With the launch of Nvidia's GeForce GTX 16-series GPUs and Intel's 9th Gen Core CPUs for high-performance laptops earlier this year, hardware manufacturers updated their offerings, and now we see a flood of them on the market. Many of these models are in demand right now, and we've seen some great prizes during recent festive sales. MSI, one of the biggest names in PC hardware and games, has successfully switched to pre-built gaming laptops, and the company's offering in India is huge. No wonder that we have the new MSI GL63 9SD-1041IN with us for inspection.
This model has the latest hardware and sells for under Rs. 60,000, which should make it very interesting. It is aimed at buyers who want a solid gaming laptop but can do without high-end frills. It's also relatively portable, which could make it an all-rounder for different types of work.
Let's put the MSI GL63 9SD-1041IN through our usual tests and play a few games on it to see if it's really worth your money.
MSI GL63 9SD-1041IN design
MSI has recently weakened its "gamer" aesthetic and has turned more to the mainstream. The GL63 9SD-1041IN is relatively sober, but unmistakably a gaming laptop, and will draw some attention. The lid is a sleek matt black metal with two diagonal claw marks that frame the MSI dragon logo and red LED strips that highlight it. There are small shades of red like the thin border on the front and sides of the lower half and the space under the hinge barrels.
The hinge is quite stiff and it is not possible to open this laptop with one hand. The lid is also only supported by small hinges at both ends, so that the lid and thus the screen itself have some flexibility. The edges around the panel are relatively thick by today's standards, so you won't get the chic, modern look that some companies come up with. A webcam is embedded directly above the screen.
As with previous MSI laptops, the keyboard was developed in conjunction with Steelseries' gaming peripherals. The model we are testing has a simple red backlight. You can choose between three brightness levels or switch off the backlight entirely. The keyboard layout is pretty normal. There is no Windows key on the left side to avoid accidental pressing during the game. The area around the arrow keys is a little cramped, but the keys themselves are at least full size.
However, we were not entirely satisfied with the typing experience. The keys themselves felt a bit mushy and typing long passages was a bit more arduous than we would have liked. The trackpad has two physical buttons, but they are pressed slightly into the case and are not so easy to press. The entire trackpad focuses on the keyboard, not the laptop, which is good.
On the left and right you can see chunky ventilation slots and exposed heat sinks in the direction of the hinge. There are also large air intake grilles all over the floor. All ports are also on the sides – a Kensington lock slot, an Ethernet port, a full-size HDMI port, a mini DisplayPort, USB 3.1 Gen2 ports (10 Gbps) are on the left ) of type A and type C as well as individual 3.5 mm headphones and microphone sockets. On the right hand side you will find the charger input, two USB 3.1 Gen1 ports (5 Gbit / s) and a full-size SD card slot.
The MSI GL63 9SD-1041IN weighs 2.3 kg and is therefore handy enough for daily commuting, if not exactly ideal. The included 180 W charger also weighs a lot. The overall build quality appears to be solid, with the exception of the hinge, as we mentioned earlier. The keyboard has very little flex and the palm rests are comfortable enough.
MSI GL63 9SD-1041IN specifications and software
We have discovered many different versions of the MSI GL63 laptop on the MSI website and on various e-commerce platforms. It is available at 8th Gene and 9thth Gen Intel Core i5 or Core i7 CPUs and some variants are also equipped with Nvidia's older GPUs from the GeForce GTX 10 series and the high-end RTX 20 series. There are some options with SSDs as well as hard drives and even variants with full RGB LED backlighting per button instead of the uniform red.
We specifically test the MSI GL63 9SD-1041IN. This model has a 9th Gen Intel Core i5-9300H processor, a four-core hyper-threaded model with base and boost speeds of 2.4 GHz and 4.1 GHz, respectively. This CPU has 8 MB cache memory and an integrated Intel UHD Graphics 630 GPU. There is 8 GB of DDR4 RAM.
There is also a discrete Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti GPU with 6 GB dedicated VRAM. You won't get any striking RTX ray tracing effects from Nvidia, but this is an inexpensive and up-to-date GPU in terms of performance. Our test device was equipped with a 512 GB SSD and no hard drive. This is a relatively fast NVMe SSD. a fact that, strangely, the company doesn't promote.
The screen is a 15.6-inch full HD LCD screen with 1920 x 1080 pixels and a refresh rate of 120 Hz. We are happy to see that it has a non-reflective surface. The battery cannot be removed and has a nominal capacity of 51 Wh.
Other notable technical specs include Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 5, a 720p webcam, a killer gigabit ethernet controller, and two 3W stereo speakers. The device is not designed to give users easy access to its internal components, but the RAM and SSD can both be updated. According to the official manual, there is a second unused M.2 slot and a 2.5-inch bay for a SATA hard drive or SSD.
With Dragon Center software from MSI, you can customize fan profiles and manage some system-wide settings such as battery level and voice enhancement for in-game VoIP. There are even auto-tuning profiles for some popular games. Fortunately, there aren't many other bloatware out there. For example, if you need a control panel for the Nahimic audio extensions or the killer network controller, you can follow the links in the driver and app center utility itself. This is an approach that we really like. However, we had to deal with frequent, large Norton Security subscription popups.
