Hey guys, new here and have been reading a ton since deciding I needed to buy a laptop.
Almost decided on a MSi GE60 due to the perfect balance of price/power/size (for me) but then read that the GT650m is not upgradeable after market. Is this true? I would never be able to swap gpus without having to do major work myself? And getting a mxm3.0b card would allow me to upgrade for the foreseeable future?
You are having a very common misconception about what is upgradeable or not.
Obviously, its the SLOT/interface that is upgradeable or not!
If you were to manufacture a gt650m on PCI-E or MXM then of course it would be upgradeable.
So who knows, maybe there will be some MXM A gt 650m in the near future, but it really seems like MXM A is dying out lately, and the gt 650m would most likely be that form factor. But I don't think it will happen.
The only brand that would do it is MSI, and well, they're not doing it.
Now, if you look at some of the earlier models in that series, they are in fact MXM A machines, but you have to go back before Sandy Bridge to the ge600/ms-1675 with ATI 5650.
And then again, there probably aren't going to be any good MXM A cards coming out.
So yeah, if you want a cheap MXM 3.0 machine, you're going to have to sacrifice some battery life and CPU power , if you're looking for portability it will be nearly impossible.
The 1 machine you might want to consider is the MSI gx640. Its simply the thinnest and lightest MXM 3.0 B laptop out there and it uses 1st gen i5/i7 chips.
Its upgradeable to the 7970m. The one problem is the cooling, which probably can't handle a 920xm or a 6970m, but frankly an i7-840qm should be enough CPU power for a while.
If battery life is a big deal for you, while these older laptops tend to get about half the battery life of Sandy Bridge machines... that COULD change significantly when upgrading to a newer more efficient 7970m. You'll have to bug people for figures on that if you want more information but I think its a safe bet that the 7970m will give you more battery than the 5870m.
As an added bonus, you should be able to pick up a used gx640 for under 600$.
Yes, what you are looking for is virtually nonexistant, I can guarantee the MSI gx640 is the closest you will get.
Its a little under 6lbs with 9 cell battery, which is really only a pound less than a Sager np9130 with gtx670m and Ivy Bridge, but I think they have 6 cell batteries. You could change out the 9 cell for a 6 cell and you'll have the lightest MXM 3.0 B notebook out there for sure.
I don't think you can make it much lighter by getting rid of 2 cells on the battery, also that is what you'd have to do literally because I don't think you can buy a 6 cell anywhere.
The x460 doesn't have an MXM slot so it can't be upgraded that way.
One thing you can consider however is an external GPU docking system. Unfortunately, we used to do this with Expresscard, and there aren't a lot of notebooks which use Expresscard anymore.
Theres something called Thunderbolt will effectively replace this, but I'm not sure there are any laptops out with it yet.
There are still some nice laptops out there with expresscard that could work great for an External GPU setup... My problem with them is that they generally don't have good LCDs, the resolutions are only 1366x768... but that should be less of a problem if you look at 14", I've been trying to stick to 3lb machines.
Thats the really cool thing about it - you can use a desktop GPU with a 11" laptop if you want.