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Review: MSI GT780DXR

by Parm Mann on 2 November 2011, 10:24 4.0

Tags: MSI

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qa7vi

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Performance

MSI's GT780DXR is the most powerful laptop in our line up, and we're expecting to see it run rings around our benchmarks. But before we give you the results, here's a detailed specification of the GT780DXR and the six other laptops in our test.

Comparison Notebooks

Laptop MSI GT780DXR ASUS RoG G73JH Toshiba Satellite A660-17T Dell XPS 15z MSI CX650 Acer Aspire 5745DG Lenovo ThinkPad X1
Processor Intel Core i7-2630QM (2.0GHz, 6MB smart cache, quad-core, 45W) Intel Core i7-720QM (1.60GHz, 6MB smart cache, quad-core, 45W) Intel Core i3-350M (2.26GHz, 3MB smart cache, dual-core, 35W) Intel Core i5-2410M (2.30GHz, 3MB smart cache, dual-core, 35W) Intel Core i5-2410M (2.30GHz, 3MB smart cache, dual-core, 35W) Intel Core i5-450M (2.4GHz, 3MB smart cache, dual-core, 35W) Intel Core i5-2520M (2.50GHz, 3MB smart cache, dual-core, 35W)
Memory 8GB DDR3 8GB DDR3 4GB DDR3 4GB DDR3 4GB DDR3 4GB DDR3 4GB DDR3
Graphics NVIDIA GeForce GTX 570M 1.5GB AMD Mobility Radeon HD 5870 1GB Intel HD Graphics Intel HD Graphics + NVIDIA GeForce GT 525M 1GB Intel HD Graphics + NVIDIA GeForce GT 520M 1GB NVIDIA GeForce GT 425M 1GB Intel HD 3000
Graphics driver NVIDIA Verde 285.62 AMD Catalyst 10.6 8.15.10.2104 Intel 8.15.10.2321 + NVIDIA Verde 275.33 Intel 8.15.10.2266 + NVIDIA Verde 266.39 NVIDIA Verde 259.12 Intel 8.15.10.2321
Display 17.3in - 1,920x1,080 17.3in - 1,920x1,080 16in - 1,366x768 15.6in - 1,366x768 15.6in - 1,366x768 15.6in - 1,366x768 13.3in - 1,366x768
Battery 9 cell, 87Whr 8 cell, 75Whr 6 cell, 48Whr 8 cell, 64Whr 6 cell, 47Whr 12 cell, 99Whr 6 cell, 38.4Whr
Weight 3,937g 3,912g 2,547g 2,517g 2,554g 2,839g 1,741g
Wireless Intel Centrino Wireless-N 130 (802.11bgn) and Bluetooth Atheros AR9285 (802.11bgn) and Bluetooth Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6200 AGN (802.11bgn) Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6230 (802.11bgn) and Bluetooth Atheros WLAN (802.11bgn) Broadcom WLAN (802.11bgn) and Bluetooth Intel Centrino Ultimate-N 6300 (802.11bgn) and Bluetooth
Disk drive(s) 2x Western Digital Scorpio Black 500GB HDDs, 7,200RPM, 16MB cache, RAID 0 2x Seagate Momentus 500GB HDDs, 7,200RPM, 16MB cache Hitachi Travelstar 500GB HDD, 5,400RPM, 8MB cache Seagate Momentus 500GB HDD, 7,200RPM, 16MB cache Hitachi 500GB HDD, 5,400RPM, 8MB cache Hitachi Travelstar 500GB HDD, 5,400RPM, 8MB cache Hitachi Travelstar 320GB HDD, 7,200RPM, 16MB cache
Optical drive Blu-ray/DVD-RW combo Blu-ray/DVD-RW combo DVD-RW DVD-RW DVD-RW Blu-ray/DVD-RW combo None
Operating System Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium, 64-bit Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium, 64-bit Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium, 64-bit Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium, 64-bit Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium, 64-bit Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium, 64-bit Microsoft Windows 7 Professional, 64-bit

Benchmarks

Geekbench A cross-platform benchmark used to measure memory and processor performance. Run using high-performance mode.
Cinebench Using Cinebench's multi-CPU render, this cross-platform benchmark stresses as many cores as possible. Run using high-performance mode.
3DMark06 A PC benchmark used to test the DirectX 9 performance of a system's graphics card. Run using high-performance mode.
Power Consumption Using balanced power settings, we record mains power draw whilst playing back a 720p movie trailer.
Battery Test In order to measure battery life, we run the notebook on balanced power settings and loop a 720p movie trailer, measuring the time taken to hibernate.

CPU and GPU performance

Geekbench provides a look at memory and processor performance, and it tells us an obvious truth. Put a quad-core, 2GHz Intel Sandy Bridge processor with Hyper Threading and Turbo Boost in a laptop with 8GB of memory, and you get a serious amount of horsepower.

The synthetic result is impressive, and the laptop feels equally quick during everyday use. Running multiple applications is a breeze, and the user experience is more akin to that of a powerful desktop. Heck, it feels quicker than my own PC. The RAID 0 storage array helps boost load times, but it's a shame MSI doesn't provide UK consumers with an SSD option. Solid-state storage would be the icing on the cake as far as this laptop is concerned.

Cinebench focuses squarely on CPU performance, and it confirms that the Core i7-2630QM is head and shoulders above everything else in our line up.

The CPU has legs, and the GPU's no slouch, either. A score of 16,787 3DMarks gives the GT780DXR another chart-topping result, and it suggests that the underlying GeForce GTX 570M GPU will provide serious gaming potential.

To find out exactly what sort of performance you can expect in the real world, we've run a couple of games at 1080p using medium and ultra-high quality settings. The results are as follows.

With medium quality settings (2x anti-aliasing, 8x anisotropic filtering and medium-quality textures), the GT780DXR is able to churn out decent frame rates in popular titles such as Aliens vs. Predator, Civilization V and Just Cause 2.

Going by these results, the laptop should be able to play just about any modern title at 1,920x1,080 with moderate detail.

Cranking up the load, our ultra-high-quality test raises the detail level by applying 4x anti-aliasing, 16x anisotropic filtering and high-quality textures. In other words, this is the same benchmark but with each game maxed out.

We were expecting this test to bring the GT780DXR to its knees, but credit to NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 570M. Even with these lofty settings, Just Cause 2 and Civilization V remained playable.

Maximum quality may be a step too far on some of the most demanding titles (Aliens vs. Predator being a good example), but the benchmarks show that the GT780DXR has bags of gaming potential, and for most users, it'll be a more than capable desktop replacement.

Power consumption and battery life

An abundance of CPU and GPU power is great for system performance, but it also results in high power consumption. The GT780DXR chews through 44 Watts while playing back a 720p movie clip, and that doesn't bode well for battery life.

But the MSI machine keeps on surprising. Playing back the same 720p clip for a full three hours isn't exactly our definition of good battery life, but it's a surprise for a gaming laptop of this size and caliber.

Most gamers will keep it plugged in, but when you are on the go, you can rest assured that the bundled 9-cell battery will keep you going through a feature-length movie.