Notebookcheck

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin 8RE-051US (GTX 1060) Laptop Review

Thin, fast, and flimsy. Despite its drawbacks, the MSI GS65 remains one of the best slim gaming notebooks currently available. Today’s updated, less expensive configuration ($1,849) features a Core i7-8750H, 16 GB of RAM, a GTX 1060, and 256 GB NVMe SSD. How does it stack up?

In May, we reviewed the GS65-8RF Stealth Thin notebook, complete with Core i7 CPU, GTX 1070 Max-Q GPU, and NVMe storage. This thin-and-light gaming machine is both portable and attractive, managing reasonably good battery runtimes for its class while sporting a sleek aluminum casing that resembles pricier models. Likewise, we found the per-key RGB backlighting, thin screen bezels, color-accurate 144 Hz display, and generally good performance pleasantly surprising. However, given its $2,100 price tag, we also had expected better build quality and case stability, functional power-saving options, and superior maintainability.

Today’s configuration is only slightly different: it’s some $250 less expensive for starters, with a price tag of just $1,849 currently. What do you lose in exchange for that discount? Specifically, the GPU has withdrawn to a GTX 1060 6 GB and the SSD capacity has been cut in half to 256 GB. Practically all other amenities remain, however, including the high-end 144 Hz display and Core i7 CPU. How does the machine stack up with these revisions in place?

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin 8RE-051US (GS65 Series)
Graphics adapter
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 (Laptop) - 6144 MB, Core: 1404 - 1670 MHz, Memory: 8000 MHz, GDDR5, 23.21.13.9094 - nVIDIA ForceWare 390.94
Memory
16384 MB 
, DDR4-2400 dual-channel
Display
15.6 inch 16:9, 1920 x 1080 pixel 141 PPI, AUO80ED, IPS, 144 Hz refresh rate, glossy: no
Mainboard
Intel Cannon Lake HM370
Storage
Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB256HAHQ, 256 GB 
Soundcard
Realtek ALC1220 @ Intel Cannon Point PCH
Connections
3 USB 3.1 Gen2, 1 Thunderbolt, 1 HDMI, 1 DisplayPort, 1 Kensington Lock, Audio Connections: 1 x Microphone in, 1 x Headphone out
Networking
Killer E2500 Gigabit Ethernet Controller (10/100/1000MBit), Intel Wireless-AC 9560 (a/b/g/n/ac), Bluetooth 5
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 18 x 358 x 248 ( = 0.71 x 14.09 x 9.76 in)
Battery
82 Wh Lithium-Polymer, 4-cell
Operating System
Microsoft Windows 10 Home 64 Bit
Camera
Webcam: 720p HD
Primary Camera: 1 MPix
Additional features
Speakers: 2.0, Keyboard Light: yes, 12 Months Warranty
Weight
1.838 kg ( = 64.83 oz / 4.05 pounds), Power Supply: 420 g ( = 14.82 oz / 0.93 pounds)

 

Preliminary Notes

Since we’ve already covered the introductory basics (case, connectivity, input devices, etc.) in our previous review, please refer to it for any detailed impressions of those items. However, we’ll quickly summarize the major themes here.

While the casing certainly looks the part, it’s soon evident how it manages such reasonable weight: the metal is thin. Moreover, the case exhibits unignorable creaking and popping noises under even light pressure, which truly cheapens the overall feel of the design. Connectivity is decent, but the lack of a card reader and the suboptimal positioning of the ports is a bit of an irritation. Networking speeds from today’s review unit remain as strong as those from the previous configuration thanks to the use of the Intel Wireless-AC 9560.

Maintenance is a major disappointment, meanwhile, given that the entire bottom of the machine must be unscrewed/pried off and that even following that procedure, only the fans, battery, and WLAN adapter are accessible. Accessing the remaining components requires much riskier further disassembly, an unacceptable compromise given the pricing and lineage of the GS65. Finally, the input devices are merely average overall.

Networking
iperf3 Client (receive) TCP 1 m 4M x10
Asus Zephyrus M GM501
Intel Wireless-AC 9560
683 MBit/s ∼100% +3%
Acer Predator Triton 700
Killer Wireless-n/a/ac 1535 Wireless Network Adapter
682 MBit/s ∼100% +2%
Gigabyte Aero 15X v8
Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8265
682 MBit/s ∼100% +2%
Razer Blade 15 GTX 1060
Intel Wireless-AC 9260
682 MBit/s ∼100% +2%
MSI GS65 Stealth Thin 8RE-051US
Intel Wireless-AC 9560
666 MBit/s ∼98%
MSI GS65 8RF-019DE Stealth Thin
Killer Wireless-AC 1550 Wireless Network Adapter
660 MBit/s ∼97% -1%
Average of class Gaming
  (141 - 702, n=167)
593 MBit/s ∼87% -11%
Dell XPS 15 9570 i7 UHD
Killer Wireless-n/a/ac 1535 Wireless Network Adapter
525 MBit/s ∼77% -21%
iperf3 Client (transmit) TCP 1 m 4M x10
MSI GS65 8RF-019DE Stealth Thin
Killer Wireless-AC 1550 Wireless Network Adapter
662 MBit/s ∼100% +5%
Razer Blade 15 GTX 1060
Intel Wireless-AC 9260
642 MBit/s ∼97% +1%
MSI GS65 Stealth Thin 8RE-051US
Intel Wireless-AC 9560
633 MBit/s ∼96%
Asus Zephyrus M GM501
Intel Wireless-AC 9560
585 MBit/s ∼88% -8%
Dell XPS 15 9570 i7 UHD
Killer Wireless-n/a/ac 1535 Wireless Network Adapter
575 MBit/s ∼87% -9%
Acer Predator Triton 700
Killer Wireless-n/a/ac 1535 Wireless Network Adapter
551 MBit/s ∼83% -13%
Average of class Gaming
  (213 - 697, n=167)
529 MBit/s ∼80% -16%
Gigabyte Aero 15X v8
Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8265
379 MBit/s ∼57% -40%

Display

Today’s GS65 review unit retains the same 15.6-inch matte IPS 1920x1080 display, which features a 144 Hz refresh rate that is immediately obvious at first glance due to the fluidity of even such mundane motions as pointer movement. Subjectively, brightness and contrast seem average and colors pop fairly vividly.

