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MSI GL75 Gaming Laptop Review – RTX 2060 Power!

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MSI GL75 Gaming Laptop Review – RTX 2060 Power!

The MSI GL75 is a 17 inch gaming laptop that’s offering excellent performance for the specs. In this detailed review I’ll show you both the good and bad sides of the GL75 to help you decide if it’s a laptop worth considering.

I’ve got the 9SEK version of the GL75, so there’s an Intel i7-9750H CPU, 90w Nvidia RTX 2060 graphics, 16gb of memory in dual channel, a 17.3” 1080p 144Hz screen, and 512gb NVMe M.2 SSD with 1TB hard drive.

For network connectivity it’s got gigabit ethernet, WiFi 5 and Bluetooth 5. The GL75 is also available with different specs such as GTX 1660 Ti, you can find other configurations and updated prices linked in the description.

The lid is a clean matte black aluminium, and the interior is a black plastic. Aside from the subtle logo on the lid and red sticker on the back, MSI have almost stepped away from the classic black and red colour scheme.

The weight is listed at 2.5kg and mine was around 80g above this. With the 180 watt power brick and cables for charging the total weight rises to 3.3kg. The dimensions are similar to other modern 17 inch laptops, however it is on the thicker side, but as you’ll see later this helps with cooling.

The width is about as small as it can be for a 17 inch gaming laptop, and this allows it to have 9mm screen bezels on the sides. The 17.3” 1080p 144Hz IPS-Level screen has a matte finish, viewing angles looked fine, and there’s no G-Sync.

It’s also available with a 120Hz option as well, so expect different results with that to what I’m about to show. I’ve tested the screen with the Spyder 5, and got 96% of sRGB, 68% of NTSC, and 73% of AdobeRGB.

At 100% brightness I measured the panel at 357 nits in the center with a 790:1 contrast ratio. The contrast was a little lower compared to others, but otherwise brightness was a little above average with fair colour gamut for a gaming laptop.

Backlight bleed wasn’t great in my unit, the patch up the top left corner was occasionally noticeable when viewing darker content, but this will vary between laptop and panel. Despite the metal lid there was some screen flex as it’s on the thinner side, however the screen felt quite sturdy with the hinges being out towards the far corners.

It wasn’t possible to open up with one finger as most of the weight is up towards the back, it was ok using it on my lap though. Despite the thinner bezels, the 720p camera is found above the display in the center, no Windows Hello support though.

The camera is about average, audio sounds pretty good, here’s what typing sounds like, and this is what it sounds like with the fan at max speed, so you can still hear me over the fan noise. The 9SEK model that I’ve got here has a Steelseries keyboard with per key RGB backlighting, however the 9SE version only has a red keyboard.

There are plenty of effects and changes that can be made through the software. The brightness can be adjusted between 4 levels by holding the function key and pressing the plus or minus keys on the numpad, or turned off completely if you prefer.

I liked typing with the keyboard, here’s how it sounds to give you an idea of what to expect. There are some extra buttons to the right of the keyboard next to the power button, these let you enable cooler boost for max fan speed, or cycle through keyboard lighting effects.

There was only a little keyboard flex when pushing down hard, overall the body felt quite solid and I found the letter keys needed 62 grams of force to actuate. The precision touchpad doesn’t actually click down when pressed as it’s instead got physical left and right click buttons which make fairly loud audible presses.

I thought the size was good and didn’t have any problems using it. Fingerprints and dirt show up on the matte black interior, however as a smooth surface it was very easy to clean. On the left from the back there’s a Kensington lock, air exhaust vent, gigabit ethernet port, HDMI 2.

0, however the MSI website says it only runs at 4K 30Hz which implies HDMI 1.4, but mine definitely ran at 60Hz. After that there’s a Mini DisplayPort output, both that and HDMI are wired directly to the RTX 2060 graphics, followed by USB 3.

2 Gen1 Type-A port, USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-C port, no Thunderbolt here though, and 3.5mm headphone and mic jacks. On the right from the front there’s an SD card slot, two more USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-A ports, another air exhaust vent and the power input.

The back just has air exhaust vents on the left and right corners, while the front has some status LEDs in the center. The MSI logo on the lid gets lit up from the screen’s backlight so cannot be controlled.

Underneath there’s some random ventilation towards the front half, while the back seems to only have air vents right above the intake fans, but we’ll check thermals soon. To get inside you need to remove 13 Phillips head screws, and the two screws in the back corners were shorter than the rest.

Once inside we’ve got the single 2.5” drive bay on the left, WiFi card next to that, battery right up the back, two memory slots in the middle closer to the right, and single M.2 slot just below the memory which supports both NVMe PCIe or SATA storage.

Despite there being space on the board for a second M.2 slot, the GL75 just has the one slot. The two 3 watt speakers are found towards the front on the left and right. They sounded alright for laptop speakers, they got quite loud at maximum volume, and the latencymon results weren’t ideal.

