Ever since MSI launched its GS65 Stealth Thin 8RF in India, I’ve been waiting to get my hands on the device and get a decent experience of the thin and light gaming laptop, which packs in impressive hardware in an understated razor thin chassis. The MSI GS65 Stealth is currently available in India at a hefty Rs. 1,84,699 and at this price point you’ll be getting an 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8750H powered laptop with 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD and an Nvidia GTX 1070 Max-Q GPU. Furthermore, the laptop boasts of a 15.6-inch FHD 144Hz display with pencil thin top and side bezels, which gives the device an impressive 82 percent screen-to-body ratio. While the raw specifications coupled with the thin and light architecture make the laptop quite impressive to begin with, it has much more to offer. Curious? Let’s jump right into our review of the MSI GS65 Stealth Thin 8RF and find out what makes this laptop one of the acclaimed thin and light gaming laptops out there:
Here’s a quick look at what all the MSI GS65 Stealth Thin 8RF has to offer in the hardware department:
|Dimensions||357.7 x 247.7 x 17.9 mm|
|Processor||8th Gen Intel Core i7-8750H|
|Storage||512GB M.2 SSD|
|Display||15.6-inch FHD IPS display, 144Hz, 7ms|
|Graphics||Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q|
|I/O||1x Type-C USB 3.1 Thunderbolt, 3x Type-A USB 3.1, 1x RJ45, 1x HDMI, 1x Mini DisplayPort|
Design and Build Quality
Unlike other gaming laptops from MSI, which have a rather mainstream red and black color scheme, the GS65 Stealth sports an understated black and gold color scheme. The sandblasted matte aluminum lid has a clean gold trim all around it with MSI’s dragon logo in gold bang in the center. On the sides, the hinges have a gold trim around them and the exhaust vents also have a black and gold angular grill which looks excellent.
The rear end of the laptop also has some angular grills cut out to help vent out the hot air, with the base sporting a large perforated grill for air intake. The laptop has two rubber strips going horizontally on the base which lift the laptop up enough to facilitate proper air flow.
The hinge on the GS65 Stealth feels quite sturdy, but the aluminum palm rest – which also has the same sandblasted finish – does have a little bit of flex to it. As soon as you open up the laptop, you’ll be greeted by the beautiful 15.6-inch display, which has 4.9mm thick bezels going around the top and sides, while the bottom bezels is a bit wide. The top of the palm rest also has a perforated grill for air intake, with the power button and LED lying square in the middle. Below that lies the keyboard which has a TKL layout, with appropriately sized out keys that are individually backlit.
The trackpad, which is a bit on the smaller side, lies right below the space bar and it has enough space left on either side for you to rest your palms while typing. Thanks to its all-metal design, the laptop feels quite premium, even though it has a bit of chassis flex. The MSI GS65 Stealth, in my opinion, probably has the best build quality in a gaming laptop at this price range.
I/O Ports and Connectivity
Even though the laptop has a rather thin and light form factor, MSI hasn’t skimped out on the port selection and offers pretty much everything a gamer would require. The laptop features three full-size USB 3.1 Type-A ports, a single USB 3.1 Type-C Thunderbolt port, an RJ45 Ethernet port, a 4K @ 60Hz full-size HDMI port, and a Mini-DisplayPort port. However, since the laptop goes for an understated design choice, making it a viable option for professionals looking for a powerful machine with which they can game on the side, its lack of a SD card slot is a bit disappointing.
The laptop could have been a great option for content creators looking for a portable machine on which they can edit 4K videos or photos, but the missing SD card slot means that people opting for this machine will have to carry around a separate dongle to quickly transfer their footage from their camera to the laptop.
Connectivity options are pretty solid on the MSI GS65 Stealth, with the laptop packing in Killer Gb LAN, Killer ac WiFi and Bluetooth v5, covering all major connectivity options. On top of that, the laptop also has dedicated mic input and headphone output jacks, which will surely come in handy if you’re using a high-end headset that have a separate connection for the mic. The separate ports will also come in handy for streamers who plan to use a secondary mic for their audio input, rather than using the one included with their headset.
