Conclusion: Green Dragon

Each time I've tested this chassis from MSI I've been a little less enamored with it. Finding a good gaming notebook isn't a trivial thing and there's a lot of room for innovation and improvement in this market segment, but it seems like only Alienware, Razer, and maybe ASUS are actually trying (although Toshiba's next-gen Qosmio is a pretty attractive alternative as well). This is basically the third generation of this chassis from MSI and improvements are incremental to non-existent.

To be sure, there are nice features in the MSI GT70 Dragon Edition. I like the red aluminum shell, and despite an awful layout for western consumers, the keyboard still has some of the best action you can find in a gaming portable. Killer wired and wireless networking is much appreciated, and there's at least a little bit of appeal in a notebook that has three mSATA ports. Finally, though it's the same 1080p panel we've tested three times now, it's still a perfectly good one.

Unfortunately MSI seems to have juggled the wrong design decisions with the GT70 Dragon Edition to court western consumers. The number one line item isn't performance or industrial design, it's always "features." You wind up with a gaudy shell instead of a clean design. Instead of fixing the cooling system or at least tweaking the fan profile, they simply add a toggle above the keyboard to set the fan to maximum. This is not a feature, this is deliberately sabotaging your own product to add another bullet point in your marketing material.

The keyboard could be amazing, but MSI opted to save a few bucks by just using the same bezel and key layout for every region; that's why you have a slash key next to the spacebar. And instead of using a sensible layout of document navigation keys about the keypad, they included the borderline useless Scroll Lock and Pause/Break keys. Which one do you use more? So why would Home and End be Fn combinations? It's a small thing but an incredible nuisance that again sabotages a potentially good product. The GT70 could at least have potentially my favorite keyboard, but there's no thought to it and no understanding of how westerners even type.

Here's a gaming notebook that has a mountain of bullet point features: backlit SteelSeries keyboard, Killer networking, 1080p display, fan toggle, "Super RAID 2" (just three mSATA SSDs in RAID 0), Sound Blaster Cinema...but the cooling system is a bust. It fails at the single job it's supposed to do best. I cannot in good conscience recommend the GT70 Dragon Edition until MSI fixes the keyboard layout, enlarges the touchpad, or at least, heaven forbid, produces a system that doesn't thermally throttle. In an ultrabook, throttling is a problem but can be forgivable. In a high performance system? Inexcusable.

Battery Life


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  • Darkstone - Wednesday, June 19, 2013 - link

    Of course it can throttle at 70°. Notebookcheck recently tested a clevo with haswell that throttles at 70°

    A classmate of mine uses to have an low-end HP with A6 APU. The part throttled as soon as it hit 70°. The throttling temperature is a choice. The thinkpad's throttle at 100°, the XPS 15 (l521x) does not throttle at all (shutdown) with early bios.
  • JarredWalton - Monday, June 24, 2013 - link

    Excuse me, huaxshin, aka Cloudfire/Cloudfire777 from our forums, aka Cloudfire over at NotebookReview forums:

    One, we're not looking at the Ivy Bridge i7-3610QM with GTX 680M, are we? Two, we don't fix problems caused by the manufacturer of a notebook (though we do tend to email them and say, "this is underperforming...."). Three, I said "I'm wondering..." not "this is happening"; on further investigations, it appears to be mostly Enduro/APU related. Four, no other review out there is showing results with the GT70 Dragon Haswell+780M edition that are actually significantly different than our numbers; oh, they test different games, and when the CPU isn't taxed as much and therefore doesn't get as hot and therefore doesn't throttle, performance of GTX 780M can be higher than GTX 680M, but that's not what happens in a lot of games.

    Are we done here? You appear to like MSI a lot, having owned one of their laptops and having also commented extensively on forums under the name Cloudfire about MSI hardware. Maybe you own some other notebooks as well, maybe not. The fact is, we report on what we are sent, and if a manufacturer wants to fix a problem they can get in contact with us. When hardware is shipping to end users, though, it's not time to delay for several weeks or more to get an even better cherry picked sample; it's time to post findings. Our findings right now are that MSI's latest GT70 Dragon with GTX 780M and Haswell has some serious problems. Until/unless those get fixed, we cannot recommend this notebook.

