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MSI GT683R-242US With GeForce GTX 560M Review
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Date: Jun 13, 2011
Section:Mobile
Author: Jennifer Johnson
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Introduction & Specifications

We saw a lot of new and improved products at Computex this year, including NVIDIA's new (and powerful) GeForce GTX 560M mobile GPU. Needless to say, we were excited to get our hands on one of the first notebooks to ship with this new mobile GPU to see what it could do. Although we expect notebooks from a variety of manufactures to offer this GPU, MSI is among the first of them to ship a notebook with the GeForce GTX 560M at its core.

In addition to the GeForce GTX 560M, MSI packs a 2nd Generation Intel Core i7-2360QM processor as well as 12GB of DDR3 memory into the GT683R notebook. To give you a full multimedia experience, the GT683R also features Dynaudio and THX TruStudio Pro audio technology as well as a 15.6-inch HD display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080.

The GT683R also features some of MSI's specialty technology, such as Turbo Drive Engine (TDE) Technology and Cooler Boost technology. MSI's TDE technology can be used to quickly boost GPU performance at the touch of a button. And with the Exclusive Cooler Boost technology, MSI offers real-time notifications of the GT683's core temperature variations and fan speeds.

 

MSI GT683R-242US
Specifications & Features

CPU
2nd Generation Intel Core i7-2360QM Processor 2.0-2.9 GHz, 3MB Cache
Operating System
Genuine Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit
LCD
15.6" Glossy Full HD Display 1920 x 1080
Chipset
Intel HM67
GPU
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560M with 1.5G GDDR5
Audio
THX TruStudio Pro
Speaker
Dynaudio Premium Speakers
Memory
12GB DDR3
HDD
2 * 500GB SATA 7200rpm
Optical Drive
DVD Super Multi
LAN
10/100/1000 Mbps Gigabit Ethernet
WLAN
Built-in 802.11b/g/n WLAN Card
Card Reader
7-in-1 Card Reader (SD/SDHC/SDXC/XD/MSPRO/MS/MMC)
Webcam
720P HD Webcam
USB
USB2.0 X 2, USB3.0 X 2
ESATA
Yes
Video Port
VGA (15-pin, D-Sub) X 1, HDMI X 1
Audio Port
Mic-in X 1, Headphone X 1
AC Power Adaptor
Output: 19V DC, 150W
Input: 100~240V AC, 50/60Hz Universal

Battery Pack
9 Cells
Dimension
14.97” (L) x 10.24” (W) x 1.77” (H)
Weight
7.7 lbs
Manufacturer Warranty
2 Year Limited Warranty (Includes 1 Year Global Warranty)
Price
$1,499.99   (Note: $1,399~$1,499 Street Price)
 
With the latest 2nd generation Intel Core i7 processor and GeForce GTX 560M mobile GPU, MSI has included some key features in the GT683R that many gaming enthusiasts will want to check out. Join us as we take an in-depth look at the MSI GT683R-242US and all of its powerful features, including the GeForce GTX 560M.
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Design & Layout

MSI has incorporated a number of design features into the GT683R that set it apart from other notebooks. For starters, if you take a look at the MSI GT683R, you'll notice a collection of lights along the notebook's edges and lid. MSI ships the GT683R with its Audio Synchronize Mode enabled. In this mode, the performance of the lights around the notebook will follow changes in sound. Similarly, the notebook also features a LED performance illumination mode. In this mode, the LEDs on the left side will illuminate when the left-side speaker emits sound, and likewise for the right side of the notebook. As a noise passes from left to right, the LEDs will light in conjunction with the direction of the sound moving from left to right. These lights are also customizable by pressing the LED performance illumination hotkey.

