MSI's Z170A SLI Plus, covering all the basics and a bit more to boot

Subject: Motherboards | May 9, 2016 - 05:51 PM |
Tagged: msi, Z170A SLI PLUS, Intel Z170

The MSI Z170A SLI Plus is a full sized ATX board with a lot of space on it, providing not only nice clean looks but also space for air to flow around components.  It is available for around $140, a decent price for the feature set it comes with. There are three x16 PCIe 3.0 slots, six SATA 6Gbps and an x4 M.2 slot which will accept U.2 with the proper adapter and a USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C port offering the full benefits of the new standard.  The Tech Report loved the simple design of the board and were more than impressed with the manual overclocking potential; check out their full review here.

00-whole_board.jpg

"MSI's Z170A SLI Plus is a mainstream board that gives builders everything they need and nothing they don't—at least on paper. We reviewed this board to see whether its real-world performance lives up to its promising spec sheet and relatively friendly price tag."

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

Podcast #396 - MSI Gaming Notebooks, Intel Layoffs, the PlayStation Neo and more!

Subject: General Tech | April 21, 2016 - 01:37 PM |
Tagged: podcast, video, msi, Intel, Playstation, ps4, neo, ps4k, phanteks, idf, Optane, XPoint, western digital, nvidia, GTX 1080

PC Perspective Podcast #396 - 04/21/2016

Join us this week as we discuss MSI Gaming Notebooks, Intel Layoffs, the PlayStation Neo and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

This episode of the PC Perspective Podcast is sponsored by Lenovo!

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Allyn Malventano

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!

Author:
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: MSI

27 notebooks can't be wrong

A month or so back, I had a friend come to me asking for advice on which gaming notebook he should purchase. He had specific needs that were tailored to a portable gaming machine: he wanted to have a single machine for home and mobile use, he wanted to be able to game while traveling and he had a pretty reasonable budget. As the "guy that runs the gaming hardware website" I was expected to have an answer...immediately. But I didn't. As it turns out, dissecting and digesting the gaming notebook field is pretty complex.

I sent a note to MSI, offering to build a video and a short story around its products if they sent me one of each of line of gaming notebooks they sold. Honestly, I didn't expect them to be able to pull it together, but just a couple of weeks later, a handful of large boxes arrived and we were staring at a set of six powerful gaming notebooks to analyze. 

  GE62 Apache Pro-014 GS40 Phantom-001 GS60 Ghost Pro-002 GS72 Stealth Pro 4K-202 GT72S Dominator Pro G-220 GT80S Titan SLI-002
MSRP $1299 $1599 $1699 $2149 $2599 $3399
Screen 15.6-in 1080p 14-in 1080p 15.6-in 1080p 17.3-in 4K 17.3-in 1080p G-Sync 18.4-in 1080p
CPU Core i7-6700HQ Core i7-6700HQ Core i7-6700HQ Core i7-6700HQ Core i7-6820HK Core i7-6820HK
GPU GTX 960M 2GB GTX 970M 3GB GTX 970M 6GB GTX 970M 3GB GTX 980M 8GB GTX 980M 8GB SLI
RAM 16GB 16GB 16GB 16GB 32GB 24GB
Storage 128GB M.2 SATA
1TB HDD
128GB PCIE SSD
1TB HDD
128GB PCIE SSD
1TB HDD
256GB PCIE SSD
1TB HDD
256GB PCIE RAID SSD
1TB HDD
256GB PCIE RAID SSD
1TB HDD
Optical DVD Super-multi None None None Blu-ray Burner Blu-ray Burner
Display Output HDMI 1.4
mini-DisplayPort 1.2
HDMI 1.4
mini-DisplayPort 1.2
HDMI 1.4
mini-DisplayPort 1.2
HDMI 1.4
mini-DisplayPort 1.2
HDMI 1.4
mini-DisplayPort 1.2
HDMI 1.4
mini-DisplayPort 1.2
Connectivity USB 3.1 Type-C
USB 3.0 x 2
USB 2.0 x 1
Super Port
USB 3.0 x 2
Thunderbolt
USB 3.0 x 2
USB 3.1 x 2
USB 3.0 x 2 
Thunderbolt
USB 3.0 x 6
Thunderbolt
USB 3.0 x 5
Dimensions 15.07-in x 10.23-in x 1.06-in 13.58-in x 9.65-in x 0.87-in 15.35-in x 10.47-in x 0.78-in 16.47-in x 11.39-in x 0.78-in 16.85-in x 11.57-in x 1.89-in 17.95-in x 13.02-in x 1.93-in
Weight 5.29 pounds 3.75 pounds 4.2 pounds 5.7 pounds 8.4 pounds 9.9 pounds

