Factory overclocked graphics cards seem too good to be true. You get increased performance plus the manufacturer’s warranty. XFX’s Radeon HD 5870 XXX was the first factory-OC’d version of that GPU we reviewed (May 2010); that card pushed core clocks to 875MHz and memory to 1,300MHz (5,200MHz effective.) Now MSI is jumping into the game, and unlike XFX, builds a custom cooler onto its 1GB R5870 Lightning.
If you have any doubts about the amount of customization MSI put into the R5870, one look at it tells you it’s not your typical reference card. The custom cooler uses two fans instead of one, and the heatsink is a massive chunk of metal that runs the length of the card and features numerous heat pipes. The PCB is also anything but stock, and extends about 3/4 of an inch taller than other Radeon HD 5870 cards. Stock Radeon HD 5870 cards run off an 8-pin and 6-pin power connector. The R5870 features support for two 8-pin connectors for “extreme overclocking.”
The bean counters at Asus, Gigabyte, MSI, and every other first-tier motherboard maker are working overtime crunching numbers and trying to get a pulse on the mobo market.
June hasn't been kind to any of the motherboard makers except MSI, which saw revenues jump 13.05 percent over the previous month. ECS took the biggest hit, recording a drop of 17.73 percent, followed by Asus at 5.53 percent. Gigabyte, Pegatron, and ASRock also skidded backwards to the tune of 5.48 percent, 3.1 percent, and 0.94 percent, respectively.
But while June wasn't particularly kind to most of the major motherboard players, they've all seen positive gains for the year, except for ASRock, which is down 11.94 percent. Asus is the biggest winner, having increased its revenues to 68.62 percent on year, while Pegatron and MSI recorded gains of 20.4 percent and 19.03 percent, respectively. Everyone else saw double digit gains as well.
We've seen a number of notebook releases carrying the 'gaming' moniker without the hardware to back it up. MSI's GT660 isn't one of them.
The most subtle thing about the GT660 is its name. Pop open the hood and you'll find an Intel Core i7 processor plopped into Intel's PM55 mobile chipset. Nvidia's GeForce GTX 285M with 1GB of dedicated memory pushes pixels across the 16-inch HD LED-backlit display. Memory and storage duties consist of three DDR3-1066/1333 memory slots and two 500GB SATA drives configured in a RAID 0 array. It even has not one, but TWO USB 3.0 ports, plus another two USB 2.0 ports for good measure. And finally, MSI is making much ado over the GT660's "high-fidelity surround sound from world-class sound system designer Dynaudio."
Other features include a sports car theme with a lid that resembles a car hood, "strategically placed ruby red LED lights that smolder to the sounds emitted by the laptop," color film print coating, and a turbo hotkey to initiate's MSI's Turbo Drive Engine+ technology, which gooses both the CPU and GPU, the first of its kind on a notebook, according to MSI.
After all the pre-release previews, MSI has finally announced the Wind Top AE2420, making official the company's first 3D-capable all-in-one (AIO) desktop.
MSI will bundle in a pair of active-shutter 3D glasses to view 3D content on the 23.6-inch 120Hz LED-backlit screen, which of course is multi-touch. The AE2420 also comes with an MCE remote control and wireless keyboard and mouse.
Rounding out the spec sheet is an Intel Core i5 650 processor clocked at 3.2GHz, discrete ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5730 graphics with a 1GB frame buffer, 4GB of DDR3 SO-DIMM memory, 1TB hard drive, USB 3.0, eSATA, VGA and HDMI ports, Gigabit LAN, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, 1.3MP webcam, and integrated 2.1 speakers.
Without a whole lot of fanfare, MSI has gone and released a handful of pictures of its upcoming X58A-GD65 motherboard. From the looks of things and what we know so far, this will serve as MSI's flagship X58 board.
Every bit the next-gen part, the X58A-GD65 will come with six SATA 3Gb/s ports, two SATA 6Gb/s, two USB 3.0 ports, and twin eSATA ports. It will also include MSI's so-called "Military Class" components, which consists of Active Phase Switching, DrMOS, high-end capacitors, and a handful of other goodies.
The rest of the board's construction consists of six DDR3-2133 memory slots, three PCI-E x16 slots (supports 3-way SLI or quad CrossFireX setups), Gigabit Ethernet, FireWire, and 7.1 channel audio.
A whole boatload of MSI motherboards built around Intel's P55 platform now support the mobo maker's "Super Unlock" technology, giving users a quick and easy way to overclock their Intel Core i7 875K and other unlocked processors.
