Computex 2007: MSI, VIA, and ASUS
One of the more interesting items MSI had to show at Computex wasn’t even on the show floor. MSI had a back room showing of a new technology product they are calling Luxium. The idea behind Luxium is pretty simple, it is essentially an enclosure that houses an external PCI Express x16 slot and is connected to your PC through an external PCI Express interface (ExpressCard in case of notebooks). As you may have guessed, Luxium’s value proposition is to bring high end desktop graphics capabilities to computers without much graphics horsepower, which amounts to a large majority of the notebook market today.
Many enthusiasts want high end graphics with their notebooks but don’t want to give up form factor or battery life, and MSI’s Luxium fills this void, it gives these users the high end graphics they crave as they want it. The most likely usage scenario would be someone using their laptop for school or work in the day, bringing the notebook home, plugging in the Luxium via ExpressCard, and then gaming, either on the notebook's LCD or an external monitor.
As we turn Luxium around, we can see that it has a back panel filled with extra connectivity options. It adds 5.1 channel audio support, two extra USB 2.0 ports, an Ethernet port, and an external power port. MSI has said that the Luxium runs well with most mid-ranged cards, including the likes of an NVIDIA GeForce 7900GS. However, the company has had a little trouble getting ultra-high end cards, like the GeForce 8800GTX or GTS to work on Luxium due to bandwidth issues. It’s great to see that MSI is pioneering this external graphics technology and we hope to see Luxium work with the latest high end graphics cards when it is released later this year.
In addition to Luxium, MSI engineers have been working on a few side projects to expand the functionality of NVIDIA’s MXM technology. One of these products is called the 8600 Geminium, and like the 2600 Geminium (Dual Radeon 2600 Pro Graphics Card) we showed last week, is not likely to ever hit the retail market. The 8600 Geminium is a desktop PCI Express graphics card that features a removable mobile GeForce Go 8600 series graphics chip.
MSI was also showing off their new GX600 series of gaming laptops. The GX600 is a Santa Rosa based notebook with an 800MHz bus, 802.11n wireless capability, a 512MB GeForce Go 8600 graphics card, HDMI output, and a “Turbo” overclock button, that when pressed, can overclock the GX600’s mobile Core 2 Duo CPU by 20%.
There were some other interesting items on display as well, including the Crystal 945 Touch panel LCD PC, which is currently slated to be sold in
Next we looked at MSI’s Blade GM965, a totally silent Mini ITX, Core 2 Duo based small form factor barebone system. Because the GM965 was completely passive and had no fans, it was a bit hot to the touch, but MSI touted the GM965’s fanless design as a necessity for reliable operation in places where there is a lot of dust or debris in the air. Without a fan, the debris and dust will never get into the GM965. And finally we took a look at MSI’s upcoming X38 Diamond motherboard. As you can see, the X38 actually has six memory slots, two of which support DDR2 memory and the rest of which support DDR3. MSI’s X38 is the only X38 board that we have seen thus far that supports both memory types, an excellent design feature due to the fact that most X38 boards at Computex only supported DDR3. With DDR2 prices hovering around all time lows and with a 2GB kit of DDR2-800 going for around $85 today, DDR2, it is likely that most enthusiasts will want to build a DDR2 based systems in the next few months.