Spicing up the GTX 670
The Power Edition graphics card series from MSI is a relatively new addition to its lineup. The Power Edition often mimics that of the higher-end Lightning series, but at a far lower price (and perhaps a smaller feature set). This allows MSI to split the difference between the reference class boards and the high end Lightning GPUs.
Doing this allows users a greater variety of products to choose from, and to better tailor users' purchases by their needs and financial means. Not everyone wants to pay $600 for a GTX 680 Lightning, but what if someone was able to get similar cooling, quality, and overclocking potential for a much lower price? This is what MSI has done with one of its latest Power Edition cards.
The GTX 670 Power Edition
The NVIDIA GTX 670 cards have received accolades throughout the review press. It is a great combination of performance, power consumption, heat production, and price. It certainly caused AMD a great amount of alarm, and it hurriedly cut prices on the HD 7900 series of cards in response. The GTX 670 is a slightly cut-down version of the full GTX 680, and it runs very close to the clock speed of its bigger brother. In fact, other than texture and stream unit count, the cards are nearly identical.
The HAWK Returns
The $300 to $400 range of video cards has become quite crowded as of late. If we can remember way back to March when AMD introduced their HD 7800 series of cards, and later that month we saw NVIDIA release their GTX 680 card. Even though NVIDIA held the price/performance crown, AMD continued to offer their products at what many considered to be grossly overpriced considering the competition. Part of this was justified because NVIDIA simply could not meet demand of their latest card, and they were often unavailable for purchase at MSRPs. Eventually AMD started cutting back prices, but this led to another issue. The HD 7950 was approaching the price of the HD 7870 GHz Edition. The difference in prices between these products was around $20, but the 7950 was around 20% faster than the 7870. This made the HD 7870 (and the slightly higher priced overclocked models) a very unattractive option for users.
It seems as though AMD and their partners have finally rectified this situation, and just in time. With NVIDIA finally being able to adequately provide stock for both the GTX 680 and GTX 670, the prices on the upper-midrange cards has taken a nice drop to where we feel they should be. We are now starting to see some very interesting products based on the HD 7850 and HD 7870 cards, one of which we are looking at today.
The MSI R7870 HAWK
The R7870 Hawk utilizes the AMD HD 7870 GPU. This chip has a reference speed of 1 GHz, but with the Hawk it is increased to a full 1100 MHz. The GPU has the entire 20 compute units enabled featuring 1280 stream processors. It has the 256 bit memory bus running 2GB of GDDR-5 memory at 1200 MHz, which gives a total bandwidth of 160 GB/sec. I am somewhat disappointed that MSI did not give the memory speed a boost, but at least the user can enable that for themselves through the Afterburner software.
Subject: Storage | July 14, 2012 - 07:43 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: storage, ssd, SF2000, sandforce, msi
The solid state market is heating up as spindle-based drives continue to sell at much higher prices than last year and NAND flash is getting cheaper. The latest entrant may be motherboard and laptop vendor MSI, if a recent addition to SandForce’s SSD partner list holds true.
Unfortunately, we do not have any further details so it’s hard to say what sort of drive this will be other than it will use solid state NAND flash. Being a 2000-series SandForce controller is promising for performance, however. Stay tuned for more details as they develop. I’m excited to see what MSI can bring to the SSD table, and here’s hoping that they break a cost/GB record (I can dream heh). For now though, we will have to suffice with the currently available SSD options, which you can check out on our SSD Decoder at pcper.com/ssd. What do you think about the prospect of an MSI SSD?
Subject: Cases and Cooling | June 13, 2012 - 06:26 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: msi, ravager
MSI's second case has hit the market, a mid-tower case called the Ravager which comes with a $100 price tag. On the exterior, apart from a nice paint job and window you will find two USB 2.0 and two USB 3.0 ports as well as audio ports and the HDD LED. The blue interior is quite striking, even before any parts are installed and tool-less quick mounts for the six 3.5" and three 5.25" hard drives are well appreciated though some 2.5" adapters would be a nice touch for SSD users. Techware Labs really liked this case; it is good to see MSI's quality extend into new markets.
"MSI has sent us the new Ravager mid tower case. If the black with blue claw marks on the sides doesn't get your attention, the price will at just $99 MSRP at the time of this review. The blue color scheme continues inside with most of the motherboard mounting plate, HDD trays and quick-release clips for the 5.25” drive bays. The Ravager comes with many features that can be expanded upon and upgraded easily so the consumer can not only purchase the case at a great price but is able to customize case with what he/she wants. Lets' dive into what the Ravager has to offer..."
Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:
- Cooler Master CM 690 II Advanced Black & White Edition Case Review @ Hardware Secrets
- Raidmax Seiran Red PC Tower @ Pro-Clockers
- MSI Ravager Case @ LanOC Reviews
- Corsair Obsidian 550D Case Review @ HardwareHeaven
- Lian Li PC-Q09FN Mini-ITX Computer Case Review @ Hi Tech Legion
- CM Storm Trooper gets a window @ OC3D
- InWin X-Frame Limited Edition Open Air Chassis @ Tweaktown
- Thermaltake Overseer RX-I Case Review @ Neoseeker
- Antec One Gamer Series Mid-Tower Case Review @ circuitREMIX
- Lian Li PC-C60 @ CoD
- BitFenix Spectre Pro Fan Review @ OCC
- Fans from Noctua & Corsair at Computex 2012 @ SPCR
- Gelid Solutions DarkForce @ LanOC Reviews
- Staff Project: NZXSPC @ OC3D
- Corsair 600T Watercooling & Modding Guide @ OC3D
- Thermaltake Water 2.0 Performer @ Funky Kit
- Scythe Gentle Typhoon High RPM @ OC3D
- Enermax ETS-T40-VD CPU Cooler Review @Hi Tech Legion
- Sapphire’s Vapor-X CPU cooler @ Kitguru
- Arctic Freezer i30 @ OC3D
- Noctua NH-U12P SE2 CPU Cooler Review @ Hardware Secrets
- Be Quiet! Shadow Rock TopFlow CPU Cooler @ Kitguru
- be quiet! Dark Rock 2 CPU Cooler @ Tweaktown
- XIGMATEK Dark Knight SD-1283 Night Hawk Edition CPU Cooler Review @ NikKTech
- hanteks PH-TC14CS Review @ OCC
- Thermaltake Frio Extreme CPU Cooler Review @Hi Tech Legion
- be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 2 Dual Tower CPU Cooler @ Tweaktown
- Spire TME III CPU Cooler Review @ Hi Tech Legion
- eepcool Frostwin CPU Cooler Review @ Hardware Secrets
Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | June 8, 2012 - 02:30 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: computex, computex 2012, msi, slider s20
We've seen a few hybrid tablet/notebooks, from the familiar ASUS Transformer to Acer's Iconia but MSI has one that really stands out. As you can see from the pictures that The Tech Report snapped, MSI's Slider S20 has a retractable keyboard instead of a detachable one which will likely add to the weight but could be more convenient than a keyboard dock especially as it also acts as a stand.
Antex is working on their P280 series, with a microATX version and a full sized version with an integral housing for a radiator on the top for those who want a tidy watercooling solution. If you more into CherryMX switches then it is the Rosewill pictures that will interest you as they showed off a few new models at their booth.
"For our third Computex digest, we have news about an MSI Windows 8 tablet with a slide-out keyboard, a new version of Antec's famous P280 enclosure, and upcoming Rosewill mechanical keyboard with configurable backlighting."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- BIWIN shows off SSD With New Controller, World First Interview @ TechwareLabs
- Computex 2012: AMD targets US$599-899 range for APU-based ultrathin notebooks @ DigiTimes
- Intel phone boss: 'Multi-core detrimental to Android mobes' @ The Register
- The problem with passwords @ The Inquirer
- HDD oligopoly to keep post-flood prices high till 2014 @ The Register
- Globalfoundries looking to beat UMC in 2012, eyeing top spot among foundries @ DigiTimes
- Thermaltake New Products at Computex 2012 @ TechwareLabs
- The md5crypt() author says the algorithm is no longer secure @ The Inquirer
- Apple iPad Mini Secret Pics Leaked and Revealed @ TechwareLabs
- Win an Asus GTX680 courtesy of ARIA and Kitguru!
Subject: Mobile | June 7, 2012 - 11:22 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: x460dx, video, ultraportable, tablet, slider s20, notebook, msi, laptop, computex
MSI has been extremely busy at this year’s Computex trade show by releasing tons of new hardware. The company today officially announced two new Ultra series laptops that are less than 1” thick and made to be ultraportable and stylish.
The MSI X460DX is a 14” thin and light notebook with metal alloy chassis, Intel Ivy Bridge Core i5 processor, NVIDIA GT630M graphics card, HDMI, Bluettoth, and USB 3.0 technology. It also supports the company’s Turbo Battery+ technology and a hotkey to turn off idle hardware. The computer sports a stylized trackpad, chiclet keyboard, and metal accents.
The MSI X460DX weighs in at 2kg and is less than an inch thick. No word yet on pricing or availability.
