MSI GL63 8SE
~ $2,299.00 AUD
When NVIDIA announced its new RTX line of graphics cards last year, it was only a matter of time before it came around to updating the company’s line of smaller mobile-friendly GPUs used for gaming laptops. A market that over the past couple of years has been dominated by the GTX-series - with most gaming laptops powered by the very capable GeForce GTX 1060 or GeForce GTX 1070. With the arrival of the GeForce RTX 2060, it looks like the gaming laptop market is about to get the massive shake-up that we’ve been waiting for. Namely, thanks to the RTX 2060 – which on paper should provide better in-game performance than the more expensive-at-launch GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q. And that’s before you consider the potential real-time ray-tracing capabilities.
So then, where does the new RTX 2060-powered MSI GL63 fit into the picture? Well, on the lower and more affordable end of the spectrum. Where high-end components and RTX 2060 performance serve as the back-bone for what is an entry level gaming laptop. Not the cheapest you’ll find, but certainly one of the most powerful. But, also one that has a few shortcomings compared to something like, say, the higher-end MSI offerings. And competing brands.
Look and Feel
Right, so as the GL series of gaming laptops from MSI presents a budget option for someone looking at getting a powerful gaming laptop in a price range that most would consider reasonable. In turn this means that the build and casing is all-plastic. Something that no doubt gives off an immediate sense that MSI GL63 probably won’t survive a fall or hard hit – which is to be expected. Where the build quality excels though is in the overall cooling and important stuff like the hinges not behaving in a way that betrays the underlying combo of a Core i7 processor and RTX 2060 graphics card.
But there are some quality issues or discrepancies to be found. The Steel Series keyboard performed well in all our tests, not exceptional or a substitute for a dedicated gaming keyboard, but far better than what one might expect to find on a laptop. There’s no RGB though, with the backlighting limited to red. The touchpad, however, tells a different story. Unresponsive at times, laggy, and prone to not register some movement or clicks. Although at this stage it’s kind of expected to plug in a mouse when gaming on a laptop, the MSI GL63 all but makes that a requirement for regular usage like browsing too. On the plus side, packing in a peripheral isn’t that hard as although the 383 x 260 x 29.5mm size errs on the chunky side – the 2.3kg weight sits in the portable range.
Under the Lid
Processor: Intel Core i7-8750H
Display: 15.6" Full HD (1920x1080), 94%NTSC wide-view TN panel
Graphics: GeForce RTX 2060 6GB GDDR6
Memory: 16GB DDR4
Storage: 512GB NVMe PCIe SSD +1TB (SATA) 7200rpm
OS: Windows 10
Interfaces: 1x Type-C USB3.1 Gen2, 2x Type-A USB3.1 Gen1, 1x Type-A USB3.1 Gen2, 1x RJ45, 1x SD (XC/HC), 1x (4K @ 60Hz) HDMI, 1x Mini-DisplayPort
Looking at the above specs and considering MSI’s own long history of creating PC hardware ranging from motherboards to graphics cards and just about everything else in-between, the underlying parts that make up this budget-friendly RTX 2060 gaming laptop are all great. Well except for one key thing - the display. And this is where the low price point for such a powerful laptop begins to make a lot more sense. Sporting an MSI TN panel, the quality is far cry from an IPS display – as is the viewing angle. Unless you’re dead-centre, then the image will immediately degrade and begin to look washed out and almost faded. The model we tested was the 1080p 60Hz display, with MSI offering up a 120Hz option too. Compared to the competition and even its own make-up, the display is the GL63’s weakest aspect by far.
And something that although not terrible – will be immediately noticeable for those that have grown accustomed to IPS displays or those that offer close-to or near 100% sRGB colour output. If you fall into this camp then the colours output, contrast, of the TN-panel will surely disappoint. Elsewhere though, and again, the underlying parts are all high-end. The NVMe and SATA drive combo results in quick load-times as well as ample game storage, the RAM is standard DDR4 and the processor standard across all gaming laptops. The cooling implemented by MSI, as highlighted earlier, is also impressive – keeping overall temperatures low. Especially when the RTX 2060 is put through its paces.
Speaking of which.
Thanks to the RTX 2060 and the rest of the parts that make-up the build of the MSI GL63 – the results turned in performance at or slightly higher than the GTX 1070 mark. With the RTX 2060 and new Turing architecture offering better underlying hardware allowing for advanced and more efficient rendering, as seen below in Wolfenstein II – as the year progresses no doubt, we’ll get to see more and more sizable performance improvements over the 10-series. As it stands though, for 1080p gaming the RTX 2060 in laptop-form is a great choice for those looking for a smooth 60 frames-per second.
Hitting 60 in the most recent Assassin’s Creed titles proved difficult with settings cranked all the way up, but through tweaking hitting that with far better than standard PS4 or Xbox One visuals was easy to do. 3D Mark results for the RTX 2060 turned in desktop-like performance too.
MSI have been in the hardware game for several years now, and with the GL63 the company proves that when it comes to putting together quality parts – it knows what it’s doing. The RTX 2060 is no doubt the highlight here, proving that it just might be the perfect GPU for a 1080p gaming laptop – providing exceptional performance with an eye on the future. In our testing we were able to run a few RTX ray-tracing tests with Battlefield V and although the frame-rates took a hit – the results in 1080p were playable. But still, lower than what we found with the RTX 2060 Founders Edition.
The only real downside (apart from the sub-par touchpad), is the display. A TN panel that doesn’t offer the colour, contrast levels, or vibrancy of a more expensive IPS panel. It’s here where MSI can keep the GL63 price down and in the budget range – for a gaming laptop. But, the loss in picture quality and the small viewing angle do take away from the overall experience – in what’s otherwise a powerful and affordable gaming laptop - is a big misstep. A quality display is such a huge part of selling the immersive and high-end detail found in modern games, and so the GL63's unimpressive turn here is enough to make it a try-before-you-buy.