Subpixel array, MSI GS65
Subpixel array, MSI GS65
Very minor backlight bleed on our review unit
Very minor backlight bleed on our review unit
277.5
cd/m²
271.9
cd/m²
258.1
cd/m²
258.5
cd/m²
250.9
cd/m²
230
cd/m²
271.7
cd/m²
255.8
cd/m²
237.1
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
X-Rite i1Pro Basic 2
Maximum: 277.5 cd/m² Average: 256.8 cd/m² Minimum: 11.41 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 83 %
Center on Battery: 250.9 cd/m²
Contrast: 784:1 (Black: 0.32 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 2.77 | 0.4-29.43 Ø6.3, calibrated: 2.5
ΔE Greyscale 4 | 0.64-98 Ø6.5
92% sRGB (Argyll 3D) 60% AdobeRGB 1998 (Argyll 3D)
Gamma: 2.27

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MSI GS65 Stealth Thin 8RE-051US
AUO80ED, IPS, 15.6, 1920x1080
MSI GS65 8RF-019DE Stealth Thin
AU Optronics B156HAN08.0 (AUO80ED), IPS, 15.6, 1920x1080
Gigabyte Aero 15X v8
LGD05C0, IPS, 15.6, 1920x1080
Asus Zephyrus M GM501
AUO B156HAN07.1 (AUO71ED), IPS, 15.6, 1920x1080
Dell XPS 15 9570 i7 UHD
LQ156D1, IPS, 15.6, 3840x2160
Razer Blade 15 GTX 1060
LGD05C0, IPS, 15.6, 1920x1080
Response Times
3%
12%
40%
-150%
16%
Response Time Grey 50% / Grey 80% *
20 (10, 10)
17.6 (9.2, 8.4)
12%
16.8 (8.4, 8.4)
16%
6.6 (3.4, 3.2)
67%
46.4 (22.8, 23.6)
-132%
13.6 (7.6, 6)
32%
Response Time Black / White *
12 (6.8, 5.2)
12.8 (7.6, 5.2)
-7%
11.2 (6, 5.2)
7%
10.4 (5.2, 5.2)
13%
32 (18, 14)
-167%
12 (7.6, 4.4)
-0%
PWM Frequency
980.4 (25)
Screen
19%
26%
-10%
3%
16%
Brightness middle
250.9
254
1%
313
25%
307
22%
494
97%
304.3
21%
Brightness
257
262
2%
300
17%
296
15%
457
78%
293
14%
Brightness Distribution
83
89
7%
78
-6%
89
7%
88
6%
80
-4%
Black Level *
0.32
0.22
31%
0.33
-3%
0.25
22%
0.34
-6%
0.38
-19%
Contrast
784
1155
47%
948
21%
1228
57%
1453
85%
801
2%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *
2.77
2.37
14%
1.29
53%
5.74
-107%
5.2
-88%
1.79
35%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 max. *
5.89
4.71
20%
2.04
65%
11.32
-92%
17.5
-197%
3.69
37%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 calibrated *
2.5
1.84
26%
1.94
22%
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *
4
1.58
60%
0.69
83%
6.44
-61%
2.7
32%
1.1
72%
Gamma
2.27 97%
2.48 89%
2.43 91%
2.48 89%
2.1 105%
2.27 97%
CCT
6901 94%
6785 96%
6550 99%
8395 77%
7038 92%
6665 98%
Color Space (Percent of AdobeRGB 1998)
60
60
0%
60
0%
60
0%
71.2
19%
59.8
0%
Color Space (Percent of sRGB)
92
92
0%
94
2%
93
1%
98.8
7%
92.8
1%
Total Average (Program / Settings)
11% / 16%
19% / 23%
15% / -3%
-74% / -22%
16% / 16%

* ... smaller is better

As expected (since both panels are identical), our measurements are nearly the same as those we witnessed from the previous unit. We record a mere 256.8 cd/m² average brightness (distribution: 83%) with a decent contrast of 784:1 (spurred by a black level of 0.32 cd/m²). That’s well below the close to 300 cd/m² average we see from all other competitors in our field, and the contrast is also the lowest overall.

Color coverage from the display is decent, managing 92% of sRGB and 60% of AdobeRGB. This isn’t sufficient for serious photographers or anyone doing graphic design, but for practically everyone else, it’s perfectly adequate. Most competitors post similar numbers, with only the XPS 15 faring better with 99% / 71% respectively.

vs. sRGB
vs. sRGB
vs. AdobeRGB
vs. AdobeRGB
vs. Aero 15X
vs. Aero 15X
vs. Zephyrus M GM501
vs. Zephyrus M GM501

Color accuracy is also a reasonably strong suit for the GS65; our CalMAN measurements reveal ColorChecker/Greyscale DeltaE averages of just 2.77 / 4 and a ColorChecker maximum of still just 5.89 (Blue). The Total Gamma of 2.27 and CCT Average of 6901 are also good results.

Color analysis (pre-calibration)
Color analysis (pre-calibration)
Saturation sweeps (pre-calibration)
Saturation sweeps (pre-calibration)
Grayscale analysis (pre-calibration)
Grayscale analysis (pre-calibration)
Color analysis (post-calibration)
Color analysis (post-calibration)
Saturation sweeps (post-calibration)
Saturation sweeps (post-calibration)
Grayscale analysis (post-calibration)
Grayscale analysis (post-calibration)

Display Response Times

Display response times show how fast the screen is able to change from one color to the next. Slow response times can lead to afterimages and can cause moving objects to appear blurry (ghosting). Gamers of fast-paced 3D titles should pay special attention to fast response times.
       Response Time Black to White
12 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 6.8 ms rise
↘ 5.2 ms fall
The screen shows good response rates in our tests, but may be too slow for competitive gamers.
In comparison, all tested devices range from 0.8 (minimum) to 240 (maximum) ms. » 8 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is better than the average of all tested devices (25.7 ms).
       Response Time 50% Grey to 80% Grey
20 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 10 ms rise
↘ 10 ms fall
The screen shows good response rates in our tests, but may be too slow for competitive gamers.
In comparison, all tested devices range from 0.9 (minimum) to 636 (maximum) ms. » 7 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is better than the average of all tested devices (41.1 ms).

Screen Flickering / PWM (Pulse-Width Modulation)

To dim the screen, some notebooks will simply cycle the backlight on and off in rapid succession - a method called Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) . This cycling frequency should ideally be undetectable to the human eye. If said frequency is too low, users with sensitive eyes may experience strain or headaches or even notice the flickering altogether.
Screen flickering / PWM not detected

In comparison: 53 % of all tested devices do not use PWM to dim the display. If PWM was detected, an average of 8811 (minimum: 43 - maximum: 142900) Hz was measured.

