The best MSI laptop for gaming 2019

Best MSI laptop for gaming 2019
Best MSI laptop for gaming 2019

The best MSI laptop for gaming is here, but with Computex 2019 on the way, it's about to get even better. At least that's what our sources say. An arbiter of PC gaming based in Taiwan, rest assured, MSI is going to bring the heat, presumably with new laptops in its stash. Having created the GS65 Stealth Thin, one of the best gaming laptops overall in 2019, it would come as no surprise for us to see a complete refresh of its existing hardware lineup. However, the best MSI gaming laptop for gaming was updated recently. 

In our review of the GS65 Stealth Thin, we said it "delivers everything [we] want in a gaming laptop." It's powerful, thin and light, a rarity for notebooks in its price range. Thanks to the widespread popularity of Nvidia's Max-Q design formula, it's compact enough to fit in a backpack while harboring up to RTX 2080 graphics. On the other end of the spectrum, the MSI GT75 Titan is a close second in our best MSI laptop for gaming rundown. Thick and hardy, it's the musclebook antithesis to MSI's daintier pursuits. And it's well worth buying right now.

That said, we're in a bit of a weird spot right now. Much as I adore its mobile gaming lineup, MSI and other manufacturers are in the midst of refreshing their laptops with the newest (albeit underwhelming and iterative)  9th generation Intel processors. So while its current stack is mostly up to date in terms of graphics, expect moderate upgrades in the foreseeable future. As such, I'll keep this list up to date with the latest specs, models and pricing so that you can rest easy, confidently averting the fear of missing out on something better.

1. MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

Desktop performance made nigh-perfectly portable

CPU: Intel Core i7-8750H | GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 – RTX 2080 Max-Q | RAM: 16GB – 32GB | Screen: 15.6-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) IPS 144Hz | Storage: 256GB – 1TB SSD | Battery: 82Wh | Dimensions: 9.75 x 0.69 — 0.70 x 14.08 inches | Weight: 4.14 – 4.19 lbs

Elegant design
Powerful internals
No G-Sync

Until the advent of the GS65 Stealth Thin, every thin and light gaming laptop was either too expensive or too inefficient to viably replace your desktop. Or even your existing clamshell for that matter. In a way, the MSI GS65 Stealth Thin disrupted an increasingly complacent subsect of computing that, to this day, is in dire need of a revolution. Black with gold accents, it took the banal red and black gamer's palette of the past and subverted it. Its gold-trimmed lattice exhaust breathes opulence. All the while, it's economical at the low end, and its recent configurations are capable of raytracing in real-time. 

I'm left with few complaints about the MSI GS65 Stealth Thin. Sure, I'd prefer to have G-Sync or a higher resolution screen option, but at what cost? Right now the battery lasts through a whole day of basic productivity tasks. Introduce a pair of battery-hungry features to the mix and we'll lose out on its stately endurance. Should you crave the winning desktop-level performance of the Razer Blade, not to mention its narrow screen bezels, for a lower price, the MSI GS65 Stealth Thin is the best MSI laptop for gaming 2019 can afford. However, if its (roughly 10 percent) weaker Max-Q graphics aren't for you, perhaps this next entry will be.

Read the full review: MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

2. MSI GT75 Titan

In this case, maybe bigger is better

CPU: Intel Core i7-8750HK — i9-8950HK | GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 — RTX 2080 | RAM: 16GB — 32GB | Screen: 17.3-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) — 4K UHD IPS 60Hz — 144Hz | Storage: 256GB SSD — 1TB HDD, 512GB SSD | Battery: 90Wh | Dimensions: 12.36 x 1.22 — 2.28 x 16.85 inches | Weight: 10.05 lbs

Gushing CPU and GPU power
True mechanical keyboard
Poor battery life

Against all odds, the runner-up to the best MSI laptop for gaming is the polar opposite of thin and light. Lugging around a 10.05-pound gargantuan might sound like a chore, but we assure you it's worth it. Especially since it's not supposed to be travel-size, the MSI GT75 Titan is a sight to behold. For one, its desktop-class Intel processor is joined by your choice of full-fat, non-Max-Q Nvidia GeForce GTX or RTX graphics. This means you can save some money by opting for the last-gen GTX 1070 or 1080, or alternatively, you can experience highfalutin raytracing for enhanced lighting and shadows in games such as Battlefield V and Metro Exodus

For day-to-day tasks, you'll enjoy fewer typing mistakes since the GT75 Titan boasts a deeply satisfying SteelSeries mechanical keyboard. Tactilities aside, the "HK" moniker of the housed Core i7-8750HK or i9-8950HK silicon indicates overclockability. You can raise the stock frequency on the CPU using the Intel Extreme Tuning Utility or by toggling on Turbo in Dragon Center. But what sets the Titan apart from the inferior 17-inch MSI GS75 Stealth is its screen. Unlike most gaming laptops, you don't have to prioritize refresh rate over resolution. Instead, you can take your pick between a 1080p 144Hz screen and a 4K 60Hz one. Oh, sweet freedom.

3. MSI GE63 Raider RGB

Abnormally powerful for its size, and also hella lit

CPU: Intel Core i7-9750H | GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 — 2080 | RAM: 16GB — 32GB | Screen: 15.6-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) | Storage: 256GB SSD, 1TB HDD — 512GB SSD | Battery: 51Wh — 65Wh | Dimensions: 10.24 x 1.16 x 15.08 inches | Weight: 5.49 lbs

Genuine (not Max-Q) RTX graphics
Modest footprint
Middling battery life
Harsh fan noise

At the cross section between the MSI GS65 Stealth Thin and the GT75 Titan exists the GE63 Raider RGB, a midrange gaming laptop that—while thin and light—foregoes shortsighted industry trends in favor of uninhibited balance. Despite its RGB surname, don't be confused: ostentatious lighting is not the real value proposition here. Performance is. On the GPU front, the Raider packs Nvidia's formidable RTX graphics, absent the stifled Max-Q design of the GS65 Stealth Thin. In other words, the GE63 Raider's RTX 2080 is about 10 percent faster than its GS65 equivalent. If you care more about frames per second than cosmetic appeal, it might be for you.

As for the LEDs, yes, it's stacked. To no surprise, the keyboard is graced with per-key illumination, meaning you could theoretically assign a different backlit color to every key on the keyboard. The keyboard itself is rather deep for a gaming laptop of this stature, with 2mm of travel guiding each press. Moreover, the GE63 has a couple of weird accents on its lid, resembling the number 7 and its mirrored counterpart. Some will see these embellishments as garish and unnecessary. Those people hate fun. Kidding aside, the MSI GE63 isn't too unwieldy, nor is its potential softened by the limitations of Max-Q. Quite the contrary. It's just right, in almost every aspect. 

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