Introduction and Features
Courtesy of MSI
Micro-Star International, better known as MSI, has been busy little bees in 2011 to fend off fierce competition from ASUS, Gigabyte and other motherboard vendors. This year's launch of the Z68 chipset from Intel combined the capabilities and features from the H67 and P67 chipsets, and MSI capitalized on this when they joined forces with LucidLogix to include their Virtu technology in their latest Z68A-GD80 motherboard. Lucid's Virtu tech provides users with switchable graphics, which allows users to enjoy both graphics power of integrated GPU and discrete GPU.
Courtesy of MSI
MSI also used the Z68A-GD80 as their first motherboard to support PCI Express 3.0, which boosts 32GB/s of transfer bandwidth and makes this mobo a bit more future proof for users looking for their next hardware upgrade. MSI also upgraded their BIOS system to ClickBIOS II, which provides a consistent user interface both in the UEFI BIOS and in Windows. Users can control their system settings directly from Windows and the GUI also supports touchscreen controls.
Introduction and Design
When the Apple MacBook Air originally debuted, geeks took note, and Windows laptop manufacturers ramped up efforts to meet that super-thin laptop on its own turf. Surprisingly, one of the first to respond was MSI, a company that is still struggling to define itself among a mainstream American market dominated by the likes of HP, Toshiba, Dell, and others.
MSI managed to significantly undercut the Air with its X340, but the build quality was also nowhere near what Cupertino’s engineers had managed. Yet MSI is not one to give up, and they’ve made moves to refine the X series over the years. As the price has dropped further, and the processor selection changed, comparisons to the Air have become less obvious.
That’s particularly true with this latest MSI X370, which now makes use of the AMD E-350 Fusion APU. This processor is nothing new, and we’ve tested it before at PC Perspective. Yet this laptop is different from any previously we’ve reviewed product with this processor because of its size.
Subject: Motherboards | September 26, 2011 - 04:56 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: z68, msi, Z68A-GD65-G3, sandy bridge, lga1155
When [H]ard|OCP reviewed the MSI Z68A-UD3H B3, they took some time examining MSI's version of UEFI called Click BIOS; it did not come out well, they panned it as horrible. MSI listened to their suggestions as well as comments from other sites and users and developed the Click BIOS 2, which is first hitting the market in the Z68A-GD65-G3. That BIOS, barring a few small issues, came out much better and seemed more in line with the other main release of the UEFI from ASUS. Apart from that feature, the board also a pair of PCIe 16x slots (which happen to be Version 3.0) as well as three PCIe 1x slots. Externally it sports HDMI and DVI out, as well optical and analog SP/DIF ports, two USB 3.0 ports as well as four USB 2.0 ports; internally four SATA 6GB/s and four SATA II ports will keep storage fanatics happy. The bundled control software received poor marks but for manual overclockers [H] leaves you with this comment ... "the only motherboard we have ever tested that allowed us to stably overclock our 2500K CPUs to 5GHz"
"In the motherboard business, it’s about differentiating the product. Once in awhile a motherboard manufacturer like MSI does just that before "the other guy." And that’s where the Z68A-GD65-G3 comes in bringing PCI-Express Generation 3 support and a new UEFI interface to the table."
Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:
- Gigabyte GA-Z68A-D3H-B3 @ hardCOREware
- MSI Z68A-GD80 (G3) @ Bjorn3D
- ASRock Z68 Extreme4 Gen3 Motherboard Review @ Madshrimps
- MSI Z68A-GD80 Motherboard Review @ Neoseeker
- ASRock Z68M-ITX HT @ Tweaktown
- GIGABYTE G1.Sniper 2 @ Bjorn3D
- MSI Z68A-GD65(G3) Motherboard Review @Hi Tech Legion
- Zotac Z68-ITX WiFi @ Funky Kit
- Zotac Z68ITX-A-E Wifi @ AnandTech
- GIGABYTE Z68XP-UD3-iSSD @ Tweaktown
- Three LGA1155 Mainboards from ASUSTeK on Intel Z68 Express @ X-bit Labs
- Z68 Motherboard Roundup @ OCC
- ASUS P8H67-M EVO Motherboard @ Hardware Secrets
- Intel DH67GD Motherboard Review @ HardwareLOOK
- BIOS Option Of The Week - On-Chip Frame Buffer Size @ TechARP
- BIOS Option Of The Week - PIRQ x Use IRQ No@ TechARP
- ASRock A75 Extreme 6 @ kitguru
- AMD Lynx Platform (Llano A6-3650 CPU, ECS A75F-A Motherboard) Review @ Madshrimps
- ASRock 890FX Deluxe5 AMD Motherboard Review @ ThinkComputers
- Zotac A75-ITX WiFi vs ASUS F1A75-I Deluxe Mini-ITX Motherboards Review @ HardwareHeaven
- ECS A75F-A AMD FM1 @ techPowerUp
Subject: Motherboards, Processors | September 14, 2011 - 10:59 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: x79, sandy bridge-e, msi, idf 2011, idf
Many of Intel's partners are on hand at IDF to showcase upcoming products and I was able to stop by the MSI booth yesterday to get a peek into the future of the X79 chipset. This chipset will launch with the upcoming Sandy Bridge-E processors (for enthusiast) sometime later this year and introduce a new processor socket (Socket 2011) as well as some new features like dozens of PCI Express connections and quad-channel memory.
The flagship board on display was the X79A-GD65 (8D) that is one of the few X79 boards I have seen sporting 8 DIMM slots (hence the name) and capacities as high as 64GB! Most of the MSI features we have come to love on current motherboards are going to be on this line as well including Military Class components, OC Genie II and the much updated and improved ClickBIOS II.
The board is completely 3-Way SLI ready (and CrossFire as well) and sports three total PCI Express 3.0 slots at x16 bandwidth but also adds in three more PCIe 2.0 slots for good measure.
There are 4x USB 3.0 ports, 12x USB 2.0 ports, 4x SATA 6G ports and 4x SATA 3G ports. Needless to say the X79 platforms are going to be an enthusiast's dream.
MSI is also likely to include a new breakout box with X79 motherboards that will reside in a 5.25-in bay slot on your case (and honestly I need more things to use up there these days) and give you a couple of USB ports, an OC Genie button that will double as a BIOS reset button when held down, and even integrated WiFi and Bluetooth. The above photo is just a mock up but the plans are in place to deliver them with these new boards.
Finally, MSI did have the much improved and updated ClickBIOS II UEFI on display and without a doubt it kicks the first version's ass. We are working on a review that includes this new implementation so expect more on that soon.
Subject: Mobile | August 25, 2011 - 12:45 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: msi, x-slim x460, ultraportable, 14
The 14" MSI X-Slim X460 Ultraportable laptop hides a little more power than the Ultraportable portion of its name implies. The 2GHz Core i7-2630QM adds some serious processing power and also provides the graphics, making the machine good for video but not so good for gaming. While TechSpot is unsure if the model they reviewed may be different from retail models, they saw 4GB of DDR-1333 and the storage was handled by a 500GB 7200RPM Western Digital Scorpio Black in their review sample. Battery eater showed a range of battery life, from 63 minutes when fully stressed by gaming to 5hr 41min under the reader benchmark. If you are looking for a laptop in the range of $1100 that is worth what you pay for, this laptop bears further investigation.
"MSI recently expanded its ultraportable offerings with the addition of two last generation X-Slim notebooks. Although they're designed to be lightweight and compact, the X460 notebooks also strive to be powerful, courtesy of Intel's Sandy Bridge processors. The flagship model comes with Intel's Core i7-2630QM, packing the quad-core chip while boasting an 8-hour battery life.
There's also the X460DX, which can come configured with Core i3 or i5 processors and the Nvidia GeForce GT 540M GPU. Both the X460 and X460DX share the same dimensions using a 14" LED backlit screen. While ultraportable laptops generally carry a 12 to 13" display, MSI says the X460 strikes a fine balance between mobility and performance.