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Above the keyboard, you'll notice the Touch Sensor and speakers. The Touch Sensor provides access to multiple functions including TDE, Cooler Booster, WLAN, Bluetooth, ECO Engine, Dynamic LED, and more. On either side of the Touch Sensor, you'll see the GT683R's Dynaudio Premium speakers surrounded by a red ring. In addition to these two speakers, the GT683R has a subwoofer located on the underside of the notebook near the hinge. To further improve the sound quality available from the GT683R, MSI includes THX TruStudio Pro audio enhancement technology as well.

 

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On the wrist rest, you'll find a honeycomb pattern and the touchpad which is surrounded by chrome and five indicator lights (Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Battery, Sleep, and HDD). The touchpad itself is smooth and the left and right mouse buttons make a click sound when pressed. The chiclet keyboard is comfortable to type on but it is not backlit. The GT683R also has a full numeric keypad.

Taking a look at the left side of the notebook, and you'll find two USB 3.0 ports, a 7-in-1 card reader, and a USB 2.0 port. The Right side of the GT683R contains various audio ports, a USB 2.0 port, and the optical drive. On the back edge of the notebook you'll find the Kensington Lock port, power, LAN, VGA, eSATA, and HDMI connections. The front edge of the GT683R is clean.

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MSI doesn’t include a lot of accessories with the GT683R, but that’s ok by us. In the box, you’ll find the laptop and battery pack along with a Quick Start manual, AC adapter and power cord, application disk, special offers from NVIDIA, and a few other pieces of documentation.

Like many other system builders, MSI ships the GT683R with a fair amount of preinstalled programs. Some of these apps include the Bing toolbar, Norton Internet Security, Norton Online Backup, and others.

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NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 560M

NVIDIA introduced the GeForce GTX 560M at Computex a few weeks ago. This GPU is the first GTX-class GPU in the 500 series. All GeForce 500M GPUs support DirectX 11 and offer a variety of NVIDIA features such as NVIDIA PhysX, NVIDIA 3D Vision, NVIDIA Optimus technology, 3DTV Play and support for NVIDIA's Verde drivers. The GPU also includes CUDA-support for GPU computing applications.

MSI is among the first of the notebook manufacturers to ship a notebook with the GeForce GTX 560M. Although MSI's GT683R doesn't include Optimus technology, all of NVIDIA's other key features are supported. The GPU in the MSI GT683R also features 1.5GB GDDR5 memory.

Key specifications for the GeForce GTX 560M are as follows:

 

Source: NVIDIA Corp.

The GeForce GTX 560M is outfitted with 192 CUDA cores and clocks in at 775MHz, with 1550MHz shaders, and 1250MHz GDDR5 memory, with capacities of 1.5GB or 3GB depending on the notebook's configuration. The memory rides on a (up to) 192-bit bus, with peak bandwidth of up to 60GB/s. We'll take a closer look at how the GeForce GTX 560M performs in the coming pages.

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PCMark & 3DMark Tests

We'll start our benchmark testing with Futuremark's system performance benchmark, PCMark Vantage. This synthetic benchmark suite simulates a range of real-world scenarios and workloads, stressing various system subsets in the process. Everything you'd want to do with your PC -- watching HD movies, music compression, image editing, gaming, and so forth -- is represented here, and most of the tests are multi-threaded, making this a good indicator of all-around performance.

Futuremark PCMark Vantage
Simulated Application Performance


As you can see the GT683R performs quite well, outscoring all of the notebooks in our reference bank with the exception of the Maingear eX-L 15. When you consider the price difference of the Maingear eX-L 15 ($2,456) compared to the $1,499.99 price tag of the MSI GT683R, the performance of the GT683R is quite impressive.

 

Futuremark 3DMark Vantage
Simulated Gaming Performance

Next, we'll take a look at Futuremark's 3DMark Vantage benchmark, which focuses on gaming performance. Some of the technologies in 3DMark Vantage are only available with DirectX 10, making this a better barometer of modern gaming prowess than the older 3Mark06 benchmark. And unlike previous versions, 3DMark Vantage puts a bit more emphasis on the CPU rather than focusing almost entirely on the GPU(s).

