MSI GX70 3BE: Richland A10 APU and Neptune 8970M Gaming Notebookby Jarred Walton on May 13, 2013 6:45 PM EST
This is one of the more interesting pieces of hardware to keep an eye on if you're looking at a reasonably priced gaming notebook. I've toyed around with MSI's GX60 notebook a bit, and while I won't have a full review (it's too late to be useful), I will be posting benchmarks in the near future. Well, GX60 is about to become the old news, as the MSI GX70 3BE specs are now posted at MSI's website. Here's the quick overview:
|MSI GX70 3BE Specifications|
AMD A10-5750M (aka Richland)
(Quad-core 2.50-3.50GHz, 4MB L2, 32nm, 35W)
|Memory||Up to DDR3L-1600, 2 SO-DIMM Slots, Up to 32GB|
AMD Radeon HD 8970M 2GB GDDR5 (aka Neptune)
AMD Radeon HD 8650G iGPU (Enduro Enabled)
384 cores at up to 720MHz
|Display||17.3" Anti-Glare 16:9 1080p (1920x1080)|
Up to 1TB 7200RPM HDD
Likely two 2.5" drive bays available
|Optical Drive||BD Combo/DVD Super Multi|
Killer Gigabit NIC
Stereo Speakers + Subwoofer
Headphone, Microphone, Line-In
180W AC Adapter
3 x USB 3.0
2 x USB 2.0
HDMI (Full size)
HDMI (Full size)
Headphone, Microphone, Line-In
|Operating System||Windows 8|
16.85" x 11.33" x 2.17" (WxDxH)
(428mm x 288mm x 55mm)
|Weight||8.58 lbs (3.9kg)|
103-Key Backlit Keyboard
SDXC/SDHC Card Reader
So, first the good news: this will be the fastest possible AMD APU and AMD dGPU for the next generation of notebooks. We can't share the specifications of the 8970M right now, but all appearances are that it is basically a clock speed increase from 7970M. As for the APU, Richland is likewise a higher clocked version of Trinity, only in this case we have raw numbers: its base clock is 200MHz higher than the A10-4600M while the maximum Turbo Core speed is 300MHz higher. In general that means the A10-5750M should be around 10% faster than A10-4600M, which will certainly help in CPU limited situations.
The bad news then is that a 10% clock speed increase from Trinity isn't going to be enough to close the gap in many titles, depending on the resolution and quality settings. Looking at Trinity vs. Ivy Bridge with 7970M, I've seen Intel outperform AMD by 50% or more, particularly in titles that pound the CPU (e.g. Skyrim and StarCraft II); on other games, however, it's basically a wash at high quality 1080p settings, so as a more budget-friendly gaming notebook the GX70 has potential.
The other bad news is that my continuing experience with Enduro is that it's not all that it's cracked up to be, but going pure AMD helps quite a bit. Getting updated drivers with an AMD APU and dGPU is easier, and AMD dGPUs simply cooperate with AMD iGPUs better it seems. I've done some testing with the latest 13.5 Beta2 mobile drivers issue on several other laptops (including the MSI GX60), and for most mainstream applications and games they have been fine. However, there are still times when everything doesn't work quite as smoothly as I'd like.
We don't have an MSRP on the MSI GX70 3BE yet, and there will be a variety of models for the various markets. At the lower end of the spectrum, I expect we'll see pure HDD models with 8GB RAM sell in the neighborhood of $1200-$1300, while higher end models with SSDs, Blu-Ray, and 16GB may push into the $1500+ range. The chassis design appears unchanged from the existing GX70, which isn't too surprising, so basically we're getting faster hardware. ETA for the MSI GX70 3BE is June 2013.
Source: MSI Product Pages
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xinthius - Monday, May 13, 2013 - linkWhat an ugly laptop. Granted it's got to have a lot of thermal dissipation.
cairbram - Monday, May 13, 2013 - linkThis laptop (I'm guessing) is actually available at Newegg but under the old gx60 name, it has the new A10-5750m but for the GPU its spec sheet says HD 7970m.
