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MSI GF63 Gaming Laptop Review

MSI GF63 Gaming Laptop Review

The MSI GF63 is an interesting gaming laptop, excellent CPU but lower powered graphics, giving it a lower price compared to most laptops I’ve featured on the channel, so let’s check it out and find out if it’s a laptop you should consider buying.

Starting with the specs my unit has the 6 core Intel i7-8750H CPU, one of the best mobile chips available currently. There’s 8GB of memory running at DDR4-2400 in single channel, but it does support up to 32GB at DDR4-2666 speeds and has two slots for a dual channel upgrade.

For the storage it’s got a single M.2 slot with both NVMe and SATA support, as well as a single 2.5 inch drive bay. My unit has a 128GB M.2 SSD and 1TB hard drive, but storage options may vary. For the graphics there’s an Nvidia GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q, but the lower specced 8RC model is available with the GTX 1050.

This powers the 15.6” 1080p 60Hz IPS screen. For network connectivity there’s a gigabit ethernet port, 802.11ac WiFi and Bluetooth version 5.0. The GF63 has a black brushed aluminium lid and a brushed black plastic interior with MSI’s classic black and red theme.

The edges are all smooth with no sharp corners, and overall the build quality felt decent. The dimensions of the laptop are 35.9cm in width, 25.4cm in depth, and 2.1cm in height, so a little smaller than many other 15 inch gaming laptops, and this smaller footprint is what makes the thin bezels possible.

The weight is listed as 1.86KG on the MSI website, pretty spot on with my own measurements. With the 120 watt power brick and cables included the total weight increases to just under 2.5KG. It’s got a 15.

6” 1080p 60Hz IPS panel, no G-Sync here though and no response time listed. There were no issues with viewing angles, colours were still perfectly clear for me on any angle. The bezels are also around 8mm thin based on my own measurements, it’s good to see this trend trickling down from higher end laptops.

I’ve measured the current colour gamut using the Spyder 5 Pro, and my results returned 64% of sRGB, 46% of NTSC and 48% of AdobeRGB, so not great results but realistically fine for a gaming laptop and common at this price point.

At 100% brightness I measured the panel at 256 nits in the center, and with a 920:1 contrast ratio, so about average brightness, maybe a little low, with pretty good contrast. I’ve taken a long exposure photo in a dark room as a worst case backlight bleed test, and there were just some minor imperfections from the top corners, to my own eyes though it looked perfectly fine, but this will vary between laptops.

There was an average amount of screen flex while intentionally moving it, but as a metal lid it did feel sturdy, and having the hinges out towards the far corners helped with stability. It can also be easily opened up with one finger, demonstrating a fairly even weight distribution as we’ve got the battery towards the front.

Above the display in the center is a 720p camera. Both the camera and microphone seem alright, about average, but you’ll be able to judge both for yourself. The keyboard worked fine, and MSI note that it has red backlighting, but mine didn’t have any, just red plastic edges, I suspect that just might be because this is an engineering sample.

Here’s how the keys sound to type with to try and give you an idea of what to expect. There was some keyboard flex while pushing down hard, but I never found this to be a problem during normal use and overall it seemed solid enough considering the plastic build.

The touchpad was smooth to the touch and worked well, it clicks down when you push, you can right click anywhere with two fingers or otherwise single finger left and right click down the bottom. Fingerprints show up very easily, but as a smooth surface they were easy enough to wipe off.

On the left there’s an air exhaust vent, the power input, and a USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-A port. On the right there are 3.5mm microphone and headphone jacks, two more USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-A ports, a USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-C port, although no mention of Thunderbolt support, gigabit ethernet port, and Kensington lock.

On the back there’s a HDMI port, version 1.2 I think as it supports 4K at 30Hz, and air exhaust vent on the right, while the front is just smooth plastic with a little indent in the center to allow you to easily open it.

The two 2 watt speakers are found underneath the front corners, they sound alright for laptop speakers, still clear at higher volumes but no bass. On the back of the black brushed metal lid there’s a red MSI logo in the center.

Underneath is pretty clean looking, and the rubber feet did a decent job of preventing movement while in use. It was easy to open up using a Phillips head screwdriver, and once inside we get easy access to the single 2.

5 inch drive bay, single M.2 slot, WiFi card, battery, and two memory slots. Powering the laptop is a 3 cell 51 Watt hour battery, and with a full charge and just watching YouTube videos with the screen on half brightness and background apps disabled, I was able to use it for 5 hours and 44 minutes, a very nice result for a gaming laptop in this test.

