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MSI's $850 RTX 3060 machine is smart penny-saver Black Friday gaming laptop purchase

MSI gaming laptop
(Image credit: MSI)

Anyone looking for a budget gaming laptop this Black Friday deals season could do a lot worse than pick up this portable system from MSI. It isn't perfect, but then perfection is a big ask for any gaming machine for under $1,000. Its main problem is it's a bit miserly on the memory front, but that's fairly easy to remedy, and you'll end up with a system that will run your games for years to come.

The key component for any gaming laptop at the moment has to be the GPU, and here our preference is definitely the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060. This is a great budget mobile GPU that will let you max out the settings in your games at 1080p. And as it's an Ampere GPU you'll be able to flick on ray tracing in the games that support it, with the added option of boosting your performance with DLSS 2.0 too.

MSI has paired this GPU with a high-refresh 1080p panel to help you hit a smooth experience in those games too. While not every game is going to be able to hit 144fps, it should be within reach in those competitive multiplayer games where it really matters—the likes of Apex, Fortnite, and Valorant.

I'm very familiar with this chassis and model of laptop, as I reviewed the RTX 2060 version of it back in 2020, which you can read up on in my MSI GF65 Thin 9SEXR review. A few of the key specifications have changed with this 10UE model, however, and for the better.

MSI GF65

MSI GF65 | 15.6-inch | Intel Core i5 10500H | Nvidia RTX 3060 | 1080p | 144Hz | 8GB RAM | 512GB SSD | $1,099.99 $849.99 at Best Buy (save $250)
This gaming laptop comes in a familiar chassis, one we've used a whole lot. It houses an RTX 3060 GPU, which will be plenty to run the laptops 144Hz panel at 1080p with high frame rates. A little more memory and storage would be nice, but this is a great budget machine. Some Best Buy members also get their money back if this deal goes down in price any further, so a little peace of mind for early shoppers.

For starters, the Nvidia RTX 2060 has been replaced with the newer and more powerful Nvidia RTX 3060 mobile GPU. That means the full benefits of the Ampere architecture; new RT Cores; and full RTX suite, including DLSS. That's potentially a big boon for this laptop's performance, too, as DLSS can really help push your frame rate higher in compatible games.

This model also comes with a 144Hz 1080p screen, which should allow you to juice that GPU for all it's got in the latest games.

As for the CPU, we're talking Intel's 10th generation Core architecture, specifically a Core i5 10500H. There are more recent 11th Gen chips, and on desktop even 12th Gen chips, but this is still a six-core processor with a palatable 4.5GHz boost clock, so plenty for our gaming needs alongside that RTX 3060 GPU.

That's hooked up to a single stick of 8GB DDR4-3200 memory, which is probably the most problematic part of this laptop, I'll admit.

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MSI GF65 gaming laptop on a black background

(Image credit: MSI)
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MSI GF65 gaming laptop on a black background

(Image credit: MSI)
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MSI GF65 gaming laptop on a black background

(Image credit: MSI)

The storage on the MSI GF65 Thin 10UE-213 has actually doubled over the laptop I looked at in 2020, going from 256GB to 512GB. Now, that's still not an amazing amount of storage for modern-day gaming, but there is a silver lining for both SSD and memory.

This laptop is very easily upgraded, and that makes adding more RAM, or another M.2 SSD, a breeze. The chassis is quite spacious, so you don't have to worry too much about fiddly parts flying everywhere, although that said please do be careful if you try this. There's actually a spare M.2 slot available right out of the box, too, so you can transfer your OS or files over to another drive with ease if you do make a change, or just double up.

In terms of the memory, you just need a similarly spec'd DDR4-3200 SODIMM to what's already present. Having a quick look at Amazon, you can pick up this Teamgroup RAM SODIMM for just $26.99. That'll not only push the amount of RAM available up to a much more comfortable 16GB, but memory access will be quicker thanks to using dual-channel access. 

That's the thing with this gaming laptop, and the reason I wanted to highlight this find over at Best Buy. It's a great starting point with enough flexibility to allow for smart upgrades down the line. That means if you're a little tight on budget and can only stretch this far, you could hit buy now and upgrade one piece at a time when you're able to.

In the end, you'll have a really respectable gaming laptop with some of the latest chips powering it. Not too bad, in my books.

Jacob Ridley

Jacob earned his first byline writing for his own tech blog from his hometown in Wales in 2017. From there, he graduated to professionally breaking things at PCGamesN, where he would later win command of the kit cupboard as hardware editor. Nowadays, as senior hardware editor at PC Gamer, he spends his days reporting on the latest developments in the technology and gaming industry. When he's not writing about GPUs and CPUs, you'll find him trying to get as far away from the modern world as possible by wild camping.