Review: MSI GS63VR Stealth Pro 4K laptop: high-end, portable gaming
The best portable gaming laptop we've seen
- Mediocre audio
- Can't play games at 4K
You can finally have your portability and your performance at the same time. But it may be worth choosing the 1080p model to save money as the 1060 can't quite manage 4K gaming.
Price$ 3,199.00 (AUD)
Typically we don’t care about battery life on burly gaming laptops. That’s because the moment you crank up a 130-watt GPU to play a game on a battery, you’ll be lucky to get an hour out of it. Really, the battery in gaming laptops is there so you can unplug it and move from the kitchen to another room where you plug it in again.
With the Stealth though, we’re now in an interesting world. It’s a “true” gaming laptop that lets you run modern games on Ultra at 60fps, but at under-two kilos, it’s also a laptop you can use on the move.
To see how the Stealth does in battery life, I used our standard video rundown test, where we play a 4K-resolution file using Windows 10’s Movies & TV player. The screen is set between 250 nits and 260 nits, which is a good brightness for a daytime office or home setting, and we plug in a set of earbuds and leave audio on.
Rather than compare it to the big gaming laptops, which very few will regularly bring onto an airplane, I pitted the Stealth’s battery life against that of the Dell XPS 15 (which has a smaller battery), and a Samsung Book 9 Pro. Both are similar in size to the Stealth and also pack quad-cores and discrete graphics (albeit with far lower performance). For a reference, I also included HP’s Spectre X360 15T, quite a different beast with a dual-core and integrated graphics.
The Stealth's results revealed pretty mediocre battery life, even though the Stealth uses Nvidia’s Optimus, which shifts the workload over to the integrated graphics for lighter duties such as this test. For comparison, the Samsung Book 9 Pro also has a 4K-resolution screen (higher-resolution screens use more power) but its battery is more than 10 percent smaller than the MSI.
For what it’s worth, this battery performance was also generated with the laptop on its “eco” mode. I saw about about half an hour less runtime when it was in “sport” mode and the keyboard backlight was on.
Basically, expect around three or four hours of battery life in general use. You can get more, but you’ll have to crank down the brightness. The best option for those chasing better battery life might be to opt for the 1920x1080 version of the Stealth.
Room for improvement
As much as the GTX 1060-equipped Stealth is a game changer, there’s plenty that’s far from perfect.
First, the panel. Its colours just don’t pop and the screen isn’t terribly bright overall. Just to hit the minimum brightness test for our video rundown, I had to run the Stealth brightness at 100 percent.
The 4K resolution panel also doesn’t support G-Sync (Nvidia’s adaptive refresh technology). This isn’t all MSI’s fault though, as G-Sync currently doesn’t work with Optimus — and if MSI hadn’t implemented Optimus, you’d likely get worse battery life, since the discrete GPU would run all the time. That said, trying to push gaming at 4K without G-Sync is pretty futile on a GTX 1060 (it isn’t even a great idea on the next-step-up GeForce GTX 1070).
Since you don’t have the horsepower to play at 4K UHD resolution, should you bother with the 4K panel? Especially if the panel doesn’t zing like other 4K panels we’ve seen? Nope. Opt for the 1920 x 1080 instead, so you can run everything at or near Ultra settings.
Another weakness is the Stealth's audio. It consists of two small bottom-firing drivers in the front of the laptop. There’s just no low- or mid-range to them, and when they’re cranked up, they’ll occasionally rattle.
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