MSI GX60 Review: Radeon HD 7970M In A $1,200 Notebook!

Test Setup And Benchmark Suite

Test System Specs

Synthetic and gaming tests are performed on the MSI GX60, Razer Blade R2, and Alienware M18x. The Blade uses Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 660M mobile GPU, while the M18x employs an Nvidia GeForce GTX 680M. The 7970M and GTX 680M represent the fastest mobile graphics modules currently available. Both comparison machines have 8 GB of RAM, and their CPUs and GPUs run at factory clock rates.

We perform our productivity-oriented benchmarks on systems equipped with the previous-gen Core i7-2720QM quad-core and -2640M dual-core processors. In addition, we're adding a 45 W Core i7-3720QM quad-core chip to show the difference an extra 10 W makes up against the GX60’s 35 W APU. While we did not have any other gaming notebooks on-hand with these specs, we did have several Dell Latitude E6520s and a Latitude E6530 available. The Latitudes are primarily used as business notebooks, but seeing as how these tests are CPU-only, we don’t have an issue using them.

All productivity benchmarks were run on an optimized image of Windows 7 loaded on a 180 GB Intel SSD 520 drive, which we installed ourselves. Compression tests were run on a RAM drive to minimize the impact of storage hardware on each machine.

Dell Latitude E6520
Processor
Intel Core i7-2640M
Platform
Intel QM67 Express
Memory
8 GB
Dell Latitude E6520
Processor
Intel Core i7-2720QM
Platform
Intel QM67 Express
Memory
8 GB
Dell Latitude E6530
Processor
Intel Core i7-37820QM
Platform
Intel QM77 Express
Memory
8 GB
MSI GX60
Processor
AMD A10-4600M APU (Trinity) Dual-Module/Quad-Core @ 2.3 GHz, 35 W TDP
Platform
AMD A70M (Hudson-D3/M3)
Memory
8 GB Dual Channel DDR3 @ 1600 MT/s
Graphics
AMD Radeon HD 7970M 2 GB GDDR5
Storage
64 GB SSD + 64 GB SSD in 128 GB RAID 0 Array
Razer Blade (2nd-Gen)
Processor
Intel Core i7-3632QM (Ivy Bridge) Quad-Core @ 2.2 GHz, 35 W TDP
Platform
Intel HM77 Express
Memory
8 GB Dual Channel DDR3 @ 1600 MT/s
Graphics
Nvidia GeForce GTX 660M 2 GB GDDR5
Storage
64 GB SSD + 500 GB 7200 RPM HDD
Alienware M18x
Processor
Intel Core i7-3940XM (Ivy Bridge) Quad-Core @ 3.0 GHz, 55 W TDP
Platform
Intel HM77 Express
Memory
8 GB Dual Channel DDR3 @ 1600 MT/s
Graphics
Nvidia GeForce GTX 680M 2 GB GDDR5
Storage
180 GB Intel 520 Series SSD + 500 GB 7200 RPM HDD


Benchmark Suite

Audio/Video Encoding
HandBrake CLI
Version 0.98: Video From Canon EOS 7D (1920x1080, 25 FPS) 1 Minute 22 Seconds
Audio: PCM-S16, 48,000 Hz, Two-Channel, to Video: AVC1 Audio: AAC (High Profile)
Adobe Creative Suite
Premiere Pro CS6
Version 6.0.0.0, 6.61 GB MXF Project to H.264 to H.264 Blu-ray, Output 1920x1080, Maximum Quality
Photoshop CS6
Version 13 x64: Filter 15.7 MB TIF Image: Radial Blur, Shape Blur, Median, Polar Coordinates
File Compression
WinZip
Version 17.0 Pro: THG-Workload (1.3 GB) to ZIP, command line switches "-a -ez -p -r"
WinRAR
Version 4.2: THG-Workload (1.3 GB) to RAR, command line switches "winrar a -r -m3"
7-Zip
Version 9.28: THG-Workload (1.3 GB) to 7z, command line switches "a -t7z -r -m0=LZMA2 -mx=5"
3D Gaming
Call Of Duty: Black Ops II
Campaign Mode, "Celerium" Mission 2-Minute Fraps
Test Set 1: Extra Quality, High Filtering, 8x MSAA, Ambient Occlusion, High Depth of Field
Test Set 2: High Quality, Medium Filtering, 2x MSAA, Ambient Occlusion, Medium Depth of Field
Test Set 3: Normal Texture Quality, Low Texture Filtering, Low Depth of Field
Battlefield 3
Campaign Mode, "Going Hunting" Mission 90-Second Fraps
Test Set 1: Ultra Quality Settings
Test Set 2: High Quality Settings
Test Set 3: Medium Quality Settings
Sniper Elite V2
Built-in Benchmark
Test Set 1: Ultra Quality Preset
Test Set 2: High Quality Preset
Test Set 3: Medium Quality Preset
Test Set 4: Low Quality Preset
Hitman: Absolution
Built-in Benchmark
Test Set 1: Ultra Quality Settings
Test Set 2: High Quality Settings
Test Set 3: Medium Quality Settings
DiRT: Showdown
Built-in Benchmark
Test Set 1: Ultra Quality Settings
Test Set 2: High Quality Settings
Test Set 3: Medium Quality Settings
Batman: Arkham City
Built-in Benchmark
Test Set 1: Ultra Quality Settings
Test Set 2: High Quality Settings
Test Set 3: Medium Quality Settings
World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria
Honeydew Village, Between Guards In The Rain, 60-Second Fraps
Test Set 1: Ultra Preset
Test Set 2: High Preset
Test Set 3: Medium Preset
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Riverwood, Walking Around 60-Second Fraps
Test Set 1: Ultra Quality, 8x AA, 16x AF
Test Set 2: High Quality, 8x AA, 8x AF
Test Set 3: Medium Quality, 4x AA
Total War: Shogun 2
Built-in Benchmark
Test Set 1: High Graphics @ 1920x1080, FXAA
Test Set 2: Very High Preset @ 1920x1080
Test Set 3: Balanced Graphics @ 1280x720


