The MSI GE63 RGB 8RF is a powerful gaming laptop. In this review we’ll check out gaming performance, overclocking, thermals, undervolting, features, battery life and basically everything else to help you decide if it’s a laptop worth buying.
Starting with the specs my unit has an Intel i7-8750H CPU, so 6 cores 12 threads with a 4.1GHz single core turbo boost. I’ve got 16GB of memory running at DDR4-2400 in dual channel, but the two slots can support up to 32GB at DDR4-2666.
For the storage there’s a 256GB M.2 NVMe SSD in one of the two M.2 slots, and a 1TB hard drive in the single 2.5 inch drive bay. As for graphics there’s an Nvidia 1070, and this powers the 15.6” 1080p 120Hz TN panel.
For network connectivity there’s a gigabit ethernet port, support for 802.11ac WiFi and Bluetooth version 5. The GE63 has a black brushed metal lid and interior, overall it felt well built and had no sharp corners or edges.
The dimensions of the laptop are 38.3cm in width, 26cm in depth, and just under 3cm in height, so not exactly thin although it does have fairly powerful hardware to keep cool. Testing the weight my unit came in at around 2.
5kg, basically as specified on the MSI website. With the 230 watt power brick and cables for charging the total weight increases to just over 3.6kg. As mentioned it’s got a 15.6” 1080p 120Hz TN panel with a 3ms response time, no g-sync available though.
I found the viewing angles acceptable, fine side to side or when looking top down, but pretty bad looking at it from below, though not unusual for a TN panel. I’ve measured the current colour gamut using the Spyder 5 Pro, and my results returned 100% of sRGB, 83% of NTSC and 88% of AdobeRGB, so quite good for a gaming laptop, which is usually the case from MSI laptops.
At 100% brightness I measured the panel at 353 nits in the center, and with a 910:1 contrast ratio. Overall I thought the screen looked quite good, provided you’re looking at it front on. I’ve taken a long exposure photo in a dark room as a worst case backlight bleed test, and it looked fine with no noticeable bleed, but this will of course vary between laptops.
There wasn’t much screen flex as it’s quite thick and metal. It can’t be opened with one finger, demonstrating that there’s more weight up the back, which makes sense as the battery’s there, although you could still use it on your lap without it falling off.
Above the display in the center is a 720p camera. The camera and microphone aren’t great but they’ll get the job done and you’ll be able to judge both for yourself. The keyboard was great to type with, I had no issues at all while using it.
It’s got individual key RGB lighting which can be controlled through the Steelseries software. I personally like MSI’s RGB keyboards as the sides of the keys are clear so you can actually see the lighting well.
Here’s how the keys sound to type with to try and give you an idea of what to expect. Towards the top right of the keyboard we’ve got the power button, a button to cycle through the keyboard lighting effects which also changes the lights on the lid, and then lastly a button which will enable cooler boost and max out the fans.
There was a little keyboard flex while pushing down fairly hard, but overall I thought it was fairly sturdy. The touchpad uses synaptics drivers and was smooth to the touch, it has physically separate left and right click buttons, and again it worked well with no problems.
On the left there’s a Kensington lock, air exhaust vent, gigabit ethernet port, HDMI 2.0 and mini DisplayPort 1.2 output, a USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-A port, a USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C port, no mention of Thunderbolt though and 3.
5mm headphone and mic jacks. On the right there’s an SD card slot, two USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-A ports, another air exhaust vent and the power input. The three USB Type-A ports also light up red while powered on.
On the back there’s just air exhaust vents on the left and right corners, and only some status LEDs in the center on the front. On the brushed metallic lid there’s the MSI logo toward the top in the center, and RGB light strips on the left and right.
Like the keyboard the effects, these can be controlled through the Steelseries software or disabled. Fingerprints show up quite easily on both the metallic interior and lid, and as a brushed surface they can be difficult to clean once dirt seeps into the grooves.
Underneath there’s some rubber feet but also bits of plastic that come into contact with the desk, so it still ends up sliding around with little effort, otherwise there’s also air intakes all over.
The two speakers and two subwoofers are found under here too up the front. They actually sound pretty good for laptop speakers, there’s some bass and they’re still clear at higher volumes. The laptop can be opened up easily with a phillips head screwdriver, the panel can be removed after taking out 11 screws.
Inside we get easy access to the single 2.5” drive bay, WiFi card, two memory slots, and two M.2 slots. At first glance there appears to be three M.2 slots, but one of them doesn’t actually have a connector to plug a drive in.
Powering the laptop is a 6 cell 51 Watt hour battery, and with a full charge and just watching YouTube videos with the screen on half brightness, keyboard and lid lighting off and background apps disabled, I was able to use it for 3 hours and 12 minutes.
It was using the integrated Intel graphics during this test thanks to Nvidia Optimus. While playing the Witcher 3 with medium settings and Nvidia’s battery boost set to 30 FPS the battery lasted for 46 minutes, and was able to sit at 30 FPS the entire test without dipping.
