What is the main difference between a portable workstation and a gaming laptop? The answer to this question is simple and prosaic: in the video card. In notebooks intended for serious work with graphics, install professional graphics adapters like NVIDIA Quadro. They are designed to work with a specialized software, such as 3ds Max, Maya and AutoCAD.
Apparently, MSI felt that the PC market recovering after the crisis will need portable workstations, and have converted some gaming laptops into "workhorses", replacing the game video cards with professional ones and making some additional changes. Alas, this time the company did not give names to their own new laptops, but it's a pity. To distinguish "Dominator" from "Apache" was much easier than the model GT72 2PC from GE60 2PE. Unless the letter W in the title of our hero quite clearly indicates that it is intended not for games (G-Gaming), but for work (W-Work or Workstation).
Before proceeding to the MSI WS60 exam, let's study his video card and understand what it is worth to pay for almost two prices of a gaming laptop – in Russia the workstation that we are considering will cost about two and a half thousand US dollars.
If you compare the technical characteristics of GeForce gaming cards and Quadro workers, at first glance gaming solutions seem more powerful and at the same time cheaper. So why did we need NVIDIA Quadro and Tesla solutions? For professional graphics, you need such features as a large amount of video memory and support for multiple monitors with one video card. Five or six years ago, only professional solutions boasted such characteristics, the drivers of which, among other things, made various optimizations necessary to accelerate the work in professional software.
But all this was before, and now video gadgets can often meet 2, 3 or 4 GB of video memory. This happened because of the spread of monitors with a resolution of 4K, because the higher the resolution of the monitor, the greater the amount of textures should be stored in the memory of the video card. Yes, and the appetite of modern games in lower resolutions has come very close to the mark of 3 GB. Connecting three monitors to a single graphics card is also not a novelty today, but you can not even mention the architecture of NVIDIA CUDA and the OpenCL language, which allow you to use a video card for various complex calculations.
So what happens, are GeForce different from Quadro only with their special drivers? The answer to this question we will look for in testing, but for now let's get acquainted with the hero of our article, laptop MSI WS60.
As we already mentioned, MSI creates portable workstations based on gaming laptops. For example, MSI WS60 was based on the MSI GS60 Ghost gaming notebook, which we wrote about in the spring last year. Recall that then this laptop proved to be very good.
Despite the fact that the "Ghost" and WS60 have much in common, there are slight differences in appearance between these models. So, on the cover of the laptop the logo changed. The gaming MSI GS60 Ghost had the logo of the MSI gaming series, while in the WS60 it looks like a stylized W-the first letter in the word Workstation. The lid, as before, is made of metal, it opens all as easily and still quickly collects fingerprints.
If you raise the lid, you can see one more difference: the WS60 uses a glossy screen cover, while its game predecessor had a matt matrix. You can not not like glossy screens, but they have their advantages: coating the matrix does not create a crystalline effect, does not distort colors and does not reduce brightness. The main thing is not to put a source of bright light opposite to such a screen, otherwise you will not avoid glare. The type of matrix used is IPS, but WS60 is also provided with a Full HD-screen, in which the matrix PLS will be installed.
Our own experimental resolution is higher – 2880 × 1620 pixels, which means that we can not do without scaling. However, we did not encounter any special problems with him, it was convenient to work with the laptop. Probably, the whole thing in non-standard resolution, which turned out to be just a little more than WQHD (2560 × 1440 pixels).
In addition, the MSI WS60 display had one curious feature: the brightness of the screen changed depending on the content displayed. So, if you open a large number of light windows, the brightness was increased, and with a large number of dark windows, it, on the contrary, decreased. During the testing, we never found how to disable this option, although it can not be said that it interfered with the work.
The working area, like the lid, is still made of metal and actively collects fingerprints.
