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NBC Onsite: MSI Pre-Computex in Amsterdam

by J. Simon Leitner, 05/26/2010

Sound & Performance, Vision or Reality?

On occasion of the upcoming Computex in Taiwan, MSI invited European journalists to a prior event in Amsterdam where a few novelties were presented ahead of time. We were onsite for you and have summarized the most awesome products of the notebook field there.

The Volcano-Spirit was apparently merciful to MSI, as all airplanes with the beckoned guests could approach the "Shiphof" airport in Amsterdam on Thursday, May 20th, 2010. Due to the tight time schedule, we were taken directly to "WittenburGervaart", or rather for all Non-Dutch, simply to a rebuilt storage building located at one of the numerous Amsterdam canals.

What happened next wasn't a surprise: dozens of statistics were shown, in which MSI was always placed in the upper positions. The attending, skeptical audience listened to the following speakers, their trust "strengthened" in the rising Taiwanese label.  We would like to exempt the speeches of desktop based hardware and all-in-one devices here. The notebook part by Fred Oster followed.

MSI GT660

The GT660 has already been known for a while, but merely as various announcements, pictures and showcase devices. Now it is at last to be final and MSI will launch the "fastest notebook ever made by MSI" onto the market. We think that already sounds very promising, but what is in the revamped 16 incher?

Intel will have its turn with its newest Core i7 quad-core CPU chip. We could find out what new meant on the showcased sample. An i7-740QM CPU, the heir to the current 720QM chip, which can serve with a somewhat higher clock rate (1.73-2.93 GHz), was in the device.
MSI also supplies an abundance of RAM and allows the integration of up to 12GB DDR3 RAM over three slots. The exhibited sample impressively presented the maximum configuration, which we will likely not see very often in retail models due to the high price of 4GB modules. However, alternatives with 6GB RAM are very conceivable, as they should be inexpensive to configure.

Naturally, the graphic card is the most important thing for a gamer. Opposing the current trend of using ATI's high-performance GPUs, MSI counts on a GTX 285M from Nvidia with a 1024MB GDDR3 video memory. It is seen as the opponent of ATI's Mobility Radeon HD 5870, which nevertheless has a lead with a GDDR5 memory in the according configuration. Nonetheless, the graphic card should be sufficiently able to cope with high graphic details easily.

Another, in our opinion very remarkable, point shouldn't be left unmentioned: the possibility of integrating two mass memories into the case. MSI speaks of a Dual HDD solution in a RAID 0 array, or optionally a hybrid SSD+HDD system.  Particularly, the second option could play a decisive role for the notebook's performance.

The cooperation with Dynaudio was repeatedly heralded, which is supposed to provide for an according acoustic experience as Harman/Kardon, Altec/Lansing or Bose by other manufactures. We'll examine how the 2.1 sound system in MSI's GT660 really scores in the end in a comprehensive review, as usual.

MSI GT660
MSI GT660
MSI GT660
MSI GT660
MSI GT660
MSI GT660

MSI Wind U160DX

There's not only movement in the gaming heavy weights, but also in MSI's netbooks. MSI wants to cajole with "overclocking" features in the mobile field with the U160DX – a "netbook put to the extreme". However, the U160DX's cover is already familiar, since the equally constructed U160 has just recently been in review at notebookcheck.com.

There isn't a reason for cheers when the CPU in the U160DX is looked at. Thus, you'll find a brand new chip in the netbook with Intel's Atom N455, but it doesn't suggest any big performance leaps in comparison to the current Atom N450 at the moment.
As the N450 CPU, the GMA 3150 graphic card is integrated into the chip and distinguishes itself in high energy efficiency. However, the DDR3 memory controller is new, which allows for according RAM modules as the name already indicates. That should entail a slight performance gain and somewhat lower power consumption.

The MSI Wind 60DX is supposed to also allow an especially energy saving operation and thus increase mains independency with the branded ECO function. We will also clarify what this means is detail, and particularly what the performance of this "extreme" netbook looks like in a comprehensive review as soon as we have an according sample available. Overall, only a marginal speed gain in comparison to current netbooks is to be expected in view of the mentioned facts, though.

MSI U160DX
MSI U160DX
MSI U160DX
MSI U160DX
MSI U160DX
MSI U160DX

MSI X360

MSI's ultra slim models also go into the next round. The X360 connects to the well-known line management of the X-Series, but will also be equipped with the newest Intel chips.
In this case, we're talking about the recently presented ULV CPU, to be precise the i5-520UM that clocks with 1.06-1.86 GHz at a maximum power consumption of 18W. As the faster chips of the Arrandale range (32nm), the 520UM integrates the Intel GMA HD graphic chip directly on the CPU unit. Details about the new Intel Core i ULV chips can be found in our CPU comparison.

