MSI GS65 vs Razer Blade 15 (2020)

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We compared the MSI GS65 versus the Razer Blade 15 for you in terms of Performance, Display Quality, Hardware, Battery time and more. You can see the end results in the Ranking below. Also below the Ranking you will find an in-depth analysis of each Laptop.

Winner
Razer Blade 15 Gaming Laptop 2019: Intel Core i7-9750H 6 Core, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q, 15.6" FHD 1080p 240Hz, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, CNC Aluminum, Chroma RGB Lighting, Thunderbolt 3
Best Price
MSI GS65 Stealth-006 15.6" 144Hz Ultra Thin and Light Gaming Laptop, Intel Core i7-8750H, NVIDIA RTX 2060, 16GB DDR4, 512GB Nvme SSD, Win10
Model
Blade 15
GS65 Stealth
Test Result
Test Result 9.5/10 Excellent April 2020
Test Result 9.0/10 Very Good April 2020
Manufacturer
Razer
MSI
RAM
16GB
16GB DDR4
CPU
Intel Core i7-9750H 6 Core
Intel Core i7-8750H
Graphics Card
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q
NVIDIA RTX 2060
Storage Capacity
512GB SSD
512GB SSD
Battery Time
Value for money
Weight
4.74 lbs
4.19 lbs
Pros
  • Best Performance
  • Minimalistic Design
  • Fast Display and Many Ports
  • Good Gaming Performance
  • Lightweight Build (Good for Transportation)
  • Great Price
Cons
  • Gets a bit heated under heavy workload
  • Gets heated under workload
Winner
Razer Blade 15 Gaming Laptop 2019: Intel Core i7-9750H 6 Core, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q, 15.6" FHD 1080p 240Hz, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, CNC Aluminum, Chroma RGB Lighting, Thunderbolt 3
Model
Blade 15
Test Result
Test Result 9.5/10 Excellent April 2020
Manufacturer
Razer
RAM
16GB
CPU
Intel Core i7-9750H 6 Core
Graphics Card
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q
Storage Capacity
512GB SSD
Battery Time
Value for money
Weight
4.74 lbs
Pros
  • Best Performance
  • Minimalistic Design
  • Fast Display and Many Ports
Cons
  • Gets a bit heated under heavy workload
Best Price
MSI GS65 Stealth-006 15.6" 144Hz Ultra Thin and Light Gaming Laptop, Intel Core i7-8750H, NVIDIA RTX 2060, 16GB DDR4, 512GB Nvme SSD, Win10
Model
GS65 Stealth
Test Result
Test Result 9.0/10 Very Good April 2020
Manufacturer
MSI
RAM
16GB DDR4
CPU
Intel Core i7-8750H
Graphics Card
NVIDIA RTX 2060
Storage Capacity
512GB SSD
Battery Time
Value for money
Weight
4.19 lbs
Pros
  • Good Gaming Performance
  • Lightweight Build (Good for Transportation)
  • Great Price
Cons
  • Gets heated under workload

Ranking First: Razer Blade 15

Razer Blade 15 review


Pros

  • Best Performance
  • Minimalistic Design
  • Fast Display and Many Ports

Cons

  • Gets a bit heated under heavy workload

“Welcome to the Cult of Razer.” If you buy a Razer product, read this sentence first. It’s a statement that makes you feel like you’ve done everything right, right? For over $2300 this should at least be the case with the current Blade 15. Current top-of-the-line hardware condensed into a 15″ case with a height of only 1.78 cm – can this work?

Razer offers high-end performance in a compact form factor at high-end prices with the gaming notebooks of the Blade series. However, the Californians have not only convinced with brute performance and cool unique selling points, the workmanship and cooling concepts of the products have always been impressive. The Blade 15 with GTX 1060 Max-Q has already convinced in 2018 and the Razer Phone was also a lot of fun in the test.

The Razer Blade 15 is available in various configurations as a basic or professional model. It starts with a GTX 1060 Max-Q in terms of graphics cards and ends with the RTX 2080 Max-Q. All models rely on a Core i7-8750H for the CPU and 16 GB DDR4 RAM for the main memory. The 15.6″ IPS display with FHD resolution is available with 60 Hz and 144 Hz refresh rates. The Blade 15 is also available with 4K touch display and 60 Hz. Just recently Razer announced that the Blade 15 will be available with 240 Hz or 4K OLED touch display in the future.

