The MSI GS65 Stealth THIN-051 was my favorite gaming laptop of 2018. It wasn’t the most powerful PC, and of course not the most affordable, but it was one of those laptops that you’d buy to replace both a gaming PC and a MacBook Pro in one piece. That was very special.
In 2019, MSI still keeps the tradition. But, instead of the GTX 1060 graphics card, this one uses a powerful new RTX video card, it should have better performance. Our review unit, the MSI GE75 Raider-023 features an RTX 2080 (8GB) Max-Q, as well as your typical formula of an hexa-core processor, 32GB of RAM, and a 1TB NVMe SSD + 2TB hard drive for storage. The Out of stock at Amazon price tag is likely to give you some initial shock, that’s for real.
Still, if you love gaming on the go or a professional creative who needs something portable and powerful, the big buck you’re paying for this laptop will yield performance you’ll love. Will you love the Raider-023? I’m convinced you will.
MSI GE75 Raider-023 – Design
The MSI GE75’s looks haven’t changed over last year’s 15-inch model. The style is the same, but is now distinctive. For MSI, simplicity does it all for them. The lid is a solid, black panel, with an MSI dragon logo sandwiched in two red lines. In fact, the two raised red stripes are a new addition to the MSI’s gaming laptop aesthetic. MSI calls these “3D dragon spines,” I bet they’re just enough to keep things beautiful. The Aluminum black construction is solid, yet classy for most of us.
The 17.3-inch display is surrounded by 5.7-mm bezels and a wider bottom bezel, accented by a black-on-black MSI logo, offering an 82 percents creen-to-body ratio. At 15.6 x 10.6 x 1.1 inches and 5.9 pounds, the GE75 is notably heavier than competing systems, including the Gigabyte Aero 15 X9 (0.7 inches, 4.7 pounds), and the Asus ROG Zephyrus (0.7 inches, 5 pounds), but much thinner than the Alienware 17 R5 (1.2 inches, 9.8 pounds).
It uses an RGB keyboard, which comes with a number pad, has an all-cap font, except for the letter n, that is uniquely set in lower-case. There’s a triangular power button on the right edge that remains red when the machine is powered on. Below it is an angular button for controlling the keyboard’s pre-set RGB lighting profiles, and one for toggling the fan speed.
MSI GE75 Raider-023 – PORTS
MSI offers almost every port imaginable. That includes an RJ-45 ethernet jack, HDMI, Mini Displayport, USB 3.1 Gen 2 and USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C, as well as a separate headphone and mic jacks all on the left side. On the right, you get an SD card reader, a pair of USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports and the charger connector.
Typical for gaming laptops, all of the USB 3 ports have red LED lighting, which you can control via the included MSI Dragon Center software. You have three options: static, breathing or flashing, all with varying brightness, but always red (or off).
MSI GE75 Raider-023 – DISPLAY
The Raider‘s 17.3-inch, FHD resolution panel makes for a great gaming display. Here, you’re getting a 144Hz refresh rate and 3 ms response time. In marketing, its flaunted as an “IPS-level display”, in reality its an SI TFT-LCD. That means, it is a thin film transistor liquid crystal display with a silicon backplane that delivers fast refresh rates, better viewing angles and energy efficiency.
It allows you watch 4K movies with incredibly sharp images. For gaming, you’re able to pick out the clear details in Battlefield V: gray, gray-blue and gray-brown throughout the game. On the other, in true “IPS-level” style, the viewing angles are great with hardly any glare when viewed from side angles. You can view it from any angle, only that you simply have a drop in brightness.
The system includes the MSI True Color software, that lets you toggle between six modes: sRGB (default), Gamer, Anti-Blue (for reducing eye fatigue), Designer, Office and Movie. For each individual slider there are things like brightness, color temperature, color gamut, contrast and more, all depending on the mode.
MSI GE75 Raider-023 – KEYBOARD & TOUCHPAD
The GE75’s keyboard is comfortable, responsive and colorful – if you like them. Its 1.9mm of key travel is snappy, requiring only 70g force to actuate, even though it has some clicking noises with each press. If you’re a fast typer, you can easily hit 121 words per minute on the 10FastFingers.com typing test, with very few errors.
Anybody addicted to RGB will love this keyboard. It has per-key lighting for its native 16.8 million color backlight. All these can be controlled via the included SteelSeries Engine 3 software, which also has 8 different presets. There’s a button on the laptop’s deck that lets you toggle through the RGB profiles.
Below the keyboard is a 4.2 x 2.4-inch touchpad that’s smooth and matte with large buttons that add up to a strong click. It works well with Windows gestures like three-and four-finger taps.
For audio, it uses two 3W Dynaudio ‘Giant Speakers’ and a pair of 3-watt woofers on the bottom. They produce ample sound for gaming, movies and music that can easily fill a medium-sized conference room.
