The MSI GE75 8RF gaming laptop has some nice specs and has had a lot of requests on the channel, so let’s find out what it’s got for us. In this review we’ll take a look at performance, thermals, overclocking, battery life and basically everything else you’d want to know to help you decide if it’s a laptop you should consider buying.
Starting with the specs my unit has an Intel i7-8750H CPU, Nvidia GTX 1070 graphics, 16GB of memory running in dual channel, a 17.3” 1080p 144Hz IPS-level screen, two 128gb NVMe M.2 SSDs in a RAID 0 array, and a 1TB hard drive.
For network connectivity it’s got gigabit ethernet, 802.11ac WiFi and Bluetooth 5. I’ve got the 8RF model here, but it’s also available with GTX 1060, RTX 2060, 2070 or 2080 graphics as well, you can find up to date prices linked in the description.
The laptop has a brushed black metal with red accenting on the lid, then a similar black brushed finish on the interior but plastic here. All edges and corners were smooth and overall I’d rate the build quality as average due to the majority being plastic.
The dimensions of the laptop are 39.7cm in width, 26.8cm in depth, and 2.75cm in height, so not thin, but not quite thick either, and a little smaller than your traditional 17” laptop, which allows us to have thinner 5.
7mm screen bezels. The weight of the laptop is listed at 2.61kg on the MSI website, and mine was only just slightly above this. With the power brick and cables included for charging we’re looking at 3.
4kg or 7.5lb all up. The 17.3” 1080p 144Hz screen has a 3ms response time, making it a great for gamers when combined with these specs, although no G-Sync here, however I’d argue that’s less important with high refresh rates anyway.
I’ve measured the current colour gamut using the Spyder 5 Pro, and my results returned 99% of sRGB, 71% of NTSC and 76% of AdobeRGB, so quite good results for a gaming laptop. At 100% brightness in the center I measured 336 nits with a 980:1 contrast ratio, so again good results and above average.
I’ve taken a long exposure photo in a dark room as a worst case backlight bleed test, and there were some imperfections, although I didn’t notice these while viewing darker content, however this will vary between laptops and panels.
There was some screen flex when intentionally moving it, however overall the metal lid felt solid and the hinges located out towards the corners helped with stability. I wasn’t able to open it up with one finger, as most of the weight is found up the back, both the battery and all the cooling is found there, however it still felt stable on my lap.
The 720p camera is found in the thin bezel above the screen in center. The camera looks alright considering how small it is up the top of the screen. The audio quality sounds pretty good, and it’s doing a good job of removing the background fan noise.
The Steelseries keyboard has per-key RGB backlighting which can be controlled through the included software. There are quite a few lighting effects available, and the product page on the MSI website does a good job of showing them off.
I thought the keys looked great and even all secondary functions are lit. I still think MSI have one of the best RGB keyboard out there, as the sides are clear they allow the light to better shine through if that’s something you’re into.
I liked typing with the keyboard, here’s how it sounds to give you an idea of what to expect. The touchpad uses synaptics drivers and worked fine, the touchpad itself does not press down, however it’s got physical left and right click buttons underneath.
There was only a little keyboard flex while pushing down hard, overall it was quite solid despite the plastic build. Fingerprints show up easily on both the interior and the lid, although as a smooth surface they were easy to wipe off.
On the left there’s a Kensington lock, air exhaust vent, gigabit ethernet port, HDMI 2.0 output and Mini DisplayPort, the version of which wasn’t specified, USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-A port, USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C port, however no Thunderbolt here unfortunately, and 3.
5mm headphone and microphone jacks. On the right there’s a full sized SD card slot, two USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-A ports, air exhaust vent, and power input right up the back, so it looks like MSI are attempting to move as many cables as possible out of the way of your mouse hand, assuming you’re right handed.
On the back there are air exhaust vents towards the left and right corners with subtle Raider branding in the center, while the front just has status LEDs in the middle, and a lip for you to easily pull the lid open.
On the brushed metallic lid there’s the MSI logo in the center which lights up white while powered on and cannot be customized. Underneath there are only small vents for air flow directly above the intake fans at the back corners, and some speaker holes for the two 3 watt speakers and two 3 watt subwoofers towards the front.
The speakers get fairly loud but still sound clear enough at higher volumes with some bass present. Here’s what we’re looking at in terms of maximum volume while playing music, and things looked alright in latencymon.
