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In one of the most "interesting" moves I've seen in the mobile market, MSI has equipped their GX60 gaming notebook with an HD 7970M...paired with an AMD A10-4600M APU. Curious to see how the combination would stack up against the Intel i7-3720QM + HD 7970M combination used in AVADirect's Clevo P170EM, I ran some quick benchmarks and put together a video of Batman: Arkham City showing the systems running side by side. First, here's the video link:

Not surprisingly, the Ivy Bridge solution walks away from the Trinity laptop when we turn down the details a bit, but at maximum quality the two solutions appear relatively close. The issue is that while average frame rates may be close in some cases, minimum frame rates often tell the real story. There are points in the above video where Trinity falls to sub-30 FPS for a second or two at a time, which can be very noticeable in gameplay.

Anyway, I'm curious: are you interested in more videos like this? It takes a lot more time than a simple reporting of a benchmark number, but if there's enough demand for it I'll be happy to oblige. I should also note that there are some titles where the Trinity and Ivy Bridge notebooks are fairly close in performance (at maximum detail at least), while other titles are even more in favor of a faster CPU (e.g. Skyrim). Regardless, the full review of the MSI GX60 will be forthcoming.

Pricing for the GX60 is the one area where MSI looks to beat Intel HD 7970M offerings. The base model comes with a 750GB hard drive, 8GB RAM, A10-4600M, and of course the HD 7970M. Right now (if it's in stock), you can get that configuration for around $1200. Our particular unit takes yet another odd approach by including a 128GB RAID 0 SSD set for the OS and apps, which might sound appealing until you realize they're using SanDisk U100 drives (not exactly the fastest SSDs around); we're not sure what pricing is for this particular configuration. AVADirect's P170EM by contrast is priced at $1519, with a $100 off coupon available at the time of writing. That will get you an i7-3630QM and the 7970M, so for about $150 to $200 extra, for gaming purposes we recommend most users go that route.

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  • Rontalk - Saturday, December 15, 2012 - link

    So how fair is to pull the few most CPU heavy games, than the reader will see Yes A10 is really slower, while in most games would perform equally with Intel?
    And I think this is the site which tested Intel HD4000 for almost as fast as Radeon HD7660G (Trinity). Yes in the few exceptional games almost as fast, while in the 90% of games HD4000 is a joke comparing to 7660G.
    Reply
  • frozentundra123456 - Saturday, December 15, 2012 - link

    Well, I cant say what the results would be because we havent seen any results for more cpu intensive games. But if the A10 is limiting in even some of the popular current CPU intensive games it will probably be even more limited in games in a year or two. And some of the CPU intensive games such as Skyrim, Civ 5, and BF3 multiplayer, as well as many MMOs are among the most popular ones.

    If you are so biased in favor of AMD that you would limit yourself to a partial selection of games now, and probably even a more limited selection in the future, to save a couple hundred dollars on a 1000.00 plus purchase, go for it. Not to mention if you are GPU limited, you can run at lower settings or resolutions, while if you are CPU limited there are not many settings you can adjust to compensate for that.
    Reply
  • frozentundra123456 - Saturday, December 15, 2012 - link

    I am glad you tested this laptop, as I have been wondering for a long time how limiting the A10 would be with this powerful mobile GPU. That said, I am not a big fan of video analysis or even walkthroughs for games. Guess I am old school, but I would prefer to read the information. Just seems quicker and more efficient than watching a video and you can get a lot more information faster.

    I am eagerly awaiting a full test of this laptop. Personally, anything over 30fps seems adequate to me for most games, so I will be very interested if it can play more demanding games, maybe like Witcher 2 or Metro 2033 at high settings and 1080p. It would also be interesting to compare this machine with an intel gaming laptop of the same price with the best video card for that price point, as well as a lower end gaming laptop such as the 15.6 inch Lenovo Y580 which you can get now for less than 900 dollars with at GT660M.
    Reply
  • HisDivineOrder - Saturday, December 15, 2012 - link

    The real question is if Trinity suffers from the same problems with Frame latency as the 7xxx series does. I mean, who cares if you have all these frames if you have hitching that makes the framerate still look inconsistent?

