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Everything posted by booj

  1. Hey guys, For many years I have been privileged to play with some fine hardware, usually components most of the time, but this was the first opportunity i've had to look at a flagship gaming laptop, the GT70. This one was really fun. MSI have been making a big charge into the gaming notebook market recently, offering models to suit most budgets, from the affordable all AMD GX60 and mid range GE60 models all the way up to the GT70 which is the flagship model with a range of options including this beast, the GT70 0NE. The GT70 series acts as a true desktop replacement. While it is a notebook, most users won't associate portability with a machine of this spec. Nevertheless, it can be moved easily enough thanks to a strong 9 cell battery. The lanners will enjoy showing this one off. Not bad at all :D As a gaming laptop, perhaps the most relevant part is the Nvidia GTX 680M. The GTX680M is a 28nm GK104 Kepler GPU, the same as a desktop GTX670 with the exception of reduced clock speeds. Both pack 1344 'Cuda' cores but the mobile counterpart operates at reduced core and memory clock speeds (771/1800MHz vs about 915 to a bit over 1000Mhz for desktop 670 OC models.) It also ships with 4gb of VRAM, so you are free to crank the eye candy to the max. Sticking this class of GPU into the GT70 makes for a potent gaming notebook to say the least. :D Here is a shot of the GPU under load. Unlike the desktop Keplers, the 680M does not feature turbo boost. Also note the voltage is lower at 1.01v vs a desktop variant. It runs a bit hotter than a desktop Kepler, but that is to be expected with limited cooling capacity vs a 670. At idle, clocks and voltages drop right down and the HD4000 IGP kicks in thanks to Nvidia's Optimus power saving technology. I was quite impressed with the screen. at 17.3 inches, the dot pitch is finer than you would see on typical 24-27" LCDs. It gives the impression of greater clarity and detail. The brightness is uniform with good horizontal viewing angles. Of course, an external monitor or two can be used and easily driven thanks to the GPU grunt on hand. SteelSeries have an exclusive arrangement with MSI to provide keyboards for the G series models. Typing is as comfortable as one can expect from a notebook keyboard. Although not mechanical, the key resistance and solidity is pretty good. The GT70 ships with a piece of software to customize the colors and even patterns of the keyboard. Personally, I prefer a single, uniform color. Dynaudio provide the speakers for several models in the G Series range. Dynaudio are a Danish company responsible for some of the most exclusive speakers ever made (up to $125K!!!) The sound is decent, but most users are admittedly more likely to use headphones or connect to an external amplifier. Gamers are always concerned about lag and ping times, so if the rest of your network is up to it, the GT70 has you covered thanks to a E2200 Killer NIC. Benchmarks x264 FHD Although most folks will choose a desktop machine for 2D, CPU benchmarks, a system with the spec of the GT70 is no slouch at x264 encoding. I wanted to focus on the desktop 2600K comparison. The i7 3610QM is quite competitive against the 2600K at less than half the TDP. SSD Benchmarks This spec GT70 has a pair of Memoright 128GB SSD's in RAID 0. This allows class leading storage performance, giving faster boot times, game and application loading times, and superior I/O performance not usually seen in a notebook computer. Oh yeah.. >1000MB/s http://imageshack.us/a/img706/9751/screen004qh.jpg The GT70 is built for gaming and these benches will be the most interesting. I really need to get my hands on the latest COD or Medal of Honor. Since everyone runs these benches, they are useful for comparison purposes. 