JarredWalton - Monday, May 13, 2013 - linkI assume you're talking about this GX60 model, which isn't the same as the above:
GX70 3BE will have 8970M only, according to MSI. I'll let you know in a couple days what that actually means. :-)
cairbram - Monday, May 13, 2013 - linkLooking at Meaker10's comment I now understand, MSI came out with a slightly upgraded version of their current gx60 but will replace it with a new version that has a 17.3" screen and new hardware in June or so.
nigelpreece - Monday, May 13, 2013 - linkI just pre-ordered my GX70 3BE, you are correct Jarred Walton my vendor said it will ship from the factory 05/31/13. If anyone wants to pre order one, just do a google search for "GX70 3BE-007US" Mine ran me 1,329.61
Alexvrb - Tuesday, May 14, 2013 - linkWow that's a good price for this kind of graphical punch in a 17" laptop.
Jarred: Your idea that CPU-side performance improvements are limited to the 10% clock bump only may be flawed. Don't forget that they've also made improvements to their Turbo. The main additions are temp sensors that help their factor actual temp into their calculations, and the much-needed improved granularity. These changes alone will allow Richland to run at/near its maximum in more scenarios and stay at higher turbo speeds more often.
This may apply even more so when running games, as the integrated GPU is powered down in favor of the discrete chip. This will give the CPU cores of the APU more thermal headroom than a laptop relying on the APU to do everything by itself.
JarredWalton - Tuesday, May 14, 2013 - linkIt's possible. One of the major issues with Trinity and Llano is that even though there was the potential to Turbo, there was no way to actually monitor how fast the CPU was actually running. On both Llano and Trinity, CPU-Z and other utilities (including AMD's own System Monitor or whatever it's called) would just report the base clock speed all the time -- so 2.3GHz on A10-4600M, even though it might be running at 2.5 or 2.7 or even 3.1GHz. Most laptops also provided no way to disable Turbo Core. Best-case, Richland may end up having ~20% more performance than Trinity, but I'd guess 10-15% is a far better estimate.
Alexvrb - Tuesday, May 14, 2013 - linkI'm OK with 15%. Better than 10%. Anyway, I just wanted to point out that there's more to Richland than just a clock bump. As far as stopgap chips go, I think they did OK, especially since they seem to be hitting the same price points as Trinity.
silverblue - Tuesday, May 14, 2013 - linkPerhaps, but unless AMD have tweaked Piledriver noticeably, I wouldn't expect more than 15% faster in lightly threaded titles, falling to less than 10% under duress. It'll bottleneck the 8970M less, but it will still bottleneck.
200Mhz is a nice incremental jump, however they should've considered at least 2.7/2.8GHz base in my opinion - with a 8970M on board I think they can afford a slightly higher CPU TDP. The iGPU clock increase is also quite marginal; we're talking 35MHz faster which is 5%. Every little helps, I guess.
Alexvrb - Tuesday, May 14, 2013 - linkThe iGPU bump is irrelevant to the laptop in question, so I didn't bother addressing that. I suppose it's a nice freebie coming from Trinity. With that being said, bumping the base clocks isn't quite as necessary now with the improved Turbo I already mentioned above. If the iGPU is sitting idle, then it has more TDP headroom and it will increase clocks to whatever extent it can, even with all cores loaded. Plus the thermal sensors allow it to actually see what kind of headroom it actually has, so they don't have to be as conservative as Trinity. The base clocks are 200Mhz higher, the max turbo is 300Mhz higher, and if the slides are anything to go on, it will be better at sustaining higher speeds - especially with the iGPU idle.
Now with that being said, will this amount to more than a 15% boost? No. But for a budget gaming machine that already had potential, this is a nice improvement. It's hard to beat this machine for the money.
Personally I always thought they should sell a small number of GPU-less mobile variants, like the "Athlon" FM chips on the desktop. They would lose Enduro, though, and that's not acceptable to them. I wouldn't care though. They could make them 45 watt chips, clock them aggressively, and sell them as "FX" chips or something. The complete lack of a GPU and the extra TDP would allow for some nice clock improvements. I wouldn't run heavy games on it away from a wall socket anyway.