Portable Yet Powerful
If I was going to purchase a gaming laptop, I’d be in the market for something powerful yet portable. The MSI GS63VR 6RF Stealth Pro provides exactly this: the power of the GTX 1060 for gaming, but a reasonably thin and light chassis that can be transported daily.
Portability is the main selling point of the GS63VR. It doesn't quite achieve ultrabook territory, but this laptop is noticeably thinner and lighter than most other GTX 1060 notebooks on the market. The size of this laptop makes it easier to use as a daily portable workstation as well as a powerful gaming machine.
The thin design comes with surprisingly few trade-offs. The keyboard is a decent size and produces great tactile feel. There’s still a ton of ports on this device, including Ethernet, a full-sized HDMI 2.0 port, and Thunderbolt 3, so you don’t lose anything from an I/O perspective.
The area I thought would be most affected by such a thin design – the cooling solution – is still pretty good considering the constraints on size. The triple-fan solution isn’t particularly loud (it’s not quiet either), and component temperatures are reasonable for the most part. CPU temperatures only hit above 90°C when every aspect of the hardware is being maxed out, while the GPU got no hotter than 84°C in my testing.
My three recommendations to MSI design-wise: shift the power button from the front right edge to somewhere more accessible; ditch the mediocre touchpad, and relocate the speakers from the bottom of the laptop to the top.
From a performance standpoint, the GS63VR fairs just as well as other Core i7-6700HQ and GTX 1060 gaming laptops I’ve reviewed. The GTX 1060 is well-suited to gaming at 1080p, where you’ll be able to play modern games at ultra quality settings at around 60 FPS. Only the most demanding titles, like Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, really punished the GS63VR, and even then you’ll sit above 30 FPS.
As was to be expected, the GS63VR is not user upgrade-friendly. The 2.5-inch drive bay is easy to access, but you’ll void your warranty in the process, while the RAM and M.2 SSD slot require a full motherboard removal. Luckily MSI offers 16 GB of RAM as standard and reasonably-priced models pack generous amounts of SSD storage.
I was disappointed to discover that no GS63VR models come with G-Sync or display refresh rates above 60 Hz, which is a feature you’ll find in some competitors.
To get the performance of a GTX 1060 in a thin chassis, you’ll have to pay a premium. The GS63VR Stealth Pro starts at $1,599, which is a good $300 more than basic 15.6-inch laptops with similar hardware inside. I’d also highly recommend spending the extra $50 to grab a 512GB SSD pre-installed, rather than the combination of a 128GB SSD and 1TB HDD of the base model.
The good news is the GS63VR isn’t any more expensive than competitors that offer the same feature set. Its closest match – the Razer Blade – features a smaller 14-inch display and for an extra $200. I like the design of the Razer Blade more than the GS63VR, but MSI’s option is still a fantastic buy in this product category.
Pros: Thin and light chassis without compromised cooling. Very powerful for its size: the GTX 1060 is a fantastic 1080p gaming GPU. Great keyboard and great selection of I/O.
Cons: Premium priced. Difficult to upgrade RAM and SSD. Minor design issues, including a rubbish trackpad.