MSI Raider 18HX hands-on: Toned down gamer aesthetic creates a more portable, versatile powerhouse

MSI Raider 18HX
(Image credit: MSI)

Gaming computers have kept to the same black and bright RGB styling for years, which is admittedly a pretty slick aesthetic. But sometimes you don’t want all of your tech to scream “gamer” at the top of its lungs, and that is exactly the scenario MSI is banking on with the MSI Raider 18HX redesign. For all your RGB needs, there’s still the Titan 18HX, and if you need a business or studio laptop that can also game, the Stealth AI Studio 18 is a great fit.

But if you want a gaming laptop that you can take to class or a meeting without embarrassing yourself with a massive RGB light bar below the keyboard, the Raider 18HX offers a slimmer RGB light strip and lighted logo for a more understated look that still has that gamer flare.

MSI Raider 18HX: Price and availability

MSI Raider 18HX

(Image credit: MSI)

The Raider 18HX does not have a price or release date just yet, but that information will be released sometime in the near future. The updated Raider GE78 and GE68 do have pricing information, but MSI is holding out on us for the Raider 18 HX because it’s got that even-number rizz.

We do know that MSI expects the Raider 18HX to retail for over $3,000, so it won’t be appearing on our best cheap gaming laptops, but the exact figure has not been decided on. 


♬ original sound - Laptop Mag

MSI Raider 18HX: Design

MSI has made the Raider 18HX a bit thinner and lighter than previous versions, and therefore even more portable. Weighing in at 7.9 lbs it isn’t the lightest gaming laptop on the market, but it will be light enough that you can carry it without risking a spinal injury.

MSI Raider 18HX

(Image credit: Future)

Other than the revamped light bar, MSI has also redesigned the bottom of the Raider chassis with some nice accents.

The subtle single-strand light bar is a very nice touch. It’s less distracting than the previous two iterations like the massive milky-white Mystic Light bar on the MSI Raider GE76, while still providing that fun RGB style accent so you aren’t entirely missing out on the gamer aesthetic.

MSI Raider 18HX: Display

The MSI Raider 18HX has an 18-inch display with a 240Hz refresh rate which is a large, fast panel for a gaming laptop. The QHD+ (2560 x 1600) mini-LED display boasts a 100% DCI-P3 color gamut, so it isn’t just fast, but also highly color-accurate, making it well-suited for gaming and non-gaming purposes.

MSI Raider 18HX: Performance

MSI Raider 18HX

(Image credit: Future)

With an Intel Core i9-14900HX CPU and Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 graphics on board, the Raider is a (relatively) lightweight powerhouse of a machine that can go with you wherever you need. MSI’s new AI Engine software can even optimize itself on the fly so you get power when you need it and save battery when you don’t — which we hope will do wonders for the Raider’s battery life.

There is a lot of power in that chassis, which is why the thin and light design is such a surprise. You do have less venting for thermal management compared to the Titan 18HX with its newly enhancedvapor chamber, so you will have some throttling on the GPU and CPU — but not as much as the Stealth AI Studio 18 (which is focused more on being a business laptop that can game).

With the Stealth’s powerful components and AI Engine optimization, we expect some impressive performance from MSI’s more modest gaming laptop. However, we won’t know for sure just how bright the pairing of Intel’s Meteor Lake processor and Nvidia’s RTX 40-series GPU will shine (or how much that lack of vapor chamber may hold them back) until we officially put all of MSI’s updated gaming laptops through their paces in our lab.


MSI Raider 18HX

(Image credit: Future)

The Raider 18HX feels like it may have finally found its lane. Previous iterations always felt outshined by MSI’s Stealth and Titan lineups, which were typically better options for business or gaming. This has resulted in the Raider trying to make up for its lack of purpose with even more RGB lighting — which is less of a solution, and more of a very colorful bandaid.

Being lumped in as the safe-for-work gaming laptop may not be the fanciest job, but it is a niche that hasn’t been explored much. Many business and gaming laptops like the Stealth — an Ultrabook chassis with a high-end GPU thrown in — suffer from some serious thermal issues because of it. But the Raider has gaming-quality cooling with an understated style, which should give it a nice edge.

Madeline Ricchiuto
Staff Writer

A former lab gremlin for Tom's Guide, Laptop Mag, Tom's Hardware, and Tech Radar; Madeline has escaped the labs to join Laptop Mag as a Staff Writer. With over a decade of experience writing about tech and gaming, she may actually know a thing or two. Sometimes. When she isn't writing about the latest laptops and AI software, Madeline likes to throw herself into the ocean as a PADI scuba diving instructor and underwater photography enthusiast.