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MSI GS75 Gaming Laptop Review – Thin and Powerful?

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MSI GS75 Gaming Laptop Review – Thin and Powerful?

The MSI GS75 is a thin and powerful gaming laptop, but just how well does it perform, and is it a laptop you should consider buying? Let’s find out what’s on offer and help you decide in this detailed review.

Starting with the specs I’ve got the 8SG model, which has an Intel i7-8750H CPU, 80 watt Nvidia RTX 2080 Max-Q graphics, 32GB of memory running in dual channel, two 512GB M.2 NVMe SSDs in a RAID 0 array, and a 17.

3” 1080p 144Hz IPS-level screen. For network connectivity it’s got gigabit ethernet, 802.11ac WiFi and Bluetooth 5. There are a few different configurations available though, such as newer 9th gen CPUs or different graphics, you can find examples and updated prices linked in the description.

The whole laptop is solid metal, and it feels very well built and premium. The lid is matte black with a golden MSI logo, while the interior is also all black and metal, with no sharp corners or edges anywhere, it’s all smooth.

Aside from the all black finish, it’s also got golden copper edges and trims. The weight of the laptop is listed at 2.25kg, and mine was just a little above this. With the 230 watt power brick and cables for charging, the total weight rises to just below 3.

2kg. The dimensions of the laptop are 39.6cm in width, 26cm in depth, and just under 1.9cm in height, so quite a thin machine given the powerful specs inside. The smaller footprint compared to your more traditional thicker 17 inch laptops gives us screen bezels of around 7mm with a 85% screen to body ratio.

The 17.3” 1080p 144Hz screen has a matte finish, no G-Sync available here though. I’ve measured the current colour gamut using the Spyder 5 Pro, and my results returned 96% of sRGB, 67% of NTSC and 73% of AdobeRGB.

At 100% brightness in the center I measured 414 nits with a 1030:1 contrast ratio, so above average results for a gaming laptop, and noticeably brighter than the standard 300 nits you usually get. Backlight bleed wasn’t too bad in this worst case test, however I never actually noticed anything during normal use while viewing darker content, though results will vary between laptops and panels.

There was only a bit of screen flex, the panel felt sturdy as it’s solid metal, and the hinges are out towards the far left and right corners which further aids stability. Absolutely no problems at all opening it up with one finger, demonstrating an even weight distribution, so no problem using it on my lap.

Despite the thinner bezel MSI have still included the 720p camera above the screen. The camera looks about average, pretty blurry, although the microphone seems decent. The keyboard has individual key RGB backlighting, and even the secondary functions on all keys get lit up.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I think MSI have one of the best looking RGB keyboards on a laptop available as the sides of the keys are clear they allow light to shine through well. The keyboard itself was good to type with, and you’ve even got full sized arrow keys and a numpad.

Here’s how typing sounds to give you an idea of what to expect. Keyboard flex was minimal, it felt quite solid even while pushing down hard. There was a little more flex in the wrist rest areas, but definitely no issues during normal use.

The touchpad has precision drivers and felt extremely smooth to the touch. It clicks down anywhere, though it was a bit harder to press down towards the top. The touchpad is also extra wide, and for the most part this didn’t cause any issues, however if I placed my right hand a bit closer to the middle while typing I would start clicking while typing.

This seems to be possible as the touchpad is centered while the keyboard is offset to the side, pushed over a bit due to the numpad. Fingerprints and dust show up easily on the matte black interior and lid, however as both are smooth surfaces they were easy to wipe off.

On the left there’s an air exhaust vent up the back, the power input, Gigabit ethernet port, and I like the way it’s facing, no need to lift the machine up to unplug, USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-A port, MicroSD card slot, and 3.

5mm microphone and headphone jacks. On the right there’s a USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-C port, two more USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-A ports, USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C port, which has DisplayPort and Thunderbolt 3 support, HDMI 2.

0 output and air exhaust vent. There’s nothing on the back except air exhausts on the left and right corners, while the front is all smooth metal with a single LED towards the right. On the black metal lid there’s just the golden MSI logo in the center.

Underneath there are some vents for airflow up the back. The feet underneath do a very poor job of preventing the laptop from sliding around. They weren’t quite a hard plastic, but less rubbery and grippy compared to most other laptops, though despite this I never found this to be a problem while playing games.

The two speakers are found underneath towards the front left and right corners, they sounded ok for a laptop, though a bit tinny. They seemed to get loud enough at maximum volume while playing music, and the Latencymon results looked alright.

The bottom panel can be easily removed by taking out 15 screws with a phillips head screwdriver. Once inside you’ll immediately notice that the motherboard is flipped, so if you want to get to the RAM you’ll have to disconnect the motherboard.

