MSI GT70 Dragon Edition 2: A Gaming Notebook For The One Percent
Unlike the MSI GX60 we recently reviewed, which sought to maximize mobile gaming performance as inexpensively as possible, the company spared no expense on its GT70 Dragon Edition 2. And after MSI laid a foundation with its barebones platform, Xotic PC stepped in to further boost the system's performance.
First, the standard Core i7-4700MQ quad-core processor was swapped out for a top-end -4930MX Extreme Edition. Next, Nvidia's GeForce GTX 780M received an overclock (both the core and memory). Finally, the system’s 17.3” FHD display was professionally calibrated. And thanks to the special Dragon Edition panels, there was no need for the company’s famous custom wraps or graphics.
The Core i7-4930XM processor inside the Dragon Edition 2 is Intel's top-of-the-line Haswell-based processor. It sports four unlocked cores running at a 3 GHz base frequency, though Turbo Boost takes one core to 3.9 GHz.
Compared to the Core i7-4700MQ you'd normally find in this system (also Haswell-based), the Extreme Edition chip has an extra 2 MB of shared L3 cache, higher clock rates, a 10 W-higher TDP, and a way higher price tag (in excess of $1000). When the GT70 isn't pushing big power consumption, it benefits from the Haswell architecture's power-saving features, plus Nvidia's Optimus video switching technology, to help extend run times on battery power.
The Dragon’s GeForce GTX 780M discrete graphics module also represents the top-of-the-line from Nvidia. With 1536 cores running at 823 MHz (and GPU Boost speeds of up to 850 MHz), plus a massive 4 GB of GDDR5 RAM running at 2.5 GT/s, the 780M offers substantially more performance than its predecessor.
But there’s more. Xotic PC takes top-end potential a step further by boosting the core clock by an additional 75 MHz and the memory by 500 MT/s, taking the module's core to 915 MHz and its memory to 3 GT/s. In order to guarantee the stability of those settings, the company tests them for three days straight before shipping and covers them under the system's warranty.
MSI definitely went the enthusiast route when it defined the Dragon’s specs. The primary system drive is composed of three 128 GB SanDisk SSDs in RAID 0, with a 1 TB hard drive serving as a secondary storage space. The 17.3” FHD WLED screen is anti-reflective, and the multi-color, backlit keyboard is by SteelSeries, makers of boutique gaming peripherals. The built-in wired and wireless networking controllers come from the Atheros Killer DoubleShot series, which includes the company's QoS technology for prioritizing gaming traffic. Moreover, the built-in speakers and subwoofer are sourced from Dynaudio, the same company that supplies sound in Bugatti automobiles. The Dragon even comes with a Blu-ray writer.
Obviously, this notebook has all of the right parts to deliver serious gaming performance, but its flagrant visual styling and imposing stature are also clearly designed to stand out. After all, nothing screams "look at me" like a two-inch-thick, red laptop emblazoned with dragons.
MSI doesn't cut corners on available I/O, either. Three different video output options mean that you can plug the Dragon into most monitors. You also have the option to drive a trio of displays simultaneously in a triple-screen array. The Dragon packs three USB 3.0 ports on the left and another pair on the right. Plus, one of the ports can charge other devices, even when the machine is powered off. You also get separate gold-plated jacks for headphones/mic/audio-in/audio-out, and an SD card reader.
|MSI GT70 Dragon Edition 2, By Xotic PC|
|Processor||Intel Core i7-4930MX (Haswell), 22 nm, 3 GHz Base Frequency, 3.9 GHz max. Turbo Boost, 4.1 GHz overclock, HD Graphics 4600, 8 MB Shared L3 Cache, 57 W TDP|
|Platform||Intel HM87 Express|
|Memory||16 GB DDR3L @ 1600 MT/s (dual-channel)|
|Graphics||Nvidia GeForce GTX 780M, 4 GB GDDR5, Optimus Switchable Graphics Technology|
|Display||17.3" 16:9 matte LED-backlit LCD @ 1920x1080 (Chi Mei CMO1720)|
|Solid State Drives||3 x 128 GB SanDisk SDSA5SF2-128G mSATA, RAID 0 (Primary System Drive)|
|Hard Disk Drive||1 TB Western Digital WD10JPVX-22JC3T0, 5400 RPM|
|Optical Disc Drive||TSST (Toshiba Samsung Storage Technology) SN-506 Blu-ray Writer|
|Wi-Fi||Atheros Killer Wireless-N 1202 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi Controller w/Bluetooth v4.0 (2.4 and 5.0 GHz)|
|Ethernet||Atheros Killer e2200 PCIe 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet Controller|
|Audio||Dynaudio Integrated Speakers w/Subwoofer, THX TruStudio Pro (HDMI v1.4 support)|
|Ports||5 x USB 3.0, HDMI v1.4, mini-DisplayPort, VGA, Headphone, Mic, Line-in, Line-out|
|Miscellaneous||Integrated Webcam & Mic / SD (XC/HC)/MMC Card Reader / Kensington Security Slot|
|Battery & AC Adapter||Removable 87 Wh / 180 W|
|Size & Weight||16.85" (Width) x 11.33" (Depth) x 2.16" (Height) / 8.59 lbs (Weight)|
|Operating System||Microsoft Windows 8 Pro (64-bit)|
|Warranty||Two Year Limited & Lifetime 24/7 Tech Support from Xotic PC|
|Price||Starting at $2800, $3538.56 As-Configured|
On paper, it looks like MSI's GT70 Dragon Edition 2 offers a ton of gaming power and features. But before we find out if this notebook's spec sheet translates to real-world performance, let's take a tour of the Dragon, inside and out.
How about that for bragging rights!
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?
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...