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|
|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|
|Storage||128GB M.2 SATA
|128GB PCIE SSD
|128GB PCIE SSD
|256GB PCIE SSD
|256GB PCIE RAID SSD
|256GB PCIE RAID SSD
|Optical||DVD Super-multi||None||None||None||Blu-ray Burner||Blu-ray Burner|
|Display Output||HDMI 1.4
|Connectivity||USB 3.1 Type-C
USB 3.0 x 2
USB 2.0 x 1
USB 3.0 x 2
USB 3.0 x 2
|USB 3.1 x 2
USB 3.0 x 2
USB 3.0 x 6
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.
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.
MSI GS72 Stealth Pro 4K
- MSI GE Series
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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!
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!
Subject: Graphics Cards | April 4, 2016 - 09:00 AM | Sebastian Peak
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.
“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.
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
- 64GB ECC DDR4 2133 MHz (Xeon)
- 32GB DDR4 2133 MHz (Core i7)
- Storage: Super RAID 4, 256GB SSD + 1TB SATA 7200 rpm
- 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
- Xeon E3-1505M v5 model: $6899
- Core i7-6920HQ model: $6299
- Core i7-6700HQ model: $5499
No doubt we will see details of other Quadro VR Ready workstations as GTC unfolds this week.
Subject: Graphics Cards | March 18, 2016 - 01:59 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
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.
"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:
- Gigabyte GeForce GTX 980Ti Xtreme @ eTeknix
- ASUS GeForce GTX 980 Ti Matrix 6 GB @ techPowerUp
- 4 Weeks with NVIDIA TITAN X SLI at 4K Resolution @ [H]ard|OCP
- NVIDIA GeForce GT 710: Trying NVIDIA's Newest Sub-$50 GPU On Linux @ Phoronix
Subject: General Tech | March 17, 2016 - 11:07 PM | Ken Addison
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!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
- iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the Store (audio only)
- RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader (audio only)
- MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file
Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Allyn Malventano
Program length: 1:28:26
News items of interest:
Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
Jeremy: QLEDs are real!
Subject: Systems | March 16, 2016 - 03:28 PM | Sebastian Peak
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.
"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|
|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|
USB 3.0 x4
|Dimensions||7.61 x 7.01 x 10.55 inches|
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.
Exploded view of the Vortex
Subject: Motherboards | February 16, 2016 - 02:42 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
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.
"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:
Subject: Systems, Mobile | February 9, 2016 - 10:16 AM | Sebastian Peak
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.
“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.”
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.
Subject: Systems | February 6, 2016 - 11:30 PM | Scott Michaud
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.
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.
Subject: Motherboards | January 8, 2016 - 02:48 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: msi, Z170A SLI PLUS
The overall look of the is quite nice, traces are covered and the simplistic black and silver colour scheme will appeal to those of us who prefer simplicity to dancing LEDs. However [H]ard|OCP was somewhat disappointed by the vertically aligned SATA ports and the lack of Steel Armor PCI-E reinforcement on the third PCIe slot, however some sacrifices needed to be made to bring the price down to around $160. MSI did keep their 11 power phases, Military Class 4 components and energy efficient dark chokes, far more important to performance than what they did omit. Check out the full review to see the UEFI screens and overall performance of this Gold Award winning board.
"Sometimes less is more. That’s the approach MSI has taken with the MSI Z170A SLI Plus. Sure, ridiculously overpriced and feature packed motherboards are nice to drool but sometimes you want just the right tool for the job. The MSI Z170A SLI Plus is poised to be everything you need and nothing you don’t."
Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:
Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | January 6, 2016 - 09:05 AM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: vive, nahimic, msi, dragon eye, CES
Along with the hardware that MSI is teasing us with at CES comes a project worthy of note. It would seem that MSI has been working with HTC to provide out of the box support for the Vive, assuming you buy components with the power to push that many pixels at the necessary speed. There is little meat as to the specifics but any work done before the product is released which gives first adopters a helping hand is a valuable thing when it comes to sales.
For those gamers who love to livestream their gaming sessions or record them for editing and later publication should take a peek at Dragon Eye and Nahimic 2, two new software tools MSI will be releasing. Nahimic 2 is an HD Audio Recorder to ensure captured or broadcasted audio is of high quality and also includes Sound Tracker which will give you graphic indications of noise sources in games, assuming you would stoop that low. Dragon Eye is for video and its usage is also quite different from Nahamic2. It will allow you to easily use its picture-in-picture feature to watch Youtube videos and other streams in a small window while you are gaming.
At the very least it will be handy to see your team mates screen or to watch a walkthrough while playing a game, again assuming a certain moral turpitude on the part of the player.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!