We detect no PWM from the display at any brightness. Meanwhile, response times are very close to the promised values, and within the top 8% of all machines we’ve measured.

Outdoors, the panel struggles thanks to its weak brightness and middling contrast values (though the anti-glare finish certainly does help to make usage in the shade at least possible). Viewing angles are excellent from all sides.

In the sun
In the sun
In the shade
In the shade
Viewing angles
Viewing angles

Performance

All MSI GS65 notebooks are powered by an Intel Core i7-8750H CPU and either 16 GB or 32 GB of DDR4-2400 MHz dual-channel RAM. Two different GPU options are available: the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 (6 GB) and GTX 1070 Max-Q (8 GB). Finally, storage ranges between 256 GB and 1 TB, all solid-state—some SATA, some NVMe, and even a 1 TB option termed “Super RAID 4” (which actually just refers to dual 512 GB NVMe SSDs in a RAID-0 configuration).

Our review unit is just a step below the previous machine we tested, featuring an Intel Core i7-8750H, GTX 1060 GPU, 16 GB DDR4 dual-channel memory, and a 256 GB NVMe SSD.

As one might expect, performance while unplugged is notably below that while plugged in; a secondary run of 3DMark 11 while operating on battery power yields a score of just 5758. Elsewhere, LatencyMon reveals no issues with DPC Latencies.

CPU-Z CPU
CPU-Z CPU
CPU-Z Caches
CPU-Z Caches
CPU-Z Mainboard
CPU-Z Mainboard
CPU-Z Memory
CPU-Z Memory
CPU-Z RAM SPD
CPU-Z RAM SPD
GPU-Z
GPU-Z
Octane v2
Octane v2
LatencyMon
LatencyMon

Processor

Cinebench R15
Cinebench R15

The Intel Core i7-8750H is the same hexa-core CPU that powered our previous GS65 candidate—as well as the majority of the machines against which we’re comparing today. This CPU is produced using the Coffee Lake “14 nm++” process and boasts clock rates ranging from 2.2 and 4.1 GHz (3.9 GHz with 6 cores). It carries a TDP of 45 W. We’ve covered it extensively in the past, so check out our dedicated CPU page for much more information about its general performance.

While Turbo Boost capability is somewhat lacking in the GS65 (as before)—which leads to lower performance than its i7-8750H-equipped peers by around 12% to 16% in multi-core measurements—performance is nonetheless strong, beating the Razer Blade 15 by around 9% and trampling the 7th-gen quad-core CPU competitors by some 27%.

Sustained performance as tested by our Cinebench R15 multi-core loop test isn’t terribly surprising; we witness a drop from an initial result of 1083 down to 974/1009 in the next couple of runs, followed by relatively stable values in the 980—1000 range subsequently. While this is reasonably good considering the machine’s size and comparatively quiet profile, it indicates a considerably weaker sustained performance capability than either the Asus ROG Zephyrus GM501 or Gigabyte Aero 15X, which post long-term consistent scores of around 1050 and 1110 in this same test respectively.  

Cinebench R15
CPU Single 64Bit
Razer Blade 15 GTX 1060
Intel Core i7-8750H
176 Points ∼85% +1%
Gigabyte Aero 15X v8
Intel Core i7-8750H
175 Points ∼85% 0%
MSI GS65 8RF-019DE Stealth Thin
Intel Core i7-8750H
175 Points ∼85% 0%
MSI GS65 Stealth Thin 8RE-051US
Intel Core i7-8750H
175 Points ∼85%
Average Intel Core i7-8750H
  (163 - 177, n=37)
173 Points ∼84% -1%
Asus Zephyrus M GM501
Intel Core i7-8750H
170 Points ∼82% -3%
MSI GS63VR 7RG-005
Intel Core i7-7700HQ
158 Points ∼76% -10%
Acer Predator Triton 700
Intel Core i7-7700HQ
156 Points ∼75% -11%
Average of class Gaming
  (79 - 207, n=405)
151 Points ∼73% -14%
CPU Multi 64Bit
Asus Zephyrus M GM501
Intel Core i7-8750H
1168 Points ∼38% +16%
Gigabyte Aero 15X v8
Intel Core i7-8750H
1133 Points ∼36% +12%
Average Intel Core i7-8750H
  (863 - 1251, n=39)
1095 Points ∼35% +8%
MSI GS65 8RF-019DE Stealth Thin
Intel Core i7-8750H
1053 Points ∼34% +4%
MSI GS65 Stealth Thin 8RE-051US
Intel Core i7-8750H
1011 Points ∼33%
Razer Blade 15 GTX 1060
Intel Core i7-8750H
915 Points ∼29% -9%
Average of class Gaming
  (196 - 1408, n=406)
736 Points ∼24% -27%
MSI GS63VR 7RG-005
Intel Core i7-7700HQ
735 Points ∼24% -27%
Acer Predator Triton 700
Intel Core i7-7700HQ
734 Points ∼24% -27%
Cinebench R15 CPU Single 64Bit
175 Points
Cinebench R15 CPU Multi 64Bit
1011 Points
Cinebench R15 OpenGL 64Bit
111.83 fps
Cinebench R15 Ref. Match 64Bit
99.6 %
Help
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Cinebench R15 CPU Multi 64 Bit

System Performance

The GS65 is a very fast machine in general performance, and as is typically the case, when we get to analyzing (via synthetic benchmarks and resulting scores) the relative performance of direct competitors with such high-powered parts, there’s very little realistic disparity between them at such a high level. Speaking of which, the GS65 manages a strong PCMark 10 overall score of 4646, which—although some 14% below what we received from the top dog in today’s comparison chart, the Acer Predator Triton 700—is still indicative of a very capable machine. PCMark 8 scores are actually even better, with results near the top of the charts in both the Work and Home benchmarks. Subjectively, the machine is indeed very fast; we encountered no notable hiccups during our time with it.

