The MSI GS65 Stealth THIN-068 is one of the few laptops we can call a truly mid-range gaming laptop. That’s all thanks to its excellent balance of price, power, and portability. At a cost of $2000, it gives you impressive gaming performance, a healthy port system, long battery life, great high-end features, and remarkable gamer aesthetics. While it does struggle to offer 3D capabilities like high-end gaming laptops, it makes a competent 1080p gaming machine that doubles up as a great productivity laptop.
- Stylish look and design/ handsome chassis
- Great keyboard and touchpad
- Healthy port system
- 144Hz IPS display
- Great performance on daily tasks and gaming
- Competitively priced
- Long battery life
- Runs hot and noisy while gaming
- Not easy to upgrade
- A bit of lid flex
After a couple of years of trials and misses, Nvidia hatched up an out-of-the-world idea. Outrageous as it sounded, the plot to take the guts out of a gaming laptop and squeeze it into a MacBook Pro-like body saw the light of day. And surprisingly, it now has become a success story for many manufacturers to learn from. The MSI GS65 Stealth Thin-068 we review today is the result of those thoughts brought to life.
The MSI GS65 Stealth Thin-068 is an understated mid-range gaming laptop with black and gold color accents and enough power to muscle through most tasks and gaming. It kicks most rival gaming laptops right out of the water thanks to its impressive assortment of features. For this sub $2000 laptop, you get an 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8750H processor, 32GB of memory, 1TB of solid-state drive storage and Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 graphics card. That plus a great keyboard and decent battery life make it a flattering option for daily productivity and gaming. In this review, we nitpick it and try to figure out how it stacks up against other gaming laptops in its category. In the battle for dominion, it finds itself battling against laptops such Acer’s Predator Triton 500 or Alienware’s m15 Thin, both of which feature older 8th-gen CPUs, but Nvidia’s newer ray-trace-enabled RTX GPUs.
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MSI GS65 Stealth THIN-068 Specs
|Display||15.6-inches (4.9mm thin bezel) 72% NTSC|
|Processor||3.9GHz 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8750H (6-cores)|
|Storage||1TB NVMe SSD|
|Graphics Card||Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 8G|
|Operating System||Windows 10 Home|
|Dimensions||14.08 x 9.75 x 0.69 inches|
|Audio||Nahimic 3, Dynaudio Speakers|
|Cooling||Cooler Boost Trinity (3 fans, 4 heatpipes)|
Design and Features
If you’re looking for a gaming laptop with gamer aesthetics, you’ll be gravely disappointed. Nothing about the MSI GS65 Stealth Thin-068 screams gamer straight into your ear canal. Instead, it packs a winning design, with a predominantly black finish and lavish gold trimmings-thankfully lacking in obnoxious gamer aesthetics. And although used sparingly on the lid trim, ventilation, and hinge, the gold accents give the laptop an elegant look.
Moving on, at 14.08 x 9.75 x 0.69 inches and 4.14 pounds, the MSI GS65 Stealth Thin-068 is as mentioned earlier among the thinnest gaming laptops we’ve seen. At 4.14 pounds, the weight is also pretty okay for a 15.6-inch laptop. It certainly makes it easier to tag along with it as a portable gaming machine. For this reason (dimensions) it goes against what is the norm for gaming laptops… thick and heavy! Compared to other gaming laptops, the ultra-premium Razer Blade 15 Advanced Edition is much slimmer (0.7 by 14 by 9.25 inches, 4.4 pounds) while the similar-prized Lenovo Legion Y740 (81HH0037US) measures a close 0.88 by 14.2 by 10.5 inches and 4.8 pounds.
Upgrading: Not so easy
Apart from the Alienware Area 51m laptop, upgrades on laptops are usually generally limited to memory and storage. For our unit, however, the motherboard is inverted causing the two M.2 slots and two SO-DIMM slots to be out of reach. If you really have to upgrade the system, you’ll have to remove the motherboard entirely to be able to reach through. That means removing the ribbon cable out, an aspect the average Joe might not be so privy to. While that’s a downside, MSI isn’t the only company to complicate life like this. Asus’s ROG Zephyrus and Acer’s Predator Triton 500 are guilty of the same fault. It’s worth noting though, that MSI did change a few things on the MSI GS75 by making the M.2 drives accessible.
