MSI is known for gaming laptops, its sleek, powerful and expensive laptops. The company is planning to change one of those qualifiers with its new, affordable GF63 laptop. While it doesn't have a sexy name like the Stealth, Titan or Ghost, it's the price that's the star here. Available sometime at the end of June, entry-level gamers can get their hands on what looks to be a solid gaming laptop starting at $999.
Now I know what you're thinking. For $999, the GF63 has to be made of some chintzy material. And you'd be wrong. In many ways, the GF63 looks like the GS65 Stealth Thin, a slim stunner of a gaming laptop. The entry-level system has a black brushed aluminum lid with the dragon emblem stamped near the top. The only difference is the symbol is red instead of gold.
The system's keyboard deck is also made of a black metal and houses a SteelSeries keyboard. That's not to say the entire laptop is made of metal. The bottom is definitely plastic, but MSI has tricked it out with some cool geometric features that ensure its stylish no matter how you look at it.
For ports, you get a pair of USB 3.0 ports on the right with a USB Type-C port, Ethernet and a security lock slot with jacks for a microphone and a pair of headphones. Along the left, you get another USB 3.0 port and the power input. At the system's rear you get a HDMI port.
Weighing 3.9 pounds with a thickness of 0.85 inches, the 15-inch system is lighter and slimmer than competing notebooks like the Acer Nitro 5 (5.9, pounds, 15.4 x 10.5 x 1.1 inches), Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming (5.9 pounds, 15.2 x 10.8 x 1 inches) and Lenovo Legion Y520 (5.6 pounds, 15 x 10.4 x 1 inches).
At a $999, you're not going to get a 4K display or even QHD. But the 1920 x 1080 panel looked pretty bright and vivid during my demo. Once again taking design cues from the Stealth Thin, the GF63 has some incredibly slim bezels, allowing views to enjoy more of their panel's real estate. And even though MSI shrank the bezels to 0.19 inches, they managed to keep the webcam in the top bezel where it belongs.
Remember how I said few compromises? This is one of them. The GF63 is outfitted with a SteelSeries keyboard, which should make for a great typing experience. However, you can't trick it out with a funky customized backlighting profile because the keys only glow one color -- red. So if you're means of self-expression comes by way of a colorful gaming laptop keyboard, you're out of luck with this one.
As the price suggests, the GF63 is a entry-level system which means, lower-tier components. The laptop will feature one of Intel's 8th Gen six-core Coffee Lake processors and either an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 GPU or a 1050 Ti. MSI has yet to reveal how much RAM or storage the system will ship with, but if I were to hazard a guess, it'd be 8GB and up to a 256GB SSD at most.
MSI estimates that the GF63 will last up to seven hours on a charge. It's a feat rarely accomplished by any gaming laptop, so I'll reserve judgement until it's in house and running the Laptop Mag Battery Test.
Budget gaming typically calls to mind a system with a cheap design and good-enough specs. MSI's hoping to change that with the GF63. For $999, the company is offering a notebook with undeniable good looks, a vibrant display and solid components. And if it can live up to its battery claims, the GF63 might very well be the new king of budget systems.
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Sherri L. Smith has been cranking out product reviews for Laptopmag.com since 2011. In that time, she's reviewed more than her share of laptops, tablets, smartphones and everything in between. The resident gamer and audio junkie, Sherri was previously a managing editor for Black Web 2.0 and contributed to BET.Com and Popgadget.