Scope of Delivery

With the scope of delivery you can adjust to a somewhat more extensive notebook standard. Besides notebook, manual, power supply and power cable there are some stickers and a cleaning cloth. Of course, the whole thing is very attractively packed in the Razer design. The CEO of Razer also sends you a small greeting card congratulating you on the purchase of your new Razer product.

Design

You could probably rightly say that Razer is the apple of gaming notebooks. The case of the Razer Blade 15 is made entirely of aluminum and makes a very high-end impression. The design language is simple and matter-of-fact: there are hardly any beading, edges or other conspicuous features. A bright RGB lighting is only found under the keyboard. The Razer logo on the upper side appears green and can only be adjusted to a limited extent. Razer also doesn’t make any experiments with the colors. The Blade 15 is kept completely in anodized black.

If you consider which hardware works in the Blade 15, the compactness with a height of 1.87 cm and the light weight of just over 4.4 lbs is amazing. The extremely narrow display bezels go well with this, whereby Razer has nevertheless and fortunately left the webcam up in the middle. With an aluminum body, you have to be prepared for resistant fingerprints, of course.

The touchpad of the Razer Blade 15 is comparatively large with a surface area of 8 x 13 cm. Everyone who likes to play on a gaming notebook with the touchpad will certainly be pleased. In keeping with the design, Razer doesn’t make any trouble with the key layout. Everything sits where it belongs. There aren’t any disturbing special keys like on the Lenovo Legion Y740 (review) either.

The keyboard makes a good impression. The key stroke is reasonable and the feedback is pleasant. However, the notebook keyboard doesn’t stand a chance against the optomechanical OMEN by HP Sequencer, with which I work in everyday life. Moreover, I’m not a friend of flat keyboards. However, the Blade 15’s keyboard is perfectly adequate for gaming. It supports the Razer chroma lighting and can be controlled via Razer Synapse. The RGB lighting shines very brightly at the highest level and is infinitely variable.

The workmanship is impeccable and gives no reason for criticism. Razer has installed the two loudspeakers on the side next to the keyboard. The sound is surprisingly good for a notebook. Not tinny or shrill, as it is the case in some notebooks. The power button has been placed almost invisibly in the right loudspeaker on top. The bottom line is that the Razer makes a flawless impression and convinces all along the line in terms of design and manufacturing quality.

Ports

Razer Blade 15 ports

Experience shows that very flat notebooks often only have the most necessary connections. The Razer has two USB 3.1 Gen1 Type A, a combo jack and a power connection on the left side. On the right side there is a USB 3.1 Gen2 Type C port with Thunderbolt 3 support, another USB 3.1 Gen1 Type A port and the two video connections HDMI and Mini DisplayPort. You can connect two 60Hz 4K displays or one 120Hz 4K display to the Thunderbolt 3 port. The device for the Kensington lock was also placed on the right side.

All in all, the Razer Blade 15 comes with all important connections. An RJ45 jack would be desirable for a gaming notebook, but almost all gaming notebooks with a very flat design are missing this. Only a dongle or stable WLAN helps here. If you use the notebook frequently on the road, it’s best to fall back on a docking station right away. The same applies, of course, if you need an SD card reader.

Display

The Razer Blade 15 has a 15.6″ display with IPS panel and Full HD resolution. The display has a 16:9 format and 144 Hz refresh rate. Games are thus displayed very fast and fluid, but all other content also wanders across the screen as soft as butter. With the Razer Blade 15 you won’t have any problems with ghosting or tearing.

The illumination of the display is fine. The darkest area is at the bottom left with about 210 cd/m², in the middle the brightness is 235 cd/m². The brightest areas are on the right edge of the display with about 250 nits. Although the brightness differs by up to 40 cd/m², this is not really visible in everyday life. There is no backlight bleeding on the Blade 15.

The display is matt. So you can gamble in any environment with the Razer Blade 15, regardless of bright light sources in the room. Thanks to the IPS panel, the colors are rich and strong. The viewing angles are also stable. You’ll see content on the screen even if you look at it from the side. The same applies to the passengers in the train next to you.

Overall, the display makes a very good impression. The slim aluminium frames are chic and stable, content is displayed very sharply at a pixel density of 147 PPI and the fast 144 Hz display is convincing when gaming. The color space coverage is okay for a notebook. I measured 97% sRGB, 68% NTSC and 73% AdobeRGB. The values are almost identical to the ROG Zephyrus S GX701GX (review) and other high-priced gaming notebooks.