    Of course, for that you'd need a highspeed camera...
    Reply
  • silverblue - Saturday, December 15, 2012 - link

    The 7660D in the A10 is actually a VLIW4 offering much like the 6900 series; not sure if that would help here. Reply
  • LordConrad - Saturday, December 15, 2012 - link

    As long as the articles are in-depth and written well, and the benchmark numbers are good, I see no reason for the videos. Reply
  • Dorky89 - Saturday, December 15, 2012 - link

    Sounded very Intel biased when I've seen totally good frame rates on AMD A10-4600M too and the difference was minimal between two of them in extreme settings. So if a gamer laptop play games very-well on extreme what is the problem with it for $1200? Reply
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, December 15, 2012 - link

    Minimum frame rates of <10 FPS are horrible, particularly if they occur on a regular basis. Which you rather have? Steady state 45FPS with no fluctuations, or 60FPS 98% of the time and 10FPS 2% of the time? I'd take the steady 45FPS every time. Of course, that's not what's on offer here, but when you have periodic slowdowns to <30FPS, it's very noticeable in the gameplay -- everything starts to stutter. Reply
  • Rontalk - Sunday, December 16, 2012 - link

    I've seen the minimal 30FPS in the entire test, but if you experiencing drops, why do not you try to lock the CPU cores at 2.7GHz to keep steady performance? Because AMD has this option too with PSCheck, maybe with Overdrive as well!
    Also when you think for future games, those probably will all support quad cores, because today games are wrote to Dual or Quad Core CPUs. Obviously a Dual Core optimized game will bottleneck more on A10, because the per Core performance is low. Once a game use all available Cores AMD will bottlneck less or maybe not at all.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Sunday, December 16, 2012 - link

    The problem isn't the CPUs causing the FPS to drop, but rather a change in the complexity of the scenes being rendered. Face one direction and frame rates might be 70+ FPS; turn and see a bunch of smoke, henchmen, a cityscape, etc. and even though your CPU and GPU are running at the same clocks, you get a drop in frame rate because each frame requires more work to compute.

    As far as dual-core Intel vs. quad-core AMD, what you say would be true if they ran at the same clocks and accomplished the same amount of work per clock. Simply put, neither of those assumptions is remotely true. A10-4600M has a maximum core clock of 3.2GHz and a guaranteed clock of 2.3GHz; something like an i3-3120M has a steady clock of 2.5GHz, whereas an i5-3210M has a base clock of 2.5GHz and a max turbo of 3.2GHz. In tests, the i5-3210M is up to 2.5x as fast in single-threaded benchmarks (Cinebench 10 1CPU), and it's still up to 40% faster in multi-threaded workloads. So yeah, the "more cores is better" idea only works when the cores aren't totally gimped by comparison.

    Considering that i5-3210M equipped laptops (new!) run almost $100 less than A10-4600M equipped laptops, that's not a very good starting point -- you can get Core i5 + GT 640M for the same price. A10-4600M really needs to be selling in laptops that cost $500, but the manufacturers seem to be banking on the interest in the iGPU so instead they start at $600. It delivers good enough performance, sure, but so does everything else -- even Celerons with 4GB RAM run everything outside of games and computationally intensive workloads fine.

    The problem is that games remain primarily lightly threaded -- few use more than two cores, and even then it's more like using 1.5 cores -- so having two cores that are each twice as fast already puts you in the lead. Hyper-Threading and other enhancements only increase the gap. Batman is hardly the worst performance of Trinity, particularly at max settings. Unless you can promise me that no other games will ever be like, say, Skyrim (one of my favorite games) or Civ5 (another great game), I'd rather spend $150 more for the 2x increase in CPU performance to go along with the high-end gaming GPU.
    Reply

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