MSI GT70 Blues

My beloved Alienware M18x recently died on me after 22 months of service. Other than its premature demise, it was the best laptop I'd ever had. I was supremely happy with it.

Since you can't get a decent laptop with a high-end graphics card in Costa Rica - or at least I don't know where to get one, and you can't get one delivered directly from the US - I had to jump on a plane to the US, and order a new laptop as soon as possible. I would have wanted another Alienware, but Dell takes a good 2-3 weeks to ship anything, and they don't take non-US credit cards, so that was out of the question. Instead, I found the MSI GT70 on Amazon, which I could get in 2 days. Great!

Then the laptop arrived, and the blues began.

MSI GT70 sucks

The model I chose already came with a 256 GB SSD for the OS, but I find that too small. My intention was to replace the 1 TB HDD that also comes with the laptop with my Vertex 2 solid-state drive that I used in the Alienware. Hah.

The design of the MSI GT70 requires you to pull off the entire cover if you want to replace the hard drive. Or access RAM. This necessarily involves destroying the sticker that invalidates your warranty. Yes, in order to replace a hard drive, or a RAM stick, on this piece of shit laptop, you have to void your warranty.

Second, the laptop didn't seem to play well with my Vertex 2 SSD. It works fine as an external drive in an USB enclosure, but when installed internally, it often wasn't available when Windows booted. When it was available, it kept going offline - it disappeared from both File Explorer and Device Manager on a whim, and didn't reactivate until a reboot. I had to order a new SSD, a Samsung 840 Pro, to see if that will work better.

Third, the laptop crashes about 2 out of 3 times when it boots. I'm using the original Windows 8 installation that came installed on the laptop as delivered; the only change I've made was to apply Windows updates. Literally, two out of three times, the laptop will either freeze or blue screen when booting - sometimes with MACHINE_CHECK_EXCEPTION, sometimes with CLOCK_WATCHDOG_TIMEOUT. This is with my SSD, or without. I have to keep trying to reboot until it works, and I'm never quite sure it'll run this time.

Fourth, the Page Up and Home key are one key, so you have to press Fn + PgUp to access Home. Likewise, the Page Down and End keys are one key, so you have to press Fn + PgDn to access End. This was a genius choice by some incompetent keyboard designer that needs to be fired. Imagine how this works with text editing. Want to press Ctrl + Home to get to the start of the text? You better get used to Ctrl + Fn + PgUp. Want to press End to get to the end of the line? You better get used to Fn + PgDn.

Fifth, there's only one Windows key, and it's on the right side of the keyboard. You got used to Left Win Key + E for Explorer, Left Win Key + R for Run? Too bad. Get used to using two hands.

Sixth, fairly often the H key doesn't work, and as to be pressed extra ard before it does.

Seventh, the BIOS on this laptop is intended for Windows 8, and it's hard to install Windows 7 on it. Several BIOS options need to be changed, and then, the Windows 7 installer complains that a DVD driver is missing. Frustrated by these problems, and to be less of a dinosaur, I decided to try the already installed Windows 8, and I found...

Windows 8 sucks

I have never said this about any version of Windows. I was a fan of Windows Vista, even when everyone hated it. But Windows 8, I have to say, is the biggest pile of dog shit ever to come out of Microsoft. I'm aware that Steve Ballmer was fired, and I can only hope that this crappy new Windows is part of what he was fired for.

First of all, the OS doesn't boot at least half of the time. This might be a problem with hardware - in which case, see above how the MSI GT70 sucks. But seeing as it works well after booting, it's probably because of Windows.

Second, Windows 8 is fugly. Its flat, minimalistic design is a step 20 years into the past. The logo is ugly, the new Start screen is ugly, the window frames are ugly. Everything is ugly. And it's non-functional: with the new flat borders, it's much harder to tell where the boundary of a window is, compared to Aero on Windows 7. I truly miss Aero. That was a beauty.

Third, mobile apps on desktop computers truly and utterly suck. Windows 8 takes the style of your mobile phone, which works on your mobile phone, and puts it on your desktop, where it doesn't work, and doesn't belong. Programs that are designed to function as apps function non-intuitively. And the apps are forced down your throat. When you double-click to view an image, it opens in an awkward, full-screen, app-style viewer, instead of a normal Windows application. Click on a PDF, and it opens in a clunky Reader app.

Fourth, Microsoft seems to have abandoned the philosophy of improving on what already is, and seems to have set on a course of removing features. Aero is one example - gone and replaced by the ugly flat interface. The transactional filesystem is another - not yet gone, but deprecated and scheduled for removal.

Fifth, it is buggy. For one thing, the textual console subsystem was redesigned; as a result, major bugs were introduced that we've had to work around in our software.

Microsoft might feel threatened by Apple, and seems to think it needs to go in the Apple direction in order to retain market share. This is not the case. There's a reason Windows users stick to Windows, and it's that Windows is not like Apple. By making it similar, Microsoft is alienating users who were previously committed to Windows, and removing reasons that discouraged them from using an alternative.


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