PCMark 10
PCMark 10
PCMark 8 Home Accelerated
PCMark 8 Home Accelerated
PCMark 8 Work Accelerated
PCMark 8 Work Accelerated
PCMark 10 - Score
Acer Predator Triton 700
GeForce GTX 1080 Max-Q, 7700HQ, 2x SK Hynix Canvas SC300 512GB M.2 (HFS512G39MND) (RAID 0)
5277 Points ∼68% +14%
Asus Zephyrus M GM501
GeForce GTX 1070 (Laptop), 8750H, Samsung SM961 MZVKW512HMJP m.2 PCI-e
5194 Points ∼67% +12%
Razer Blade 15 GTX 1060
GeForce GTX 1060 Max-Q, 8750H, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
5184 Points ∼67% +12%
Average Intel Core i7-8750H, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 (Laptop)
  (4646 - 5525, n=8)
5138 Points ∼66% +11%
MSI GS65 8RF-019DE Stealth Thin
GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q, 8750H, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
5095 Points ∼66% +10%
Gigabyte Aero 15X v8
GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q, 8750H, Toshiba NVMe THNSN5512GPU7
5059 Points ∼65% +9%
Dell XPS 15 9570 i7 UHD
GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q, 8750H, Toshiba XG5 KXG50ZNV512G
4966 Points ∼64% +7%
Average of class Gaming
  (2603 - 6620, n=107)
4921 Points ∼63% +6%
MSI GS65 Stealth Thin 8RE-051US
GeForce GTX 1060 (Laptop), 8750H, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB256HAHQ
4646 Points ∼60%
MSI GS63VR 7RG-005
GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q, 7700HQ, Samsung SM961 MZVPW256HEGL
4542 Points ∼59% -2%
PCMark 8
Work Score Accelerated v2
MSI GS65 Stealth Thin 8RE-051US
GeForce GTX 1060 (Laptop), 8750H, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB256HAHQ
5731 Points ∼88%
Razer Blade 15 GTX 1060
GeForce GTX 1060 Max-Q, 8750H, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
5705 Points ∼88% 0%
Gigabyte Aero 15X v8
GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q, 8750H, Toshiba NVMe THNSN5512GPU7
5676 Points ∼87% -1%
Asus Zephyrus M GM501
GeForce GTX 1070 (Laptop), 8750H, Samsung SM961 MZVKW512HMJP m.2 PCI-e
5662 Points ∼87% -1%
MSI GS65 8RF-019DE Stealth Thin
GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q, 8750H, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
5621 Points ∼86% -2%
Average Intel Core i7-8750H, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 (Laptop)
  (5111 - 5731, n=9)
5492 Points ∼84% -4%
Acer Predator Triton 700
GeForce GTX 1080 Max-Q, 7700HQ, 2x SK Hynix Canvas SC300 512GB M.2 (HFS512G39MND) (RAID 0)
5211 Points ∼80% -9%
MSI GS63VR 7RG-005
GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q, 7700HQ, Samsung SM961 MZVPW256HEGL
5176 Points ∼79% -10%
Average of class Gaming
  (2484 - 6515, n=302)
4908 Points ∼75% -14%
Dell XPS 15 9570 i7 UHD
GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q, 8750H, Toshiba XG5 KXG50ZNV512G
4418 Points ∼68% -23%
Home Score Accelerated v2
Acer Predator Triton 700
GeForce GTX 1080 Max-Q, 7700HQ, 2x SK Hynix Canvas SC300 512GB M.2 (HFS512G39MND) (RAID 0)
5160 Points ∼85% +10%
MSI GS65 Stealth Thin 8RE-051US
GeForce GTX 1060 (Laptop), 8750H, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB256HAHQ
4676 Points ∼77%
MSI GS65 8RF-019DE Stealth Thin
GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q, 8750H, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
4665 Points ∼77% 0%
Razer Blade 15 GTX 1060
GeForce GTX 1060 Max-Q, 8750H, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
4650 Points ∼76% -1%
Asus Zephyrus M GM501
GeForce GTX 1070 (Laptop), 8750H, Samsung SM961 MZVKW512HMJP m.2 PCI-e
4627 Points ∼76% -1%
Average Intel Core i7-8750H, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 (Laptop)
  (4119 - 5371, n=9)
4558 Points ∼75% -3%
Gigabyte Aero 15X v8
GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q, 8750H, Toshiba NVMe THNSN5512GPU7
4504 Points ∼74% -4%
Average of class Gaming
  (2554 - 6093, n=320)
4213 Points ∼69% -10%
MSI GS63VR 7RG-005
GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q, 7700HQ, Samsung SM961 MZVPW256HEGL
4193 Points ∼69% -10%
Dell XPS 15 9570 i7 UHD
GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q, 8750H, Toshiba XG5 KXG50ZNV512G
3631 Points ∼60% -22%
PCMark 8 Home Score Accelerated v2
4676 points
PCMark 8 Work Score Accelerated v2
5731 points
Help

Storage Devices

Powering the GS65 is a Samsung PM981 256 GB NVMe SSD, a very popular and quite fast SSD that we find in many top-end notebooks. Our previous review unit featured the same SSD but with a 512 GB capacity—and while our testing reveals that the 256 GB capacity does perform slower in today’s device, it still produces a respectable AS SSD Score of 2039 (based on read/write scores of 815/802 and speeds of 1612.2/1474.76 MB/s). CrystalDiskMark 5.2 reports much higher still Q32T1 Sequential read/write values of 3472/1529 MB/s.

AS SSD
AS SSD
CrystalDiskMark
CrystalDiskMark
MSI GS65 Stealth Thin 8RE-051US
Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB256HAHQ
Gigabyte Aero 15X v8
Toshiba NVMe THNSN5512GPU7
Asus Zephyrus M GM501
Samsung SM961 MZVKW512HMJP m.2 PCI-e
Acer Predator Triton 700
2x SK Hynix Canvas SC300 512GB M.2 (HFS512G39MND) (RAID 0)
Razer Blade 15 GTX 1060
Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
AS SSD
Score Total
2039
2536
24%
3649
79%
3282
61%
4095
101%
Score Write
802
939
17%
1446
80%
1243
55%
1955
144%
Score Read
815
1092
34%
1471
80%
1350
66%
1407
73%
Access Time Write *
0.045
0.046
-2%
0.041
9%
0.041
9%
0.037
18%
Access Time Read *
0.071
0.119
-68%
0.046
35%
0.062
13%
0.05
30%
4K-64 Write
570.49
742.09
30%
1198.18
110%
913.1
60%
1663.95
192%
4K-64 Read
610.88
847.34
39%
1218.4
99%
1056.86
73%
1176.71
93%
4K Write
83.83
80.44
-4%
90.23
8%
92.99
11%
99.18
18%
4K Read
43.09
23.36
-46%
43.42
1%
41.47
-4%
48.56
13%
Seq Write
1474.76
1163.11
-21%
1580.23
7%
2371.95
61%
1916.59
30%
Seq Read
1612.2
2212.97
37%
2090.99
30%
2517.2
56%
1819.95
13%

