The weakest link in gaming laptops has always been a video card. Four-core processors of these powerful portable PCs a few years ago reached an impressive level of performance, which is enough for any games. Therefore, from year to year developers of graphics adapters try to reduce the gap in performance between mobile and desktop graphics cards. If you believe the slide from the official presentation of NVIDIA, then at the time of this writing, the gap between the top desktop and mobile video accelerators (NVIDIA GTX 980 and GTX 980M, respectively) was 20%. Of course, skeptics may object that the desktop graphics card is still faster than the mobile one, but the gap is nevertheless gradually reduced.
Apparently, MSI decided not to wait until the mobile graphics caught up with the desktop, and embodied the dream of many gamers: MSI GS30 2M Shadow notebook is equipped with a docking station, in which there is a full-fledged video card. By the way, something similar, however, with the help of wires, implemented and engineers Dell Alienware.
The 13-inch MSI GS30 2M Shadow notebook itself turned out to be very thin – its maximum thickness is only 25 mm. This "harmony" was achieved due to the fact that the laptop does not have discrete graphics – for the output of the image in the absence of the docking station is the processor video core.
The lid of the laptop is made of metal, but covered with black paint, quickly  collecting fingerprints and not very willing to part with them.
The working area of the laptop is plastic, with Soft-Touch coating. Fingerprints on it remain at the same speed as on the lid, and it is not easier to fight "pollution". The creators of the laptop are clearly aware of this problem: in the box with the "Shadow" you can find, first, a rag from the microfiber, and secondly, the laptop case.
The touchpad of the MSI GS30 2M Shadow is large (150 × 70 mm), and due to this it is very convenient. Moreover, there are normal drivers for it, so there are no problems with gestures and "right mouse button".
The keyboard of our hero is ordinary, "island". The progress of the buttons, as well as a slight deflection in the central part, it was quite common for keyboards of this type. By the way, on this gaming notebook MSI there is no pre-installed software that allows you to record macros and programmatically re-assign keys. Also worth noting is that the GS30 2M Shadow is the first modern gaming laptop MSI, which has the "Windows" key in the lower left corner of the keyboard, and not in the right. All this is explained by the fact that when connecting a laptop to the docking station it is much more convenient to use a separate keyboard, so no additional game optimizations are needed on the laptop.
The keyboard and the front edge of the laptop have a white backlight. The backlight of the front end will remain lit, and the keyboard backlight can be turned off with the [Fn + F6] key combination. There is no brightness adjustment at the backlight.
With MSI GS30 2M Shadow connectors, things are slightly better than most "trinashek", but still not too rich. On the left side of the laptop is one USB 3.0 connector and two 3.5-mm audio connectors – for connecting headphones and a microphone. On the right side of the laptop is the second USB 3.0 port, HDMI 1.4b connector, as well as an Ethernet network port and a slot for the card reader. There are no connectors on the front face, but the most interesting thing on the back is a hidden proprietary PCIe x16 connector.
There is nothing on the bottom of the laptop, except for a large number of holes for ventilation and almost as many stickers.
The MSI GS30 2M Shadow dock is much larger than the notebook itself. Actually, it's understandable, because inside it there must be a place for installing a discrete video card, a 3.5-inch hard disk, two speakers, a subwoofer and a case fan.
If desired, the user will be able to upgrade the docking station: there are no restrictions – except for the graphics card and TDP – no. For example, we were able to install a two-chip and very voracious NVIDIA GeForce 690 inside.
On the left side of the docking station is the power supply and the outputs of the video card, and on the right side there are 4 USB 3.0 ports, Ethernet and two 3.5 mm audio jacks for headphones and headset. By the way, the network controller has its own docking station: it's a gigabit Killer E2200, which we sometimes see on MSI motherboards. The laptop also has another network controller, the Atheros AR8161 / 8165, which is unavailable during the connection to the docking station.
The entire top of the docking station is placed under the laptop stand. The stand allows you to connect the laptop correctly to the proprietary connector, and thanks to the deepening in the center of the stand, the cooling system of the laptop should cope with its work without problems.
To connect the MSI GS30 2M Shadow to the docking station, it is necessary to turn off the laptop (PCIe connectors, even proprietary, do not support hot-plugging), fasten it to the stand and either push the laptop away from you, or pull the lever located in right corner. After the laptop is properly connected to the stand, the mechanical lock automatically closes, which prevents accidental disconnection of the laptop from the dock. The locking and unlocking lever has only two positions: connected and disconnected. For some unknown reason, the position "connected" is indicated by a schematic image of the resistor, and the position "disconnected" is a schematic image of the capacitor.
