Gaming notebooks are getting better and better with each new generation, getting real close to the performance you’d expect from a gaming PC with a similar configuration. However, not all gaming notebooks are made equally. Just throwing in a Nvidia 10-series graphics card into the mix doesn’t really guarantee great performance. Take the Acer Nitro 5 Spin for instance, which includes all the hardware you’d expect in an entry-level gaming notebook, but fails to deliver on the performance due to thermal throttling.
OEMs who focus on gaming have to take into account a number of other variables which contribute towards the overall performance of a gaming notebook. They have to invest a lot of time and effort in R&D to ensure that the notebook is able to make full use of the included hardware, without facing any untimely snags whatsoever. Taiwan-based MSI is one such manufacturer that pays close attention to all the details and the company’s efforts are clearly reflected in the MSI GE73 Raider 8RF (Rs. 1,79,990), which I’ve been testing for the past week.
MSI GE73 Raider 8RF Specifications
The MSI GE73 Raider 8RF is a premium notebook which brings to the table some of the best hardware available in the market today, including an 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8750H hex-core processor coupled with a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 graphics card. On paper, the notebook is just shy of flagship specifications and offers a great price-to-performance ratio. Here’s a quick rundown of all the hardware packed in this beefy notebook:
|Dimensions||42 x 29 x 3 cm|
|Processor||8th Gen Intel Core i7-8750H @2.20GHz|
|Memory||16GB DDR4 @2400MHz|
|Storage||1TB 2.5" SATA HDD + 512GB M.2 SSD|
|Display||17.3" FHD (1920x1080), 120Hz, 3ms|
|Graphics||Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 with 8GB GDDR5|
|I/O||1x USB3.1 Type-C Gen2, 2x USB3.1 Type-A Gen1, 1x USB3.1 Type-A Gen2, 1x RJ45, 1x SD card reader, 1x HDMI (4K @60Hz), 1x Mini-DisplayPort|
|Networking||Killer Gb LAN, 802.11 ac WiFi + Bluetooth v5|
|Operating System||Windows 10 Home|
Design & Build Quality
For the design, MSI has improved upon last generation’s red and black color scheme with RGB lights to complement the all-black frame. The red stripes which adorned last year’s iteration of the Raider are now more than just stickers glued on to the lid. The stripes, along with the keyboard, can now be customized with up to 16.8 million colors using the included SteelSeries Engine 3 software. The glowing MSI logo in the center of the lid can’t be customized and its brightness depends on the brightness level of the notebook’s screen.
The case is mainly made up of plastic and aluminum and has a premium feel to it with minimal chassis flex. The surfaces on the top of the base and lid feature an aluminum finish, while the bezels and the frame around the bottom case are made of plain plastic with no texture. As you’d expect, the aluminum finish surfaces are very prone to fingerprints, however, they can be easily cleaned with a moist cloth. The display hinge on the notebook is quite sturdy and there’s no screen wobble whatsoever.
All in all, the design and build quality of the MSI GE73 Raider 8RF is something that would please any gamer. I, for one, was definitely impressed.
I/O Ports & Connectivity
In terms of I/O ports, the MSI GE73 Raider 8RF includes everything that you’d expect from a modern gaming notebook. The notebook includes three full-size USB3.1 Type-A ports, two of which are Gen1 ports while the third is a Gen2 port. The USB3.1 Type-A Gen1 ports offer transfer speeds up to 5Gbps, while the Gen2 port supports transfer speeds up to 10Gbps.
Keeping up with the times, MSI has also included a USB3.1 Type-C Gen2 port, which also offers transfer speeds up to 10Gbps. The notebook features an SD (XC/HC) card reader and HDMI port which supports 4K output at 60Hz and a Mini-DisplayPort.
Since the notebook is meant for gamers, it also includes an RJ45 Ethernet port, a dedicated Mic-in port, a Headphone-out (HiFi, SPDIF) port, along with 802.11 ac WiFi, and Bluetooth 5.0.