The GL75 is powered by a 6 cell 51wh battery. I’ve tested it with the screen brightness at 50%, background apps disabled, and keyboard lighting off. While just watching YouTube videos it lasted for 4 hours and 5 minutes, and this was with the Intel integrated graphics and 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, however it ran at a solid 30 FPS the entire time without dipping. The 180 watt power brick that’s included with the GL75 may not be adequate for all workloads.

Two hours into my thermal testing the battery dropped to 85% while plugged in, and this was with the software set to charge it to 100%. Alright next let’s check out thermals and see how hot the GL75 gets.

The MSI dragon center software lets us swap between four performance modes, ECO, comfort, sport and turbo. By default none of these modes performs any overclocking or undervolting, however we have the option to overclock the GPU in turbo mode if we want, but I’ve kept defaults and not done this.

Don’t worry we’ll look at some overclocked results later. We can also customize the fan speed, I’ve tested with either the default auto mode, or with coolerboost enabled which sets the fan to max speed.

Inside we’ve got 7 heatpipes, and one of these is shared between the processor and graphics. Thermal testing was completed in an ambient room temperature of 21 degrees Celsius, expect different results in different environments.

At idle both the CPU and GPU were looking fine. The rest of the results are from combined CPU and GPU workloads, and are meant to represent worst case scenarios as I ran them for extended periods of time.

The gaming results towards the upper half of the graph were tested by playing Watch Dogs 2, as I find it to use a good combination of processor and graphics. The stress test results shown on the lower half of the graph are from running the Aida64 CPU stress test with only the stress CPU option checked, and the Heaven GPU benchmark at max settings at the same time to fully load the system.

ECO mode is giving us the coolest results on the CPU, but that’s because the power limit gets capped harsly to 7 watts. I wasn’t seeing much difference in temperatures between comfort, sport or turbo mode with the fans at auto speed, in the stress tests we’re just a little behind thermally throttling.

By setting the fan to max speed though we’re able to lower the temperatures a nice amount. Applying an undervolt to the CPU improved this nicely, and then using a cooling pad was icing on the cake. These are the average clock speeds when under these same tests.

Outside of eco mode, the results are very impressive. Even with the stress tests going, regardless of the mode used, we’re able to average above 3.8GHz over all 6 cores. Increasing the fan speed didn’t change anything as thermals weren’t the limitation, but the CPU undervolt addressed what was holding it back, which was the power limit, allowing the full 4GHz all core turbo boost speed of the 9750H.

In this particular game though we’re pretty much always hitting 4GHz. These are the average power levels during these same tests, as reported by hardware info. In all modes but eco the RTX 2060 graphics is able to run at its full 90 watt limit which is great to see.

Otherwise we can see the CPU was throttling at 45 watts prior to being undervolted while under stress test. Despite this 45 watt limit, we’re still seeing excellent clock speeds under these workloads.

In CPU only workloads like Cinebench though, the CPU is able to run up to 60 watts, so it’s only capped to 45 watts if the GPU is active. The results at stock with turbo mode are already quite good for a 9750H, but by undervolting it I was able to get one of the best scores I’ve ever had from this processor.

To get an idea of how the different modes actually affect gaming performance I’ve tested Shadow of the Tomb Raider in the built in benchmark at max settings. By undervolting the CPU and overclocking the graphics it was possible to boost the frame rate by almost 5%.

In this test eco mode wasn’t going too bad, however if you recall the results earlier, eco mode harsly limits the CPU power, but the GPU can still perform quite well. In games like watch dogs 2 that are more CPU bound though, it wasn’t offering a playable experience, so results will vary by game.

As for the external temperatures where you’ll actually be putting your hands, at idle it’s around the typical 30 degrees Celsius I usually see. With the stress tests in eco mode it rises to the mid 40s in the center as the fans are still slow.

The fans speed up in comfort mode, but it’s also performing much better now so not much change to temps. In sport mode the fans are a bit higher, so it’s a little cooler now, and the results with turbo mode with the fan at auto speed are much the same.

With the fans at max speed in coolerboost it improves but at the expense of fan noise, I’ll let you have a listen. At idle the fan was quiet but still audible. With the stress tests in eco mode it’s on the quieter side, comfort mode boosts this up, sport mode only saw a small increase from there and was similar to turbo mode, then with the fan at max speed it’s quite loud.

Next let’s take a look at some gaming benchmarks to see how the GL75 performs in the main task that it’s been designed for. Red Dead Redemption 2 was tested using the game’s built in benchmark tool with Vulkan.

I usually use Direct X 12, but for some reason on this laptop it didn’t work too well. In any case, even high settings was able to average above 60 FPS in this intensive title. Battlefield 5 was tested in campaign mode, and I’ve got RTX on shown by the green bars, and RTX off shown by the purple bars.

