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.
Most first-tier motherboard makers started off the year with lofty shipments goals, but it looks as though all of them will have to play catch-up after a disappointing month of sales. Asus, Pegatron, MSI, and Gigabyte each saw over 10 percent on-month revenue drops in the month of May, the mobo makers said.
Waning demand in Europe and China are largely to blame for the slumping sales, which the companies hope is only temporary. Asus was hit particularly hard, noting revenues of $674.12 million for May, a decrease of 22 percent on the month. However, Asus is still up by a whopping 79.71 percent on the year, and up over 80 percent in combined revenues for the first five months of 2010.
The same trend holds true for Gigabyte, though to a lesser extent. Gigabyte's revenues for May were down almost 11 percent, but up nearly 6 percent on the year, while accumulated revenues from January through May were up 17.63 percent on the year.
MSI's numbers are down, both for May (17.88 percent) and on the year (0.07 percent), though combined revenues were up for the first five months (21.74 percent).
Quite frankly, we're a little surprised the BIOS has lasted as long as it has, and so we're not the least bit shocked that MSI is already making preparations to retire the antiquated standard. In its place will be UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface), essentially a modernized bootloader originally developed by Intel and now backed by a number of heavy hitting tech giants, including AMD, American Megatrends, Apple, ARM, Dell, HP, IBM, Lenovo, Microsoft, Phoenix Technologies, and more.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, an MSI spokesperson told THINQ.co.uk that UEFI is literally right around the corner and that the BIOS is not long for this world.
"MSI will start to phase in UEFI starting from the end of this year, and we expect it will be widely adopted after three years," the anonymous MSI tipster revealed.
The spokesperson went on to say that the first new UEFI products will be built around Intel's Sandy Bridge chipset, which will extend from the entry-level on up to the enthusiast sector. These boards will materialize towards the end of the year and into early 2011.
"We won't consider UEFI as an expensive premium feature, but as a must-have for everyone!," the spokesperson added.
It's no longer a question of whether or not tablets are the next big thing in mobile computing, but which OS will consumers flock to? Rather than take a gamble on Windows 7 or Android, MSI has gone and unveiled a pair of Wind Pad tablets, one each built around both OSes.
On the Windows 7 front, the Wind Pad 100 sports a 10-inch multi-touch screen, Intel Z530 processor (1.66GHz), 2GB of RAM, and a 32GB solid-state drive (SSD). Android users get the Wind Pad 110, which trades the Atom chip for a dual-core Nvidia Tegra 250 setup.
There are some other differences between the two as well. According to reports, the Wind Pad 100 will feature a customized, touch-friendly layer on top of Windows and share some netbook-esque DNA, like HDMI out, a webcam, and two USB ports. The Wind Pad 110, meanwhile, will come with just a single USB port and will include swappable back plates so users can change up the looks.
Look for the Wind Pad 100 to ship by the end of the year for $500. MSI is less clear on when it will ship the Wind Pad 110, which will sell for $400.
As power users, we sometimes forget how intimidating the BIOS can be to a new or inexperienced user. At the very least, a BIOS can be difficult to decipher, and that applies even if you're a seasoned vet. So why not skip the BIOS altogether? That's the approach MSI has taken with its AMD800 motherboard series, which allows users to unlock CPU cores without ever stepping foot into the BIOS.
"Because of this flexible BIOS core unlock feature, MSI can today announce that it made BIOS unlocking easy and accessible for the big audience who don't know their way into the BIOS screen," MSI said. "The new MSI software tool allows users to unlock CPU cores from Windows with just a few simple clicks, no need to enter the BIOS."
MSI is just one of several motherboard makers who have jumped on the AMD core unlocking bandwagon. It was discovered that some AMD tri- and quad-core processors have additional cores that could be unlocked, and as far as we know, MSI is the only one allowing this through Windows.
If you own one of MSI's AMD800 mainboards, you can download the unlocking software here.
For the second time this week, MSI has launched another Classic series laptop with discrete graphics, the latest of which sports an ATI Mobility Radeon HD545v graphics card with 512MB of dedicated video memory. The new CX500DX also boasts a "theater-class" 15.6-inch 16:9 LED backlit display and 45-degree beveled edges, if you're into that sort of thing.
"MSI meticulously crafted the edges of the CX500DX, giving it the beveled edges that characterize our C series notebook computers," said Sam Chern, Marketing Director, MSI. "In addition, the body is sheathed in MSI's exclusive Color Film Print, exuding layers of color which shift with changes in lighting. The resulting shimmering surface gives the CX500DX a classy, unassuming, and stylishness taste and puts it in a class all its own."
Graceful aesthetics aside, the CX500DX comes configured with an Intel Core 2 Duo processor, up to 4GB of DDR2 800/667MHz memory, 250/320/500GB SATA hard drive, DVD burner, 4-in-1 memory card reader, three USB 3.0 ports, VGA, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, 1.3MP webcam, and a 6-cell battery.
MSI this morning extended its Classic notebook series with its new CX623, a 15.6-inch laptop equipped with an Intel Core i5 processor and Nvidia's GeForce 310M discrete graphics card with 1GB of GDDR3 memory.
Other hardware consists of two DDR3-1066 memory slots (no word on how much RAM comes standard), 320/500GB SATA hard drive, 4-in-1 memory card reader, HDMI, two standalone USB 2.0 ports plus an eSATA port pulling double duty as a USB port, 1.3MP webcam, two speakers, 802.11 b/g/draft N Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, a 6-cell battery, and Windows 7 Home Premium.
On the graphics front, MSI is touting is GPU Boost technology. According to MSI, the CX623 automatically detects the workload of an application and will then switch back and forth between the discrete graphics card and integrated display chip.