robust cooling, with a heatsink that practically covers the full width visible on the rear of the chassis.

It is interesting to note that a strip of RGB lighting can be located on the back of the laptop, next to the heatsink and for better or worse, will not be noticeable by its user.

Even though it has dimensions of about 21mm in thickness and 3.3Kg in weight, the Titan GT77, with its 17.3-inch display, is surprisingly portable and lightweight (relatively speaking). Desktop-replacement class notebooks have certainly come a long way from their above 5kg builds. The build quality is certainly remarkable, even if it does not quite exude a sense of posh or luxury that you would with a Razer or ROG laptop.

For connectivity, there’s the power supply input, two of the three USB-A 3.2 Gen 2 ports, the SD card reader, and an audio connector – all located on the left side of the machine. On its right, there’s one more USB-A port, two Thunderbolt 4 ports, Mini DisplayPort, Ethernet, and HDMI 2.1.

Then there’s the low-profile Cherry MX switches used on the Titan GT77 keyboard, which I find offers one of the better typing and gaming experiences. The actuation point is precisely where it should be. Additionally, the touchpad is of decent quality, which is constructed of glass, but I suspect most owners would prefer to use a separate mouse in tandem.

 

Performance benchmarks

Let's take a look at the key differences between the desktop and laptop versions of their respective CPU and GPU processors, which we're going to pit against to check how close (or far apart) they perform. Additionally, we've also added performance results from the last-gen MSI Titan GT77 running the Intel 12th Gen Core HX processor and GeForce RTX 3080 Ti to better understand the uplift you're getting.

GPU Specifications
Specification NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090 FE (Test PC) NVIDIA GeForce RTX RTX 4090 Laptop GPU (MSI Titan GT77)
Base Clock 2,235 MHz 1,590 MHz
Boost Clock 2,520 MHz 2,040 MHz
Memory Bus 384-bit 256-bit
Memory Bandwidth 1,008 GB/s 576 GB/s
TGP 450W 150W (+25W Dynamic Boost)

 

CPU Specifications
Specification Intel Core i9-13900K (Test PC) Intel Core i9-13950HX (MSI Titan GT77)
P-Cores Base Frequency 3.0GHz 2.2GHz
P-Cores Turbo Boost Frequency 5.4GHz 5.5GHz
E-Cores Base Frequency 2.2GHz 4.3GHz
E-Cores Turbo Boost Frequency 1.6GHz 4.0GHz
TDP 45-55W 125W
Max. Boost TDP 157W 253W

 

The Intel Core i9-13950HX is essentially a desktop processor that has been put inside a laptop, but it is still the same power-hungry and hot processor as its desktop counterpart, the i9-13900K. Comparing the Titan GT77 to the desktop CPU of our Test PC and last year’s GT77 that features an i9-12900K, we can see that thermal throttling happens when the CPU is under full load – in Cinebench R23 and in 1080p gaming (where the CPU has more load than the GPU), for example.

But not all real-world applications have that kind of demand on the CPU, as we can see in SYSmark 25 where its Productivity performance are just a little off from our Test PC. Certainly, other factors such as SSD and even memory performances have to be considered too, given that all three machines here uses different components apart from the CPU and GPU.

Battery life is pretty decent too, but again we can see that the system throttles down to conserve energy.

It's at higher-end gaming where the Titan GT77 truly shines, thanks to the GeForce RTX 4090 Laptop GPU. At 1440p and 4K, the laptop manages to exceed 90fps in our game benchmarks. Yes, it might not match up to our similarly-specced Test PC, but considering how much more compact and portable the Titan GT77 (and how much less space it has for cooling), I’d say high-end gaming has truly arrived for laptops at last.

 

Conclusion

The latest MSI Titan GT77 has demonstrated how both Intel Core i9 HX processors and the mobile version of NVIDIA's GeForce RTX 4090 are extremely potent examples of today's computing technology. The combination of these components results in the latest Titan GT77 being a portable personal computer that is easily superior to many gaming desktop PCs available now.

This is about as good as it gets in terms of laptop performance without entering the realm of desktop PCs if you frequently attend LAN events or want something you can carry around the house as a true desktop replacement machine. There's so much performance potential under the hood, you could lug it to office when needed too.

It's hard to say if it’s the best gaming laptop now, as I have yet to review other similar laptops from Razer and ROG, for example. But the Titan GT77 is a great showcase of what Intel and NVIDIA has delivered to gamers who are looking for a powerful computer that does not takes up as much space as a desktop, and, or wants a high-end computer that gives them portability.

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