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MSI GS65 Stealth Thin Gaming Laptop Review

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I love a good gaming laptop but one thing I cannot handle is their boring look and feel. They are always bulky with brushed steel and red marking all over them. I grow tiresome of seeing the same thing over and over again and there are only a few select brands that really go out there with their designs. That being said, MSI was one of them but after spending time with the new GS65 Stealth Thin gaming laptop, it almost feels like a brand new direction for the gaming giant. So much so that the device is not only a powerhouse but it is also one of the most fashionable gaming laptops on the market to date. 

Check out our video review of the device below if you want to see it in action

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin Specs

  • Latest 8th Gen. Intel® Core i7 processor
  • Windows 10 Pro
  • GeForce® GTX 1070 8GB GDDR5 (Max-Q)
  • 15.6" Full HD (1920x1080), 144Hz 7ms thin bezel display
  • All new Dragon Center with exclusive gaming mode
  • Per-Key RGB gaming keyboard by Steelseries
  • 8+ hours battery life
  • Sound by Dynaudio and High-Resolution Audio ready
  • 360° virtual surround sound powered by Nahimic 3
  • Ultra-thin 17.9mm, ultra light 1.88kg

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As you can see from the specs the MSI GS65 Stealth Thin is a monster. The device almost reminds me of my Acer Aspire R13 I use on a daily basis for travelling and work but the biggest difference is that this is a gaming laptop and the fact that MSI managed to pack all these specs into such a thin device is pretty impressive. 

Design

To be honest, the GS65 Stealth Thin feels like a brand new range from MSI. Its gold trimmings, lack of red splashed everywhere, thin and light design, thin bezel display and even its power brick have been made 28% smaller. Did I mention there is no red on it at all? MSI's branding consists of a red dragon and to see this device incorporate a brand new gold/black colour scheme is a breath of fresh air. You know when you see a limited edition smartphone released to celebrate something big like the Samsung Galaxy S7 Batman Edition? Well, the GS65 almost looks and feels like a special edition of another laptop but in this case, it is not. 

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The entire laptop has been made from a black matte aluminium alloy. Instead of the traditional red strips around it, we have a sleek and sexy gold design that looks fantastic. On the edges, the diamond-cut trimming pays tribute to Apple's iPhone range that implements the same small detail to add a premium design finish to the product. The smaller details include a gold-finished fan vent, and of course the MSI dragon logo which in this case does not light up and is also gold instead of the traditional red.

But the worthy changes don't end there. The new thin-bezel display is very sexy and one of the best I have ever used. It helps trim down the fat from the device quite a lot with its 82% screen to body ration compared to other devices. In theory, the laptop has a 4.9mm bezel around its screen. Something you would find on more business and tech devices. To see this sort of display on a gaming laptop is great. It is all held up by two hinges which again is something very different from past laptops too. 

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side by side 3DS vs GS65

One cool feature was the ability to lay the device completely flat at 180-degrees. You can then also flip the screen orientation too. This comes in handy when you need to collaborate on work or perhaps run a quick presentation and given the laptop's portability, it makes sense for a businessman/gamer to have this handy. 

Opening the lid and we get the sleek keyboard which is backlit by SteelSeries like other MSI gaming laptops released in the past year.  The keyboard is not a full-sized one but it works for being so small. The power button is also gold-trimmed and the top vents look great too. Another small but sweet addition is the touchpad which also has a gold trim around it to make it look like its part of the new design direction. 

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Overall the laptop comes with all the ports you would need from it. USB 3.1, Thunderbolt 3, Mini DisplayPort, HDMI, headphone and even a LAN port. The inclusion of a LAN port is impressive given how thin the device is and how fat ethernet cables are. All this design has been packed into a laptop that is 17.9mm thin and weighs 1.88Kgs. Yes, with the power brick, the MSI GS65 Stealth Thin is under 2Kgs

Performance

The outside is sleek and effective and the inside is powerful, very powerful. You are looking at an NVIDIA GTX 1070 Max-Q with 8GB of DDR5 RAM and an 8th-Gen Core-i7. This is one of the first gaming laptops from MSI to come with an 8th-Gen CPU and the performance promises up to 40% more thanks to the new 6-Core processor. The Max-Q GPU also means more power, higher spec, but at a large cost too, which has been something I have come to expect from the technology.