* ... smaller is better

Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB256HAHQ
CDM 5/6 Read Seq Q32T1: 3472 MB/s
CDM 5/6 Write Seq Q32T1: 1529 MB/s
CDM 5/6 Read 4K Q32T1: 364.9 MB/s
CDM 5/6 Write 4K Q32T1: 259 MB/s
CDM 5 Read Seq: 1235 MB/s
CDM 5 Write Seq: 1528 MB/s
CDM 5/6 Read 4K: 40.41 MB/s
CDM 5/6 Write 4K: 91.46 MB/s

GPU Performance

As previously mentioned, today’s GS65 review unit steps the GPU down to a GTX 1060 (from the previous GTX 1070 Max-Q) in exchange for a bit of cost savings. Gaming performance is where it counts, however, and here—subject to the constraints of its hardware—the GS65 delivers. It outperforms both the Razer Blade 15 (GTX 1060 Max-Q) and Dell XPS 15 9570 by around 4% and 59% respectively, though it rests some 25% below the GTX 1070 Max-Q equipped GS65 configuration. For those less interested in blistering graphical performance, this is more than enough to handle most modern games at reasonable settings. However, it is worth mentioning that the alluring 144 Hz display won’t be able to flex its true capabilities on anything other than low settings (or older games), though technically anything above 60 frames per second will still benefit from the higher refresh rate.

3DMark Fire Strike
3DMark Fire Strike
3DMark Cloud Gate
3DMark Cloud Gate
3DMark 11
3DMark 11
3DMark 11
1280x720 Performance Combined
Asus Zephyrus M GM501
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 (Laptop), 8750H
11707 Points ∼67% +12%
MSI GS65 8RF-019DE Stealth Thin
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q, 8750H
10663 Points ∼61% +2%
MSI GS65 Stealth Thin 8RE-051US
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 (Laptop), 8750H
10475 Points ∼60%
Gigabyte Aero 15X v8
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q, 8750H
9720 Points ∼55% -7%
Acer Predator Triton 700
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Max-Q, 7700HQ
9075 Points ∼52% -13%
Razer Blade 15 GTX 1060
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 Max-Q, 8750H
8935 Points ∼51% -15%
Dell XPS 15 9570 i7 UHD
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q, 8750H
8877 Points ∼51% -15%
Average NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 (Laptop)
  (5655 - 12930, n=69)
8288 Points ∼47% -21%
MSI GS63VR 7RG-005
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q, 7700HQ
7573 Points ∼43% -28%
Average of class Gaming
  (510 - 14228, n=509)
6822 Points ∼39% -35%
1280x720 Performance GPU
Acer Predator Triton 700
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Max-Q, 7700HQ
23694 Points ∼46% +59%
Asus Zephyrus M GM501
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 (Laptop), 8750H
21925 Points ∼43% +47%
Gigabyte Aero 15X v8
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q, 8750H
19162 Points ∼38% +29%
MSI GS65 8RF-019DE Stealth Thin
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q, 8750H
18687 Points ∼37% +26%
MSI GS63VR 7RG-005
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q, 7700HQ
18205 Points ∼36% +22%
MSI GS65 Stealth Thin 8RE-051US
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 (Laptop), 8750H
14879 Points ∼29%
Average NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 (Laptop)
  (12731 - 15607, n=70)
14732 Points ∼29% -1%
Razer Blade 15 GTX 1060
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 Max-Q, 8750H
14180 Points ∼28% -5%
Average of class Gaming
  (513 - 50983, n=508)
11826 Points ∼23% -21%
Dell XPS 15 9570 i7 UHD
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q, 8750H
9079 Points ∼18% -39%
3DMark
1920x1080 Fire Strike Graphics
Acer Predator Triton 700
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Max-Q, 7700HQ
18120 Points ∼45% +53%
Asus Zephyrus M GM501
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 (Laptop), 8750H
17046 Points ∼42% +44%
Gigabyte Aero 15X v8
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q, 8750H
15156 Points ∼37% +28%
MSI GS65 8RF-019DE Stealth Thin
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q, 8750H
14780 Points ∼36% +25%
MSI GS63VR 7RG-005
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q, 7700HQ
14394 Points ∼35% +22%
MSI GS65 Stealth Thin 8RE-051US
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 (Laptop), 8750H
11814 Points ∼29%
Average NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 (Laptop)
  (10708 - 12298, n=71)
11531 Points ∼28% -2%
Razer Blade 15 GTX 1060
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 Max-Q, 8750H
11315 Points ∼28% -4%
Average of class Gaming
  (385 - 40636, n=435)
10251 Points ∼25% -13%
Dell XPS 15 9570 i7 UHD
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q, 8750H
7428 Points ∼18% -37%
1280x720 Cloud Gate Standard Graphics
Asus Zephyrus M GM501
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 (Laptop), 8750H
115638 Points ∼63% +38%
Acer Predator Triton 700
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Max-Q, 7700HQ
115579 Points ∼63% +38%
Gigabyte Aero 15X v8
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q, 8750H
104942 Points ∼57% +25%
MSI GS65 8RF-019DE Stealth Thin
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q, 8750H
98013 Points ∼53% +17%
MSI GS63VR 7RG-005
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q, 7700HQ
95118 Points ∼52% +14%
MSI GS65 Stealth Thin 8RE-051US
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 (Laptop), 8750H
83747 Points ∼45%
Razer Blade 15 GTX 1060
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 Max-Q, 8750H
80748 Points ∼44% -4%
Average NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 (Laptop)
  (26770 - 86193, n=63)
70731 Points ∼38% -16%
Average of class Gaming
  (5761 - 184578, n=426)
61960 Points ∼34% -26%
3DMark 11 Performance
13554 points
3DMark Cloud Gate Standard Score
29930 points
3DMark Fire Strike Score
10311 points
Help
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The Witcher 3 ultra

Gaming Performance

Unsurprisingly, the GTX 1060-equipped GS65 can handle most modern games at high settings at smooth frame rates. However, it isn't likely that the 144 Hz display will see its full potential with just a GTX 1060 at the helm going forward, so keep that in mind before opting for the lower-end GPU configuration if butter-smooth gameplay into the next few years is something you seek.

low med. high ultra
BioShock Infinite (2013) 274223220159fps
Metro: Last Light (2013) 13913513278fps
The Witcher 3 (2015) 40fps
Rise of the Tomb Raider (2016) 1131017362fps

Stress Test

Our stress testing reveals the machine’s thermal limitations, which manifest during full synthetic CPU stress as a middling stable CPU frequency of just 3.0 – 3.1 GHz following around 30 seconds of testing (at which point the temperature drops from the maximum of 90 °C down to 81 °C, where it remains semi-permanently thereafter). GPU stress results in a clock rate of still just 1265 - 1304 MHz in our tests, with a temperature climbing steadily up to around 75 °C.