Software

The Razer Blade 15 comes with Windows 10 Home in the 64-bit version installed ex works. What’s so pleasing about it? Razer, in contrast to many other manufacturers, leaves it almost exclusively at that. Apart from the classic candy-crush talk, only Xing and Spotify are still on the disk. There are no “anti-virus programs” waving with scary popups.

Apart from that you can still find the Razer Synapse app and the Razer Chroma SDK on the SSD. The Synapse app is practically the gaming hub of Razer. Here you can configure the Razer Blade 15 and other Razer devices. For example, there are three performance modes: balanced, creator and gaming. While the gaming notebook is very quiet in the first mode, the gaming mode gives you full power – and full volume. Plus, you can adjust the lighting via Razer Chroma, visit the Razer Store, create macros and more.

Accordingly, the software is clearly arranged thanks to many submenus. Not. Razer had just opened its own store for video games in 2018 and wanted to attract customers through a special bonus program. However, this did not work out completely, because video games are no longer offered.

Of the real 461 GB of storage space on the SSD, a pleasing 423 GB are still available for free. With Windows and programs there should be no problems. It could become critical if you want to install many current games. With memory requirements of sometimes well over 50 GB, the 512 GB SSD could become a bottleneck faster than you would like.

Performance

Razer Blade 15 gaming

However, performance is of course the decisive point with which the purchase decision stands or falls in a gaming notebook. The Razer Blade 15 has one of the strongest graphics cards currently available in the notebook segment, the RTX 2080 Max-Q. However, the Intel Core i7-8750H is not a specialty among gaming notebooks. But with the Razer Blade 15, the decisive factor is which performance mode you set in the Razer software. In gaming mode you have full performance at your disposal, but the notebook gets correspondingly loud. But more about this in the next chapter emissions.

Thanks to the RTX 2080 Max-Q, the Razer Blade 15 is at the top of our database. But this is not least due to the fact that we have hardly had any comparable notebooks in the test so far that made it into the database. Only the ASUS ROG Strix Scar II and Lenovo Legion Y740 are in the immediate vicinity, but they use an RTX 2070 or an RTX 2070 Max-Q.

Expressed in absolute FPS, this means that the Rise of the Tomb Raider has 110 FPS (FHD/very high details), 91 FPS (WQHD/very high details) and 66 FPS (UHD/medium details). Ghost Recon Wildlands looks a bit leaner, but the game demands much more resources. Here the gaming notebook reaches 59, 48 and 46 FPS in the same default settings. If you go with the given frame rates d’accord, you can even use the Razer Blade 15 in order to be on the move with 3840*2160 pixels and cutbacks in the detail level.

If you’re on the road a lot with the notebook, you’ll rather prefer the internal FHD display. In the tested games, the Razer could always reach at least 60 FPS, apart from Ghost Recon Wildlands. Among them Far Cry 5, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and The Division 2, in the latter UHD unfortunately didn’t want to work in full screen mode, as the game always threw me back into window mode and a lower resolution. UPlay stop. You can see the exact values in the diagrams.

The bottom line is that the Razer is very well suited for Full HD gaming at maximum and – depending on the game – very high details. All depending on how much you want to take advantage of the 144 Hz display. Because with a higher frame rate it simply runs smoother. At a WQHD resolution, most games are also well playable at high details. In UHD, you should select the medium detail level to achieve sufficient FPS for a smooth gaming experience. For older titles such as Diablo 3, CS:GO, League of Legends, or World of Warcraft, you don’t need to worry about the high details at this resolution.

The Razer Blade 15 features a Samsung NVMe SSD with 512GB of memory. The SSD achieves very good values in the AS SSD benchmark. It doesn’t quite reach the speed of an EVO 970 Plus from Samsung, but it doesn’t lack much.

Battery

Although I don’t really grant the battery a high relevance in gaming notebooks, I’ll at least briefly mention the results of the battery test. The Razer reaches a runtime of just over 4 hours with a display brightness of about 200 cd/m². This is a good value. The performance mode “balanced” was set in the Razer software and Windows ran in “more battery efficiency” mode. The battery life should turn out considerably less in performance mode. In general, you shouldn’t expect much more than two hours of battery life when gaming.

Heating / Noise

But how does Razer keep the high performance at an acceptable temperature level? That’s often a sticking point with gaming notebooks, but it gets even more difficult with especially flat specimens. There there is no room for adequate cooling solutions. We observed the temperature behavior both during the system stability test of AIDA64 and during gaming with the help of the HWiNFO64 tool.

