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

Is Xotic PC's Tuned-Up MSI GT70-Based Platform Our New Performance Champ?

MSI's GT70 Dragon Edition 2 delivers the high-end performance we expect when you combine the best from Intel and Nvidia in one platform. In some games, the Xotic PC factory-overclocked GeForce GTX 780M comes close to the performance of two 680Ms in SLI. While some of that is attributable to platform bottlenecking on the comparison machine and newer drivers benefiting our Haswell-based sample, we also know the GeForce GTX 780M boasts more CUDA cores and aggressive clock rates. Although it isn't far and away faster than its predecessor, Intel's Core i7-4930MX also gives us a little extra performance by virtue of its architecture. With that said, notebooks bundled with larger power supplies should be able to get even more performance from Intel's mobile flagship CPU. Even with MSI's NOS technology draining the battery to keep up, this system's paltry 180 W power supply runs out of capacity too quickly.

Starting at $2800, the GT70 isn't an inexpensive platform. Our sample, as configured, runs an even steeper $3500+. But there's something to be said for the fastest available mobile processor, mobile GPU, and three 128 GB SSDs operating cooperatively, too. A comparable Alienware system with a similar configuration will run you at least $600 more, and that'll get you a third-gen Core processor and previous-gen GeForce GTX 680M, both of which are on their way out. Add in the storage config, SteelSeries keyboard, Dynaudio speakers, Atheros Killer NICs, Blu-ray burner, and attractive exterior accents, and MSI's latest offering starts looking more attractive to the mobile gamer. 

In this case, we'd also approve of paying $45 bucks to have Xotic PC overclock the CPU and GPU for you, if only to get those three days of stress testing that might weed out a problematic Haswell-based processor. Plus, there's the warranty coverage on the tuned hardware, which is a plus.

The $1000+ Core i7-4930MX is overkill, we'd say. On one hand, it's a fast little chip that enjoys a 4.1 GHz peak Turbo Boost clock rate. There are bragging rights that go along with such an extravagance. Conversely, it also ups the platform's TDP by 10 W. As we saw, the system is already close to maxed out with a 47 W processor and 100 W GPU. Add in overclocking and MSI's NOS feature starts hitting the battery up for extra power any time you mash the gas pedal. MSI did send us a newer firmware that leans less severely on NOS, but we still observed the technology kicking in. Intel's $425 Core i7-4900MQ would have been an excellent alternative, we think. Alternatively, MSI could have bundled a 210 or 240 W power supply and worked around the NOS issue altogether.

The GT70 sets a high standard for large gaming notebooks in many ways. It has the performance potential to serve up playable frame rates in modern titles at the highest detail settings. It isn't embarrassingly bulky in the process, either. You can get a couple of hours of game time out of the battery, albeit at reduced-performance clock rates. Just surfing the Web, though, expect as many as six hours from MSI's GT70.

Performance-wise, this system sets the mobile standard to beat; there's very little able to post better benchmark results. As a substitute for a gaming desktop, MSI's GT70 Dragon Edition 2, built-up and tuned by Xotic PC, is a potent machine. If MSI could just iron out its power-oriented idiosyncrasies, it might even be an award candidate.

  • cobra5000
    My A10 laptop w/7660g may not have the specs but it plays great and only cost me $505.99.
    How about that for bragging rights!
  • sha7bot
    Forbes magazine posted a great article on this system, as well. Seems like Alienware, ASUS, and Clevo have some serious competition.
  • lunyone
    I have an AMD a6 quad core CPU w/7670 dGPU that cost me <$400 and it will game okay for most things. Of coarse it's no screamer unit, but for 95% of what I do it works just fine. Yes I would have loved to had a better system for light gaming, but my laptop fit my budget. I wish that we got off this 1366 x 768 resolution and started out at 1600 x 900 for 11-15" laptops as a minimum, but that is just me.
  • Ducktor
    Please remove the term W/h from the text as well as "Watt per hour" from the graph on page 14. This unit is meaningless! 1W = 1J/s which is already a rate of power consumption. Dividing this unit by an hour yields 1W/h = 1J/3600s^2 which actually implies an acceleration in power consumption! Such mistakes are really hard to accept on a technical site like Tom's
  • danwat1234
    Yea, the 180w ac adapter in this laptop, and also in the Gt60-2od laptop (the 15" version of this laptop) should really come with a ~240w AC adapter like what the Asus G750 has, but it doesn't. So they made NOS to adapt.
    It is unfortunate. What if I want to crunch on the high-end CPU and the GPU 24/7 for some reason? Can't do it with a 180w AC adapter.

    To those thinking that the built in single fan isn't good enough, it is a 12V fan! I have never seen a 12V fan in a laptop before but this one has it. The Coolerboost feature ramps up the fan RPM to maximum and really keeps the temperatures down.

    There are some reports of bad paste jobs so if you are having high temps, that may be the reason. Call up MSI to verify that your warranty will not be void and then repaste it. MSI is cool in that they'll usually allow you to take off the heatsink whereas Asus won't.

    Thanks Tom's for making a much better review than what Anand did!

    So on page 14, the max power draw from the battery when the laptop is unplugged and you are gaming is only 85 watts? That must mean that the dedicated graphics is shut down and the HD4600 is only on? Can you have the 780m when on only battery power?
  • luckiest charm
    I would feel awkward using this machine in trains, at relative's places, or anywhere else I can be spotted on so I don't become a laughing stock. :P
  • custodian-1
    With the problem with cell phones being stolen I would not take something out of the case.
  • boro169
    I think it should be noted that derived notebooks from this like deviltechs are much cheaper. the starting point of msi is 2400 euros in my country and deviltechs modified msi cost me 2050 with a 250gb samsung 840 and a 1 tb 5400 hdd and the 780m.. yeah it doesn't have the steelseries keyboard it has de gt60 blue blaclight one but...
    for those talking about its not for hardcore gamers... I think they are wrong because i can't take my cosmos II tower with the 3930x and my titan on my back when i visit my girlfriend on train a 300km away from my home... and not everybody can have two of those beasts.. the desktop is always better but you can't drag it always with you to trips...
    for the one talking about being scared of being robbed... I don't know why he walks on the streets wearing a wallet you COULD be robbed... or a plane could crash on your head.... ¬¬ then nobody would buy an smartphone. because to use it indoor and using outdoors and old nokia because if it is robbed its not an expensive lose....
    if you at least talked about the processing power lose when not wall plugged or so that would be a reasonable comentary...
  • adgjlsfhk
    "Plus, there's the warranty coverage on the tuned hardware, which is a plus."
  • warezme
    You know the new Haswell GTX780m Alienware models have been out for awhile. You should have done your comparison with one of those. LIkely more expensive but more direct comparison.