It was able to swap over to Intel integrated graphics which helped improve battery, 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 59 minutes, and it was able to sustain 30 FPS the entire time without dipping towards the end.

Overall the battery seemed quite good, it did much better than I expected based on its size. Thermal testing was completed with an ambient room temperature of 23 degrees Celsius, so expect warmer temperatures in a warmer environment.

Also keep in mind there are heatpipes shared between processor and graphics, so a change in one component may affect the other. It’s also worth noting that both the CPU and GPU are cooled by just one fan, so let’s see how well it does.

Starting at the bottom of the graph, at idle the temperatures are warmer than average, shown by the light blue bars. The gaming tests were done with Watch Dogs 2, as I find that to use a good combination of CPU and GPU.

Continuing up in the green bar both the CPU and GPU reach 91 degrees celsius with the fans at default speeds. By enabling cooler boost mode to max out the fans, shown by the yellow bar, temperatures drop back significantly.

With the fans back at stock speed but with a -0.120v undervolt applied to the CPU, shown in orange, it’s a little cooler compared to gaming at stock in the green bar. When we combine the CPU undervolt with MSI’s cooler boost mode in the red bar we see the coolest temperatures while gaming, with both the CPU and graphics in the mid 70s, a nice improvement.

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. Continuing up in the graph with the dark red bar I was seeing the combined CPU and GPU load limit the CPU to a 35 watt TDP, and there was both thermal and power limit throttling taking place on the CPU, and thermal throttling on the GPU.

With cooler boost mode enabled with the stress tests running, shown by the pink bar, there’s a big improvement to the temperatures. This stops thermal throttling, but power limit throttling was still present, but that’s common with 8750H laptops in multicore load.

The CPU undervolt with the fans at stock speeds, shown in purple, wasn’t enough to cool the components, and then with the undervolt and coolerboost mode enabled together at the top of the graph in the dark blue bar we get a little improvement in CPU temperature.

These are the average clock speeds for the same tests just shown. Again starting down the bottom we can see that CPU clock speeds raise the most when the CPU undervolt is applied, shown by the orange and red bars, as this helps reduce the power limit throttling.

It’s worth noting though that in all of these combined CPU and GPU tests the 8750H wasn’t able to hit the full 3.9GHz turbo speed, although it does get very close in gaming with the -0.120v undervolt applied to the CPU with the fans in coolerboost mode, shown by the red bar.

We also see improvements to the graphics clock speed when we turn coolerboost mode on, and this is because the graphics were often experiencing thermal throttling with the single fan at default speeds.

These are the clock speeds I got while just running CPU only stress tests without any GPU load. Without the undervolt the power limit throttling was preventing a CPU only stress test from reaching the 3.

9GHz turbo speed of the 8750H, but this was possible once undervolted, shown by the green bar. To demonstrate how this translates into performance I’ve got some Cinebench CPU benchmarks here, with the older 7th gen i7-7700HQ just down the bottom for comparison.

While the CPU clock speeds were closer together in the previous graph, the Cinebench scores between stock and undervolted are quite different. This is because while running cinebench the CPU TDP was not passing 35 watts, while under the Aida64 stress test it was running at 45 watts, so just goes to show it depends on the workload.

Here are the GPU only clock speeds while under a graphical only stress test, and we’re seeing an improvement of around 126MHz with a manual 200MHz overclock applied, it didn’t get further due to power limits.

As for the external temperatures where you’ll actually be putting your hands, at idle it was in the low to mid 30s around the keyboard. While gaming the middle of the keyboard gets to 50 degrees, and up to 56 right up the back.

Very similar results with the stress tests running, and then a fair bit cooler once we enable cooler boost mode to max out the fans, but let’s find out just how loud this gets. At idle the fans were still slightly audible.

While gaming and under stress test it was about the same, and this was significantly quieter than most other gaming laptops I’ve tested, but as we saw before the temperatures are suffering as a result with thermal throttling taking place.

With coolerboost mode enabled and the single fan maxed out it gets quite loud, though as we saw earlier this improves the temperatures quite a lot. Finally let’s take a look at some gaming benchmarks, all games were run at 1080p with the latest Windows updates and these Nvidia drivers.

MSI’s cooler boost mode was enabled to ensure there was no thermal throttling. Fortnite was tested with the replay feature, and I found it to play pretty well with high settings or below, which was still able to give me a solid 60 frames per second on average.

Overwatch was tested playing in the practice range, and as a pretty well optimized game I was able to average above 60 FPS even with epic settings with the 1% low not too far behind the average, and then even 100 FPS at ultra settings so it was playing very well.

