The MSI GF series laptops are positioned between the mainstream GL/GV series as well as the Enthusiast GE series. It is targeted at users who are looking for gaming laptops that can perform well in games without having the need to fork out extra for other features.
Today what we have in our labs is the MSI GF63 8RC gaming laptop. This is the lowest SKU model MSI Malaysia has to offer for GF63 series. It comes with 8th generation Intel Core i7-8750H, 8GB DDR4-2666 RAM, NVIDIA GTX 1050 4GB and 1TB HDD + 16GB Intel Optane memory.
The other two SKUs would come with NVIDIA GTX 1060 and 1050 Ti respectively, as well as SSD primary drive. Let’s find out if the MSI GF63 8RC worth the retail price of RM4399.
Since the review sample has been passed around, the box is not something I would describe as aesthetically pleasing. Nonetheless, what’s important is the laptop is well protected in it.
What’s in the box:
- MSI GF63 8RC
- 120W AC power adapter
- User manual
The GF63 was announced during Computex 2018, alongside with the Prestige series PS42. It brings a whole new chassis design to the mid-range gaming laptop, especially inheriting the narrow bezel display from the sleek and elegant GS65. More onto the display at the latter part of this review.
Deriving the design from GS65 means that the GF63 now has a minimalist outlook that is less edgy than the previous generation GF62.
I particularly love the brushed aluminium outer lid design where the red-accented MSI Dragon logo stands out from the rest.
The keyboard deck, too, is made of the same brushed aluminium piece. Despite being metal, that doesn’t stop it from slight creaks upon pressure.
In contrast, the bottom plastic chassis has a lot more going on with all the angled lines and vents. As a whole, MSI has kept the GF63 a lightweight yet robust package.
Keyboard & Touchpad
Unlike the higher end MSI gaming laptops with SteelSeries keyboards, the GF63 comes with a generic keyboard. Unfortunately, MSI has removed the GF62’s tri-zone RGB backlight from the keyboard, leaving a single coloured red backlight, presumably to save the cost.
Each key has a reasonably sized surface and the key travel is pretty standard for daily typing operations.
The full-size arrow keys are certainly great news especially many laptops out there decide to sacrifice the proper-sized arrow keys for space saving.
What really bothers me is the reason to duplicate the backslash key (\). I tried to research on the Internet for the answer to no avail, my best option is probably sending the question to MSI HQ.
On the other hand, the touchpad is somehow a pile of disappointment. While it supports Windows Precision Driver, the experience itself is not up to satisfactory, even at Windows laptop standard. Physical click is limited to the bottom half of the touchpad and it felt awfully cheap. At the end of the day, it is usable, just that you are better off with a mouse on Windows PC anyway.
Ports & Connectivities
- Charging port
- USB-A 3.1 Gen 1
- 3.5mm microphone in
- 3.5mm headphone out
- 2x USB-A 3.1 Gen 1
- USB-C 3.1 Gen 1
- Gigabit LAN RJ45
- HDMI 1.4
We’re happy to see that MSI dropping the use of USB 2.0 entirely even on the GF series. The ports, however, should have been located at the laptop’s left side because right now, the peripheral cables would just get in the way when you’re gaming using a mouse. At least, it is a problem for the majority of right-handed gamers.
Wireless connectivity wise, the GF63 comes equipped with AC WiFi as well as Bluetooth 5.0.
15.6-inch display with narrow bezels, especially the side bezels. The bottom bezel is extra-thick with MSI logo at the middle. Laptop manufacturers could have gone for a 16:10 display to fully utilise the space they have, but they don’t.
The top bezel houses a 720p30 webcam and microphone. No, it doesn’t support Windows Hello.
As for the display, it has a 1080 full HD resolution and a 60Hz refresh rate. The specification sheet has stated the panel to be “IPS-level”. We dive deeper into the details and found the panel itself is indeed IPS. The model number is LGD0563, made by LG.Philips Displays. That makes us wonder, why bother with “IPS-level” when the display itself is already an IPS panel. Or perhaps it could be due to the use of a budget IPS panel.
Display GtG response time specification is nowhere to be found, which indicates that the GF63 might have a not so impressive (~30ms) response time.
In terms of the display quality, subjectively, the viewing angle is wide and the colours are looking alright in person. Objectively, the colour accuracy is not fancy and dandy, covering ~50% sRGB colour space. Fine details, however, is affected by the matte display surface to reduce glare and reflection. All in all, it is an OK display for general & casual gaming.
MSI Dragon Center
Before we get into the actual performance of the laptop, let’s talk about the MSI software that comes with the laptop itself.
The MSI Dragon Center, just like many gaming laptop’s dashboard application, offers a variety of fancy looking features. While it has this gaming optimisation feature for each an every game, honestly, we don’t see any noticeable increment in terms of performance nor the thermals. The actual useful feature that I could use with the Dragon Centre is probably the fan speed control. You are better off undervolting the CPU to achieve better performance and efficiency.