Overall I thought the battery life wasn’t great considering the size of the battery, but it’s possibly due to the high end specs. Thermal testing was completed with an ambient room temperature of 18 degrees celcius, so expect warmer temperatures in a warmer environment.
Starting at the bottom of the graph, at idle the temperatures are a little warm shown by the light blue bars, even though the fan was still audible, as you’ll hear soon. Moving up to the green bar I was testing gaming by playing Watch Dogs 2 as it uses a good combination of CPU and GPU, and this gave us the highest temperatures while gaming.
By maxing out the fans in the yellow bar we’re able to drop down a few degrees, and by applying a -0.150v undervolt to the CPU shown in orange even with the fans at default speeds we’re seeing a nice drop in temperatures.
By maxing out the fans with the same undervolt applied together, shown in the lighter red, we’re seeing the coolest temperatures while gaming. The stress tests were done by running Aida64 and the Heaven benchmark at the same time in order to attempt to fully utilize both the processor and graphics.
Moving up in the graph and starting with the dark red bar there was a combination of thermal throttling and power limit throttling on the CPU. This continued regardless of undervolting and maxing out the fan, the temperature on the CPU does drop back a little with undervolting applied, but there was still intermittent power limit and thermal throttling in all CPU and GPU combined stress tests, even in the best case of the fans maxed out with the undervolt applied together, and keep in mind I’m testing in an 18 degree celsius room too.
These are the average clock speeds for the same temperature tests just shown. Starting down the bottom with the green bar shows the results of playing Watch Dogs 2 at stock settings, which ran quite hot as we just saw.
By maxing out the fan the CPU clock speed rises a little as there’s slightly less thermal throttling, but applying the -0.150v undervolt in orange made the largest difference, almost getting us the full 3.
9GHz all core turbo speed of the 8750H. Moving up into the stress test results the clock speeds in the dark red bar are the lowest due to a combination of power limit and thermal throttling, and this didn’t really change with the fans maxed out.
Again the -0.150v undervolt to the CPU made the largest difference as this helped reduce the power limit throttling taking place, shown in purple and dark blue, almost getting that full 3.9GHz speed in this worst case scenario.
These are the clock speeds I got while just running CPU only stress tests without any GPU load, and power limit throttling was still taking place at stock, although no thermal throttling unless we also add on the GPU load.
With the -0.150v undervolt applied though we’re able to reach the full 3.9GHz all core turbo speed of the i7-8750H CPU, and I’ll also note that it wasn’t possible to change the power limit from the 45W TDP with Intel XTU.
To demonstrate how this translates into performance I’ve got some Cinebench CPU benchmarks here, with the older 7th gen 7700HQ just there for comparison. We’re able to improve the score by over 100 points by applying the CPU undervolt, and no real difference between either in terms of single core performance, as single core alone isn’t enough to trigger power limit throttling.
Here are the GPU only clock speeds while under a graphical only stress test both at stock and with a 220MHz GPU core overclock applied, but it’s worth noting that your CPU undervolting and GPU overclocking results will vary between chips based on the silicon lottery.
As for the external temperatures where you’ll actually be putting your hands, at idle the body of the laptop is sitting in the mid 30s. While gaming this increases to the high 40s towards the center and up the back, and then there’s little change with the CPU and GPU stress tests running.
As for the fan noise produced by the laptop, I’ll let you have a listen to some of these tests. At idle it was a little louder than most other laptops with the fans still audible. While gaming and under stress test it was about the same, not too different from most other gaming laptops I’ve looked at, and then with the fan maxed out it was fairly loud.
Overall the performance wasn’t as great as I was hoping for. The 8750H almost always has these power limit throttling issues, that’s definitely not something unique to this MSI laptop, however the thermal throttling was unexpected, generally MSI laptops have pretty good cooling and there’s definitely a lot of heatpipes here.
Thermal throttling out of the box even with the fans maxed out and the CPU undervolted is a bit of an issue though, especially when you consider that my testing was done with an ambient room temperature of 18 degrees celsius, so I’d expect even worse in summer.
At this point I’m not sure if there was just an issue with my unit or if this is simply how they perform, so I definitely suggest you check the results of other tests. Unfortunately I can’t try repasting it with a review unit, but if this was my personal laptop I’d definitely be looking at trying that next.
Finally let’s take a look at some gaming benchmarks, all games were run at 1080p with up to date Windows and Nvidia drivers installed. Fortnite was tested with the replay feature, and even at epic settings we’re averaging above 100 FPS, with lower settings getting the frame rate above the refresh rate of the display, so it should run very smoothly.
Overwatch was tested playing in the practice range, and again even at epic settings we’re seeing very high frame rates for this game, with 1% lows above the high refresh rate of the panel so it played excellent.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider was tested with the built in benchmark, I’ve only tested this game on a few laptops, but these results seem fairly good, above 60 FPS averages even at max settings in this test.