In the Razer Blade 15, the selected performance mode in the Razer Synapse software influences volume and temperature. In sleep mode, CPU and GPU temperature are at 65°C and 43°C. In the stress test and the gaming performance mode, the average temperature increases to 85°C (CPU) and 69°C (GPU). In balanced mode, the average CPU temperature does not change, but the graphics card becomes slightly warmer at 71°C. The background noise is much more noticeable in gaming mode than in balanced mode, but acceptable. However, the noise of the fans is accompanied by a comparatively high pitched, unpleasant whistling. The Razer is relatively quiet in balanced mode, though.

When playing Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, the Razer Blade 15’s processor reaches an average of 87°C in balanced mode. The graphics card reaches 72°C. In gaming mode, the CPU reaches 90°C and the RTX 2080 Max-Q 71°C. Sometimes maximum values of 99°C are reached, whereby the Achilles heel of the compact design is revealed. Due to the high temperatures, individual cores are throttled when gaming in gaming mode. The case gets very hot above the keyboard and on the bottom. It can partly not be touched there anymore. I therefore don’t consider gaming while the notebook is lying on the lap to be pleasant.

To counteract the heat development of the CPU, there are a few possibilities. The easiest way is to use the balanced mode. If you want, you can also set the refresh rate to 60 Hz and activate VSync in games. Which, however, calls into question the usefulness of the 144 Hz display. If you’re adept in handling technology, you can lower the CPU’s supply voltage with Intel XTU. Ultrabookreview.com has realized a 4-5°C lower CPU temperature with a voltage reduced by 130mV.

With Throttlestop you can simultaneously limit the turbo clock to 3.6GHz to reduce the temperature even further. These options are only partially optimal for a gaming notebook trimmed for performance, but they should be beneficial for the maximum life span.

Upgrading

You can open the gaming notebook relatively easily if you have the necessary tools lying around at home. The underside is attached with ten small Torx screws. After loosening the screws, the underside can be easily removed.

You can already imagine that the upgrade possibilities are not exactly exhilarating on a flat notebook with the present equipment. This is simply because it’s simply not necessary – maybe apart from the SSD’s memory space. Once you remove the base, you’ll have direct access to the battery, RAM bars, WiFi card and M.2 NVMe SSD. If you need more memory or RAM, you will need to replace the existing modules with larger ones.

Conclusion

The Razer Blade 15 is uncompromising. It compresses a lot of power in an extremely slim case. The workmanship is – typical for Razer – on a very high level. The case of the Blade 15 is made entirely of aluminum and is finished in a simple black. The display edges are very narrow and the webcam sits in the right place. The only noticeable thing? The illuminated Razer logo on the top. But the keyboard also sparkles in all colors thanks to Razer chrome lighting.

The display supports a refresh rate of up to 144 Hz, and thanks to the IPS panel, colours are rich and natural. It doesn’t stand out from the mass of displays of high-end gaming notebooks, but it is perfectly suited for smooth gaming of current titles without tearing or ghosting. The illumination could be a bit more even, but it’s not noticeable in everyday life.

Thanks to Intel Core i7-8750H, 16 GB RAM and RTX 2080 in the especially flat Max-Q design, you have plenty of performance at your disposal. Full HD in very high details? No problem. In WQHD it runs on an external monitor in high details without any problems. In UHD, it is recommended to set the detail level to medium, so that no FPS drops cloud the gaming experience.

In the Razer Synapse app, the performance modes Gaming, Creator and Balanced can be selected. Gaming mode gives you the most power and the cooling system is clearly audible. Although it hardly differs from other gaming notebooks in this price range in terms of volume, our test device showed a marginally noticeable and unpleasant whistling noise. In contrast, the fans are barely noticeable in balanced mode.

The only weakness of the Razer Blade 15’s cooling concept becomes apparent, which is the uncompromisingly flat design combined with extreme performance. The gaming notebook gets very warm under load, especially in gaming mode. The cooling can’t completely absorb the high load and the CPU clock is throttled. The case gets correspondingly hot on the bottom and above the keyboard. Here you should use the balanced mode or counteract with undervolting or a restriction of the maximum turbo clock.

If you’re looking for massive performance in an extremely compact form factor, can overlook the one mentioned weak point you’ll get a very high-end gaming notebook for almost all situations with the Razer Blade 15.

