MSI: 2018 Brand Report Card
It was a tough year for MSI, falling to a tie for last place. While we love a lot of the company's gaming notebooks and workstations, few of them earned Editors' Choice awards.
The company's selection is limited compared to those of competitors, its innovation scores were middling, and it has the worst tech support we saw this year. So, even though we liked the laptops, those are hurdles that MSI couldn't overcome.
- Solid computers: When you get something from MSI, you're probably getting something good. We didn't give one notebook less than 3.5 out of 5 stars.
- Accidental-damage protection: Of all the vendors whose laptops we reviewed this year, only MSI offers free accidental-damage protection when you register your laptop.
MSI's Main Weaknesses
- Recycled design: MSI likes its designs so much that it will often use the same chassis for both gaming notebooks and workstations.
- Bad website: MSI got a poor score in our tech support showdown, largely because the company's mess of a website makes it hard to find help.
- Needs more innovation: MSI is catching up to the party in terms of customizable lighting on gaming notebooks. We'd love to see the company do something truly new.
Top-Rated MSI Laptops
You really can't go wrong with an MSI laptop. Every one of the seven notebooks we tested was good enough to earn 3.5 or 4 stars. However, the company faces very stiff competition in the two niches it covers: premium gaming laptops and mobile workstations.
Like other gaming laptop brands out there, MSI loves its black-and-red color palette. But where MSI continues to stand out is often in its designs' simplicity. Laptops such as the GL62M 7REX and the GS63VR Stealth Pro are relatively slim and elegant, and aside from the red dragon sigil they both sport, they would look great in a boardroom. But MSI isn't afraid to show off with massive gaming rigs like the GT75VR Titan Pro, whose 10.1-pound, 16.9 x 12.4 x 1.2~2.2-inch frame is both imposing and awesome. The company is also unafraid to split the difference, as with the GE73VR 7RF Raider Pro, which isn't nearly as big as the Titan Pro but has a few more eye-catching accents than the Stealth Pro.
However, MSI's workstations have a more stripped-down appearance to make them office friendly. MSI's laptops are typically pretty good-looking machines, but there's always an outlier for any brand. And in MSI's case, its the PE60 Prestige, with its plain-Jane silver lid. This laptop is made of aluminum, but it doesn't feel as premium as other systems in MSI's lineup.
Support and Warranty (11/15)
MSI offers excellent telephone-based tech support that provides effective and efficient solutions. Unfortunately, due to reliability issues and a poor design, the MSI support site wasn't helpful.
With MSI's warranty program, you have to take the bad with the good. Sure, we wish the company would cover shipping in both directions when you send them a unit to be serviced, but MSI does include free accidental-damage protection upon registration. Nobody else does that. Repairing your $2,000 laptop when you drop it will save you a lot more money in the long run than avoiding that second round of shipping costs.
MSI's innovation in 2017 was, pardon the pun, really cool. The most noteworthy innovation came in the 15 heat pipes in the GT83VR Titan SLI. The upcoming lineup includes the Raider RGB Edition, which will be covered in customizable lights, though that’s an example of MSI catching up to the likes of Alienware and Razer. We're also expecting an update to Dragon Center, but that won't come until later this year.
Value and Selection (8/15)
MSI's big focus is on gaming machines, but the company also takes some of the power from those machines and offers it in workstations.
MORE: The Best MSI Laptops
On the gaming front, you get slim notebooks like the Stealth Pro and giants like the Titan Pro with mechanical keyboard, as well as more-standard designs like the Raider. The Leopard Pro was the cheapest we saw, starting at $1,300. This year, about half of the offerings we reviewed were workstations, including the $1,800 WE72 7RJ with customizable RGB keyboard and the $4,600 VR-focused WT73VR 7RM.