MSI GS65 Stealth review

MSI GS65 Stealth review

Last Updated on by Daniel Lawrence

I’d like to introduce you to my skinny friend. One of MSI’s slimmest gaming laptops to date, the GS65 Stealth Thin weighs just 4.1 pounds and is only 0.7 inches thick (reviewed at $1,999, but starts at $1,799). This model features Intel’s 8th generation, six-core Coffee Lake processor, which boasts 20 percent more performance than its predecessor, making it a great choice for productivity.

MSI, however, isn’t skimping on gaming power, packing a powerful Nvidia GeForce 1070 Max-Q GPU into that slim chassis – all but guaranteeing the notebook will deliver high frame rates and a smooth virtual reality experience. The MSI GS65 Stealth is one of the best gaming laptops you can buy if you value portability, but we wish it ran cooler.

Design: The Golden Touch

MSI laptop

The Stealth Thin is a beautiful gaming laptop with gold accents that is opulent without being over the top. The laptop’s chassis is made out of matte, black aluminum alloy sandblasted to a matte finish. Rather than the usual red-and-white dragon sigil logo, MSI utilizes a printed black-and-gold emblem. At the top of the lid is a diamond-cut golden strip. Additionally, there is a pop of gold on the side vents for an elegant touch.

MSI equipped the Stealth with a flexible hinge, which allows you to flatten the display if you need to collaborate quickly. Using Ctrl + Alt + Down Arrow will flip the screen 180 degrees to provide a better view for the person sitting across from you.

Inside, there is a lot of black aluminum. There are gold linings on the power button and touchpad, along with a glowing, gilded keyboard. Although I enjoy the overall look, my favorite part of the interior is the top-mounted vent, with its delicate floral designs.

Despite its thin frame, there are still plenty of ports on the Stealth. A USB 3.1 Type-A port, a Thunderbolt 3 port, a Mini DisplayPort, HDMI, and the power jack are on the right. There are two USB 3.1 Type-A ports, Gigabit Ethernet, a secure lock slot, a microphone jack, and a high-resolution S/PDIF jack.

The Stealth Thin is slim, but how slim is it? Very slim. One of the slimmest gaming laptops on the market, the 4.1-pound gaming laptop measures 14.1 x 9.8 x 0.7 inches. With dimensions of 15.3 x 10.3 x 0.7*0.8-inches, the 5.5-pound Asus Zephyrus ROG M GM501 is close behind. 6.5 pounds and 15.3 x 10.8 x 1.3 inches, the PowerSpec 1510 is the heaviest and thickest of the bunch, while the Alienware 15 R3 weighs 7.4 pounds and measures 15.3 x 12 x 1 inch.

Display

MSI gaming laptop

Only 1920 x 1080 pixels are displayed on the Stealth’s 15.6-inch display. I appreciated the 144-Hz refresh rate, which should help to reduce screen tears and latency, although I wished for a QHD or 4K version. Also, I was amazed by the incredibly vivid colors, like the neon pink and green holographic controls in the Tears of Steel short. Despite its well-worn appearance, I could make out the individual scales on a snakeskin jacket as well as the dirt and grime that had settled into its cracks and crevices.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt has me searching for a rampaging griffin, but I stopped to smell the hellebores on the way. A large bloodstain and several gore-soaked bones served as a calling card for my prey as I stopped to pick the potion ingredient.

It’s so vibrant! In addition to reproducing 150 percent of the sRGB color gamut, the Stealth outperforms the Zephyrus (120 percent), the Alienware 15 (114 percent), and the 1510 (113 percent).

When measured for brightness, the Stealth’s display averaged 293 nits, topping the premium gaming monitor’s 288 nits. The brightness is better than the Zephyrus (286 nits), but not as bright as the 1510 (306 nits) or Alienware 15 (374 nits).

Audio

Amazing. Such. Speakers. Kick. Badass. Despite my dislike of bottom-mounted speakers, the pair on the Stealth are quite good. I was amazed by how loud the system was as I listened to Janelle Monae’s “Make Me Feel.”. There was sharp percussion, smooth synths, a feisty guitar, and Monae’s mewling vocals in my bedroom.

There was little noise in the forest in Witcher 3, save for the wind and slight swoosh from the grass as I tracked the trail. Nature’s otherwise bucolic sounds were interrupted by the shrill call of a bird overhead. Then, I heard a heavy beating of wings and an unearthly roar. Throbbing tambourines and violins punctuated the meaty thud of silver sinking into flesh with the familiar Witcher fight music.

