MSI GT63 Titan 8RG Review

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Editors' rating:
The Pros

Great keyboard with RGB lighting; Amazing 120-Hz display; Strong CPU and GPU performance; Dynamic speakers; Remarkably cool temps

The Cons

Lame design; Touchpad is finicky with Windows gestures; Expensive

Verdict

The MSI GT63 TItan 8RG makes its brothers proud, continuing the machines' reign as some of the most powerful gaming laptops on the tech block.

Editor's Note: We've updated this review with a comment from MSI regarding the touchpad's issues with Windows gestures.

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Behold the titan among behemoths! MSI's GT63 Titan 8RG is a 15.6-inch laptop with a monster GTX 1080 GPU and an 8th Gen Core i7 processor, all for $2,999 (starting at $2,199). While those specs can flawlessly render your favorite virtual worlds, the gorgeous 120-Hz display and intense Dynaudio speakers immerse you in those settings. You can even put this beast in your lap and tear through fools on that clicky, RGB-lit keyboard. Although this machine's design is on the dull side and its touchpad loves going on the fritz, the GT63 Titan is an epic gaming laptop.

Design

From the brushed aluminium to the curved etchings around the seams and the center of the lid, the MSI GT63 Titan makes a subtle but sleek impression. However, the glossy red lines and MSI's backlit logo look like they belong on a Hot Wheels toy instead of a $3,000 laptop.

Still, the interior grabbed my attention, blasting me with waves of glorious color on the RGB-backlit keyboard. Above the keyboard is a very incognito speaker vent, along with buttons to activate the fans, the XSplit Gamecaster streaming app, the SteelSeries lighting app and the power.

At 6.7 pounds and 15.4 x 10.5 x 1.6 inches, the GT63 Titan certainly lives up to its mythological name, with a thick chassis, but surprisingly, it's not the heaviest among its competitors. The Razer Blade Pro takes the heavyweight mantle, at 7.7 pounds and 0.9 inches, while the Origin PC Evo15-S is the lightest and thinnest, at 5 pounds and 0.7 inches. The Acer Predator Triton 700 landed in the middle of the pack, at 5.4 pounds and 0.7 inches.

Ports

The GT63 Titan has a ton of useful ports for all your gaming needs.

On the left, there's a Kensington lock slot, one USB 2.0 port and four audio ports: line in, line out, microphone and headphone.

The back features the power jack, a Mini DisplayPort, an HDMI port, one USB Type-C port and an RJ45 port.

Meanwhile, the right side is home to three USB 3.1 ports and a SDXC card slot.

Display

The GT63 Titan's 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080 display will blow your mind with dynamic colors, sharp details and smooth visuals brought to you by the 120-Hz panel with Nvidia G-Sync technology.

I've never felt so right playing Middle-earth: Shadow of War. Every pigment, from the red accents on Talion's clothes to the shades of greenish-gray moss infesting the cobblestoned ground, was bold and vibrant. The 120-Hz refresh rate made the world seem so smooth and polished that I stopped playing just to test it; I played for pure entertainment, as I beat several orcs to death with Celebrimbor's hammer. And when Dugz the Armorer ambushed me, I noticed that his rusted helmet and rabid-looking teeth looked sharp enough to kill.

Every pigment in Shadow of War, from the red accents on Talion's clothes to the shades of greenish-gray moss infesting the cobblestoned ground, was bold and vibrant.

I watched the trailer for The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (which was trippy) and caught details like Keira Knightley's makeup cracking upon her forehead. The land of flowers bustled with colors so vivid that they made the unrealistic CGI city look lively. The dark, hallowed tree that Clara traverses was pretty well-lit, as I could spot the curved edges on the corners of the screen.

The GT63 Titan's panel covered a spectacular 161 percent of the sRGB color gamut, toppling the 132 percent premium gaming-laptop average, the Predator Triton's 116 percent and the Evo15-S' 126 percent. However, the Titan lost to the Blade Pro, which achieved 178 percent.

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Producing 274 nits of brightness, the GT63 Titan fell just slightly behind the 278-nit category average, but this machine is still plenty bright, beating the Predator Triton (269 nits) and the Evo15-S (249 nits). The MSI laptop once again lost to the Razer Blade Pro, which averaged 320 nits.

Keyboard and Touchpad

From the pleasant, clicky sound of the keys to the silky-smooth palm rests, the GT63 Titan's SteelSeries keyboard makes typing feel amazing, even though the keys are a little shallow on paper. On top of that, the keys' techy sci-fi font and tantalizing RGB lighting make them look as good as they feel. Another neat feature is that the Fn-enabled keys light up red when you hold down the Fn key.

The keys travel at 1.3 millimeters and require 70 grams of actuation force. The keyboard falls a bit short of what we typically regard as comfortable for key travel (1.5 to 2.0mm), but the actuation surpassed our minimum 60-g requirement. I banged out 68 words per minute on the 10fastfingers.com typing test, which is just above my 66-wpm average.

