MSI GS65 Stealth Thin 8RE Review and Benchmarks
MSI GS65 Stealth Thin 8RE Review and Benchmarks. The MSI GS65 Stealth Thin 8RE is a thin and powerful gaming laptop, featuring Intel’s latest 8th gen 6 core CPU, Nvidia 1060 graphics, 144Hz screen and large 82 watt hour battery packed into a thin and light package.
Let’s find out what the laptop has to offer as well as how well it performs through various benchmarks to help you decide if it’s worth buying. Let’s start by checking out the specs of the hardware. There’s an Intel i7-8750H CPU here which has 6 cores and can turbo up to 4.1GHz in single core workloads. In my unit there’s 16GB of DDR4 memory running at 2,400MHz in dual channel, but the two slots can support up to 32GB at 2,666MHz. For storage there’s a 512GB M.2 SATA3 SSD installed, but the two M.2 slots support faster NVMe PCIe based storage.
The graphics of MSI GS65 Stealth Thin 8RE
For the graphics there’s there’s an Nvidia 1060 6GB which powers the 15.6 inch 1080p 144Hz display listed as “IPS-level”, and we’ll see how this performs soon in the benchmarks. For the network connectivity there’s a gigabit ethernet port, support for 802.11ac WiFi, as well as Bluetooth version 5. The lid and interior are both a matte black aluminium, and overall the body of the laptop felt nice and solid, there’s some flex as we’ll see but the build quality feels high end and there are no sharp corners, they’re all rounded.
The physical dimensions of the laptop are 35.7cm in width, 24.7cm in depth, and just 1.79cm in height, so it’s on the smaller side for a 15 inch laptop thanks to the thin screen bezels. The total weight of the laptop is listed at 1.88kg, and mine weighed just slightly under this. With the 180 watt power brick and cable for charging, the total weight increases to 2.4kg, so it’s quite light and portable for a 15 inch laptop with these specs. As mentioned the screen here is a 15.6 inch 144Hz 1080p panel, no G-Sync available here, although I don’t personally miss it on high refresh rate displays anyway, I think it’s more beneficial at around the 60Hz range.
A 7ms response time is listed, however it doesn’t say if that’s GTG or something else. It’s also listed as IPS-level, and after some digging I think it’s advanced hyper-viewing angle, or AHVA, however if you asked me just from looking at it I’d have said it looked just as good as IPS. I found the viewing angles to be excellent, images are still perfectly clear even on sharp angles and the screen can be fully bent back 180 degrees. As you’ve probably noticed it’s also got very thin bezels on the sides and at the top, they’re just 4.9mm thin on the sides giving it an 82% screen-to-body ratio. I’ve also measured the current colour gamut using the Spyder 5 Pro, and my results returned 97% of sRGB, 68% of NTSC and 73% of AdobeRGB, so pretty good compared to many other laptops I’ve tested, I’d happily use it for content creation in addition to gaming.
I’ve performed my usual backlight bleed test on the display, which involves having the laptop show a black screen in a dark room to help emphasize any bleeding. I then take a long exposure photo to display any bleed, so this is a worst case scenario test. There’s a fair bit of bleed, in particular I noticed the bit coming from just under the top webcam while playing some games in a normally lit room, but this will of course vary between laptops. While moving the display there was a little flex, but it felt fairly solid as it’s made of metal and the hinges are found right on the corners. It can also be opened easily with one finger, demonstrating a fairly even weight distribution.
Despite the bezels around the display being quite thin MSI were still able to fit the 720p camera up the top. This is great as it doesn’t give you the up the nose shot that other laptops with the camera down the bottom do. Video from the camera looks quite grainy though, even with decent lighting. The microphone actually sounds pretty decent, but you’ll be able to judge both for yourself.
The keyboard of MSI GS65 Stealth Thin 8RE
The keyboard was really nice to type with, it’s a Steelseries 3 keyboard and the keys sounded quiet but felt lightly clicky, I’m not really sure how to describe them, just not mushy, here’s how they sound to try and give you an idea. It’s an RGB keyboard with individual key backlighting, so you can apply a lot of different effects through the Steelseries software. There was some keyboard flex while pushing down fairly hard and this extended down into the wrist rest area, but I didn’t find it to be an issue at while typing normally. Just above the keyboard there’s what appears to be an air intake judging by the small dust build up on it, along with the power button in the center.
The touchpad of MSI GS65 Stealth Thin 8RE uses Synaptics drivers and I found it to work very well, no issues at all. Moving onto the I/O on the left there’s a kensington lock, air exhaust vent, gigabit ethernet port, two USB 3.1 Type-A ports, and 3.5mm headphone and mic jacks. On the right there’s a third USB 3.1 Type-A port, USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C port with Thunderbolt 3 support, mini DisplayPort 1.2, HDMI port, power input, and another air exhaust vent. It would have been preferable to have the power input further back, but it didn’t really get in the way.