MSI sent this collection along as it appears to match closely with entire range of available options in its own gaming notebook line, without actually sending us ALL 27 OF THE AVAILABLE SKUs! Yes, twenty-seven.

03_1.jpg

MSI GS40 Phantom

In the video below, I'll walk through the discussion of each of the series of notebooks that MSI offers for gamers, what the prevailing characteristics are for each and what kind of consumer should be most interested in it. I also discuss the specifics of each of the models we received for the project as well as getting into the performance deltas between them.

02_1.jpg

MSI GS72 Stealth Pro 4K

  • MSI GE Series
    • $1099-$1499
    • The entry level of gaming notebooks, available in both 15.6 and 17.3-in 1080p screens, limited to GTX 970M or GTX 960M GPUs. You still get 16GB of memory, SSDs in MOST systems, Killer Networking hardware, Steel Series keyboards and weights range from 5.29 to 5.95 pounds.
  • MSI GS Series
    • $1499-2149
    • Varies in screen size from 14-in to 17.3-in but the focus here is on slimmer designs. Both 1080p and 4K screens are available, though you are still maxing out at a GTX 970M graphics solution. 16GB of RAM, NVMe PCIe SSDs are standard, with available models as thin as 0.78-inches and as light as 3.75 pounds.
  • MSI GT72 Series
    • $1599-3499
    • These focus on performance per dollar, getting maximum single GPU performance in the chassis. They all have 17-in screens with available G-Sync integration, and GPUs from the GTX 970M to the GTX 980 (full). 16-32GB of memory, all using SSDs, optical drives, Thunderbolt, six USB 3.0 ports but GT72 systems are bigger and heavier to compensate for all this.
  • MSI GT80 Series
    • $2799-4799
    • These are for the crazy enthusiasts only, all of which include SLI configurations or GTX 970M, 980M or 980. An 18.3-in 1080p screen is the only option for your display, but you get 16-64GB of memory, RAID enabled SSD configurations, Blu-ray burners, Thunderbolt, five USB 3.0 ports and a friggin Cherry Brown mechanical keyboard!

msiperf3.png

After going through this project, here are a few recommendations I would have for users looking to pick up an MSI gaming notebook.

  • Best Gaming Value
    • GT72 Dominator G-831 - This combines the larger form factor with a GTX 970M GPU, 17.3-in 1080p screen, 16GB of memory, 128GB SSD and priced at $1599. I think this is a good balance of cost and GPU horsepower.
  • Looking for a Slimmer Design
    • GS70 Stealth Pro-006 - For $1699 you lose the optical drive from the above GT72, but get a lighter and thinner design. You have the same technical horsepower, GTX 970M, Core i7 processor, etc., but the integrated fans will likely be noticeably louder to expel the heat from the more narrow chassis.
  • If you need more performance
    • GT72 Dominator Pro G-034 - With a jump from the $1599 GT72 above to $2099, this model gets you a GTX 980M and a 256GB SSD. Based on the performance metrics I ran, that should net you another 40-50% of GPU horsepower.

Let me know if you have any questions or comments about these machines and I'll do my best to answer them!

NVIDIA's New Quadro VR Ready Program Targets Enterprise

Subject: Graphics Cards | April 4, 2016 - 09:00 AM |
Tagged: workstation, VR, virtual reality, quadro, NVIDIA Quadro M5500, nvidia, msi, mobile workstation, enterprise

NVIDIA's VR Ready program, which is designed to inform users which GeForce GTX GPUs “deliver an optimal VR experience”, has moved to enterprise with a new program aimed at NVIDIA Quadro GPUs and related systems.