The bottom panel can easily be removed by taking out 13 screws with a Phillips head screwdriver, and the two most back corner screws are smaller than the rest. Once inside from left to right we’ve got the single 2.
5 inch drive bay, WiFi card, two memory slots and two M.2 slots, it looks like there’s space for a third M.2 slot on the far right, however unfortunately there was no connector attached to the motherboard.
Both M.2 slots support NVMe PCIe, while only one supports SATA. Powering the laptop is a 6 Cell 51 Watt hour battery. I’ve tested it with the screen brightness at 50%, background apps disabled, and all RGB lighting off.
While just watching YouTube videos it lasted for 3 hours and 39 minutes, a bit lower than I’d like. It was using the Intel integrated graphics in 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 52 minutes, and was able to maintain a solid 30 FPS the entire time without dipping.
I did notice the battery drain while plugged into the wall with the 180 watt power brick that came with the review unit, however the MSI website notes that this model comes with a 230 watt brick, so I’m guessing the review unit just got the power brick mixed up over time, with the correct brick this shouldn’t be an issue for someone buying this machine.
Let’s move onto the thermal testing, as mentioned on the bottom there appear to be minimal air intake vents. There were also a couple of heatpipes shared between the processor and graphics, so a change in temperature of one of these will affect the other.
The MSI Dragon Center software allows you to change fan speed from auto, which was the stock default, or cooler boost mode, which basically maxes out the fan to improve cooling, and I’ve tested using both options.
Thermal testing was completed in an ambient room temperature of 22 degrees Celsius, so expect different results in different environments. I’ve tested idle down the bottom of the graph, and the temperatures were ok.
Gaming was tested by playing Watch Dogs 2, as I find it to use a good combination of processor and graphics. The stress test results are from running the Aida64 CPU stress test and Heaven GPU benchmark at the same time to fully load the system.
Any time the CPU, shown by the blue bar, was hitting 95, it was thermal throttling. Thermal throttling was still happening even with a -0.14v undervolt applied to the CPU, as listed by UV on the graph.
With the Thermaltake Massive 20 cooling pad in use, it was possible to lower the CPU temperature to 88 degrees while gaming and remove thermal throttling, so despite the smaller air vents the extra air or simply the act of raising the laptop up off the table is helping, and the graphics also saw an 8 degree improvement here.
At the top of the graph with the stress tests the cooling pad wasn’t enough to remove the thermal throttling on the CPU in this worst case scenario, though the GPU temperature did improve by 7 here.
These are the average clock speeds for the same tests just shown. We can see the clock speed of both the CPU and GPU increase as the fan speed rises, as this helps reduce thermal throttling on the CPU, while GPU boost with the graphics favours cooler temperatures.
We’re seeing the highest clock speeds with the cooling pad in use while undervolted, as the issue here was thermal throttling on the CPU and this best helps with that. The CPU undervolt is helping the most when it comes to improving CPU clock speeds though, despite thermal throttling still taking place in almost all of these tests our improvements make it throttle less, so we’re still able to improve performance, by over 500MHz on the CPU with these modifications.
These are the clock speeds I got while just running CPU only stress tests without any GPU load. With the Aida64 stress test running it wasn’t possible to reach the full 3.9GHz all core turbo speed of the i7-8750H CPU, even once undervolted, due to power limit throttling.
I wasn’t able to boost the default 45W TDP using Intel XTU to improve this either, which is too bad, as we can see here the temperatures for CPU only workloads are looking just fine, there’s definitely some thermal headroom there to boost the TDP and by extension CPU only performance.
To demonstrate how this translates into performance I’ve got some Cinebench CPU benchmarks here. There’s no difference to the single core results, as this isn’t enough load to cause any throttling.
With the undervolt applied the multicore result was only 40 points or so below my usual best case result from the i7-8750H. Here are the GPU only clock speeds while under a graphical only stress test, as well as the improvements seen by applying a manual 150MHz overclock to the GPU core with MSI Afterburner, and this only slightly affected the temperatures, raising the average result by 1 degree.
As for the external temperatures where you’ll actually be putting your hands, at idle it was about 30 degrees, which is about average. While gaming the center of the keyboard rises to the mid 40s, it was warm but not hot to the touch, and then very similar results with the stress tests going.
