Review MSI CX70-i740M281W7H Notebook

Sascha Mölck (translated by Peter Krastev), 09/03/2013

Haswell Update. With the CX70, MSI offers a 17.3-inch notebook for almost 800 Euros (~$1056). For this kind of money, the buyer gets a Haswell processor, a GeForce GPU and lots of storage space. Our review will reveal whether the laptop is convincing enough or not.

For the original German review, see here.

With its CX70 series, the manufacturer MSI offers notebooks of the middle price segment. Before us we have a new model, which is built with state of the art hardware. It features a Haswell processor and an Nvidia graphics card. We have already thoroughly reviewed the predecessor, MSI CX70-i789BW7H (Core i7-3610QM, GeForce GT 640M). We have reviewed the identical previous models as well - the MSI GE70-i789W7H (Core i7-3610QM, GeForce GT 650M) and the MSI GE70-i547W7H (Core i5-3210M, GeForce GT 650M). The last CX70 model left us with a good impression, but could not really impress. In addition, the laptop had a heat issue and turned itself off under extreme load. Our review shows whether the new model fares better.

For comparison, we have chosen from the competition the Acer Aspire V3-772G (Core i7-4702MQ, GeForce GTX 760M) and the Asus N750JV-T4110H (Core i7-4700HQ, GeForce GT 750M).

Since the CX70-i740M281W7H is identical to its predecessor, we will not proceed with the Case, Connectivity and Speakers sections. The relevant information can found in our review of the CX70-i789BW7H.

Connectivity

Operating System and Recovery

The CX70 comes with Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit). There is no Windows 7 DVD. A recovery DVD can be burned with the help of the preinstalled MSI BurnRecovery tool. Additionally, on the Desktop you can find a multi-lingual tutorial (PDF document) for the software. MSI has equipped the CX70 with a Recovery System, which can restore the laptop to its factory state. In order to enter this menu, the user has to press F3 immediately after switching the laptop on.

Installing Windows 8 was not a problem. All the necessary drivers can be found in the driver DVD supplied with the notebook. All of these drivers can also be used under Windows 8.

Maintenance

The large maintenance panel allows access to the memory slots, the hard drive, the WLAN module, the BIOS battery, the processor, and the fan. The CX70 has two RAM slots. One of them is occupied by an 8 GB module. The hard drive can be easily exchanged. The hard drive bay can accommodate 2.5-inch drives with a height of 7 and 9.5 mm. The fan can be removed for cleaning purposes. In addition, users have the option to replace the processor.

Windows Media Player cannot play the DVD.
Windows Media Player cannot play the DVD.

The DVD playback issue

Windows 7 has everything you need to play DVDs right out of the box. All of our attempts to play a DVD with Windows Media Player were met with an error message. The suggested re-install of the video drivers did not help at all. We then installed the software PowerDVD. Playback was smooth with it. It is quite possible that the problem is only with our device. If you are affected by it, we recommend using one of the common media players, such as PowerDVD or WinDVD. The OEM versions of both applications are available for 8 Euros (~$10).

Display

As with the predecessor, MSI has installed a matte 17.3-inch display with a native resolution of 1600x900 pixels. MSI does not offer any other display options. Both of the competitors are equipped with a Full HD screen. The Aspire is also available with an HD+ display. The average brightness of the CX70 is 238 cd/m², which is good and is even higher than that of its predecessor (190.4 cd/m²). But it cannot get close to the good values of the Aspire (293.7 cd/m²) and the N750JV (306.4 cd/m²).

221
cd/m²
236
cd/m²
253
cd/m²
232
cd/m²
253
cd/m²
250
cd/m²
208
cd/m²
228
cd/m²
261
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
Information
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 261 cd/m²
Average: 238 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 80 %
Center on Battery: 254 cd/m²
Black: 0.84 cd/m²
Contrast: 301:1
MSI CX70 vs. sRGB
MSI CX70 vs. sRGB
MSI CX70 vs. AdobeRGB
MSI CX70 vs. AdobeRGB

In terms of contrast (301:1) and black level (0.84 cd/m²), the CX70 is far from impressive. The display of an 800 Euros (~$1056) notebook should be able to deliver higher contrast and lower black levels. The N750JV (637:1, 0.52 cd/m²) and especially the Aspire (837:1, 0.38 cd/m²) have significantly better results. The screen of the CX70 cannot cover the sRGB and AdobeRGB color spaces. This is not a problem for most users, since these spaces are important only for professional image editing.

We tested the display in its factory state (target color space sRGB) and we detected significant DeltaE 2000 deviations in most of the colors, with the strongest ones in the soft blue tones and the gray. Only yellow and yellow-green were right on target (DeltaE less than 5). The display has a blue tint.

CalMAN - ColorChecker
CalMAN - ColorChecker
CalMAN - Grayscale
CalMAN - Grayscale
CalMAN - Color Saturation
CalMAN - Color Saturation

Outdoor use is only possible in the shade, otherwise very little can be read off the screen. Thanks to the matte surface, we are spared the reflections.