The other MSI Ultra series notebook is the Slider 20. The 11.6” device is constructed of plastic with brushed metal textures, weighs in at 1.3kg and is stated to be “less than 2 centimeters thin.” The interesting bit about the MSI Slider S20 is the touchscreen, however. The 11.6” screen (which has a resolution of 1366x768) can lay flat over the keyboard in slate mode or slide back and tilt upwards. In laptop mode, the chiclet keyboard is exposed. The computer will run Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 8 operating system. Powering the ultrabook is an Intel Chief River based Core i3 CULV processor, Intel IGP for graphics, and accelerometer. On the outside it features an Ethernet port, two USB 3.0 ports, HDMI port, audio output, and webcam.
The MSI Slider S20 is certainly an interesting form factor, and I suspect it will be sturdier than other convertible tablets that utilize a single hinge in the center to connect the display and keyboard. Engadget managed to get their hands on the device. They reported that although the Slider S20’s keyboard is a bit cramped and even a little too flexible, the screen hinge felt sturdy and the device felt rather lightweight. Beyond that, MSI isn't talking detailed specifications.
Word around the Internet is that the S20 will be sold for under $1,000 USD which is pretty good (depending on just how far under it is). I’m certainly interested in seeing what this Windows 8 tablet can do.
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | June 7, 2012 - 09:36 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: video, trinity, msi, mobile, laptops, Ivy Bridge, Intel, gaming notebook, gaming, computex, amd
MSI has been busy at this year’s Computex trade show. In addition to the company’s graphics cards and motherboard displays, MSI is showing off four new G Series gaming notebooks. Three of them are running Intel Ivy Bridge processors while the fourth machine is powered by a top-end AMD Trinity APU. Included in the new G series is the GT70, GT60, GE70, GE60, and GX60. The only AMD system is the GX60. Let’s take a look at that one first.
The GX60 has a similar exterior build as the other G Series notebooks, but has vastly different internals and does not appear to have the same audio technology as the Intel-based notebooks. The desktop replacement class (read: heavy and not so great battery life heh) laptop features an AMD A10-4600M APU, AMD A70M chipset, and AMD Radeon 7970M graphics card. Other features include MSI’s “SuperRAID” storage with up to two SSDs in RAID and a mechanical hard drive, Steelseries keyboard, and a Killer E2200 gaming network card. Another interesting feature is the system’s ability to output to up to three displays with AMD Eyefinity technology. The system was able to pull a respectable 30 frames per second on the Unigine Heave benchmark and will have an MSRP of around 1,000 British Pounds (~$1,557.70 USD). According to eTeknix, the AMD Trinity-based notebook will be available soon.
The Intel Ivy Bridge based systems get a bit more love than the AMD Trinity system with SuperRAID support, up to 32GB of RAM, MSI Audio Boost (powered by Dynaudio or THX TruStudiio Pro depending on model), gold-plated audio connectors, Turbo Drive Engine and NVIDIA discrete graphics. The Intel and AMD G series laptops all get 1080p displays and custom backlit keyboards built by SteelSeries. The AMD system may well have MSI Audio Boost, gold plated connectors, and the like but MSI did not seem to tout them on the GX60 like they did for the Intel ones. The GX60 does at least get the SteelSeries keyboard and SuperRAID tech. Anyway, onto the Intel gaming rigs.
MSI GT70 and GT60
The MSI GT 70 is the largest and fastest gaming notebook at the MSI booth with a 17” 1080p display, quad core Core i7 processor, SuperRAID storage, THX certified Dynaudio sound, Turbo Drive Engine, Killer E2200 NIC, and a NVIDIA GTX 680M mobile GPU with GDDR5 RAM. The GT70 utilizes MSI’s SuperRAID to the fullest with two SSDs and a mechanical hard drive for up to 700MB/s read speeds. The system further features a backlit keyboard from SteelSeries that has five LED pattern modes (Normal, Gaming, Wave, Breathing, and Dual Color) and various selectable colors to choose from. The GT70 was pulling about 45 frames-per-second on the Unigine Heaven benchmark and P20,000 on 3DMark Vantage. Consumers should expect it to be available for around 2,500 British Pounds (~$3,894.25 USD).
The MSI GT70 gaming notebook
The GT60 is a smaller version of the GT70 with 15.6” chassis, slightly slower Ivy Bridge Core i7 processor at 2.9GHz, and only a GTX 670M graphics card. It features the same MSI technology as its bigger brother, the GT70, but may not have the exact SuperRAID setup. Otherwise it has Dynaudio, 1080p display, the backlit SteelSeries keyboard, and lots of other goodies. No price info on this one to report, unfortunately.
