Display, Keyboard and Trackpad
Like with the MSI GS40 Phantom, the new GS43VR uses a 14.0-inch 1920 x 1080 IPS LCD panel with a pixel density of 157 PPI. Unfortunately, this laptop’s display does not support G-Sync or any other variable refresh technology, which is disappointing but not unusual as no laptops smaller than 15.6-inches include G-Sync at the moment.
Since the GS40 was released, MSI has tweaked their display profile to more accurately conform to the sRGB spectrum. This display is still limited to 88% sRGB coverage, but the white point has been improved to near-accurate levels, with much better greyscale and gamma performance. The trade-off here is a slight reduction in maximum brightness, which now sits at 288 nits, with a contrast ratio of 1:970.
Color accuracy is reasonable, but limited as the display cannot produce the entire sRGB spectrum. Calibrating the display using software like SpectraCal’s CALMAN 5 did improve performance marginally. While it may not have perfect accuracy like creative professionals would demand, this display will be more than suitable for gamers: it looks good, and the resolution isn’t ridiculously demanding, so most games will run smoothly.
If I were making some tweaks to the display, I’d perhaps like to see a 1440p panel just for that added bit of sharpness around the operating system and in games. A touch more brightness would be welcome too, however these are small adjustments, and I believe most gamers will enjoy this display experience.
The SteelSeries keyboard included on this laptop is the same as what I used on the GS40. There’s a small amount of flex to the keyboard itself, but each key has decent tactile feedback and travel distance, which makes for a good gaming experience. Gamers used to a mechanical desktop keyboard may find the rubber dome keycaps slightly too mushy, though I was generally fine with this keyboard’s feel during typing and gaming.
All of the GS43VR’s important keys are of an adequate size; MSI hasn’t attempted to truncate the shift, tab, enter, or backspace keys, and the spacebar is decently wide. In an interesting layout decision, MSI has placed a second backslash key next to the spacebar instead of a context menu key, and I’m not sure why. My only gripe with the layout would be the half-size arrow keys, which aren’t as easy to hit as full-size equivalents.
The top row of F-keys also double as function keys, which can be used to change brightness and volume with ease. Unlike with some larger laptops, there is no room for macro keys on this keyboard, and similarly there is no room for a numpad.
MSI has once again opted for an ELAN trackpad, which isn’t very good. Tracking performance is poor, gestures don’t seem to work very well, and the physical click isn’t satisfying. ELAN trackpads have never impressed me and I’d really prefer if companies opted for a more reliable solution. Luckily, this is a gaming laptop, so I’d expect most users will use an external mouse during gaming sessions.