Here again, the GT683R posts a very good score. In fact, the notebook once again outscores all of the notebooks in our reference bank with the exception of the high-end Maingear eX-L 15.

Futuremark 3DMark11
Synthetic DirectX Gaming


Futuremark 3DMark11

The latest version of Futuremark's synthetic 3D gaming benchmark, 3DMark11, is specifically bound to Windows Vista and 7-based systems because it uses the advanced visual technologies that are only available with DirectX 11, which isn't available on previous versions of Windows.  3DMark11 isn't simply a port of 3DMark Vantage to DirectX 11, though.  With this latest version of the benchmark, Futuremark has incorporated four new graphics tests, a physics tests, and a new combined test.  We tested the graphics cards here with 3DMark11's Extreme preset option, which uses a resolution of 1920x1080 with 4x anti-aliasing and 16x anisotropic filtering.


Because 3DMark11 is so new, we're still building our reference bank to use in comparing systems. Here, you can see that the GT683R achieved a very respectable score with the Extreme preset option.

When running the 3DMark11 benchmark with the Performance Preset, the MSI GT683R again achieves a high score, though the Maingear eX-L 15 and Asus G73Jh-A1 are able to squeeze out a few more points than the GT683R.

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SiSoft Sandra & CineBench
Preliminary Testing with SiSoft SANDRA 2011
Synthetic Benchmarks

We continued our testing with SiSoftware's SANDRA 2011, the System ANalyzer, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant.  We ran four of the built-in subsystem tests (CPU Arithmetic, Memory Bandwidth, Physical Disks).


Processor Arithmetic


Multi-Media


Memory Bandwidth


Physical Disks

In the SiSoft Sandra tests, the GT683R performs as we would have expected. The dual hard drive configuration certainly helps the system out in the Physical Disks benchmark. Keep in mind that other configuration options are also available for the GT683R, including an SSD configuration.

Cinebench R11.5 64bit
Content Creation Performance

Maxon's Cinebench R11.5 benchmark is based on Maxon's Cinema 4D software used for 3D content creation chores and tests both the CPU and GPU in separate benchmark runs. On the CPU side, Cinebench renders a photorealistic 3D scene by tapping into up to 64 processing threads (CPU) to process more than 300,000 total polygons, while the GPU benchmark measures graphics performance by manipulating nearly 1 million polygons and huge amounts of textures.

 

 

The GT683R didn't score quite as well in the Cinebench R11.5 benchmark as it has in some of the other benchmarks, though it wasn't too far behind our other comparison systems.

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Game Tests & Battery Life

Metro 2033
DirecX11 Gaming Performance


Metro 2033

Metro 2033 is your basic post-apocalyptic first person shooter game with a few rather unconventional twists. Unlike most FPS titles, there is no health meter to measure your level of ailment, but rather you’re left to deal with life, or lack there-of more akin to the real world with blood spatter on your visor and your heart rate and respiration level as indicators. The game is loosely based on a novel by Russian Author Dmitry Glukhovsky. Metro 2003 boasts some of the best 3D visuals on the PC platform currently including a DX11 rendering mode that makes use of advanced depth of field effects and character model tessellation for increased realism. We tested the game engine using the Metro 2033 benchmark tool.

In comparison to some of our other reference systems, the GT683R wasn't a pack leader in the Metro 2033 benchmark tests. Even so, the GT683R posts playable frame rates at 1280x720.

FarCry 2
DirectX Gaming Performance


FarCry 2

Like the original, FarCry 2 is one of the more visually impressive games to be released on the PC to date. Courtesy of the Dunia game engine developed by Ubisoft, FarCry 2's game-play is enhanced by advanced environment physics, destructible terrain, high resolution textures, complex shaders, realistic dynamic lighting, and motion-captured animations. We benchmarked the test systems in this article with the FarCry 2 benchmark tool using one of the built-in demo runs recorded in the "Ranch" map.