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 basically silent. While gaming or under stress test with the fans on auto mode it was fairly loud, just a little above average compared to other laptops tested, while maxing out the fans with cooler boost mode only raised them slightly higher, auto mode was already almost reaching full speed, not surprising given the thermal throttling on the CPU that’s happening in these combined workloads.
Overall I think the MSI GE75 8RF gaming laptop is performing well once we apply some basic tweaks, however the CPU throttling issues do negatively affect performance when under sustained load in a couple of ways.
In combined CPU and GPU workloads such as gaming, the heat from both the processor and graphics seems to overwhelm the cooling solution, even with the fans at max speed, resulting in thermal throttling on the CPU, even with the CPU undervolted.
Adding a cooling pad did help this in gaming, however if the workload is intense enough like we saw in the worst case stress test even this isn’t enough to remove thermal throttling. Otherwise in CPU only loads there was the usual power limit throttling at the 45 watt TDP, preventing the full 3.
9GHz being reached despite there being thermal headroom available. I like what ASUS did in the newest Scar II, while it did still have a 45 watt TDP in combined CPU and GPU load, under CPU only load it was capable of running higher at 62 watts, allowing it to perform better.
Yes it does run warmer as a result, however in a CPU only workload it’s still far from thermal throttling, and I think this would have been a better option for MSI to implement rather than just hard capping it to 45 watts regardless of the type of load.
Hopefully we see this in a future BIOS update. It is worth remembering this is the GTX GE75, so it’s a generation behind the newer RTX models, I won’t know if this has been improved in the newer models until I get one for testing.
Finally let’s take a look at some gaming benchmarks, I’ve tested these games with the these Nvidia drivers and all available Windows updates to date installed. Battlefield 5 was tested in campaign mode and not in multiplayer mode, as it’s easier to consistently reproduce the test run.
Higher frame rates are possible with lower settings if you need them, though I found it to still run very nicely maxed out at ultra settings while looking great. Apex Legends was tested with either all settings at maximum, or all settings on the lowest possible values, as it doesn’t have predefined setting presets.
It played well even with max settings, still perfectly smooth with fairly high frame rate, with 23% higher average FPS possible at minimum settings. Far Cry New Dawn was tested with the built in benchmark, and with ultra settings the average frame rates were fairly good, for reference the RTX 2060 in the ASUS Scar II I recently tested was just one FPS behind.
Fortnite was tested with the replay feature, and due to a recent game update the replay I’ve used is a fair bit different compared to my previous tests, so these results can’t really be compared with my older results.
Regardless even with max settings over 100 FPS was easily possible in this well optimized game. Overwatch is another well optimized game and was tested in the practice range, as other players, bots and even different maps in actual gameplay affect the frame rate and this allows for consistent testing.
The 300 FPS frame cap was close to being hit at low settings, and the results are very high, able to take full advantage of the 144Hz panel even at epic settings. Shadow of the Tomb Raider was tested with the built in benchmark, and the results at highest settings were performing within RTX 2070 Max-Q territory, so quite a nice result here from the GTX 1070.
CS:GO was tested using the Ulletical FPS benchmark, and like always high frame rates were coming out of this test, just below 200 FPS with all settings at minimum, but not really much difference between this and medium settings.
Rainbow Six Siege was tested with the built in benchmark, and the frame rates are super high as expected, however it’s worth noting I always use the defaults the built in presets set, so 50% render scale and T-AA.
This game seems to perform better with Nvidia’s newer Turing architecture based on my own testing, so if you play it a lot the newer RTX version of the GE75 should go even better. PUBG was tested using the replay feature, and we were just able to hit 100 FPS at very low settings, a bit of a difference compared to the 2060 I recently tested in the ASUS Scar II, which could hit 100 FPS at ultra settings in the exact same replay, either way still fair performance.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey was tested with the built in benchmark, and I was getting 60 FPS with high settings, though still alright results maxed out as this game doesn’t really need a high frame rate to play well, and we can’t boost frame rate that much at lower settings anyway.
Dota 2 was tested playing in the middle lane with an average amount of action going on, and it was running very smoothly without any problems at all, with high settings able to utilize the 144Hz display while still looking great.
Watch Dogs 2 is a resource intensive game, but despite this even ultra settings was able to average 60 FPS, which is plenty considering this is a game that I think runs perfectly fine with a solid 30 FPS.
