With the GPU landscape mostly settled for 2014, we have the ability to really dig in and evaluate the retail models that continue to pop up from NVIDIA and AMD board partners. One of our favorite series of graphics cards over the years comes from MSI in the form of the Lightning brand. These cards tend to take the engineering levels to a point other designers simply won't do - and we love it! Obviously the target of this capability is additional overclocking headroom and stability, but what if the GPU target has issues scaling already?
That is more or less the premise of the Radeon R9 290X Lightning from MSI. AMD's Radeon R9 290X Hawaii GPU is definitely a hot and power hungry part and that caused quite a few issues at the initial release. Since then though, both AMD and its add-in card partners have worked to improve the coolers installed on these cards to improve performance reliability and decrease the LOUD NOISES produced by the stock, reference cooler.
Let's dive into the latest to hit our test bench, the MSI Radeon R9 290X Lightning.
The MSI Radeon R9 290X Lightning
MSI continues to utilize the yellow and black color scheme that many of the company's high end parts integrate and I love the combination. I know that both NVIDIA and AMD disapprove of the distinct lack of "green" and "red" in the cooler and box designs, but good on MSI for sticking to its own thing.
The box for the Lightning card is equal to the prominence of the card itself and you even get a nifty drawer for all of the included accessories.
We originally spotted the MSI R9 290X Lightning at CES in January and the design remains the same. The cooler is quite large (and damn heavy) and is cooled by a set of three fans. The yellow fan in the center is smaller and spins a bit faster, creating more noise than I would prefer. All fan speeds can be adjusted with MSI's included fan control software.
Subject: General Tech | May 22, 2014 - 10:42 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: Z97 Gaming 7, z97, xiaomi, video, tegra k1, tegra, SATA Express, podcast, msi, Intel, in win 901, Broadwell, asmedia, amd, 16nm
PC Perspective Podcast #301 - 05/22/2014
Join us this week as we discuss the IN WIN 901 Chassis, MSI Z97 Gaming 7 Motherboard, R9 Price Drops and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom, and Allyn Maleventano
Week in Review:
News items of interest:
Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
Introduction and Technical Specifications
Courtesy of MSI
MSI's Z97 Gaming 7 motherboard offers a bevy of updated features and aesthetics to usher in the Intel Z97 chipset-based product line. The intial update you'll notice are the design of the CPU VRM and chipset heat sinks. The VRM heat sinks have a unique banded design, reminiscent of a dragon's claws. This was done purposefully to cement the Gaming series moniker to the board in the user's mind. The chipset heat sink contains a glowing MSI corporate logo with the Dragon Gaming series shield logo centered above it. The black and red board color scheme is done tastefully with the red coloration used to accent and highlight the heat sinks. With an MRSP of $189, the Z97 Gaming 7 board is competitively priced to take the market by storm.
Courtesy of MSI
Courtesy of MSI
MSI designed the Z97 Gaming 7 board with a 12-phase digital power delivery system combining Hi-C and Dark capacitors with super ferrite chokes for optimal power delivery with enhanced power efficiency characteristics. The board includes the following integrated components: eight SATA 3 ports; one M.2 10 Gb/s ports; a Qualcomm® Atheros Killer E2205 NIC; three PCI-Express x16 slots; four PCI-Express x1 slots; a 2-digit diagnostic LED display; on-board power, reset, CMOS clear, and OC-Genie buttons; Slow Mode boot, Multi-BIOS, and Audio Power switches; left and right channel audio gain control switches; Realtek audio solution with isolated audio PCB and Nichicon audio capacitors; dedicated per-channel headphone OP-AMPs; integrated V-Check voltage measurement points; and USB 2.0 and 3.0 port support.
Courtesy of MSI
Subject: General Tech, Systems | May 17, 2014 - 01:06 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: msi, all-in-one, AIO, gtx 880m
The MSI AG270 is an All-in-One (AIO) PC built in a 27-inch, 1920x1080, multi-touch display. The series is split into two models, the AG270 2PC and the higher-end AG270 2PE. Both are billed as gaming devices and, with a GeForce GTX 870M (2PC) or a GeForce GTX 880M (2PE), they fit the bill. The 880M, for instance, is basically a desktop GeForce 680 with 8GB of frame buffer (!!) and a slight underclock.