3DMark Vantage http://imageshack.us/a/img849/7467/3dmv.jpg 3DMark 11 http://img853.imageshack.us/img853/6825/3d11z.jpg Heaven 3.0 http://img4.imageshack.us/img4/7461/heavena.jpg Stalker: Call of Pripyat is getting long in the tooth, but the Sunshaft test is still a stiff test even for high end systems. http://imageshack.us/a/img198/1999/stalkercopo.jpg Crysis 2 looks really good once you add in the high res texture packs and crank the eyecandy up. The GT70 with its 680M GPU has no problem running Crysis 2 at maximum settings. http://imageshack.us/a/img526/3449/crysis2w.jpg BF3 Ahh Battlefield 3. I choose the Going Hunting level because it is very consistent and I have a stack of data from the ~100sec sequence I use. 1080P on ultra setting is no problem with an average FPS of 48.5. Although 3 games is not a large sample size, I am confident in saying that the GT70 with 680M can play any game at maximum settings. The GT70 comes with an easy windows recovery system. Pressing F3 at boot allows for an easy restoration to the shipped state, complete with all software and drivers integrated. Definitely an easy method for the less techy types. Playing with the GT70 was a whole load of fun, not the usual toy I play with. Now all I have to do is convince my Boss to let me keep it haha.. not much chance of that! Depending on the options selected, the GT70 is about as good as it gets from a portable computer. It really does provide high end desktop performance in a portable form factor. It doesn't do anything by half measure and is big, bold and brash! More info at the MSI AU website
  2. To ignore all the bullshit in this thread, I'll ask a question about this. Since this laptop has RAID0ed SSDs, where is the recovery partition? Is it on the array or on the 750GB hard drive? Because having RAID0 as your system drive is not a good idea for reliability (twice the chance of failure), it is more likely that a system recovery will have to be used at some point. If it's present on the RAID and that falls over, are you screwed? Or is it 'safe' as a partition on the HDD? The recovery partition is on the secondary HDD. You also have the option to burn it to DVDs. Cheers
  3. Wow, I didn't expect to open such a can of worms :o Actually, I am a former professional reviewer, with VRzone most recently, that is what got me my job with MSI.. it pays better than a reviewer :p I was even considered for a reviewing position with Atomic about 18 months ago, but that would have meant a relocation to Sydney. I totally understand the POV that its an ad, and in the purest sense, it is. But I am an enthusiast first and foremost. I am one of the highest ranked Australians on HWbot, even though I have not been active much in the last 12 months. I am quite well known at places like OCAU and amongst the Australian OC community. Notebooks are a a little different, they are 'as is' so it makes doing a preview/review/showcase/ad whatever you want to call it a little difficult. And this particular one is difficult to frame any other way. BTW.. MSI do pay for advertising with Atomic, although I am not sure of the current status of that. Components have the OC viewpoint or a situation like my next one.. a look at 7850 PE and 7870 Hawk with the 12.11 driver compared to older driver. This means that is is still a MSI themed thread, but of much interest to others interested in the driver improvements. Most focus has been on the 7950/7970. I honestly try to avoid the standard marketing line and present useful information. I know its a fine line to walk.. believe me I know. I just hope that you guys understand that im not giving it a rating or comparing or giving price etc.. its just another thread for the few who are interested in the GT70.. its a low volume product that is of no interest to a big chunk of people, but those who are interested should like to see actual screenshots of games at max settings,even though the sample size is small. I have no problem having a big ass rep or thread tag.. afaik, there are no font options for signatures on this forum, on OCAU it is much more prominent.
  4. Wow, serious stuff guys sheesh.. Why would you call this shenanigans? These are straight up results. Im not giving it a 10/10 rating (or any rating or goldblowme award) or saying it will invite you up for coffee or comparing it to anything else. Its a very simple showcase with a few benches and rundown of the features. Some people are genuinely interested in actual results, that you don't get in mag style reviews. Regarding the structure, I cannot post too many images in one thread, and the forum will not let me double post without merging.. Look, I can understand there's a bit of cynicism, but really, you might be surprised at what passes for an independent forum review these days. At least I am upfront with my affiliation. I am not here for some bs attempt to make you buy MSI. You are free to take it or leave it.. which is kind of obvious i would have thought.. I will take on board the interactive part. I don't have the unit on hand but when i get it back i will be happy to run a certain test or game/setting if you like.
