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Author Topic: Are these utilities truly necessary?  (Read 7817 times)

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brenda813Topic starter

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Are these utilities truly necessary?
« on: 29-March-17, 03:33:00 »

As long as I have control over what I am and am not installing on my computer, after a recent upgrade, I'm questioning if some of the utilities I downloaded from the MSI site, are worth installing:

PREFACE: I don't know if this will make a difference, but I'm not a hardcore gamer. I play games, but they are offline games. LA Noire is probably the most intense game I'll play. However, the main purpose of this computer (for me), is not gaming, but designing. I got a gaming computer, because it had the best specs for handling the design software I use.

  • Battery Calibration - I know what this does, but I'm not convinced it's worth taking up space on my computer. I never calibrated my laptop battery before (I never knew it was a thing) and got about 5-6 years out of my last one, before I had to replace.
  • Dragon Gaming Center - I'm not quite sure I understand the purpose of this. All/Most of the features on here, I think I can get through the Windows Task Manager.
  • MSI After Burner - I don't know what this is. It was preinstalled when I originally bought the computer and was in the list of utility downloads. 
  • VR Optimized - Not quite sure what this is either. I didn't have it when I originally purchased the computer, but it was also in the list of downloads for my computer. 
  • Sizing Options - It looks like this only controls the resolution? Is there something that makes this better than adjusting resolution through Windows settings?
  • SCM - I'm confused about this one. At first it didn't seem like it did anything that I couldn't just as easily adjust through Windows (Volume, Brightness, Wifi, etc.), but then I found info that this was needed for the Intel Graphics driver and that it controls the FN keys?

The software, plugins, etc, that I NEED, are going to take up enough space, so I don't want to install what I don't need.
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david

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« Reply #1 on: 29-March-17, 21:18:48 »

Hi brenda813,

In my opinion, the only MSI utility that you need is the SCM (system control manager). Without it, some of the low-level functions will not work. This includes the Fn key combinations as you've already noticed. But it can also affect the operation of the cooling system profile on some systems, GPU button (for those GT-series notebooks that have one), Turbo Boost button (for those notebooks with one) etc. Plus, some of the other utilities depend on the SCM. For example, the Dragon Gaming Center depends on the SCM so, if you plan to install the Dragon Gaming Center, you must install the SCM first. And, if you ever decided to update the SCM, you need to first uninstall all dependencies (like the Dragon Gaming Center), then reinstall them after the SCM is back up and running.

The Battery Calibration utility is helpful but not essential.

The Dragon Gaming Center displays the status of the CPU, GPU and cooling system. It also allows the user to assign a program (usually a game) to the P1 key (Fn+F4)---also called "Instant Play". And it provides a place where you can list shortcuts for other utility programs that you often use (including third-party utilities). It has a "Display & Audio" section where you can control the sound level, display brightness and gamma. It has a "Mouse" section where you can control the pointer speed and double-click speed. It provides a "Resource Release" section so you can end various Windows tasks before playing a game (freeing up resources so there will be more for the game). It provides a way for you to turn off the Win key, enable "High Performance" mode, and change the "Shift Mode" (a performance setting). The Dragon Gaming Center has been replaced in newer MSI gaming notebooks with the Dragon Center. It is much larger and provides integration with Nahimic, True Color and provides its own overclocking and fan profile controls. Both the Dragon Gaming Center and the newer Dragon Center are not essential.

The After Burner is used for overclocking your GPU. Many of its features have been rolled into the newer Dragon Center. If you do not plan to overclock your GPU or you plan to use the Dragon Center, this utility is not essential.

The VR Optimized is an unknown to me, too. MSI now sells gaming notebooks that are able to run virtual reality (VR) headsets (like Oculus Rift) to play VR games (like Elite Dangerous). My guess is that this utility is for those notebooks. Perhaps is configures them prior to using the VR features. Or it may simply be a test program that determines if a notebook has the necessary features for VR. If your notebook is not compatible with VR systems and software and/or you have no plans to use VR, then this utility is not essential.

The Sizing Options is used to control the scaling factor for Windows (I think). If I'm correct, it changes the size of text, menus and user controls in some Windows programs. But the programs must be designed with scaling in mind. Besides, you can change this setting directly from the Windows Control Panel so MSI's Sizing Options utility is not essential.

One utility that was omitted from your list is Nahimic. It is usually bundled with the Realtek HD audio driver on MSI's driver downloads page for your notebook model. This is because it requires the Realtek HD driver be installed and that it be a compatible version. However, Nahimic is not an MSI product---it is the product of the A-Volute company. Nahimic is a sound effects program and MSI switched to it after they abandoned the use of Creative's Sound Blaster Cinema 2 sound effects program. Nahimic is not essential and, in my opinion, it is actually harmful to good-quality audio. This is because it adds unwanted distortion to the audio. You can install the Realtek HD audio driver without Nahimic if you desire.