I personally feel that the MSI GS65 Stealth offers a great selection of ports and connectivity options, and except for the SD card slot, I can’t think of any shortcomings whatsoever. It is worth noting, however, that the placement of the power input port might be a bit of an interference, if you’re used to laptops that have the power input port on the back on in one of the rear corners, but I quickly got used to it and you’ll probably do too.
Despite the fact that the laptop has a similar footprint as a 14-inch device, the MSI GS65 Stealth packs in a 15.6-inch display, all thanks to the 4.9mm top and side bezels. Added to that, the quality of the display panel used makes the laptop look remarkably good once its turned on. The 15.6-inch IPS display has a full HD 1920×1080 resolution with an industry first 144Hz refresh rate and a 7ms response time. Quite frankly, the display looks amazing and might even be the best 1080p display I’ve used so far. The color reproduction is pretty good, with MSI’s True Color Technology guaranteeing “exceptional color fidelity of close to 100% sRGB”.
On top of that, MSI’s True Color software will allow you to customize the color temperature to better suit your needs. The software includes a couple of presets, including Gamer, Anti-Blue, sRGB, Designer, Office, and Movie, and it also allows you to completely fine-tune the display’s color as per your requirement. The display gets reasonably bright as well, making it comfortable to read in all environments and the viewing angles are also pretty solid, so watching a movie on the laptop is definitely a great experience.
Gaming on the 144Hz 1080p display is absolutely phenomenal, with everything looking buttery smooth at all times. The only possible con that I can think of is the lack of Nvidia’s G-Sync technology, but I value the battery improvements because of its absence much more than the slight difference it makes to video quality, so I wouldn’t really hold that against the laptop.
Coming to what is probably the GS 65 Stealth’s weakest suit, its audio quality. MSI has included two 2 Watt speakers on the GS65 Stealth which are placed on the bottom of the laptop on either side of the rubber feet. While the audio quality from the included speakers is quite satisfactory, the placement of the speakers really takes a big toll on the max output, making the laptop a bit difficult to use in noisy environments. The speakers just don’t get loud enough and they also lack low end, making them sound a bit tinny.
While I would’ve really liked it to have louder speakers, I’m fine with MSI cutting corners in the audio department as most gamers will be using a headphone anyway. Audio output from the headphone jack is unsurprisingly brilliant and even using a cheap pair of earphones you’ll be able to easily hear the faintest footsteps in games. Much like MSI’s other gaming laptops, the GS65 Stealth also includes support for the Nahimic 3 engine, but due to the weak speakers the technology hardly makes any difference.
The MSI GS65 Stealth has a well laid out TKL keyboard, featuring standard sized keys that have enough space between them to make the typing experience quite comfortable. Granted the Fn row is a bit thinner than the rest of the keys, I didn’t face any problems because of it in my time with the device. The keyboard has been designed by SteelSeries and it features individually backlit keys that can be completely customized using the SteelSeries Engine software that ships with the laptop. You can play around with endless combinations of colors, patterns and lighting styles, and I personally really liked the customization options on the device.
Typing on the GS65 Stealth was an enjoyable experience, as the keys have a satisfactory key travel and have a higher actuation force which makes them feel very premium. The larger keys are well stabilized and they don’t rattle at all, however, the Enter key started acting out after about a week’s worth of typing, which was rather odd. I sincerely hope that it’s just a problem with the review unit, because I faced no such issues with any other keys on the laptop. One of the most handy features MSI has included on the keyboard is a webcam shortcut on the F6 key, which allows you to disable the webcam completely if you’re worried about your privacy.
The trakcpad on the MSI GS65 Stealth is a bit on the smaller side and might not be ideal for people who are used to larger trackpads. However, thanks to Windows Precision Drivers support, it tracks quite accurately and multi-finger gesture navigation works like a charm. I’m not a huge fan of trackpads that have the left and right clicks built in, but I understand that the company’s working with a limited amount of space on the device so I’m gonna let that pass.
