Let’s move on to performance now, and I’m not going to spend a lot of time on this as I’ve previously covered a lot of this system’s hardware in other reviews. The Core i7-8750H and GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q combination I’ve covered extensively in previous stuff, so if you’re interested in both CPU and GPU performance I’d suggest checking out my original coverage of the i7-8750H.
However it is still important to benchmark the GS65 specifically to see if there are any performance anomalies or other interesting talking points relative to original results we got for this CPU and GPU. And there’s one that sticks out immediately: the fact this system has single channel memory compared to the dual-channel configuration we used in our initial i7-8750H benchmarks.
As I showed in my review of the Gigabyte Aero 15X, which also uses single-channel memory, the reduced memory bandwidth provided by this sort of configuration does hurt both productivity and gaming workloads in some instances.
This chart shows the performance difference between the MSI GS65 and our original dual-channel memory i7-8750H benchmark results in a range of productivity tests. Some workloads, like encoding, rendering and Excel, are largely unaffected by single channel memory. Others like the Adobe suite, compression and MATLAB are more heavily influenced by reduced memory bandwidth, and as such can be up to 29 percent slower. If you plan on using apps that are memory bandwidth sensitive, I’d suggest chucking in an extra stick of RAM to get dual-channel bandwidth.
How does the GS65 Stealth Thin fare in a direct comparison with the Gigabyte Aero 15X? Well, both of these laptops have single channel memory, and in most tasks you can see the GS65 is slightly slower. For the most part we’re only talking about a five percent performance difference or less, and this down to a simple hardware difference: the Aero 15X uses DDR4-2666 for its single stick, which is the maximum DDR4 speed Coffee Lake supports, while the GS65 uses DDR4-2400. Again this is something you can address yourself with a RAM swap.
If you’re thinking of upgrading from an older laptop with the i7-7700HQ inside, you can expect to see hefty gains in productivity workloads. The i7-8750H provides an upgrade from four to six cores plus clock speed boosts in every situation, which allows it to provide huge improvements in multi-threaded tasks. Cinebench R15, Excel, 7-Zip Decompression and x264 encoding all benefit the most, with gains up to 64 percent and typically at least 50 percent. More single threaded tasks tend to see single digit gains, but that’s still an improvement so we’ll take it.
Here’s a Cinebench R15 chart that shows how the Aero 15X stacks up in more concrete numbers rather than relative terms. Again if you want to see more charts like this and more in depth discussion on the i7-8750H, check my original coverage of that CPU and keep in mind the relative differences we’ve looked at so far.
As for gaming with the GTX 1070 Max-Q, in general this GPU when paired with the 8750H is quite capable of 1080p Ultra gaming at around 60 FPS in the latest titles. Obviously the most punishing games will tax this GPU a bit harder than that – as its performance sits between a GTX 1060 and fully-flegded GTX 1070 – but overall it provides a decent experience.
Again, as we’re looking at single-channel memory, some games don’t perform as well as an equivalent system with dual-channel memory. Games like Assassin’s Creed Origins, Battlefield 1, Prey and Mass Effect Andromeda are hit to a noticeable degree looking at 1% low results, with typical performance drops around 20 percent though it can be as high as 40 percent. Other games like Rise of the Tomb Raider, Star Wars Battlefront II, Dirt 4 and GTA V are less heavily impacted, with either no performance drop or just single digit drops.
When comparing the GS65 to the Aero 15X, performance is pretty close on average, though the slower memory speed of the GS65 does have a small impact across the board. Some games exhibit a double digit performance loss relative to the Aero 15X, while others are either equivalent or slightly faster. On average we’re looking at about a 3 percent difference which isn’t much at all.
We’ve found previously that in a like-for-like system configuration, you’ll get around a 10 percent performance boost from the 8750H when moving from a Core i7-7700HQ, at least when the GPU is a GTX 1070 Max-Q. However again memory bandwidth does have a say in this: if you’re moving from a dual-channel 7700HQ system to a single-channel 8750H system, you’ll actually see a performance loss on average, or at the very least, no significant gain in most games.
If you’re deciding what GPU is right for you, here’s a quick breakdown of how the GTX 1070 Max-Q slots in among other popular laptop GPUs. It’s around 20 percent faster than the GTX 1060, but upwards of 12 percent slower than a full GTX 1070. The GTX 1080 Max-Q tends to be around 25 to 30 percent faster.