MSI Alpha 15: High power consumption and short battery life plague MSI's latest mid-range gaming laptop
The Alpha 15 is MSI's latest mid-range gaming laptop, and one that the company has distinguished from the rest of the pack. The Alpha 15 is an all-AMD machine, something that remains a rarity among modern gaming laptops. MSI equipped our review unit, the A3DDK-034, with a Ryzen 7 3750H and Radeon RX 5500M, a combination that can easily handle all modern games. The Alpha 15 is a 1080p machine, but it can play the latest triple-A titles at medium to high settings.
The 15.6-inch device currently retails for around €1,300, but MSI sells cheaper variants from about €1,000 if your budget does not stretch that far. Either way, the Alpha 15 is competing in a crowded market, with there being many other comparably priced gaming laptops from which to choose.
While the Alpha 15 impressed us in some areas, it fell short in others. On the one hand, MSI equips the device with a reasonably bright and surprisingly colour accurate display, which also has a matte finish, a 144 Hz refresh rate and support for AMD FreeSync. Its Radeon RX 5500M sits between the GeForce GTX 1650 and GeForce GTX 1660 Ti Max-Q too, a respectable showing from AMD's mid-range GPU.
On the other hand, the Alpha 15 does not get as much from its Ryzen 7 3750H as it should. The HP Pavilion Gaming 15, for instance, can extract about 6% better performance from the same APU than the Alpha 15 can. Despite this, the latter runs unbearably loudly. We measured the two fans nearly hitting 60 dB(A) during our stress test and 51 dB(A) when gaming, for example. Worse still, the fans fluctuate between 36 dB(A) and 46 dB(A) at idle. You can enable "Silent" mode from within MSI Dragon Center to combat this, but this mode does not prevent the fans from turning on during innocuous tasks.
Finally, the Alpha 15 has dreadful battery life. Our review unit needed recharging after around four hours of web-browsing or watching a movie, which is poor even by gaming laptop standards. In short, the Alpha 15 has a small battery and comparatively high power consumption, a combination that is a recipe for disastrous runtimes.