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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  • Darksurf - Saturday, June 29, 2013 - link

    I can already see one reason why you had poor benchmarks. You are only using one stick of DDR3?! WHY? AMD APUs depend heavily upon dual channel. Reply
  • Bull Dog - Saturday, June 29, 2013 - link

    Clearly, you didn't read the article. Reply
  • Samus - Saturday, June 29, 2013 - link

    Darksurf, even if they ran the tests with one DIMM, why would discrete graphics be impacted by a single memory channel? Reply
  • popej - Saturday, June 29, 2013 - link

    As I understand, video data form discrete GPU is transferred over PCIe to internal video buffer of APU, eating some memory bandwidth.

    Pity there is no comparison with dual channels configuration.
    Reply
  • Alexvrb - Monday, July 01, 2013 - link

    Not only are they only using a single channel, they're using DDR3-1600. The 5750M is unique in AMD's mobile lineup in that it supports DDR3-1866 out of the box - none of the Trinity mobile chips (or lesser Richland models) can claim this. Now granted, when relying on the discrete graphics this isn't going to make as big of a difference. But there will be some improvement running dual channel 1866. I also have to wonder if Enduro is causing issues as well.

    I know they're trying to keep costs down, but I can't help but wonder if they'd be better off with a significantly cheaper model using a slower discrete GPU, perhaps even dual graphics.
    Reply
  • thesavvymage - Saturday, June 29, 2013 - link

    this laptop only HAS one slot for ddr3. Read the article before commenting Reply
  • thesavvymage - Saturday, June 29, 2013 - link

    edit: has one ddr3 in it by stock Reply
  • perse - Thursday, January 23, 2014 - link

    actually that depends where you buy it from. The one i bought has 2x4GB besides that i must say while alot of people are bashing this pc, i love it. Design of the case, ease of access to all parts, heat management are best i have ever seen in any laptop. Performance is bottlenecked by the cpu ofc but not as much as everyone are saying. My friend bought i5+nvidia 7xx series card, not sure which exactly and performance in most games is very similar, while he paid 150€ more for his.

    I think benchmarks are also heavily influenced by drivers and switchable graphics compatibility.
    Reply
  • Darksurf - Monday, July 01, 2013 - link

    I did read the article. I was baffled by the poor results and went back to the front to see if I missed something and I saw " 1x8GB A-Data DDR3-1600 ". Thats when it immediately realized a problem. If this laptop only has one slot for DDR3 then this design was hampered from the beginning and ready to limp to the starting lines.

    Latest APUs have been given a boost to support up to 1866mhz. Because the GPU IS discrete it heavily depends on the RAM as there is no "dedicated memory" for the GPU. I'll wait to buy a laptop, and get one when AMD lightning bolt is released and I can buy a laptop with a richland APU and 1866mhz memory.
    Reply
  • relztes - Monday, July 01, 2013 - link

    That's incorrect. The 7970M has 2 GB of GDDR5 on a 256-bit memory interface. So the single channel memory is dedicated to the CPU only, and shouldn't hurt the 7970M performance.

    Still, I don't really understand the point of pairing an APU with discrete graphics. I think as a combination of CPU + low end GPU, AMD's APUs are a great value. It makes a lot of sense in a laptop where you don't want the extra heat and power requirements of a discrete GPU to trade a little CPU performance for superior integrated graphics. But if you add a 7970M, then it makes sense to prioritize the CPU over the integrated graphics. Save Richland for where you need the integrated graphics.
    Reply

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