With all the hoopla surrounding Intel's Centrino 2 platform, it might be easy to forget that AMD is also a player in the mobile market. But who hasn't forgotten is MSI, who just released a pair of new gaming notebooks to the U.S. market with CPU support for AMD's Turion X2 Ultra dual-core mobile processors.
On the lighter end of the spec sheet, MSI's 15.4" GX630 utilizes Nvidia's MCP77 chipset with support for up to 4GB of DDR2-800 RAM. Gaming duties are handled by Nvidia's GeForce 9600M GT with a 512MB frame buffer, and two speakers tackle audio chores.
Depsite its Nvidia-centric name, the 17" GT735 runs on AMD's RX781+SB700 chipset, also with support for up to 4GB of DDR2-800 RAM. That also means an ATI based videocard, specifically the Mobility Radeon HD3850 along with 512MB of GDDR3. Audio gets an upgrade as well with four speakers plus a subwoofer.
Both notebooks boast a 320GB SATA hard drive, DVD burner (optional Blu-ray), 802.11b/g/n, webcam, an HDMI port, a 4-in-1 card reader, eSATA, and two (GX630) or three (GT735) USB 2.0 ports. But while the specs may seem standard fare, both machines will come with the option to overclock by way of a button, which MSI claims will increase the speed of the CPU by as much as 15 percent.
The new notebooks are available now from several online e-tailers, including Amazon.com, Buy.com, ZipZoomFly, and Mwave for between $1050 to $1115 (GX630) and $1230 to $1300 (GT735).
November's shaping up to be a busy month, and it has nothing to do with Thanksgiving. On the desktop front, Intel's Core i7 platform is rumored to launch on November 17th, and in the mobile sector, MSI looks to launch its Wind U120 with built-in 3.5G before December rolls around, according to DigiTimes.
The new netbook will feature the usual assortment of components - Atom N270 processor clocked at 1.6GHz, 1GB of RAM, 120GB hard drive, and Windows XP - tucked underneath your choice of a white or black shell and will run about $550. MSI has been working with Taiwan-based telco Vibo Telecom to implement 3.5G functionality in the U120 and will look to do the same with local telecom providers in Europe.
What you won't find on the new netbook is a touchscreen. Asus is rumored to be readying a touchscreen version of its Eee PC line, but MSI cites high costs as a prohibiting factor for its Wind. Bummer.
Asus may have led the charge into the netbook arena with its Eee PC lineup, but MSI's Wind has proved an extremely popular low-cost alternative in what continues to emerge as a prominent market. MSI sees the potential and will look to make a hard push in the coming months.
In an interview with Laptopmag.com, MSI's director of U.S. sales Andy Tung spoke openly about MSI's upcoming plans. Tung says the next generation Wind (U120) will focus on the business segment, not only in component selection but in appearance as well. To that end, the U120 will trade the U100's round corners for a "more square-like look," which Tung equates to a ThinkPad design. On the hardware front, the U120 will feature a 10-inch screen, HDD and SSD storage options, 3.5G connectivity, and Windows XP for a sub-$600 price tag.
Tung also indicated that MSI plans to bring its Wind Desktop to the U.S. market, which will go head-to-head against Asus' Eee Box. No time frame was given, but it's reasonable to expect it will come sooner rather than later, given MSI's aggressive push. Best Buy today announced it would start selling MSI's Wind U100 in its brick-and-mortar stores, a move that not only puts increased emphasis on North American sales, but will help the company with brand recognition as the netbook market continues to gain traction.
Yet another leaked slide has made its way to the web, this time showcasing a triumvirate of motherboards slated for a late 2008 release by top tier vendor MSI. The company has labeled its enthusiast offering as the Eclipse, and its performance board will carry the familiar Platinum nomenclature as the X58 Platinum. The third board, which doesn't yet have a name (X58 Diamond?), will target the "Über Overclocker" according to the slide.