However, the trackpad buttons don’t feel tactile enough and have a very mushy feel which was quite disappointing, to say the least. I really liked the gold trim around the trackpad and considering the fact that most gamers will be using a mouse anyway, I wouldn’t make a huge deal out of the trackpad’s shortcomings. Nonetheless, it would be great if MSI improves the trackpad in the next iteration and gives it a little more love as the notebook is also a great option for professionals, who might not have a mouse on hand all the time.
SteelSeries 3 Engine
As mentioned earlier, the SteelSeries 3 engine will allow you to completely customize the keyboard backlighting with a number of preset already in place under the My Gear section. The software’s Engine Apps section also allows you to create even more lighting effects, including an Audio Visualizer effect which is my personal favorite by far.
The SteelSeries Engine 3 will also allow users to customize their backlight settings based on the games they’re playing. It has a few presets in place for popular titles like CS:GO and PUBG, and you can customize more presets for whichever games you play.
MSI Dragon Center
The MSI Dragon Center is quite a handy utility which will allow you to customize the laptop’s performance and keep a tab on the resource utilization in real time. The System Tuner feature within the Dragon Center utility will allow you to set up custom profiles that you can switch between on the fly using customizable hotkeys.
MSI’s Dragon Center also comes with features like Voice Wizard, which will allow you to completely customize your VoIP settings for the best in-game communications experience. The Mobile Center option will allow you to connect your smartphone to the Dragon Center app and keep a check on the laptop’s real time resource utilization on your phone.
From the looks of it you won’t be able to tell just how well the laptop performs, both in day-to-day use and while gaming. The thin and light form factor is quite deceptive as the laptop’s internals make quick work of absolutely anything you can possibly throw at it. The 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8750H processor, coupled with the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q GPU powers through benchmarks and games alike, with temperatures remaining well under acceptable limits.
Thanks to the premium hardware specifications, the GS65 Stealth crush synthetic benchmarks and delivers great results. As you can see below, the laptop manages to score 4,837 in PCMark 10, 4,635 in 3DMark Time Spy, 27,595 in 3DMark Sky Diver, and 11,964 in 3DMark Fire Strike. Compared with MSI’s own GE73 Raider 8RF, which packs in the same hardware, except for a standard GTX 1070, the scores are pretty decent.
During my testing, the laptop barely heated up while running the benchmarks and faced no thermal throttling issues whatsoever. That is probably thanks to MSI’s Cooler Boost Trinity technology which makes good use of the three Whirlwind Blade fans and four heat pipes to effectively dissipate heat generated by the CPU and the GPU.
Gaming on the MSI GS65 Stealth was a sheer pleasure, with the laptop managing to run the latest AAA titles at max settings with relative ease. Starting off with PUBG, the MSI GS65 Stealth was able to maintain an impressive 77 FPS at ultra settings, pushing the 100 fps barrier with ease while playing at high settings. The game worked flawlessly in my use, however, the laptop did get slightly warm to the touch, especially around the top edge of the palm rest. Next, I moved on to Assassin’s Creed Origins and the GS65 Stealth was able to push the 60 fps barrier on an average while playing at ultra settings. On high settings, the laptop comfortably crossed 70 fps and once again, I faced no issues playing the game for a couple of hours straight. The visuals looked stunning and there was absolutely no frame drop or stutter while playing the game.
Far Cry 5 also ran quite well on the GS65 Stealth, with the laptop managing to easily push 78 fps on ultra settings and 80 fps at high settings. Once again, the visuals looked amazing and the laptop handled every aspect of the game with relative ease. Much like PUBG though, the laptop heated up quite quickly but the temperatures remained under 70 degrees, which is quite acceptable in a laptop that’s this thin. Finally, I played Fortnite on the laptop and as you’d expect, the GS65 Stealth faced absolutely no problems while playing the game. The laptop easily managed to breach the 100 fps barrier while playing the game at ultra settings, going up to 120 fps while playing at high settings. All in all, gaming on the MSI GS65 Stealth was an absolute pleasure and I’d definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a thin and light gaming notebook.