Ranking Second: MSI GS65

MSI GS65 review


Pros

  • Good Gaming Performance
  • Lightweight Build(Good for Transportation)
  • Great Price

Cons

  • Gets heated under workload

The slimness and beauty mania in the gaming notebook sector continues. After NVIDIA had virtually laid the foundation with its Max-Q graphics cards, ASUS set a good example with its ROG Zephyrus GX501 and Gigabyte also jumped on the bandwagon with its Aero 15X v8, MSI now also has an extremely compact and light-weight gaming bolide with a chic, sleek look and particularly narrow screen edges in its range. You can find out how the GS65 Stealth performs against the competition in this Hardwareluxx article.

Both the ASUS ROG Zephyrus GX501, as well as the Gigabyte Aero 15X, the Acer Predator Triton 700 and now also the MSI GS65 Stealth have one thing in common: They all offer enough power to bring even the newest gaming hits on the screen in the highest graphic settings without any problems, but are still extremely compact and light, so that they can also serve as a daily companion. On top of that, they deviate from the aggressive gamer’s look and, thanks to the simple design structure and high-quality material selection, they make a good impression on even the most demanding workaholic. So they are real all-rounders, which are equipped for almost every purpose.

Since the introduction of the new Coffee Lake H processors, which made six-core processors in high-end notebooks acceptable for the first time, MSI has been offering a corresponding device. The MSI GS65 Stealth only measures 357.7 x 247.7 x 17.9 mm and is therefore extremely compact, weighing in at a comparatively light 4.1 lbs. Nevertheless, the device has a lot to offer on the inside: The new six-core chip from Intel serves as a basis, of course, and specifically the Core i7-8750H is used. In addition there are 16 GB DDR4 RAM and a 512 GB SSD for data. However, there is no room for a second drive. The buyer can choose between an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 and a GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q for graphics. Despite the compact design, the display measures 15.6 inches diagonally and resolves with Full HD resolution. A brisk IPS panel with 144 Hz is always used – ideal for gamers.

For our test, we were of course supplied with one of its flagship models, which should be offered by MSI for about $1600 in our configuration – at least the variant with the designation “0016Q2-019” comes closest to our US model, but can also come up with a faster PCI Express SSD, while our model is only connected via SATA. The test device is driven by an Intel Core i7-8750H, an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q and a total of 16 GB RAM and 512 GB flash memory for the operating system and the most important programs.

Design

Despite its powerful gamer hardware, the MSI GS65 Stealth doesn’t want to be a typical gaming notebook, but also wants to be interesting for all those who want to access high computing power on the go. This becomes especially clear in the design. While the manufacturer’s big gaming bolides have repeatedly drawn attention to themselves with an aggressive look in recent years, the Stealth Thin is unusually simple. The angular edges on the case aren’t there anymore and the thick air inlets are also missing.

Instead, a simple black metal chassis is used, which is loosened up here and there with golden color accents. This includes the edges on the screen lid, but also the struts on the rather unobtrusive air inlets on both sides. Of course, the logo is also gold-plated. MSI is relying here on its well-known dragon emblem. This is an indication that it is a real gaming notebook despite its noble look.

With a height of only 17.9 mm, the MSI GS65 Stealth Thin is a bit thinner than the Gigabyte Aero 15X v8, but also a bit thicker than the ASUS ROG Zephyrus GX501. For a gaming notebook in this performance class, this is extremely compact. In terms of weight, which MSI states at just 4.1 lbs, you literally beat the competition with ease. The gigabyte model weighs around 4.4 lbs, the ASUS device adds another 300 g. However, the MSI GS65 Stealth Thin can’t quite keep up with the competition in terms of workmanship.

Although a high-quality metal case is used, it can be easily pressed in, especially in the area of the power button directly above the keyboard, but also in the area of the ventilation slots on the bottom and tends to crackle and pop noises. The two display hinges are also much too smooth-running, which causes annoying wobbling in trains or planes. There are no sharp edges or annoying gaps, though.

Due to the narrow screen edges of less than 5 mm, MSI manages to pack a 15.6 inch display into a 14 inch form factor. This has a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels and is a fast IPS panel with 144 Hz. G-Sync is only available via the two video outputs in favor of NVIDIA’s Optimus technology. However, the otherwise usual number pad had to be omitted due to space reasons.

The keys are pleasingly large at 16 x 16 mm and are positioned at intervals of about 3 mm. This allows for accurate typing. As with the GE and GS series models, the company relies on the expertise of SteelSeries. The chiclet keys have a crisp pressure point with a medium stroke and allow a pleasant typing feel overall. They are pleasantly illuminated by an RGB backlight, which can be set individually for each button using the SteelSeries engine software. MSI uses a simple, monochrome illumination ex works, whose orange-gold mix is reminiscent of the small color accents on the case. The overall visual impression is therefore harmonious.