With enough power to put the average desktop PC to shame, the MSI X460 flagship model costs roughly $1,100. Even so, that price tag makes the X460 one of the cheapest second-gen Core i7 notebooks money can buy."
Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:
- ASUS G74SX-A1 Gaming Notebook Review @ Hardware Canucks
- Tweaks To Extend The Battery Life Of Intel Linux Notebooks @ Phoronix
- Dell Vostro V131 Review @ TechReviewSource
- HP Elitebook 2560p Review @ TechReviewSource
- HP EliteBook 8760w: Color, So Dreamy @ AnandTech
- MYTHLOGIC Pollux 1400: Clevo's W150HR Tested @ AnandTech
- How to speed up an aging MacBook with a solid state drive @ Ars Technica
- Cooler Master Notepal U Stand Review @ Neoseeker
- Cooler Master Notepal U Stand Review @ OCC
- Logisys iStand S3 Tablet Stand Review @ TechwareLabs
- Cooler Master NotePal U-Stand Aluminum Laptop Cooling Stand Review @ Hi Tech Legion
- Cooler Master Notepal U Stand Review - A Laptop Cooler Living Up To Its Name @ The SSD Review
- Cooler Master NotePal U Stand Review @ ThinkComputers
- Cooler Master NotePal U-Stand Laptop Cooler @ Pro-Clockers
- BlackBerry Torch 9860 Review @ t-break
- HP TouchSmart 610 Review @ t-break
- iPhone 4 App of the Week: Phoenix HD @ t-break
Subject: Graphics Cards | August 23, 2011 - 03:33 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: nvidia, gtx550 ti, msi, sli, N550GTX-Ti Cyclone II
If you put a limit of $300 on your graphics subsystem, you are most likely shopping for an HD6950 or possibly a heavily overclocked GTX 560 Ti or a discounted GTX570. [H]ard|OCP tested out a different choice, two of MSI's N550GTX-Ti Cyclone II card in SLI, which can also be had for under $300. The testing did not go so well for NVIDIA's less powerful card, the HD6950 won in almost every test and consumed less energy doing so. There were certain situations in which they would recommend running the cards in SLI, specifically when you already own a GTX 550 or other lower powered NVIDIA card and don't plan on playing at resolutions above 1920x1200. Only then would this upgrade make sense.
"Packing a GeForce GTX 550 Ti GPU each, we have a pair of N550GTX-Ti Cyclone II video cards that we are going to evaluate against a Radeon HD 6950, GeForce GTX 570 and even an overclocked GeForce GTX 560 Ti. At a total cost of only $260 we will find out if this dual-GTX 550 Ti action has what it takes to compete. "
Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:
- Four Graphics Cards: Inno3D iChill GTX 560 Ti, Leadtek WinFast GTX 560 OC and XFX Radeon HD 6970/HD 6950 Standard Edition @ X-bit Labs
- Zotac GTX 560 Multiview Video Card @ TechwareLabs
- ASUS MARS II 3GB Dual GTX 580 Video Card Overclocked @ Tweaktown
- ASUS Mars II 3 GB Dual GTX 580 @ techPowerUp
- ASUS ROG MARS II 3GB Video Card Preview @ Legit Reviews
- ASUS MARS II 3GB Dual GTX 580 @ Tweaktown
- ASUS ROG Mars II 3GB - A Mini Review @ VR-Zone.
- ASUS ENGTX580 DirectCU II Review @ OCC
- ZEROtherm CoolMaxx 4000 VGA Cooler @ X-bit Labs
- Desktop Graphics Card Comparison Guide @ TechARP
- Catalyst 11.8 Windows 7 Driver Analysis @ Tweaktown
- AC Accelero TwinTurbo Pro on HD6950 @ Hardwareoverclock
Today MSI introduced three new 14" 1366 x 768 notebooks, the X460DX-008US, X460DX-006US and the X460-004US. All but the X460DX-008US sport 6GB of DDR3, with the aforementioned limited to 4GB, the two DX models have a 500GB drive for storage while the non-DX has 750GB. All three have THX TruStudio Pro Technology for sound, USB 3.0 ports, HDMI out, 802.11 b/g/n Wireless LAN and extended battery life that MSI claims will provide all-day computing. Check out the rest of the specs, including processor below, and click over to MSI if you are interested in purchasing one.