Using the 4.1 x 2.3-inch touchpad was like dealing with a child throwing a temper tantrum. On the surface, it looks and feels fine, but when I attempted to two-finger scroll through some PDFs, it spazzed out and randomly rotated the documents. Even the three-finger tab switching wouldn't cooperate, as the touchpad would stop scrolling whenever it felt like it.

We've reached out to MSI about this issue, and Joseph Shih, Product Manager at MSI said that "we do agree it's not responsive enough and will do proper improvement on next refresh" after investigating the problem.

Audio

The Titan's Dynaudio speakers will immerse you in your favorite fantasy land, and they have enough oomph to fill up a large conference room. In Shadow of War, a crashing wave reverberated from the speakers as I ran up to an orc and embraced the sweet ASMR of his meaty head crunching as I lopped it off. I loved how crisp and authentic it sounded when I tackled the next orc into a cart and the wood gave a nice, hefty thump.

The Titan's Dynaudio speakers will immerse you in your favorite fantasy land, and they have enough oomph to fill up a large conference room.

When I listened to Billy Talent's "Viking Death March," the opening guitar felt so intense and accurate flowing through the speakers, as it perfectly balanced the treble and bass. From the bass guitar to the drums, I could hear every background track vibrating through my ears, and the subwoofer below the laptop created a lovely surround-sound effect.

MORE: The Best Headsets for Immersive Gaming

This impressive audio quality can be partially attributed to the Nahimic app. This allows you to fully customize your sound with a simple interface focusing on surround sound, volume stabilization, voices, bass and treble.

Gaming, Graphics & VR

The GT63 Titan lives up to its lineage, boasting enough power to show up even the Mad Titan Thanos himself. With this machine's Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 GPU and 8GB of VRAM, I could flawlessly combo an army of orcs 61 times in Shadow of War at a smooth 100 frames per second on Ultra 1080p settings.

On the Rise of the Tomb Raider benchmark at Very High and 1080p, the GT63 Titan churned out 68 fps, putting it above the 63-fps premium gaming average and the 61 fps from the Predator Triton (GTX 1080 Max-Q). The Razer Blade Pro (GTX 1080) knocked this test out better, at 73 fps.

Thanks to the Titan's Nvidia GTX 1080, I could flawlessly combo an army of orcs 61 times in Shadow of War at a smooth 100 frames per second.

The GT63 Titan took the crown on the Hitman benchmark (Ultra, 1080p), achieving 120 fps, which soars over the 91-fps category average. The Evo15-S (GTX 1070 Max-Q) had the lowest score, at 82 fps; the Predator Triton was one frame ahead of that, with 83 fps, and the Razer Blade Pro nearly caught up to the Titan, at 116 fps.

On the Grand Theft Auto V benchmark (Very High, 1080p), the GT63 Titan once again took the mantle, with 85 fps. It surpassed the 74-fps category average, the Predator Triton (59 fps), the Evo15-S (64 fps) and the Razer Blade Pro (81 fps).

MORE: Best Graphics Performance

The GT63 Titan is the king of VR. It maxed out the SteamVR Performance Test, with an 11 out of 11. The Titan came in a few decimals ahead of the 10.5 premium gaming average and the 10.7 from the Predator Triton, while trumping the Evo15-S' 9.3.

Performance

The GT63 Titan makes its own Infinity Gauntlet with an Intel Core i7-8750H processor, 32GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD with a 1TB 7,200-rpm SATA HDD. This machine snapped the universe in half, barreling through 30 Google Chrome tabs, with a 1080p movie trailer playing and Shadow of War running in the background, all without a single misstep.

On the Geekbench 4 overall performance test, the GT63 Titan nailed a 20,137, the highest score among its competitors. The Razer Blade Pro (i7-7820HK) got 15,040; the Predator Triton (i7-7700HQ) hit 14,370, and the Evo15-S (i7-8750H) went over our 19,253 average with 19,553.

Copying 4.97GB of data was no problem for the GT63 Titan, as it sped through our test in just 9 seconds, for a rate of 566 megabytes per second. That blazes past the 469-MBps category average. The Razer Blade Pro and Evo15-S fell under the average, at 339 and 462 MBps, respectively, while the Predator Triton dominated, with 848 MBps.

On the HandBrake benchmark, which measures how long it takes to transcode a 4K video to 1080p, the GT63 Titan came in slower than the average, at 12 minutes and 12 seconds versus 10:07. It did, however, beat the Evo15-S, which completed the task in 12:57.

MORE: Laptops with the Best Overall Performance

The GT63 Titan also posted a slower time on the Excel test, matching 65,000 names and addresses in 45 seconds, losing by 1 second to the 0:44 category average and by another second to the 0:43 from the Evo15-S.

Battery Life

Gaming laptops with this amount of power soak up a lot of juice, so it's no surprise that the GT63 Titan lasted only 2 hours and 48 minutes when continuously surfing the web over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness. While the Titan did beat the Predator Triton's 2:14, it came in slightly under the 3:32 premium gaming laptop average.

Webcam

The GT63 Titan's webcam is surprisingly decent. It handled contrast well, as it was able to light up my face without washing out or darkening the background. I could see the small wrinkles on my button-up shirt, crying out for me to iron them, as well as more depth than usual among the strands of hair on my head.