Another MSI utility that was omitted from your list is True Color. It is intended to provide the user with a variety of color profiles for the built-in LCD panel of the notebook. MSI's marketing poop even claims that individual LCD panels are "calibrated" for it. From my experience, this is mostly rubbish. There is still only one way to calibrate and get the best color from a display and that is to measure it with a colorimeter and create a proper Windows color calibration file. And, because all displays change with age, this calibration process must be repeated numerous times over the life of the notebook if the user wants to maintain best color accuracy. The True Color utility is not essential. It's mostly just a "toy" for users to play with the color of their notebooks. My advice to anyone needing truly accurate color (for photo editing, movie editing, art or media creation) is to get a colorimeter from X-Rite or Datacolor. Prices are fairly reasonable (beginning at about US$99). See my post here for more information.

Hope that helps.

Kind regards, David
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brenda813Topic starter

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« Reply #2 on: 30-March-17, 07:01:03 »

Thank you SO MUCH! Based on the information you provided, I'm not going to bog my system down with these. 

I left Nahimic off because I thought it was a necessary component. I did notice a difference in sound after installling this. From what you say, seems like the difference comes exclusively from Realtek. I'll try uninstalling Nahimic and hear a difference. If not, I'll leave off and save the room for programs I need. 

Same with TrueColor, I thought it was a necessary piece and I thought it worked on the background. So I installed it. The sales guys at the store when I originally bought my computer played it off as the greatest thing for designers and I hate to say, I bought what they were saying because I didn't know anything about it and couldn't find a lot of info on it. I do own X-Rite calibration products. Thanks for the info! I'll remove this as well.
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david

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« Reply #3 on: 30-March-17, 17:28:40 »

... Same with TrueColor, I thought it was a necessary piece and I thought it worked on the background. So I installed it. The sales guys at the store when I originally bought my computer played it off as the greatest thing for designers and I hate to say, I bought what they were saying because I didn't know anything about it and couldn't find a lot of info on it. I do own X-Rite calibration products. Thanks for the info! I'll remove this as well.

Hi brenda813,

The irony in the above is frustrating. You have to remember that MSI first and foremost is a gaming PC company. The focus of their gaming notebooks is so narrowly on gaming that they disable useful features apparently because they believe gamers won't use them. For example, they have a great ability to configure RAID arrays at the hardware level from groups of SSDs. However, they only make it possible for the user to create striped RAID-0 arrays and they omitted the option to create a mirrored RAID-1 array.

The reason I bring this up is because, if MSI truly wants to make their notebooks attractive for "designers" as the sales guys said at the store, then they would have included the options for striped RAID-1 arrays because file protection is a huge requirement for most designers.

Another thing to bear in mind is that MSI has demonstrated very poor expertise in audio fidelity and color quality. Regarding audio, they chose a company (A-Volute) with no expertise in high fidelity audio to provide their sound effects software (Nahimic). A-Volute's claim to faim is creating distorted audio so pilots can hear above the high cockpit noise level inside a fighter jet. The basic sound effects provided by Realtek's former HD Audio Manager software produced superior sound quality and MSI wouldn't have had to pay anything for it. Furthermore, the Realtek HD audio chips in most MSI gaming notebooks are hard-coded for Dolby Digital Live (DDL), the best surround sound emulator on the market by the folks who invented modern surround sound. But MSI doesn't license it so the feature lies untapped inside the audio chips of our notebooks. What a waste! Regarding color quality, MSI's marketing poop is frequently laced with inaccuracies and errors. At one point they even claimed that the displays in their gaming notebooks could achieve 98% of the aRGB (Adobe RGB) color space. This was absurd---they can't even achieve 98% of the sRGB color space. And lots of users have written in to these forums complaining about the poor quality of the IPS panels in the new MSI notebooks.

You have to take what MSI marketing and MSI sales reps say with a healthy skepticism. In some cases, they are simply ignorant or misinformed. But sometimes I think they cross over to the dark side and lie. My opinion of MSI notebooks has changed since I purchased my GT80 2QE two years ago. I still think they make good high-end hardware in their GT-series, but their software problems are too difficult for average users to deal with. So I only recommend MSI notebooks to users with deep Windows system expertise.

Kind regards, David
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GT80 2QE Titan SLI-001 • i7-4720HQ • 32 GB DRAM • 2 x GTX 980M in SLI • 16 GB VRAM (8 GB/GPU) • 2 x 512 GB Micron M600 M.2 SSDs in mirrored Recovery array • 2 x 128 Toshiba M.2 SSDs in mirrored RAID-1 • 2 TB Samsung 850 EVO SSD • MiniPro RAID V2 external case w/ 2 x 2 TB Seagate ST2000LM003 HD in RAID-1 for local backup • 40" Philips 4K UHD BDM4065UC monitor • Logitech G910 Orion Spectrum RGB external keyboard • Logitech G903 Lightspeed wireless mouse w/ Powerplay charging mousepad • Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit • Adobe Master Collection CS6
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