Subject: General Tech | August 11, 2011 - 02:27 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: podcast, pcper, nvidia, msi, Intel, GTX580, amd
PC Perspective Podcast #165 - 8/11/2011
This week we talk about QuakeCon 2011, MSI's GTX580 Lightning, Intel 710 SSDs, Ultrabooks and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
- iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
- RSS - Subscribe through your regular
- MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file
Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath and Allyn Malventano
This Podcast is brought to you by
- 0:00:27 Introduction
- 1-888-38-PCPER or firstname.lastname@example.org
- http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
- 0:02:02 Quakecon 2011 and our Workshop - Postmortem
- 0:18:05 This Podcast is brought to you by
, and their all new Sandy Bridge Motherboards!
- 0:18:54 MSI N580GTX Lightning Xtreme Edition Review: What a GTX 580 Should Be
- 0:30:18 Antec High Current Gamer HCG-750 PSU Review
- 0:31:30 Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Review - The Best Android Tablet?
- 0:32:16 Just Delivered Exclusive: PNY XLR8 Liquid Cooled GTX 580 Combo
- 0:36:40 Let us do some math, shall we? The cost of consoles
- 0:41:46 Intel 710 SSD Prices Leaked
- 0:47:40 ExpressCard trying to pull a (not so) fast one?
- 0:55:30 NVIDIA Outlines Multi-GPU and Cloud Graphics With Project Maximus and Virtual Graphics Technologies
- 1:06:50 Will Intel's Ultrabook form factor come with an integral Achilles Heel?
- 1:09:15 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
- 1-888-38-PCPER or email@example.com
- http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
- 1:23:50 Closing
A Thing of Beauty
Tired of hearing about MSI’s latest video cards? Me neither! It seems we have been on a roll lately with the latest and greatest from MSI, but happily that will soon change. In the meantime, we do have another MSI card to go over. This one is probably the most interesting of the group so far. It also is very, very expensive for a single GPU product. This card is obviously not for everyone, but there is a market for such high end parts still.
The N580GTX Lightning Xtreme Edition is the latest entry to the high end, single GPU market. This is an area that MSI has been really leading the way in terms of features and performance. Their Lightning series, since the NVIDIA GTX 2x0 days, has been redefining that particular market with unique designs that offer tangible benefits over reference based cards. MSI initially released the N580GTX Lightning to high accolades, but with this card they have added a few significant features.
Continuing reading our review of the MSI N580GTX Lightning Xtreme Edition!!
Subject: Editorial, Motherboards | July 29, 2011 - 02:03 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: z68, pcie 3.0, msi
Just Delivered is a section of PC Perspective where we share some of the goodies that pass through our labs that may or may not see a review, but are pretty cool none the less.
As we gear up for the PC Perspective Hardware Workshop at Quakecon 2011 next weekend, August 6th, we are starting to get in some very interesting products. The coolest part? All of this is going to be GIVEN AWAY to attendees!!
MSI is supplying us with a pair of new motherboards for our system build contest that will be held during the workshop - faster person to get a system up and running will get some killer prizes. Even better, these are some of the FIRST Z68A-GD65 G3 boards in the US - the very same ones we saw at Computex in June sporting the world's first PCIe 3.0 implementation.
Sporting an LGA1155 socket and the new Z68 chipset, you get all the features associated with it including SSD caching and integrated graphics support.
The classic features from MSI continue to exist here with the Military Class II components as well as the always well-received OC Genie button.
It sports a total of 4 USB 3.0 ports, HDMI, DVI and VGA outputs and a lot more.
One thing to note: this motherboard will ONLY support PCIE 3.0 speeds once the Ivy Bridge processors are released later this year so unless you have some unreleased hardware (and please do share!) then you aren't going to be seeing the advantages of this tech quite yet.
Still, future proofing is good news!!
Thanks to MSI for these boards and if you are coming to our workshop be prepared for your chance to win one before the rest of the worlds gets their hands on them!