MSI PS63 Modern Hands-On: Step Aside, XPS 15

The Dell XPS 15 and MacBook Pro could soon face tough opposition from an unlikely source.

MSI, the Taiwanese company best known for its gaming laptops and components, is spreading its reach further into the mainstream market with the newly announced PS63 Modern.

Part of the Prestige series, the MSI PS63 Modern will be available for $1,200 to $1,500 when it launches later this month.

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A 15.6-inch laptop, the sleek PS63 Modern prioritizes portability and battery life --- things most important to business users and creators --- over gaming prowess. To that end, the PS63 Modern is just 0.6 inches thick and 3.6 pounds, making it one of the more portable 15-inch laptops you'll find on the market.  

Despite its slim design, the PS63 offers a strong variety of ports, including a USB 3.1 port, three USB 3.1 (Type-A) inputs, an HDMI, a microSD card and a headphone/mic combo jack. Sadly, there is no Thunderbolt 3 support.

MSI showed restraint when designing the PS63 Modern, and the results are attractive. The PS63 Modern seduced me with its unique gray/blue chassis and diamond-cut edges that shimmer an indigo hue under the right lighting. Like most laptops revealed at CES 2019, the PS63 Modern has extremely thin bezels, which helps reduce the overall footprint of the laptop.

Those narrow borders also don't distract from the laptop's 15.6-inch, 1080p display, which seemed bright and vivid, even under poor conference room lighting. For a 4K model, you'll need to turn to MSI's P65 Creator.

The P63 Modern is very much a premium laptop. That much is clear based on the components it can be outfitted with, including an Intel Core i7 CPU, up to 32GB of RAM and dual SSDs. Although the P63 Modern isn't meant for gamers, MSI recognizes that business users still need powerful graphics to run certain programs (or fire up Fortnite after a long day at the office). The P63 Modern comes with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Max-Q GPU with 4GB of RAM. While it's not part of the new RTX GPUs everyone is talking about, the GTX 1050 is powerful enough to run most modern games at low settings.

On the software front, MSI is introducing what it calls the Creator Center. Similar to the company's Dragon Center software (for gaming laptops), the Creator Center optimizes the performance of the PS63 by adapting to whichever program you're using. For example, the software will crank up the PS63's CPU usage once you start editing images in Photoshop or increase GPU output when gaming.

The PS63's backlit (only white, no RGB this time) keyboard felt nice and snappy during my brief time with the laptop. MSI also promises improved touchpad performance, something they've been criticized for in the past.  

MSI rates the PS63's battery life at 16 hours, which, if accurate, would be class-leading. However, we won't know for sure how long the laptop lasts on a charge until we put it through our real-world testing.

Business professional who travels frequently will also appreciate the size of the PS63 Modern's power brick. The brick looked to be about a quarter the size of the power supply I carry around for my two-year-old XPS 15. That may not seem like a big deal, but every ounce matters when you spend long periods of time traveling with a laptop on hand.

The PS63 Modern left a good first impression, and I'm looking forward to getting my hands on a review unit to see how it compares to other top premium consumer laptops, like the XPS 15 and HP Spectre x360.

Phillip Tracy

Phillip Tracy is the assistant managing editor at Laptop Mag where he reviews laptops, phones and other gadgets while covering the latest industry news. After graduating with a journalism degree from the University of Texas at Austin, Phillip became a tech reporter at the Daily Dot. There, he wrote reviews for a range of gadgets and covered everything from social media trends to cybersecurity. Prior to that, he wrote for RCR Wireless News covering 5G and IoT. When he's not tinkering with devices, you can find Phillip playing video games, reading, traveling or watching soccer.