Laptop Mag Verdict
MSI's GF63 gaming laptop offers strong performance for the price, but a disappointing display and plastic chassis are hard to overlook.
Relatively slim and lightweight
Dim, dull display
Below-average battery life
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With the unceasing buzz surrounding Fortnite and other hot titles, gaming notebooks are in high demand. Priced at $599, the MSI GF63 is designed for people who want to game, but don't want to spend a fortune to do so. You get solid performance from its Intel Core i7 processor and Nvidia graphics. With that in mind, the GF63 is more appropriate for an entry-level gamer than an aspiring Esports competitor and has a spot on our top cheap gaming laptops under $1,000 page. Need something with a little more oomph? Check out our best gaming laptops list.
MSI GF63 8RD Pricing and Configurations
For just $699, you can buy the base model GF63 (8RC) with an Intel Core i5-8300H CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 GPU. An extra $300 boosts the graphics card to a more powerful GTX 1050 Ti and doubles memory capacity to 16GB. That model, however, replaces the 256GB SSD for a 1TB HDD, which some might feel is a downgrade. Our GF63 review unit, the most expensive configuration at $1,250, came with an Intel Core i7-8750H GPU, 16GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD and a secondary 1TD HDD, and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti GPU.
Keep a microfiber cloth on hand, the MSI GF63 collects fingerprints like a detective investigating a crime. The laptop's plastic lid and deck were covered in smudges by the time I first placed it on my desk.
Wiping down those prints reveals a fiery-red MSI dragon logo contrasted against a stealthy black, brushed-aluminum finish. That same aesthetic continues onto the deck where you'll find a black keyboard with red trim around each key. Sorry, RGB fans, the GF63's keys support only red backlighting.
A pentagonal outline in the top-right corner of the deck serves as a power button. The rest of the laptop -- the sides, hinge, bezel and underside -- are made of rough stippled plastic that detracts from an otherwise seek machine.
MSI trimmed the display bezels on the GF63 to 4.9 millimeters thin, which helps to keep the overall footprint of this 15.6-inch gaming machine to a minimum. At 14.1 x 10 x 0.85 inches, the GF63 is considerably slimmer than the Dell G5 15 (15.32 x 10.8 x 1.0 inches) and the Lenovo Legion Y730 (14.4 x 10.2 x 1 inches).
The MSI GF63 has plenty of USB ports for you to connect all of your peripherals.
On the left side is a USB 3.1 Type-A port next to a central power input.
The right side of the GF63 has two more USB 3.1 ports and a USB Type-C port (sadly, no Thunderbolt 3). There is also an Ethernet port for a stable internet connection and separate mic and headphone jacks if you want to connect a professional microphone.
On the back of the laptop is a lone HDMI input for connecting to a monitor.
Although the GF63's 15.6-inch, 1080p display is detailed, I wish it were brighter and more colorful. Peter Parker's spidey suit didn't have the rich red and blue tones I was expecting in the trailer for the hotly anticipated film, Spider-Man: Far From Home. The display made the picturesque islands of Venice look drab and details were hard to make out in dark scenes, like when Nick Fury makes a surprise visit to Parker's apartment. On a positive note, the picture looked sharp and crisp when our friendly neighborhood superhero fights the bad guys in a besieged London.
I then picked up an Xbox controller and played Rise of the Tomb Raider. Again, the lack of contrast and fairly dim display made it difficult for me to distinguish objects as my character walked around a dark forest looking for supplies. Fortunately, I could still enjoy the beautiful wilderness in one of the year's most gorgeous games thanks to the GF63's detailed picture.
The GF63's panel unsurprisingly covers only 73 percent of the sRGB color gamut. The display on the G5 15 (58 percent) is even less appealing, but that doesn't excuse the GF63, which falls well short of the mainstream gaming average (107 percent) and the Legion Y730's (135 percent) vivid panel.
To make matters worse, the GF63 8RB's display is pretty dim, peaking at just 246 nits of brightness. Again, the G5 15 (219 nits) slumped, while the Legion Y730 (302 nits) excelled beyond the category average (273 nits).