MSI GE75 Raider-023 – Productivity Performance
The MSI GE75 comes with the latest six-core Intel processor that most gaming laptops and high-end productivity machines have been using since late last year or so. It’s an extremely capably CPU, especially when matched with 32GB of RAM, which our review unit come with. Honestly, I feel 32GB RAM is a definite overkill.
The specs sheet on our unit is the most extreme among its peers: An Intel Core i7-8750H CPU, RTX 2080 graphics card, 32GB of RAM, a 1TB HDD and 1TB NVMe PCIe SSD. If you need a lesser spec sheet, the base model is the MSI GE75 Raider – 050, with the same CPU and amount of HDD storage, but uses a stepped down RTX 2060 graphics card, half the memory at 16GB and a smaller, 256GB SSD.
For productivity, this configuration offers reliable productivity performance for most workloads and should sustain much more. Here, you can load up to 21 tabs with a few streaming, without a lag. Plus, you can easily switch through tabs rapidly without stuttering, just like you’d do with the Aero 15 and ROG Zephyrus.
The NVMe SSD suffices for fast copy speeds (can copy around 5GB of files in just 7 seconds), which is much quicker as compared to most machines, but typical to premium gaming laptops. Also, you can transcode a 4K video into 1080p in just a few minutes, although the Alienware tops them all.
MSI GE75 Raider-023 – Gaming, VR, Graphics
We aren’t surprised to see the Raider top the charts as a strong performer in the graphics department. It comes equipped with the RTX 2080 GPU with 8GB GDDR6, the most powerful mobile graphics you can find. How a laptop will handle a graphics card is different and the frame rates it produces vary a lot. Real-world gaming is the only way to ascertain whatever is packed inside.
For Battlefield V, with DX12 on and ray tracing off, played at high graphics, the Raider easily delivers 131 and 147 frames per second (fps) but can easily drop to as low as 109 fps. Still, you don’t notice any stuttering, and all these scores are above the playable standard. Once you enable ray tracing and DX12 and graphics set to high, the frame rate drops to 60 to 70 fps. A good thing as the visuals become brighter, shinier and more vibrant.
While at it, Hitman (DX12 on, ultra-settings) yields 108 fps, which is much better than the Aero 15 which uses a lesser RTX 2070 Max-Q graphics, the Asus ROG Zephyrus equipped with a GTX 1080 Max-Q and even the Alienware (GTX 1080), not surprising considering the new Turing Founders Edition graphics card. Other games offer excellent frame rates including Grand Theft Auto V (very high) at 96 fps, more than 10 fps than its competitors, while Last Light (high) at 87 fps. An impressive performer, overall.
On the GE75 Raider, you should be able to enjoy VR gaming on your HTC Vive or Oculus Rift with ease. It uses MSI’s Cooler Boost 5+ module with eight pipes, four external exhausts and 31 fan blades to keep the RTX 2020 perfectly cooled. While that doesn’t result in better performance, but it does keep both surface and internal temperatures surprisingly low.
MSI GE75 Raider-023 – Battery Life
While the difference in battery life among gaming laptop is not intense, some new ultraportables are delivering longer battery life. And for most of them, battery life is not a forte, you won’t be staying away from the mains for long. With the Raider-023 you’re getting just over 2 hours 51 minutes, while the best gaming laptops in this price tier only last around 28 minutes longer. That said, the Alienware impressively lasts over an hour longer.
The MSI GE75 Raider-023 is a thin-and-light gaming powerhouse rig that packs high-end gaming performance that outpaces others in this price category. It manages to deliver on its promise. With an impressive screen, great gaming performance and software, it has certain strengths over its competitors. At its price, the Raider is a worth alternative to the spendiest machines from Razer.
Is there a better alternative?
MSI offers a smaller, 15-inch version, the MSI GS65 Stealth-002. The smaller size and portable profile make it an attractive option. We still think the Razer Blade 15 RTX has the best balance of gaming capabilities, but it’s also among the most expensive gaming laptops you can commit to buy.
If you’re in for a larger screen, the 17.3-inch GE75 is one of the better options. The ASUS ROG Zephyrus S, though, is a good alternative also if you need something portable. It’s a 15-inch laptop, quite a bit larger, though, it’s as powerful and a bit more affordable.
Should you buy it?
Yes. The MSI Raider-023 has a few flaws (short battery life – common among gaming laptops), but it’s thin, portable and tons powerful for even the most hardcore gamers.
The MSI GE75 Raider-023 is a thin-and-light gaming powerhouse rig that packs high-end gaming performance that outpaces others in this price category.
- Excellent gaming performance
- Thin and light design
- Large, colorful display with 144Hz refresh rate
- Great port and storage options
- Grainy webcam
- Short battery life