Combined stress breaks the GPU into a higher range of 1366 – 1531 MHz, while the CPU drops to 2.793 GHz. Both of these values are above the base frequencies of the CPU/GPU, however, and thus the GTX 1060-equipped configuration of the GS65 does not throttle under load (unlike the GTX 1070 Max-Q version). The CPU performance is quite clearly capped by the 90 °C core thermal limit, while the GPU remains well within reasonable temperature ranges (max: 70 °C).

Under Witcher 3 stress, the CPU is stable at 3.9 GHz (76 °C) and GPU clock rates hover around 1579 MHz (74 °C). Frame rates are stable (as we saw earlier during our GPU sustained performance test) and temperatures are perfectly in check.

Full CPU stress
Full CPU stress
Full GPU stress
Full GPU stress
Combined CPU + GPU stress
Combined CPU + GPU stress
CPU Clock (GHz) GPU Clock (MHz) Average CPU Temperature (°C) Average GPU Temperature (°C)
Prime95 Stress 3.0 - 3.1 - 81 -
FurMark Stress - 1265 - 1304 - 75
Prime95 + FurMark Stress 2.8 1366 - 1531 90 70
Witcher 3 Stress 3.9 1579 76 74

Emissions

System Noise

While the GS65 is still a relatively quiet machine (even under load), the noise level has ticked upward in our measurements since the GTX 1070 Max-Q equipped version passed through our labs. Today’s GTX 1060 unit is almost silent while idling (with a maximum reading of just 1.2 dB(A) above environmental noise levels), but under load, it’s quite a bit noisier with an average of 43.5 dB(A) up to a maximum of 45.7 dB(A). Though noticeable (and perhaps a bit more so thanks to the small diameter of the cooling fans producing a higher-pitched whir than larger-diameter counterparts), this isn’t a terribly obtrusive reading. Audio from gaming for the most part overpowers itespecially, of course, with headphones in play.

We notice no coil whine or electrical noise coming from our review unit.

Noise Level

Idle
28.4 / 28.4 / 29.6 dB(A)
Load
43.5 / 45.7 dB(A)
  red to green bar
 
 
30 dB
silent
40 dB(A)
audible
50 dB(A)
loud
 
min: dark, med: mid, max: light   BK Precision 732A (15 cm distance)   environment noise: 28.4 dB(A)
MSI GS65 Stealth Thin 8RE-051US
GeForce GTX 1060 (Laptop), 8750H, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB256HAHQ
Gigabyte Aero 15X v8
GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q, 8750H, Toshiba NVMe THNSN5512GPU7
Asus Zephyrus M GM501
GeForce GTX 1070 (Laptop), 8750H, Samsung SM961 MZVKW512HMJP m.2 PCI-e
Acer Predator Triton 700
GeForce GTX 1080 Max-Q, 7700HQ, 2x SK Hynix Canvas SC300 512GB M.2 (HFS512G39MND) (RAID 0)
MSI GS65 8RF-019DE Stealth Thin
GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q, 8750H, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
Razer Blade 15 GTX 1060
GeForce GTX 1060 Max-Q, 8750H, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
Noise
-11%
-9%
-10%
-3%
-3%
off / environment *
28.4
29
-2%
29
-2%
31
-9%
30
-6%
28.1
1%
Idle Minimum *
28.4
30
-6%
30
-6%
33
-16%
30
-6%
28.1
1%
Idle Average *
28.4
31
-9%
31
-9%
34
-20%
31
-9%
33
-16%
Idle Maximum *
29.6
35
-18%
33
-11%
40
-35%
34
-15%
33.5
-13%
Load Average *
43.5
49
-13%
49
-13%
41
6%
43
1%
42.2
3%
Witcher 3 ultra *
45.7
51
-12%
50
-9%
43
6%
42
8%
45.3
1%
Load Maximum *
45.7
54
-18%
52
-14%
48
-5%
44
4%
45.7
-0%

* ... smaller is better

Temperature

Surely thanks to both the reduced GPU power demands and slightly higher fan noise levels, temperatures have plummeted since the previous GS65 review unit. Today’s machine reaches averages of just 35.9 °C / 40.4 °C on top/bottom under load, with hot spots of 46.8 °C and 59.8 °C in the center of the top/bottom rear quadrants respectively. While those hot spots obviously preclude the operation of the machine while on the lap, the overall temperature development is well below what it was before, and completely reasonable.

The triple-fan cooling system...
The triple-fan cooling system...
...does a good job keeping temperatures in check.
...does a good job keeping temperatures in check.
Max. Load
 42.4 °C
108 F
46.8 °C
116 F
38 °C
100 F
 
 35 °C
95 F
42.4 °C
108 F
36 °C
97 F
 
 28.2 °C
83 F
26 °C
79 F
28.2 °C
83 F
 
Maximum: 46.8 °C = 116 F
Average: 35.9 °C = 97 F
40 °C
104 F
59.8 °C
140 F
41.6 °C
107 F
39.6 °C
103 F
44.4 °C
112 F
39.4 °C
103 F
31.4 °C
89 F
34 °C
93 F
33.4 °C
92 F
Maximum: 59.8 °C = 140 F
Average: 40.4 °C = 105 F
Power Supply (max.)  54.2 °C = 130 F | Room Temperature 20.6 °C = 69 F | Fluke 62 Mini IR Thermometer
Thermal profile, top of base unit (idle)
Thermal profile, top of base unit (idle)
Thermal profile, underside (idle)
Thermal profile, underside (idle)
Thermal profile, top of base unit (max load)
Thermal profile, top of base unit (max load)
Thermal profile, underside (max load)
Thermal profile, underside (max load)
Thermal profile, top of base unit (Witcher 3)
Thermal profile, top of base unit (Witcher 3)
Thermal profile, side (Witcher 3)
Thermal profile, side (Witcher 3)
Thermal profile, underside (Witcher 3)
Thermal profile, underside (Witcher 3)

