It's only just recently that we've seen the market for ultra-thin high-end gaming laptops grow, and one might wonder how manufacturers are going to be able to push the performance levels further and further while not overheating the thin machines of the future.
We have tested the top-of-the-line model 8SG with an RTX2080 Max-Q, but there are two smaller models with the RTX 2070 and RTX 2060 available as well if you'd rather not spend the crazy amounts of cash required to net yourself an 8SG with the best components inside.
While we would love to put the MSI creation down for its price point, the other RTX 2080 laptops we have at our disposal in the office are even more expensive - believe it or not, the MSI powerhouse, at its £3,400 price point, is actually cheap in comparison to its competitors.
How reasonable is the price though? Is the machine extraordinary enough to warrant the price tag? First off, the laptop is less than 1.9 cm high, it weighs just over 2kg, has a screen edge of 5.2mm, a well-functioning touchpad and an okay keyboard with individual RGB lighting. MSI has also prepared for the use of three M.2 SSD disks, which is not cheap but a natural development. However, the fact that only two are running NVMe support is worth noting.
All of these features and details are clad in a solid metal chassis and we have to say we were particularly pleased with the solid screen hinges. The speakers, which are placed above the keyboard, are branded Dynaudio and work fine for a computer of this size. The mouse pad is quite large, easy to use and feels nice, however, the screen has a little bit of flex to it.
The connectors and ports are standard but offer gold-plated headphone connectors, HDMI, MicroSD, Ethernet, three USB 3.1 ports, a standard, first generation USB-C and a second generation USB-C with Thunderbolt 3.
The bottom of the laptop is used as one massive air intake and it makes sense considering how compact the machine is. The power supply has been compacted down to a reasonable size of about two smartphones stacked on top of each other for scale. Taking into account that we have another, considerably weaker, test machine in the office that still sports a power supply that's three times the size and at least three times heavier than its MSI counterpart, it's nice to see a manufacturer finally starting to take that aspect of portability seriously.
The screen is, as expected from a gaming laptop in this class, 17.3'' and 144Hz. Worth mentioning, however, is the fact that we found their IPS level description a little odd, considering that it's not an IPS screen. This shows when inspecting the colours but we'd say the saturation is fine, as is the black level. It's just not as vibrant as it could have been, would it have been an IPS panel. The laptop contains two 16GB DDR4-2666 sticks of memory and although that may not be necessary, it's great for those of us who use Chrome.
The battery has a respectable 82 watt-hours up its sleeve and can realistically provide a battery life of just over six hours in normal use (with the screen dimmed and the graphics card turned off). The minute you let the RTX card shine, however, the battery drains over one per cent per minute. During some simple tests at the office, we got about an hour and ten minutes out of it. We'd be lying if we said we weren't expecting that outcome though. The CPU is an i7-8750H and the motherboard is based on an Intel HM370 chipset.
Our one and only design criticism is where MSI decided to put the charger cable. It's located in a spot that essentially puts the cable right in front of one ventilation port. Elsewhere, the included software provides easy and quick access to relevant information and settings as well as the "Dragon Center", the wi-fi connection is fast and stable, or at least it was during our test run, and there's also LAN input and Bluetooth 5 hiding within the MSI powerhouse.
Time Spy: 6866
Time Spy Extreme: 3105
Port Royal: 4016
Fire Strike Ultra: 4337
Fire Strike Extreme: 4342
Fire Strike: 15536
Total War: Warhammer II
Far Cry 5
Assassin's Creed Odyssey
Middle-earth: Shadow of War
Throughout our tests, there's a tremendous improvement over virtually the same hardware, but with the GTX1080 Max-Q. The differences were are just about 10% when comparing the medium settings but the MSI GS75 Stealth 8SG sequentially improved when dealing with tougher workloads.
The cooling is often the issue when testing out such thin laptops, and we measured CPU temperatures of up to 96 degrees and 48 degrees in light workloads, which is probably 8-10 degrees too hot, while the GPU never got above 73 degrees. We'd say that MSI would have been better off cooling down the CPU a bit more since the GPU could technically stand a bit more heat from what we've seen.
The noise level is definitely acceptable. The GS75 is silent under normal circumstances, emits 44 dB when pushed and 51 dB when locking the CoolerBoost. According to MSI, the CPU and GPU have separate cooling systems and a heavy workload for one of them should not affect the other. The system is classic with its air intake at the bottom with the hot air then being pushed out through the sides and the back of the machine.
Since the MSI GS75 Stealth 8SG is an ultra-portable gaming laptop, one can't really complain over the fact that it gets a bit warm. With that being said, however, we would have liked to see the laptop's chassis around the screen being a bit more sturdy and the screen showing more vibrant colours. Even though the MSI ultra-portable gaming laptop is cheap when you compare its price point to that of its competitors, it's hard to warrant the price tag when keeping in mind that it doesn't have an IPS screen. Then again, the hardware is top-of-the-line stuff and you get the best of the best squeezed into a tiny machine for cheaper than the competition can manage at the time of writing.
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