The mystery board carries the most intrigue, and not because of its lack of name. While all three motherboards bring support for Nvidia's SLI and ATI's CrossFireX, the board without an identity shows support for quad-SLI or tri-SLI with PhysX support in full speed x16 PCI-E v2 slots (insert your own Crysis reference).
Microsoft has revised the cap on hard disk space in netbooks running Windows XP. Now netbooks can have up to 160GB hard drive space, which is double the 80GB space previously permitted. It is anticipated that this increase in storage size will boost netbook sales, though not as significantly as enhanced processing power might. MSI and Asustek have already released the 160GB variants of their Wind and Eee PC netbooks respectively. This move can also dampen the sales prospects of SSD-bearing netbooks, which have comparatively lesser storage space due to current SSD prices.
We admit it, sexy chipsets such as Nvidia’s nForce 790i SLI Ultra and Intel’s X48 get all the ink, but in reality, most of the world runs on plain-vanilla chipsets such as Intel’s new P45. And the truth is, you don’t necessarily give up performance or features when you choose a middle-of-the-road board; in fact, the affordable MSI Platinum has just about everything you’d want in a motherboard.
Laptops built around Intel's Centrino 2 platform are on the verge of marching into the market place en masse, and MSI appears ready to go with a pair of new gaming notebooks. The top-tier motherboard maker has launched the GX620 (15.4" WSXGA+) and GX720 (17" WSXGA+) Centrino 2 notebooks with each one sporting Nvidia's GeForce 9600M GT graphics with 512MB GDDR3. Other features include:
Intel PM45 Chipset
Up to 4GB DDR2
320GB SATA Hard Drive
Blu-ray DVD Player
Windows Vista Home Premium
Quick launch sensors above the keyboard will give gamers the ability to activate MSI's Turbo Drive Engine Technology, which "overclock the GX620/GX720, increasing the speed of the Intel Core 2 Duo processor by as much as 15 percent." Users can also utilize MSI's ECO Engine and alternate between 5 different operating modes -- Gaming, Movie, Presentation, Office, or Turbo Battery -- to optimize battery life.
No word yet on pricing or availability, but don't be surprised to see more paper Centrino 2 notebook launches in the coming days/weeks.
The floodgates have opened and you can expect to see plenty of manufacturers rolling out new notebooks built around Intel's Centrino 2 platform in the coming weeks. Leading the charge, MSI jumps on board with its GX620, a Centrino-2-based notebook equipped with the company's exclusive Turbo Drive Engine Technology; when in AC mode, pushing the turbo button ramps up the CPU clockspeed.
Further power management duties come courtesy of MSI's new ECO Engine. An ECO quick launch touch sensor gives users the ability to switch between five different modes - Gaming mode, Movie mode, Presentation mode, Office mode, and Turbo Battery mode - with each one automatically adjusting the brightness and distributing power where it's needed most to prolong battery life, the company claims.
Find out what MSI's packing under the hood after the jump.
Citing un-named sources who mingle behind the scenes at motherboard makers, DigiTimes claims first-tier mobo manufacturers are keeping conservative with third-quarter shipping estimates. Blaming a drop in the worldwide economy, Asus, Gigabyte, and MSI are expecting to maintain sequential shipments growth of just 15 percent while focusing on the mid- to high-end markets.
The forecast gets even bleaker in the entry-level to mid-range segments. Both ECS and Foxconn have been suffering through a shipments decline since the beginning of the year, and DigiTimes reports it will be more of the same in the second half of 2008.
Asus and MSI both expect the continued expansion of their notebook business to pick up the slack and result in a surge in third quarter performance.
You can change CPU sockets, dump PCI, and jettison legacy ports all day long, but nothing, absolutely nothing, pisses people off like moving to a new type of RAM. Luckily, there’s a fallback: dual-format RAM motherboards such as MSI’s P35 Combo Platinum board.
Hit the jump to read our review of this dual-format monster.