The Witcher 3 was running well with hairworks disabled, with 90 FPS possible at high settings and a solid 60 FPS for the 1% low, while low settings allowed us to make use of the 144Hz display, although I don’t really think this game benefits much from a super high frame rate.
You can check the card in the top right corner if you want to see even more games tested, I’ve tested 19 games in total in the dedicated gaming benchmark video. Let’s also take a look at how the GE75 compares with some other laptops to see how it stacks up, use these results as a rough guide only as they were tested at different times with different versions of Nvidia drivers.
In Battlefield 5 I’ve got the GE75 up the top shown by the red bar, and it’s performing very closely to the 2060 in the Aorus 15, but I’ve got a whole video comparing the 2060 and 1070 linked in the description if you’re after more examples.
Here are the results from Far Cry 5 with ultra settings in the built in benchmark, this time the GE75 was further ahead of the 2060, and only just below the 2070 Max-Q in the Apex 15x towards the bottom, showing the 1070 is definitely still a capable option.
These are the results from Shadow of the Tomb raider with the built in benchmark at highest settings, and it was a similar deal, in that it was only just below the best 2070 max-q result, and ahead of the RTX 2060.
Overall the GTX 1070 is still providing excellent performance, and stacks up well against the newer RTX options for around the same price in many regions, however prices are always changing so check updated prices in the description.
Paired with the 144Hz screen I think the GE75 is providing good performance, despite the thermal throttling discussed earlier and that this is now considered last generation in terms of graphics. The 1070 is definitely still a very good option for a laptop in 2019, and I’d expect it to remain so for a while yet.
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.
As we saw earlier we’ve got the option of overclocking the graphics and undervolting the CPU to increase performance, so let’s see how these changes actually help in gaming. Far Cry 5 was retested using the built in benchmark at 1080p.
At ultra settings there was a 3.8% improvement to average FPS with the CPU undervolted and graphics overclocked. The 1% low rose by a much larger 9.1%, which would be due to the CPU clock speed improvement that’s now possible by the throttled CPU, so we can get some gains with some simple tweaks.
I’ve used Crystal Disk Mark to test the storage, and the RAID 0 array containing the two 128gb NVMe M.2 SSDs was performing alright. Personally I’d have liked to see more performance from a RAID 0 array though, as you can achieve these speeds with a single drive, with less risk of failure as with the RAID 0 array you lose all data with one disk failure, however the GE75 is available with different storage configurations, so yours might not even have this anyway.
The 1TB 7,200 RPM hard drive was performing about as well as expected, no problems there. The SD slot was tested with a V90 rated card, and the results here are on the lower side, though still better to have the SD slot than not at all in my opinion.
For updated pricing check the links in the description, as prices will change over time. At the time of recording in the US we’re looking at around $1800 USD for similar specs, while here in Australia it’s going for $3200 AUD.
Given the 1070 generally performs a little ahead of the 2060, it can still make sense to buy this model, although if the RTX 2060 version is cheaper then probably worth going for that one, it really depends.
So what do you guys think about the MSI GE75 8RF gaming laptop? Overall I thought it was a pretty decent laptop. The Nvidia 1070 graphics are still a great option in 2019 for most gamers, and when combined with the 144Hz 3ms screen we’ve got here with good colour gamut, brightness and contrast it looks great to play games on and has the performance to back it up.
The keyboard was good to type with, and like I said MSI still have one of the best looking RGB laptop keyboards in my personal opinion. I would have preferred if the battery life was better, but it looks like MSI chose to put a smaller battery up the back rather than use the larger space at the front like most other laptops do, but at least this does mean there are room for some decent speakers and subwoofers.
Thunderbolt 3 would have been a nice addition, the screen bleed wasn’t ideal, though as mentioned I didn’t find it to be noticeable in a practical setting. The major issue I had was the thermal throttling on the CPU while under any sort of CPU load.
Combined CPU and GPU load resulted in thermal throttling, while CPU only load resulted in power limit throttling, so full performance of the i7-8750H was not possible in my testing. Despite this, as we saw it was possible to apply tweaks to improve performance such as undervolting, boosting fan speed or using a cooling pad, and even with some CPU throttling it was still performing well in the games tested with out of the box settings.
Let me know what you guys thought about the MSI GE75 gaming laptop down in the comments, hopefully I can get the newer RTX version some time in the future, and if you’re new here get subscribed for future laptop videos like this one.