There’s nothing on the front other than some status LEDs towards the right, while the back just has some more air exhaust vents. Up on the lid there’s the MSI logo which is a sort of golden colour rather than their traditional black and red, there’s also a trim of the same colour running around the edge of the lid, around the edges of the touchpad, and around the hinges. Fingerprints show up but they aren’t too obvious on the matte finish, and they’re fairly easy to wipe off. Underneath there’s some air intakes towards the back to keep everything cool, as well as some rubber feet that run along the back and front and do a good job at stopping the laptop from easily moving around while in use.
The two speakers of MSI GS65 Stealth Thin 8RE are found underneath towards the front corners. They sound pretty good for laptop speakers, there’s a little bass but they start sounding a little tinny at higher volumes, still pretty clear though. The laptop can be opened up easily with just a phillips head screwdriver, and inside we can see that the motherboard is upside down compared to most other laptops, making upgrades slightly difficult as you’ll need to take the time to carefully go through and unplug lots of components before taking it out. Inside you’ll find two NVMe PCIe M.2 slots and the two RAM slots.
Powering the laptop is a 4 cell 82 Watt hour battery, and with a full charge and just watching YouTube videos with the screen on half brightness, keyboard lighting off and background apps disabled, I was able to use it for 4 hours and 6 minutes. The laptop 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 1 hour and 50 minutes, however for the first hour it only ran at 24 FPS making me think the battery wasn’t really able to provide adequate power for this game, and after an hour this dropped down to 10 FPS which I think is why it lasted so long, so it was more like an hour of ok gaming, I’d definitely recommend playing while plugged in though.
The battery of MSI GS65 Stealth Thin 8RE is fairly good for a laptop of this size, I’ve definitely had much worse with similarly specced and larger laptops, although it’s not quite as good as say the Aero 15x. During normal use with an ambient room temperature of 19 degrees celsius, the CPU and GPU both idled around 40 degrees celsius, and here are the external temperatures of the laptop where you’ll actually be putting your hands, getting to around 29 degrees. I’ve tested gaming by playing PUBG at high settings with default fan speeds for half an hour and the temps for that are shown in green, a little CPU thermal throttling was observed in this test but it seems minor, all CPU cores were averaging 3.8GHz, so just 100MHz below full speed, but this will of course vary between games.
While gaming the keyboard area got into the mid 40s while the wrist rest area was quite cool in comparison, I thought the keyboard area felt fairly cool compared to many other laptops I’ve tested. Full CPU and GPU load was tested with both Aida64 and the Heaven benchmark running at the same time. With the default auto fan profile in use I was seeing some CPU throttling with all 6 cores sitting at around 3.1GHz with the 1060 at around 1600MHz, but keep in mind most real world applications won’t actually act this way, this is a stress test. With a -0.150v undervolt applied to the CPU we were able to boost this up to 3.5GHz with the same 90 degree temperature.
Even with the GPU load removed and undervolting applied, a CPU only load had a very small amount of thermal throttling, still averaging above 3.8GHz on all cores though with the stock fans. Again the keyboard area is similar to before, mid 40s in the center and the sides. I didn’t think that it felt hot to the touch at any time. By manually maxing out the fans the temperatures hardly change and the throttling is still taking place, but now all 6 CPU cores are running at 3.3GHz on average, and with the same -0.150v undervolt applied all cores sit at 3.7GHz, so not quite the full 3.9GHz all core turbo boost speed but an improvement nonetheless. With a CPU only workload combined with max fans and undervolting and no GPU tests running, no thermal throttling was observed on the CPU, it was only an issue when combined with GPU load.
The overall system noise rises quite a bit though as you’ll hear soon. The keyboard area cools down just a few degrees with the fans maxed out. As for the fan noise produced by the laptop, I’ll let you have a listen to each of these tests. At idle it was completely silent, I couldn’t hear any fans at all. While gaming or with the stress test running it’s actually not too loud, although this did result in thermal throttling in my tests even with a fairly cool 19 degree room. With the fans maxed out it gets fairly loud, but it does slightly improve the CPU performance under full load as it can throttle slightly less and run a bit faster. I’ll also note that there was no noticeable coil whine while testing in my unit.
Finally let’s take a look at some benchmarks, we’ll first cover some real world gaming benchmarks followed by tests with various benchmarking tools. All tests were run at 1080p with the latest Nvidia drivers and Windows updates to date installed. Starting out with Fortnite I was able to utilize the 144Hz refresh rate of the display at around medium settings or lower, however I thought it still ran well even at max settings, even the 1% lows at max setting are above 60 FPS although they can vary quite a bit as the game greatly depends on what’s going on and what other players are doing, which also means you need to take the results with a grain of salt.
