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


View All Comments

  • TheinsanegamerN - Thursday, July 11, 2013 - link

    the clevo w230st is 13 inch with the hardware power of a fully upgraded alienware 14. and way cheaper too. Reply
  • kallogan - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

  • hellfish - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    if you read the story its msi fan fail. To quote "Haswell is certainly faster clock for clock" Reply
  • ZeDestructor - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    Optical Drive TSSTCorp SN-506BB Blu-ray writer

    Chuck this out and you have all the space you need for cooling. While keeping room for another HDD or mSATA/mPCI-E SSD Cluster. Seriously, optical media needs to die. ASAP!
  • Darkstone - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    Dustin, you have to be careful detecting clock speeds. Furmark is the only tool i know that correctly detects graphics card throtteling in every case. For an example, see taken from GPU-z thinks that the GPU is happily running at it's max clock speeds. This is obviously not the case.

    On the CPU side, CPU-z seems to be unable to detect throtteling in all cases with haswell. See taken from CPU-z states the CPU runs at 2.8Ghz, so does Intel turbo boost monitor. Yet Hardware Monitor measures a package power of 12.63w. No way that is possible on that clock speeds while running 8 threads on prime95. I have personally tested an i7-3820QM under prime95 and it draws around 45W @ 3.2Ghz. Haswell shouldn't be that much more power efficient under load.
  • MrSpadge - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    Or the power reading is wrong?

    Crunching BOINC on my HD4000 results in 12 -14 W reported power draw, depending on clock speeds. Yet at the wall I'm drawing 16 - 32 W (1150 - 1350 MHz with adjusted voltage), so it seems those reading simply do not factor supply voltage in, which seems perplexing.
  • Darkstone - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    The maximum power draw of the HD 3000 is around 12w, or 20w with furmark, those results are not surprising. Intel uses the same sensor to determine when to throttle the processor. My i7-2820QM runs around 2.6Ghz when all 8 threads are stressed, consuming 45w. Under lighter loads the processor still consumes 45w on higher clock speeds.

    I usually use the Package Power sensor to determine whether the processor is throttling instead of the clock speeds.
  • Paapaa125 - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    Please include units to upper battery life charts. "229"? Points? Minutes? Hours? What? Reply
  • Meaker10 - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    The fan draws air from the bottom vents (not directly under the fan) and from the keyboard and blows it out the back and side at the same time. It does not suck air through either heatsink.

    The paste job on your cpu likley needed redoing.
  • Meaker10 - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    Further cooler boost takes your cpu temps down to 86 at which point you should not see any throttle.The issue may actually be the 180w brick at thwt point. Reply

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