It was playing well with RTX on at medium and below, but given it both looks and performs better at ultra with RTX off it doesn’t really seem worth using in this game. Control was also tested with and without RTX, I’ve used the highest RTX setting and it was somewhat playable at low settings but not a great experience.

Performance was significantly better with RTX off though, and was just able to average 60 FPS with high settings. 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.

At minimum settings the 144 FPS frame cap was being hit, and the difference wasn’t that much lower at max settings so you could play maxed out no problem. Call of Duty Modern Warfare was tested in campaign mode, and I’ve also tested it with the settings either maxed out or at minimum.

Even at max settings it was still playing quite well, and minimum settings only boosted performance by around 20 FPS. Shadow of the Tomb Raider was tested with the built in benchmark, and this was one of the best results I’ve ever seen in this test compared to other 2060 laptops that I’ve tested, but we’ll see how the GL75 compares with other laptops in this game soon.

Fortnite was tested with the replay feature, and as a less demanding game epic settings was easily able to average above 100 FPS and play without any problems, however it was possible to greatly push the average frame rate above the refresh rate of the display at lower settings.

If you’re after more gaming benchmarks check the card in the top right corner where I’ve tested 20 games in total on the GL75. Let’s also take a look at how this config of the MSI GL75 compares with other laptops, use these results as a rough guide only as they were tested at different times with different drivers.

In Battlefield 5 I’ve got the GL75 highlighted in red near similarly specced machines. In this case it’s basically right on par with MSI’s GE65 with the same specs, and both were a fair bit ahead of the other RTX 2060 laptops that I’ve recently tested, granted those have 8th gen CPUs, and in the case of the Scar II also a lower 80w power limit.

These are the results from Far Cry 5 with ultra settings in the built in benchmark. Again the GL75 was performing very similarly to the GE65 with just a slight edge here this time, and once more was a fair bit higher than the other 2060 laptops that I’ve got data for.

These are the results from Shadow of the Tomb raider with the built in benchmark at highest settings. Yet again the results are right in line with the GE65 with same specs, so nice results and again a fair step ahead of the other 2060 machines.

Overall the gaming performance from the MSI GL75 gaming laptop was great for the specs. Compared to most other RTX 2060 laptops that I’ve tested this one is up there, and as we saw earlier we could further improve performance by undervolting and overclocking.

Now for the benchmarking tools, I’ve tested Heaven, Valley, and Superposition from Unigine, as well as Firestrike, Timespy and Port Royal from 3DMark, just pause the video if you want a detailed look at these results.

I’ve used Crystal Disk Mark to test the storage, and the 512GB NVMe M.2 SSD was performing fairly for both reads and writes. The 1TB 7,200RPM hard drive was performing quite well for a spinning rust drive, and the SD card slot was on the lower side with a V90 card.

The SD card clicks in and only sticks out a little. For updated pricing check the links in the description, as prices will change over time. At the time of recording, in the US I’ve only been able to find the 120Hz version with same specs which is around $1400 USD, while the 1660 Ti version is currently on sale for $1089 USD.

Here in Australia we’re looking at $1900 AUD for the 1660 Ti model, or $2600 AUD for the 2060 model I’ve tested here. With all of that in mind let’s conclude by looking at the good and bad aspects of the MSI GL75 gaming laptop.

As a gaming laptop, It’s doing a very good job in games and offering above average levels of performance for the specs that it’s got. Although a little warm at stock, it was possible to cool it down with some simple changes, however pretty much out of the box it was possible to get excellent levels of performance, so a little warmer is kind of expected.

I liked the new clean design too, most of MSI’s previous laptops are black and red, however the red accenting was used very sparingly this time which I know some will appreciate. The build quality also felt decent for a mostly plastic laptop, the exception being the metal lid.

The price wasn’t too bad considering the performance, however, you’ve got the option of paying less for a 120Hz model without the RGB keyboard, and there’s also the 1660 Ti option which appears to offer better value, so there’s some choice.

The 144Hz screen in my unit was good in terms of colour gamut and brightness, I suspect the 120Hz one may not be quite as good though based on other MSI 120Hz panels that I’ve tested. The downsides were that there was some backlight bleed in my unit, the battery wasn’t that impressive, despite having physical space for a second M.

2 slot I can only assume they’ve cut cost in this model by not having one. After extended periods of heavy load the 180 watt power brick didn’t seem to be capable of keeping the battery fully charged, however performance didn’t appear to be affected.

This could just be a downside of the increased levels of performance though, a higher wattage power brick would address that. All things considered, the GL75 is a powerful gaming laptop for the specs that it’s packing and punching above its weight, even beating some higher specced laptops.

Let me know what you thought about the MSI GL75 gaming laptop down in the comments, and if you’re new to the channel consider getting subscribed for future laptop reviews and tech videos like this one.

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