The viewing angle stability is also not outstanding. Changing the vertical viewing angle quickly leads to image break down. The horizontal viewing angle is significantly wider - the screen is legible even from the sides, however the picture is slightly darker.

The MSI CX70 outdoors (shot taken in bright sunshine).
The MSI CX70 outdoors (shot taken in bright sunshine).
Viewing angles MSI CX70
Viewing angles MSI CX70

Performance

The MSI CX70 is a multimedia notebook in the 17.3-inch format. The laptop should be able to handle modern computer games as well as basic tasks - office work, Skype, video playback. The performance of the notebook is also enough for video editing. The price of the laptop is around 800 Euros (~$1056). The previous models with Ivy Bridge processor and GeForce GT 645M graphics card are still available and are priced between 700 and 800 Euros (~$924 and ~$1056).

CPU-Z
CPU-Z
CPU-Z
CPU-Z
CPU-Z
GPU-Z - Intel GPU
GPU-Z - Nvidia GPU
HWInfo
System information MSI CX70-i740M281W7H

Processor

The CX70 is equipped with a Core i7-4702MQ by Intel. This Haswell quad-core works at a base clock frequency of 2.2 GHz. Thanks to the Turbo functionality, this frequency can be increased to 2.9 GHz (all four cores), 3.1 GHz (2 cores) or 3.2 GHz (just one core). The benchmark results of this processor should be about 10% higher than its equally clocked Ivy Bridge predecessor, the Core i7-3632QM. Intel had put the TDP of the Core i7-4702MQ at 37 W. This is 2 W more than its predecessor.

The CPU tests of the Cinebench benchmark were completed with all cores running at 2.9 GHz. During the single-thread tests, two of the cores were occasionally sped up to 3.1 GHz. In addition, one core reached the maximum frequency of 3.2 GHz. These results are within the range of our expectations. It does not matter if the notebook is running on AC or battery power - the results were always the same. The results of the CPU tests of the Aspire (Core i7-4702MQ, GeForce GTX 760M) and the CX70 are practically identical. This is not surprising, because both notebooks have the same CPU. The N750JV (Core i7-4700HQ, GeForce GT 750M) features a slightly faster processor and therefore delivers slightly better results.

The results of the GL tests match our expectations. The ranking corresponds to the performance of the different graphics cards. The results of the CX70 are behind those of the Aspire and the N750JV, because it has the weakest GPU.

Cinebench R10 Rendering Single 32Bit
4566
Cinebench R10 Rendering Multiple CPUs 32Bit
17161
Cinebench R10 Shading 32Bit
6626
Cinebench R10 Rendering Single CPUs 64Bit
6039 Points
Cinebench R10 Rendering Multiple CPUs 64Bit
22148 Points
Cinebench R10 Shading 64Bit
6659 Points
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Single 64Bit
1.4 Points
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Multi 64Bit
6.19 Points
Cinebench R11.5 OpenGL 64Bit
41.66 fps
Help
Cinebench R11.5 - OpenGL 64Bit (sort by value)
MSI CX70-i740M281W7H
GeForce GT 740M, 4702MQ, WDC Scorpio Blue WD10JPVX-22JC3T0
41.66 fps ∼38%
Fujitsu Lifebook N532-0M3501DE
GeForce GT 620M, 3210M, Toshiba MK5076GSX
16.85 fps ∼15% -60%
Asus K75DE-TY068H
Radeon HD 7640G + HD 7670M Dual Graphics, A8-4500M, Hitachi Travelstar Z5K500 HTS545050A7E380
17.26 fps ∼16% -59%
Asus F75VC-TY088H
GeForce GT 720M, 2370M, Hitachi Travelstar Z5K500 HTS545050A7E380
21.45 fps ∼20% -49%
Toshiba Satellite Pro L870-16P
Radeon HD 7670M, 3210M, Toshiba MK5061GSYN
35.42 fps ∼32% -15%
MSI CX70-i789BW7H
GeForce GT 640M, 3610QM, Hitachi Travelstar 5K750 HTS547575A9E384
40.4 fps ∼37% -3%
Acer Aspire V3-771G
GeForce GT 650M, 3610QM, Intel SSD 320 Series SSDSA2CW120G3
42.37 fps ∼39% +2%
Acer Aspire V3-771G-736B161TMaii
GeForce GT 650M, 3630QM, Toshiba MQ01ABD100
42.51 fps ∼39% +2%
Asus N750JV-T4110H
GeForce GT 750M, 4700HQ, Seagate Momentus ST750LM022 HN-M750MB
46.39 fps ∼42% +11%
Acer Aspire V3-772G-747A321
GeForce GTX 760M, 4702MQ, Toshiba MQ01ABD100
56.53 fps ∼52% +36%
Cinebench R11.5 - CPU Multi 64Bit (sort by value)
MSI CX70-i740M281W7H
GeForce GT 740M, 4702MQ, WDC Scorpio Blue WD10JPVX-22JC3T0
6.19 Points ∼35%
Asus K75DE-TY068H
Radeon HD 7640G + HD 7670M Dual Graphics, A8-4500M, Hitachi Travelstar Z5K500 HTS545050A7E380
1.7 Points ∼10% -73%
Asus F75VC-TY088H
GeForce GT 720M, 2370M, Hitachi Travelstar Z5K500 HTS545050A7E380
2.29 Points ∼13% -63%
Toshiba Satellite Pro L870-16P
Radeon HD 7670M, 3210M, Toshiba MK5061GSYN
2.83 Points ∼16% -54%
Fujitsu Lifebook N532-0M3501DE
GeForce GT 620M, 3210M, Toshiba MK5076GSX
2.89 Points ∼16% -53%
Acer Aspire V3-771G
GeForce GT 650M, 3610QM, Intel SSD 320 Series SSDSA2CW120G3
6.19 Points ∼35% 0%
MSI CX70-i789BW7H
GeForce GT 640M, 3610QM, Hitachi Travelstar 5K750 HTS547575A9E384
6.22 Points ∼35% 0%
Acer Aspire V3-771G-736B161TMaii
GeForce GT 650M, 3630QM, Toshiba MQ01ABD100
6.26 Points ∼36% +1%
Acer Aspire V3-772G-747A321
GeForce GTX 760M, 4702MQ, Toshiba MQ01ABD100
6.36 Points ∼36% +3%
Asus N750JV-T4110H
GeForce GT 750M, 4700HQ, Seagate Momentus ST750LM022 HN-M750MB
6.47 Points ∼37% +5%

