A couple months back we had the chance to review MSI’s GT70 Dragon notebook, a high-end gaming system sporting the brand spanking new Haswell Core i7-4700MQ with a just as new GeForce GTX 780M graphics chip. What we found was that performance didn’t impress us quite as much as we were expecting. Mythlogic wanted to show us “GTX 780M done right”, more or less, so they shipped their Pollux 1613 (Clevo P157SM) system for review sporting similar hardware to the GT70 Dragon…and performance once again wasn’t quite what we were expecting in games. It’s not that either system was slow, but we simply expected to see more of a difference.

Gallery: Clevo P157SM

After some emails back and forth with NVIDIA and Mythlogic, we ended up with a second CPU for testing: the Core i7-4900MQ (not to mention some overclocking of both the original 4700MQ and the 4900MQ processors). NVIDIA has also sent two new MSI GT70 Dragon notebooks for testing, one configured the same as the original review (and it no longer hits 95C or higher temperatures during testing) and one with i7-4930MX. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. We’ll look at the CPU scaling performance of GTX 780M in a future article, but for now let’s talk about the Mythlogic Pollux 1613, a customized build using a Clevo P157SM chassis. Here’s the specific configuration we’re testing:

Mythlogic Pollux 1613 / Clevo P157SM Test Configuration
Processor Intel Core i7-4700MQ
(Quad-core 2.4-3.4GHz, 6MB L3, 22nm, 47W)

Intel Core i7-4900MQ
(Quad-core 2.8-3.8GHz, 8MB L3, 22nm, 47W)
Chipset HM87
Memory 8GB (2x4GB) DDR3-1600 11-11-11-28 timings
Max RAM: 4x8GB
Graphics NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M 4GB GDDR5
(1536 CUDA Cores at 771+ MHz, 5000MHz GDDR5)

Intel HD Graphics 4600
(20 EUs at 400-1150/1300MHz, 4700MQ/4900MQ)
Display 15.6" Anti-Glare TN 1080p
(AUO B156HW01 v4)
Storage Samsung 840 Pro 512GB mSATA SSD
Optical Drive DVDRW (TSSTcorp SN208DB)
Networking Gigabit Ethernet (Realtek RTL8111/8168)
802.11ac WiFi (Intel Wireless-AC 7260)
(Dual-band 2x2:2 300Mbps/867Mbps capable)
Audio Realtek HD ALC892
Stereo Speakers
4 x audio jacks
Battery/Power 8-cell, ~14.8V, 5200mAh, 77Wh
180W Max AC Adapter
Front Side N/A
Left Side Flash Reader (SD/MMC/MS)
1 x USB 3.0/eSATA Combo
2 x USB 3.0
Gigabit Ethernet
1 x Mini-FireWire 1394B
Right Side Optical Drive
4 x Audio jacks
1 x USB 2.0
Kensington Lock
Back Side 2 x Exhaust Vents
1 x DisplayPort
1 x HDMI
1 x mini-DisplayPort
AC Power Connection
Operating System Windows 8 64-bit
Dimensions 14.7" x 10.55" x 1.38-1.77" (WxDxH)
(375mm x 268mm x 35-45mm)
Weight 7.26 lbs (3.3kg)
Extras Fingerprint Reader
HD Webcam
102-Key Colored Backlighting Keyboard
Carbon Fiber wrapped LCD Lid
CPU Overclocking Support in BIOS
Pricing Starting at $1543 (GTX 770M)
As Configured: $2400-$2739 (780M, i7-4700/4900MQ)

Most of the items are pretty much what you’d expect from a high-end notebook, with a quad-core i7 CPU and GTX 780M providing the raw horsepower for any games or other computationally intensive tasks. As mentioned above, we tested with both the i7-4700MQ and the i7-4900MQ, including overclocking via Mythlogic’s customized BIOS. We also requested a single large SSD for our review unit and Mythlogic obliged and equipped the notebook with a 512GB Samsung PM841 mSATA SSD. The choice of SSD was less about performance than it was about convenience; I have found that 240/256GB SSDs just aren’t quite large enough to hold everything I want. Bumping up to the 512GB class fixes this shortcoming, and there’s still plenty of spare area available for future games and applications—and you can always add an additional HDD if needed for mass storage of data files. If I were buying a high-end laptop right now, I’d definitely splurge and get a 512GB class SSD.

