MSI weren’t the only gaming brand to showcase at this year’s PAX Australia. However, that’s not to say they didn’t bring their best. Teaming with the graphics card wizards at NVIDIA, they showed off their latest GE (which we recently reviewed), GT and GF series of gaming notebooks and helped officially launch the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 Ti into the Australian market. Those who pre-ordered over the weekend were guaranteed to get their new graphics card in the first shipment to go out.
Pitched as a direct competitor to the AMD Vega 56 and a midpoint between the GTX 1070 and 1080, the GTX 1070 Ti boasts a 1607MHz base clock and 1683MHz boost clock. For more on the GTX 1070 Ti, we’d absolutely recommend reading Brad Chacos excellent write-up. ASUS, Gigabyte and MSI all have their different customizations available, with the latter even giving some away to fans during the weekend.
This direct engagement with their target market is sort-of what separates MSI from a lot of the other vendors and brands on the show floor. PAX Australia isn't just about brands showing up, it's about them successfully making use of the brief window they have to very directly interact with their target market. And if you spent any time around the NVIDIA booth during this year’s PAX Australia, you’d know that MSI weren’t just shill or selling their brand to customers - they were inviting them to be a part of it.
As well as showing off their hardware and giving away prizes (including the aforementioned 1070 Ti and a GT75VR Titan gaming notebook) via the tried-and-tested method of gaming-themed trivia, MSI also hosted a number of stage events that saw attendees get to play games like PUBG and Rocket League alongside professional streamers and influencers.
We spoke to MSI’s Marketing Manager Annie Wang about the brand during the final of PAX Australia 2017. When asked about how important events like PAX Australia are to building up MSI’s brand profile locally, particularly when it comes to the growing eSports audience.
Read more: In Pictures: PAX Australia, Day Three
Annie responded by telling us that “apart from all the big brands we also focus on the small, and the mature games.”
“We want to develop and be part of the eSport industry. We try to make it happen, and make it more mature.”
Translation: they’re interested in eSports but want to be a player in the space for games that have already earned their stripes and proved they have what it takes to hold onto a playerbase in the long term.
She cited a local professional Rocket League team competing at PAX, called Pale Horse Esports, who MSI are sponsoring. Over the weekend, Pale Horse eSports placed second in the Rocket League OCE finals. They walked away with $5000 and a spot at the upcoming RLCS Season 4 Finals in Washington DC.
We also asked her about possible future partnerships akin to the one between MSI and SteelSeries (who supply the gaming keyboards used in MSI’s latest gaming laptops), Annie says that MSI “keep in touch with all the partners really closely, but we're still reaching out to achieve more.”
“We're looking for more cowork opportunities with Microsoft, either in shop decals, or maybe in their official Microsoft shop. We're trying to see if we can put MSI laptops in there.”
If successful, this would be a major gain for MSI and see them stocked alongside HP, Dell, Lenovo, Alienware, ASUS and Razer laptops.
Alongside the 1070 Ti and their eSports endeavors, the last pillar of MSI’s presence at PAX AUS 2017 was their ultraslim GS63 Stealth Pro - which was shown off behind closed-doors to press as part of Nvidia’s Max Q Design showcase.
Annie says that while “Max Q is a big thing for media” - as it enables vendors to build slimmer, lighter and cooler gaming laptops that don’t compromise too much on performance - MSI’s broader position is that they’ll wait to see whether or not Max Q GPU setups will catch on with their wider customer base before supporting it further.
"For gaming laptops, performance is always the first concern", she says.