MSI’s GE65 Raider review, Very Fast but a Little Thick
The gaming laptop experience has come a long way and the new MSI’s GE65 Raider is proving this phenomenon with its performance. If we go back two years, a top-end gaming laptop would only run on a quad-core 7th-gen CPU.
Raider has doubled the core count with its 9th-gen Core i7-9880H chip. GE65 also has the ability to ray-trace at real time and that too with its full power of GeForce RTX 2070.
All these amazing features amass just 5 pounds and this much power with this weight comes with a little compromise. Before we get into that, let’s take a look at the full specifications of this model.
MSI GE65 Raider Specs:
- CPU: Intel 9th-gen Core i9-9880H 8-core CPU
- RAM: 16GB DDR4/2666
- GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070
- Display: 15.6-inch IGZO 240Hz 1080P screen with Optimus
- Storage: 1TB Samsung PM981 NVme SSD
- Battery: 51Whr
- Ports: Mic in, Speaker out analog ports, 1 USB-C 10Gbps, 1 USB-A 10Gbps, 2 USB-A 5Gbps,1 miniDisplayPort 1.2, 1 HDMI 2.0
- Networking: Killer E2600 Gigabit Ethernet and Killer Wi-Fi 6
Size and weight
This device comes 14 inches wide, and approximately 9.8 inches deep. Also it is 1-inch-thick and the weight of this 1 inch weighs a little over 5 pounds.
The size of the GE65 appears to be very appealing and it is not like the slender as its GS65 sibling. However, it is looking amazingly compact considering the performance.
The thickness would lead MSI jam in up to almost seven heat pipes inside the processor. Two pipes are specially dedicated for the CPU whilst the GPU also share 2 more pipes. The GPU alone gets three dedicated pipes for itself.
Let us start with the bad news, this model of GE65 Raider doesn’t have any ports or doors on it. And you might need some assistance through Youtube videos before you open it up.
Now comes the good news, which is very good indeed. You are going to find two M.2 slots (a used one) two SO-DIMM slots, and M.2 wireless module and also a spot and cabling for a 2.5-inch drive. You can access it without removing the motherboard unlike the other thin gaming laptops.
Keyboard and Trackpad
Without the support of clickpad, the trackpad comes with two ‘mouse buttons’ and the complete trackpad clicks. Keyboard is filled with 10-key number pad. The trackpad is entirely offset and that’s why it’s been centered on the Y button. It would feel smooth but also comes with a slight metallic drag to its surface. In order to get full complement of Windows 10 gestures, it is also Microsoft precision driver-compatible.
The Keyboard experience is not bad and it might appear quite pleasant to some. The steel series branded keyboard comes with a decent travel. It doesn’t give you a tactile click which is why it feels quite mushy. Since it’s a laptop keyboard so it features per-key RGB backlighting and the key skirts are gleaming to emphasize the lighting. The lighting in this Keyboard is quite decent but it’s not like the perfect Razer’s keyboards.
There’s one loophole, maybe, in the keyboard and that is, it is designed as a 10-key after the phone 10-key style. It’s not like a calculator 10-key which would put the button 0 right under your thumb.
MSI has claimed that this model GE65 Raider has giant speakers for amazing music experience. This claims means 5x giant chambers and basically four speakers. However, after listening to a couple of songs on Youtube, we compared the voice experience of GE65 Raider to HP’s Omer 2XS and DELL’s XPS 15.
The result was pretty similar and good for a laptop. But it was no way near the sound a Boombox can produce. Let’s just say the sound was good for a laptop. You shouldn’t be disappointed much as these are performance laptops and not music speakers.
The performance of the CPU
To measure a CPU performance, the benchmark for any laptop is the Maxon’s Cinebench R15. Some might actually do 3D modeling; the test scales vary well with the CPU core count. It means with more cores; you get a higher score. It will also test a system’s performance on a single thread core or multi-threaded.
If you start with multi-threaded performance, nothing can touch the performance of Core i9-9880H in the GE65 against every single 6-core intel CPU. This model also comes ahead of the 8-core Ryzen 7-based Predator Helios 500.
It is safe to say that the GE65 can’t compete with other gaming laptops like Acer Predator Helios 700 with the same CPU. But the Raider gives more cooling and power along with the Alienware Area 51m, which also uses a desktop 8-core Core i9-9900K inside.
A mid-size laptop losing to a laptop of a bigger size shouldn’t be a surprise, but the Raider GE65 also underperforms against the Dell XPS 15 with the same CPU. XPS 15 is basically made for shorter sprints and it is important to understand that.
If you can run a Cinebench in a single-threaded mode, then it can give you a good idea as to how most mainstream applications are going to perform. With a single CPU core, it measures the same workload. Most often, the office tasks, web browsing and even photo tasks use a single thread.
The Core i9-9880H CPUs have a little smaller clock speed advantage and that’s exactly why they will outperform the 9th-gen 6-core intel chips by a margin of about 5 percent.