Two processor options are available, the i7-4860HQ and the i7-4700HQ. MSI does not state whether one (or both) models has a choice, or if the higher-end processor (4860HQ) is always in the higher-end PC (AG270 2PE) and the lower-end processor (4700HQ) is always in the lower-end PC (AG270 2PC). Users will get 2TB of storage and "up to" 3 mSATA SSDs. Yamaha will provide the two 5W speakers. BigFoot (owned by Qualcomm) provides the Ethernet and Wireless N through their Killer DoubleShot network adapter. It also has a DVD and BluRay reader/writer built-in.
MSI does not discuss pricing and availability, directly, and instead point to their retail partners.
Subject: Motherboards | May 14, 2014 - 11:05 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: msi, Intel Z97, MPower MAX AC
While it is too early to say with any authority it does seem that the Z97 release has the market as saturated as a dipsomaniac's liver. All the major players have released more models simultaneously at launch than is usually seen, eschewing the staggered release model we have seen in the past. This is great for the enthusiast capable of making up their mind based on features and the price point but could prove very confusing for those who are relatively new to the game of silicon. Start this long list of motherboard reviews at [H]ard|OCP with the new ~$260 MSI Z97 MPower MAX AC designed for the overclocker which even ships with an MSI Overclocking Guide Book.
"Today we take a look at MSI’s latest entry into its "OC" series motherboards. The MSI Z97 MPower MAX AC is specifically designed with the computer hardware overclocking enthusiast in mind. This new Z97 Intel Express Chipset MSI motherboard sports a solid feature set with a host of overclocking tools that allow many avenues of attack."
Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:
- This is Intel's 9 Series chipset @ The Tech Report
- ASUS Z97-A Motherboard Review @ Modders-Inc
- Asus' Z97-A motherboard @ The Tech Report
- ASUS Z97-A LGA1150 Motherboard Review @ Hardware Canucks
- ASUS Z97-A @ eTeknix
- Asus Sabertooth Z97 Mark 1 @ Kitguru
- ASUS Sabertooth Z97 Mark 1 @ Benchmark Reviews
- ASUS Z97-Pro Wi-Fi AC Intel Z97 Motherboard Review @ Legit Reviews
- ASUS Z97-DELUXE @ Benchmark Reviews
- A Look at ASUS’ Upcoming Z97 Motherboard Lineup @ Techgage
- ASUS MAXIMUS VI IMPACT (Intel LGA1150) @ techPowerUp
- ASUS 9-Series LGA1150 Motherboards Preview @ Hardware Canucks
- MSI Z97 Gaming 7 LGA 1150 Motherboard @ Custom PC Review
- MSI Z97 Gaming 7 @ eTeknix
- MSI Z97 MPower MAX AC Motherboard Review @ Modders-Inc
- MSI Z97 Gaming 5 @ Kitguru
- MSI Z97 GAMING 5 (Intel LGA 1150) @ techPowerUp
- GIGABYTE Z97X-Gaming G1 Black Edition Review @ Hardware Canucks
- GIGABYTE Z97X-SOC Force Motherboard Review @ Legit Reviews
- Gigabyte Z97X-UD5H-BK @ Kitguru
- GIGABYTE G1.Sniper 5 LGA 1150 @ [H]ard|OCP
- ASRock Z97 Extreme6 @ The SSD Review
- Gigabyte F2A88XN-WIFI review @ Bjorn3d
Subject: General Tech | May 6, 2014 - 07:39 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: msi, GS60 Ghost Pro 3K, GS70 Stealth Pro, gtx 870m, ultrabook
City of Industry, Calif. – May 6, 2014 – MSI Computer Corp, a leading manufacturer of computer hardware products and solutions, announces the immediate availability of the GS60 Ghost Pro 3K and the GS70 Stealth Pro gaming notebooks. Designed for the mobile gamer who demands a sexy and sleek design with performance capable of shredding any game settings, MSI’s newest gaming notebooks feature NVIDIA GeForce GTX 870M graphics, 4th Generation Intel Core i7 processor, Killer Gaming Networking and Super RAID Technology.
