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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  • huaxshin - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    I used to own a GT70. It had GTX 680M and i7 3610QM. The components reached maybe max 72C after gaming for many hours. So I`m raising big question about this review since the thermal capacity have improved along with a GPU with slightly higher Core count.

    And the fact that you got HIGHER temperatures than Notebookcheck when they pushed the GPU and the CPU to the very limit by using artificial benchmarks like Prime95 and Furmark. Programs known to have killed a dozen of systems because of the stress they put on the components.

    How do you explain that?

    I absolutely believe you got a notebook with some crappy paste job. And that caused the game tests you have to show a incorrect picture of the newest GTX 780M as well as MSIs own notebook. I hope you have contacted MSI to get a new system or atleast some explanation, because what this review shows is not normal.

    Nor is fair to compare Razer, very thin notebook with low end components, with a pure gaming notebook, which is very thick, and have the industries biggest fan to cool off the components. Which you failed to write about in the review. Its not just 1 fan, but a big one.

    180W PSU is also more than enough, shown by internal tests by resellers I know. It even allows overclocking. The CPU throttling didn`t come from lack of power, it came from bad temperatures.
  • huaxshin - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    Time to redo the review. For the sake of Anandtech as well as MSIs reputation.

  • ZeDestructor - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    "I used to own a GT70. It had GTX 680M and i7 3610QM. The components reached maybe max 72C after gaming for many hours. So I`m raising big question about this review since the thermal capacity have improved along with a GPU with slightly higher Core count."

    Did you read the review? The older model CLEARLY had a different cooling design. Like, 2 fans vs 1. On opposite ends of the chassis.
  • huaxshin - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    Eh, no. MSI have never had 2 fans.

    And yes, the older model had a different cooling design. A worse one.
  • ZeDestructor - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    Actually, I take that back, here's the old model:

    as you may notice: SEPERATE heatpipes. Somehow they didn't account for the VRMs moving on chip.... Gee, maybe they should've paid attention when Intel announced quite proudly that Haswell would have integrated VRMs. and started redesigning there and then.

    The 680M is a cut-down, lower power version of the 780M too, so naturally it will run cooler.
  • BobBobson - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    Gee Whizz....

    Are you still pumping your gums about this?

    Call the MSI secret police and hit squad, a negative review has hit the dare they!
  • Darkstone - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    It's unfair to compare the temperatures of notebookcheck vs anandtech, because notebookcheck measured quite serve throtteling issues as well. The CPU was basely running at 1/4th of the designed power consumption. It's clearly in the screenshots, yet the reviewer didn't even mention it. Reply
  • mercutiouk - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    I notice our shill doesn't respond to this. Reply
  • ZeDestructor - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    "And I absolutely believe engineers would consider 98C for a CPU core to be normal."

    As an engineering student who used to run an old acer at an idle of 85+°C and load of 102°C (with the bottom panel completely off), I know exactly what you mean. Sometimes constraints happen and stuff like this gets forced through QA and validation. Someone in marketing probably wanted a quieter machine, so the engineers tried something proven in a rather new way: single heatsink with a single giant fan. While the concept is great, it really needs more refinement. See the old Dell Precision M4400 (quad-core with top-end Quadro FX parts) for single-fan setups done right. ish. They probably run quite a bit hotter than my E6500 ¬_¬

    Since I got my desktop, my priorities regarding laptops have changed, so I rock an awesome little X220 tablet for uni/mobile work. with a much more reasonable 40-75°C range. I can make it hit 97°C using IBT, but IBT is a pretty special little torture test, much like FurMark.

    Talking of which, you guys should review convertible tablet PCs and more enterprise laptops that aren't HP Elitebooks. There's a severe lack of ThinkPad and Latitude reviews around here :(
  • cjl - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    The fact of the matter is, the test sample (which I would tend to think would be tested pretty heavily before it was sent out to a reviewer) had a woefully inadequate cooling system. Whether it was a bad thermal paste job (possible), or simply the fact that they were trying to cool a combined ~150W of TDP with a single small fan (more likely IMHO). Look at the Alienware design - two separate thermal systems, one for the CPU with a similar fan to the one in the MSI, and one significantly thicker fan with a different design (more similar to the blowers on high-end video cards) for the GPU, along with 3 dedicated heatpipes for the GPU and 2 for the CPU. The MSI design has two dedicated heatpipes for each, and one shared heatpipe (and I'm skeptical how useful a shared heatpipe would be, regardless of what kind of fancy marketing-speak MSI uses to describe it), all cooled by a single fan that looks similar to the Alienware's CPU fan alone.

    Would improved TIM help? It would probably be good for a couple of degrees, but I doubt it would reduce the CPU temps to acceptable levels. The simple fact is, a modern high-end gaming notebook should have multiple fans to provide optimal cooling, and this notebook falls short in that area. As for whether the computer would have been designed for that? A surprising number of modern notebooks have overheating problems at full load (due to the competing constraints of form factor, appearance, marketing, and component placement), and it's therefore much more plausible (to me) that MSI really did botch the cooling system design than that Anandtech is incompetent (given past reviews).

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