System Performance

The CX70 works smoothly. Only the Windows start takes slightly longer, because a lot of additional applications are loaded. The powerful components ensure good results in the PCMark benchmarks. The values of the CX70 fall behind those of the N750JV (Core i7-4700HQ, GeForce GT 750M). The reason is that the N750JV is equipped with a more powerful CPU and GPU. In addition, its system memory works in dual-channel mode. The results of the Aspire (Core i7-4702MQ, GeForce GTX 760M) are far ahead of the competition. Here, the fast SSD of the Aspire pays off.

A small increase in the PCMark results can be achieved by using a second RAM module. The system memory then works in dual-channel mode. The PCMark7 result increases by about 3.5% to 2578 points. The PCMark Vantage results rise by 5.6% to 8807 points. If the CX70 is equipped with an SSD, the PC Mark results skyrocket. Our Solid State Drive (Crucial RealSSD C300 - 64 GB) doubled the results to 5053 points (PCMark 7) and 17098 points (PCMark Vantage). In practice, this means that the system reacts faster and the boot and load times of Windows and other programs are shorter.

5.2
Windows 7 Experience Index
Processor
Calculations per second
7.6
Memory (RAM)
Memory operations per second
7.6
Graphics
Desktop performance for Windows Aero
5.2
Gaming graphics
3D business and gaming graphics
6.8
Primary hard disk
Disk data transfer rate
5.9
PC Mark
PCMark Vantage8340 points
PCMark 72491 points
Help
PCMark 7 - Score (sort by value)
MSI CX70-i740M281W7H
GeForce GT 740M, 4702MQ, WDC Scorpio Blue WD10JPVX-22JC3T0
2491 Points ∼38%
Asus K75DE-TY068H
Radeon HD 7640G + HD 7670M Dual Graphics, A8-4500M, Hitachi Travelstar Z5K500 HTS545050A7E380
1730 Points ∼26% -31%
Asus F75VC-TY088H
GeForce GT 720M, 2370M, Hitachi Travelstar Z5K500 HTS545050A7E380
2130 Points ∼32% -14%
Toshiba Satellite Pro L870-16P
Radeon HD 7670M, 3210M, Toshiba MK5061GSYN
2231 Points ∼34% -10%
Fujitsu Lifebook N532-0M3501DE
GeForce GT 620M, 3210M, Toshiba MK5076GSX
2451 Points ∼37% -2%
MSI CX70-i789BW7H
GeForce GT 640M, 3610QM, Hitachi Travelstar 5K750 HTS547575A9E384
2470 Points ∼37% -1%
Acer Aspire V3-771G-736B161TMaii
GeForce GT 650M, 3630QM, Toshiba MQ01ABD100
2770 Points ∼42% +11%
Asus N750JV-T4110H
GeForce GT 750M, 4700HQ, Seagate Momentus ST750LM022 HN-M750MB
3211 Points ∼48% +29%
Acer Aspire V3-771G
GeForce GT 650M, 3610QM, Intel SSD 320 Series SSDSA2CW120G3
4160 Points ∼63% +67%
Acer Aspire V3-772G-747A321
GeForce GTX 760M, 4702MQ, Toshiba MQ01ABD100
5650 Points ∼85% +127%

Storage Device

HD Tune
HD Tune
CrystalDiskMark
CrystalDiskMark

The installed hard drive is made by Western Digital and with a capacity of 1 TB offers a lot space for programs and personal data. It works at 5400 RPM. The drive is separated into one operating system partition (551 GB) and data partition (367 GB). CrystalDiskMark reported a read rate of 105 MB/s. HD Tune showed an average transfer rate of 77.8 MB/s. The values are alright, but far from outstanding. In contrast, the read and write speeds in the 4k test were surprisingly good for a conventional hard drive. Many similar hard drives have significantly worse speeds. The 4k-read/write rates are important, because most of the data are stored in blocks with a size of 4 kb. However, conventional HDDs cannot compete with an SSD.

