As the memory market can attest, it's become a tough proposition to try and sell computer components for a profit. But it's not just memory; motherboards and videocards have been on the decline since Q3 2008, and according to Henry Lu, VP of products at MSI, the market won't see any further expansion.
It gets even worse. Lu contends that a top four motherboard maker -- Asus, Gigabyte, ECS, or MSI -- will drop out of the market within the next few years due to the inability of the market to support the growth of all four. It may seem inconceivable that one of the industry's stalwarts should ultimately exit stage left, but one only need look back at Abit's recent fall from grace as a grim reminder of how quickly the game can change.
And speaking of Abit, it's because of them and other second-tier mobo makers exiting the market that the big four can scrape by for the next three years, Lu says, but then something has to give. If Lu's prediction comes true, the question is, who will be the one to leave? Ironically, it's MSI who seems poised to fall if looking strictly at motherboard shipments. In 2008, Asus shipped around 21 million mobos, the same amount as ECS. Gigabyte trailed slightly behind at 19 million, and MSI was the least active shipping around 16 million.
AMD, still in heavy competition with Nvidia, has been looking for ways to gain ground on the graphics giant for some time. Now, it looks like they’re taking the fight to the mobile front with the announcement of their Mobility Radeon HD 4000 series.
The Mobility Radeon HD 4000 series is based off of the RV770 architecture. It will feature up to 800 stream processors, support for GDDR5 and GDDR3 memory, a 256-bit memory interface and CrossFire support (with the choice of switching back and forth between discrete and integrated GPUs without restarting).
Notebooks from Asus and MSI will reportedly be offering the chipset as soon as March.
MSI has been moving into the notebook market in a big way over the past few years, with forays into business and gaming notebooks, and, this summer, netbooks, with the Wind U100. We have to say, we’re impressed.
As you may or may not have heard, CES is coming up, and there will be plenty of big name vendors there. That includes MSI, who has recently announced their full 2009 lineup, which is chock-full of new goodies!
First up, their netbook announcements! Thanks to the success of the Wind U100, MSI is planning to release a U115 and U120 to compliment the previous model. The U115 sports the option of being the first netbook capable of simultaneously running an SSD and an HDD. The U120 will be the power user’s option, designed for being portable without sacrificing performance.
They’ll also be offering 16”, 19” and 22” versions of their new All-In-One Wind at CES. It’ll feature an Intel Atom processor, which will allow it to consume a fraction of the power that a 250W PC does. The All-In-One will also feature a nice 16:9 display.
Finally, the gaming notebooks will be expanded to include the (deep breath) GT725, GT727, GT627 and the GX420. Reportedly, the GT725 and GT727 are capable of breaking 10,000 3D Marks.
While unfortunately most of this information is pretty broad (thank you, press releases!) CES will provide us a great opportunity to check out these new toys and find out more about them. Who knows, with any luck we’ll be able to figure out exactly what’s under the hood and how much they’ll cost!
MSI has launched it's U1115 Hybrid netbook, which the company bills as the first notebook computer in the world capable of running both SSD and HDD drives at the same time. Combined with its 'ECO on' mode, MSI claims "the battery life of U115 Hybrid is super long." Sounds super duper.
The new netbook operates primarily with the SSD to run Windows, with the HDD being used for storage duties. With ECO on mode, the U115 Hybrid temporarily disconnects the HDD to help extend battery life, presumably offering the best of both worlds. Storage options come in 8GB/120GB (SSD/HDD) and 16GB/160GB configurations.
Outside of the hybrid drive configuation, MSI sticks closely to the standard netbook formula. Underneath the 10-inch hood sits a 1.6GHz Z530 Intel Atom processor, 1GB of DDR2-533 memory, 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth, a webcam, media card reader, and Windows XP Home.
It’s pretty clear MSI is serious about Netbooks and updates to the platform have been coming in pretty steadily since its introduction back in July, but they aren’t done yet. According to Liliputing MSI is adding two new models to its fleet, the U110 and U115. While the U110 is more of a traditional design, the U115 promises to change things up a bit. Instead of asking customers to choose between the speed & reliability of an SSD, and the large storage capacities offered by traditional hard drives, the U115 will feature a new “hybrid storage” system. This feature will allow MSI to store the operating system on an SSD, and will augment the storage a built in hard drive.
With this approach they are hoping to appeal to a broader audience who are looking for a dependable and responsive experience on the OS side, while still satisfying the digital packrats who need a bit of extra mobile storage. The SSD’s will come in 8,16, and 32 GB capacities. And the hard drives will range from 80 to a maximum of 160 GB, currently the maximum for Windows XP on netbooks. Both new models will feature the familiar 10 inch, 1024x600 pixel display, 802.11b/g/draft-n WiFi, Bluetooth, and a 4 in 1 card reader.
Notebook manufacturers might be finding it difficult to separate themselves from the competition in what has become an extremely crowded netbook market. It's gotten to the point where we can recite a netbook press release without having ever read it - Atom processor, solid-state drive (SSD) or hard drive, 1GB of RAM, Windows XP or Linux, and so forth. So how do you stand out from the crowd?
If you're MSI, you release a new BIOS that offers overclocking controls. With the v1.09 BIOS released this week, Wind owners can push their Wind netbook's Atom N270 processor in increments of 8 percent, 15 percent, and 24 percent over the stock speed. As is always the case with overclocking, you'll have to analyze the risk-to-reward ratio, and according to ElectricVagabond.com, the reward of a 24 percent overclock can equate to as much as a 30 percent increase in performance.
Anyone Wind owners plan on playing with the new BIOS? Hit the jump and give us your impression.
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.