Despite the MSI GS65 Stealth THIN-068 being the best midrange gaming laptop in its class, it does not offer a 4K display. Instead, users are limited to 1080p, or FHD. My initial impressions aside, it makes up for that loss with very narrow screen bezels, 7ms response time and a blistering 144Hz refresh rate. The narrow bezel help reduce the footprint giving the display a luxe look, while the refresh rate reduces screen tearing and ghosting while gaming. That is for competitive AAA games where you need higher frame rates over fancy visual effects.
While some diehard fans might be disappointed by the lack of Nvidia G-sync or any other form of Adaptive sync, the display still gets its work done. The display is also In-Plane Switching (IPS) giving gamers the room for wide viewing angles. The picture quality is good and MSI promises a 72% NTSC color display with good brightness levels.
MSI offered an admirable and plentiful port selection for this unit including a futuristic USB Type-C port with Thunderbolt 3 support. Admittedly, a much better selection than most laptops in its price range. The right side holds a single USB 3.1(USB Type-A) Gen 2, USB Type-C with Thunderbolt 3, Mini DisplayPort (1.2), a single HDMI 2.0, and AC. When I first saw the power plug on the right side, I was shocked. Yes, it is on the right side and it might tick off some right-handed users, who like me, are not used to power cords being on the same side as their mousing hand.
Meanwhile, the left side offers a Kensington Lock, Gigabit RJ-45 Ethernet jack, two USB 3.1 Gen 2, 3.5 mm gold-plated headphones, 3.5 mm gold-plated microphone and gold-plated vents for letting in cool air. I must say, the gold and black vents are a nice touch to the laptop’s modern aesthetics and near-perfect eye candy for onlookers.
Some other features you should know to include the 720p webcam located at the top bezel.
Under the hood, the MSI GS65 Stealth Thin hides an 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8750H, one of the most powerful processors in gaming PCs. The Core i7-8750H is one of the seven new Coffee lake H-series processors designed for notebooks, workstations, and gaming laptops. It features 6 cores and 12 threads and has a base clock speed of 3.6GHz. The 12 threads go a long way in ensuring the system handles multitasking with aplomb.
Ideally, the processor clocks between 2.2 and 4.1 GHz (4 GHz with 4 cores, 3.9 GHz with 6 cores). Moreover, thanks to the two extra cores, the processor has increased performance by almost 50% over its predecessor. What remains the same though, and has not improved (since Kaby lake processor) is single-core performance. But we’ll not get into that right now.
To be precise, the i7-8750H makes the performance feel much snappier. It excels in situations that require constant heavy processing such as exporting videos, video editing programs, video rendering programs and of course intensely graphic and CPU-heavy games. Daily computing tasks such as web browsing, MS Office work, office productivity (spreadsheets and video conferencing) and others in between work perfectly on this CPU. Simply put, the system can handle its fair share of multitasking.
Memory and storage
Still, on multitasking, it helps that the system comes packed with a 32GB DRAM memory. It’s easy to open and run multiple tabs on Google Chrome while simultaneously running your Avast Virus search in the background. You can do all that without experiencing any slothful speeds.
As for storage, MSI included 1TB NVMe solid-state drive storage on this baby. This translates to state-of-the-art boot and load times on your laptop and in games. Also, programs and software received a major boost and shorten their launch time to seconds. We loved the fact that the storage is enough to also save data, files, multimedia, and video while also retrieving them fast. FYI, you might have to store your most current or most consistently played games if you’ve got a huge bulk that needs storing.
Overall, the MSI GS65 Stealth Thin-068 shows its strengths thanks to these well thought out components. The six-core/12-thread Core i7-8750H 8th Generation CPU makes this laptop more than capable of handling media projects and gaming. We deal with the gaming section below.
For this gaming performance section, we’ll compare the MSI GS65 Stealth Thin-068 to other rivals in its space to get a feel of how it stacks up. Our unit prides itself for coming with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 graphics card. In this section, we’ll look at just how the Alienware’s m15, Acer’s Predator Triton 500 and the Razer Blade 15 gaming laptops compare.