A Note on FPS

We realize that acceptable frame rates are debatable on a per-game and per-vendor basis, which is why we're simply listing averages. As long as we're getting smooth game play, we typically choose higher-quality visuals over higher frame rates. After all, we want to see all of the work that game designers put into making a game visually appealing. Typically, we find that 20 FPS is the absolute minimum we’re willing to call acceptable, with 30 FPS a more ideal minimum. In multi-player games we favor higher frame rates and low lag.

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67 comments
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    Top Comments
  • ASHISH65
    Looks good and helpfull review for laptop gamers!
    10
  • Other Comments
  • patrick47018
    Looks promising
    9
  • yobobjm
    I own an MSI (with some weird number classification that I can't remember) but it has proved to be a dedicated and powerful gaming laptop. It also has had really no problems other than the glossy finish getting scratched (which doesn't even exist on this laptop) so I would recommend MSI products :D
    5
  • flowingbass
    I also own an MSI, a GX660r with a 5870M and a Core i5 480m. The 5870M desktop equivalent is a HD5770. The GPU is quite struggling to play on high in current games, mid-high or sometimes medium (all low on crysis 3 except resolution and textures) is required to maintain playable frame rates.

    I might just upgrade to this and just swap GPU between the two. i5 480m > A10-4600M
    -10
  • JOSHSKORN
    But does it fit a CableCard?
    1
  • ASHISH65
    Looks good and helpfull review for laptop gamers!
    10
  • acktionhank
    Hey Tom's run a few gaming tests again with PScheck forcing the CPU to run at a 2.5-2.7ghz so that it won't throttle itself so much.

    I'd like to see exactly what speeds we'd need to get an A10-4600 running at to reduce these severe bottlenecks.
    8
  • Chewie
    Give this a 4 module APU, and keyboard backlighting, and it would really kick butt!
    5
  • Madn3ss795
    AMD APU ruins the whole thing.
    -13
  • Chairman Ray
    Great build from Msi!
    3
  • silverblue
    Very nice machine. It's a shame that AMD stopped with the A10-4600M and didn't look to produce a higher model as that'd help, however until the HSA initiative really kicks in, the Bulldozer architecture's FPU implementation is always going to be found wanting, and that's without even talking about the sharing issues which Steamroller looks to fix.
    -3
  • Cataclysm_ZA
    No frame latency graphs from FRAPS? Its not difficult to keep a log of them and produce the graphs for those who are interested. I'd like to see the minimum frame dips for a machine like this one.
    0
  • ryude
    The A10-4600M can be overclocked relatively easily, up to 3.6Ghz+. That won't fix the fact that's it's an APU, but it will help a little.
    -5
  • Anonymous
    There's is a GX60 with a10-5750m richland APU...
    Which the improvement is modestly 10-15% CPU powers, it should alleviate some of the CPU bottleneck...
    2
  • DjEaZy
    patrick47018Looks promising

    ... not just that... loooook... there is a windows 7 logo... it looks exscelent...
    0
  • Cryio
    This notebook is a ridiculous concept to me. Its greatest achievements are its price and its performance where it matters: maxed-out directX11 games in 1080p, working as good or BETTER in most of the cases than its Nvidia sibling. Its greatest disadvantage being its gaming ability is limited in anything under 1080p (still talking only about games here).

    One hell of a laptop for me, if I could afford when, when I'll go to college this Octomber.
    3
  • Cryio
    afford one *
    0
  • TheBigTroll
    the apu is the bottleneck. when you compare this to a i7 ivy bridge mobile chip with the same GPU and everything, it performs 50% faster
    -3
  • sanilmahambre
    Now that's what i call a Budget gaming Laptop

    and again a beautiful in depth review
    2
  • mynith
    Interesting heatsink design. Shame really that APUs don't come with L3-cache. If they did, they would show performance not unlike the FX-series. In my mind.
    2
  • ojas
    With respect to handbrake: It's getting QuickSync support too in the coming months (i believe it's in the same beta version you're talking about) so I'm not sure if the OpenCL advantage will last for AMD.
    -1