Otherwise from here we’ve got easy access to the battery and three M.2 slots, two of which support both SATA and PCIe storage, while the third is SATA only, and I must admit this was refreshing to see compared to say the ASUS GX701, which while also being a 17 inch machine only has one M.

2 slot. Powering the laptop is a 4 cell 82 Watt hour battery. I’ve tested it with the screen brightness at 50%, background apps disabled, and all keyboard lighting off. While just watching YouTube videos it lasted for 5 hours and 25 minutes, a decent result.

It was using the Intel integrated graphics 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 1 hour and 45 minutes, however with 28% battery remaining after the first hour and 16 minutes the frame rate dipped to 18 FPS.

The battery life seemed alright given the specs, though it appears once the battery gets low it isn’t capable of providing the same levels of performance. I’ll also note that I never saw the battery drain during any of my testing with the provided 230 watt power brick.

Let’s move onto the thermal testing, while the motherboard is flipped and I didn’t disconnect it to check out the cooling solution, I’ve already seen it at CES, we’ve got three fans and 7 heatpipes.

All testing was completed in an ambient room temperature of 21 degrees Celsius, so expect different results in different environments. I’ve tested idle down the bottom, and it was a little warmer than average.

The rest of the results are from combined CPU and GPU workloads and are meant to represent worst case scenarios. 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 and Heaven GPU benchmark at the same time to fully load the system. In all cases I’ve used the Turbo profile for best results, and this does overclock the graphics by 100MHz on the core and 200MHz on the memory.

Let’s start with the stress test results with the fan on automatic, the default. The CPU was thermal throttling at 95 degrees Celsius, and once undervolted by -0.15v the temperature doesn’t change.

Once we max out the fans through the Dragon Center software, the constant thermal throttling at 95 is removed, however there was still intermittent thermal throttling, though the average is lower at 92 degrees now.

When applying the CPU undervolt in combination with the fans at maximum there was still some spikes in temperature that triggered thermal throttling, however for the most part the CPU was constantly power limit throttling instead with a 45 watt TDP.

Once we add the Thermaltake Massive 20 cooling pad the thermal throttling is finally removed, and we see the coolest results from the stress tests yet. The gaming results followed a similar trend, with intermittent thermal throttling with the fans on auto, but this could be removed by maxing them out, so you could probably find a middle ground by tweaking the speeds.

In both cases the CPU undervolt doesn’t affect the thermals here, however we’ll see in the next graph how it helped boost clock speed. Finally up the top we get the best result in terms of temperatures with the cooling pad in use, further lowering the CPU by 5 degrees and GPU by 7 degrees.

These are the average clock speeds for the same tests just shown. Down the bottom with the stress tests running and fans at automatic we’re seeing the lowest clock speeds due to the previously mentioned thermal throttling.

The undervolt does allow us to boost CPU clock speeds a fair bit, though thermal throttling was still taking place. We can see that simply changing the fans from auto to maximum boosts the clock speed by 200MHz, not quite as much when compared to the undervolt though.

Combining the CPU undervolt with maximum fan speed gave a nice improvement, then not really any change with the cooling pad to performance as we’re power limited now and not thermal throttling. Similar deal with the gaming tests, the biggest improvements to performance were from undervolting the CPU to assist with the power limit throttling, as in general it wasn’t running as hot when compared to the stress tests.

This is what the CPU TDP looked like in these same tests, basically any time it’s at 45 watts it’s power limit throttling, so only the two tests down the bottom with the fans on auto avoided power limit throttling, and that’s simply because thermal throttling was taking precedence.

I wasn’t able to boost the TDP using Intel XTU, however I think it would be nice to have the option if you’re willing to put some effort into cooling the machine, as we saw earlier we could lower the temperatures a fair bit, so there’s some room for possibly boosting the TDP to improve those clock speeds further.

So to summarise, the CPU hits power limits under combined CPU and GPU load, preventing thermals from getting out of control. The best improvement we could make was by undervolting the CPU, which improved performance, while additional cooling did seem to help in some cases.

These are the average CPU clock speeds while under a CPU only workload. There’s no difference with the fan on auto or maxed out, as thermal throttling is not taking place under this workload. Once undervolted though there’s a performance improvement seen, with the larger -0.

2v undervolt allowing us to hit the full 3.9GHz all core turbo boost speed of the 8750H. When we look at the temperatures there’s an 8 degree improvement going from auto to max fans, then no real change with the first undervolt, as it was still power limit throttling there was no change to TDP, and therefore heat.

The temperature drops 1 degree with the bigger undervolt applied as it was just able to avoid power limit throttling. In most tests we were hitting the 45 watt TDP limit, only the -0.2v undervolt down the bottom was enough to avoid this, and I’ll also note that I wasn’t able to boost the TDP using Intel XTU with the GS75 in CPU only workloads either.