  5. Dammit.. too many images and I cannot repeat post without it auto merging... Hey guys, In this, and other forums, there doesn't seem to be much in the way of love for AMD's Trinity FM2 platform. I think that's a shame as the platform has a lot going for it. I want to take a look at the AMD A10-5800K along with the MSI A85XA-G65. Introduction: Most folks here would know that 2012 hasn't been kind to AMD. Bulldozer based FX processors failed to meet expectations in the enthusiast segment. The updated Piledriver cores found in the recent Vishera FX processors have improved their relative performance, but they still suffer compared to Intel's offerings in most metrics except for price. The Trinity range of APUs (Accelerated Processing Units) combines this updated Piledriver core with a VLIW4 graphics architecture as was found in the 6000 series GPUs. In this case the graphics are named HD 7660D. Trinity is targeted at the entry level with a combination of excellent price and graphics performance that Intel CPUs cannot match. This is the true strength of Trinity and the FM2 platform and one that really should be more apparent to the average end user who doesn't encode 1080p blu rays all day every day. The A10-5800K is the model I have here. With its up to 4.2Ghz turbo clock, it would seem that AMD has successfully completed the transition to the 32nm node with mass production clock speeds like this. A look on staticice shows the 5800K going for about $130-$135. You can get the CPU, motherboard and have money left over for many GB of ram for the price of a 3770K, yet have greatly superior graphics performance.. An interesting, alternative way of looking at it. Of course, MSI doesn't neglect the FM2 market and have released the A85XA-G65 motherboard, which is a high end FM2 board, but still cheaper than many equivalent Intel motherboards with equivalent specs. MSI FM2-A85XA-G65 Motherboard We'll start off with the obligatory box shots. Obviously, MSI is proud of their Military Class components and this is prominently featured. The rear of the box shows most of the relevant features of the board, and throws in some extra marketing stuff for good measure :D The bundle is pretty standard, with the usual manuals, software CD, SATA cables, backplate, and front panel connector. We also have a certificate detailing the components and tests they need to pass to qualify for the Military Class III rating. Additionally, there is a set of voltage read point cables for connecting to the read points adjacent to the ATX power connector. Most of your budget FM2 boards aren't overclocking friendly to say the least, but with the A85XA-G65, MSI has included them and other OC features you wouldn't expect in boards of this class. The layout of the board itself looks pretty spot on. We have beefy heatsinks, fan headers placed around the board, good slot layout. Maybe the extreme cooling guys might be bothered by the lone capacitor near the memory slots. Overall its a nice looking board, sitting near the top of the spec sheets for socket FM2 motherboards. The rear of the board gives a good look at the PCIe slot arrangement. We have screws for all heatsinks which is good to see. The soldering is top notch. This section of the board shows the onboard power/reset and OC Genie buttons. OC Genie is a one touch auto overclocking button. We also see the voltage read points, which are becoming essential for any overclocking enthusiast. The socket area gives a peek at the PWM system the board uses. A International Rectifier controller and Renasas MOSFETs, in a 6+2 phase configuration are not what you would normally find on a budget board. Note that I have removed the standard FM2 heatsink retention brackets. One thing I love about AMD is the long socket life and ability to use older heatsinks. Any cooler compatible with FM1, AM2 or AM3(+) can be used as a FM2 cooler. Even some S939 coolers will still work. Hello Intel?..... Here we see the expansion slots. The layout is pretty much ideal for this type of board. A user could in theory run two triple slot graphics cards and still have a 1x slot to spare. That is highly unlikely though. A more likely setup might be a dual slot GPU, a RAID card, and a either a PCIe 1x or PCI sound card with slots to spare. That sort of arrangement would make for a pretty cool HTPC with or without a discrete GPU. Two way Crossfire is supported. http://imageshack.us/a/img534/7995/p1010952q.jpg The A85XA-G65 sports a 8 pin PCIe power connector. This is enough to really push the board hard on LN2. Several users have pushed well over 7Ghz CPU frequency using this board, so it is clearly capable of taking a lot of punishment. We also see the hefty heatsink and heatpipe assembly in use to keep the PWM section cool. http://imageshack.us/a/img203/1080/p1010951x.jpg