The MSI GS65 Stealth-006 is an all-round decent gaming laptop, backed by stable processing power and modest GPU power that promises over 60 fps on modern AAA titles.
- High-quality, portable build
- Better-than-60fps gaming at 1080p
- 144Hz display
- Long battery life for a gaming laptop
- 512GB SSD is a little tight for gaming
- A bit of lid flex
The MSI GS65 Stealth-006 is an appealingly priced gaming laptop that packs Nvidia’s new GeForce 2060 graphics card, a premium build over the previous generation, and a feature set of a high-end machine with few (if any) sacrifices. On modern titles, frames rates won’t hit the heights of the pricey Razer Blade 15, but our review unit still delivers greater-than-60fps in triple-A titles, and the 144Hz refresh rate is more than enough. (Pricier configs are also available with GeForce RTX 20-Series GPUs.)
And, it’s portable enough for the daily commute, and its battery lasts longer than most gaming laptops in this class. We have no major quibbles, so the Stealth-006 makes it to our coveted best midrange gaming laptops list. While it does
- CPU: Intel i7-8750H
- CPU: Cores 6
- RAM Size: 16GB
- GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060
- SSD Capacity: 512GB
- Screen Size: 15.6″
- Resolution: 1920 x 1080
- Panel Type: IPS
- Refresh Rate: 144Hz
When resting on a desk, this MSI gaming laptop’s visual representation is easily noticeable, thanks to an attractive matte black frame edged in gold, also around the touchpad, with the same accents on the hinge, ventilation and MSI logo at the center of the lid. MSI takes a different approach regarding the look and feel of this ultraportable, by focusing on a gaming laptop with a far wider appeal.
It doesn’t have the curvy angles and red LEDs all over the chassis – rather you unbox the most understated gaming laptops we’ve seen to date – one that you have no qualms using in the office, at an eSports tournament or whipping out in a coffee shop to finish an urgent project.
The MSI GS65 Stealth feels premium and very light with a thin bezel around the display; weighing just 4.14 pounds and a meager 0.69 (17.33mm) thin, against the Asus ROG Zephyrus GX501’s 4.97 pounds and 0.7 inches – it has held the bulb for thin-and-lightweight gaming laptops until the MSI GF65 Thin happened. It will slide easily into any backpack and won’t weigh you down, which is impressive considering that it’s a device meant for daily commute.
If anything, it would have grown even thinner and lighter only that MSI didn’t want to sacrifice the Ethernet port and the more than eight hours of battery life. All said, the Max-Q technology used on the Stealth-006 allows for a system that is quite thin, which the big factor being sleekness.
Keyboard and Touchpad
Even with the thin profile, MSI managed to include plenty of ports and a SteelSeries keyboard with good travel and very comfortable feedback. The keyboard is RGB backlit with 16.7 million color options that adapt to the gaming mode. It also features SteelSeries GameSense technology, that matches the lighting theme to sync with gameplay on supported games.
Below the keyboard is a glass-coated touchpad that feels just fine, with strong palm rejection, meaning it doesn’t trigger accidental touches. Another reason for making the Stealth a little thicker was to, perhaps, make room for its three-fan Cooler Boost Trinity thermal system. However, with the extra space MSI didn’t use it for bigger speakers, instead opted for tiny speakers that fire down from beneath the base.
Features and Configurations
The MSI Stealth Thin is available in many configurations, all bearing the same resolution but some with a Geforce GTX 1060 or GeForce GTX 1660 Ti and differing amounts of RAM and storage, and delivers powerful gaming performance at this price. For anyone out here looking for an ultra-thin gaming laptop, the Series offers some degree of choice to match your needs, but it’s not anything close to fully customizable. Our review model, the Stealth -006 is outfitted with a full HD (1920 x 1080) 144Hz screen, 16GB RAM, RTX 2060 GPU, and 512GB SSD NVMe storage.
Surprisingly, even with the thin footprint, it gets an excellent set of I/O ports: An Ethernet jack, a pair of USB 3.1 ports, and headphone and mic jacks – all on the left flank. The right panel holds another USB 3.1 port, a USB-C port with Thunderbolt 3, an HDMI port, and a Mini DisplayPort connection. Ethernet connectivity is provided by Killer E2500 chipset that prioritizes gaming network traffic to prevent lag and lower ping –alongside dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.0.
The major boost on the Stealth’s performance is the Intel “Coffee Lake” processor, in this case, the 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8750H (2.2 GHz-4.1GHz), but you have machines like the Acer Predator Triton 500 with the newer Intel Core i7-9750H. The Intel Core i7 chip used here is an eighth-generation processor that gets better scores than its “Kaby Lake R” predecessor with the addition of two more cores, whose benefit mainly shows on strenuous multicore tasks like media projects or epic gaming sessions. With two more cores in tow, it will churn out massive spreadsheets and render video files without lagging.
As always, synthetic tests alone are meaningful for measuring a GPU’s general 3D aptitude, but they can’t beat full retail video games in rating a laptop’s gaming performance. Far Cry 5 and Rise of the Tomb Raider are both modern AAA titles that boast built-in schemes that can be run at 1080p on both the moderate and maximum graphics-quality presets (Far Cry 5 – Normal and Ultra; Rise of the Tomb Raider – Medium and Very High).
This is possible considering that Far Cry 5 is DirectX 11-based, while Rise of the Tomb Raider can be fired to DX12, which is essentially what a benchmark does. Tested at 1080p, the MSI GS65 delivers 96 fps in Normal settings, but the values drop to 82 fps in Ultra settings; and Rise of the Tomb Raider garners 117 fps in Medium settings and 91 fps in Very High settings. Both scores are slightly better than what you get on the Acer Predator Helios 300 (2019) fitted with Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti graphics card.
Simply put, the extra cost of the RTX 2060 doesn’t pan out, especially when stacked against GTX 1660 Ti-based systems. That’s is partly due to the fact that the RTX 2060 can’t make great use of ray tracing like you would with high-end RTX 2070 (an upgrade over Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070) and the silky smooth RTX 2080 variants. As such, since the performance is about equal to the non-RTX cards, the added cost isn’t really worthwhile. Regardless of how it stacks head to head, if you have your eye on this laptop, in a larger sense, this performance is solid.
If you’re looking for a gaming laptop for the first time, you might not be aware that almost none of these devices bring along decent battery life. But, the MSI Stealth-006 breaks the paradigm, and so do other thin and light models including the MSI GS75 Stealth, Asus Zephyrus and Alienware 15.
It now brings decent battery life to a category where even four hours is a rarity and goes ahead to promise up to eight hours on a single charge. This is far better than, say, 90% of gaming laptops out there, but there’s still room to grow.
Should I buy the MSI GS65?
The MSI Stealth-006 is an all-around decent gaming laptop, backed by stable processing power and modest GPU power that promises over 60 fps on modern AAA titles. The alternatives around this price are either better or similar in terms of performance and features, but battery life is relatively unmatched.
If you want to order the MSI Stealth Thin with a less expensive configuration, it will be plenty serviceable. But at this price point, or even several dollars hundred less, we’d recommend the MSI GS65 Stealth-006 as an excellent option.