WDC Scorpio Blue WD10JPVX-22JC3T0
Transfer Rate Minimum: 1.5 MB/s
Transfer Rate Maximum: 112.9 MB/s
Transfer Rate Average: 77.8 MB/s
Access Time: 18.3 ms
Burst Rate: 191.2 MB/s
CrystalDiskMark 3.0 - Read 4k (sort by value)
MSI CX70-i740M281W7H
GeForce GT 740M, 4702MQ, WDC Scorpio Blue WD10JPVX-22JC3T0
0.522 MB/s ∼1%
Asus N750JV-T4110H
GeForce GT 750M, 4700HQ, Seagate Momentus ST750LM022 HN-M750MB
0.458 MB/s ∼1% -12%
Toshiba Satellite C50D-A-10E
Radeon HD 8330, A4-5000, Toshiba MQ01ABF050
0.433 MB/s ∼1% -17%
Fujitsu Lifebook AH502
HD Graphics (Ivy Bridge), 2020M, Western Digital Scorpio Blue WD5000LPVT
0.385 MB/s ∼1% -26%
Acer Aspire E1-572G-54204G75Mnkk
Radeon HD 8750M, 4200U, TOSHIBA MQ01ABD075
0.348 MB/s ∼1% -33%
Lenovo G505s-20255
Radeon HD 8450G + Radeon HD 8570M Dual Graphics, A6-5350M, Seagate Momentus Thin ST500LT0 12-9WS142
0.332 MB/s ∼1% -36%
Asus G750JW
GeForce GTX 765M, 4700HQ, Seagate Momentus SpinPoint M8 ST1000LM024 HN-M101MBB
0.311 MB/s ∼1% -40%
CrystalDiskMark 3.0 - Write 4k (sort by value)
MSI CX70-i740M281W7H
GeForce GT 740M, 4702MQ, WDC Scorpio Blue WD10JPVX-22JC3T0
1.48 MB/s ∼1%
Fujitsu Lifebook AH502
HD Graphics (Ivy Bridge), 2020M, Western Digital Scorpio Blue WD5000LPVT
1.179 MB/s ∼1% -20%
Toshiba Satellite C50D-A-10E
Radeon HD 8330, A4-5000, Toshiba MQ01ABF050
0.967 MB/s ∼1% -35%
Asus N750JV-T4110H
GeForce GT 750M, 4700HQ, Seagate Momentus ST750LM022 HN-M750MB
0.815 MB/s ∼1% -45%
Acer Aspire E1-572G-54204G75Mnkk
Radeon HD 8750M, 4200U, TOSHIBA MQ01ABD075
0.771 MB/s ∼0% -48%
Asus G750JW
GeForce GTX 765M, 4700HQ, Seagate Momentus SpinPoint M8 ST1000LM024 HN-M101MBB
0.737 MB/s ∼0% -50%
Lenovo G505s-20255
Radeon HD 8450G + Radeon HD 8570M Dual Graphics, A6-5350M, Seagate Momentus Thin ST500LT0 12-9WS142
0.629 MB/s ∼0% -57%

Graphics Card

In addition to the HD Graphics 4600 graphics chip by Intel, the laptop is also equipped with an Nvidia GeForce GT 740M GPU. The GeForce card is used when more graphics power is needed - when playing games for example. All other tasks are carried out by the Intel chip. Both GPUs support DirectX 11.1. The GeForce graphics card belongs to the middle class and works with a base clock frequency of 980 MHz. Overclocking to 1058 MHz is possible (Turbo). The CX70 makes full use of this functionality. Unfortunately, the GPU has only a 64-bit memory bus width. Therefore, it performs below its potential. The predecessor featured a 128-bit one.

The results of the 3DMark benchmarks hold no surprises. The CX70 performs as expected. The results of the N750JV (Core i7-4700HQ, GeForce GT 750M) and the Aspire (Core i7-4702MQ, GeForce GTX 760M) are better, because they are equipped with more powerful graphics cards.

