Introducing the MSI GX60

Gaming notebooks are increasing in popularity, but getting affordable gaming hardware can still be a challenging task. While midrange parts like NVIDIA's GeForce GT 740M and 750M or AMD's Radeon HD 8600M line aren't bad options and will definitely do the job in a pinch, having a good gaming experience generally requires more muscle. Whether you want to boost minimum framerates for smoother play or just turn on all the bells and whistles, a strong GPU is critical. Unfortunately, a strong GPU also costs money.

MSI introduced its first-generation GX60 gaming notebook some time towards the end of last year as a way to bridge the gap. If you were willing to take a hit in CPU performance by using a Trinity-based AMD A10-4600M, you could be served by a very powerful AMD Radeon HD 7970M on the graphics side. Budget gamers on the desktop will often cut CPU budget if it means getting a faster graphics card, and that's the principle MSI is operating off of.

The fly in the ointment is that the gaming landscape has changed substantially since the first GX60. Games like Far Cry 3, Crysis 3, and Tomb Raider are all true next generation titles, requiring a healthy amount of CPU horsepower along with their substantial graphics requirements. As we saw in the first part of our review of the AMD A10-5750M, AMD has made some headway in CPU performance compared to last generation's Trinity chips, but we're still dealing with fundamentally the same silicon.

MSI GX60 (2013) Specifications
Processor AMD A10-5750M
(4x2.5GHz, Turbo to 3.5GHz, 32nm, 4MB L2, 35W)
Chipset AMD Hudson-3
Memory 1x8GB A-Data DDR3-1600
Graphics AMD Radeon HD 8650G
(VLIW4; 384 cores; 533/720MHz base/turbo frequencies)

AMD Radeon HD 7970M 2GB GDDR5
(GCN; 1280 cores; 850MHz/4.8GHz core/memory; 256-bit memory bus)
Display 15.6" LED Matte 16:9 1080p
LGD0259
Hard Drive(s) Western Digital Scorpio Black 750GB 7200-RPM SATA 3Gbps HDD
Optical Drive TSSTCorp SN-406AB BD-ROM/DVDRW
Networking Killer Networks e2200 PCIe Gigabit Ethernet
Atheros AR9485WB-EG 2.4GHz 802.11b/g/n
Bluetooth 4.0
Audio Realtek ALC892 HD audio (THX TruStudio Pro)
2.1 speakers
Mic, headphone, line-in, and line-out jacks
Battery 9-cell, 87Wh
Front Side -
Right Side Mic, headphone, line-in, and line-out jacks
1x USB 2.0
Optical drive
Left Side Vent
3x USB 3.0
SD card reader
Back Side Kensington lock
AC adapter
Ethernet
D-SUB
Mini-DisplayPort
HDMI
Vent
Operating System Windows 8 64-bit
Dimensions 14.97" x 10.24" x 1.77"
380mm x 260mm x 45mm
Weight 7.7 lbs
3.49kg
Extras Webcam
USB 3.0
Card reader
THX TruStudio Pro audio
Killer Networks wired networking
SteelSeries keyboard
Warranty 2-year parts and labor
Pricing $1,199

As far as mobile AMD chips go, the A10-5750M is about as fast as it gets. Trinity and Richland did away with the 45W parts you could find in the Llano generation, so we're essentially hoping that the pair of Piledriver modules running at a 2.5GHz nominal clock speed can pick up enough slack to power the AMD Radeon HD 7970M.

That Radeon HD 7970M is essentially the MSI GX60's reason for being. MSI went all-in on the graphics side, and an updated model of the GX60 is due soon that bumps the 7970M to an 8970M. The 7970M is based on AMD's Pitcairn desktop chip: it features 1,280 of AMD's GCN cores running at a healthy 850MHz clock rate, along with 80 texture units and 32 raster operators. Our review unit features 2GB of GDDR5 on a 256-bit memory bus running at 4.8GHz. If you're concerned our test results with the 7970M are going to be outdated when the 8970M-enabled GX60 lands, fear not: the only difference is a 50MHz boost clock on the 8970M. The chip is otherwise identical. Performance-wise, the 7970M and 8970M should stack up somewhere between the desktop HD 7850 and 7870, leaning more towards the 7870.

Where I'm a bit frustrated with the MSI GX60 is in both the memory configuration and the storage configuration. All told this is basically a smaller version of the GT70 chassis, less the backlit keyboard, but MSI opted to only include one DIMM instead of two for the memory, and we're stuck with a mechanical hard disk for storage duties. Thankfully you can get the GX60 for $1,199, which is a pretty good deal for a system with such a powerful GPU at its heart, and that does take some of the edge off.

Since the first part of the Richland review focused on the AMD A10-A5750M with dual-channel memory enabled, we have an opportunity now to compare those CPU results to the stock results of the GX60, which runs in only single-channel mode.

In and Around the MSI GX60
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  • Death666Angel - Tuesday, July 2, 2013 - link

    Great APU if you want to do 768p gaming on a budget. Great GPU if you want to get a cheap gaming laptop. Horrible combination. :D I wonder how a beefy i3 with a 7970 would stack up to this notebook. On the desktop side, I can get an A10-6800K for 125€ and I can get an i3-3250 for 125€. Should be similar on the laptop side, no? Wonder how much of this is the single threaded and how much is the multi threaded performance. Reply
  • TheinsanegamerN - Tuesday, July 9, 2013 - link

    multithreaded, the a10 is near identical to mobile i3 chips. any i5 or i7 would handily outperform it though. Reply
  • chadwickhhs - Tuesday, July 9, 2013 - link

    How does this stack up against the PS4? I have a chance to get one this month for about $800. It has 1 upgrade which is that the memory was boosted to 16gb.

    I don't want to get it if it ends up lacking the CPU power to play next gen games on at least medium.
    Reply
  • TheinsanegamerN - Tuesday, July 9, 2013 - link

    you cant upgrade the ps4 to 16gb of memory. what you are looking at is a scam, especially since the ps4 is going for $399, not $800 Reply
  • Rontalk - Sunday, September 8, 2013 - link

    This computer all what it need is an 3.6GHz Richland A8-5550M 2185_A1 ES processor. How about re-done the tests with a processor like that? That would have been awesome to see the improvements and stupidity of AMD, lacking out the unlocked CPU multipliers from retail APU. Reply
  • hellermercer - Friday, November 22, 2013 - link

    the apu still lacks dedicated memory and is not a good choice and it should have been an ssd for gaming with no L3 cache launching games may be slower. Reply
  • htwingnut - Saturday, January 4, 2014 - link

    DDR RAM won't make a lick of difference when it comes to dedicated GPU performance. Just try it yourself. Run a few benchmarks, remove a stick of RAM, and try again. Same result within a few % at least. I did this a while back with the AMD Llano APU's and it made zero difference when it came to the dedicated GPU. Reply
  • htwingnut - Saturday, January 4, 2014 - link

    I meant Dual Channel not DDR.... d'oh! Reply
  • Drittz121 - Friday, February 28, 2014 - link

    Just do yourself a favor. STAY AWAY from this company. Yes they look good. But when it breaks and it WILL. All they do is give you the run around. They have had my system for over 2 months trying to fix the garbage they sell. Worse company out there for support. DONT BUY Reply

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