Screen

The display of the MSI GS65 Stealth has a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels. Of course, the particularly narrow screen edges are a highlight, which enabled MSI to accommodate the panel in a 14 inch form factor. This is based on an IPS panel with a stable viewing angle, but with a brightness of 286 cd/m² it is only conditionally suitable for outdoor use. The homogeneity of the illumination is very good with just over 90%, although the AU-Optronics panel gets steadily darker towards the bottom. Between the brightest and darkest value are about 27 cd/m. The contrast ratio is okay with 953:1.

Like most current gaming notebooks, the screen of the MSI GS65 Stealth also has a slight blue cast, although this is not quite as pronounced as the competition with a color temperature of about 6,900 K on average. Optimal would be around 6,500 K. The color temperature can be adjusted at will via software. We measured in sRGB mode.

The GS65 Stealth’s fast reaction rate of 144 Hz shows that it is a real gaming notebook. You only have to do without G-Sync in favor of the Optimus technology. But G-Sync is of course still possible via the display outputs on an external monitor.

Keyboard / Trackpad and Ports

MSI GS65 keyboard

The GS65 Stealth’s touchpad leaves a good impression, as you’re used to at MSI. It is sufficiently sized with 105 x 71 mm, slightly shifted to the left and has good gliding characteristics, although the surface is too strongly roughened. Precision and reliability are excellent, even at the edges and corners. All imaginable multi-touch gestures are easily understood. There are no dedicated keys for left and right mouse clicks, but the touchpad clicks loudly and gives a good feedback.

With an overall height of only 17.9 mm, the MSI GS65 Stealth is extremely slim for a high-end gaming notebook. Nevertheless, the cooling turns out comparatively unobtrusive, even though an Intel Core i7-8750H and a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 are built into the Max-Q version. A total of three radial fans take care of the cooling, which draw in their fresh air from the sides and transport it out again warmed up at the back.

On the connection side the MSI GS65 Stealth has everything a gamer’s heart desires. Somewhat annoying is the omission of the SD card reader, which MSI probably saved due to space reasons. On the right side, the device offers two USB 3.1 interfaces, two gold-plated 3.5 mm jacks for connecting a headset and the Gigabit Ethernet interface, which of course has killer functionality and thus prioritizes the gaming traffic. A Kensington lock is still present at the very back after the partially gold-plated ventilation inlets.

Opposite there is a further USB port and a modern type C interface. Thanks to Coffee Lake H, all USB ports work according to USB 3.1 Gen2 speed, and the type C socket also copes with the Thunderbolt 3 protocol and thus allows transfer rates of up to 40 GBit/s. HDMI and DisplayPort are available for video output.

The MSI GS65 Stealth is powered by an external power supply unit with an output power of 180 W. Like the whole notebook, this one is comparatively compact and with only about 420 g surprisingly light. For on the road a built-in 82 Wh battery must be sufficient. After all, it should be able to supply the device with power for up to eight hours.

Performance

The heart of the entire product family is of course a brand new Coffee Lake H processor, which was presented by Intel only a few weeks ago and thus made six-core CPUs presentable in high-end notebooks, because in comparison to the direct Kaby Lake predecessor, these provide up to 50% more computing cores and therefore have six cores instead of four.

However, Intel still specifies the maximum power consumption with a maximum of 45 W TDP. In order to be able to keep within this limit, the clock rates were partly corrected significantly downwards. Whilst the Intel Core i7-7700HQ gets down to work with a base and turbo clock rate of 2.8 to 3.8 GHz, the Intel Core i7-8750H works with a base clock rate of only 2.2 GHz, but is supposed to reach up to 4.1 GHz in turbo for this. Thus, Intel also accelerates the single core performance.

Otherwise, a 9 MB L3 cache and a 1.5 MB L2 cache are available, whereby all six cores must share this. The data and instruction cache primarily provides 32 KB per core. Like all Coffee Lake processors, the Intel Core i7-8750H is manufactured using the 14-nm process.

Even though the memory controller from Coffee Lake H is released for at least 2,666 MHz fast RAM, MSI tries to save a few Dollars here and only uses 2,400 MHz fast modules, which slightly pushes the memory bandwidth down. In our test, the device reaches almost 21.2 GB/s. Other devices like to achieve a few gigabytes more per second. MSI is not entirely alone with this decision, though. Other manufacturers also like to decide to pair the Intel Core i7-8750H with only 2,400 MHz fast RAM. But MSI also wants to offer SKUs with 2.666 MHz.

