In and Around the MSI GX60

I'll say this for MSI: they've kept a pretty uniform aesthetic for their gaming notebooks. I'm actually of the opinion that the slightly smaller 15.6" form factor serves it better than the outsized 17.3", and the cooling system designs between the GX60 and its larger cousin are basically uniform. In fact, almost everything between the two chassis is uniform, making any kind of detailed analysis almost redundant. Just about everything I said about the iBuyPower Valkyrie CZ-17's chassis design applies here.

We're looking at black plastic used for essentially the entirety of the MSI GX60. The touchpad continues to be a sticking point; it was abnormally small on the Valkyrie, CyberPower FangBook, and the GT70 Dragon Edition, and the slightly smaller GX60 has the same issue. The SteelSeries licensed keyboard loses the backlighting (likely sacrificed to bring the price down) but retains both the excellent key action that makes it such a strong choice and the baffling layout that utterly undermines it for American consumers. Even the L-shaped access panel on the bottom is similar.

For reference, this is the internal layout of the CyberPower FangBook, which uses the last generation cooling design for the GT70:

Now, here is the internal layout of the MSI GX60. Remember that the GX60 is a 15.6" notebook and thus a couple pounds lighter than the 17.3" FangBook/GT70:

And, just for reference sake, the interior of the recently reviewed GT70 Dragon Edition:

Apart from very minor differences in the heatpipes on the CPU coldplates, MSI appears to be using essentially identical motherboard layouts and cooling systems between their 15.6" and 17.3" lines. Eyeballing it, I have a hard time believing much, if any, cooling capacity is added moving up in the line. That means that the only reason to buy a 17.3" gaming notebook from MSI would be because you want the larger display. Not higher resolution, just larger. The keyboard size is identical, port layouts are almost identical, cooling systems are almost identical. While there are no stock GT60/GX60 units that sport 32GB of memory, iBuyPower's 15.6" Valkyrie (based off of this chassis) can be configured with up to four 8GB DIMMs.

It's a commodity design and like a lot of MSI's decisions, it seems predominately geared towards being as frugal and cost-effective as possible. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but sacrificing specialization of any kind is damaging. The most brutal thing about the GX60 may be the existence of MSI's own GE60, which trades the APU for an Intel i7-4700MQ and the Radeon HD 7970M for an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 765M. I'm in the process of testing a notebook that has a 765M, and its performance is almost on par with the outgoing GeForce GTX 675MX. That's still slower than the 7970M, but you gain a boatload of CPU performance.

Introducing the MSI GX60 System and Futuremark Performance
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  • JarredWalton - Sunday, June 30, 2013 - link

    My testing suggests otherwise. Despite having 20 EUs vs. 16 EUs, HD 4400 and HD 4600 are generally about the same performance as HD 4000. I've even got a quad-core standard voltage i7-4700MQ system (MSI GE40), and surprisingly there are several games where the HD 4600 iGPU fails to be a significant upgrade to an ULV HD 4000 in and i5-3317U. I'm not sure if Intel somehow changed each EU so that the Haswell EUs are less powerful relative to IVB, but outside of driver optimizations (it's still early in the game for Haswell) I have no good reason for the lack of performance I'm getting from HD 4600. Reply
  • sheh - Monday, July 1, 2013 - link

    The i7-4500U review showed not much of a difference at times, and even slightly lower performance, but +20% in other cases. i7-4770 vs i7-3770 shows more improvement. I'm guessing the improvement in a 37W CPU would be more like the desktop parts rather than the 15W CPU. But, well, all theoretical anyway. Reply
  • TheinsanegamerN - Saturday, June 29, 2013 - link

    its a little problematic, i think. they are ultrabook cpus, and bga to boot. it's cheaper to make laptops with rpga connectors than soldering the cpu to the motherboard. until rpga models appear (not likely) we might not see that many. they are also $100 more expensive than ultrabook models from last year, so a lot of maufacturers are still using ivy. toshiba just brought out 3 new laptops, two are ultrabooks, all which use ivy instead of haswell. Reply
  • TheinsanegamerN - Saturday, June 29, 2013 - link

    never mind, just found list that included socketed models. guess the oems are just slow Reply
  • IntelUser2000 - Saturday, June 29, 2013 - link

    The SV dual cores are actually Q4, so its quite a few bit left. They are planning on phasing it out in favor of U chips, where it Broadwell it disappears entirely. Reply
  • sheh - Sunday, June 30, 2013 - link

    On the forum you said Q4 is rumors, any more concrete info since then? Reply
  • arthur449 - Saturday, June 29, 2013 - link

    I wouldn't sell or buy a laptop if it didn't have all its available memory channels populated. This entire review is pointless to me. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, June 29, 2013 - link

    Because buying an extra 8GB DIMM for $75 or whatever is too hard? And it will only help with iGPU performance? Reply
  • arthur449 - Saturday, June 29, 2013 - link

    Mainstream CPUs have used a dual channel memory controllers for so long that simply disabling access to one channel can have (as we've seen in this case) a not insignificant effect on benchmarks that do not directly stress the GPU portion of the chip. CPUs have had uses for more memory bandwidth before there were on-chip GPUs, afterall.

    Furthermore, in scientific terms, due to the author changing two variables in this experiment (var1a: iGPU. var 1b: dual channel. var2a: dGPU. var2b: single channel.) to compare the iGPU to the dGPU, we cannot be certain that the subtraction of the second channel of memory has a non-zero effect on dGPU performance.

    If the author's intention was merely reviewing the out-of-the-box performance of this hardware configuration of the MSI GX60 Gaming Notebook, this would be fine. Instead, the article is titled: "AMD's A10-5750M Review: ..."

    I'm not trying to be unnecessarily harsh. And the subject of this review could very easily apply to my interest. (I *just* purchased a laptop for a family member with an AMD A8-5550M.) But if the author is going to test the processor's gaming performance: don't change more than one variable.
    Reply
  • TheinsanegamerN - Saturday, June 29, 2013 - link

    the single channel ram should be fine in this case, since its not used for video at all. at least its 1600mhz Reply

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