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GT70 Dragon Edition 2: Teardown Images And Components

MSI GT70 Dragon Edition 2 By Xotic PC: Haswell Goes Mobile

Under the hood, the GT70 Dragon Edition 2 is essentially built around the processor and graphics module. The 17” chassis allows for a robust cooling solution to exhaust the heat dissipated by a 100+ W GPU and 57 W CPU running at full tilt. The notebook's internal layout keeps thermal energy produced by those two components away from the hard drive, battery, palm rest, and keyboard. Both the CPU and GPU heat sinks are massive, and the unit is equipped with an equally sizable fan that moves quite a bit of air when you need it to, yet remains incredibly quiet.

Seven Phillips-head screws and numerous plastic snaps attach the bottom cover to the MSI Dragon Edition 2.

Once removed, you have easy access to the mSATA SSD RAID array, GPU, RAM, CPU, and 2.5” hard drive. Note that in removing the seven cover screws, you also removed three of the four fan screws and one of two hard drive screws.

Here is closer shot of the bottom panel after removing it from the Dragon.

Here is a shot of the machine with the battery and bottom cover removed.

Starting in the upper-left corner, we see three SanDisk mSATA SSD drives attached to what appears to be a proprietary daughterboard. It looks like there might be enough room for a second 2.5” drive to also occupy this space, but alas, there is no connector. With the performance of higher-capacity mSATA drives catching up to 2.5” SSDs and the smallest models still quite a bit slower, this is a smart configuration. You get the performance of three 128 GB SSDs in RAID 0, while still leaving enough space for a large-capacity, inexpensive hard drive in its own bay. Just remember that the loss of any one drive takes down the whole array, so pick and choose what you store there carefully.

Removing the daughterboard and mSATA drives is no problem. There are two screws on the board and another two for each drive.

Close-up shot of the SanDisk 128 GB mSATA drive.

Here's the back-side of SanDisk's Marvell-powered SSD X100.

This is what the back of the three-drive mSATA daughterboard looks like. There's a proprietary connector between the daughter and motherboard.

Moving on, we encounter the GPU. The interface appears to be a standard 100 W MXM-B slot. There are two heat pipes dedicated to the GPU and a third for its on-board memory.

Two of the system’s four RAM slots are located just below of the GPU.

The GPU and CPU are both cooled by a single large fan. The upside to this is that a larger fan can move more air at lower RPMs. Plenty of fan blade surface area also means that when maximum cooling is needed, the cooler can move approximately 25 cubic feet of air per minute.  Comparable 17” gaming system with dual cooling fans may do a better job at directing airflow to only the CPU or GPU. The combined flow of a triple-fan system with an 11 CFM CPU fan and a pair of 5 CFM fans still moves four fewer cubic feet of air per minute than the GT70's one fan. At a max of 3800 RPM, the fan produced 58 dB of noise. In normal use, it was very quiet.

Since three of the four fan screws were already removed with the bottom cover, we went ahead and finished the job. The fan is very easy to pop off, which can be a big plus when it becomes necessary to clean out accumulated dust.

With the fan removed, we get a good look at the heat pipes. They all feed into a large heat sink that vents out the side of the machine.

The small sink sitting on top of the heat pipes, combined with a little bit of felt, helps seal the exhaust port to the heat sink. These little details should add up to a more efficient exhaust system.

The CPU and GPU heat sinks are connected by a single heat pipe, which allows each to transfer one-third of their heat to the other. Stressing one subsystem or the other simply causes the shared fan to blow more air through both. So, a CPU under full load results in the GPU idling a few degrees cooler than normal.

Here is a closer look at the CPU heat sink. It has two main heat pipes, with the third passing through the GPU’s heat sink.

Additionally, the CPU cooling has heat sinks on both sides of the heat pipe (as well as felt) to help seal the connection with the cooling fan shroud.

Far away from the heat of the CPU and GPU, we find a 1 TB Western Digital Blue hard disk drive spinning at 5400 RPM.

Lastly, we have the Toshiba Samsung Storage Technology (TSST) Blu-ray writer.

The only issue we encountered as we accessed the GT70's internals was replacing the bottom cover. There are small plastic clips around the edges that help keep it in place, and snapping these in can be quite the white-knuckle experience. If you are careful, and figure out which to snap in first, you should be fine. During the course of our review, we removed the cover several times without issue.

With the clips in place and secured by seven Phillips-head screws, the bottom of the system is very solid. 

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