Our test device is equipped with a 512 GB M.2 plug-in card SSD. However, it is only connected via SATA, which reduces the average read and write speed to about 540 and 495 MB/s respectively. There will also be faster models available at an extra charge, which are then equipped with NVMe drives. The variant with the designation “0016Q2-019” comes closest to our US model and will be available in this country with PCI Express SSD for just under $1600.

The comparatively slow SSD speed is hardly noticeable in practice, though. A bit more annoying is the partition division. MSI divides the available capacity into two drives. The system and data partitions both make up about 256 GB. There’s no room for an additional 2.5 inch hard disk in the MSI GS65 Stealth.

Overall, our test Laptop achieves a very good 32,378 MIPS in the compression test of 7-Zip, which is slightly below the comparison devices with Coffee Lake H. The same applies to the Cinebench benchmarks, which the device finishes with 11.55 and 1,050 points in the multi-core preset. The reason: Due to the compact dimensions, there is not much room for strong cooling. The processor doesn’t keep its maximum frequencies continuously, which slightly depresses the performance.

Gaming Performance

MSI GS65 review

The MSI GS65 Stealth Thin is offered with either NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 or GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q. For our test, we were supplied with the faster variant, at least on paper. Like the desktop offshoot, it’s based on the GP104 GPU, which is manufactured at TSMC in a 16nm FinFET process like most Pascal graphic cards and technically corresponds almost 1:1 to the desktop model.

Compared to the regular notebook version, however, the Max-Q version achieves about 10 to 15% less performance due to reduced clock rates, but does not get quite as warm and is also less power-hungry. Compared to the GeForce GTX 1060, the GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q can usually still stand out from the regular notebook.

Whilst the GeForce GTX 1070 has 1,920 shader units available in the desktop, it’s 2,048 in the notebook. The desktop variant achieves clock rates of 1,506, respectively at least 1,683 MHz in the base and boost, it’s only 1,443, respectively 1,645 MHz in the regular notebook variant. The Max-Q variant must manage with speeds of 1.215 or 1.379 MHz. Our model is even a bit slower with about 1.101, respectively 1.266 MHz, but usually reaches just over 1.200 MHz in practice.

There aren’t any differences in the memory expansion compared to the regular and desktop versions. The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q can also access an 8 GB GDDR5 video memory, which is connected via a 256 bit wide interface, starts working with a clock of 2.002 MHz and thus reaches a bandwidth of up to 256 GB/s.

All our benchmark games are thus playable without any problems, which is also due to the gamer-friendly resolution of the GS65 Stealth Thin, which is fixed at 1,920 x 1,080 pixels. If MSI were to install a high-resolution 4K panel, the hardware would have to work even harder and would almost reach its performance limits. Games like “Grand Theft Auto 5” or “Wolfenstein 2” run over the display with a good 80 frames per second in the highest quality levels. In “Call of Duty: WWII” and “Assassin’s Creed: Origins”, however, it is only sufficient for just under half the frame rate. But both titles are still well playable.

Software

As one is used to from MSI, there is again a multitude of software input in the GS65 Stealth Thin. Probably the most interesting tool is the in-house Dragon Center, quasi the command center of the gaming bolide.

Here, not only the current load of processor, graphic card, memory and SSD are read out, but also the fan speed, the transfer rate of the two killer network chips and the current performance mode. The Dragon Center can also be used to set the color temperature of the display and influence the fan control. If desired, the FN keys and the Windows key can be disabled to prevent incorrect or accidental entries in games.

Otherwise, the Dragon Center allows DeepL access to your favorite games, controls the microphone and speakers, and allows connection to a smartphone or tablet to display the most important system parameters. A recovery medium can be created, the battery can be calibrated or the user manual can be accessed.

The SCM tool is also preinstalled as a practical helper, which can switch WLAN, Bluetooth and the webcam on and off with just one click, but also regulates the volume and display brightness with a slider. Otherwise, all the important tools for the killer network chips and other components are installed. With the exception of the 30-day demo of Norton Internet Security, no useless demo versions or even bloatware programs are installed on our test device. Very commendable!

Heating and Noise

MSI GS65 review

The Intel Core i7-8750H and the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q demand a lot from the cooling, especially when they are plugged into such a flat case like the MSI GS65 Stealth Thin. This is quite noticeable on the surface, because our test pattern gets very hot in places. We measured up to 65°C under absolute full load. This is reached in the second quadrant on the bottom and thus exactly where the processor and graphic card are located. It’s still 45 °C in the top case’s area after all.

