MSI is a brand that’s been heavily involved with gaming laptops for well over a decade now. The company has even gone so far as to produce OEM notebooks for other gaming companies in the space. Working with professional esports organizations like Fnatic and Team Method, MSI is known to produce high performance machines for the pros. Lucky for us, they’ve also begun producing some quality midrange machines, too.
Processor: Intel Core i5-8300H
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050
Memory: 8GB DDR4
Display Type: IPS
Primary Storage: 1 TB HDD
Secondary Storage: N/A
Connectivity: HDMI, Ethernet, 3x USB 3.1, USB 3.1 Type C (Gen 1), headphone, microphone
Dimensions: 0.85 x 14.13 x 9.99 inches
Weight: 4.10 lbs
Warranty: One year
The MSI GF63 8RC has to be our top choice for budget friendly gaming laptops. Priced as low as $649.99 on sale, the GF63 comes equipped with Intel’s i5-8300H, 8GB of DDR4 ram, Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1050 and one of the thinner bezels we’ve seen in this price range. The only obvious downside is the lack of an included SSD. The laptop comes loaded with a 1TB HDD which means you’ll probably want to upgrade the storage fairly quickly.
With its highly competitive price tag, the Newegg exclusive MSI GF63 8RC is one of the cheapest gaming laptops we could find with a GTX 1050 discrete graphics card. It’s priced just a little bit higher than Acer’s Aspire E 15, but the GF63 offers up to 67% higher gaming performance and exponentially higher performance when compared to laptops with integrated graphics. If you’re working with a tight budget, the GF63 offers everything you’d need in a laptop without putting a huge dent in your wallet.
When it comes to performance, the laptop is tough to beat at its frequently discounted price of $699 and below. The GF63 already scores respectable benchmark results out of the box, but a couple of inexpensive upgrades will stretch that performance even further. Since this model only includes a 1TB HDD, you can easily purchase and install an M.2 SSD down the line which would drastically improve load times and write speeds. The included 8GB DDR4 ram is also easily doubled with an open DIMM slot available.
The GF63 is also one of the more portable gaming notebooks we've tested. MSI was able to pack quite a bit of firepower in a machine that weighs as little as 4.10 lbs. Unfortunately, this lightweight machine does come with a couple of caveats. A lighter laptop usually means a smaller battery, and our battery tests showed its 3-cell battery was only good for about 4-5 hours of gaming.
Battery life aside, the GF63 doubles up very nicely as a machine for school and work. In addition to its light weight, the notebook includes all of the essential ports including: three USB 3.1 ports, one USB 3.1 Type C (Gen 1) port, a headphone and microphone jack, HDMI port and Ethernet. The only thing you might miss is a mini displayport outlet.
MSI also did a great job packing a 15.6-inch display into a 14-inch frame here. The backlit keyboard combined with its narrow bezels make the GF63 look like a sleek gaming machine you wouldn't expect to find in this price range. Better yet, the laptop also has the performance to back it up.
While it won't beat a budget gaming desktop in performance, MSI's GF63 8RC comes closer than any other laptop in its price range. It scored a respectable 3224 in our PCMark benchmarks and an impressive 5384 in 3DMark Fire Strike. That's only about 12% lower than our desktop GTX 1050 counterpart. When compared to ultrabooks and budget machines with integrated graphics, the GF63 leaves them in the dust.
Real world testing proved even more impressive with the GF63. Playing Overwatch on high settings at 1080p resulted in a consistent 90 FPS throughout. Graphic intensive modern titles like Ghost Recon: Wildlands and Shadow of the Tomb Raider proved to be a little more of a challenge for the machine, scoring 29 and 35 FPS respectively at 1080p high settings. You might want to lower a few settings for games like these, but the rest of our gaming library could be played at 1080p with 40-60 FPS or higher.
It won't give you a glorious 60 FPS on those new titles like Black Ops 4, but the GF63 does a great enough job considering its price point. If you don't mind adjusting a few graphic settings or playing at 720p, this laptop provides more than enough power for casual gaming. Going much cheaper than this would likely mean integrated graphics where you'd have to kiss any kind of playable framerate goodbye for those modern games.
As expected for any gaming laptop, the GF63 ran hot after several hours of gaming tests. The fans were also quite loud since ventilation is always a challenge with a relatively compact and lightweight machine. The good news is we barely noticed any thermal throttling so you can expect fairly consistent performance during extended gaming sessions.
This tested model of MSI's GF63 is available exclusively at Newegg. Other models might not offer the same exact performance per dollar, but the GF63 is a fantastic choice for gaming regardless. It's lighter than most of the budget machines we've tested and has the thinnest bezels of them all. As far as entry level gaming laptops go, the GF63 might just be the perfect choice for gamers on a budget.