Today we're testing the top-notch MSI GS75 Stealth 8SG, one of several new RTX-based gaming laptops from MSI. Since this beast fits into its stealth line, it was designed as a slim and light portable game system. The GS75 logo indicates that it is the 17-inch model. We previously tested the GS65 and we liked it very much. So we really wanted to try the larger model, which is equipped with a new GPU.
The GS75 Stealth 8SG model we received for testing is the most powerful device available that is equipped with an RTX 2080 Max-Q GPU. There are also models with the RTX 2070 Max-Q and the RTX 2060. Each variant of this laptop with a different GPU is then available with different RAM and memory configurations. In our case, we got 32 GB of dual-channel storage and a dual storage got 512 GB of SSD setup in RAID 0.
The rest of the hardware is shared between the configurations: you get an Intel Core i7-8750H processor, the standard for gaming laptops. There's also a 17.3-inch 1080p 144 Hz IPS level display and an 82 Wh battery.
The design of the new GS75 is almost unchanged from the previous versions of MSI, and that's a good thing.
This means that we still get the excellent metal-near-unibody build with beautiful copper-gold highlights. This is one of the best looking gaming laptops on the market, so wholesale changes are not essential. It's a sleek laptop with a nice minimalist style.
We still get the MSI version of a laptop with a narrow bezel, even at 17 inches, with the tiny webcam over the display. It's not the slimmest bezel available on a laptop, but it seems that the display takes up most of the available space and keeps the laptop compact overall. At just 19 mm thick and 4.96 lbs in weight, it's a very portable chassis for a 17-inch animal that's slimmer and lighter than a typical 15-inch system.
The keyboard is the same SteelSeries unit as previous MSI laptops. It's not one of our favorites, the tactile response is spongy and not particularly satisfactory, although the travel distance is decent. It comes with a full numeric keypad as we would expect from a 17-inch laptop, though using the full-size arrow keys cut off the right shift key, which may annoy some users.
The good news is that you get RGB backlighting per button, which is becoming more common among high-end gaming laptops. You also get a large trackpad with excellent responsiveness.
I / O is the usual thing: three USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-A ports, two USB-C ports, one Thunderbolt 3 and the other USB 3.1 Gen 1. There is Ethernet, a microSD card slot and HDMI and two 3, 5 mm connectors Audio jacks. Our only concern here is the number of ports on the right side of the laptop, such as B. HDMI, which makes it a bit cumbersome to have a mouse there when several things are connected.
Now let's talk about performance. Reminder: Everything here is based on our experience with the RTX 2080 Max-Q model. With this in mind, we have extensive benchmark reviews of RTX 2070 Max-Q and RTX 2060 that should apply to the other GPU configurations of this laptop.
As with many gaming laptops, there are various performance modes and fan profiles to choose from. In this test, we found that the top turbo performance mode performed best because it overclocked the GPU by 100 MHz compared to the standard sport mode. We also found that while there are four fan modes, the auto mode works just as well as the other performance-based modes, with little fan speed changing while gaming. This is great to see because Auto makes the fan significantly quieter even with less intensive tasks like surfing the internet.
In this test, we used the combination of turbo mode and auto fan mode.
The laptop is equipped with one of the Intel Core i7-8750H processors with six cores, which is particularly widespread in this form factor for gaming laptops. We have tested this CPU many times before, so we won't reprocess many benchmarks for this laptop. If you are interested, read our original test of this mobile CPU.
In terms of CPU performance, we only have to check whether the MSI GS75 Stealth performs particularly well (or not) compared to the average result of all Core i7-8750H laptops tested so far. While this depends on the workload, the GS75 is a little slower on average, especially with longer workloads like handbrake and x264 coding, where it lags about 6 percent behind. Nevertheless, there are somewhat faster, shorter tasks like 7-Zip and MATLAB. So overall this is not a bad result. It just can't work as long as some of the more powerful laptops we've tested.
If you're from a quad-core laptop that uses a Core i7-7700HQ, for example, you can expect the GS75 to make significant gains: 40% on workloads like x264 encoding and over 50% on 7-Zip with one practical improvement of 10% even for single-thread tasks. Jumping on six cores is a good move, especially if you're doing a lot of multithreaded work, and it can help eliminate some bottlenecks in some games.