NVIDIA_VR.png

“We’re working with top OEMs such as Dell, HP and Lenovo to offer NVIDIA VR Ready professional workstations. That means models like the HP Z Workstation, Dell Precision T5810, T7810, T7910, R7910, and the Lenovo P500, P710, and P910 all come with NVIDIA-recommended configurations that meet the minimum requirements for the highest performing VR experience.

Quadro professional GPUs power NVIDIA professional VR Ready systems. These systems put our VRWorks software development kit at the fingertips of VR headset and application developers. VRWorks offers exclusive tools and technologies — including Context Priority, Multi-res Shading, Warp & Blend, Synchronization, GPU Affinity and GPU Direct — so pro developers can create great VR experiences.”

Partners include Dell, HP, and Lenovo, with new workstations featuring NVIDIA professional VR Ready certification. 

Pro VR Ready Deck.png

Desktop isn't the only space for workstations, and in this morning's announcement NVIDIA and MSI are introducing the WT72 mobile workstation; the “the first NVIDIA VR Ready professional laptop”:

"The MSI WT72 VR Ready laptop is the first to use our new Maxwell architecture-based Quadro M5500 GPU. With 2,048 CUDA cores, the Quadro M5500 is the world’s fastest mobile GPU. It’s also our first mobile GPU for NVIDIA VR Ready professional mobile workstations, optimized for VR performance with ultra-low latency."

Here are the specs for the WT72 6QN:

  • GPU: NVIDIA Quadro M5500 3D (8GB GDDR5)
  • CPU Options:
    • Xeon E3-1505M v5
    • Core i7-6920HQ
    • Core i7-6700HQ
  • Chipset: CM236
  • Memory:
    • 64GB ECC DDR4 2133 MHz (Xeon)
    • 32GB DDR4 2133 MHz (Core i7)
  • Storage: Super RAID 4, 256GB SSD + 1TB SATA 7200 rpm
  • Display:
    • 17.3” UHD 4K (Xeon, i7-6920HQ)
    • 17.3” FHD Anti-Glare IPS (i7-6700HQ)
  • LAN: Killer Gaming Network E2400
  • Optical Drive: BD Burner
  • I/O: Thunderbolt, USB 3.0 x6, SDXC card reader
  • Webcam: FHD type (1080p/30)
  • Speakers: Dynaudio Tech Speakers 3Wx2 + Subwoofer
  • Battery: 9 cell
  • Dimensions: 16.85” x 11.57” x 1.89”
  • Weight: 8.4 lbs
  • Warranty: 3-year limited
  • Pricing:  
    • Xeon E3-1505M v5 model: $6899
    • Core i7-6920HQ model: $6299
    • Core i7-6700HQ model: $5499

MSI_NB_WT72_Skylake_Photo18.jpg

No doubt we will see details of other Quadro VR Ready workstations as GTC unfolds this week.

Source: NVIDIA

Going for Gold with MSI's newest GTX 980 Ti

Subject: Graphics Cards | March 18, 2016 - 01:59 PM |
Tagged: msi, GTX 980 Ti, MSI GTX 980 Ti GOLDEN Edition, nvidia, factory overclocked

Apart from the golden fan and HDMI port MSI's 980 Ti GOLDEN Edition also comes with a moderate factory overclock, 1140MHz Base, 1228MHz Boost and 7GHz memory, with an observed frequency of 1329MHz in game.  [H]ard|OCP managed to up those to 1290MHz Base and 1378MHz Boost and 7.8GHz memory with the card hitting 1504MHz in game.  That overclock produced noticeable results in many games and pushed it close to the performance of [H]'s overclocked MSI 980 Ti LIGHTNING.  The LIGHTNING proved to be the better card in terms of performance, both graphically and thermally, however it is also more expensive than the GOLDEN and does not have quite the same aesthetics, if that is important to you.