MSI’s Super RAID technology provides superior data processing and accessing speed by supporting multiple SSDs and increasing data read/write speeds. MSI’s GS70 Stealth Pro, equipped with the latest Super RAID 2 technology, combines the power of three mSATA SSDs, kicking up read speeds to over 1,500MB/s or three times faster than high performance single SSD notebooks and more than 15 times faster than conventional laptops with standard SATA hard drives.
Both the GS70 Stealth Pro and GS60 Ghost Pro 3K come equipped with NVIDIA GeForce GTX 870M graphics, the latest generation of graphic processors designed to deliver true PC gaming experience on the go. The GS60 Ghost Pro 3K is MSI’s lightest 15” notebook and the first 3K display notebook to utilize Mg-Li alloy, an ultra-light and sturdy material and delivers high performance gaming without the weight. The newly equipped 3K display fully embraces NVIDIA graphic capabilities and immerses gamers in an all new definition of HD gaming at resolutions of 2880x1620, for sharper and more stunning images.
“The GS70 Stealth Pro and GS60 Ghost Pro 3K are the epitome of portable gaming notebooks,” says Andy Tung, President of MSI Pan America. “We’ve packed smoking speeds, deadly graphics and amazing customization power into featherlike notebooks that will withstand any challenges during the heat of battle.”
MSI’s newest GS gaming notebooks feature an intelligently designed dual-fan cooling system that efficiently lowers system temperature even under the most strenuous gaming sessions. Dual cooling fans draw in air from vents at the top of the notebooks, circulates it through the motherboard and processor, and dissipates it via dual vents at a 45 degree angle that avoids the gamer’s hands when using a mouse. This proprietary cooling system ensures maximum airflow when compared to systems with air intakes on the bottom of the notebooks and creates a better and more enjoyable gaming experience.
MSI’s GS70 Stealth Pro and GS60 Ghost Pro 3K are available starting at $1,999.99.
Subject: Mobile | April 28, 2014 - 08:52 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: msi, gs70, stealth
Back during CES we saw several teasers showing off the MSI GS70 STEALTH gaming laptop and now we finally have a review thanks to Hardware Secrets. The insane specs of this machine mean that the power cord is rated at 120W although at a hair under 6lbs it is surprisingly light. If you can afford the price tag this is a serious contender for the most powerful gaming laptop currently available, barring some that have opted for SLI graphics.
"The MSI GS70 STEALTH is a gaming laptop computer with a fourth-generation Core i7-4700HQ processor, 16 GiB of RAM, 17" Full HD screen, two SSD units in RAID 0, a GeForce GTX 765M video card, high-end Gigabit Ethernet and Wi-Fi controllers, and much more. Let's analyze this powerful machine."
Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:
- Dell XPS 12 2-in-1 Ultrabook @ Kitguru
- Dell XPS 15 @ The Inquirer
- MSI GE60 2PE Apache Pro 15.6in gaming notebook @ Kitguru
- Acer Chromebook C720 SSD Upgrade To MyDigitalSSD M.2 (NGFF) 128GB SSD – Worlds Easiest Upgrade @ The SSD Review
- Enermax TwisterOdio 16 CP-008 Notebook Cooling Pad Review @HiTech Legion
- Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet @ The Inquirer
- Gigabyte Tegra Note 7 @ Legion Hardware
- S5 vs Nexus 5: Touchwiz vs vanilla Android 4.4 Kitkat @ The Inquirer
- HTC One M8 Smartphone Performance Review @ Legit Reviews
- HTC One M8 @ The Inquirer
Subject: Graphics Cards | April 7, 2014 - 11:14 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: msi, R9 290X GAMING 4G, amd, hawaii, R9 290X, Twin Frozr IV, factory overclocked
The familiar Twin Frozr IV cooler has been added to the R9 290X GPU on MSI's latest AMD graphics card. The R9 290X GAMING 4G sports 4GB of GDDR5 running at an even 5GHz and a GPU that has three separate top speeds depending on the profile you choose; 1040 MHz with OC Mode, 1030 MHz for Gaming Mode and 1000 MHz in Silent Mode. [H]ard|OCP also tried manually overclocking and ended up with a peak of 1130MHz GPU and 5.4GHz for the GDDR5, not a bad bump over the factory overclock. Check out the performance of the various speeds in their full review.