With the third release of the former’s audio software, Nahimic and MSI continues to create beautiful music. Redesigned software keeps it simple by eliminating its myriad presets, replacing them instead with Music, Movie, Communication, and Gaming. It is possible to adjust the bass, treble, and voice depending on the preset. Even the volume can be stabilized so your music doesn’t disturb the people around you. One of the best features of the new software is the Surround Sound effect, which gives the illusion that you are actually in a small concert hall.

In addition to static noise suppression, Nahimic also adds echo cancellation to the microphone settings. Additionally, the mic has Lateral Sound Cancellation, which means it will only record what’s directly in front of it. It kept the Sound Tracker feature, which lets you see the direction from which sound is coming in-game. At present, the feature works with 70 games, including Witcher 3, Rise of the Tomb Raider, World of Tanks, and Wolfenstein: The New Order.

Keyboard and Touchpad

msi laptop

In general, keyboard keys on a slim laptop are shallow. Stealth keyboard keys are not shallow. Although the island-style keys fall short of what we would like for key travel (1.4 millimeters instead of 1.5 to 2 mm), they have a 77-gram force actuation. The keys are surprisingly springy as a result, and I hit my usual 70 words per minute on the 10fastfingers typing test.

Although I appreciate the 24K magic MSI has gone with the keyboard, I’m glad to see that the company is still working with SteelSeries to deliver 16.7 million colors in its SteelSeries Engine software. I can then create a custom, jewel-toned color scheme, because what is gold without a few gems? You can choose colors and effects for each key as granular as you like since each key has its own individual lighting.

The SteelSeries Engine 3 software allows you to create macros in addition to making the keyboard look nice. As soon as you’re done customizing and programming, you can also choose which applications will be launched with your new configuration.

Gaming, Graphics, and VR

MSI gaming laptop

I love how slim and powerful it is. A NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q GPU and 8GB of VRAM power the Stealth. Located between a regular GTX 1070 and 1080, the GPU is powerful enough to deliver decent frame rates at high settings while also supporting virtual reality. Despite this, thanks to its focus on energy efficiency and consumption, the system runs more quietly and at a cooler temperature than regular systems.

I was tense during my griffin battle in Witcher 3. As I avoided an airborne beast’s razor-sharp talons, I was constantly rolling out of the way. The Axii spell I used stunned and hacked away at it enough when it finally landed. On Ultra at 1080p, the Max-Q GPU rendered the action at 54 frames per second.

Our Rise of the Tomb Raider benchmark (very high, 1080p) delivered 44 frames per second, exceeding our playability threshold of 30 frames per second. However, it fell short of the 57-fps average for premium gaming and the 56, 53, and 52 fps averages for 1510, Zephyrus, and Alienware 15 (GTX 1070).

A Stealth achieved 79 frames per second on the Hitman test, falling just short of the category average of 80 frames per second, but better than the 1510s 60 frames per second. Alienware 15 notched 98 fps, while Zephyrus was able to reach 87 fps.

The Stealth produced 61 frames per second in Grand Theft Auto V, which is below the average of 67 frames per second. 1510, however, still managed to score 60 frames per second. A maximum of 68 fps was achieved by the Alienware 15, while 70 fps was achieved by the Zephyrus.

The Stealth scored 9.5 on the SteamVR test, which places it in the very high quadrant, but a bit below the average of 10.5 points. Zephyrus (10.9) scored slightly higher, while Alienware 1510 and 15 were both rated at 11.

Performance

As one of the first gaming laptops to use Intel’s 8th Generation Coffee Lake processor, the Stealth Thin is one of the first laptops of its kind to launch. In addition to having six cores instead of four, these new chips perform better than their predecessors.

Watching Queer Eye for the Straight Guy on Netflix while running 25 tabs in Google Chrome while running Windows Defender definitely showed all that new power. This was no problem for the Stealth’s 3.9-GHz Intel Core i7-8750H processor with 16GB of RAM.

The laptop also did well on our synthetic tests, scoring 17,184 on Geekbench 4, easily beating the average gaming laptop score of 15,942. With its own Core i7-8750H CPU, the Zephyrus achieved 20,590 while the Alienware 15 (Core i7-7820HK) achieved 14,932 and 1510 (Core i7-7700HQ) registered 14,223.