Overwatch was also going quite well just playing with the bots, and at ultra settings we’re already averaging above the refresh rate of the display and the 1% lows are still fairly high too. CS:GO was averaging well above what the refresh rate of the display could output, the 1% lows drop down a lot in this test due to the smokes, but they’re still fairly high at around 60 FPS on lower settings. PUBG was tested using the replay feature, but again take the results with a grain of salt, as like Fortnite it will depend on what’s going on in the game, so the results can vary quite a lot, as shown by the 1% lows which are quite a bit lower than the averages.
I’ve tested Farcry 5 with the built in benchmark, even at max settings we’re averaging above 60 FPS and the 1% lows aren’t too far behind the average frame rates. Dota 2 was tested using a fairly intensive replay, so this should be a worst case scenario, realistically you’ll probably get better results than this while actually playing, and even in this intensive test we’re always averaging above 60 FPS. Rainbow Six Siege was tested with the built in benchmark and we’re seeing quite high frame rates at all setting levels, and while the 1% lows are a fair bit behind realistically they’re still quite high, so it should play great with the 144Hz screen.
Battlefield 1 ran well too, however although the average frame rates were fairly high the 1% lows can drop down quite a bit during intense fights, however to me it still felt nice and smooth, the dips weren’t too bad for me although I’m used to playing with a 60Hz monitor. The witcher 3 doesn’t really need a high frame rate to play, and even on ultra settings to me it played great, however we can improve the frame rates quite a bit by lowering settings if needed.
Rise of the tomb raider was tested with the built in benchmark, and the results are alright, averaging above 60 FPS even at max settings. Ghost recon is a fairly resource intensive game, and was again tested with the built in benchmark. Although ultra settings are quite low, this is always the case in this game. At very high or lower it was more playable. Watchdogs 2 is another fairly resource intensive game, but is another that I personally think doesn’t need a high frame rate to play. I can play this with 40 FPS averages no problem as long as the 1% lows aren’t too low, so to me it played well even at ultra settings.
DOOM was tested using vulkan, and to me this was another that felt nice and smooth even at ultra settings with a 30 FPS improvement dropping down to minimum settings, but honestly I think the game still looks pretty good even at minimum if you are after that higher frame rate. I’ve got a couple more games covered in the dedicated gaming benchmark video if you’re interested.
Now onto 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. Overall I thought that the results were fairly good, in some games we’re actually able to make use of the 144Hz screen with lower settings, typically in the esports titles. If you’re after better results you could instead look at the 8RF model of the GS65 with is basically the same laptop except with Nvidia 1070 Max-Q graphics instead of 1060. As discussed earlier with the temperatures, undervolting does improve the CPU performance a bit, but how does this actually affect gaming?
Well as before, the clock speeds in PUBG while undervolted weren’t too far below full speed, but this will of course depend on the game, in PUBG at least there was no real major differences, perhaps a little improvement to the 1% lows, but the averages are basically the same. As for overclocking, the 8750H CPU can’t be overclocked, but I was able to increase the GPU core clock of the 1060 by 200MHz, meaning that it was now averaging around 1800MHz in games.
Again I’ve tested PUBG and we can see this is making a bit more of a difference compared to undervolting, with a 7% boost at ultra settings but just a 4% boost average over all setting levels. I’ve just quickly got some CPU benchmarks here, and we can see that it’s a decent step up from the 7th generation as we’ve got two extra cores with slightly faster single threaded clock speeds, and we can see there’s a nice boost with the undervolt applied, but I plan on comparing this more in a dedicated future comparison post.
In Crystal Disk Mark the 512GB M.2 SATA SSD was getting above 500MB/s in both sequential reads and writes, so really quite good for a SATA based SSD, but it’s worth remembering the laptop does support faster NVMe storage. At idle the drive sat at around 29 degrees celsius, and peaked at 46 degrees celsius while constantly reading and writing for around 10 minutes. As for the price this laptop comes in at around $2800 AUD here in Australia at the time of recording, or about $2200 USD in the US, but this can differ a bit based on memory and drive options. It’s not cheap, but that’s pretty typical for any laptop with good specs in such a thin form factor.
So what did you guys think of the GS65 Stealth Thin 8RE gaming laptop from MSI? Overall I found it to be quite a nice machine, it’s got decent specs in a thin, somewhat lightweight and portable body. It’s capable of playing all modern games no problem, but if you were after more power you could look at the 8RF model which has the Max-Q 1070 graphics instead as it may be a better match for the 144Hz screen in more games.
The aluminium body is nice and definitely better than any other MSI laptop I’ve previously featured on the channel, but as shown it’s not too solid when applying pressure. The only other issues I had were the backlight bleed and thermal throttling on the CPU, although this could be improved by undervolting and turning up the fans. Let me know what you guys thought down in the comments!