Going through the rest of the list, most of the items are well-known quantities by now. The AUO B156HW01 v4 LCD is a TN panel, but it’s one of the best 15.6” TN panel out there, with a wide color gamut and good (post-calibration) accuracy, as well as viewing angles that don’t immediately wash out in off-angle viewing. RAM in our unit is “only” 8GB of low-voltage memory, but you can equip the P157SM with up to 4x8GB RAM if you need more, and Mythlogic’s pricing for RAM upgrades is pretty reasonable. (The 32GB setup mentions that it requires the use of Windows 7 Pro/Ultimate according to Mythlogic’s configurator; Windows 8 64-bit supports 128GB and the Pro version supports 512GB, so this is likely a note for Win7 users.)

The connectivity and I/O options cover just about everything you could want. There are three USB 3.0 ports, including an eSATA combo port. A single USB 2.0 port is also present for legacy/compatibility reasons (I’ve noticed that trying to install Win7/Win8 from a USB 3.0 port often creates problems). Clevo even includes a FireWire 1394b port for those that need it, and on the display side there are three digital connections: one full-size HDMI, one full-size DisplayPort, and one mini-DisplayPort. VGA and DVI users will need an adapter, but given where we’re headed I think going with two DP connections is the best choice for most users. For wireless, we were very pleased to discover that Mythlogic equipped their notebook with an Intel Wireless-AC 7260 adapter; the configurator has now moved on the Advanced-AC 7260, which adds Bluetooth 4.0 support. Regardless, the ability to transfer data over WiFi at up to ~45MBps is something I’ve been longing for; range of 802.11ac won’t be as good as 2.4GHz networking, but since you get 2.4GHz and 5GHz support it’s not really a concern.

As far as the spec sheet goes, there really aren’t any problem areas to discuss. You can custom configure pretty much whatever your heart desires, within reason. The P157SM chassis supports two mSATA drives, two 2.5” SSD/HDD drives, and if you want to forego the optical drive a caddy allows the use of a third 2.5” SSD/HDD. There’s a very similar notebook that’s also available, the Clevo P150SM/Mythlogic Pollux 1613-Black; the major difference is that it only supports a single 2.5” drive (with a second via the optical drive bay/caddy). It weighs a bit less than the P157SM and has a slightly different design on the hinges and multimedia panel above the keyboard, and no backlit trackpad, with a price that’s around $20 less. (It’s basically the last generation Clevo chassis but with an updated chipset/motherboard and other components.)

Mythlogic Pollux 1613 / Clevo P157SM Subjective Evaluation
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  • GTVic - Saturday, August 31, 2013 - link

    Obvious answer is the tradeoff with the weight. If you overclock to the extent that you need 220W+ then you are going to need heavier duty cooling design which adds even more weight.
  • Khenglish - Saturday, August 31, 2013 - link

    The 15" and 17" laptops both have identical motherboards with Identical cooling (the 15" has a default aluminum CPU radiator, but most resellers offer the copper version found in the 17")

    So no there would be no extra weight.
  • waldojim42 - Friday, August 30, 2013 - link

    I, for one, am always glad to see high end displays in use. Props to Clevo for such a decent display.

    On your last page, you mention wanting to test against the Alienware 17. While I understand the reasoning, I think that Alienware/Dell put the majority of their focus on the 14 and 18 this time around. Both the 14 and 18 have high end display options that the 17 doesn't get. IPS, and PLS to be exact. Frankly, I would be far more interested in your results on those over the 17" TN panel.

    Also, I have a 9700QM based machine being delivered later this week - one thing I didn't see mentioned, was the thermal impact from overclocking. Also, is the 2bin OC limit an Intel limit, or BIOS limit? I know the machine I am picking up is supposed to allow overclocking, but I prefer not to go into these things blindly - and there really isn't a lot of good information on this.
  • JarredWalton - Friday, August 30, 2013 - link

    I honestly don't know if the limit is BIOS or Intel, but I suspect it might be BIOS. Usually, Intel lets you do +4 bins, and you can set SC, DC, TC, QC to the same multiplier (basically, what I could do with the 4900MQ). But perhaps Intel locked down the 4700MQ for precisely the reason that it would be nearly the same as a 4900MQ if you could set everything to 3.8GHz. Thermally, the 4700MQ didn't have any issues overclocked, but the 4900MQ behaved oddly; I think I need to tweak the OC settings to get more out of it, and even then I think it will only be at best a 3-5% improvement over stock clocks.