Keyboard and Touchpad
Casual gamers won't have any complaints using the GF63's island-style keyboard, but more dedicated players will want to connect a mechanical keyboard. Fans of RGB lighting will also need to rely on an external solution since the GF63's keyboard only illuminates red.
At 1.4 millimeters of travel, the keys are a bit shallow, but there is a nice crispness to them that makes the overall typing experience reasonably comfortable. And thanks to the keyboard's 71 grams of actuation force, I was able to tap 117 words per minute with an accuracy of 93 percent on the 10FastFingers.com typing test, which is only slightly short of my usual 119 wpm with an error rate of 5 percent.
The 4.1 x 2.6-inch touchpad on the GF63 is large and responsive. The surface swiftly responded to my gestures, including pinch-to-zoom and three-finger swipes to change programs. The embedded left-and-right click buttons are snappy, and don't feel stiff.
The dual bottom-firing speakers on the GF63 aren't the most powerful, and the sound they output is somewhat congested. When I listened to Hozier's new song "Almost (Sweet Music)," the electric instruments were poorly defined and the lead singer's vocals sounded a tad muddy. The GF63 did a much better job when I played the Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse track "Sunflower" by Post Malone and Swae Lee. Although the bass notes were severely lacking, the emotional vocals in this sweet song were crisp.
Gaming and Graphics
The Nvidia GeForce 1050 Ti GPU housed within the GF63 can play most modern games at low settings, but you'll run into lag once you crank up the graphics quality. The GF63 maintained around 23 frames per second, below our 30 fps threshold, when I played Shadow of the Tomb Raider on the highest settings. While that result didn't make for the smoothest gameplay, I was still able to swing through a treacherous jungle, hunting wild game with my lethal bow along the way. I did experience some choppiness so I turned the graphics down to low, where the GF63 held between 29 and 31 fps.
The GF63 performed about as well in our Rise of the Tomb Raider test as it did with the latest release in the franchise, running the older game at 27 frames per second. That tops both the G5 15 (25 fps) and the Legion Y730 (24 fps) -- both of which use the same GTX 1050 Ti GPU -- but falls short of the category average (34 fps).
Grand Theft Auto V played at a smooth 35 fps on the GF63, which, again, tops the G5 15 (32 fps) and the Legion Y730 (33 fps) by a slim margin but can't compete with the mainstream gaming laptop average (35 fps)
MORE: The Best Gaming Laptops
Keeping a steady 44 fps, the GF63 ran Middle-earth: Shadow of War with a comforting frame-rate buffer. The Legion Y730 (45 fps) did a tad better on this benchmark, while the G5 15 (36 fps) struggled to keep pace. The GF63 just doesn't have the same graphical prowess as the average mainstream gaming laptop (58 fps).
Our GF63 review unit came armed with some serious power. The source of its excellent performance is an Intel Core i7-8750H CPU and 16GB of RAM. Thanks to those high-end components, the GF63 didn't break a sweat when I loaded 25 Microsoft Edge browser tabs, four of which played 1080p YouTube videos while two streamed HD Twitch streams.
The gaming laptop scored a 21,811 on the Geekbench 4.1 overall performance benchmark, which crushes the competition, including the G5 15 (Intel Core i7-8750H, 16,751), the Legion Y730 (Intel Core i7-8750H, 18,531) and the mainstream gaming laptop average (20,402).
That speedy performance carried over to our Excel Macro Test, where the GF63 matched 65,000 names with their corresponding addresses in just 41 seconds, outpacing the G5 15 (0:43) and the mainstream gaming average (0:45) in a photo-finish. The Legion Y730 lagged far behind on this test (1:20).
Even the 256GB M.2 SSD and secondary 1TB 5400-rpm hard drive inside the GF63 outperformed the competition. It took the GF63 just 16 seconds to duplicate 4.97GB of mixed-media files for a rate of 318 megabytes per second. That's more than three times faster than what it took the G5 15 (128GB SSD, 1TB HDD; 102 MBps). The GS63's result tops both the Legion Y730 (128GB PCIe SSD, 1TB HDD; 282 MBps) and the mainstream gaming laptop average (300 MBps).
