MSI has long pushed the boundaries of invention with its ever-evolving range of laptops but it has now pulled off a world first with the new MSI Creative 17.
- Quiet operation, good DirectX 9 performance
- It isn't the best card for running the latest, DirectX 10-based games
This is a standard graphics card that's suitable for not-too-serious gaming, and for watching Blu-ray movies.
Price$ 360.00 (AUD)
Gigabyte's GV-RX387512H-B may not roll off the tongue too easily, but it sure will do its best to serve up plenty of nutritious eye candy.
It's based on ATI's HD Radeon 3870 graphics processing unit, which sits just below the market segment occupied by cards based on NVIDIA's 8800 GT. So, it's not exactly a high-end card, but at $360, it's a little more affordable and powerful enough to be considered a good option for any gamer who won't be playing the latest games at a resolution above 1280x1024 and with high graphics details enabled.
Technologically, the Radeon 3870 is impressive: its processor runs at a speed of 777MHz, its memory at 2252MHz, it has 320 stream processors, which can be assigned different tasks to render the pixels you see on the screen, and it also has 512MB GDDR4 memory with a 256-bit interface.
These specifications allow the card to produce plenty of speed for DirectX 9-based games such as Half-Life 2 (124 frames per second (fps)) and FEAR (60fps), but it falls a shade short of the competing Radeon 3870-based cards we've seen so far when running DirectX 10-based games.
Crysis, in particular, was one game where it recorded a score a few frames slower than we expected (11fps, as opposed to around 16fps) and it was a smidgen slower than Sapphire's Radeon HD 3870 in the Lost Planet: Extreme Condition test, where it averaged 15.8fps. These tests were conducted at the native 1920x1200 resolution of our Samsung SyncMaster 245B, and with high graphics details enabled. The 3870 will never be able to play these games smoothly at high resolutions with high detail settings, but it will do much better at 1280x1024 with medium-level graphics settings.
In Crysis, at a resolution of 1280x1024 and with medium detail, the card recorded 41fps, which is a smooth result. At 1920x1200 with medium settings, it recorded 24fps, so the extra pixels on the screen really do slow it down.
We also ran a couple of overclocking tests using Call of Juarez (1280x1024 and with low quality settings). Without overclocking, the card scored 28fps. With a stable graphics clock of 790MHz and a memory clock of 2281MHz, its was able to render one more frame per second -- it scored 29fps -- but we couldn't get any more performance out of it.
Physically, the card takes up two parking spaces in a PC case, thanks to its thick cooler, which is barely audible while the card is idle (the graphics processor idles at 49 degrees Celsius). Even when it's crunching data during a gaming session, it won't produce a lot of noise.
Gigabyte supplies the card with one game -- Neverwinter Nights 2 -- as well as all the cables and adapters you'll need in order to use the card's high-definition video output (a DVI-HDMI adapter and a component breakout cable). The card is HDCP compatible and can be used in a machine destined for watching protected Blu-ray movies.
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Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.
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