The laptop connected to the docking station looks pretty pretty. Once connected, the USB ports of the laptop can be used to connect peripherals. Thus, the total number of universal USB 3.0 connectors is increased to 6 pieces – like a solid workstation.
|MSI GS30 2M Shadow|
|Hard drive|| RAID-0 of 256 GB (actually – 224 GB),
is made up of two M2 SSD Kingston SNS8100S3 / 128GD1 with a capacity of 128 GB each;
|The interfaces|| 2 × USB 3.0;
1 × HDMI (v 1.4b);
1 × Ethernet;
1 × headphone jack (mini-jack 3,5 mm);
1 × connector for microphone connection (mini-jack 3,5 mm);
1 × proprietary PCIe x16 dock connector
|Wi-Fi||802.11 b / g / n, 2.4 GHz, 2 × 2, (Intel Wireless-N 7260)|
|The network adapter||10/100/1000 Mbps (Atheros AR8161 / 8165);|
|The connector of the flash-card||SD (SDHC / SDXC)|
|The sound of the||Two microphones, two speakers|
|Battery||Built-in, 47.36 W · h (6400 mAh, 7.4 V), 3 cells|
|The power supply unit||65 W (19 V, 3.42 A)|
|The size||320 × 227 × 23 mm|
|Operating system software||Microsoft Windows 8.1 Single Language 64 Bit|
|The warranty||2 years|| 130 000 rubles for the version with a docking station without a video card;
180 000 rubles for the version with a docking station with a video card
|The docking station|
|The video card||MSI GeForce GTX 970 Gaming 4G, 4 GB GDDR5 (optional)|
|Connectors of the video card|| 1 × DL DVI-I;
1 × DL DVI-D;
1 × HDMI;
1 × DisplayPort;
|The interfaces of the docking station|| 1 × proprietary PCIe x16 connector for connection to laptop
4 × USB 3.0;
1 × Ethernet;
1 × headphone jack (mini-jack 3,5 mm);
1 × connector for microphone connection (mini-jack 3,5 mm);
|The network adapter||10/100/1000 Mbps (Killer E2200);|
|The power supply unit||450 W, two 10 + 2 pin connectors are provided for connecting the video card|
|The size||364.4 x 209 x 197.7 mm|
|Mass|| 4.2 kg without video card and HDD;
4.8 kg with video card and without HDD;
The laptop has an Intel Core i7-4870HQ processor with a clock speed of 2.5 GHz (up to 3.7 GHz in Turbo Boost mode), a L3 cache of 6 MB and a 47 W heat pack. It should be noted that the CPU-Z utility recognized the processor installed in the laptop as an Intel Core i7-4710HQ, which is fundamentally wrong. But in AIDA64, which also uses the CPU-Z utility, the processor is recognized without problems.
The RAM in the laptop is 16 GB. The memory is recruited by two modules DDR3L-1600, the volume of 8 GB. If desired, the user can replace these modules.
In the notebook itself, as we have already mentioned, only the processor video core is available, Intel Iris Pro Graphics 5200. In the docking station, which appeared in our test lab, was installed desktop graphics card MSI GTX 970 GAMING 4G with 4 GB of video memory GDDR5.
MSI remained faithful to itself and equipped the hero of our article with a RAID array of two SATA SSD-drives of M.2 format. The total amount of permanent memory available to the user is 224 GB. For hard drive space in the laptop was not found, but it can be installed in the docking station and store installed games that require the most space, it is on it. In our version of the dock, there was no pre-installed disk.
For the wireless communication is responsible for the controller Intel Wireless-N 7260 – thanks to him, the laptop can connect to Wi-Fi 802.11 b / g / n networks with a frequency of 2.4 GHz. Alas, this adapter can not work in the 5-GHz band. But Bluetooth 4.0 is supported.
The battery of three cells is not removable, its capacity is 47.36 W · h (6400 mAh, 7.4 V).
According to the information we received from MSI representative, MSI GS30 2M Shadow laptop with docking station not equipped with discrete graphics will cost $ 2,171, which is about 130,000 rubles at a not very optimistic rate of 60 rubles per dollar . The version of "Shadow" with graphics MSI GTX 970 Gaming 4G will cost $ 2,838, that is, about 170,000 rubles at the rate of 60 rubles per dollar.
"Yandex.Market" shows more optimistic options – 115 000 and 150 000 rubles. For comparison: the modification ASUS ROG G751JY with the fastest mobile graphics NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M costs an average of 155 000 rubles, that is about the same as asking for the hero of this article. And in our opinion, it was the cost of laptops with flagship graphics that cost MSI when choosing the price for the GS30 with the docking station. This is still a very significant amount, but such are the current realities.
Disassembling MSI GS30 2M Shadow is not very easy. First you need to unscrew the eight screws on the back, and then very carefully – trying not to damage the fragile, but tenacious plastic latches – to remove its bottom. After this operation, the user will have access to the RAM modules, M.2 drives, wireless communication module and laptop cooling system.
This very cooling system consists of two flattened heat pipes (11.5 and 8.3 mm wide), a compact impeller and two radiators. The CO looks fairly compact, although it will have to cool a 47-watt processor.
Dismantling the docking station is much easier than a laptop. To gain access to a discrete video card, it is enough to unscrew the six screws and without sharp movements – in order not to damage the plumes of acoustics – remove the front panel.
Then discrete video adapter can be removed without any problems from the dock – it is only necessary to dismantle platinum, which holds it.
There is nothing too complicated to dismantle the power supply, but there is no special need to do this either – the power of the FSP's full-time power supply is 450 W, that is, it can draw even two-chip video cards. And to install a hard drive inside, you do not need to remove the power supply.
If you notice an error – select it with the mouse and press CTRL + ENTER.