After months of what was at times painful research, I finally picked up a brand new Windows laptop and am happy to report that this message is being composed via the new 8th-gen Intel i7 MSI GP63 Leopard computer. As an active user in the Apple community for the better part of the last decade, I’ve been happy to discover many things to appreciate about Windows 10. But I was reluctant to enter the market due to an unending affinity for the world of Apple design. Since Microsoft started making their own machines in the form of the Surface series, they have without doubt been improving the overall Windows experience. However, if you don’t wish to spend Apple style cash on the higher end Surface’s, navigating your way through the Windows laptop ecosystem requires vision and a dedication to the process to find exactly what you want.
MSI has continued to establish its presence as a premier gaming system provider. Not unlike Huawei’s place in the world of mobile devices, MSI leverages its location in the heart of Taiwan’s tech scene to create wildly high-spec’d devices at very competitive prices. The GP63 combines Intel’s new 6-core i7 processor with Nvidia’s GTX 1050ti 4GB graphics card, along with some premium features like RGB backlit keyboard with an aluminum body finish and an HDMI output, plus mini-display port that supports 4k monitor output resolution. Add 16GB of RAM and a 256GB solid state hard drive (plus 1TB of traditional storage), and this machine comes with a price tag between $1,000 and $1,300 depending on the point of sale.
My PC needs were unique, so finding the right combination of features among the vast selection of providers wasn’t easy. I needed something with two dedicated video outputs (with at least one supporting 4K) for live video installations that I produce for concerts, festivals and other events. I also needed a powerful cooling system to deal with the wide range of environments that I often work in (i.e. the occasional -and often dreadful – daytime festival heat). I wanted the latest i7 processor to know I can continue to push boundaries when it comes to content creation, as well as ensure at least some longevity for the machine as the world of software development continues to unfold. But beyond hardware specs, I wanted something that also looked and felt amazing. Though only about a day in, and a few nights away from being fully operational, I will say that at this point I am very impressed. The RGB keyboard is set to a wave of purple and cyan that draws me in closer. The 15″ IPS 1080p panel is a perfect balance of soft and crisp for the price, and the speakers even have a little bit of bass they can push out.
When I think back to my last major computer purchase, it was the top of the line Apple Macbook Pro and cost upwards of $3,000. While I still love that computer (and consider it to be the most important tool of my creative professional life to date), my goal with this new purchase is to allow the Mac to be what it is without trying to push it to the limits by bringing it into a future that it wasn’t built for. I want to be able to pull it off my shelf one day down the road, and for it to still run the amazing things we built together, without overdoing it and sending it to an early grave.
As technology fans and specialists, I’m curious – how can we retain elements of our past without completely overwriting it in the name of progress? What type of legacy technology do you keep around simply because you love it and know nothing like it will ever be made again? While I know the new Macbook Pros can handle most of what I want them to, at the end of the day I’m excited to explore this new territory. It feels less like my Windows days of old and more like something out of Blade Runner 2049; rugged, powerful, versatile. And at a price that’s not going to set me back or keep me up at night.