MSI GV63 8SE-014 Review
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The MSI GV63 8SE-014 gaming laptop is light and powerful, weighing only 4.8 pounds with an 8th Gen Intel processor and a Turing RTX 2060 graphics packed inside a smooth chassis. Last year, MSI struck gold with the GV62 8RD-200. It had it all on a budget. Trimmed bezels, a thin chassis, an Optane Memory module and a 120Hz refresh rate. However, its GTX 1050Ti graphics card option didn’t support Virtual Reality (VR) headsets.
Now, MSI refreshes the already excellent machine with a newer GeForce RTX 2060 GPU for better gaming and VR support. Our review unit features a 2.3Hz Intel Core i7-8750H CPU, RTX 2060 GPU, 16GB of RAM and 256GB solid state drive and a 1TB hard drive.
That’s not very cheap, and comes at a time when competing gaming laptops have really thinned out. Does MSI’s design and hardware offering still have the magic?
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The MSI GV63 8SE-014 keeps the same style as last year’s 15-inch model, the MSI GV62 8RD-275. Not very flashy, but with a distinctive style. The top is just a solid, smooth black panel, with MSI’s dragon logo. There are no lights, no frills, just straight edges and two LED-lit lines on either side of the logo. It even defaults the color of the keyboard backlighting to the usual red LEDs, popular in the gaming world.
Though it’s mostly plastic, the GV63 feels solid. It’s not in the league of all-metallic gaming laptops like the Razer Blade 15, but it’s not flimsy either. There’s a bit of flex in the lid, as well as the inch, but unless you’ll be tossing it around, you’ll hardly notice. You can easily open the laptop with one finger, with a small lip to open it up, around the middle where you have a webcam.
The MSI GV63 8SE-014 weight and size are some of its strengths. It weighs just under five pounds and is only 0.3 pounds heavier than the Eluktronics MECH-15 G2Rx. Surprisingly, it’s whole pound lighter than the high-end Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX701 and Lenovo Legion Y740. Meanwhile, it’s 1.16 inches thin, a sliver thicker than the Asus ROG Zephyrus S (0.75 inches) and the Razer Blade 15 (0.75 inches). The MSI has some real competition in the area of portability, but for the price, it’s one of the most mobile gaming laptops you buy.
MSI has thrown in most ports that gamers will require. That includes 3.5mm audio in and out, Killer E2400 Ethernet, and two USB 3.1 ports on the left side. On the right side there’s a full-sized SD card slot and an extra USB 2.0 for your peripherals. Video outputs include a full-sized HDMI and a Mini DisplayPort.
Keyboard and Touchpad
Like the system’s design, the MSI GV63 8SE-014’s SteelSeries keyboard is one that looks very familiar. It includes full-sized arrow keys and a numpad towards the right, and comfortable spacing across the board. There’s more key travel here than you’d find on an average keyboard, making for long, comfortable keypresses.
The typing experience is satisfying, too, though a few changes can easily throw you off. For instance, the Windows key is shrunk and moved to the right side, giving some extra space for a larger left-side Control key. The right Shift key has also been sliced to give room for full-sized arrow keys, which is much appreciated. The arrow keys also intrude into the number pad, with the right arrow pushing the 0 key into the center. This setup is quite abnormal for a ten-key setup, but it’s a good compromise to make for gaming.
The touchpad location is a major hindrance to the typing experience. Instead of centering it, like most manufacturers do, MSI just left it dead-center. It looks more symmetrical; it means your right hand is constantly resting on the touchpad as you type. With that setup, accidental clicks and cursor moves are hard to avoid. It’s made even worse by the touchpad’s extra-wide size. Rarely do we complain of a touchpad being too large, but the size here is a major detriment to the typing experience.
The MSI GV63 8SE-014’s 15.6-inch, 1080p panel is the baseline for midrange gaming systems these days. For those willing to spend more, they’re getting high-end systems with 1440p or 4K panels – only that mobile gaming hardware rarely keeps up with the latest games at native resolution. We have no problem with the FHD panel used here, and feel it’s a match with the new GeForce RTX 2060 graphics card.
While the display isn’t the best in its class, it scores well enough across the board. Its maximum brightness and contrast are both right and at acceptable levels, without really losing the battle in either category. You never want to compare an IPS screen against recent OLEDs that are making their way into systems like the Alienware 13. Its color gamut is average, with absolutely nothing to complain about there. Overall, this is a display that fits all the needs of a gamer on the go.