MSI GE70 and GE60
The two MSI GE branded gaming laptops are the budget versions of the GT70 and GT60. They feature slower IVY Bridge processors, a downgrade in the Intel chipset to H76M, and a GPU downgrade to a NVIDIA GT650M with 2GB of GDDR5 memory. The displays are still 1080p, but they do not have Dynaudio (only THX TruStudio Pro), and the SteelSeries keyboards are not backlit. Of the two, the GE70 has a slightly faster Intel processor. They do both feature Turbo Drive Engine technology and likely SuperRAID though the setups are likely limited versus the bigger GT70’s chassis. Again, no word on how much these will cost or when they will be shipping.
All the notebooks have a nice black finish to them and the SteelSeries keyboard looks pretty nice. I’m interested in the AMD GX60 myself as I find Trinity neat. The Intel-based systems are definitely power houses though, especially the GT70 and although I don’t expect battery life to be anywhere near great these would be a good choice for gamers that demand the portability of a laptop platform.
Update: the press release does clarify that the GT70 and GE70 have 17.3” 1080p screens while the GT60 and GE60 have 15.6” 1080p screens. It also lists USB 3.0 compatibility on the Intel-based notebooks along with a built-in 720p 30fps webcam for video conferencing.
Subject: Motherboards | June 6, 2012 - 06:04 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Z77, msi, motherboard, mini-itx, Intel, htpc, computex
MSI is showing off a lot of motherboards at Computex 2012. One in particular that stuck out to me was a mini ITX motherboard that sported Ivy Bridge compatibility, four SATA ports (2 which are SATA 6Gbps), and PCI-E 3.0 compliant making it perfect for an high performance HTPC build. The motherboard in question is the MSI Z77IA-E53 and as the name suggests it is based around Intel’s Z77 chipset.
The mini-ITX form factor motherboard sports MSI’s ClickBIOS II UEFI BIOS and its OC Genie II technology as well as THX TruStudio Pro audio. Other features include an LGA 1155 socket for Ivy Bridge or Sandy Bridge (Core i7, i5, i3, Pentium or Celeron) processors, two DDR3 DIMM slots (up to 16GB of 2800MHz), and a single PCI-E 3.0 x16 slot at the very bottom of the motherboard.
On the back of the board, the Z77IA-E53 features HDMI and VGA video outputs, two USB 3.0 ports, four USB 2.0 ports, an eSATA port, Gigabit LAN, PS/2 port, optical audio outpu, three 3.5mm jacks for analog audio output, and WiFi and Bluetooth radios.
Unfortunately, there is no word yet on pricing or availability.
What does $399 buy these days?
I think it is pretty safe to say that MSI makes some pretty nice stuff when it comes to video cards. Their previous generation of the HD 6000 and GTX 500 series of cards were quite popular, and we reviewed more than a handful here. That generation of cards really seemed to stake MSI’s reputation as one of the top video card vendors in the industry in terms of quality, features, and cooling innovation. Now we are moving onto a new generation of cards from both AMD and NVIDIA, and the challenges of keeping up MSI’s reputation seem to have increased.
The competition has become much more aggressive as of late. Asus has some unique solutions, and companies such as XFX have stepped up their designs to challenge the best of the industry. MSI has found themselves to be in a much more crowded space with upgraded cooler designs, robust feature sets, and pricing that reflects the larger selection of products that fit such niches. The question here is if MSI’s design methodology for non-reference cards is up to the challenge.
Previously I was able to review the R7970 Lightning from MSI, and it was an impressive card. I had some initial teething problems with that particular model, but a BIOS flash later and some elbow grease allowed it to work as advertised. Today I am looking at the R7950 TwinFrozr3GD5/OC. This card looks to feature a reference PCB combined with a Twin Frozr III cooling solution. I was not entirely sure what to expect with this card, since the Lightning was such a challenge at first.
Subject: Motherboards | June 5, 2012 - 06:40 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: trinity, msi, htpc, fm2, computex, amd
Located at Booth L0810 in Nangang Hall 4F, MSI is showing off a tong of new hardware. One of the interesting displays is a wall of new motherboards based on AMD’s desktop Trinity APUs. Using the company’s Hybrid Digital Power design, the FM2 socket-based motherboards come in three sizes: EATX, ATX, and mini-ITX to meet various project needs.
MSI's Trinity display at Computex 2012. Source: MSI
The smallest of the bunch is the MSI A85IA-E53 motherboard, which is designed for HTPC use. Based on AMD’s A75 chipset, the mini-ITX board features an AMD FM2 socket in the middle, with two DDR3 DIMM slots (a maximum of 16GB of memory) below, a single PCI-E 2.0 x16 slot to the left, and four SATA 6Gbps ports to the right of the FM2 socket.