As I mentioned earlier, the laptop packs in a total of three MSI’s Whirlwind Blade fans along with four heat pipes that do a decent job of cooling the laptop under intense load. While the CPU and GPU temperatures remained well under limits during my gaming sessions, the laptop itself got uncomfortably warm around the vents and the top of the palm rest.
However, considering the fact that you’d rarely be playing games with the laptop kept on your lap, the temperatures shouldn’t really pose a problem. Since I’m used to playing games on my bed, with my laptop on my lap, the heat bothered me a bit and I wasn’t able to keep playing after about an hour.
The MSI GS65 Stealth packs in a large 4-cell 82Whr battery, which offers great battery life especially when you consider other gaming notebooks with similar specifications. While MSI claims that the laptop is capable of providing over 8 hours of battery life on a single charge while doing basic productivity tasks, in my testing the laptop lasted 5 hours and 20 minutes on the best battery life preset at 50 percent screen brightness. The battery life may not live up to MSI’s claims but its still pretty great considering other laptops in this price range are barely able to last more than four hours on a single charge.
With heavy use, the laptop was able to squeeze out 2 hours of battery life on a single charge while selecting the best performance preset at max brightness. Once again, for a laptop of this caliber, the battery life is quite impressive and the notebook can definitely be your on-the-go companion. Battery life while gaming was, as you’d expect, horrendous, with the laptop managing just 1 hours and 40 minutes on a single charge. However, you shouldn’t expect laptops to deliver exceptional battery life while gaming in the first place, so I don’t think that’s a con.
MSI GS65 Stealth Thin 8RF: MSI’s Best Laptop Yet
- Premium Build Quality
- Excellent Performance
- Tactile keyboard with a great layout
- Fully customizable RGB keyboard backlight
- Remarkable display
- Amazing battery life
- Trackpad buttons aren’t really tactile
- No SD card slot
- Speaker placement isn’t ideal
- No Windows Hello support
MSI GS65 Stealth Thin 8RF Review: A Class Apart
Priced at Rs. 1,84,699, the MSI GS65 Stealth is arguably the best thin and light gaming laptop you can buy in the market right now. Not only does it offer portability, the included hardware packs a punch and is capable of chewing through any games or demanding productivity tasks that you can throw at it. The 144Hz 1080p display is absolutely brilliant and the battery life is definitely best in class. The 14-inch form factor, combined with the thin-bezels and the understated black and gold design, make the MSI GS65 Stealth a formidable competitor in the race for the perfect gaming laptop. The laptop has a lot going for it and only if it weren’t for the speakers and the missing SD card slot, the laptop would have been the perfect package for both gamers and professionals.
At this price range, you can also consider the all new Asus ZenBook Pro (Rs. 1,79,990) or MSI’s own GE73 Raider 8RF (Rs. 1,79,850), but with these options you’ll have to make some compromises. While the ZenBook Pro offers pretty much the same portability as the GS65 Stealth, it isn’t as powerful as it packs in an Nvidia GTX 1050 Ti GPU and on the other hand, while the GE73 Raider does offer comparable performance, it’s huge and not quite as portable as the GS65 Stealth. Also, if you don’t feel like splurging all your cash on the GS65 Stealth with the aforementioned hardware, you can also opt for the slightly cheaper variant (Rs. 1,69,990) which comes with an Nvidia GTX 1060. So, if you’re looking for a powerful gaming laptop that doesn’t have a loud gamer-y aesthetic but has all the bells and whistles you’d expect from a gaming laptop, then the MSI GS65 Stealth is just for you. However, if great speaker or an SD card slot a priority for you, you may have to skip the laptop or live the dongle life and use a headset at all times.
Buy MSI GS65 Stealth Thin 8RF from Amazon: Rs. 1,84,699