To demonstrate how this translates into performance I’ve got some Cinebench CPU benchmarks here. For reference an i7-8750H without any constraints should average around the 1230 mark for multicore, so the power limit throttling that I noted in CPU only workloads was affecting the result, though undervolting does help a bit.

I’ve also got the results from the newer Cinebench R20, and similar deal, full performance wasn’t reached due to power limit throttling. Even if I take the undervolt further it was still over 300 points below other laptops tested, demonstrating an overall lack of CPU performance.

As for the external temperatures where you’ll actually be putting your hands, at idle it was a bit warmer than average in the middle, getting to the mid 30s. While gaming the center of the keyboard gets to the mid 40s and is warm to the touch but not hot, and then similar results with the stress tests running, with a slightly warmer spot in the middle up the back where the power button is.

While gaming on battery power the left hand wrist rest area warms up, as the discharging battery is directly underneath. As for the fan noise produced by the laptop, I’ll let you have a listen to some of these tests.

At idle with the fans on auto it was only just audible. While gaming or with the stress tests running and the fans still on auto there’s not much real difference, and at this point it’s actually a bit quieter than most other gaming laptops I’ve tested, the compromise as we saw earlier is of course thermal throttling in these same workloads.

With the fan at maximum speed it does get quite loud, however the fan can be adjusted at different levels through the MSI Dragon Center software. Overall the MSI GS75 runs on the hotter side out of the box with the fans on auto, resulting in thermal throttling while under worst case combined CPU and GPU stress test.

This could easily be reduced by raising the fan speed though, and to be fair I think it’s good to at least have the option of running the machine quieter if you want to have the choice. Once we boost fan speed and start undervolting to reduce the temperatures we start reaching the 45 watt TDP limitation of the CPU.

In some workloads, such as just by running Aida64, it was possible to fully remove this as a constraint with a -0.2v undervolt, however when I tested this in Cinebench R20 it was still about 300 points behind an unconstrained 8750H, so just goes to show it really depends on the specific workload.

While it would have been nice for MSI to allow us to boost the TDP if we have appropriate cooling, I can understand why it’s not possible in a thinner machine like this. Considering the performance and temperatures after my simple tweaks I think it’s performing fairly given its size, however there is CPU performance lost due to the power limit throttling even after you get the thermals under control.

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 installed with the turbo profile in use and coolerboost enabled for best performance.

We’ll start by looking at all setting levels, then compare with some other laptops after. Battlefield 5 was tested in campaign mode and not in multiplayer mode, as it’s easier to consistently reproduce the test run.

The purple bars show the results with ray tracing disabled, while the green bars show RTX on. The RTX results weren’t great at ultra but it was still playable, but for this game I’d want higher FPS and stick to RTX off at ultra, which both looks and performs better than RTX on at low.

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 everything maxed out, averaging just below 100 FPS, although it was possible to improve average FPS by 36% with all settings at minimum.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider was tested with the built in benchmark, the results from this test were very good at higher settings. The 80 watt 2080 Max-Q is actually outperforming other 90 watt 2080 Max-Q laptops I’ve tested, but we’ll compare this soon.

Far Cry New Dawn was tested with the built in benchmark. In this test almost 80 FPS averages were possible at ultra, but for comparison a 2060 laptop I just tested reached 75 FPS in that same test. Fortnite was tested with the replay feature.

Even with max settings close to 150 FPS was possible in this seemingly well optimized game, with above 100 for the 1% low, so it’s running very nicely. Overwatch is another well optimized game. Again even maxed out at epic settings it was running with extremely high frame rates no problem.

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey was tested with the built in benchmark, the results are ok, but at lower settings the averages are noticeably lower compared to other laptops with lower specs, as this is a CPU heavy test.

CS:GO was tested using the Ulletical FPS benchmark, and like always high frame rates were coming out of this test. That said the results weren’t much better than a 2060 laptop, a bit better at higher settings likely due to being a bit more GPU bound, but for the most part I think this is a pretty CPU heavy test.

Rainbow Six Siege was tested with the built in benchmark, and is a game I’ve found to benefit from Nvidia’s new turing architecture. Even with ultra settings over 150 FPS was achieved in this test.

PUBG was tested using the replay feature, and over 100 FPS was possible even with the settings maxed out at ultra, however the results aren’t too different from other lower specced machines I’ve tested.

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. Even ultra settings were capable of 140 FPS in this game, though again like CS:GO not that much better than a 2060 laptop, again likely due to CPU performance.

Watch Dogs 2 is a resource intensive game, although I still found it to play perfectly fine even with ultra settings. With a stable 30 FPS to me it runs fine, and due to the high end specs in this machine we’re averaging 60 FPS at ultra.