3D Mark
3DMark 06
 1280x1024
10161 points
3DMark Vantage6899 points
3DMark 112024 points
3DMark Ice Storm51473 points
3DMark Cloud Gate6916 points
3DMark Fire Strike1066 points
Help
3DMark 11 - 1280x720 Performance (sort by value)
MSI CX70-i740M281W7H
GeForce GT 740M, 4702MQ, WDC Scorpio Blue WD10JPVX-22JC3T0
2024 Points ∼15%
Fujitsu Lifebook N532-0M3501DE
GeForce GT 620M, 3210M, Toshiba MK5076GSX
1068 Points ∼8% -47%
Toshiba Satellite Pro L870-16P
Radeon HD 7670M, 3210M, Toshiba MK5061GSYN
1163 Points ∼9% -43%
Asus F75VC-TY088H
GeForce GT 720M, 2370M, Hitachi Travelstar Z5K500 HTS545050A7E380
1210 Points ∼9% -40%
Asus K75DE-TY068H
Radeon HD 7640G + HD 7670M Dual Graphics, A8-4500M, Hitachi Travelstar Z5K500 HTS545050A7E380
1664 Points ∼13% -18%
Acer Aspire V3-771G
GeForce GT 650M, 3610QM, Intel SSD 320 Series SSDSA2CW120G3
2143 Points ∼16% +6%
Acer Aspire V3-771G-736B161TMaii
GeForce GT 650M, 3630QM, Toshiba MQ01ABD100
2410 Points ∼18% +19%
Asus N750JV-T4110H
GeForce GT 750M, 4700HQ, Seagate Momentus ST750LM022 HN-M750MB
2735 Points ∼21% +35%
Acer Aspire V3-772G-747A321
GeForce GTX 760M, 4702MQ, Toshiba MQ01ABD100
3515 Points ∼27% +74%

Gaming Performance

The results of the 3DMark benchmarks already indicate that the CX70 can handle modern computer games. Our practical test further proves this. Most of the games can be played smoothly in HD resolution (1366x768) with medium quality settings. Some games even allow higher quality settings, StarCraft 2 - Heart of the Swarm for example. Full HD resolution and maximum quality settings are only possible with less demanding games like FIFA 13.

Surprisingly, the frame rates achieved by the CX70 are often less than those of its predecessor. The reason lies in the memory bus width. The GeForce GT 740M's core is connected to the memory via a bus just 64-bit wide. The previous MSI model used a 128-bit memory bus. Therefore the CX70 delivers lower frame rates than the theoretically possible ones.

We only managed to test the game Splinter Cell: Blacklist with low resolution and low quality settings. Turning the settings up always caused the error message 'Ran out of Memory'. A quick internet search revealed that many users of the brand new game have encountered the same message. Even installing the first patch (Version 1.01; 1.7 GB) could not alleviate the problem. We have to wait/hope for the next patch.

If gaming performance is of high importance to the buyer, the Aspire is the better alternative. The device is available for 900 Euros (~$1188) with a Full HD display and without Windows operating system. A trimmed down version of the V3-772G (GeForce GT 750M, HD+ screen, Windows 8) costs around 800 Euros (~$1056). The previous model, the Aspire V3-771G, has even more savings potential. The version with Core i5 processor and GeForce GT 650M is currently available for less than 700 Euros (~$924). We have already reviewed two models of the V3-771G family (Aspire V3-771G-736B161TMaii and Aspire V3-771G-7361161.12TBDCakk). However, each of those had a Core i7 processor. The N750JV is also an alternative. But at 1200 Euros (~$1585), it is significantly more expensive than the Aspire.

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified runs smoothly.
The Bureau: XCOM Declassified runs smoothly.
Splinter Cell: Blacklist frequently crashes.
Splinter Cell: Blacklist frequently crashes.
low med.high ultra
Deus Ex Human Revolution (2011) 118.955.7fps
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (2011) 57.938.828.7fps
Tomb Raider (2013) 91.243.623.7fps
StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm (2013) 212.18342.715.2fps
Dota 2 (2013) 91.347.922.9fps
Splinter Cell: Blacklist (2013) 52.4fps
Saints Row IV (2013) 54.342.615.5fps
The Bureau: XCOM Declassified (2013) 43.132.414.4fps
Deus Ex Human Revolution
1024x768 DX9, All Off AF:Trilinear (sort by value)
MSI CX70-i740M281W7H
118.9 fps ∼45%
Acer Aspire V3-772G-747A321
225 fps ∼85% +89%
MSI CX70-i789BW7H
59 fps ∼22% -50%
1366x768 DX11, Shadows, SSAO, DOF: Normal, Post Processing, Tessellation AA:Simple Edge AF:4x (sort by value)
MSI CX70-i740M281W7H
55.7 fps ∼20%
Acer Aspire V3-772G-747A321
86 fps ∼30% +54%
MSI CX70-i789BW7H
57 fps ∼20% +2%
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
1280x720 Low Preset (sort by value)
MSI CX70-i740M281W7H
57.9 fps ∼33%
MSI CX70-i789BW7H
58 fps ∼33% 0%
Toshiba Satellite S50-A-10H
51.7 fps ∼29% -11%
1366x768 Medium Preset AA:4x (sort by value)
MSI CX70-i740M281W7H
38.8 fps ∼23%
Asus N750JV-T4110H
49.2 fps ∼30% +27%
Acer Aspire V3-772G-747A321
78 fps ∼47% +101%
MSI CX70-i789BW7H
45 fps ∼27% +16%
Toshiba Satellite S50-A-10H
36.1 fps ∼22% -7%
1366x768 High Preset AA:8x AF:8x (sort by value)
MSI CX70-i740M281W7H
28.7 fps ∼22%
Asus N750JV-T4110H
31.3 fps ∼25% +9%
Acer Aspire V3-772G-747A321
57 fps ∼45% +99%
MSI CX70-i789BW7H
32 fps ∼25% +11%
Toshiba Satellite S50-A-10H
25.4 fps ∼20% -11%
Tomb Raider
1024x768 Low Preset (sort by value)
MSI CX70-i740M281W7H
91.2 fps ∼19%
Toshiba Satellite S50-A-10H
87.5 fps ∼18% -4%
Asus N56VB-S4050H
111.4 fps ∼23% +22%
1366x768 Normal Preset AA:FX AF:4x (sort by value)
MSI CX70-i740M281W7H
43.6 fps ∼11%
Acer Aspire V3-772G-747A321
99 fps ∼25% +127%
Toshiba Satellite S50-A-10H
43.3 fps ∼11% -1%
Asus N56VB-S4050H
57.9 fps ∼15% +33%
1366x768 High Preset AA:FX AF:8x (sort by value)
MSI CX70-i740M281W7H
23.7 fps ∼8%
Asus N750JV-T4110H
40.2 fps ∼13% +70%
Acer Aspire V3-772G-747A321
65 fps ∼21% +174%
Toshiba Satellite S50-A-10H
23.7 fps ∼8% 0%
Asus N56VB-S4050H
35.3 fps ∼11% +49%