MSI uses a reflective 13" HD screen with a resolution of 1355x768 pixels for the display. The slim design with a construction height of merely 23 millimeters and a total weight of about 1.6 kilograms remains the same.

MSI X360-i5547W7P Notebook

  • Operating system: Windows 7 Home Premium 64 Bit
  • CPU: Intel® Core™ i5-520UM processor
  • Chip set: Intel HM55
  • Graphics: Intel® Graphics Media Accelerator HD
  • Memory: 4 GByte DDR3
  • Display: 33,0 cm (13”) HD (1366x768) with LED backlight
  • Hard disk: 500 GB SATA 2,5“
  • Cardreader: 2 in 1 (SD/SDHC/MMC)
  • Ports: HDMI, D-sub, 2x USB, GBit-LAN, mic-in, headphone out
  • Battery: 8 cell, lithium polymer
  • Webcam: HD webcam
  • Wireless: WLAN IEEE 802.11 b/g/n
  • Sound: Stereo loudspeakers SRS Premium Sound™
  • Keyboard and mouse: 87 key Chiclet keyboard, extra large Multi-Touch Touchpad
  • Dimensions: (W x H x D): 324 x 230 x 24 mm, 1,6 kg
  • Further features: scratch resistant and chic color film print finish,
  • MSI ECO Engine for a longer battery life

MSI FX600

Last but not least, the last notebook presented: the FX600. MSI practically positions the laptop as a "jack-of-all-trades" under the motto "Best performance & best design". The displayed sample once again presents itself as very attractive, whereas especially the matt and slightly structured surfaces with subtle chrome components were pleasing.

As to the performance, MSI states an Intel i5 CPU with the MSI Turbo Drive, which is to allow a CPU overclocking. Of course, the utilized graphics is also gripping because MSI has kept itself very secret until now. "High end graphics with Optimus" is indicated on the device. A model from the Nvidia GT 3xxM range or possibly even already a new offspring of the just presented GTX 480M aka Fermi is conceivable. First rumors speak of the GT 430M with a 1 GB video memory, for example.

As in the GT660, Dynaudio was employed for sound engineering, whereas the utilized solution is even THX certified.

MSI FX600
MSI FX600
MSI FX600
MSI FX600
MSI FX600
MSI FX600

MSI GUS – Graphics Upgrade Solution

You can probably not only argue about the naming of this gadget, but doubts about the success of this graphic unit are also allowed – in view of past trials of comparable solutions that other manufactures have made, and that have finally all disappeared again quietly.

A few short facts about the GUS: The futuristic designed case is connected to the notebook that is to be upgraded over a 34mm Expresscard. It has space for desktop graphic cards, however the related adapter limits these to a TDP of 84W. Thus, ATI's Radeon HD 5670 presents the current maximum configuration. MSI has likely defused the bottleneck, ExpressCard slot, a bit with an especially efficient exploitation of the possible bandwidth. According to first statements, a USB 3.0 version will follow.

A simultaneous utilization of several monitors is also to be possible with GUS. If only the notebook TFT can be accelerated with that isn't yet clear and is rather unlikely, though.

Verdict

Apart from the GUS, the innovations in the notebook field were very much kept within limits. Basically, we saw many known concepts that are equipped with current or upcoming hardware. Nevertheless, we should still encounter in particular the GT660 as a base for future gaming notebooks from MSI since the latest chassis with these dimensions has been sitting tenaciously on the retail shelves for the past few years. The up until now unanswered question when and how the current 17 inch screen range is to be replaced is naturally also interesting.

Preliminary accounts about prices and delivery dates are being released a bit at a time. Thus, the aforementioned MSI X360 is to be available as of June and positioned at a MSRP of 899 euro, for example. The GUS should cost between 99 (without GPU) and 229 dollars, depending on the configuration. When this piece will be on the market is still not known.

We'll, of course, try to obtain all devices mentioned above for a comprehensive review, in order to provide you with further, detailed information. Stay tuned.

The end of a tough day at MSI in Amsterdam
> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > NBC Onsite: MSI Pre-Computex in Amsterdam
Author: J. Simon Leitner, 2010-05-31 (Update: 2012-05-26)