On the Handbrake test, it took the GF63 10 minutes and 20 seconds to convert a 4K video into 1080p resolution, which matches the category average. The G5 15 (12:14) and the Legion Y730 (10:56) needed more time to finish that demanding task.
Gaming laptops don't typically last long on a charge, and the GF63, sadly, doesn't break that trend. The machine powered down just 3 hours and 30 minutes after running the Laptop Mag Battery Test, which involves continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness. The average runtime for a mainstream gaming laptop (4:26) is an hour better and the G5 15 (6:17) endured for more than 2.5 hours longer than the GF63. That said, we've tested other laptops that did even worse, like the Legion Y730 (2:47).
The GF63 remained reasonably cool when we played a 15-minute HD video in full-screen, but things started to heat up after I played Shadow of the Tomb Raider. In our video test, only the underside of the laptop breached our 95-degree comfort threshold, reaching 99 degrees Fahrenheit. The touchpad (77 degrees) and the center of the keyboard (86 degrees) remained well below that mark.
My fingers started to get warm when I spent about 15 minutes escaping dangerous caves in Shadow of the Tomb Raider. The GF63's keyboard reached 107 degrees while the top of the deck, near the hinge, hit 114 degrees. Don't dare put this machine on your lap since the underside warmed to a toasty 123 degrees.
The GF63's dull webcam made my face look as lifeless as the corpses I piled up in Shadow of the Tomb Raider. For a second, I was convinced the lens was monochrome because the selfie I snapped was practically devoid of color.
It wasn't until I moved to a brighter location that the lens started to pick up different shades of gray in my sweater and my slightly rosy complexion. The webcam doesn't produce the clearest image, either, but it at least captures a good amount of detail, like the individual strands of hair in my beard.
Software and Warranty
Dragon Center, MSI's crown jewel gaming software is preinstalled on the GF63. A neatly packaged hub loaded with tools for gamers, Dragon Center is where gamers can monitor CPU/GPU usage, tune settings for different use cases, adjust voice control, and connect their smartphone to the GS63.
It's nice to see a company put all of these features in one place instead of forcing users to figure out what app to open. That said, there are still separate programs for battery management (MSI Battery Calibration), support (MSI Help Desk) and an MSI SCM app for quick access to important settings, like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. CyberLink PowerDirector 15 and PhotoDirector8 also came loaded on the GF63.
Other pre-installed programs taking up valuable space on the GF63 come courtesy of Microsoft. You'll find your standard fare of Windows 10 Home games, like Candy Crush Saga and Microsoft Mahjong, along with popular apps like Evernote, Netflix and Fitbit Coach.
The GF63 is a solid laptop that offers excellent performance at a reasonable price. However, its display is underwhelming and gamers who want to play the latest games at high graphics settings will need to spend a bit more on a laptop with a more powerful GPU than a 1050Ti.
If battery life isn't a concern, the Legion Y730 is a good option if you're going to spend around $1,000 on a gaming rig. It has similar specs to the GF63, but it has a better display and a more premium design.
Overall, the GF63 is a decent laptop for anyone who wants strong performance and a dedicated GPU for casual gaming, but there are better alternatives that serve the same purpose.
Credit: Laptop Mag
MSI GF63 8RB Specs
|CPU||Intel Core i7-8750H|
|Graphics Card||Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050Ti with Max-Q|
|Hard Drive Size||1 TB|
|Hard Drive Speed||5,400rpm|
|Hard Drive Type||SATA Hard Drive|
|Highest Available Resolution||1920 x 1080|
|Operating System||Windows 10 Home|
|Ports (excluding USB)||USB 3.1, RJ-45, Microphone, Headphone, HDMI, USB 3.1 with Type-C|
|RAM Upgradable to||32GB|
|Secondary Hard Drive Size||256GB|
|Secondary Hard Drive Type||M.2 SSD|
|Size||14.1 x 10 x 0.85 inches|
|Touchpad Size||4.1 x 2.6 inches|
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.