Legend

 
MSI CX70-i740M281W7H Intel Core i7-4702MQ, NVIDIA GeForce GT 740M, WDC Scorpio Blue WD10JPVX-22JC3T0
 
Asus N750JV-T4110H Intel Core i7-4700HQ, NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M, Seagate Momentus ST750LM022 HN-M750MB
 
Acer Aspire V3-772G-747A321 Intel Core i7-4702MQ, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760M, Toshiba MQ01ABD100
 
MSI CX70-i789BW7H Intel Core i7-3610QM, NVIDIA GeForce GT 640M, Hitachi Travelstar 5K750 HTS547575A9E384
 
Toshiba Satellite S50-A-10H Intel Core i7-4700MQ, NVIDIA GeForce GT 740M, HGST Travelstar 5K1000 HTS541010A9E680
 
Asus N56VB-S4050H Intel Core i7-3630QM, NVIDIA GeForce GT 740M, WDC Scorpio Blue WD7500BPVT-80HXZT3

Emissions

System Noise

During idle use we measured a noise level of 33.1 to 33.4 dB(A). These values are satisfactory, given the performance of the notebook. The Aspire (31.7 to 33.4 dB(A)) and the N750JV (33.1 to 33.6 dB(A)) are roughly on par. The CX70 fares significantly better compared to its predecessor (31.6 to 38.9 dB(A)). Under medium (3DMark06) and full load (stress test, Prime95 and Furmark together), the CX70 reached values of 38.2 and 44.4 dB(A) respectively. Thus the CX70 is on the same level as its predecessor. The N750JV (38.7 and 43 dB(A)) is on par as well. At least under full load, the Aspire (39.4 and 40.6 dB(A)) is somewhat quieter. But one must not forget that the CPU of the Aspire is heavily throttled at full load.

Noise Level

Idle 33.1 / 33.1 / 33.4 dB(A)
HDD 33.4 dB(A)
DVD 37.4 / dB(A)
Load 38.3 / 44.4 dB(A)
 
    30 dB
silent
40 dB
audible
50 dB
loud
 
min: , med: , max:    Voltcraft sl-320 (15 cm distance)

Temperature

The MSI CX70 during the stress test.
The MSI CX70 during the stress test.

During idle use, the temperatures of all three laptops are in the green. The values of the N750JV are especially low and consistently stay below 30 °C. Under full load, the temperatures rise significantly. All three notebooks exceed the 40 °C mark at some measuring point. The predecessor of the CX70 broke the 50 °C barrier at several spots. We see a clear improvement.

During our stress test (Prime95 and Furmark running for at least an hour) the CPU's frequency on AC power was 2.5 to 2.6 GHz. It rarely reached 2.4 to 2.7 GHz. On battery power, the CPU operated at 2.6 to 2.7 GHz for the first couple of minutes. At the end, the frequency settled at 2.2 GHz. This behavior only occurs during the stress test. If only the processor is put under load, the CPU works at full power even on battery. This was proven by our test with Cinebench R11.5. The graphics card completed the stress test on both AC and battery power at the maximum Turbo frequency (1058 MHz).

We ran the 3DMark06 benchmark once more immediately after the stress test. The results of the notebook were the same as in a cold state. Therefore no performance degradation due to high temperatures is to be expected. This is also a step forward, because the predecessor used to turn off at very high temperatures. The CPU temperature settled at about 86 °C on AC power.