In other words, if you use that against 8th gen 6-core intel chips, you’d be getting almost 11 percent of advantage. If someone say, there’s no change in the generations than you need to understand that a difference between a 7th-gen quad-core and a 9th-gen 8-core is almost 30 percent in a single-core performance. It’s about 115 percent in the multi-core performance.
There’s an issue with using Cinebench R15 as the only way to measure the performance of a laptop is in a short span of time. A multi-core laptop will probably take just a minute or two at most. And that is certainly not enough to heat up a laptop so that brings us to using the older version of the free HandBrake utility. It will encode a 30GB file using the Android tablet preset. It can take up to 45 minutes on a 7th gen-quad-code laptop and 24 minutes would be the time for an 8-core laptop.
Dell XPS 15 might have outperformed the GE65 Raider in the short Cinebench test, the Raider will always come first in a marathon as it has the cooling ability which no other laptop has and the thickness provide better performance far ahead of the XPS 15. GE65 can only be outperformed by thicker and larger laptops.
Another appealing thing about this gadget is its GPU, it has Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 2070 which is being renamed by “Max P” by the industry insiders because it brings the best out of a laptop and gives the maximum performance. However, Nvidia doesn’t like its new name because it highlights the below par performances of ‘Max Q’ laptops.
With UL’s 3DMark Fire Strike, the GeForce RTX 2070 in the Raider GE65 outperforms every other powerful and larger laptop.
3DMark FireStrike can be judged as a fairly old model and criterion to measure the performance as it only works according to the DirectX 11 Performance. While our focus is just on the GPU performance. So, if the older gen GeForce GTX 1080 goes better than the GE65 Raider in a large Alienware, the story is different here. With the RTX 2070 compared to the GTX 1080, then the only machines which are faster than the GE65 Raider are based on RTX 2080 cards, and there’s no shame in that.
The GE65 Raider is going to have real-world games such as Rise of the Tomb Raider and that too in its perfect and high resolution of 1080 with DX11 mode.
The older GTX GeForce 1080 parts would helix back into the mix under DX 11 games as we witnessed in the FireStrike. You would see in the chart below that the laptops who performs better than GE65 Raider are the 17 inch laptops. They have more space to work with thermals.
We tried a game which goes by the name of Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor at the best 1080 resolution. Honestly, the result wasn’t bad at all. It wasn’t like Acer Predator Helios 700, but overall GE65 is doing well. It is as fast as those very highly rated GeForce GTX 1080 laptops which are bigger and abundant.
Battery life is neither great, nor terrible
In today’s world of gaming laptops, battery life is considered to be very essential. People demand it more and the manufacturers are coming with different efforts. In Raider’s GE65 test, we had a 4k video played at loop with about 250 nits’ brightness. The earbuds were also in there and the laptop was on airplane mode with all the RGB keyboard features.
Battery life traditionally depends on the size of the battery and every hardware thing that’s running in between. There’s another factor to the gaming laptops and that’s if the machine is using Nvidia’s G-Sync, then it requires the GPU to be connected to the display, it means the discrete GPU and the RAM are turned on the whole time of usage.
Interestingly, the Raider GE65 doesn’t have a G-Sync despite it uses a 240HZ panel. High refreshing means very low latency and little visible tearing. It is because the redraws are happening at three times the rate of a 60Hz panel.
The biggest setback is the battery life of 53-watt-hour. It’s the size of the ones used in 13.3 inch thin lights. Like the Dell XPS 15 drums a 98-watt battery.
So our Test results reveal that the Raider GE65 ran over 4.5 hours before getting dark and its sister GS65 Stealth ran over 6 hours with the help of 80-Whr battery. We would rate it as good and not terrible.
This Raider GE65 has many things to like about it and it comes with a 57-percent increase in performance compared to the 6-core 8th gen. it is because it is coming with a highlight of its features i.e. 8 core Core i9-9880H. it offers a significant increase in performance.
If you’re upgrading from quad-core 7th-gen Core i7 chip, then you’d find yourself in the ballpark of a 118 percent uptick in multi-threaded workloads.
Perhaps the only setback is the battery life as we feel it could have been done better and it would have made this model a perfect one. So if you want to have laptop with powerful performance but you can compromise on battery life than GE65 Raider should top your list.
If gaming or graphics, GE65 along with its RTX 2070 performs out of their skin and makes everyone wonder whether the thinner GeForce RTX 2080 Max Q are worth it? Because the GE65 Raider really isn’t that much larger or thicker than most of the Max Q laptops.
If you want to look into other options while budget is not a problem for you then Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX701 – Premium Powerful Gaming Laptop is also recommended for you. But, if you have some budget related issues, which is a universal issue, then Alienware M17 Packed with GeForce RTX 2060 – Reasonably Priced Gaming Laptop you should check it.
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