We are sure that most of you reading this review will be more interested in gaming performance as this is the main selling point for getting a device with a GPU as fast as the RTX 2080 Max-Q. If you're looking for a detailed breakdown of the performance of this GPU, please read our full review, which focuses on the RTX 2080 Max-Q, where you'll see a few individual game failures and discussions. It can be said with certainty that this GPU is very well able to play at 1080p and high frame rates, using the 144 Hz display of this laptop.
The GS75 Stealth uses the regular 80W configuration of the RTX 2080 Max-Q, not the faster 90W version. Therefore, the data to be considered in our GPU test refer to the standard configuration. However, this data only relates to the performance of this laptop in standard sport performance mode. When you activate turbo mode, the GPU gets a kind of factory overclocking of 100 MHz, which improves performance compared to the standard configuration RTX 2080 Max-Q.
We are sure that most players want the best performance immediately. Therefore, you should use this factory OC mode to get the most out of your laptop. In terms of thermals and noise, the Turbo mode also had no significant impact, so we see no reason not to use it for games.
The best reason to use Turbo mode is that game performance is improved by an average of 3 percent. It is not enough to get the RTX 2080 Max-Q in its standard 80 W configuration to reach the power levels of the 90 W version, but it is a practical increase in storage performance that you are essentially looking for can access with a single click. And depending on which game you're playing, you can see an improvement of up to 10 percent, which is impressive.
How can this turbo performance be compared to other GPUs? Let's look at that. As already mentioned, we are about three percent behind the 90 W configuration of the RTX 2080 Max-Q, not a big gap, but laptops with the higher TDP variant offer better performance. Unfortunately, it is not easy to see which laptops are 90 W models.
The GS75 offers 12 percent more performance than a standard RTX 2070 Max-Q laptop without factory overclocking. Some games like Hitman 2 are heavily dependent on the CPU or other hardware, while others like Metro Exodus offer 17 percent more performance. You won't get desktop-like borders here, but low double-digit gains from the same cooler design aren't bad.
How does 27 percent more power sound than the GTX 1070 Max-Q? This is a very healthy improvement supported by the GS75's small factory overclocking. We're not comparing the same price range, but we suspect that some people with a GTX 1070 Max-Q laptop are considering spending a little more money on their next upgrade.
You also get 18% more performance than an RTX 2060 laptop. This is another GPU available in the MSI GS75. Which GPU is best suited may depend on the prices you can get for each variant. The RTX 2080 Max-Q is a decent amount faster.
And finally, a comparison with the Pascal GTX 1070 for laptops, which is normally not found in laptops of this size and weight, but is still a relevant comparison. The RTX 2080 Max-Q offers on average only 9% more performance and does not win with every title, although it is significantly faster with some titles. It's not a bad upgrade, but it's nowhere near the performance gain you can expect to see when switching from a desktop GTX 1070 to a desktop RTX 2080.
The triple-fan cooling solution of the current generation from MSI is very good. It is definitely one of the better designs we've seen for this type of portable gaming system. Even if you're using overclocked turbo mode, the GS75's 44.5 dBA is quieter than your average gaming laptop. This happens while the GPU stays at 75 ° C. This is a cooling performance you'd normally expect from a chunkier laptop like the ROG Strix Scar II, not a lean system like this.
In fact, the GS75 is significantly better in this regard than the GS65 with the GTX 1070 Max-Q, although it is a bit louder, it is also a larger system, so there is more space for heat dissipation and the GPU is different. More impressive is that it is quieter and cooler than the Gigabyte Aero 15 X9, which uses the slower RTX 2070 Max-Q. However, this is at the expense of CPU cooling, which is exactly at its limit and reaches 91 degrees Celsius under a gaming load.
The surface temperatures were also manageable, the laptop gets quite hot over the keyboard, where there is some ventilation. However, the keyboard area and palm rests were comfortable to use during a long game session. Just make sure not to place anything that melts on the back or sides of this laptop, as the extensive vent holes expel a reasonable amount of hot air.
In terms of storage performance, the GS75, which we received with 1 TB of SSD storage space, was configured with two Samsung PCIe NVMe drives in RAID 0, so of course it delivered extremely good sequential speeds. The random performance is at the limit of these drives, but still excellent for a gaming laptop. It's safe to say that this SSD is much faster than what you need to load games.