The I/O panel contains no less than four video outputs. Up to three monitors can be driven at a time, but do note, due to limitations, the HDMI and Display Ports cannot be used simultaneously. http://imageshack.us/a/img580/4814/p1010948ym.jpg Intel may have the lead in CPU performance, but they cannot match even the budget AMD platform when it comes to SATA connectivity. The A85 chipset is all SATA III which is great to see. There is no reason you could not use this board as a NAS or HTPC/media server fully loaded up with drives. http://imageshack.us/a/img845/6388/p1010941e.jpg Down at the bottom of the board, we see the USB headers and CMOS clear button. http://imageshack.us/a/img41/9375/p1010939j.jpg Test Setup & Stock Benchmarks: AMD A10-5800K w/ Noctua NH-D14 CPU cooler MSI A85XA-G65 G.Skill 2x4gb 2400Mhz (Samsung IC) Antec AX1200 PSU Intel 330 Series 180GB SSD Windows 7 x64 AMD Catalyst 12.11 beta driver First up, a look a the system at idle. I really must get hold of a power consumption meter. I expect power consumption to be quite low in this sort of system without a discrete GPU sucking down the juice. http://img821.imageshack.us/img821/3571/screen000we.jpg Now, we all know that Intel CPUs will beat AMD CPUs in CPU benchmarks, so I have not bothered to run any. Despite this, in reality, as a net browser, gamer, office productivity or media playback machine.. that is, probably 90% of the PC market, the user will simply not notice any difference between the two. Add a fast SSD and Trinity will cover most people at most tasks, at a budget price. Instead, I have run graphics benchmarks. I will update these results with overclocked numbers and Intel HD4000 results shortly. 3DMark Vantage http://img405.imageshack.us/img405/9129/screen002qa.jpg Alien vs Predator http://img707.imageshack.us/img707/9919/screen003it.jpg Crysis 2 http://img17.imageshack.us/img17/408/77615551.jpg Battlefield 3 http://img502.imageshack.us/img502/1087/bf3ws.jpg In most games, at fully stock settings, 720p is more or less playable with reasonable settings depending on the game. What becomes apparent, is how memory bandwidth limited the system is. I will use 3DMark 11 as an example and as a preview of the overclocking results to follow. http://img688.imageshack.us/img688/8259/3d11.jpg Not a bad gain at all, right? With a little bump to a still conservative 2133Mhz memory, we see well above 10% gain, and close to 35% gain when everything is overclocked. Suddenly those 720p games will go from borderline to fully playable at medium to high settings. I will update more later on with OC results in actual games but you can expect similar percentage gains. Conclusion I will leave it there for now, but I really want to play with this platform some more, especially on the OC side. It won't break any FPS records or take HWbot by storm, but as an entry level, highly affordable system capable of casual gaming far beyond what Intel IGP can acheive, along with enough CPU performance for everyday tasks, and suddenly Trinity looks pretty good. I am quite a fan of the FM2 and Trinity platform. It is perfect for a HTPC, a 'Mum and Dad' machine, for OEMs, basically anything that doesn't require constant CPU grunt like video encoding. It is especially useful as a notebook part. (Hint: MSI GX60 :D) For most of the tasks a regular user will use it for, Trinity is worthy of consideration. There's plenty of overclocking headroom (Which i'll get to) and it can even be undervolted which the silent PC folks will love. As we can see, The MSI A85XA-G65 goes beyond what you would expect from an entry level platform and provides overclocking features typically reserved for more expensive boards. In my testing so far, the boards bios feels quite mature, with no showstopper bugs revealing themselves. The BIOS has an extensive range of settings for the tweakers. I would like to see an option for faster memory, up to DDR3-2666 to really help with the graphics performance, but this may be a CPU/Platform limitation. More to come! Cheers
  6. Note booj's tag p0is0nMSI Australia so perhaps an MSI rep? :P But I do agree the AMD cpu's are not as bad as a lot claim, especially when you get to the HTPC/Office PC/General Desktop PC end. Plenty enough CPU grunt for that and onboard GFX that pisses all over the Intel options. The AMD onboard is even capable of quite good low to middish end gaming so long as you don't try to go to too high a resolution. Yeah im a rep.. but the focus is really more on the CPU, with lots of board pics hehe a bit of a showoff more than anything. Don't worry, its all cleared with the man with the top floor office. One thing you wont see from me is a rating of the board or how it will make you breakfast in the morning etc etc
  7. booj

    What of Atomic?

