MSI GS75 Stealth hands-on review

MSI had a big year in 2018. The GS65 Stealth, with its thin-and-light design, captured the interest of gamers in North America as an alternative to the Razer Blade.

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This year at CES 2019, MSI followed it up with a GS65 Stealth upgraded to RTX graphics and a new gaming laptop, the 17-inch GS75 Stealth. It’s the thinnest 17-inch gaming laptop we’ve ever seen, but is that enough to make it noteworthy in 2019?

A ridiculously portable 17-inch laptop

The GS65 Stealth became popular because of its impressive design. Not only was it the thinnest gaming laptop of the year, it also had a great sense of style. Modern conveniences like thin bezels, aluminum materials, and muted colors made it a fantastic affordable alternative to the Razer Blade. The GS75 Stealth comes from that same school of thought.

The GS75 Stealth is just 0.75 inches thick, less than a tenth of an inch thicker than the GS65. It’s still mind-boggling when you consider the performance hidden inside. If portability is your highest priority, the GS75 is already a winner. Even with its large 17-inch screen, the device feels surprisingly easy to pick up and throw in your bag. That’s extra screen real estate without the added heft.

Even with a 17-inch screen, the device feels surprisingly easy to pick up and throw in your bag.

The formula’s been tweaked beyond just size. The logo on the lid is now an embossed silver, the touchpad has been widened across the deck, and the RGB lighting in the keyboard is now per-key. Those are a few small touches to make that upgrade the laptop’s feel. The chassis is made of aluminum, but we did notice a few weak points in the build quality. There’s noticeable flex in the lid and even a bit in the keyboard deck itself.

Speaking of the keyboard, we would’ve liked to see more features in the 17-inch model. It would be nice to see some macro buttons implemented with all the extra space, and the RGB lighting provided by SteelSeries still isn’t our favorite. It’s well-lit and customizable via MSI’s app, but the colors are a bit too pastel for our taste.

What’s on the inside counts

The GS75 Stealth has the hardware you’d expect to see in any high-end gaming laptop. That includes an Intel Core i7-8750H, 8GB of RAM, a 144Hz 1080p display, and RTX graphics ranging from 2060 to 2080 Max-Q. MSI threw in a few bonus features as well. The GS75 Stealth has three M.2 slots for storage, accessible and upgradable behind a few screws. Two of the slots are PCIe and one is SATA only. That’ll ensure the GS75 will have a longer life than other gaming laptops.

It also has a redesigned cooling system, using three fans and seven heat pipes to keep performance from throttling. That’s a lot of thermal power, and MSI claims a 45 percent increase in air pressure through the cooling system. We’ll be curious to see how it compares to the vapor chamber cooling of the Razer Blade.

MSI GS75 Stealth Compared To

Lenovo Yoga S940

Alienware Area-51m

Acer Swift 7 (2019)

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (4th Gen)

Asus ZenBook S13 UX392

Samsung Notebook 9 Pro

Asus ZenBook 13 UX333FA

Alienware m15

Asus ZenBook 14 UX433FN

Lenovo Yoga Chromebook C630

Dell Inspiron 13 7386 2-in-1

Acer Chromebook 13 (CB713-1W-56VY)

Apple MacBook Air (2018)

Lenovo Thinkpad T480s

Asus UL30A

MSI promises up to eight hours of battery life, which is impressive for a 17-inch laptop with this much processing horsepower. MSI says that’s for “productivity,” not gaming, but it’s still basically unheard of for gaming laptops. The laptop ships with a small power brick as well, increasing the overall portability even more.

Prices haven’t been officially announced, but MSI says the GS75 Stealth will be a couple hundred dollars more than the GS65 Stealth. The laptop should be on sale as soon as the end of January.