The MSI GV63 8SE-014 comes with an 8th generation six-core Intel processor that gaming laptops and high-end productivity machines haver used in the past year. While we have newer 9th generation chips in high-end laptops and desktops, the 2.3Hz Intel Core i7-8750H is an extremely capable CPU, especially when matched with 16GB of RAM, which our review unit comes with. Yu can easily max out the RAM to 32GB, but that much RAM will definitely be an overkill.
Our review unit comes with a 256GB SSD and a 1TB hard drive, that proves to have super-quick write and read speeds. The solid-state drive suffices for fast app launch and copy speeds, while the hard drive offers enough space for storing all your files and games. MSI includes an extra M.2 SSD slot, which comes empty on its recent gaming laptops. It’s a nice thought for those who appreciate some expansion room in the future.
Like all laptops fitted with the 2019-released Nvidia 20-Series graphics cards, the GV63 8SE is a strong performer in the graphics department. It comes equipped with the RTX 2060, that seeks to build on the popularity of last year’s GTX 1060 mobile gaming card. The RTX 2060 GPU used in this laptop uses the same TU106GPU as the desktop version, and bears the same core configuration.
With that, you’re getting 1920 CUDA cores, 240 Tensor cores and 30 RT cores. It also has the same memory configuration of 6GB GDDR6 at 14 Gbps on a 192-bit bus for 336 GB/s of bandwidth. The only difference is that the mobile version isn’t clocked anywhere close to what the desktop version can achieve. We are looking at a base clock of 1365 MHz and a boost of 1680 MHz, with GPU boost taking the GPU even higher. That’s the desktop version.
The laptop variant is clocked at just 960MHz with a boost of 1200 MHz, with a boost clock that’s much lower than the desktop’s base clock. As a result, Nvidia had to shave the TDP down from 160W, to 80-90W, which is well suited for laptop designs.
In real-world gaming, the RTX 2060 on the MSI GV63 8SE-014 manages to whizz ahead of the GTX 1070 Max-Q, providing strong performance on modern games than its processor. At high settings and maximum detail, 1080p, it manages 80 FPS on The Division 2, 102 FPS on Battlefield V, 79 FPS on Hitman 2 and 76 FPS on the 2018 Assassin´s Creed Odyssey. That’s impressive gaming performance for 1080p, when maxed out to ultra-settings, the frame rates reduce to 62, 102, 78, 49 FPS respectively.
If you’ve been following benchmark scores the desktop variant of the RTX 2060, you’ll realize that on the desktop side its more than 50% faster than GTX 1060 version on the above games, but around 10% faster than the GTX 1070. Again, most gamers looking at the RTX 2060 on desktop might assume their new RTX 2060 laptop will outperform an older GTX 1070. That might be misleading. While the RTX 2060 easily clocks over 1800MHz on the desktop, the laptop variant clocks around 1450 MHz, hence the large performance discrepancy.
That’s not o say the RTX 2060’s performance is bad overall. In fact, it’s highly favored by the Turing architecture, coming out strongly ahead of GTX 1060, although not a big margin over the GTX 1070 graphics card. The GTX 1070, 1080 and 1080Ti are matched with new Turing architecture versions, the RTX 2070, 2080, and 2080Ti, with respective Max-Q variants as well.
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Most laptops in 2019 are moving towards G-Sync screens, which readily bar systems from using Nvidia Optimus to switch between the discrete graphics and dedicated graphics. While G-Sync boosts performance, the result is horrible battery life. The MSI GV63 8SE-014 doesn’t support G-Sync, so it gets a win there, with 5 hours 48 minutes on a single charge. Depending on usage, it can give or shed a few minutes. However, like most gaming laptops, it won’t last you through a full workday.
The MSI GV63 8SE-014 is a thin-and-light gaming laptop that keeps its promise of good battery life, an impressive screen and great gaming performance over its competitors. It’s on the higher end of midrange pricing range, though it still offers an alternative to the spendiest machines from Razer, backed by a new Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 graphics card.
Is there a better alternative?
Acer offers a GTX 1660Ti version with a 9th generation Intel Core i5-9750H, the Acer Predator Helios 300 PH315-52-78VL. The new CPU and Turing-based GPU and more affordable price make it an attractive option. We still think the Razer Blade 15 has the best balance of gaming capabilities, but it’s also one of the most expensive gaming laptops you can buy.
If you don’t mind a larger screen, the ASUS ROG Strix Scar II (GL704GV-DS74) is one of your better options. It’s quite bigger and heavier, but packs the same Intel Core i7-8750H processor, 512GB SSD and a GeForce RTX 2060 graphics card.
Should you buy it?
Yes. The MSI GV63 8SE-014 has a few flaws, but it’s thin, portable and plenty powerful for even the most hardcore gamers.