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
POST A COMMENT

115 Comments

View All Comments

  • TheinsanegamerN - Thursday, July 11, 2013 - link

    the notebook review showed throttling. its been well established this machine has some serious thermal problems. Reply
  • Darkstone - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    Prime95 is far from 'Not remotely close to any scenario an user will even encounter'. All threaded applications i have personally written reach the 45W TDP limit without problems on my i7-2820QM. Which is exactly the amount of power that the processor will sustain even if the core is held at sub-zero temperatures.

    Notebookcheck measures massive throtteling under prime95 + furmark with the GT70: the CPU reports under 1/4th the package power it should, the GPU downlocks to 587Mhz the second prime95 starts.

    Remember: the M17x has no problems with simultaneous CPU and GPU load, even with prime95 and furmark. The GPU doesn't even reach 70° (with HD 7970m) without throttling. That seems like an unusual scenario, but not until you factor in dust or warmer climates. A notebook should not throttle on a stress test from day 1.
    Reply
  • huaxshin - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    In fact, Notebookcheck bragged about how the cooling have improved from the older GT70 series, now with the new bridge between the CPU and the GPU. Both thermal wise and noise wise. Reply
  • huaxshin - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    And now to your temperature measurements.

    Since Dragon Edition is basically a GT70 with red colour, you can compare this review against Notebookcheck`s own review of GT70 with GTX 780M. Exact same hardware as this review, 4700MQ.

    In Notebookcheck`s Extreme test, with Furmark and Prime95 running simultanously, they got 92C Max for the CPU and 93C for the GPU. Since Furmark and Prime95 is a benchmark that push the GPU and CPU to the absurd extremeness that nobody will EVER encounter with this notebook, the temperatures when gaming will be MUCH lower. Notebookcheck ran the fan without the turbo mode.

    Anandtech however got 98C for the CPU when just gaming?!

    Bad paste job from the factory maybe? A respectable reviewer should understand that no OEM would ever put components in a notebook that run on 98C. Didn`t any alarm ring in your head that something isn`t right here when watching the temperature skyrocket?

    I`m so dissappointed in you guys. You did everything wrong in this review. I just hope you didn`t test the games without the turbo fan on.
    Reply
  • huaxshin - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    Not just was this a spit in your fan base with a poor review, this was a mockery of MSI`s flagship notebook as well as Nvidia`s newest GPU, GTX 780M. Reply
  • ZeDestructor - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    "Bad paste job from the factory maybe? A respectable reviewer should understand that no OEM would ever put components in a notebook that run on 98C. Didn`t any alarm ring in your head that something isn`t right here when watching the temperature skyrocket?"

    Then their QC is so bad they can't send reviewers a cherry picked, top quality sample (evey single company does this, and it's public knowledge at this point). If the top units they send to reviewers has QC issues, what about the mass production version? No thanks, I'll stick to my Clevos and Alienwares for gaming laptops, and ThinkPad/Precision for mobile workstation. At least don't have WC issues on review units...

    On the other hand, I am curious as to why they didn't ask MSI about it... Most companies usually follow up by sending another review unit and fixing WC for mass production...

    Finally, 98°C isn't as high as laptops can go.. I used to game on a laptop that ran steady at 102°C. Granted, the poor HSF module was cooling beyond its limits (GPU swap), but it ran fine.
    Reply
  • huaxshin - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    The point is, the temperatures SCREAM bad paste job or something other with the cooling system that is not normal.
    "Cooler Boost 2" is MSI`s newest improvement in this notebook. It bridge the CPU and the GPU together to create a huge heatsink. So the thermal capacity have improved. Which you clearly see in the other review I mentioned.

    Anandtech should have never posted this review, but asked MSI to get a new notebook from them, or repasted the CPU themselves. You don`t put out a review of a product which is not functioning correctly like it should.

    Go read user reviews on Notebookreview forum. Nobody have any high temperatures gaming.
    Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    ""Cooler Boost 2" is MSI`s newest improvement in this notebook."

    Phrasing like that is aaawwwwwwful suspect.
    Reply
  • huaxshin - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    Right, so you have nothing to counter all my arguments with?
    I cannot believe you pushed out this review and thought 98C for the CPU is what the engineers at MSI have considered normal. Or that people should be forced to use the Turbo fan mode.

    Jarred Walton would be much better at dealing with reviews like this. Looks to me like you rushed out this review just to post something new to show.
    Anandtech just fell many places down as a reputable reviewer site.

    I know the difference between "Cooler Boost 1" and "Cooler Boost 2" thank you. Its much easier to write "Cooler Boost 2" than "a new copper bridge between the CPU and the GPU to spread out the heat more between the two. And therefor not have the CPU to run much hotter than the GPU, forcing the fan to go up in speed"

    ;)
    Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    Except that the CPU actually runs fine and doesn't throttle when the 780M isn't in use.

    I review what I'm sent. The system I was sent has serious thermal issues with the CPU and there's no reason a 180W PSU shouldn't be able to handle this hardware. I've spoken to contacts in the industry that have seen a high amount of variance in the quality of these units and I may very well have gotten a lemon, but that doesn't actually change whether or not the system can be recommended, does it?

    The cooling system MSI employs is inferior to the one employed in the Alienware M17x, likely the Alienware 17, and in Clevo units, full stop. Almost every other gaming notebook in this class has separate thermal zones for the CPU and the GPU for a reason.

    And I absolutely believe engineers would consider 98C for a CPU core to be normal. Did you not see the first generation Razer Blade? I've reviewed enough notebooks to know that some vendors will let the CPU cook if it means hitting specific design targets, whether it's acoustics, or form factor, or what have you. The GT70 is actually pretty quiet under normal load, but again, probably because the CPU is roasting itself.
    Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now