14566999420lauEJffPR_1_8_l.jpg

"Today we evaluate the MSI GTX 980 Ti GOLDEN Edition video card. This video card features a pure copper heatsink geared towards faster heat dissipation and better temps on air than other air cooled video cards. We will compare it to the MSI GTX 980 Ti LIGHTNING, placing the two video cards head to head in an overclocking shootout. "

Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:

Graphics Cards

 

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Podcast #391 - AMD's news from GDC, the MSI Vortex, and Q&A!

Subject: General Tech | March 17, 2016 - 11:07 PM |
Tagged: podcast, video, amd, XConnect, gdc 2016, Vega, Polaris, navi, razer blade, Sulon Q, Oculus, vive, raja koduri, GTX 1080, msi, vortex, Intel, skulltrail, nuc

PC Perspective Podcast #391 - 03/17/2016

Join us this week as we discuss the AMD's news from GDC, the MSI Vortex, and Q&A!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Allyn Malventano

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!

MSI Ships Vortex: Cylindrical Gaming PC with High-End Specs

Subject: Systems | March 16, 2016 - 03:28 PM |
Tagged: Vortex Gaming Tower, vortex, sli, msi, Killer E2400, GTX 980, gtx 960, Core i7-6700K

MSI is now shipping Vortex; the tiny, cylindrical gaming tower showcased at CES 2016.

msi_vortex.jpg

"Standing at a mere 10.5” high, weighing as little as 8.8lbs, and measuring in at 6.5L, the Vortex pushes more power per inch than most mid to full size tower gaming PC’s without the having to deal with the same bulkiness or weight."

Followers of PC Perspective might recall our coverage of the powerful mini-system during January's CES, and our video is available below:

Specs and pricing hadn't been finalized when we first reported on the Vortex, and as of today we have the full story. Pricing will start at $2199, and you get a Core i7-6700K with SLI GTX 960 graphics cards at that price. Upgrade options include SLI GTX 980 GPUs, 32GB of RAM, and "Super RAID", which is 4x 256GB PCIe (Gen 3 x4) SSDs.

Here's a look at the specs for the two shipping versions of this new system:

  Vortex G65 SLI-002 Vortex G65 SLI-011
Processor Intel Core i7-6700K
Chipset Intel Z170
Memory 32 GB (8 GB x4)
2133 MHz DDR4
16 GB (8 GB x2)
2133 MHz DDR4
Graphics Dual GeForce GTX 980 SLI Dual GeForce GTX 960 SLI
Storage Super RAID: 4x 256 GB PCIe Gen 3 SSD
2x 128 GB SSD + 1TB SATA 7200 RPM HDD
Networking Dual Killer E2400 NIC
Connectivity Thunderbolt x2
USB 3.0 x4
Dimensions 7.61 x 7.01 x 10.55 inches
Weight 8.8 lbs
OS Windows 10
Price $3999 $2199

Obviously these are very powerful system configurations, anchored by a Z170 motherboard and Intel Core i7-6700K processor with plenty of RAM, and SLI NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960 or 980 GPUs. It will be interesting to see what (if any) overclocking headroom is available for CPU/GPU, though a 6.5L chassis is probably going to be at least somewhat thermally constrained.

vortex_exploded_view.jpg

Exploded view of the Vortex

Listings are up on Amazon, with the G65 SLI-011 at $2199, and G65 SLI-002 at $3999, though shipping times are listed at "2 - 5 weeks".

Source: MSI

MSI's mini-ITX Z170I GAMING PRO AC is versatile but perhaps not for the dedicated overclocker

Subject: Motherboards | February 16, 2016 - 02:42 PM |
Tagged: Z170i Gaming Pro AC, msi, Intel Z170, lga1151, mini ITX

At $172 the price of the MSI Z170I GAMING PRO AC may be bigger than the actual board, as it is a mini-ITX motherboard.  As with many modern mini-ITX boards, the amount of features included is nothing short of amazing, apart from the single PCIe 16x slot which all boards of this size are limited to.  It does have a pair of DDR4 slots supporting up to 32GB, four SATA 6Gbps ports, a single SEx port and M.2 slot, five USB 3.0 and a half dozen USB 3.1 ports; connectivity includes wired, WiFi and even Bluetooth.  The overall design is quite attractive though the reviewers at [H]ard|OCP were not a fan of the overclocking ability nor the positioning of the M.2 slot on the rear of the board, see if those negatives outweigh the positives in their full review.