The Witcher 3 was running well with hairworks disabled, and played great with ultra settings in my test at above 100 FPS, which I think is plenty for this game. I’ve tested 20 games in total on the MSI GS75 in the dedicated gaming benchmark video, check the card in the top right corner if you’re after more results.

Let’s also take a look at how this config of the MSI GS75 compares with other gaming laptops to see how it stacks up, 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 GS75 up the top in red, and it’s actually doing quite well here, coming in at second place out of these laptops I’ve recently tested, despite using the 80 watt variant of the 2080 Max-Q.

The ASUS GX701 still has the lead, as I tested with G-Sync enabled so it can bypass Optimus and perform better. Here are the results from Far Cry 5 with ultra settings in the built in benchmark. In this test the GS75 was behind all of the other 2080 Max-Q laptops, though keep in mind those are the more powerful 90 watt versions, so they’re expected to go better, while again the GX701 takes the lead due to G-Sync.

These are the results from Shadow of the Tomb raider with the built in benchmark at highest settings, and in this one the GS75 was performing quite well again, ahead of both the Razer Blade and Alienware m17 with 90 watt 2080 Max-Q’s, and only just barely behind the GX701.

While these results here look good, these are at maximum settings where we’re more GPU bound. In many of the games tested at lower settings there appears to be performance loss due to the lower CPU performance discussed earlier.

This is why some games that are more CPU bound weren’t performing too differently from other laptops with 2060 graphics. Otherwise overall at higher settings, as we just saw, the GS75 does perform very well, sometimes beating the 90 watt 2080 Max-Q competition, and to be fair with top end specs like this you’d be more likely to use those higher settings anyway.

Now for the benchmarking tools, I’ve tested Heaven, Valley, and Superposition from Unigine, as well as Firestrike, Timespy, Port Royal 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 making some changes to improve performance, so let’s see how these changes actually help in gaming. Far Cry 5 was tested using the built in benchmark at 1080p.

I’ll note that the stock settings were still tested with turbo mode enabled, so technically the GPU was already overclocked. At ultra settings there was a 4.6% improvement to average FPS with the changes in place, with a smaller 3.

5% boost to 1% low. This varies depending on the settings, but it does clearly show we can improve the performance in games with some simple tweaks. I’ve used Crystal Disk Mark to test the storage, and remember I’ve got two 512GB NVMe M.

2 SSDs in a RAID 0 array, so we’re getting very nice read and write performance. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to test the MicroSD card slot as I don’t have one available for testing. For updated pricing check the links in the description, as prices will change over time.

At the time of recording in the US the MSI GS75 gaming laptop with these same specs is going for $3000 USD, while here in Australia we’re looking at $4600 AUD. At this price range with these specs and thin form factor, competition would be things like the Razer Blade at $300 more, or the ASUS Zephyrus S, which is actually currently a bit less at the moment, though all have their own pros and cons which I’ll cover in depth in future comparison videos, so if you’re new to the channel get subscribed for those.

So what did you think about MSI’s new GS75 gaming laptop? Well, mostly still new I guess, it’s taken me awhile to get my hands on it after first seeing it at CES 5 months ago. Let’s go over the good and the bad.

Overall I think it’s quite a good gaming machine, despite the powerful specs it’s still on the thinner side which makes portability easier, you know, the whole thing laptops are meant for. This does come at the cost of higher temperatures at stock, however even just boosting fan speed helped with this, while undervolting took it to the next level, improving both thermals and performance.

As we’ve seen, the 80 watt 2080 Max-Q was capable of hanging with more powerful 90 watt options as well, however CPU performance was lacking compared to other options due to power limitations. It would have been better if MSI provided the option of G-Sync though, like ASUS do with the GX701, that way you’ve at least got the option of picking between even higher performance or improved battery life.

The GS75 has a pretty good I/O selection, lots of USB 3.1 Gen2, two Type-C ports and even Thunderbolt 3. The screen is above average, good brightness and contrast ratio with good colour gamut for a gaming laptop, I’d happily use it for video editing no problem.

The battery is a decent size, though once it got low while gaming performance did suffer. While the keyboard looks good visually, it may be hard for some to type on given the wide touchpad, as accidental clicks can happen.

The flipped motherboard isn’t optimal for upgradeability, I can only assume there was some restriction with the design that required this, otherwise we do at least have easy access to the three M.2 slots.

Yes that’s right, three M.2 slots, most laptops have two if you’re lucky, so that’s great if you need plenty of storage. So with all of that in mind, let me know what you guys thought about the MSI GS75 gaming laptop down in the comments, and let me know what comparisons with it you want to see, and as always if you’re new here make sure you get subscribed for future tech videos like this one.

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