Heck, even the mobile connect feature is broken which I’m not even surprised given the app was last updated more than 2 years ago.
Don’t worry though, you won’t be missing out even if you never touched the software.
MSI App Player
The MSI App Player is essentially a collaboration with BlueStacks Android emulator. MSI has specifically mentioned this version is well optimised to run on MSI machines. Honestly, I think the collaboration is more about the integration of the RGB effects which is missing from the GF63.
Nonetheless, it allows gamers to play mobile games on the desktop using the keyboard and mouse. Now some might say that’s cheating, but as far as I know, some games are capable of recognising if the user is running an emulator or not, hence pairing the player with other players who use the emulator as well.
Mapping the touch screen control to keyboard and mouse.
As for the performance, we ran some benchmark tools and here are the results:
The entry model for the GF63 has a 1TB Seagate Barracuda Pro HDD paired with 16GB Intel Optane memory. That explains the faster access speed compared to regular HDDs. We have mixed feelings towards Intel Optane as it can be a hit or miss experience. Nonetheless, it is a great option for those who want storage capacity and reasonably fast access time. Still, I would love to see MSI spending the money on an actual SSD for primary drive instead.
Yeah, we do aware that the benchmark here is set at the highest setting in the game but it just shows the capabilities of the laptop itself especially the questionable pairing of i7-8750H with the GTX 1050. MSI could have gone for the i5-8300H and use the extra money on a GTX 1050 Ti or even better, a GTX 1060. Then again, MSI reserved them for the higher SKU instead. Fine, how about i5-8300H + GTX 1050 for a cheaper price?
You might need to lower down the quality or resolution for graphics demanding games but for modern eSports titles, the GTX 1050 should handle them with ease. The real challenge here is, in fact, the thermal solution which throttles the full capabilities of the CPU and GPU itself.
As seen from the gaming benchmark table, the CPU and GPU temperature is not exactly satisfactory, it runs REALLY hot. Opening the bottom chassis reveals the answer. The thermal solution is simply not good enough. While it is a good thing to separate the heat pipes individually for CPU and GPU, linking both of them back to the same heatsink is nuts. The top heatsink is overloaded and could not dissipate heat fast enough.
Here is the list of components that is user-upgradable:
- 2x DDR4 SODIMM slots
- M.2 combo slot (NVMe / SATA)
- 2.5-inch HDD/SSD (SATA)
We are delighted to report a single full charge could last you about 5 hours of web browsing and productivity work. While it may be falling short under 7+ hour of acclaimed battery life, but that’s alright, we all know how manufacturers would disable every single feature to claim the “theoretical” longest battery life. I mean, who actually use a computer with lowest display brightness in the daytime?
Gaming on the battery would at most give you around 90 minutes of run time, on top of throttled game performance at 30fps. So, always bring the charging adapter if you plan to game.
In the nutshell, the MSI GF63 8RC offers a fair performance and experience for the price of RM4399. What we particularly like is the compact footprint of the device itself as well as the minimalist chassis design. The lack of an actual SSD leaves much to be desired. What ultimately holds back the true performance is the lacklustre thermal solution which hopefully can be at least improved with a change of the thermal paste.
There are 3 SKUs available for the MSI GF63 including this one.
|GF63 8RC||GF63 8RD||GF63 8RE|
|Intel Core i7-8750H||Intel Core i7-8750H||Intel Core i7-8750H|
|8GB DDR4 2666||8GB DDR4 2666||16GB DDR4 2666|
|NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050||NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti||NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060|
|15.6″ FHD||15.6″ FHD||15.6″ FHD 120Hz 3ms|
|1TB HDD 5400rpm
16GB Intel Optane
|256GB NVMe SSD
1TB HDD 5400rpm
|256GB NVMe SSD
1TB HDD 7200rpm
|Gb LAN & Intel WiFi AC||Gb LAN & Intel WiFi AC||Killer LAN & Intel WiFi AC|
The closest competition we can find at the RM4399 price point is probably the Acer Predator Helios 300 (i5-8300H, 4GB, 128GB+1TB, GTX1060), Dell G7 7588 (i5-8300H, 8GB, 1TB SSHD, GTX 1050) and ASUS TUF FX505G (i5-8300H, 4GB, 128GB+1TB, GTX 1060). As you can see, except for the Dell G7, the rest are having the i5-8300H + 4GB RAM but with an SSD and GTX 1060. The RAM and internal storage are easily upgradable, however not for the CPU and GPU. Choose wisely according to your use case.
- Minimalist design
- Good build quality
- Narrow bezels and compact build
- 1080p display with wide viewing angle
- Good performance
- NVIDIA Optimus for great battery life
- 3-zone RGB keyboard stripped away
- Sub-par touchpad
- I/O Port placement could be better
- Average quality IPS panel, not the most colour accurate
- Runs really HOT
- No actual SSD as primary drive (only available in GF63 8RD [RM4899] and GF63 8RE [RM6899])