    Sad to hear this, but it does seem to be a reflection of the larger challenges facing the print media landscape. Good luck guys, I hope everything works out!!
  8. Hey guys, The friendly neighborhood courier brought me a shiny new MSI Z77 Mpower motherboard. I cannot release any results at this stage, but I can show lots of pretty pics. :D First up, the box. The bundle is pretty decent. There's a WiFi Antenna, SLI bridge, voltage read-point cables, case connectors and the flashy Military Class III certificate amongst the usuals you would expect. Probably the main thing that jumps out when looking at the board itself is how clean the PCB is. Every crevice of some boards is filled with arrays of capacitors and resistors, but the Z77 Mpower really is one of the simplest looking PCB's you will see, especially amongst high end boards. MSI have also adopted a splash of yellow which seems to be their theme in recent times as seen with the recent 7970 and 680 Lightning models. Personally I quite like the color scheme. The yellow is quite subtle and no, there aren't any bullets or Gatling guns this time around ;) The layout itself is pretty good. There are two fan headers at the bottom of the board (Yes!) The BIOS battery placement isn't ideal, but in the day and age of CMOS clear switches it is rare to need to have access to this battery. At first glance the voltage read points may look obscured by the 24 pin connector, but the board ships with small cables to connect to a DMM, so it's not a problem. Screws for all heatsinks! All but the cheapest boards should have screw down heatsinks so its good to see them here. The cleanliness of the PCB extends to the rear with immaculate soldering and no protruding components. A perfect illustration of the clean PCB is clearly illustrated by the shot of the socket area. Subzero overclockers will find nothing to hinder pots or phase evap heads. I don't recall ever seeing a socket area as clean and trouble free as this one. The entire power delivery system is built with MSI's trademark Military Class III components, with DrMOS II integrated driver/mosfets, Hi-C capacitors and super ferrite chokes. I am not sure of the exact phase arrangement but I will check. I am guessing a 12+2+2 arrangement. You want to shove 2.0v + into the CPU? No problem. Moving over to the memory slot area, on the right we see the power and reset buttons and the OC Genie button which as an automatic overclocking feature. There's voltage check points and an auxiliary 6pin power connector which can be used to provide supplemental power to the GPUs. A debug LED readout can be seen on the left. The memory slots themselves will handle whatever speed the IMC of your CPU is capable of. Unofficially there is support for DDR3-3000+. The SATA ports are the standard ports supported by the Z77 chipset. Here we have the PCIe slot arrangement. The 16x slots are all PCIe 3.0 capable, while the 1x slots are all PCIe 2.0. The top slot is a 16x electrical slot, the second and third are 8x capable. For multi GPU's this will be in the form of x16 for single card, x8/x8 for dual GPU, and x8/x4/x4 for tri-GPU. Remember that these are PCIe 3.0 slots (with an Ivy Bridge CPU), and are equivalent in bandwidth to a 16x/8x/8x PCIe 2.0 setup like you would see with X58. Moving over to the lower right section of the board, we see the manual switch to change between the two BIOSes. The other little button underneath the chipset heatsink is a feature called GO2BIOS. Usually, a user will hit 'del' to enter the BIOS at boot up, which can can be easy to miss. Pressing this button either powered up or down will automatically enter the BIOS on the next boot or reboot. It might sound gimmicky, but I think once you've gotten used to it, you won't want to go back. The last pic shows the back panel connectors. Due to the primary design goal of making a top class overclocking motherboard, The WiFi and Bluetooth dongles represent probably the only major additional non OC related features of the board. We also have a welcome PS/2 port, CMOS clear button, six USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0 ports. Ethernet duties are controlled by a Realtek RTL-8111E chip. Display capabilities come courtesy of Display Port and HDMI connectors. Audio outputs consist of an optical S/PDIF and the standard set of analogue ports. Audio capabilities are handled by a Realtek ALC 898 chip. Overall we have a full set of features for an overclocking themed board. http://img33.imageshack.us/img33/8863/p1010693ip.jpg (Direct link.. one too many images) I cannot wait to start clocking this baby. I am thrilled that MSI have developed an overclocker centric board and I am proud to have the opportunity to play with one. BIOS shots and results to come in a week or so.
