Gaming Performance

I had been hoping the MSI GT70 Dragon Edition would be an able demonstration of the performance of Intel's Haswell and NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 780M. While we can isolate the CPU performance easily enough, isolating GPU performance is much trickier. NVIDIA is using boost clocks on the GTX 780M, which means it's able to turbo up depending on thermal and power headroom, and there's actually a healthy enough variation in clocks that different chassis will be able to produce different levels of performance.

There's also the cooling system of the MSI GT70 Dragon Edition, which either doesn't have or just barely has the capacity to handle a combined 150W of heat.

Entry-level gaming results are in Bench, but suffice to say the GTX 780M is more than adequate for those settings, and so for the review I'm going to stick to Mainstream and Enthusiast level benchmarks.

Bioshock Infinite - Mainstream

Elder Scrolls: Skyrim - Mainstream

GRID 2 - Mainstream

Metro: Last Light - Mainstream

Sleeping Dogs - Mainstream

StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm - Mainstream

Tomb Raider - Mainstream

In situations where the CPU is not a limiting factor, the 780M is able to boast a healthy lead on the 680M. But you'll notice that the GT70 Dragon is actually underperforming in certain cases; the CPU is getting throttled due to heat. The superior cooling system of the Alienware M17x is able to dissipate far more heat than the GT70's is.

Bioshock Infinite - Enthusiast

Elder Scrolls: Skyrim - Enthusiast

GRID 2 - Enthusiast

Metro: Last Light - Enthusiast

Sleeping Dogs - Enthusiast

StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm - Enthusiast

Tomb Raider - Enthusiast

Situations that stress the GPU more exclusively can result in healthy gains over the 680M, but overall stress on the CPU stemming from processor-intensive games like Skyrim and StarCraft II, as well as the hit from TressFX in Tomb Raider, effectively keeps the 780M from really stretching its legs.

Remember that on paper, at stock clocks, the 780M has at least 22% more shader power than the 680M and 39% more memory bandwidth. That means that, bare minimum, the 780M should be roughly 15%-20% faster than its predecessor. We're getting that in the traditionally GPU intensive Sleeping Dogs and Metro: Last Light, and most of it in BioShock: Infinite. But other games see lower gains, or are even slower on the GT70 Dragon Edition despite it having directly superior hardware.

System Performance Build Quality, Heat, and Noise
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  • NA1NSXR - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    Maybe some of us can't have a desktop, which is kind of the point of the segment. Not everyone is anchored down to a town, a state, or even a country. For me, someone who was accustomed to powerful desktops, resorting to a laptop for everything I need a computer to do was hard, but it had to be done after taking a job overseas. Thanks to this segment, I have preserved all of the functionality of my desktop with reasonable performance. The big chassis allows these machines to be overclocked to decent speeds. My Ivy Bridge is running at 3.8GHz on 4 cores and 4GHz on 1, and my 680M runs at 967MHz on load, all with excellent temperatures. I would say I salvaged a good 80% of my desktop performance after being forced on to a laptop and on a day to day basis this is quite acceptable. If this segment did not exist my situation would require a huge compromise in my computing experience, so these "back breakers" are far from ridiculous to me. Reply
  • wdfmph - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    Yes, for people constantly on their way to somewhere and needs tons of computing power, it make sense. Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    Just because you don't understand a concept doesn't mean it intrinsically has no value. I don't personally like ultrabooks at all, but I recognize their appeal and purpose, and I recognize why they exist.

    What you need to understand is that the traditional notebook is effectively being put out to pasture. Entry-level computing is going to be done with tablets and convertibles in not too long, ultrabooks are going to be for actual portable computing, and for high performance mobile computing, gaming laptops and mobile workstations will persist. There are a million reasons to go with just a laptop; my M17x R3 goes with me to friends' houses frequently to game, and on trips it's a good substitute for a full on desktop.

    Also consider that PC gaming is enjoying a bit of a resurgence in popularity right now. We cover what we're sent, and the GTX 780M especially is worth covering.
    Reply
  • wdfmph - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    I understand there's a niche market for gaming laptop and personally I liked the design of the already dead Voodoo PC. I like pay games on PC. I'm happy to see many AAA PC games coming out. With all due respect, gaming laptop is good for hardcore gamers like you to carry around. It better than carrying a huge computer case to attend a LAN party.

    I wish someday I could only take my phone and ipad to go to work. However, if I try that tomorrow, or someday next year, I am basically fooling around at office. A new Surface pro might be something close try, but with a price and weight like that, many might just opt for an "traditional" notebook such as Macbook air or slim ultrabook. Tablets and convertibles are making attempts to substitute notebooks in some way, but to be successful, serious efforts are needed from silicon to software.I don't see that will happen soon.
    Reply
  • RAWRscary - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    Amazing how narrow of a view you have. Reply
  • Flunk - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    I actually own both a "gaming" laptop and a desktop system. The laptop is useful when out and about and good enough for a game on the go, but I mostly bought it for software development because it was cheaper than a mobile workstation. The one I have is a little smaller (6.5lbs) but I don't find the weight or size unmanageable. As long as it fits in the backpack I'm good. Reply
  • BobBobson - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    Yes wdfmph, that is right!

    And I dont understand those queer African types who walk 10 miles every morning just to fetch some water from the well. Why don't they just go to their kitchens and turn on the cold water tap!? Idiots!
    Reply
  • ickibar1234 - Saturday, June 29, 2013 - link

    Gaming laptops now days aren't just for gamers, they are for Engineers and computer enthusiasts. GPUs can do so much more than just rendering these days. Also the ability to put in an Extreme CPU years down the road for cheap is a great deal. Reply
  • skiboysteve - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    Thanks for the review. Good to see people using the haswell quads. Too bad this one sucks.

    I really want a thin and light laptop with the 4900MQ or 4950HQ and no discrete graphics. Just a work laptop CPU powerhouse. Only 47W to dissipate with no graphics to worry about. Why doesn't anyone build this? I would buy it for work today!
    Reply
  • Flunk - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    There are actually a few options for a quad-core Haswell without discrete graphics. Look at business-class systems like Thinkpads, Dell Lattitude or maybe HP's Elitebooks. Reply

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