MSI's Titan series has always been its flagship line of products and it still is. Designed like a Lamborghini with carbon fibre and bright red accents, MSI has, with the Titan 76 DT 9SG, thrown a desktop computer processor into the laptop mix.
The design, unfortunately, reaches into areas where it doesn't really belong this time around though. The power supply, for example, is a splitter cable in a fancy design which is then connected to each separate power supply. It's better than the power supply of the previous generation, but the whole set-up is still on the large side with multiple wires - it ends up being heavy, inefficient and clunky.
The Titan GT 76, despite its truly accomplished and beautiful design, appears to be more of a semi-portable unit rather than a full-fledged laptop. It's a portable computer in form and function, but it's rather heavy and bulky.
The machine itself weighs in at 4.5kg, and the two power supplies with their cables weigh in at 2.4kg, essentially making this gaming laptop a 7kg beast which is portable, but only just. But enough about the physical bulk, let's talk about what's inside.
The motherboard residing within is a desktop-used Z390 and it's accompanied by an i9-9900K, 64GB RAM (DDR4 2666MHz), a 1TB Raid 0 NVMe SSD, and a 2TB SATA drive. There's also room for an additional M.2 drive, should you want more space. The use of a desktop motherboard also means that the headphone output comes with an ESS Saber DAC that can handle 24/192 signals.
The connections consist of one USB-C with Thunderbolt 3, one USB-C without Thunderbolt and four USB-A 3.2. There's also an HDMI 2.0 port and a mini display port as well as a card reader. Of course, there are microphone and headset connectors, an ethernet port (Killer E3000), Bluetooth 5.0 and 802.11ax WIFI connections are also present. The speakers within the machine are actually quite decent, even though laptop speakers are never optimal.
The model comes with two display options; a 240Hz 1080p variation and a 4K 60Hz option, however, we found both to be insufficient. Both display options are "IPS-level" panels and for the price, they should have been real IPS panels. We'd also want the 240Hz version as 1440p, making a TN panel essential. Should one pick the 4K display, 60Hz just doesn't cut it for a gaming laptop, as 144Hz should be the requirement. It's just not good enough when looking at the price. That said, however, the panels do hold 100% sRGB and the graphics card is an RTX 2080.
And of course, just like with most other gaming laptops, there's RGB lighting on the chassis as well as individual lighting under each key on the otherwise sleek, excellent keyboard. The problem is that it doesn't feel any different than MSI's other portable keyboards, so it's not a mechanical keyboard despite the cabinet being outrageously thick.
The battery is relatively large - 90 Watts hours - but it still dies fast. You'll get 40 minutes of download out of the machine unplugged and that's it, your battery is depleted. If you turn everything off, the computer can idly stand by for just over four hours unplugged.
When one reads the product page, it says "overclocked to", which, has one assuming that the machine is overclocked out of the box. It's not. One has to go into Dragon Center 2, select "system tuner", click onto the "performance" profile and press the settings icon where one is able to change some arbitrary numbers around. After that comes an overclock warning and from there, the machine is overclocked. However, we have to be honest and state that we're disappointed that there's no overclock from the start because that's what was expected. If you do decide to overclock it, you have to shift the Turbo and set the cooling to Cooler Booster.
Does overclocking the laptop through the software make a big difference? We put it to the test. We got 4.97Ghz and you can view the results below.
Time Spy: 10584 without overlock, and it made no difference.
Time Spy Extreme went from 4263 to 4953.
Port Royal went from 5925 to 6298
Four Strike Ultra went from 5623 to 6499
Four Strike Extreme went from 9526 to 12416
Four Strike got the biggest improvement and went from 15488 to 22924.
Total War: Warhammer 2 was tested on Ultra in 1080p, 2560x1600 and 4K.
By default, the score read the following: FPS 102 / 71.4 / 46. With overclock it turned into 104.3 / 64.9 / 44.0.
The Division 2 on Ultra in 1080p had a score of 95 FPS without overlock, 96 FPS with. Without overclock, the figures for 129/139 were for High and Medium. The 4K Ultra provided 35fps by default, but with overclocking it came up to 37.
Far Cry 5 1080p, on Ultra, High and Medium, 83/91/116 respectively and when overclocking it turned into 124/128/131 - quite impressive. The 4k Ultra went from 57 to 65 FPS.
Assassin's Creed Odyssey only went from 39 to 40 FPS in 4K Ultra, and if you take the 1080p figures on Ultra / High / Medium from 68/85/97 to 65/85/95, it's clear we didn't get an improvement.
Middle-earth: Shadow of War hits 57 FPS in 4K Ultra, and only 58 with overclock. Without 1080p overclock on Ultra / High / Medium we get 83/127/153, but with overclock, we get 125/153/183.
Part of the explanation for these numbers can probably be found in the heat. Even with the Cooler Booster on, the CPU was up and running at 100 degrees consistently when overclocked. On the other hand, permanent Cooler Booster also means that the GPU gets extra cooling, and only came up at 86 degrees.
Usually, without overclock, there is only a single degree difference between Auto and Cooler Boost. The CPU idles at 45 degrees and hits 92 at maximum load, and for the GPU the numbers are 41/90.
The noise of the machine is a definite problem. The auto fan produces 55dB in normal use and it's scaled up to 62dB, occasionally even 71dB for certain specific applications such as Far Cry 5. This noise level follows over when overclocking. The entire heating system consists of two large and two small fans as 11 heat conductors, and its entire underside is basically one large air intake. Copper is used for the CPU block and all heat conductors are mounted on aluminium blocks.
We think it's time for a conclusion. Performance-wise, it's on par with that of a desktop computer, but it comes at a cost. It's tremendously heavy, loud and cumbersome and we'd go for an MSI GL65 or GF75 instead of picking this specific model up because of it. Then we could spend the remaining money on an MSI Infinite Plus X desktop. The GT76 Titan is clearly miles ahead of all other laptops we've tested performance-wise, but it's hard to ignore that it weighs in at 7kg, has a battery life of 40 minutes and has a noise level of 71dB.
The MSI Titan 76 DT 9SG is a great laptop, but its noise levels, heat levels, weight, battery life and screen capabilities are sub-par.