AMD's Radeon HD 7970M: Ivy Bridge vs. Trinity Videoby Jarred Walton on December 14, 2012 10:50 PM EST
In one of the most "interesting" moves I've seen in the mobile market, MSI has equipped their GX60 gaming notebook with an HD 7970M...paired with an AMD A10-4600M APU. Curious to see how the combination would stack up against the Intel i7-3720QM + HD 7970M combination used in AVADirect's Clevo P170EM, I ran some quick benchmarks and put together a video of Batman: Arkham City showing the systems running side by side. First, here's the video link:
Not surprisingly, the Ivy Bridge solution walks away from the Trinity laptop when we turn down the details a bit, but at maximum quality the two solutions appear relatively close. The issue is that while average frame rates may be close in some cases, minimum frame rates often tell the real story. There are points in the above video where Trinity falls to sub-30 FPS for a second or two at a time, which can be very noticeable in gameplay.
Anyway, I'm curious: are you interested in more videos like this? It takes a lot more time than a simple reporting of a benchmark number, but if there's enough demand for it I'll be happy to oblige. I should also note that there are some titles where the Trinity and Ivy Bridge notebooks are fairly close in performance (at maximum detail at least), while other titles are even more in favor of a faster CPU (e.g. Skyrim). Regardless, the full review of the MSI GX60 will be forthcoming.
Pricing for the GX60 is the one area where MSI looks to beat Intel HD 7970M offerings. The base model comes with a 750GB hard drive, 8GB RAM, A10-4600M, and of course the HD 7970M. Right now (if it's in stock), you can get that configuration for around $1200. Our particular unit takes yet another odd approach by including a 128GB RAID 0 SSD set for the OS and apps, which might sound appealing until you realize they're using SanDisk U100 drives (not exactly the fastest SSDs around); we're not sure what pricing is for this particular configuration. AVADirect's P170EM by contrast is priced at $1519, with a $100 off coupon available at the time of writing. That will get you an i7-3630QM and the 7970M, so for about $150 to $200 extra, for gaming purposes we recommend most users go that route.
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extremesheep - Saturday, December 15, 2012 - linkYou are correct; they really do first class benchmarking analysis. For those who are not familiar with their testing methodology, here is an analysis for two cards which nominally (on average) perform similarly, but actually perform distinctly different.
Based on their analysis you would never recommend the one card because of stuttering, but you might if they had only used averages.
Here is their review of desktop AMD Trinity which is also enlightening.
jonjonjonj - Saturday, December 15, 2012 - linki agree i love the TR frame latency testing. they just did 3 articles about the 7950 having frame latency issues on the newest drivers. they even did a high speed recording of skyrim to show the latency is real and effects gameplay. imo they have the best video card reviews on the net.
Torrijos - Sunday, December 16, 2012 - linkTR analysis is top notch and should become standard for all tech sites.
Average FPS are a weak metric for this computer age where big players are aiming at low power consumption and average performances.
Spanky the wonder dog! - Saturday, December 15, 2012 - linkInteresting video, although more than a little gimped by the framerate limitations of the camera and youtube. Fraps is needed really to make a meaningful side by side comparison.
I don't think a comparison with an i7 equipped 7970-toting clevo is fair. People buying this machine will clearly be looking for the best bang for buck they can get. In the UK p150 clevos with i7 and 7970 cost around 1100ish compared to 900 for the gx60.
Having just bought the GX60 myself, before buying I was looking for comparisons to the other systems at the same price, which are generally equipped with the GTX660m and i7 3630 or 3610. A set of benchmarks or A-B videos of the gx60 against these (MSI GE60 or Lenovo Y580) would be much appreciated.
JarredWalton - Saturday, December 15, 2012 - linkFRAPS is running -- that's what the yellow frame rate counter in the corner is.
As for bang for the buck, right now it's $250 more to upgrade from a GX60 to the P170EM in the US, give or take. For what amounts to a 20% price increase, the performance in games at maximum detail tends to be anywhere from 0% (completely GPU limited) to 100% (highly CPU limited). Depending on the games you're playing, that's a pretty significant concern. I think an HD 7870M would be about as fast as the 7970M in many titles when paired with Trinity. You don't buy a top-end GPU and then saddle it with a processor that's half as fast; if that's what you're after, get a Core i3-3120M and for gaming it would still be faster than A10-4600M (when paired with HD 7970M).
laytoncy - Saturday, December 15, 2012 - linkAny chance you'd run this same comparison on Windows 7?
JarredWalton - Saturday, December 15, 2012 - linkAt this point, no -- I'd have to wipe both laptops and reinstall all the applications/games, which is a couple days of work. I actually updated the MSI to Windows 8 because there was some odd glitch that I couldn't fix in Windows 7. I do have numbers from the Clevo before/after the Windows 8 update, though, and I can tell you that they're not appreciably different.
Wolfpup - Saturday, December 15, 2012 - linkI've thought this is an interesting system since it was first announced. Was actually considering one myself for a while but MSI is using florescent screens apparently.
Shame AMD doesn't have an 'FX' mobile CPU with 8 cores/4 modules and no video.
As for the comparison video, I think it's kind of neat, but for me the min/max/average numbers and a description of what happened is basically just as good, if it's hard to do these.
Rontalk - Saturday, December 15, 2012 - linkSo why you sounds like AMD A10 so much worse for games if only 11% the frame rates difference when you turn on the graphical details?
Ok, I've seen little shorter load times on Intel, but does that worth the extra $300+???
In other less CPU intensive games the difference perhaps even lower, so in most case A10 close as good for gaming with 7970M. And if someone buy gaming laptop, they buy for to apply highest possible graphical details. As long AMD does that perfectly for few hundred less dollars than it might would deserve some good words too!
frozentundra123456 - Saturday, December 15, 2012 - linkWe have to wait for the full test to see how it handles a much wider range of games, especially CPU demanding ones and more recent games such as maybe BF3, including multiplayer, maybe FC3, Metro 2033, Witcher 2, etc.
I dont feel however that Jared was showing any anti AMD bias at all. If he wanted to show AMD in a bad light, he could have just presented the low res/low detail results.