Speakers

The speakers haven’t changed since our previous review unit; that is to say, they’re still relatively loud (at 75.12 dB) and feature average linearity across the breadth of the audio spectrum. Balancing could be improved, and bass is nearly nonexistent, but all in all, for a slim laptop, the audio is pretty decent.

dB(A) 0102030405060708090Deep BassMiddle BassHigh BassLower RangeMidsHigher MidsLower HighsMid HighsUpper HighsSuper Highs2035.338.135.3253535.1353132.732.332.740333133503331.9336334.933.634.98029.630.229.610031.228.231.212532.32832.316042.327.242.320047.226.247.225050.12650.131551.525.651.540047.425.247.45005524.45563058.224.358.280062.223.962.210006423.564125066.623.366.616006523.265200067.123.267.125006023.160315055.62355.6400064.32364.3500062.52362.5630059.422.959.4800057.62357.61000060.22360.21250064.422.964.41600065.922.965.9SPL75.135.575.1N33.72.533.7median 59.4MSI GS65 Stealth Thin 8RE-051USmedian 23.3median 59.4Delta81839.144.635.64028.430.433.537.726.428.525.527.429.23028.932.324.532.921.141.520.748.520.955.919.561.218.465.118.366.417.567.61867.918.665.317.469.216.765.817.264.517.365.917.26817.257.317.256.417.261.117.36617.262.217.259.61754.129.777.51.342.2median 17.4Gigabyte Aero 15X v8median 62.21.86.8hearing rangehide median Pink Noise
Frequency diagram (checkboxes can be checked and unchecked to compare devices)
MSI GS65 Stealth Thin 8RE-051US audio analysis

(±) | speaker loudness is average but good (75.12 dB)
Bass 100 - 315 Hz
(-) | nearly no bass - on average 17% lower than median
(±) | linearity of bass is average (10.1% delta to prev. frequency)
Mids 400 - 2000 Hz
(±) | higher mids - on average 5.7% higher than median
(±) | linearity of mids is average (9.3% delta to prev. frequency)
Highs 2 - 16 kHz
(+) | balanced highs - only 2.1% away from median
(±) | linearity of highs is average (11.7% delta to prev. frequency)
Overall 100 - 16.000 Hz
(±) | linearity of overall sound is average (20.9% difference to median)
Compared to same class
» 72% of all tested devices in this class were better, 6% similar, 21% worse
» The best had a delta of 6%, average was 17%, worst was 37%
Compared to all devices tested
» 46% of all tested devices were better, 9% similar, 45% worse
» The best had a delta of 3%, average was 21%, worst was 53%

Gigabyte Aero 15X v8 audio analysis

(±) | speaker loudness is average but good (78 dB)
Bass 100 - 315 Hz
(-) | nearly no bass - on average 16.8% lower than median
(±) | linearity of bass is average (11.6% delta to prev. frequency)
Mids 400 - 2000 Hz
(+) | balanced mids - only 4.3% away from median
(+) | mids are linear (5% delta to prev. frequency)
Highs 2 - 16 kHz
(+) | balanced highs - only 3.6% away from median
(±) | linearity of highs is average (9.1% delta to prev. frequency)
Overall 100 - 16.000 Hz
(±) | linearity of overall sound is average (16.6% difference to median)
Compared to same class
» 46% of all tested devices in this class were better, 11% similar, 43% worse
» The best had a delta of 6%, average was 17%, worst was 37%
Compared to all devices tested
» 23% of all tested devices were better, 6% similar, 71% worse
» The best had a delta of 3%, average was 21%, worst was 53%

Energy Management

Power Consumption

Power consumption, Prime 95 CPU stress
Power consumption, Prime 95 CPU stress

Power consumption has also dropped when compared to the GTX 1070 Max-Q configuration—again, which is to be expected. Under load, the device pulls a maximum of 151.5 W in our measurements, with an average of just 107.4 W. Idling sees just 13 W average on the other hand. As compared with the Razer Blade 15 (powered by a GTX 1060 Max-Q), these values are just a bit higher overall.

The power consumption is only marginally lower than the GTX 1070 Max-Q configuration when gaming due to improved performance per watt on the Max-Q GPU. We only witness the delta widen further under extreme benchmarks, where consumption begins to expose the TDP differences more plainly (60 - 70 W for the GTX 1060 vs. 80 to 90 W for the GTX 1070 Max-Q). This explains why the Load Maximum reading is so much lower than the GTX 1070 Max-Q value, whereas the Witcher 3 and Load Average values are merely several watts apart.

Power Consumption
Off / Standbydarklight 1 / 1.34 Watt
Idledarkmidlight 8.7 / 13 / 14.3 Watt
Load midlight 107.4 / 151.5 Watt
 color bar
Key: min: dark, med: mid, max: light        Metrahit Energy
MSI GS65 Stealth Thin 8RE-051US
8750H, GeForce GTX 1060 (Laptop), Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB256HAHQ, IPS, 1920x1080, 15.6
Gigabyte Aero 15X v8
8750H, GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q, Toshiba NVMe THNSN5512GPU7, IPS, 1920x1080, 15.6
Asus Zephyrus M GM501
8750H, GeForce GTX 1070 (Laptop), Samsung SM961 MZVKW512HMJP m.2 PCI-e, IPS, 1920x1080, 15.6
MSI GS63VR 7RG-005
7700HQ, GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q, Samsung SM961 MZVPW256HEGL, TN LED, 1920x1080, 15.6
Acer Predator Triton 700
7700HQ, GeForce GTX 1080 Max-Q, 2x SK Hynix Canvas SC300 512GB M.2 (HFS512G39MND) (RAID 0), IPS, 1920x1080, 15.6
MSI GS65 8RF-019DE Stealth Thin
8750H, GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ, IPS, 1920x1080, 15.6
Dell XPS 15 9570 i7 UHD
8750H, GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q, Toshiba XG5 KXG50ZNV512G, IPS, 3840x2160, 15.6
Razer Blade 15 GTX 1060
8750H, GeForce GTX 1060 Max-Q, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ, IPS, 1920x1080, 15.6
Power Consumption
-27%
-47%
-16%
-104%
-3%
-5%
-20%
Idle Minimum *
8.7
14
-61%
16
-84%
12
-38%
28
-222%
7
20%
9.48
-9%
14.9
-71%
Idle Average *
13
18
-38%
19
-46%
16
-23%
33
-154%
11
15%
16.1
-24%
17.5
-35%
Idle Maximum *
14.3
22
-54%
26
-82%
21
-47%
41
-187%
20
-40%
16.9
-18%
19.2
-34%
Load Average *
107.4
91
15%
103
4%
85
21%
94
12%
98
9%
90.8
15%
103.2
4%
Load Maximum *
151.5
173
-14%
223
-47%
162
-7%
222
-47%
182
-20%
134.4
11%
132.7
12%
Witcher 3 ultra *
129
142
-10%
164
-27%
128
1%
160
-24%
132
-2%
123.1
5%

