Good for Gaming, but Can’t Touch the GTX 485M

As for gaming performance, this is the real purpose of the G73 series, and here the Sandy Bridge only offers moderate increases in most titles. This is why either the 470M or even the 485M as an option in the G73SW would have been good, although that would bump the price up even higher. MSI’s GT680R also includes a “Turbo” feature, only this time instead of overclocking the CPU (as in the previous generation GX640), it overclocks the GTX 460M slightly. GPU memory speed is unaffected, so the benefit ranges from negligible to potentially 5% thanks to the GPU overclock (708MHz instead of the stock 675MHz). In practice, there’s a bit more variance than that, but it’s typically just the margin of error for gaming benchmarks.

Battlefield: Bad Company 2

DiRT 2

Left 4 Dead 2

Mafia II

Mass Effect 2

Metro 2033

Stalker: Call of Pripyat

StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty

Starting with our High Detail benchmarking, the first thing to note is that all games are playable (i.e. above 30FPS), and even at the LCD’s native 1080p all games remain so, with the exception of Metro 2033. That happens to be a punishing title on even the fastest of GPUs, so we wouldn’t worry too much about the lower score. Also worth noting is that for some reason, both the G73SW and the MSI GT680R scored exceptionally high on the STALKER benchmark; there’s apparently something wrong with our test resolution of 1600x900, as 1600x1024 and 1366x768 both ran much slower. We’ve chosen to scale the 1600x1024 result by 13.8% (i.e. 1024 is 13.8% more than 900) as the 900p score of 114.6 is clearly wrong—we’re just not sure why the test runs so much faster than other resolutions. This appears to be a bug in the 266.58 NVIDIA driver, as performance with older drivers was as expected.

As far as comparisons go, the G73SW ends up being anywhere from 10% slower to 10% faster than the older G73JW. In theory, it should never be slower, but driver changes likely account for the discrepancies. The performance in BFBC2, L4D2, and Metro 2033 remains unchanged (i.e. the new CPU doesn’t change the performance at all); DiRT 2 and Mafia II are 6% and 9% faster, respectively; finally, StarCraft II is the poster child for Sandy Bridge, as performance is up a healthy 43%. Moving over to the MSI GT680R comparison, as expected the differences are generally negligible. BFBC2 and Metro 2033 are 6% faster and L4D2 is 8% faster, while the remaining five titles are within 1% of each other. And then there’s the P170HM with GTX 485M, which is anywhere from 13% (StarCraft II) to 73% (Metro 2033) faster than the G73SW. Actually, only L4D2 and SC2 are under 25%; the other six titles show an improvement of at least 41%.

Battlefield: Bad Company 2

DiRT 2

Left 4 Dead 2

Mafia II

Mass Effect 2

Metro 2033

STALKER: Call of Pripyat

StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty

Bumping up to our Ultra settings tends to be too much for most of the single-GPU mobile solutions. DiRT 2, L4D2, and Mass Effect 2 still break 30FPS, but everything else is in the 20s or even teens. One of the major issues with most mobile GPUs is that they simply don’t have the memory bandwidth to handle high detail settings with 4xAA, but then there are titles like Metro 2033 and STALKER where enabling DX11 features and SSAO just kills performance. Even the mighty 485M and 480M SLI fail to break 20FPS in Metro 2033 at our Ultra settings.

Looking at comparisons once more, this time the G73JW and G73SW are nearly tied (-1% to 4% lead for the SW), with the exception of Metro where the SW is 44% “faster”. Of course, 12.1FPS versus 8.4FPS is hardly a meaningful comparison, as neither option is remotely playable. The slight overclock of the GT680R GPU also fails to help here, as the memory bandwidth requirements overshadow the 5% core clock increase, resulting in scores that are all within 1%. Finally, the GTX 485M is able to post comfortable leads across the test suite. The closest the G73SW can get is in STALKER, where the 485M is 47% faster; in the remaining titles the lead is at least 55% and as much as 73%.