Far Cry 2 isn't quite as hard on systems as Metro 2033, so we expected the MSI GT683R to perform better in this benchmark than it did in the previous. Indeed, the GT683R showed very good scores, coming in behind the Maingear eX-L 15 and Eurocom Panther 2.0 systems.

 Lost Planet 2
 DX11 Gaming Performance


Lost Planet 2

Lost Planet 2 is a third person shooter developed by Capcom. It is the sequel to Lost Planet: Extreme Condition, and takes place ten years after the events of the first game. The plot begins with Mercenaries fighting against Jungle Pirates, while featuring major boss battles, extreme terrain, and the ability to pilot mechanized armor suits. We tested the game engine using the stand alone benchmark tool.

We're seeing a theme here: the MSI GT683R performs well, but the higher priced Maingear eX-L 15 outperforms it in many of our benchmark tests. This continues to hold true in the Lost Planet 2 benchmarks where the MSI GT683R posts high scores, but comes in behind the Maingear eX-L 15.

Just Cause 2
DX10.1 Gaming Performance


Just Cause 2

Just Cause 2 was released in March 2010, from developers Avalanche Studios and Eidos Interactive. The game makes use of the Avalanche Engine 2.0, an updated version of the similarly named original. It is set on the fictional island of Panau in southeast Asia, and you play the role of Rico Rodriquez. We benchmarked the graphics cards in this article using one of the built-in demo runs called Desert Sunrise. The test results shown here were run at various resolutions and settings. This game also supports a few CUDA-enabled features, but they were left disabled to keep the playing field level.

The Just Cause 2 benchmark shows that the MSI GT683R and the GeForce GTX 560M perform very well in this game, posting playable frame rates at all resolutions tested.

Battery Life
Power Performance

 

If you're considering a gaming notebook, you're probably not expecting exceptional battery life. With that said, the MSI GT683R was able to achieve 74 minutes of cord-free power on the very-taxing Battery Eater Pro test. Most likely, you should be able to adjust the notebook's settings and achieve even greater life from the notebook's battery, particularly when you're not using the notebook for demanding tasks like gaming.

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Conclusion

As we said at the beginning of this review, the MSI GT683R is one of the first notebooks to ship with the new GeForce GTX 560M. Although we expect to see additional notebooks with this GPU soon, MSI was first to get us one. In addition to the new GPU, our test system also featured a 2nd Generation Intel Core i7-2360QM processor, 12GB of DDR3 memory, and dual hard drives in Raid 0. MSI offers additional options and configurations for the system on its website as well.

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Although the MSI GT683R didn't take the top spot in most of our benchmarks, it consistently achieved very high scores. To be honest, we didn't expect this system to beat all of the others we've used for reference in this review because a few of the other machine were outfitted with higher-end hardware (desktop components in one case) and they were much more expensive too. Considering its asking price, the $1499 MSI GT683R offers good bang for the buck. 

Our tests show that while the new GeForce GTX 560M is a great new mobile GPU, there are other performance factors to consider that aren't necessarily influenced by GPU performance. To that end, MSI made sure to include other high-end features and components with the notebook to ensure users get terrific all-around performance. As you can see from the benchmark scores, the MSI GT683R frequently outperformed systems with a similar processor but a different GPU.

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Overall, we were very pleased with the performance of the GeForce GTX 560M as well as the MSI GT683R in general. The notebook also includes a few extras such as Dynaudio and THX TruStudio Pro to enhance the multimedia experience. If you like the aggressive aesthetics and are in the market for a powerful notebook that's speedy enough to churn through DX11 games and HD multimedia, the MSI GT683R is worthy of consideration.

 

     
  • GeForce GTX 560M
  • Core i7-2360QM processor
  • Dual hard drives in Raid 0
  • Relatively short battery life
  • Some bloatware


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