The keyboard MSI WS60 as a whole turned out good, but some time to get used to have to spend. The key stroke is normal, but the buttons themselves are set a little higher than other laptops, which can initially cause a feeling of discomfort. The WS60, like the Ghost, has the ability to programmatically reassign keyboard buttons and record macros. Do not even forget the multi-colored lighting.
The size of the touchpad is 105 × 75 mm (again like the "Ghost"), working with it is convenient, including thanks to the hidden "mouse buttons" under the touch surface. This feature is rare for Windows laptops, so add the MSI WS60 one more plus in karma.
On the right side of the laptop, Thunderbolt 2, which is quite rare in our time, was found, combined with the Mini DisplayPort. In addition, on the right side there is one USB 3.0 port, a network adapter connector, a memory card reader (SDHC / SDXC) and (traditionally for MSI) upside down HDMI. On the left side of the workstation there is another pair of USB 3.0, two 3.5-mm audio connectors for headphones and a microphone and a power connector.
Just in case, we checked the working port of Thunderbolt 2 – everything is in order. Connected to MSI WS60 adapter Thunderbolt → Gigabit Ethernet – the only device with Thunderbolt, found in the test lab 3DNews, – recognized without problems and after installing the drivers worked properly. The monitors that we connected with the Mini DisplayPort ↔ DisplayPort cable also had no problems, even the 4K resolution was displayed normally, at 60 Hz.
|The processor|| Intel Core i7-4710HQ;
2.5 GHz (up to 3.5 GHz in Turbo Boost mode);
6 MB L3;
Four computing cores, eight streams, TDP 47 W
|The graphic controller|| Intel HD 4600;
NVIDIA Quadro K2100M (2 GB GDDR5, Kepler architecture);
Automatic switching between adapters
|Display|| 15.6 inches;
resolution 2880 × 1620 (211.82 PPI), the type of the matrix is IPS;
Glossy coating, LED-backlighting
|Operative memory||16 GB DDR3L-1600 (two expansion slots, two 8 GB modules are installed)|
|Hard drive|| The RAID 0 volume of 256 GB (actually – 238 GB) is made up of two M.2-SSDs;
HDD 1 TB (WD Blue, WD10JPVX-22JC3T0);
Form factor 2.5 ", thickness 9.5 mm
|Wi-Fi||802.11b / g / n, 1 × 1, 2.4 GHz, (Realtek RTL8723BE)|
|The network adapter||10/100/1000 Mbps (Intel Ethernet Connection I218-LM)|
|The connector of the flash-card||SD (SDHC / SDXC)|
|The sound of the||Three speakers, two microphones|
|The battery||Built-in, 52 W · h (4640 mAh, 11.1 V), 6 cells|
|The power supply unit||150 W (19.5 V, 7.7 A)|
|The size of the||390 × 266 × 19.9-23.8 mm|
|Operating system software||Windows 7 Professional (64 bit)|
|The warranty||3 years||105,990 rubles.|
The heart of the laptop is a quad-core Intel i7-4710HQ processor with a 6MB L3 cache and a clock speed of 2.5 GHz, which can increase to 3.5 GHz in Turbo Boost mode. Such a processor can be found in gaming and other powerful laptops, but for a workstation it will be fine.
The memory capacity of MSI WS60 is 16 GB, the memory is represented by two slats DDR3L-1600. Unfortunately, due to the peculiarities of the design of the workstation, it is impossible to replace the RAM itself. More on this, we'll talk in the next section, but for now let's take a closer look at the specification of the video card.
So, the most interesting part of MSI WS60 is NVIDIA Quadro K2100M video card with 2 GB of GDDR5 video memory. This video adapter, built on a GK106 chip (Kepler architecture), is not often found inside laptops. According to the configuration of the GPU, it can be located between the GeForce GT 755M and 760M gaming models. Within the Quadro K2100M video chip are: 3 streaming multiprocessors, 576 unified shader processors, 48 texture units and 16 rasterization blocks. The GPU clock speed is 654 MHz, and the memory width is 128 bits.
