The MSI GS63VR 7RG Stealth Pro is quick, well designed and as powerful as a laptop of this size can get. Now if MSI would only fix the touchpad, it’d be practically perfect.
- Ports for days
- Beautiful display
- Solid performance
- Touchpad is bad – really bad
With Nvidia’s Max-Q design shrinking down the amount of space required for a powerful GPU, thinner and lighter gaming laptops are slowly growing more commonplace. The MSI GS63VR 7RG is one of those ultra-thin and super-powerful laptops, weighing just over 4 pounds and not even an inch thick.
The likes of the Asus ROG Zephyrus and the Alienware 15 R3 also fit the same, ever shrinking mold, each one having its share of trade-offs in the name of portability.
For the past week, we’ve put the MSI GS63VR 7RG to the test: running our benchmarks, competing for the ever-elusive chicken dinner in PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and using it as one would any other laptop.
And, you know what? It’s pretty darn good – well, save for the touchpad.
Price and availability
We have searched high and low for the exact configuration we received for this review, but cannot find it listed for sale anywhere. Instead, the closest model we can find is available through NewEggand Amazon. That model is equipped with double the RAM and double the SSD capacity; pricing starts at $2,329 (about £1,758, AU$3,036), depending on where you buy.
With the added storage and memory, the pricing of the MSI GS63VR 7RG is a bit easier to justify than the $2,699 (AU$3,659, about £2,105) suggested retail price for the ROG Zephyrus, equipped with a superior Nvidia GTX 1080 graphics chip but half the amount of memory and even less storage.
Alternatively, the less expensive Alienware 15 R3 lacks the GTX 1070 Max-Q, and has half the memory for almost half the price of the MSI GS63VR 7RG, starting at $1,099 (£1,349, AU$2,699).
Upon opening the lid, you’ll notice the touchpad centered just below the keyboard, with a number pad to the right. The hypnotic default lighting scheme of the SteelSeries keyboard immediately catches your attention.
On the front of the housing are a series of indicator lights to quickly let you know if Bluetooth or Wi-Fi is on, as well as monitor disk activity, Num Lock and similar features.
The left side of the base is where you’ll find the majority of ports, including three USB 3.0 slots, audio connections, SD card slot and a gigabit Ethernet port. On the right is where you’ll find the power input, USB-C 3.1 port, with an HDMI and mini DisplayPort rounding out the housing.
With an all-black, brushed aluminum exterior, the MSI GS63VR 7RG doesn’t scream ‘I’m a gaming laptop’ with the same in-your-face, black-and-red color scheme that MSI and others have made all too common.
We are quite fond of the base material on the MSI GS63VR 7RG. Instead of leaving the plastic exposed, MSI covers it with a soft, felt-like material. Granted, the bottom of the laptop will hardly ever be touched or seen, but it just feels comfortable.
Naturally, the biggest draw to the overall design is going to be its size and weight. Weighing 4.18 pounds (1.9kg), the MSI GS63VR 7RG handily beats out the 7.69-pound (3.49kg) Alienware 15 R3, and narrowly bests the 4.85-pound (2.2kg) ROG Zephyrus.
The overall footprint of all three units is similar, with the MSI GS63VR 7RG measuring 14.9 x 9.8 x 0.7 inches, the ROG Zephyrus at 14.9 x 10.3 x 0.66-0.7 inches, and the Alienware 15 R3 at 15.3 x 12 x 1 inches.
In other words, the GS63VR 7RG will fit into most regular backpacks with ease.
The MSI GS63VR 7RG has a rather impressive spec sheet. With the unit used in our testing boasting an Intel Core i7-7700HQ processor, Nvidia GTX 1070 Max-Q graphics chip and 16GB of memory.
We rarely, if ever, experience any sort of sluggish performance or hiccups during regular use. Gaming performance is similar, only with random wavy lines in PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG). Although, we suspect the blame here lies in PUBG and not the computer itself.
Overall, the MSI GS63VR 7RG’s benchmark performance was as expected, if not slightly low. Results in the majority of our tests fall short of those produced by the similarly equipped ROG Zephyrus and Alienware 15 R3.
In love with the display
Forget the size, the 15.6-inch, 120Hz IPS-Level FHD panel is our favorite feature of this mobile PC gaming rig.
It’s bright and vivid without producing oversaturated colors.
The only critique we have to throw out has to do with the bezels.
They aren’t large to the point of being overtly annoying, but smaller bezels would benefit this laptop overall.
Let’s talk about the touchpad
Hands down, the worst aspect of the MSI GS63VR 7RG is its touchpad. We have yet to figure out exactly where the invisible line on the pad that separates left and right clicks is.
Additionally, a simple brush of the pad with your palm while typing causes all sorts of confusion, as the pointer jumps across the screen. Poor palm rejection isn’t acceptable for a laptop that costs as much as this.
Battery life is solid, but…
There’s a bit of give and take when it comes to gaming laptops. Most of the time, users exchange battery life and portability for increased performance on an all-in-one device. That’s been the acceptable trade-off for quite some time.
With GPUs shrinking and processors growing in power efficiency, it’s not a lot to ask for longer battery life. You get that with the MSI GS63VR 7RG when compared to the laughable battery performance of the ROG Zephyrus, and slightly worse than the Alienware 15 R3.
With nearly 4 hours of constant video playback, battery life on the MSI GS63VR 7RG is respectable, but who doesn’t want a bit more longevity?
MSI pre-installs a suite of software ranging from SteelSeries Engine 3 for keyboard lighting management to Dragon Center, wherein users can create app profiles and monitor system stats in one handy location. Dragon Center also includes a system tuner, also with user-created profiles, to optimize exactly how you want the computer to handle a specific app or game.
There’s not an overabundance of added software or bloatware installed, which is a welcome break from other laptops that have far too much installed directly out of the box.
The display is a pleasure to use and watch, both in casual use, like watching movies, and gaming. Ultimately, the MSI GS63VR 7RG’s graphics processing performance and portability are not mutually exclusive terms.
Outside of perhaps lacking a little more life from the battery and the frustrating touchpad, there’s simply not much to gripe about with the MSI GS63VR 7RG.
Take the stunning display and the ease of toting the MSI GS63VR 7RG around, combine those points with hardware that’s clearly top of the line, and you have a gaming laptop that would be dream to own for most.
MSI desperately needs to do something about the touchpad. Just because it’s a gaming laptop and most users will opt for a dedicated mouse doesn’t mean it’s acceptable to skimp on, especially at such a premium price.
Priced between the ROG Zephyrus and the Alienware 15 R3, the MSI GS63VR 7RG is a gaming laptop well worthy of your attention.