The 17.3″ display on the MSI GE73 Raider 8RF is a full HD display with 1920×1080 screen resolution. The panel supports a 120Hz refresh rate and 3ms response time which is great for a gaming notebook of this caliber. If you’re wondering why such an expensive laptop just has a 1080p display, it’s because 1080p screens can offer better refresh rates and MSI believes that a higher refresh rate is far more desirable for gamers than higher screen resolutions.
MSI claims that the display covers 94 percent of the NTSC color gamut and 100 percent of the sRGB color space, which results in a vibrant display with great color accuracy. For a TN panel, the viewing angles are great as well, however, I did notice that the colors tend to look washed out while viewing the display from the sides.
In my opinion, the GE73 Raider packs in a great display, but if I really have to look for cons, the only thing I can think of is the lack of Nvidia G-Sync support.
Despite the fact that gamers generally tend to prefer using headphones, MSI has included a great Dynaudio speaker system in the GE 73 Raider 8RF. The notebook packs in two 3 Watt Speakers and two 3 Watt woofers which give it a very rounded sound output. The notebook can get fairly loud at full volume, but I wouldn’t say that it’s the loudest speaker system on a notebook that I’ve ever heard. The speaker placement isn’t that great either and if you place the laptop on an uneven surface, the speakers can easily get muffled.
Headphone users, on the other hand, are in for a treat as the notebook supports Hi-Res audio that offers a premium listening experience. The notebook features an ESS Sabre HiFi DAC which offers a sampling rate of 24 bit/192 kHz and comes with Nahimic 3 support which further enhances in-game 3D surround sound.
The speaker placement isn’t that great either and if you place the laptop on an uneven surface, the speakers can easily get muffled.
The 17.3″ form factor of the GE73 Raider 8RF provides enough room for a comfortable keyboard with well spaced out chiclet-style keys. The SteelSeries keyboard offers a bit more travel than usual notebook keyboards, which gives it great tactile response. The button placement is also well thought out and has been designed keeping in mind the notebook’s use case. There’s no Windows button on the left side of the spacebar, so you wouldn’t have to worry about accidental key presses while in game.
The individually backlit keys can be customized using the SteelSeries Engine 3 software and come with a host of presets, including ones defined for popular games like CS:GO and PUBG. The keyboard also has customized function keys which light up upon pressing the Fn key, which is a nice touch.
The SteelSeries keyboard offers a bit more travel than usual notebook keyboards, which gives it great tactile response.
Unlike most Windows notebooks, the trackpad on the GE73 Raider 8RF is rather large and lies squarely below the spacebar. Tracking is accurate and smooth, however, the lack of Windows Precision Drivers support is definitely a shortcoming.
The trackpad comes with dedicated left and right click buttons, which I personally prefer over trackpads with inbuilt buttons. In order to make the trackpad more discernable, it’s surrounded by a raised red lip, making it easy to locate even while you’re not looking.
SteelSeries Engine 3
As mentioned earlier, the SteelSeries Engine 3 allows users to configure the keyboard backlight and the Mystic Light on the lid. Users will be able to choose lighting effects from a variety of presets from the ‘My Gear’ section of the software and create even more using the ‘Engine Apps’. I had a lot of fun playing around with the keyboard lighting and I really like the Audio Visualizer preset a lot.
The SteelSeries Engine 3 also allows you to change the illumination settings based on the game you’re playing. The software is able to automatically detect the installed games and turns on the customized lighting effects as soon as the game is launched.
MSI Dragon Center
The MSI Dragon Center is a rather handy utility which allows users to customize the notebook’s performance and keep a tab on the real-time resource utilization using the system monitoring tool. With the System Tuner feature within Dragon Center, you can set up a variety of profiles, from battery saver to performance, and quickly switch between them using customizable shortcuts.
The MSI Dragon Center also comes with features like Voice Wizard, which allows you to completely customize your VOIP settings for the best in-game communication experience. The Mobile Center allows users to connect the system with their smartphone and use the Dragon Center app to control the device’s performance on-the-go. Other handy tools part of the Dragon Center include a Burn Recovery tool, a Battery Calibration tool, and a Help Desk to get the latest system information and answers to FAQs.