If you remove the bottom cover, you get easy access to the two loaded SSDs and an additional third M.2 slot that was free in our device, so that you have more storage space in the future. This is also a better internal design than the last generation GS65 we examined, which had no access to memory without further deconstruction.
However, the internal layout has some disappointing aspects here. Since MSI still uses an upside down motherboard, you cannot access the RAM without removing the entire motherboard. This is difficult and time consuming. Hopefully, the 16GB RAM models will include a two-channel configuration for best performance. If it is a single channel, this is difficult to fix.
There's also no 2.5-inch drive bay, so you only have M.2 slots for memory upgrades. Given that it's a high-end laptop and there are generous three M.2 slots, this may not be the biggest deal, but it would have been nice if it was a 17-inch notebook acts.
Battery life and display quality
The battery life of the 82 Wh battery is pretty good despite the use of a 17-inch high refresh display. Our video playback test went about as well as other 15-inch laptops of this type, which I would call a good result.
The display is 17.3 inches in size, has a resolution of 1080p and a refresh rate of 144 Hz. You do not get adaptive synchronization, which is a compromise to enable better battery life through GPU switching. However, the quality of this panel is excellent and the high refresh rate is a perfect combination for this GPU, which often increases frame rates over 100 FPS at 1080p with ultra settings.
The brightness is very good at over 400 nits, while the contrast ratio of 1000: 1 is typical for a laptop IPS. And because it's IPS, you get great viewing angles with acceptable response times. However, what we think is the best aspect of this display is MSI's color calibration. If you use the sRGB mode available via MSI True Color, you get an exact white point around 6500 K and strong DeltaE average values in our saturation and ColorChecker tests, in which the display falls below 2.0. It's not perfect due to a grayscale DeltaE average of just over 2.0, but otherwise it's an excellent result for a gaming laptop display.
Overall, the MSI GS75 Stealth 8SG is an excellent portable gaming laptop. There is not much to complain about regarding the hardware package. We love the metal case, the 15-inch display is very good, it's cooler and quieter than an average gaming laptop, despite the size and powerful hardware inside, and there are good I / Os.
It's even better from a performance perspective. We have certainly criticized the RTX 2080 Max-Q in a number of areas, including: B. regarding the confusion of names, how it piles up on desktop parts and so on. If you just look at the standalone performance, it's impressive what it can do with this type of form factor.
It is great for 1080p high-refresh games and is very solid for higher resolutions with external displays in the latest games with ultra settings. The Core i7-8750H is also perfect for productivity tasks on the go, such as video editing. It is currently the fastest hardware you can get in this form factor.
Most of our criticisms of this laptop seem like little fools in relation to the overall quality of the system. The keyboard is a bit spongy, the I / O layout is not the best, and the 8750H is a bit slower than average for longer workloads. If you just look at the hardware, there is no doubt that this is a great gaming laptop that we would recommend.
Unfortunately, this hardware has its price and is high. To achieve peak performance in this size, you'll need to spend $ 2,800, and that only applies to the GS75 with a 256GB SSD and 16GB RAM. The configuration we tested with a 1 TB SSD and 32 GB RAM is closer to $ 3,000.
It's hard to justify spending that kind of money on the RTX 2080 Max-Q because you're paying a massive premium to get this flagship-level performance. The RTX 2070 Max-Q version of the same laptop is $ 400 cheaper, which means that it offers about 10% less power at a 14% lower price. The RTX 2060 model offers an even better relative value at $ 2,100, so it's 25% cheaper with 14% less power. It is up to you whether it is worth spending an additional $ 700 to get 10 to 20 FPS more.
The value situation is further clouded by Pascal laptops, which are admittedly more and more difficult to find when the inventory runs out. You can currently purchase a GTX 1070 Max-Q system like the Asus ROG Zephyrus S for around $ 1,800. This is a slightly better value than the RTX 2060 GS75 because the 1070 Max-Q is also slower.
It is an interesting market, as we would not currently recommend a more expensive RTX 2060 laptop than a cheaper GTX 1070 laptop for normal laptops – not for the slim and light versions we have been talking about. For lean and light systems, the GTX 1070 Max-Q and RTX 2060 are quite cheap due to their performance differences. Which is the better option depends on your budget, although we really like the value of the RTX 2060 GS75 just because we love this MSI design and its 17 inches to play with.