PUBG was tested using the replay feature, and although this is a less optimized game we’re actually getting pretty good frame rates regardless of setting level used, so with this fairly high end hardware it’s actually running pretty well.
CS:GO was tested using the Ulletical benchmark, and while maxed out we’re able to average above 200 FPS, though not too much better than say a laptop with 1060 graphics, although the 1% lows are noticeably improved.
Rainbow Six Siege was tested with the built in benchmark, there was almost no difference in 1% lows between the setting levels in use, but despite this they’re quite high with fairly high average frame rates, so this game should play pretty well with any settings.
Far Cry 5 was also tested with the built in benchmark, the results in this test are pretty good, above 60 FPS even for the 1% low at ultra settings, and the 1% results aren’t too far behind the average frame rates indicating the dips don’t seem too bad.
Assassin’s Creed Origins was another that was tested with the built in benchmark, and again pretty good frame rates for this test, I don’t personally think you really need that high of a frame rate to play it and it does seem to be a more demanding game.
Dota 2 was tested using a fairly intensive replay, so this should be a worst case scenario, these results are not the same as actually playing the game. The results are actually on the lower side, coming out worse than the lower specced Dell G3 I recently tested, likely due to CPU throttling discussed earlier.
Testing Battlefield 1 in the first campaign mission ran well at all setting levels. The 1% lows were a fair bit behind the averages, but even at ultra settings still above 60 FPS, with the averages close to the refresh rate of the panel, overall it played nicely.
Watch Dogs 2 is a demanding game, although it doesn’t really need a high frame rate to play, I could play it at ultra without many issues and we saw basically the same frame rate at very high and high settings, both the CPU and GPU were 100% maxed out in this test.
Ghost Recon is another demanding game and was tested using the built in benchmark and it was running fairly well with basically all but ultra settings. The Witcher 3 was running quite well, even at ultra settings the 1% low was above 60 FPS with high settings averaging around the refresh rate of the display, although I don’t think the game necessarily needs a high frame rate to play.
I’ve got a few more games covered in the gaming benchmark video if you’re interested. Now for the benchmarking tools, I’ve tested Heaven, Valley, and Superposition from Unigine, as well as Firestrike, Timespy, and VRMark from 3DMark, just pause the video if you want a detailed look at these results.
In all games we’re seeing pretty nice results. In my opinion while Nvidia 1060 graphics are a great match for 1080p gaming at high settings at around the 60 FPS mark I think the 1070 is a good option to step things up to the next level with a 120 or 144Hz refresh rate display, as we’ve seen in many games we’re actually able to start achieving these higher frame rates, although it does of course depend on the specific game and setting level in use.
As we saw earlier we’ve got the option of undervolting the CPU and overclocking the graphics, so let’s see how this affects gaming performance. In the games tested the exact same Windows updates, game updates and Nvidia drivers were installed so there shouldn’t be any changes other than the CPU undervolting and graphics overclocking.
Far Cry 5 was retested using the built in benchmark, the average frame rates were only just slightly better, no real difference though, in fact the 1% lows were actually lower with these changes in place.
CS:GO was retested with the Ulletical benchmark, and again no real difference was observed, the biggest change was at max settings where there was a 3% improvement to average frame rate, although 1% lows are up at all settings.
There wasn’t really much difference in games with the undervolt and GPU overclocks applied, to be honest it doesn’t really seem worth bothering with in terms of increasing performance, I guess it’s already fairly tapped out.
As for storage, in Crystal Disk Mark the 256GB M.2 NVMe SSD was getting around 2.8GB/s in sequential reads and 1.2GB/s for the writes, so pretty decent, and remember you’ve got 2 M.2 slots in total, one which supports NVMe while the other is both NVMe and SATA.
The single 2.5” drive bay was populated with a 1TB 7,200RPM hard drive, and here’s how that performed, about as expected. The SD card slot was tested with a V90 rated card, so the card shouldn’t be a bottleneck, and the results aren’t great.
For updated pricing you can check the links in the description, at the time of recording here in Australia this model goes for around $3000 AUD, or $2000 USD for my international viewers, so in a similar price range to other laptops with similar specs.
Personally I’d probably go for something else like the Helios 500, as it runs way cooler and has a faster 144Hz screen, although that is larger, let me know if you’d be interested in a full comparison video between them.
So what did you guys think of the MSI GE63 Raider RGB 8RF? Despite the cooling problems mentioned it’s still performing quite well. Power limit throttling with the 8th gen is pretty standard and the CPUs do run quite hot under load, but thermal throttling while undervolted and with the fans maxed out in my cool room wasn’t great.
Otherwise the screen looks nice for a 120Hz TN panel and was great to game with, the RGB lighting looks pretty good in my opinion and gives you quite a lot of customization, but the battery doesn’t last as long as I’d like.
Let me know what you guys thought down in the comments, and leave a like to let me know if you found the review useful. I’m also going to be comparing this with the older 7th gen model in a future video, so make sure you subscribe for that and for future tech videos like this one.