The Stealth transcoded a 4K video to 1080p in 12 minutes and 1 second with Handbrake. The 1510’s 14:00 is faster than the category average of 14:10. However, it was no match for the Zephyrus, which finished in 9:43.

With its 512GB M.2 SSD, the Stealth duplicated a 4.97GB mixed-media file at a rate of 193.3 megabytes per second. The score is significantly lower than the average gaming laptop of 640.5 MBps. Alienware 15 (512GB PCIe SSD) produced a result of 299.3 MBps, while Alienware 1510 (256GB NVMe SSD) produced a result of 391.5 MBps.

Battery Life

The battery life of a gaming laptop is usually sacrificed for power. This is not the case with Stealth. In the Laptop Mag Battery Test, which involves continuous web browsing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness, the system lasted 5 hours and 40 minutes, beating the 3:49 premium gaming laptop average. After 2:47, the Zephyrus was tapped out.

Heat

For 15 minutes, I played Witcher 3. Three strategic points on the Stealth were checked after I took its temperature. We measured 82 degrees Fahrenheit on the touchpad, and 101 degrees Fahrenheit in the center, which is warmer than our 95-degree threshold for comfort. However, the center of the laptop’s bottom was even hotter, at 122 degrees.

MSI redesigned its last-gen fans for the Stealth with thinner blades and added five heat pipes instead of three. Thus, during my Witcher romp, the fans were relatively quiet when they turned on. When the fans first kicked in, there was a noticeable, but low whistle.

Once everything cooled down, we measured the spots again, but this time, after running an HD video for 15 minutes. It measured 87 degrees on the touchpad and 94 degrees on the middle of the keyboard. It measured 102 degrees on the bottom.

Webcam

Dell and Gigabyte, take note. There’s no need to place the webcam in an unfortunate position because you can have a barely noticeable bezel. When video conferencing, you do not have to worry about giving people an up-close-and-personal look up your nose since the lens is at the top of the bezel instead of below the screen.

However, since the laptop is relatively expensive, I wish the webcam had a higher resolution than 720p. The test shots I took in my bedroom washed out most of the colors, including my orange shirt, which appeared pale compared to the actual article. There was little to no detail in the image due to the noise. Instead of an actual picture, it looked like I was using an Instagram filter.

Software and Warranty

You can optimize your gaming experience with MSI’s gaming utilities. The new Dragon Center looks like a futuristic cockpit, where you can check the diagnostics of your notebook. Using System Tuner and Voice Boost, you can adjust your in-chat voice settings as well. Other system apps include Battery Calibration and Burn Recovery. There’s even a memory-free button.

You can also toggle Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, the Webcam, and the Display off and on as well as adjust brightness and volume from the System Control Manager (SCM). When it comes to the display, MSI True Color lets you set the color temperature to get the best viewing experience, depending on your environment.

Too few utilities? You can also try Nvidia GeForce Experience, which offers Battery Calibration, Game Optimization, and WhisperMode, which will help the system run even quieter. XSplit Gamecaster can be used by players who wish to live stream the action. As part of MSI, there is also Killer Control Center, which examines all open programs and allots more bandwidth to data-intensive software instead of allowing all system processes to share the same software.

It has bloatware like any Windows laptop, including Bubble Witch Saga 3, LinkedIn, Evernote, CyberLink PowerDirector 8, Music Maker Jam, Spotify, March of Empires, and a free 30-day trial of Dolby Atmos for Headphones via Dolby Access.

A one-year limited warranty is included with the MSI GS65 Stealth Thin. Visit our Tech Support Showdown and Best and Worst Gaming Brands special reports to see how MSI fared.

Pros Cons
Impressive battery life Gets hot while gaming
Slim, beautiful design
Excellent audio quality
Barely their bezels
Great overall and graphics performance

Bottom Line

Many gamers dislike systems that don’t glow like a techie disco ball. A laptop that performs like a gaming laptop, but looks like a business notebook is what they need. They, as well as kids like me, have the MSI GS65 Stealth Thin.

With a laptop priced at $1,999, you’ll get powerful gaming and overall performance, excellent audio, and a comfortable keyboard. If you want something a bit beefier and still want to keep things slim, check out the $2,199 Asus ROG Zephyrus. It has similar specs, but a dimmer display and a thicker, heavier chassis. The MSI GS65 Stealth Pro is a great laptop if you’re looking for a slim, sophisticated laptop that is also powerful when gaming or crunching numbers.