Max. Load
 44.3 °C40.2 °C34.2 °C 
 45.1 °C41.5 °C32.2 °C 
 32.3 °C37.4 °C31.2 °C 
Maximum: 45.1 °C
Average: 37.6 °C
28 °C35.1 °C47.1 °C
29.7 °C36.5 °C42.8 °C
29.7 °C35.8 °C36.1 °C
Maximum: 47.1 °C
Average: 35.6 °C
Power Supply (max.)  57.8 °C | Room Temperature 24.8 °C | Voltcraft IR-360

Energy Management

Power Consumption

The energy consumption in idle use is in the expected range of 10 to 16 W. The Aspire (7.8 to 16.4 W) and the N750JV (9.4 to 18.6 W) are on par. Under medium load (3DMark06) and full load (stress test, Prime95 and Furmark) the real performance of the notebooks can be seen. The consumption of the CX70 rises to 63.2 and 81.5 W respectively. The CX70 fares significantly better than its predecessor (75.3 and 109.6 W). The values of the Aspire (82.4 and 85.6 W respectively) and the N750JV (94.7 and 79.6 W respectively) are higher than those of the CX70, because both of them feature more powerful graphics cards. But this is true only for medium load, because under full load, the CPUs of both notebooks are heavily throttled.

Power Consumption

Off / Standby 0.2 / 0.4 Watt
Idle 10 / 13.7 / 16 Watt
Load 63.2 / 81.5 Watt
 
Key: min: , med: , max:         Voltcraft VC 940

Battery Life

In idle use the battery of the CX70 lasts 6:49 h. The N750JV (6:53 h) is on par, while the Aspire (5:46 h) has a shorter runtime. The CX70 has increased its battery life by two hours compared to its predecessor (4:48 h). The battery life in idle mode was determined using the Battery Eater Reader's test - the brightness is set at minimum, the energy saving profile is chosen, and the wireless modules are turned off. Under load the CX70 held out for 0:56 h and thus lasted only slightly more than the competition (0:49 h). Once again, the N750JV (0:57 h) is on par. The Aspire (1:11 h) holds slightly longer. The battery life under load was determined using the Battery Eater Classic test - the brightness is set at maximum, high performance profile is chosen, and the wireless modules are activated.

The CX70 completed the WLAN test after 3:48 h. The Aspire (3:23 h) was slightly behind. The N750JV (4:34 h) is clearly ahead of the competition. Once again, the CX70 clearly surpasses its predecessor (1:53 h). During this test various websites were automatically loaded every 40 seconds. The energy saving profile is chosen and the display brightness is set at 150 cd/m². The DVD playback stopped after 2:50on the CX70. Both of the rivals (Aspire: 2:44 h, N750JV: 2:54 h) are roughly on the same level. For the DVD test the energy saving profile is chosen (or a higher one, if the DVD does not play smoothly), the brightness is set at maximum, and the wireless modules are turned off.

A closer look at the battery capacities (MSI: 49 Wh, Acer: 48 Wh, Asus: 70 Wh) reveals why the N750JV showed the best results - it has the battery with the largest capacity. The battery life of the CX70 is not bad for a powerful 17.3-inch notebook. In addition, it achieves better results with the same battery capacity as its predecessor.

Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
6h 49min
WiFi Surfing
3h 48min
DVD
2h 50min
Load (maximum brightness)
0h 56min

Verdict

The MSI CX70-i740M281W7H
The MSI CX70-i740M281W7H

The MSI CX70-i740M281W7H scores points with its good application and acceptable gaming performance. On top of that it offers lots of storage space and comes with a two-year warranty. We also liked the matte screen surface. Overall, MSI was able to overcome some of the flaws of the previous model with this Haswell update. The notebook does not develop as much heat and does not turn off under full load any more. In addition it uses significantly less energy (the 120 W power supply is replaced by a 90 W one) and has a battery life that is in the usual range for such a powerful 17.3-inch notebook.

But the CX70 has inherited some flaws from its predecessor. For example, MSI has again chosen a display with low contrast. In one area, the CX70 is actually worse than the previous model - although this is a DTR, the graphics card's memory bus width is only 64-bit. MSI has thus unnecessarily hindered the gaming performance. The predecessor still used a 128-bit memory bus.

The Acer Aspire V3-772G and the Asus N750JV are the better choice if higher gaming performance and a high-quality display are the requirements. The Aspire even has better gaming performance than the N750JV. The Aspire offers more choice to the buyer - lots of different configurations are available. You can even save some money, if you choose the previous model Aspire V3-771G. The N750JV offers a great sound system and an attractive casing (aluminum and plastic). But at 1200 to 1400 Euros (~$1585 to ~$1848) it is significantly more expensive than the competition.