Even the color on my co-worker's gray-and-blue shirt behind me was accurately represented when I turned around to look at it. However, I noticed that the camera has a weird fish-eye effect on the corners of the image, blurring those areas out. But, overall, I'd say you're safe to stream without a dedicated webcam.

Heat

You'd think that a laptop this powerful would be scorching hot, but it remained remarkably cool during our testing (for the most part). After I played Shadow of War for 15 minutes straight, the laptop's underside hit 95 degrees Fahrenheit, which is just at our comfort threshold. The center of the keyboard and touchpad hit 98 and 93 degrees, respectively. The hottest part of the underside hit 130 degrees, which was the direct center below the hinge.

However, numbers don't tell the full story here, because when you touch the underside, it feels relatively cool. This is mostly due to the air being taken in from the underside and then flowing out of the meaty vents on the hinge, which hit 174 degrees. But because the hinge faces away from you, placing the machine on your lap works perfectly fine. I even spent a whole night gaming with the Titan on my lap, and it didn't bother me.

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It was a lot cooler after a less intensive test. After I streamed a 15-minute HD video, the underside and center of the keyboard both hit only 86 degrees, while the touchpad hit 91 degrees. The hottest the underside got was 94 degrees.

Software and Warranty

The star software in any MSI laptops is, of course, the Dragon Center. In one app, you can monitor your entire system from CPU to GPU, tune your CPU performance down to the fan speed and the color of the display, and automatically optimize your GPU performance by flicking the Gaming Mode switch on the game you're playing. There's also the VoiceBoost feature, which automatically adjusts in-game voice chat, as well as tools for burn recovery and battery calibration. MSI also includes a feature to control the Dragon Center through a mobile app.

MSI also includes apps like XSplit Gamecaster (with a free 12-month subscription), SteelSeries Engine 3 app for the keyboard lighting and Killer Control Center app, which lets you optimize your internet bandwidth.

On top of all of those apps are Windows 10 bloatware, such as Candy Crush Saga, Candy Crush Soda Saga and Disney Magic Kingdoms.

The GT63 Titan comes with a one-year limited warranty. See how MSI performed on our Tech Support Showdown and Best and Worst Brands ranking.

Configurations

The GT63 Titan 8RG I tested costs $2,999 and is armed with an Intel Core i7-8750H processor, 32GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD with a 1TB 7,200-rpm SATA HDD, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 GPU with 8GB of VRAM, a 1080p and 120Hz display, and a 330W AC power supply.

MORE: Which GPU is Right For You?

Meanwhile, the 4K version of the Titan also runs for $2,999 and keeps the 330W power supply, but it has the same downgraded specs as the cheapest configuration. That configuration runs for around $2,199 and drops down to a GTX 1070 GPU with 16GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD, instead of the 512GB. It has a 230W power supply.

Bottom Line

The MSI GT63 Titan 8RG ripped all of our tests apart with its 8th Gen Core i7 processor and GTX 1080 GPU. The vivid display and blasting speakers are to die for, and I know a few orcs who could corroborate. This baby is also a stone-cold killer, with its cool temps and precise keyboard. But despite that, some uninspired design choices and a wacky touchpad weigh down this laptop.

If you're looking for a thinner and lighter gaming laptop, go for the OriginPC Evo15-S (starting at $1,739). It has a deep-travel keyboard, a bunch of customization options, and powerful CPU and GPU performance.

But if you don't mind the bulk, the GT63 Titan offers a blend of everything that makes a premium gaming laptop great.

Credit: Laptop Mag

CPU 2.2GHz Intel Core i7-8750H CPU
Operating System Windows 10 Pro
RAM 32GB
RAM Upgradable to 64GB
Hard Drive Size 512GB
Hard Drive Speed
Hard Drive Type NVMe SSD
Secondary Hard Drive Size 1TB
Secondary Hard Drive Speed 7,200RPM
Secondary Hard Drive Type SATA Hard Drive
Display Size 15.6
Highest Available Resolution 3840 x 2160
Native Resolution 1920x1080
Optical Drive
Optical Drive Speed
Graphics Card Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 (8GB)
Video Memory 8GB
Wi-Fi 802.11ac
Wi-Fi Model Killer N1550 Combo (2*2 ac)
Bluetooth Bluetooth 5.0
Mobile Broadband
Touchpad Size 4.1 x 2.3 inches
Ports (excluding USB) Microphone
Ports (excluding USB) Ethernet
Ports (excluding USB) Mini DisplayPort
Ports (excluding USB) HDMI
Ports (excluding USB) USB 2.0
Ports (excluding USB) Headphone
Ports (excluding USB) USB 3.1
Ports (excluding USB) Kensington Lock
Ports (excluding USB) Line Out
Ports (excluding USB) Line-in
Ports (excluding USB) USB Type-C
USB Ports
Card Slots SD memory reader
Warranty/Support 1 year
Size 15.35 inches x 10.47 inches x 1.56 inches
Weight 6.7 pounds
Company Website msi.com
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