A very interesting optional download is MSI App Player, an Android emulation environment operated by BlueStacks. After a fairly alarming installation process warning us that all of our data could be lost and that we should have backups, we were asked to log in to the Google Play Store. Strangely, the Google security message told us that we just signed in from a OnePlus 5 smartphone.
The Android user interface was not scaled properly and we were asked if we wanted to use Wi-Fi or cellular data like a phone (our wired ethernet connection worked fine). We were able to install the Android version of Asphalt 9: Legends and apart from a few graphics errors when loading, the game ran quite well with keyboard input.
MSI GL63 9SD-1041IN performance
The MSI GL63 9SD-1041IN performs quite well in everyday life. We didn't particularly like the muddy keyboard, but it takes some getting used to and the layout isn't frustrating, which would have been a problem. Not many gaming laptops have numeric keyboards, and this could help increase the attractiveness of this model.
When we set up our test device for the first time, we were amazed at how loud the fans were all the time. Some research has shown that they run continuously in MSI's Dragon Center software. The user interface is not very intuitive – there are presets with the names performance, theater and meeting as well as fan profiles with the names comfort, sport and eco. The fans calmed down immediately after choosing Comfort mode, the middle of the three modes. They stayed silent unless we played or ran benchmarks. You can also force the fans to run at full power by pressing the physical button next to the on / off switch above the keyboard.
The screen runs at 120 Hz regardless of whether you are using AC power or the battery. Interestingly, there is no 60 Hz option. As a result, the laptop definitely feels faster, even for everyday tasks. Overall, we were happy with the screen – it's not very sharp, but it's good enough, and the colors seemed good even at 50 percent brightness. The thick edges didn't bother us when we focused on what was on the screen.
The speakers are surprisingly loud, but the sound is not very well balanced. They are great for dialogue and background effects in movies or games, but not so good for music.
At the beginning of our benchmarking round we start with the all-rounder PCMark. In the standard and extended runs, we achieved 3,968 and 5,120 points, respectively. The Cinebench R20 gave us 420 and 1,881 points in its single-threaded and multi-threaded CPU tests. We also put the SSD through its paces with CrystalDiskMark and received decent values of 1603.3 Mbit / s and 1022.1 Mbit / s for sequential read and write processes.
Our real file compression test, using a 3.24 GB folder with various files, took 4 minutes and 26 seconds. Recoding a 1.3 GB AVI file to H.265 took 1 minute and 20 seconds. Blender's 3D rendering benchmark was not completed, but POVRay took 2 minutes and 41 seconds to create its own internal benchmark.
Of course, the MSI GL63 9SD-1041IN is a gaming laptop, so its graphics functions are most important. 3DMark's Time Spy DX12 test scored 5,315, while the Fire Strike Extreme test scored 6,397 points. We went through several game benchmarks and also played a few titles.
Starting with Shadow of the Tomb Raider's built-in benchmark, we chose 1920 x 1080 as our resolution with TAA enabled, the high preset, and the refresh rate of 120 Hz, and the average frame rate was 56 fps. Far Cry 5 gave us 61 fps at 1920 x 1080 and 120 Hz with the default setting high. We also tried Metro: Last Light Redux at 1920×1080 with the high preset with disabled SSAA and 4x AF, which gave us an average playable 37.03fps.
We went through The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt manually, with the graphics set to medium and post-processing set to high. The FRAPS tool showed us an average frame rate of around 70 fps, which is pretty good. DOOM, a reliable classic, ran an average of over 65 fps with its ultra-default setting of 1920 x 1080.
During the game, we felt that the middle of the keyboard got quite hot and even the WASD keys were a bit warm. Fortunately, the left palm rest remained quite cool. The fans got loud enough to drown out the sounds of the games. So you need a headset to enjoy the games to the fullest.
The battery life is not particularly long even for gaming laptops. Our Battery Eater Pro test only lasted 1 hour and 18 minutes. In normal use, where no games are used, we only have about four hours with a single full charge. If you want to use this laptop as a general-purpose device, you will need to connect it frequently.
MSI has chosen an appropriate mix of mid-range components to keep prices at bay. Several variants of the GL63 laptop are currently available in India, and we believe that the configuration of our test device is quite decent. However, we would add a second SSD or a spinning drive for more local storage – even 512 GB can quickly fill up with four or five of the AAA games installed today.
The keyboard and trackpad are not ideal, but they are by no means deal breakers. The screen is pleasant and even the speakers will make many people happy. We believe that this laptop is not only attractive for games, but that MSI now offers similar laptops for professionals and workstations with a less "gamer-like" look. The only real problem that prevents this laptop from being as versatile as we would like it to be is the low battery life.
MSI has released an official MRP of Rs. 1,34,990 for this particular configuration, but it is available online for a lot less than that. In fact, another variant, the GL63 9SD-1043IN, which is identical except for a 256 GB SSD (unknown type) and a 1 TB hard drive, often sells online for under Rs. 80,000. There's also the GL63 9SD-1044IN, which has a Core i7 CPU and is easy to find for less than Rs. 90,000. Given these street prices, the value proposition looks much better.