* ... smaller is better

Battery Life

Despite a marginal drop in power consumption, we don’t see much better runtimes out of the 82 Wh battery—though that’s okay, as they were acceptable to begin with (even if they can’t match those of the Gigabyte Aero 15X and Razer Blade 15). 6 hours and 12 minutes of life during our Wi-Fi web surfing benchmark is pretty reasonable for a gaming laptop, even if it’s some 38% below what’s managed by the Aero 15X (8 hours and 33 minutes).

Battery Runtime
NBC WiFi Websurfing Battery Test 1.3
6h 12min
Load (maximum brightness)
1h 10min
MSI GS65 Stealth Thin 8RE-051US
8750H, GeForce GTX 1060 (Laptop), 82 Wh
Gigabyte Aero 15X v8
8750H, GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q, 94.24 Wh
Asus Zephyrus M GM501
8750H, GeForce GTX 1070 (Laptop), 55 Wh
MSI GS63VR 7RG-005
7700HQ, GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q, 52.4 Wh
Acer Predator Triton 700
7700HQ, GeForce GTX 1080 Max-Q, 54 Wh
MSI GS65 8RF-019DE Stealth Thin
8750H, GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q, 82 Wh
Dell XPS 15 9570 i7 UHD
8750H, GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q, 97 Wh
Razer Blade 15 GTX 1060
8750H, GeForce GTX 1060 Max-Q, 80 Wh
Battery Runtime
81%
-28%
-26%
-31%
7%
32%
8%
Reader / Idle
762
237
340
150
507
WiFi v1.3
372
513
38%
164
-56%
232
-38%
144
-61%
362
-3%
576
55%
402
8%
Load
70
156
123%
70
0%
61
-13%
70
0%
81
16%
76
9%
Witcher 3 ultra
62

Pros

+ fast GPU performance
+ solid CPU performance
+ thin and light build
+ 144 Hz display with good response times
+ screen is relatively color accurate
+ reasonably good battery life
+ switchable graphics
+ RGB keyboard backlighting
+ aesthetically-pleasing design

Cons

- lackadaisical build quality and flimsy construction
- case creaks audibly during light use
- maintenance is limited and overly difficult
- no card reader
- Fn key location on right side of keyboard is awkward

Verdict

The MSI GS65 Stealth Thin 9RE-051US Laptop
The MSI GS65 Stealth Thin 9RE-051US Laptop

To be quite frank, today’s MSI GS65 configuration does little to address the complaints we explicated in May’s review of the previous SKU. The biggest drawbacks remain the questionable workmanship and disappointing rigidity (resulting in unavoidable case creaks during use), as well as the unnecessarily difficult maintenance procedures and mediocre input devices. However, today’s comparatively lower-end configuration, powered by a GTX 1060 and Core i7-8750H (and smaller 256 GB NVMe SSD), does manage to survive our synthetic stress tests without resorting to throttling on either the CPU or GPU side, which is a welcomed improvement over the GTX 1070 Max-Q model we reviewed previously. Correspondingly, surface temperatures also see a significant drop, as a result of what appears to be slightly more aggressive cooling in conjunction with a notably less power-hungry GPU.

The rest of the package is primarily positive however. The GS65 is deceptively lightweight and relatively quiet under load. The 144 Hz anti-glare display features good color accuracy and saturation alongside excellent viewing angles (even if brightness and contrast could be better). Apart from the spacing and the lack of a card reader, connectivity is mostly on par with the Aero 15X. And finally, the machine manages strong performance given its configuration—even though the GTX 1060 isn’t powerful enough to take full advantage of the splendor of a 144 Hz refresh rate in modern games (still, anything above 60 frames per second benefits).

From a purely statistical standpoint, even despite its notable weaknesses, the MSI GS65 remains one of the best thin-and-light gaming notebooks currently available.

At $1,849, it’s certainly not cheap—but pricing is consistent with that of its peers, and perhaps even a bit below. Before committing to a purchase, it’s also worth considering better-built competitors such as the Gigabyte Aero 15X v8 and Razer Blade 15—but bear in mind that you’ll pay a bit more for the privilege.

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin 8RE-051US - 09/14/2018 v6
Steve Schardein

Chassis
70 / 98 → 71%
Keyboard
77%
Pointing Device
81%
Connectivity
64 / 81 → 79%
Weight
65 / 10-66 → 98%
Battery
88%
Display
89%
Games Performance
94%
Application Performance
97%
Temperature
84 / 95 → 88%
Noise
86 / 90 → 95%
Audio
74%
Camera
50 / 85 → 59%
Average
78%
86%
Gaming - Weighted Average

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > MSI GS65 Stealth Thin 8RE-051US (GTX 1060) Laptop Review
Steve Schardein, 2018-09-15 (Update: 2018-09-20)
Steve Schardein
Steve Schardein - Review Editor - @othersteve
In grade school, my first computer—an Apple IIGS—started it all for me. Later, in the nineties, if I wasn’t repairing computers for family and friends, I was busy cooking up nifty Visual Basic projects and playing PC games like Command & Conquer and Heroes of Might and Magic. Soon, much of my free time was spent moderating popular gaming forums and covering the industry for various websites. All the while, I never stopped repairing computers, and in 2006, I started a technology consulting company in Louisville, KY—Triple-S Computers—which I have been fortunate to nurture to great success by specializing in not only repairs, but also new machine consultations and purchasing, data recovery, and malware/security. And since 2012, I have proudly contributed many dozens of reviews to Notebookcheck, a site which I have long considered to be the ultimate authority on laptops and related technology. Today, I am truly living my dream: still a child at heart, ever-curious, constantly learning, and thankful to you, our readers.