Battlefield 5 was tested in campaign mode and not in multiplayer mode, as it’s easier to consistently reproduce the test run. Low settings were needed in order to average above 60 FPS in my test, and it played pretty well.

Battlefield 1 was also tested in campaign mode, and comparatively performed quite a lot better than Battlefield V. It still felt playable in my test at ultra settings at least, with no real difference in terms of 1% low between setting levels.

PUBG was tested using the replay feature, and although this is a less optimized game it was still playable at around low settings, with very low settings required to reach a 60 FPS average in my testing.

CS:GO was tested using the Ulletical benchmark, and although the frame rates aren’t quite as high as the usual 200 FPS I see when testing this game with other laptops, we’re still seeing pretty high results, easily playable no problems.

Rainbow Six Siege was tested with the built in benchmark, and again pretty much always results in high frame rates. At ultra settings we’re almost getting 90 FPS with 60 for the 1% low, and then up to 130 FPS at low settings.

Far Cry 5 was also tested with the built in benchmark, and there wasn’t too much difference between the setting levels in terms of 1% low, and not really that much difference with the averages either, up to 50 FPS at low settings.

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey was another game that was tested with the built in benchmark, and as a pretty poorly optimized game the frame rates we’re seeing aren’t that high, but it was playable at medium and low settings, I don’t think the game needs a high frame rate to play.

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 which would result in higher performance. I did play a quick game with ultra settings just for comparison, and it was averaging around 90 FPS with not much going on.

Watch Dogs 2 is a demanding game, but as it doesn’t seem to need a high frame rate to play I have no trouble playing at very high settings, anything above 30 FPS as long as the 1% low isn’t too terrible runs fine for me.

Ultra was a bit choppy but anything else was acceptable. The Witcher 3 played great at anything below Ultra, most laptops don’t run too great at ultra settings in this title, but at high or below it seemed fine, with above 60 FPS averages possible at medium settings or lower.

I’ve got some more games covered in the dedicated gaming benchmark video if you’re interested, just check the card in the top right corner. 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.

This was my first time testing a laptop with GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q graphics, and we were seeing fairly decent frame rates in most games. Basically all games played well at low to medium settings, while some better optimized games like overwatch ran well even maxed out.

I did think the i7-8750H was a little strange of a match up with the 1050 Ti Max-Q, the i5-8300H probably would have made more sense and would likely result in a cheaper laptop that would perform basically the same in most games.

It may also be possible to further improve results by upgrading to a dual channel memory configuration. As we saw earlier we’ve got the option of overclocking the graphics and undervolting the CPU to boost performance, so let’s see how this actually helps in gaming.

The exact same Windows updates, game updates and Nvidia drivers were installed so there shouldn’t be any changes other than the ones listed here. Far Cry 5 was retested using the built in benchmark, the average frame rates at ultra settings were 5.

6% better compared to stock speeds, and there was also a little improvement to the 1% low results at other setting levels, though results will of course vary between games. As for storage, in Crystal Disk Mark the 128GB M.

2 SATA SSD was getting fairly good read and write speeds, while the 1TB 5,400RPM hard drive was about average. For updated pricing check the links in the description, as prices will change over time. At the time of recording, here in Australia with these exact specs it’s going for around $1600 AUD.

In the US on Amazon it’s going for $1000 USD, although this one does have double the memory, or $870 USD for the lower tier 8RC model with GTX 1050 graphics. It does seem a bit pricey when you consider that I’ve seen laptops like the Dell G5 or Acer Helios 300 with 1060 graphics go for around the same price on sale, but it will of course vary between region.

So what do you guys think about the MSI GF63 gaming laptop? While the i7-8750H is a great CPU, I did find it a bit strange that it’s only paired with GTX 1050 or 1050 Ti Max-Q graphics, a lower tier CPU probably would have been fine for this gaming laptop and lowered prices.

As we saw the temperatures out of the box weren’t great with some thermal throttling present when under heavy load, however this did mean the laptop ran quieter compared to others, and it was possible to manually boost the fan speed to significantly improve the temperatures.

The battery life was surprising, it lasted for quite a while in my tests considering the somewhat average battery size, perhaps as a result of the lower tier graphics, and it’s nice that thin bezel designs are starting to trickle down from higher end laptops.

Overall I thought it was a pretty nice laptop, but for the price you may be able to pick one up with better graphics depending on sales, again it depends as prices will vary between region. Let me know what you guys thought about the MSI GF63 gaming laptop down in the comments, and leave a like to let me know if you found the review useful.

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