1454298983aGnZOQ974l_1_8_l.jpg

"The Z170I GAMING PRO AC motherboard is poised to be a tiny powerhouse for SFF builds or for those of you looking to focus on "less is more." If you are looking to make the jump to an Small Form Factor build, or you want to update an existing build you won’t want to miss this feature rich Mini-ITX motherboard. "

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

MSI Releases GT72S G Tobii G-Sync Laptop with Eye-Tracking Technology

Subject: Systems, Mobile | February 9, 2016 - 10:16 AM |
Tagged: Tobii, notebook, msi, laptop, GT72S G Tobii, gaming laptop, g-sync, eye-tracking

MSI has released their GT72S G Tobii gaming notebook (first announced way back at Computex), which features NVIDIA G-Sync and eye-tracking technology that promises a more immersive gameplay experience.

01.jpg

“The world’s most advanced gaming laptop, the GT72S G Tobii with eye-tracking technology immerses gamers into a hands-free dimension by allowing them to switch targets in a game, select objects on the floor or even automatically pause a game by simply focusing or looking away.  

Available immediately, MSI’s GT72S G Tobii will be bundled with Tom Clancy’s The Division and currently supports a variety of gaming titles, including Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, Assassin’s Creed Rogue, ArmA III, Elite Dangerous and more.”

Ryan took a look at the laptop at CES, and the video is imbedded below:

So how does the eye-tracking work?

“By going through a 15-second set-up process, users can securely log into their computers using a personalized glance; highlight, select or delete items with one look; seamlessly zoom and center maps without scrolling; and even sift through Windows, folders and its applications without lifting a finger.”

02.jpg

The notebook boasts some impressive specs, including:

  • Tobii Eye Tracking Technology
  • 17.3" Full HD 1920 x 1080 IPS display
  • 6th Generation Intel Core i7 6820HK (2.70 GHz)
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M with 8 GB GDDR5
  • 32 GB Memory
  • 256 GB SSD (PCIe Gen3 x4)
  • 1 TB HDD
  • BD Burner
  • Killer Networking
  • Dimensions: 16.85" x 11.57" x 2.30"; 8.50 lbs

The GT72S G Tobii retails for $2599.99 and is now available with an exclusive launch at Newegg.com, and the laptop includes a free copy of Tom Clancy: The Division.

Source: MSI

MSI GS72 Stealth Pro Details Released

Subject: Systems | February 6, 2016 - 11:30 PM |
Tagged: msi, gs72, gaming laptop, laptop

This laptop was announced at CES, but barely. They have now released full specifications, including options, which are actually quite interesting. The 4K panel, in particular, has a color gamut that fully covers AdobeRGB (100%). This means that, if the hardware and software are properly calibrated, it is compatible with the color spaces that both video and print professionals tend to target. The latter is quite difficult, because magazine publishers actually have a large palette. Even the Wacom Cintiq 22HD only covers around 72% AdobeRGB.

msi-2016-gs72.jpg

Outside of this, the laptop has one processor choice: a Skylake-based Intel Core i7-6700HQ backed with up to 32GB of DDR4 RAM. There are three choices in GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M, 965M, and 970M. This could be disappointing for those hoping for desktop-class performance, although the 970M is pretty close to a GTX 680. It should handle games like Just Cause 3 and Rainbow Six Siege at around 50-60 FPS in 1080p mode. Basically, you are going to be dropping the 4K resolution down to about 1080p in games, but it's also a laptop and 4K in professional applications is quite nice. It also uses M.2 SSDs with PCIe 3.0 x4 bandwidth that communicates in the NVMe standard. They didn't say which one, or how large, but they claim read speeds of about 2.2GB/s.

They did not state pricing or availability. Its headlining feature is thickness -- just 1.99cm for a 17-inch display. This explains the GPU, but also suggests a premium price.

Source: MSI