    Show me a review that has the same notebook hardware (not a "similar" notebook that has Ivy Bridge or GTX 680M!), and they have some figures that show much better performance and lower temperatures under similar tests to what we have posted, get back to me. Notebookcheck, incidentally, has not actually reviewed this particular laptop. Neither has NotebookReview. Most places that have reviewed it only have one or two gaming tests, often with substantially inferior hardware on a "comparable" system -- like, using GTX 675MX vs. GTX 780M instead of GTX 680M. The fact is that we ran a full suite of tests with the 780M and several other laptops, even going so far as to delay the review a bit to get a full set of up to date GTX 680M numbers. No one else even tried to do that, and at best I've seen reviews with three games and numbers from three or four laptops.
  • huaxshin - Wednesday, June 19, 2013 - link

    Sure, compare motherboard with a notebook. That makes sense.

    You have an axe to grind against MSI, so you jump in with this childish comment.
  • BobBobson - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    A good honest review, the first of its kind I have read. This review corresponds to the behavior of my own GT70 notebook.

    Perhaps MSI somehow got a GT70 intended for the masses mixed up with a cherry picked GT70 intended for the Anandtech review.
  • landsome - Wednesday, June 19, 2013 - link

    Well, no intention here to fan the fire, but I find it all of this ironic. I own a GT663R and it performs admirably cool with a 920XM (55w) and a replacement videocard of the (now almost) last generation - a 7970M. At stock speeds it's 89C max for the CPU and 83C max for the GPU in prime+furmark - and all that on a Delta 150W psu, on a moderately hot summer day, no throttling, no other cooling except a few holes drilled below the single fan (not my doing). Both CPU and GPU are supposed to be powerhogs and pretty hot too.

    So while it's pretty obvious huaxshin has a big axe to grind (if only in light of his persistence), I would also assume MSI has done an improper paste job on Dustin's sample (not their prerogative exclusively - I once gained an amazing -13C by repasting a Dell M6600). What this says about QC @ MSI is another matter entirely...
  • pinkyswear - Wednesday, June 19, 2013 - link

    In the review, you said the system fan pulls air in from the back and exhausts it through the side vent. The fan would actually pull in air from the bottom and exhaust it through the side and the back. If it felt to your hand like air was cool in the back and warm on the side, it means the heatsink for the 780M was working and the 4700MQ was not. When you opened up the machine to take pictures, did you remove any part of the CPU heatsink? The fact that no warm air is blowing out of the back means that something is wrong with the CPU or the heatsink installation. Reply
  • Khenglish - Thursday, June 20, 2013 - link

    Yes there is no way that air is coming in through the CPU radiator. It may seem that way though because since the fan spins clockwise (when looking at the laptop with the bottom plate off), it will build up air speed for the 270 degrees that there is no radiator and blow that out the GPU radiator, while the CPU radiator does not have any air buildup, and thus the air move through it much more slowly and is hard to feel.

    If you guys put you hand to your laptop fans you will notice that far more air blows through one side than the other.

    One fan just does not cut it with these high power components. Then when you add on that MSI uses aluminum radiators, you just have disaster.
  • secretmanofagent - Thursday, June 20, 2013 - link

    Just wanted to say, great review, ignore the spam flying around. Reply
  • watzupken - Friday, June 21, 2013 - link

    Having done some homework back then while looking out for a gaming laptop, I do agree that the cooling does look insufficient for a high end gaming laptop. I really doubt the blower fan is pushing out sufficient air through both the heatsinks. Reply
  • michael777 - Monday, June 24, 2013 - link

    I would like to refer in this discussion for a moment to MSI GT70H-80M4811B which was mentioned somewhere above. The cheaper dragons brother was on my shopping list until I read this massive discussion here. To remind it it has the same CPU and GPU with only one SSD and 8GB Ram, rest stays the same. In most of the german webstores the above costs approx 2000 euros and unfortuantely nowhere you can have an alienware with i7 and 780GTX for that price. So there goes my question: if you not willing spending on a gaming laptop more that 2000 does that underperfoming is really such an issue? Isnt it still the best laptop speaking of gaming performance for that money? Am I risking anything more then few frames less in few games compare to actually more expensive competition? Thanks for advice and lots of professional info here. Reply

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