When you consider the total cost of a gaming notebook, the extra $500 to upgrade the P170HM to a GTX 485M actually starts to make sense—who'd have thought? But what about the HD 6970M from AMD? If you don’t mind a little spoiler.... <spoiler>I can tell you that out of the eight titles we test, the GTX 485M leads in five games and the 6970M takes the other three; most of the margins are single-digit percentages, but a few break into double-digits. It looks like NVIDIA will maintain their overall lead in mobile GPU performance, but only by a small amount; the question now is how the two GPUs compare in terms of power, heat, pricing, and availability. We’ll get into that more with our review of the Clevo P150HM next week… </spoiler>

Application Performance: Plenty Fast Investigating Battery Life and Power
POST A COMMENT

56 Comments

View All Comments

  • ph00ny - Tuesday, March 08, 2011 - link

    What about the higher res screen? laptop bluray drive?
    you're really starting reach with aftermarket this and aftermarket that
    Reply
  • Kaboose - Saturday, March 12, 2011 - link

    Blu ray is pointless, i download everything including 1080p movies. the screen isnt a big deal as long as it is bigger then 1336x768 at this size it is fine. Reply
  • Penti - Friday, March 04, 2011 - link

    It's really a mistake not to build a consumer gaming laptop on a hybrid solution. What good is it if it can not work as a portable DTR? We have seen where all the other high-end offerings have gone. People do like a laptop that can say play Starcraft 2 but also likes to actually have the ability to use it unplugged. You shouldn't have to chose any more, you can have portable gaming without making sticking a battery in the unit pointless. It's fine that you have to plug in to play, but not for surfing on a wireless network. Units with high-end quadcores and GTX 485M might as well not have a battery in them. This unit would have done fine just by sticking a HM65 chipset in there though. If your gaming unit isn't working as a portable and you have to use another notebook then you might as well build a stationary machine for gaming. Reply
  • Hrel - Friday, March 04, 2011 - link

    Exactly! Anandtech needs youtube style comments, I want to like this. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, March 04, 2011 - link

    Sorry about the error, but the G73SW actually uses the HM65 chipset. I did a copy/paste/edit of the G73JW table and missed a few items. That said, the system doesn't use the IGP so there's still no Optimus. As I comment below, I think it's because some OEMs don't like dealing with the dual GPUs and the occasional glitch. I can understand the sentiment, and with 17.3" notebooks I think the majority of buyers will rarely use them on DC for more than an hour at a time. Reply
  • jigglywiggly - Friday, March 04, 2011 - link

    MAKE IT 15in and I will buy it.
    17in is just unreasonable for moi.
    Reply
  • Hrel - Friday, March 04, 2011 - link

    But is there a reason this laptop doesn't have Optimus? Nvidia's website says the GPU supports it, so why doesn't this laptop use it? Seriously, it's 2011, ALL laptops should have switheable graphics at this point.

    Also, I'd like to see these specs in a 15.6" shell; and don't crap out of the LCD this time Asus! For 1200 or less.

    I'd also really like to see a 1080p laptop with the GT540M in a 14" class laptop.
    Reply
  • Hrel - Friday, March 04, 2011 - link

    oh and a note and that price I suggested; I don't need blue ray. I wouldn't ever even use it. I t hold absolutely no value for me at all. Really it doesn't even NEED a dvd drive. I can plug in an external one if for some reason I need to load something off a disc. I just use hard drives and thumb drives for everything now a days. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, March 04, 2011 - link

    Regarding Optimus, because it's a driver solution based on profiles, there are still occasional glitches. I've discussed this in previous articles (i.e. http://www.anandtech.com/show/4139/cougar-point-xp... However, the occasional Optimus issue is overshadowed by the much better battery life and QuickSync support, so I'm with you guys. Reply
  • Hrel - Friday, March 04, 2011 - link

    There a few notebooks I'd REALLY love to see reviewed.

    Clevo: P151HM1, W150HN. Both with 1080p screen. The first has the GTX460M and the second has the GT540M. I already have a solid idea of performance with the given parts, but I'm very interested in speaker quality, chassis quality, keyboard quality. Things Jarred, you tend to hit on well. Unfortunately these still aren't available in actual stores so the only way I can find this stuff out is a really good review; or buy it and take that risk.

    Compal: I don't know the model number cause I can't find it anywhere anymore but a 15.6" 1080p Compal with the GT540M and Sandy Bridge.

    What are the chances of getting these in house for a review? And what kind of time frame would we be looking at? Thanks!
    Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now