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In Review: MSI CX70-i740M281W7H, courtesy of:
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Specifications

MSI CX70-i740M281W7H

:: Processor
:: Mainboard
Intel HM86 (Lynx Point)
:: Memory
8192 MB, DDR3, one module is installed, single-channel mode, two slots
:: Graphics adapter
NVIDIA GeForce GT 740M - 900 MB, Core: 980-1058 MHz, Memory: 2048 MHz, ForceWare 320.49, Optimus
:: Display
17.3 inch 16:9, 1600x900 pixel, LG Display LP173WD1_TLF1, TN LED, glossy: no
:: Harddisk
WDC Scorpio Blue WD10JPVX-22JC3T0, 1024 GB 5400 rpm , 888 GB free
:: Soundcard
Intel Lynx Point PCH - High Definition Audio Controller
:: Connections
2 USB 2.0, 2 USB 3.0, 1 VGA, 1 HDMI, 1 Kensington Lock, Audio Connections: Headphones output, microphone input, Card Reader: SD, SDHC, SDXC, MMC, Memory Stick, xD,
:: Networking
Atheros AR8161/8165 PCI-E Gigabit Ethernet Controller (10/100/1000MBit), Realtek RTL8723AE Wireless LAN 802.11n (n ), 4.0 Bluetooth
:: Optical drive
TSSTcorp CDDVDW SN-208DB
:: Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 39 x 418 x 269
:: Weight
3 kg Power Supply: 0.333 kg
:: Battery
49 Wh Lithium-Ion, 11.1 V, 4400 mAh
:: Price
799 Euro
:: Operating System
Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64 Bit
:: Additional features
Webcam: HD Webcam, Speakers: Stereo, Keyboard: Chiclet, Bing Bar, MAGIX Foto Manager 9 (trial version), MAGIX Music Maker 16 (trial version), MAGIX Video easy SE (trial version), Microsoft Office 365 (trial version), Norton Internet Security (trial version), Skype, Windows Essentials 2012, 24 Months Warranty

 

[+] compare
The lid...
The lid...
...can only be opened this much.
...can only be opened this much.
The MSI CX70...
The MSI CX70...
...is equipped with the usual interfaces.
...is equipped with the usual interfaces.
There is a maintenance cover.
There is a maintenance cover.
The DVD drive can read and write all sorts of DVDs and CDs.
The DVD drive can read and write all sorts of DVDs and CDs.
A numeric keypad is also available.
A numeric keypad is also available.
The maintenance cover removed.
The maintenance cover removed.
There are two RAM slots.
There are two RAM slots.
Exchanging the hard drive is easy.
Exchanging the hard drive is easy.
The fan can be removed for cleaning purposes.
The fan can be removed for cleaning purposes.
The processor can be replaced.
The processor can be replaced.
The GeForce graphics chip is soldered onto the motherboard.
The GeForce graphics chip is soldered onto the motherboard.
Good: there are two WLAN antennas. The BIOS battery is also accessible.
Good: there are two WLAN antennas. The BIOS battery is also accessible.
Removing this screw, ...
Removing this screw, ...
...allows easy removal of the DVD drive.
...allows easy removal of the DVD drive.
The speakers are located above the keyboard.
The speakers are located above the keyboard.
The battery weighs 291 grams...
The battery weighs 291 grams...
...and has a capacity of 49 Wh.
...and has a capacity of 49 Wh.
The power supply weighs 333 grams...
The power supply weighs 333 grams...
...and has a maximum power output of 90 W.
...and has a maximum power output of 90 W.
Above the keyboard there are some additional buttons.
Above the keyboard there are some additional buttons.
The touchpad is a bit too small.
The touchpad is a bit too small.
The MSI CX70...
The MSI CX70...
...outdoors.
...outdoors.

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Pro

+Good application performance
+Good gaming performance
+Matte screen
+24-month warranty
+Lots of storage space
+Lower energy consumption than the predecessor
 

Cons

-The display has low contrast and a blue tint
-The touchpad, measuring 7.4 x 4.2 cm, is unusually small for a 17.3-inch notebook
-Unusual keyboard layout. Some keys are in the wrong place.
-The video memory is attached to just 64-bit bus width

Shortcut

What we like

The matte display surface. We also liked the good application and gaming performance. In addition, MSI has dealt with the heat issues of the previous model. Also, the CX70 uses less energy than its predecessor.

What we'd like to see

A display with higher contrast. The touchpad could also be slightly larger.

What surprises us

Despite the Haswell processor and GeForce GT 740M GPU, the CX70 cannot set itself apart from its predecessor in the application and gaming tests and even has slightly lower results. But you could also put in a positive comment - the CX70 reaches the performance of its predecessor with significantly lower energy consumption and heat generation.

The competition

Acer Aspire V3-772G, Asus N750JV-T4110H, Acer Aspire V3-771G, Asus F75VC-TY088H, Asus K75DE, Fujitsu Lifebook N532-0M3501DE, Toshiba Satellite Pro L870-16P.

Rating

MSI CX70-i740M281W7H
04/16/2014 v4
Sascha Mölck

Chassis
68 / 98 → 69%
Keyboard
56%
Pointing Device
72%
Connectivity
64 / 95 → 67%
Weight
57 / 67 → 79%
Battery
76%
Display
71%
Games Performance
80 / 93 → 86%
Application Performance
60%
Temperature
80%
Noise
81 / 95 → 85%
Audio
70%
Camera
38 / 85 → 45%
Average
67%
72%
Multimedia *
Weighted Average

> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Review MSI CX70-i740M281W7H Notebook
Author: Sascha Mölck, 2013-09- 3 (Update: 2013-09- 4)