Review: MSI GS63VR Stealth Pro 4K laptop: high-end, portable gaming

The best portable gaming laptop we've seen

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MSI GS63VR Stealth Pro 4K
  • MSI GS63VR Stealth Pro 4K
  • MSI GS63VR Stealth Pro 4K
  • MSI GS63VR Stealth Pro 4K
  • Expert Rating

    4.00 / 5

Pros

  • Powerful
  • Portable
  • Colourful

Cons

  • Mediocre audio
  • Can't play games at 4K

Bottom Line

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.

Would you buy this?

We've seen some enormous gaming laptops lately. There's been the Asus ROG G752 OC Edition and the even-faster MSI GT73VR Titan. But both of these behemoths are portable in name only. We've not seen a properly powerful portable notebook for a good while.

The MSI GS63VR Stealth Pro 4K is the first laptop I’ve seen using Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1060, and I’m suitably impressed. In fact, I’m blown away by the amount of performance that can be squeezed into a laptop that’s actually portable.

How portable? On our postal scale, the laptop weighs 1.8KG sans power brick. Granted, it’s not as featherlight as an ultrabook, but the Stealth is right in the neighborhood of the svelte Dell XPS 15 and Apple MacBook Pro 15.

msi gs63vr mac book pro 15 xps 15 front

The MSI GS63VR Stealth is a little bigger than a MacBook Pro 15 (2013-2016) and Dell’s latest XPS 15, but it packs a much bigger punch with its GeForce GTX 1060 GPU.

The build

Inside the Stealth Pro 4K, you get an Intel 6th-gen quad-core Core i7-6700HQ paired with 16GB of DDR4/2133 RAM. For storage, our $3,199 review sample came with a 256GB Samsung SM951 SSD and 1TB hard drive. Who makes the hard drive? Do you care? The 15.6-inch monitor is a wide-viewing-angle 4K panel with a light anti-glare coating. The review SKU is 055AU but you can get a non-4K (1080p) variant with a 128GB M.2 SSD for $2,799 (SKU - 056AU).

Before you start complaining that this system should have a quad-core Kaby Lake CPU, you should know 7th-gen quad-core Kaby Lake CPUs won’t grace computers until early next year, so this is the current state of the art.

The real star of the show is, of course, that GeForce GTX 1060. If you’re not caught up on current events, Nvidia has dropped the “M” from its laptop GPUs because it feels its mobile parts are the equal of their desktop counterparts.

For the most part that’s true, as you can see from this quick spec sheet I cobbled together: The mobile GPU has the same CUDA core count and memory bandwidth as its equivalent desktop chip. The main difference between desktop and laptop GPU is in the clock speed, where the notebook gives up a little bit of speed.

gpus

Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1060 for notebooks gives up a little clock speed but is otherwise identical to its desktop counterpart.

On the exterior, the laptop has the MSI “look and feel” but with plenty of gamer appeal. The backlit keyboard has three-zone lighting, and there’s a 10-key number pad, but it’s so small that anyone with big meat claws will find it challenging. The key action is okay, but not noteworthy. The same can be said of the piano-hinge trackpad, which feels metallic, but also works reasonably well.

msi gs63vr kb

The keyboard features a three-zone backlight but it isn’t particularly bright.

The shell itself is brushed magnesium-lithium. There’s a slight give when you squeeze the body but nothing that would appear to compromise the device.

For ports, you get three USB Type A 5GBps, one USB Type A 480Mbps, a Thunderbolt 3.0 port, HDMI 2.0, and a Mini DisplayPort. You also get gigabit ethernet using a Killer NIC controller, an SD card reader, a Kingston lock, and two analog audio jacks. The Wi-Fi is also a KillerNIC part supporting 802.11ac.

msi gs63vr felt

The entire bottom of the MSI GS63VR Stealth is covered with a suede-like material that actually makes it comfortable to use on your lap.

Next: Performance

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