Both are values that can already lead to scalding. Here, MSI should definitely go for it again and improve the cooling of its device. On average, the bottom gets considerably warmer, where we measured almost 40 °C on average, whereas it was only just under 31 °C on the top side in the top case. The temperatures are significantly lower in idle. Then it’s only between 25.4 and a maximum of 30.3 °C, or about 28 and 29 °C on average.

The high temperatures on the surface are of course due to the high temperatures inside. The core temperatures of the graphic card and processor can also reach very high peak values, which partly even cause the hardware to lower its clock rates. The Intel Core i7-8750H reaches up to 90°C in our tests and thus starts lowering its clock rates in order not to overheat. Instead of a basic clock rate of 2.2 GHz, it is then only 1.8 GHz. The graphics card doesn’t lower its clock rates any further, but only 1.165 MHz is reached at the peak, which is within the MSI specifications, but still a bit below a regular Max-Q offshoot. The GP104 GPU reaches temperatures of up to 86°C in our tests. So far, we only know such values from the regular Pascal chips, but not from Max-Q.

MSI seems to buy the high temperatures inside and on the case with a comparatively low noise level, because we would have expected much more here. The device already remains whisper quiet in idle mode with 34.9 dB(A) and thus allows for a pleasant working environment. Every now and then, however, the cooling system turns up briefly. In gaming mode the system even stays below the magic 50 dB(A) mark, which is usually gladly taken by gaming notebooks in this price and performance category. This isn’t really quiet, but compared to the competition it’s a passable value. The AOSUS X9 DT from our last review was already over 60 dB(A) loud here.

If you fully load the processor and graphic card with Prime95 and Furmark in the worst case scenario and thus force the cooling to its performance limit, you’ll raise the MSI GS65 Stealth Thin’s noise level to 52.1 dB(A). This value is also quite okay.

Battery time

In battery mode, the MSI GS65 Steahlth Thin lasts a good 476 minutes and thus almost eight hours. This is mainly because MSI does without G-Sync in favor of Optimus technology and thus switches to the considerably more economical Intel graphics of the Coffee Lake H processor in idle and disables the Max-Q variant. This clearly saves power consumption, but also waste heat.

However, when playing games, the battery life is reduced to only about 75 minutes, which is just over an hour. The Intel Core i7-8750H and the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q clearly turn up the heat here. They are powered by a built-in 82 Wh battery, which is quite ample for MSI ratios, but usually you’ll be satisfied with 60 Wh.

With a fully charged battery, which is fully operational again after a bit more than two hours, the MSI GS65 Stealth Thin only allows itself about 16.3 W in normal 2D mode, and in gaming mode the energy hunger increases to 147.6 W. In an absolute worst case scenario, it can be up to 180.8 W, with which the power supply is definitely exhausted with its 180 W.

Conclusion

In view of the data sheet and the very noble look, the MSI GS65 Stealth Thin would have had what it takes to be named the best gaming notebook of the year. But a few problems unfortunately deny it this title and finally also our highly coveted Excellent Hardware Award. The metal case impresses with its simplicity, but smaller compromises in the workmanship have to be accepted, which shouldn’t occur in such a price range. In addition, due to the hot temperatures inside, the case gets so hot on the surface that it can lead to slight scalds after a short time. Up to 65 °C is simply too much.

Although the combination of Intel Core i7-8750H and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q is extremely performant, it could be faster because the performance is throttled down due to the high temperatures. Nevertheless, the performance is thick enough to bring all the current graphic hits to the screen without any jerking, especially since the GS65 Stealth Thin will only be available with Full-HD resolution. The display could be a bit brighter, but the contrast values are right and the high refresh rate of a fast 144 Hz is also pleasing and should certainly convince every gamer. In addition, the edges are extremely narrow at just 5 mm, which ultimately allows MSI to pack a full 15.6 inch display into a 14 inch case.

With an overall height of only 17.9 mm, the device is very compact and extremely light at only about 4.2 lbs, despite the 82 Wh battery, which after all ensures runtimes of almost 75 minutes up to almost eight hours – thanks to NVIDIA’s Optimus technology. The keyboard is good, the touchpad almost excellent. Which brings the MSI GS65 on the very close second Rank versus the Razer Blade 15. The price is cheaper of the MSI GS65 though, which means that, if you don’t mind having the best (but still great!) Performance and want to save some bucks you should definitely go with the MSI GS65.


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