Of the three mentioned laptops, the Acer’s Predator Triton 500 ranks high as a monstrously powerful laptop because of its 8th Gen Core i7-8750 processor, 16GB memory and Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 graphics card. It’s one of the few laptops (Alienware Area 51m pack an RTX 2080 too) to adopt the Nvidia’s Turing cards and as a result, is just as fast as a desktop gaming PC.
The Dell’s Alienware Area 51m leads the pack with its desktop-class performance thanks to its features. It packs a high-end Intel Core i9-9900K, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 GPU, 32GB of RAM and 1TB storage. Take that and couple it with upgradeable components and you have yourself a gaming PC in laptop skin. To say the least, the Alienware is a bulky but powerful and supremely upgradeable computer. It beats our unit fair and square in gaming runs.
Finally, the Razer Blade 15 sits among the best gaming laptops and a potential MacBook Pro laptop replacement for the creator laptop throne. It brags of an optional 4K touchscreen, Max-Q technology and Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 graphics with an optional configuration with RTX 2070 or 2080.
Wrapping gaming performance up
Bottom line, if you were interested in knowing which of these three is the most powerful, there you go. Just from the specification list, the Alienware Area 51m leads the pack, followed by Acer’s Predator Triton 500 then a blend of our unit and the Razer Blade 15 (depend on which configuration of the Razer you opt for).
So how is the performance on real-world gaming scenarios? Thanks to the large memory and graphics card, the MSI GS65 Stealth THIN-068 does more than crunch number in media processing and creation. The laptop pulls 60fps on demanding titles which is great if you’re looking to play. Adjusting detail settings to push games beyond 60fps on AAA titles will ensure there will be fewer frames per second and dips below 60 fps. Less demanding games allow the frame rate closer to the display’s 144fps limit.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The keyboard on the MSI GS65 Stealth Thin-068 is as impressive as the performance. The SteelSeries dome-type keys are very responsive and give a click sound when typing. We loved that MSI made each individual key independent in backlighting. The keyboard has a per-key RGB keyboard and there’s no major faux-pas such as oddly placed or half-sized keys. Thankfully, the keys flaunt 1.4-millimeter key travel which is slightly below our average of 1.5mm. Even so, I was able to type fast enough on the 10fastfingers typing test, managing 71 words per minute score. So whether you’re typing in short bursts or blowing shit up in Rage 2 for hours on end, the keyboard should cover you.
The 4.2 x 3.0 inch is a wide aspect-ratio trackpad is responsive too. The trackpad is compliant with Microsoft Precision Touchpad drivers meaning you have full access to Windows 10 gestures. Three-finger swipe and four-finger press work impressively and easily let you maneuver around the system. However, if the keypad is less flattering to you, like I always say, you’d be better served with the best gaming mouse.
The battery lasts a whopping 7 hours which is a leg up over the competition in the gaming space. In comparison, the Acer Predator Triton 500 lasts a low 2 hours 46 minutes while the Razer Blade 15 lasts 6 hours 4 minutes. Alienware usually have a much better battery setup hence have longer battery life than our unit. The Alienware m15 outlasts our unit thanks to its 8hours 23 minutes battery life. Overall, its a boon for the MSI GS65 Stealth to have such endurance without being on charger. It says a lot about the laptop’s travel-friendly intentions.
Out Final Take
The MSI GS65 Stealth THIN-068 ships with impressive physical build, long battery that leverages portability, and snappy overall performance all at a competitive price. Because of the keen attention to detail, it is difficult to find fault with this laptop. With the assembly of high-end parts, you get an unadulterated powerhouse that can both act as a productivity and gaming laptop. Plus the Intel Core i7-8750H and Nvidia GTX 1070 perform leagues better than most laptops we’ve seen in this price range.
The one caveat we presume might nag some buyers is the fact that it struggles in 3D. Otherwise, the MSI GS65 Stealth THIN-068 is more competent in 1080p than most gaming laptops we know. While not many shoppers can or are able to purchase the laptop at $2000, because of the performance it promises some will/should be willing to concede. For those select few, we easily recommend the MSI GS65 Stealth Thin-068 laptop the Editor’s Choice Award for best midrange gaming laptop.
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