    Finally, regarding Alienware, the 18 is hard for me to go for, as it's so huge -- it's in the same category as the Clevo P370SM. I'm just not sold on SLI for notebooks, as there are too many gotchas (heat, size, drivers, cost, etc.) I didn't realize the AW 17 didn't do anything more for the display; I was hoping to see IPS/AVHA/PLS in there, but I guess not? Maybe next time; anyway, Dustin has the full review in the works, but the high gamut TN panel in the Clevo's is getting somewhat out of date.
  • Meaker10 - Friday, August 30, 2013 - link

    4700 = +200
    4800 = +400
    4900 = +600
    4930 = unlocked

    4.2ghz on all cores is a +600mhz boost to the core ratio:

    4900 = 38/37/36/36 (4core/3core/2core/1core turbo max)
    4990 oc max = 44/43/42/42

    The biggest restriction on the 4900 and 4800 will be that tdp increases are locked to +10w to 57w so going beyond 3.9ghz wont mean much (setting anything higher than 57w may looks like it has set but the cpu power wont go beyond 57w).

    Also powernotebooks is niw selling a 4.1ghz oced 4939mx and 3.9ghz 4900mq in the msi barebone range. How many times do we have to tell you your machine was a bad sample?
  • kogunniyi - Friday, August 30, 2013 - link

    You're right, but MSI deserves some flack for sending Anandtech two bad samples.
  • DanNeely - Friday, August 30, 2013 - link

    They've gotten a good one; hopefully at part of one of their upcoming articles they'll publish updated thermals. Unless the issue was a, now fixed, design flaw/fan controller bug though 2 faulty laptops in a row suggests serious QA problems that would scare me away.
  • JarredWalton - Friday, August 30, 2013 - link

    Anyone that thinks the MSI was a "bad sample" at this point is fooling themselves. You can keep "telling us we had a bad sample", but that just isn't true. Dustin had one MSI notebook, and at full load it hit 96C on the CPU (unless you trigger the max fan tweak that turns it into a blow dryer). Then he sent that back, and NVIDIA sent me not one but two MSI GT70 notebooks for additional testing. Both of those hit 95C on the CPU under full load -- 10C hotter than the P157SM reviewed here. That said, the MSI notebooks I had from NVIDIA did not throttle -- they just ran hotter than I'd like. 95C is still less than the 100C max that Intel specifies, but how long will you be able to game on a notebook hitting such temperatures before things start going south?

    Could we replace the TIM to get reduced temperatures? Perhaps, but I just don't think that should be standard procedure, and it shouldn't be required in the first place. What's more, it still won't run as cool as the dual HSF Clevo designs, since it's cooling two power hungry chips with one fan.

    As for the overclocking statements above, the maximum clock on the 4900MQ at stock is 3.8GHz, and pushing that to 4.2GHz was not stable (wouldn't even boot into Windows). While 4.4GHz is an option in theory, in practice I don't see it happening on any but the best CPUs. Even 4.0GHz is behaving oddly, with performance often lower than stock settings. I'm going to try a scaled OC of 4.1/4.0/3.9/3.8 to see if I can get any better performance than my initial results though....
  • Meaker10 - Friday, August 30, 2013 - link

    The thing is to go beyond 3.9ghz you will start having to add voltage which will instantly slam you into the 57W TDP limit. It looks like you were already hitting into it anyway.

    This is an even more delicate operation than a mITX desktop after all but can be done if you are patient.

    But by your own admission if throttle was not occurring on the sager then temps would likely be in the same area and the dual fan has no advantage....
  • JarredWalton - Friday, August 30, 2013 - link

    Temperature and power draw are different, so the 57W TDP is the factor. The Sager can better dissipate that (keeping the CPU at <90 and usually <85, with the GPU <80), but Intel's preventing higher Turbo even at lower temperatures. The MSI isn't throttling, meaning, it's not dropping below the rated speed, but it's also not running at max Turbo either. There's a difference.

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