Coming to the portion of the review that you’ve probably been waiting for. How does the GE73 Raider 8RF actually perform? Is it worth the price or is it just all talk and no show? In order to answer these questions, I tested the system extensively by running synthetic benchmarks and a few popular games.
As expected, the GE73 Raider 8RF crushes synthetic benchmarks and delivers great results. The notebook scored 15,669 in 3DMark Fire Strike and 5,733 in 3DMark Time Spy. In Cinebench R15, the notebook was able to manage 102.25 fps in the OpenGL test and lastly, the notebook scored 3,055 in PCMark 10.
The scores are at par with, and in some cases better than, what you’d expect from a gaming desktop with the same configuration, which is great news as it proves that the notebook has a well optimized thermal solution that successfully prevents overheating and throttling.
Coming to gaming performance, the notebook fares better than expected and I was able to run all popular games at maximum settings without experiencing any stutters or frame drops.
Starting off with the notoriously unoptimized PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, the GE73 Raider 8RF was easily able to run the game at Ultra settings with V-Sync and Motion Blur turned off. The framerate counter rarely dropped below 80fps and I didn’t experience any frame drops even in intense gunfights.
Another popular AAA title that just came out, Far Cry 5, ran without any issues whatsoever and the notebook was able to comfortably maintain over 80fps at Ultra settings. The in-built benchmarking tool in Far Cry 5 hovered at around 74fps on average, dropping only as low as 64 fps.
As expected, the notebook faced no issues running lighter e-sports titles like League of Legends and was easily able to break the 100fps barrier and was continuously capped at 120fps throughout the length of a game.
The GE73 Raider 8RF features MSI’s Cooler Boost 5 technology which offers dual thermal modules with Whirlwind Blade fans. The notebook includes seven heat pipes and four airflow vents which are able to manage the thermals quite efficiently.
On top of that, if you’re planning on pushing the notebook to its limit, the notebook also includes a dedicated turbo-boost key which cranks up the fans to their full limit, efficiently cooling the notebook but greatly increasing fan noise in the process.
With the notebook’s sheer size, you’d expect to see a beefy battery included in the mix, however, the 6-cell 51 Whr battery is rather small and quite honestly, disappointing. In MSI’s defense, the GE73 Raider 8RF is a gaming notebook and more often than not you’d be using the notebook while it’s connected to a wall outlet. But if you’re planning on using the notebook on the go, don’t expect great battery life.
Gaming on the battery doesn’t make any sense, so I wouldn’t even care to mention the battery stats for gaming. For day-to-day general use though, including light browsing, productivity, and media consumption, the battery just lasts around the three-hour mark at 50 percent brightness and the battery saver profile turned on. In effect, the notebook is intended for use while tethered to a power socket and the battery is just there for occasional use when you don’t have access to a power socket.
MSI GE73 Raider 8RF: A Powerful Yet Portable Desktop Replacement
- Premium build quality
- Excellent performance
- Tactile keyboard with a satisfactory layout
- Well optimized thermals
- Fully customizable RGB keyboard backlight and Mystic Light
- Below average battery life
- Missing Windows Precision Drivers
- Speaker placement isn’t that great
MSI GE73 Raider 8RF Review: A Definite Buy for Serious Gamers
For Rs. 1,79,990, the MSI GE73 Raider 8RF is a great gaming notebook which is perfect for those who want to make no compromises while gaming. The notebook performs like a charm and is a worthy desktop replacement, however, the small battery tends to make it just that – a desktop replacement. Combined with the 17.3″ form factor, the 2.89kg weight and the 51Whr battery, the notebook isn’t something you should go for if portability is one of your top priorities. Other than that, the MSI GE73 Raider 8RF is arguably one of the best gaming notebooks in the market and offers a price-to-performance ratio unlike any other notebooks in the market today.
Buy MSI GE73 Raider 8RF from Amazon: Rs. 1,79,990