"When coupled with Intel's Core i7 875K and Core i5 655K, uses need only to press the 'OC Genie' button on their MSI mainboards to 'unlock' the CPU's multiplier and to maximize processor, memory, and chipset performance."
Should you rub MSI's bottle to release the OC Genie, the mobo maker says it will grant your overclocking wishes by boosting processors with a 2.93GHz default clockspeed all the way up to 4.0GHz, resulting in a free performance boost.
See here for a list of supported motherboards and the required BIOS version.
MSI this week went and launched a pair of new Fermi graphics cards -- N470GTX and N465GTX -- sporting the company's Twin Frozr II cooling solution.
The Twin Frozr II comes with a dual-fan design that blows cold air over "big size fins." Combined with five heat pipes that run through the heatsink, MSI says the Twin Frozr II is capable of reducing temps by as much as 16C over Nvidia's reference cooler, while at the same time dropping down noise levels by up to 21.5dB. In boxing, that would be the equivalent of a mean left hook followed by a vicious uppercut.
In addition to performance gains in both cooling and noise, MSI claims it's using "military class components" on its Twin Frozr II cards, including solid Hi-c capacitors with 8 times the normal lifespan and no buzz noise. That's another way of saying these cards should withstand the rigors of overclocking.
They can't all be desktop replacements decked out with top of the line processors, dual-graphics chips, blazing fast SSDs, and other high-end amenities. And certainly you wouldn't mistake MSI's latest Classic Series laptop -- the CX410 -- for a desktop replacement, but it might make a serviceable supplement.
The 14-inch laptop comes built around AMD's dual-core Athlon II platform and sports ATI Mobility Radeon HD 545v graphics with 512MB of video RAM. It also comes with two DDR3-1066 memory slots, up to 500GB of hard drive space, a 4-in-1 memory card reader, HDMI port, three USB 3.0 ports, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, webcam, and a 6-cell battery.
In other words, nothing extraordinary, though MSI did include their ECO Engine power saving technology into the laptop. Users are able to select from five different power profiles to maximize battery life, including Gaming, Movie, Presentation, Office, and Turbo Battery.
It wasn't that long ago that a high-end gaming notebook would set you back several thousand dollars, and while you can still choose to spend that much if you look hard enough, there are plenty of potent mobile gaming PCs to be had on a sensible budget. Count MSI's GX740 notebook as one of them.
Priced at $1,400, the GX740 measures 17 inches and packs an Intel Core i7 720QM (1.60GHz) processor into a 7.04-pound package. Gaming chores are handled by ATI's Mobility Radeon HD 5870, which is essentially a desktop HD 5770 in mobile trim. Other specs include 4GB of DDR3 memory, 500GB hard drive, DVD burner, three USB 2.0 ports, eSATA/USB combo port, HDMI, and Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit.
"The GX740 features some of the most innovative components available, and at just over seven pounds and only an inch-and-a-half thick, it is one of the lightest and thinnest desktop replacements ever designed," said Andy Tung, vice president of sales, MSI North America
It isn't the beefiest gaming laptop in its price range -- Asus' G73Jh comes to mind -- and the 1680 x 1050 resolution is a little disappointing when 1920 x 1080 displays are becoming commonplace, but for $1,400, it's not a badly spec'd setup.
The GX740 is available now from Newegg and coming soon to Amazon.
Recent salary increases in China has some analysts predicting higher priced electronic components in the near future as manufactures look to pass costs on to the consumer. The only alternatives, analysts say, are to contend with lower profits or to increase efficiency.
MSI chairman Joseph Hsu basically confirmed that companies are looking to the former (raising prices) rather than either of the latter options, saying that the recent rise in salaries in China won't affect the company's long-term profits and that the increased costs to maintain personnel will be reflected in end-product prices.
Hsu also hinted that the effect might not be as dramatic at MSI as with other companies. According to Hsu, MSI's salary level in China has consistently been above average, adding that MSI provides better employee welfare than most other companies.
China's labor shortage has been receiving increased attention lately, not just because of the potential for higher priced parts, but also as a result of a rash of worker suicides at Foxconn. There have been over a dozen suicide attempts at Foxconn since the beginning of the year, partly due to the compensation Foxconn would provide to families of the dead workers, which was equivalent to about ten years' worth of salary. Earlier this week Foxconn said it would no longer be providing compensation to families of dead employees.