The permanent memory is represented by two solid-state drives of M.2 format with a capacity of 128 GB each. The drives are integrated into the MSI Super Raid RAID array. Its size is 256 GB, of which 238 GB are available to the user. In addition to SSD, there was a place in a thin workstation for a full-fledged WD Blue hard disk with a capacity of 1 TB.
The battery of the WS60 is the same as that of the GS60 Ghost, built-in. Its capacity is 52 Wh / h (4640 mAh, 11.1 V), and it consists of six cells. Of course, in the mode of operation in AutoCAD, for example, the battery charge will last for a short while, but the concept of a mobile workstation does not mean a long work in the offline mode. Here, it is more important to protect against external power failures, weight and size characteristics and the possibility not to be confined to the workplace and to show results to the customer at a meeting.
The power supply remained unchanged – a thin "brick" with a power of 150 W (19.5 V, 7.5 A).
MSI WS60 was to be on sale in early December, but the deliveries were delayed. The modified version with a 3K screen will cost about 10 thousand rubles more expensive than the version with Full HD-display, and that, in its turn, will be somewhere 1.5 times more expensive than the MSI GS60 Ghost with a Full HD-display and about the same characteristics.
The internal arrangement and layout of the elements of the MSI WS60 is almost the same as that of the Ghost.
MSI WS60 has four speakers: two in front – they are spaced far enough and two behind – these are installed almost right. Theoretically, a hard disk and RAM can be replaced on its own, but in practice it should not be done. If you judge by the warranty seals on the bottom of the laptop, its opening will lead to a loss of warranty. In addition, the memory slots are located between the motherboard and the keyboard, which means that to replace the memory, you will have to completely disassemble the laptop.
The cooling system consists of two radiators, two turbines and four heat pipes. In addition, the NVIDIA Quadro K2100M heat pack is 30 watts less than the GTX 860M that was installed inside the Ghost, so you do not have to worry about the cooling system.
Differences between NVIDIA GeForce and NVIDIA Quadro
Briefly, the NVIDIA GeForce graphics cards are designed for games, while the Quadro or Tesla series accelerators are for serious work with 3D graphics. The advantages of NVIDIA Quadro in comparison with GeForce are several things.
First, NVIDIA GeForce graphics cards can only display 24-bit color (16.7 million colors), which is enough for most monitors. And NVIDIA Quadro allows you to work with a real 30-bit color, that is, display 1.073 billion colors.
Secondly, the difference between the "Quadra" and "Gifors" lies in the drivers. Drivers for Gifors are optimized for gaming, that is, for real-time work with a small number of triangles, but with heavy "game" textures and complex post-processing shaders. In the case of Quadra, things are different – to work with graphics, the video card does not need to "digest" large "game" textures and shaders, but the number of triangles in the scene on similar tasks is increased by several orders of magnitude. In addition, the NVIDIA GeForce drivers are optimized for working with the DirectX gaming API, and the NVIDIA Quadro drivers are oriented to OpenGL, because this API is traditionally used by powerful 3D graphics editors.
Third, thanks to NVIDIA MOSAIC technology, up to 16 displays can be connected to NVIDIA Quadro video cards simultaneously. True, the total number of displays will depend on the number of connectors on the video card. For example, one DisplayPort V1.2 connector can connect up to four Full HD monitors.
As for the double precision calculations (FP64), the "Gifors" and "Quadra", built on the GK104 chip (namely, based on it, and made by us Quadro K2100M), there are only eight FP64-cores per one block SMX – not so much in comparison with all other kernels. The fact is that under the load for which the Quadra are intended, such calculations are usually not required. For NVIDIA's FP64 calculations, there are accelerators from the Tesla series. With regard to single-precision calculations (FP32), the Quadro K2100M (like GeForce cards with GK104 chips) is 24 times higher than dual-precision performance.
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