I haven't owned a gaming laptop in a while now. All my laptops up to now were just simple browsing and media computers from Asus, HP or Samsung. I even owned a Chromebook for a bit and liked it. But I've been itching to get a gaming laptop for a while. I do have a gaming desktop and I can remotely connect to it for gaming but it's not the same. There is too much latency. So I started searching for a laptop that would have an i7 processor, at least 16GB of Memory, an Nvidia GTX 1050ti or better and, most importantly, a thunderbolt 3 USB-C port. I also didn't want a tank for a laptop, so a slimmer design would be good.
Well, the MSI GS63VR definitely matches all my needs and even exceed them. I'm going to organize my review into sections like I/O, design, keyboard, storage, and more:
- Design: MSI managed to make a slim metallic rectangle look really good. That "brushed" metal is very nice to the touch. I like how simple the top of the laptop is with the MSI logo and everything. The bottom has this soft material which will lift up the laptop a bit and transfer less heat to the surface it's on. I don't recommend using this on your lap. It also protects the bottom of your computer from being scratched by whatever material might be on the table.
- Display: This model has a 1080p Matte finish TN display. It is not the best looking one, and if anything, might be the worst part of this computer. The colors seemed a bit flat and no matter how you tweak the settings in the MSI True color software, it just doesn't look right. The display is also only 60hz and does not support G-Syn which is a bummer, because I have to turn on V-Sync in order to reduce screen tearing. At least, you do get the option to connect an external display or more and all your issues will be gone.
- Keyboard: The keyboard is a full sized Steelseries keyboard and it is one of the best laptop keyboards I've ever used. the keys have a nice feel when pressed and it just makes you want to type an essay (or in my case, this review). There is back-lighting and yes, it is RGB. Unfortunately, the lighting is divided in zones (3 of them) so you won't be able to do some of the cool ripple effect that Razer keyboards do. I can't complain too much because it is still a really good looking keyboard and the lighting is always a bonus.
- Trackpad: The trackpad looks nice, and has a red metallic rim around the inside of it that gives it a nice touch (heheh...) but using it isn't so pleasant. I don't really plan on using it much but coming from a Chromebook Pro, I did really like using the trackpad on that one and the gesture were really intuitive. You can change some settings using the Elan Smart-Pad software but I haven't been able to fix the mouse acceleration, which bothers me the most. If you have a mouse, I suggest you use it over it.
- Speakers: You'd think that the speakers were under those grills, right adobe the keyboard but those are for the cooling fans. The speakers are located under the unit, towards the front of it. They're not the greatest but if you need to watch a video, do it in a quiet place. Even at max volume, they are still very quiet and you will miss out on whatever you are listening. Either use a portable speaker or some headphones if you want a louder sound.
- I/O: If you think that because this laptop is thin, it won't have more than two USB ports, you are wrong. This laptop has 3 USB 3.0 ports, an SD card reader, a Gigabit Ethernet Port and audio/mic (separated) jacks on the left. On the right, you have the charging ports, a Mini Display port, an HDMI port, a USB-C port that also supports Thunderbolt 3 (yay!) and a USB 2.0 port (what?). So gone are the needs for a USB hub, an USB to Ethernet adapter or an SD card reader! It's all in there already! If you're wondering why I'm so happy about the Thunderbolt 3 port, it's because you can do so much with it. You can connect up to 3 display through that port alone but more importantly, down the road, when your expensive laptop isn't so high-end anymore, it will let you connect an external GPU that is MUCH beefier than the one inside and not be restrained by the small airflow and thermal throttling that a slim laptop can suffer from. Thunderbolt 3 lets you future proof your laptop a bit. As for the USB 2.0 port, I'm not sure why it's there other than MSI assuming that all you're going to plug in to it, is a mouse anyways. I mean, they're not wrong since it's what I'm doing but it would have been nice to have USB 3 all around. There is a webcam on the top of the screen but it is 720p and it is really bad. I wouldn't recommend using it for anything more than a simple video call.
- Battery life: Don't expect this laptop to last very long. I get maybe an hour to two out of it on battery with regular usage or light gaming. You'll probably want to be plugged in anyways since you won't get the full performance. The charger that comes with the laptop is very wide but also flat. It takes up quite a bit of space in my backpack but I can manage.
- Internals: If you ever dare to open this laptop (it's not that hard), you'll be pleased to know that a lot can be upgraded. You can replace the SSD drive with a better one, and even upgrade the HDD to a 2TB. The computer comes with 16GB of RAM in the form of 2x8GB sticks. You can eventually upgrade it to 32GB by purchasing 2x16GB sticks but I suggest waiting until prices go down. Also, the RAM slots sit underneath the keyboard, on the other side of the motherboard and reaching it is a bit harder than the rest. I suggest watching a disassembly video or guide before going in.
- Software: This laptop comes with Windows 10 Home, but is full of Bloat. Holy cow. Why is Norton still a thing? I can see why other reviewers recommend you wipe it clean and start over. Not only is it full of bloatware, there are also a lot of MSI app running at all time. You need one for the trackpad, one for the keyboard, one for controlling the Wifi, bluetooth and other connections, one for tuning the display, one for the network adapter and, finally, the MSI dragon center, which monitors and controls just about everything else the other apps I mentioned don't. If you get this laptop, I suggest to do a clean install on it.
- Performance: This model comes with a GTX 1060 GPU with 6GB of GDDR5 Video RAM. You can throw almost anything at it at max settings and it will run it. I've tried Overwatch, Rocket League, Battlefield 1 and CS:GO so far and have not had any issues with any of them running at the highest setting. I did notice that the laptop was getting ridiculously hot when playing and the fans were getting louder but another reviewer suggested to underclock the CPU, as it is getting too much power. I downloaded the Intel Extreme Tuning Utility and set the voltage to -0.100V. After that, the temperatures were much lower during gaming session without a change in performance (at least I couldn't notice).
I think I covered everything. This laptop is very powerful, and with the right tweaks, will keep cool under heavy load. It has a nice keyboard but an okay display and overall looks really good design-wise. I just wish it was a bit cheaper. This is the first time I've spent close to $1500 on a laptop. And I did it twice. Second one is for my wife.