"On our test bench today is MSI's newest high-end GAMING series graphics cards in the form of the MSI Radeon R9 290X GAMING 4G video card. We will strap it to our test bench and compare it to the MSI GeForce GTX 780 Ti GAMING 3G card out-of-box and overclocked to determine which card provides the best gameplay experience."
Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:
- HIS Radeon R7 250 iCooler Boost Clock 1GB GDDR5 @ eTeknix
- AMD XFX Radeon R7 250 Core Edition Passive 1GB GDDR5 @ eTeknix
- XFX Radeon R9 290 Double Dissipation Video Card Review @ Legit Reviews
- AMD XFX Radeon R7 240 Core Edition Passive 2GB @ eTeknix
- Sapphire Radeon R7-240 Dual HDMI Review @ Bjorn3d
- AMD Radeon: Windows 8.1 Catalyst vs. Linux Gallium3D vs. Linux Catalyst @ Phoronix
- AMD R9 290X CrossFire Vs Nvidia GTX 780 Ti SLI @ eTeknix
- PowerColor PCS+ AXR9 290X 4GB Video Card Review @ Legit Reviews
- Sapphire Radeon R9 270 2GB Dual-X Edition Video Card Review @HiTech Legion
- Sapphire R9 290X Tri-X Edition Review @ TechwareLab
- NVIDIA's GeForce Driver On Ubuntu 14.04 Runs The Same As Windows 8.1 @ Phoronix
- NVIDIA GeForce 700 Series: Stick To The Binary Linux Drivers @ Phoronix
- ASUS Poseidon GTX 780 Video Card Review @ Legit Reviews
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti Video Card Roundup @ Legit Reviews
- Gigabyte GTX780 Ti Windforce OC @ Kitguru
- MSI R9 270X HAWK & MSI GTX 760 HAWK @ Nitroware
- ASUS ROG POSEIDON GTX 780 @ [H]ard|OCP
Subject: Graphics Cards | March 18, 2014 - 07:58 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: radeon, R9 290X, msi, just delivered, amd, 290x lightning, 290x
While Ryan may be en route to the Game Developer's Conference in San Francisco right now, work must go on at the PC Perspective office. As it happens my arrival at the office today was greeted by a massively exciting graphics card, the MSI Radeon R9 290X Lightning.
While we first got our hands on a prerelease version of this card at CES earlier this year, we can now put the Lightning edition through its paces.
To go along with this massive graphics card comes a massive box. Just like the GTX 780 Lightning, MSI paid extra detail to the packaging to create a more premium-feeling experience than your standard reference design card.
Comparing the 290X Lightning to the AMD reference design, it is clear how much engineering went into this card - the heatpipe and fins alone are as thick as the entire reference card. This, combined with a redesigned PCB and improved power management should ensure that you never fall victim to the GPU clock variance issues of the reference design cards, and give you one of the best overclocking experiences possible from the Hawaii GPU.
While I haven't had a chance to start benchmarking yet, I put it on the testbed and figured I would give a little preview of what you can expect from this card out of the box.
Stay tuned for more coverage of the MSI Radeon R9 290X Lightning and our full review, coming soon on PC Perspective!
Subject: Motherboards | March 14, 2014 - 07:09 PM | Morry Teitelman
Tagged: msi, gaming series, Dragon Power
Courtesy of MSI
Today, MSI unvieled their next generation Gaming Series boards to be released in the near future. The boards will ship with MSI's latest power technology, dubbed dragon power, with the following names:
- Gaming 3
- Gaming 5
- Gaming 7