MSI has created a notebook that tries to lower the cost of access to the RTX range, in search of the right compromise between costs and performance.
Looking for the right compromise between price and performance can bring great advantages in terms of sales. The high-end products are beautiful to look at and perform, but they reach very high figures. The low-end ones, however, often fail to meet the needs of gamers, who need powerful GPUs in order to play better.
MSI with its GF65 Thin tries to position itself right in the middle, with a product that relies heavily on its RTX 2060 to offer exactly what players are looking for. Obviously there is some renunciation but the performance offered by this notebook does not disappoint, for perfect hardware for Full HD gaming.
Design, connections and expandability
MSI has tried to keep sober lines for this GF65 and has succeeded. Except for the dragon logo on the lid, the look is simple and rational, far from the typical forms of a more powerful gaming laptop. For us, this is an advantage because the power of these laptops is often used in work environments, where an elaborate design can be out of place.
The shell is partly made of brushed aluminium, in the case of the cover and the area surrounding the keyboard, and in part in plastic, which covers the entire lower part of the laptop. On the back and on the bottom you can see the air intakes of the dissipation system, consisting of two fans and seven heat pipes. Complete the set of ports and connections, which include two USB Type C 3.2 Gen 1, two USB Type-A 3.2 Gen 1, network port, headphone output with 3.5 mm jack and HDMI output (maximum 4K at 30 Hz). Wi-Fi ac and Bluetooth 5.0 are available for wireless connectivity.
Once you open the lid the first thing you notice is the reduced thickness on three sides of the edges of the display. The touchpad is positioned at the bottom while just above the keyboard is installed, with keys with red outlines, which contrast with the black of the body, together with the backlight, always in red (the colour cannot be changed).
These are not mechanical keys but the keyboard is still pleasant to use, the touchpad instead offers a bit of cheap feedback, which does not make merit to the rest of the hardware. When you move your fingers towards the keys it happens to generate involuntary clicks, it takes very little force to operate them.
The point in favour is the ability to expand RAM and internal memory without voiding the warranty, an option very often precluded, upon request to the assistance of MSI. We would have preferred a simpler approach but already in this way, the longevity of the product benefits from it, being upgradeable over time.
On the portability front, the GF65 sits in the middle between a classic desk notebook and one to be exploited on the move. The dimensions of 359 x 254 x 21.7 mm and the weight of 1.86 kg allow it to be transported quite easily but with some compromises. The ideal working environment is always the desk, but adapting the use from a pure laptop is not impossible.
Specifications, performance and autonomy
As we said at the beginning, MSI sought a compromise between price and performance, pushing more on the GPU compared to the other components. Here is the choice of the 9th generation i5-9300H processor, made at 14 nanometers. This CPU offers 4 cores and 8 threads, with a base frequency of 2.4 GHz and boost up to 4.1 GHz; an HD Graphics 630 GPU is also installed inside, which is essential for limiting consumption when the power is not connected.
The GPU is an RTX 2060 with 6 GB of RAM, which includes 1920 CUDA Core and the same RT and Tensor Core as its desktop variant. Thanks to it it is possible to take advantage of Ray Tracing, especially paired with DLSS 2.0, which offers an excellent boost at frame rate. In our test model are installed 16 GB of RAM at 2666 MHz, not soldered, in the one on sale on Amazon we find only eight. Given the possibility of updating, we recommend future buyers to expand the memory, in order to also take advantage of the dual-channel.
Positive the amount of system memory, from 512 GB on NVMe M.2 disk, and it is also possible in this case to expand it thanks to the second M.2 slot, which can accommodate both normal mSATA and NVMe disks. The display, also designed with a view to containing costs, does not disappoint but does not excel.
MSI defines it “IPS Level”, in reality, it is a 15.6-inch TN panel with Full HD resolution, anti-reflective matt treatment and 120 Hz refresh rate. A screen that is not suitable for professional use but that is good for gaming and for everyday operations, in this context, it does not even seem to be in front of a TN screen.
On the audio front, there are two 2 W speakers, on average for a product of this thickness, which is good for daily use but during the game, it is better to use headphones, also because MSI’s notebook is Hi-Res Audio certified and offers Nahimic software for sound optimization, which makes the rendering more enveloping.
The tests we carried out during this short test, mainly with Metro Exodus and Shadow of the Tomb Raider, clearly indicate the performance target of this notebook, which it is designed to play in Full HD with High or Ultra details, based on the title.
In the first case, the 60 fps can be reached with most of the games, in the second the heaviest ones on the graphic front stop just below but still remain pleasant to play. The situation is different for the most used online titles, such as CoD Warzone, where the 60 thresholds is widely exceeded and the 120 Hz screen can be exploited to the fullest. During intensive use, the dissipation system makes itself felt but the heat never reaches alert levels furthermore, the keyboard remains cool, an important detail because the temperature rise in this area is more annoying than others.
But how does this MSI GF65 behave when used as a pure laptop, therefore without power? This is certainly not its ideal field of use, gaming notebooks give their best when connected to the power outlet. With mixed-use, without playing, we got to about 4 hours before running out of energy, not many but just enough to use the notebook on the move.
MSI GF65 Thin 9SEXR is a laptop that tries to bring the cost of accessing the RTX 2060 to a lower level. In fact, to date, it is one of the least expensive laptops with this GPU, with a price of 1349 euros on Amazon. The performance is more than good in the game and in everyday use, as well as the build quality (touchpad aside). The MSI notebook is, therefore, a valid alternative for those who are looking for a laptop with balanced performance and especially indicated for gaming.