  9. Benchies Now for some results :D I'll start off with a few results I grabbed in the little time I had for testing before it had to be packed up again. I want to spend a great deal of time and get to know this board over the coming weeks. The focus of the MPower is overclocking. MSI really pride themselves on the quality of their components and test large samples of boards with 24hrs of Prime 95 testing at 4.6Ghz. While not a guarantee that something won't go wrong, it does give an indicator that the power system really has been thoroughly tested with more load than any system is likely to see. For the Facebookers out there, there is a chance to win one. We're running a 24hr competition hosted on the FB. MSI Fan Club Check out it out if you use the Book of Face. :Pirate: Test Setup: 3770K MSI Z77 MPower G.Skill TridentX 2400 C10 MSI GTX 670 Power Edition Antec HCP1200 Win 7 64 w/ no SP First up, one for the stability guys. 4.6Ghz @ 1.21v Memory overclocking looks good for a early BIOS. With a set of G.Skill Trident 2400C10, it was easy to boot and bench the 2666Mhz strap :thumbup: Memory clocking is one thing I really want to spend some more time on timings wise as well as try some BBSE and BDBG chip memory. I have no PSC to test unfortunately. Most of the following were some quick grabs with a bit of CPU clock, Bclk and memory clock. I will thoroughly test the limits more soon, and plan some sub zero as well. I will add more soon including some cascade runs and some multi GPU stuff. I also want to try other CPUs to find a better IMC!!!
  10. The UEFI BIOS Now that the Z77 MPower has been announced, it's ok to go ahead and post results. :D I'll start off with the BIOS. It follows MSI's familiar UEFI design. There are six sub menus to group most settings into categories. The Click BIOS 2 is replicated in software for changing in Windows. The System menu is where you will find items such as integrated peripherals, SATA configuration and PCIe settings. The OC menu is where we want to spend most of the time :D The layout remains similar to MSI's earlier UEFI boards. There's a full range of overclocking settings on hand. Extreme voltage capability, PWM controls, and DRAM timing controls as well as power saving options. One thing I like to mention is the Memory-Z feature. Selecting this option displays the XMP profile information of the RAM. It can be useful to compare the Memory-Z readings with the current settings if there is a problem with the memory. The range of DRAM timing controls isn't truly huge yet, but is still more than adequate for 99% of users. The extreme tweakers can expect more tertiary timings to be added once the launch BIOS is polished. There are six nameable BIOS profile slots. They can be exported and imported from USB. I think these voltages will cater for most of the overclockers out there. 2.15v Vcore and 2.46 Vddr will cover most mortals :p The ECO settings page is where the Hardware monitoring readings are found. Most of the CPU and motherboard power features can be found here. Also note that the onboard LEDs can be disabled for those with custom lighting. The utilities page features the M-Flash tool, which is used to update the BIOS from a USB drive.
  11. Most of the high end boards have all sorts of extras like SATA controllers, PCIe bridge chips, extra usb3, thunderbolt, pci slot, firewire etc etc. This board is designed as a fairly minimalistic overclocking product which does without those extras. Just the Bluetooth and Wifi are the main additions over a basic board. Of course the CPU and chipset handle more functionality than ever as well.