Rear IO on the board includes a combo PS/2 port, optical audio (TOSLink) output, VGA and HDMI video outputs, three eSATA ports, two USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, a Gigabit LAN port, and analog audio out via three 3.5mm jacks. The motherboard also features integrated WiFi and Bluetooth radios. Built with the company’s military class III components, the A85IA-E53 comes packed with the ClickBIOS II, OC Genie II, and support for HD7000 series graphics cards.
MSI has two mid-sized ATX form factor motherboards with the the MSI A55M-P33 (F2) and MSI A85MA-35. The former is intended for traditional desktop use cases while the latter is rather shallow in depth and is meant to be used in living room HTPCs.
MSI A55M-P33 (F2)
The MSI A55M-P33 (F2) is the company’s budget desktop motherboard. It supports OC Genie II and ClickBIOS II technologies as well as AMD Dual Graphics which allows the pairing of a Trinity APU integrated graphics card and discrete AMD GPU. In adition to the FM2 socket, the board features two DDR3 DIMM slots (maximum of 16GB of 1866MHz memory), four SATA 3Gbps ports, one PCI-E 2.0 x16 slot, one PCI-E 2.0 x1 slot, and one legacy PCI slot.
This motherboard is actually based on the AMD A55 chipset which explains the lack of 6Gbps ports and USB 3.0 support. The company describes the board as the “value choice” for those upgrading to a new Trinity-based system. Rear IO on the A55M-P33 (F2) includes eight USB 2.0 ports, six 3.5mm jacks for analog audio output, Gigabit Ethernet, and DVI and VGA display outputs.
The second ATX motherboard is the MSI A85MA-E35. This motherboard has been designed wider and shallower than traditional desktop ATX boards so that it can fit into slim HTPC cases (that usually have more room longways than height-wise as they need to be able to fit into AV racks and other short spaces). It is essentially the mATX A85IA-E53’s big brother as it takes the AMD A75 chipset and takes advantage of the larger PCB area to add additional functionality. The motherboard features MSI’s OC Genie II and ClickBIOS II technology and AMD’s Dual Graphics support for pairing a dedicated GPU with the Trinity APU’s graphics portion.
The board is rather spaced out as the PCB is stretched out to keep things as shallow as possible. It does feature two DDR3 DIMM slots (maximum of 16GB 1866MHz RAM), the AMD FM2 processor socket, one PCI-E 2.0 x16 slot, two PCI-E 2.0 x1 slots, and one legacy PCI slot. The only motheboard component with a heatsink attached is the southbridge, which is powering six SATA ports, at least four of which are 6Gbps (MSI only lists four 6Gbps ports in the documentation, seen above and to the right of the board [TechPowerUp indicates that all six are 6Gbps, however]). Rear IO includes four USB 3.0 ports, six analog audio out jacks, Gigabit LAN, and what is likely a PS/2 port and optical audio output.
Finally, the FM2 motherboard to rule them all (or at least the company’s AMD lineup) is the MSI A85XA-G65. The board comes packed with MSI technology including Military Class III components, OC Genie II, ClickBIOS II, Hybrid Design Power, THX TruStuio Pro, AMD Dual Graphics (APU+discrete card), AMD CrossFire, NVIDIA SLI, and AMD Eyefinity.
In other words, MSI has bolted just about everything it could to this board. They confidently labeled the motherboard as the board for enthusiasts to use to push Trinity overclocks as far as possible. The first thing I noticed about the image (seen below) of the A85XA-G65 was the massive heatsinks on the VRMs and southbridge – did I mention they were huge? In addition to the well-cooled VRMs, the motherboard features four DDR3 DIMM slots (max of 32GB 1866MHz RAM), two PCI-E 2.0 x16 slots, three PCI-E 2.0 x1 slots, and two legacy PCI slots towards the bottom of the board. To the right is the southbridge (with relatively large heatsink) powering eight SATA 6Gbps ports.
The A85XA-G65 supports DisplayPort, DVI, HDMI, and VGA video outputs. Beyond that, rear IO includes a combo PS/2 port, four USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports, Gigabit LAN, six 3.5mm jacks for multi-channel analog audio outputs, and an optical audio output. If you want to push desktop Trinity to the max, this board definitely seems like a good place to start.
MSI has definitely come out in full force with a slew of AMD Trinity motherboards. The HTPC ones, and the mini-ITX one in particular, interest me. The beastly A85XA-G65 is also pretty neat for overclocking potential. Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more Computex 2012 coverage! What do you guys want to see from the show? You can see a few more photos after the break.