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I ran two benchmarks while testing the unit (outside of the traditional gaming I did). I ran the usual Heaven Benchmark but I was also interested to see how the latest Final Fantasy XV Windows Edition would do and since that benchmark is free I gave that a go too.

Heaven

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The Unigine Heaven Benchmark ended with an 1829 score with an average of 72 FPS. The test was running on an extreme full-screen setting with tesselation on and 8x filtering. It looks amazing during the benchmark and the score is not bad at all. 

Final Fantasy XV

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The MSI GS65 managed to score a 5484 at the end of the benchmark which according to the official site is  "Fairly High". I ran the test on 1080p and according to the site, the score is the equivalent of a desktop run of a Radeon RX Vega. It even scored higher than the average GeForce GTX 1070 Max Q which comes in at 5257 on the site. 

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As you can see the MSI GS65 had no issue producing the best visual and high-end score on the device. I also spent much of the time playing my latest addiction, Vermintide 2 and that was another phenomenal experience. The gameplay was smooth and it almost felt as if it was a mere small task for the GS65 to pull off. With everything on max and an extreme field of view, the gameplay was flawless. Best of all, the display's 144Hz delivered some of the smoothest gameplay I have seen on a gaming laptop to date. It knocks everything I have ever tested out of the water without a doubt. 

The power inside the GS65 is remarkable and without a doubt something future-proof. It also makes a big difference that the screen is so great. I had issues with the last device I reviewed being dull and not bright enough but the GS65 is impressive. It boasts a 150% colour gamut range and in terms of brightness, I can confirm it ranges around the 290 mark. A big jump from the 270 nits in the GE73VR.

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There is nothing much more I can say about the GS65 Stealth Thin laptop in terms of performance other than what I have mentioned above. The fact that it scores so high across the two benchmarks and runs Vermintide II which is a pretty demanding game so well is a great achievement. 

The MSI GS65 gets hot. Very hot actually and while gaming the fan does get loud but that is expected given that it is so thin and handling all those tasks and gaming at the same time. The heat is dispersed pretty well too with it going from 78-degrees to just 20-degrees within a few minutes of exiting the game. However, you would want to put this on a desk when playing the most intense games as it will burn your lap. Also, keep the vents open at all times, this is a mean machine that needs to breathe. 

The little things

The GS65 has a great keyboard, better than the Razer I use on my desktop if I am being honest. I found myself typing easier and making fewer mistakes. This also meant gaming was a breeze too and the 16.7 million colour backlit keys made each game look and feel even better. The SteelSeries Engine 3 lets you create macros and fiddle around with all the lighting presets you could ever dream of.

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Then we have the sound. Gaming laptops are known to deliver a somewhat mediocre sound experience when gaming but the GS65 feels on another level. Smaller details come through louder, there is less crackling and they are capable of getting quite loud on max volume. You can hear the kicks and experience all the little details. They could honestly be the best laptop speakers I have ever experienced making the MSI GS65 another winner here. 

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Last but not least we have the battery life which is not the best in the world but better than past devices too. While gaming does not last long, another use such as work and video playback was fantastic. MSI promised 8+hours and you can kind of get there with a few brightness tweaks and adjustments here and there. However, you would want to plug this in when gaming as the battery drain does start to affect your game performance. 

Verdict

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The MSI GS65 Stealth Thin is everything I have ever hoped for in a gaming laptop and everything I wanted MSI to do to change their "safe" stance in the industry. It is "out there" and delivers power beyond anything I have tested before. Its new CPU boosts the performance. The Max-Q GPU creates a thin device, and the new display allows for a portable and lightweight gaming laptop of the likes I have not used before. Best of all its new design is a refreshing new take on the traditional hardware we have come to expect from the brand. 

You can pick up the MSI GS65 Stealth Thin for R36,999 (GTX 1060) and  R40,999  (GTX 1070 Reviewed)

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