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Ultrabook reviews, guides and comparisons

How to upgrade the HDD, RAM and SSD on the MSI Stealth Pro GS73VR (and MSI GS63VR)

By Derek Sullivan , updated on September 22, 2016

If you’ve read my detailed review of the MSI Stealth Pro GS73VR (you can find it here, in case you didn’t), you should know that I decided to keep the 4k model, and order to make it more accustomed to my needs, I went ahead and upgraded some of the internals.

First off, the HDD had to go.  I decided to replace it with my old 1TB Samsung 840 Evo.  I also have a Plextor NVMe 1TB M.2 drive and 32GB of RAM to upgrade with.  So basically because of how the motherboard is configured, I bought myself into completely disassembling the laptop – yay!

Before venturing on, you must know that myself or anyone else associated with Ultrabookreview.com can’t be held responsible or liable for any damage that you might incur on your unit during the upgrade process, so proceed at your own risk and only if you know what you’re doing!

I took some pictures along the way and I also have some tips for those of you who want to venture forward with this as well.  I caution you in advance, this is a very time consuming process.  It took me about an hour but it will probably take you longer, as I have done this numerous times with my old GS60.  Give yourself 2 hours to be safe, and maybe longer if you repaste and you’re a rookie with that too.

The good news is that MSI GS63VR owners (reviewed here) can also follow this procedure pretty much to the letter.  If you look at the pictures, the only real difference between the GS73’s and GS63’s internal architecture is the fact that the GPU fans are a little further apart and some of the other components are a little spread out on the larger unit.  The motherboards are identical.

Make sure you give yourself a lot of room to work – I took up most of my kitchen table doing it since there are so many parts to move around.  Depending on where you live, you’ll probably also want to make sure you’re properly grounded.  Again, proceed with caution.

So here we go, the first thing you’ll want to do is remove the back cover.  The warranty sticker is in the way, hiding one of these screws underneath, so that needs to come off.  For US and Canada, this sticker doesn’t void the warranty, but if you’re anywhere else, know that by breaking this sticker your warranty is now void.  If you don’t care about looks, break right through it.  If you want to peel the whole sticker off though, you’ll want to heat it up with a hair drier or something to loosen it up – then it just peels right off.  You can always do this after you get the cover off.

The back cover is hold in place by 17 Philips screws

The back cover is hold in place by 17 Philips screws

There are 17 screws to deal with and some of them are different lengths.  I highly recommend getting a sheet of paper and drawing the laptop on it.  Then use double sided or clear tape and put the screws where they belong on the drawing.  If not for this step, do it for the motherboard for sure.

Once you get all the screws off, you’ll need a plastic opening tool, guitar pick or even a credit card to release the clips at the exhaust vents.  Be patient here and start at the edges.  Then work your way into the middle until the back panel fully releases.  If you break a clip, it’ll probably annoy you from now on so you won’t want to mess up here.

With the cover off, you’ll see the motherboard.  The HDD is easily replaceable, but the rest is going to take some work. First things first is to work on the cables.  There are 14 things to disconnect in total, including the Wifi module.  Start with the battery and work your way around.  Some of these are going to take some dexterity, especially the ones down by the HDD.  Removing the HDD helps get to them easier though.  That battery connector is also a tough one to pull out.  I had to pinch my fingers on all the wires together and just pull it.

This is what you see once you take care of the back cover

This is what you see once you take care of the back cover

The ribbon cable connectors are pretty fragile so you really want to be gentle here.  It’s pretty much a standard how to release them though – just carefully lift up on the plastic lever and it’ll rotate 90 degrees upward.  Then the ribbon cables can be pulled right out.  If you break one, it really sucks but it’s not the end of the world.  You’ll just have to rely on tape to hold it in from now on.  If you don’t have any Kapton tape, I recommend having some on standby.

These are the cables you need to disconnect

These are the cables you need to disconnect

Next are the screws.  There are 16 screws holding the motherboard down.  One of those you already removed with the Wifi module.  It’s very important you keep track of what screw goes where because many of them are different. Some are hard to see since they probably are surrounded by black elements and have black marker on them.  Others are hidden behind tape.  Once you get them all off though, the motherboard can now be lifted right off.

An optional step that might be necessary, especially for GS63VR owners, is to remove the memory card module to the right.  On the GS73VR, it’s not really in the way but it might be nice to remove it to have extra space upon reassembly.  If you do, it’s just 2 screws.

The screws that hold the motherboard in place

The screws that hold the motherboard in place

Now with the motherboard off, flip it around and place it somewhere safe where you can continue to work.  The RAM modules and M.2 module are pretty straight forward from here.  If you need help with these steps, I don’t know how you got here – seriously.

If repasting is your desire, this is where you’ll want to do it.  Keep in mind, this pretty much breaks your warranty on the CPU and GPU.  It’s a pretty straight forward task though, especially if you’ve done it before.  The CPU has 3 screws and the GPU has 4.  Once you get them all off, the heat sink pulls right off.  This is different from the GS60 because the heat pipes are all interconnected though.  Reapplying the heatsinks together might be challenging.

With the heatsinks off, use isopropyl alcohol and some lint free cloths to remove the paste.  Remove it on the CPU, GPU and the heatsinks until everything is nice and shiny.  Then apply your new paste according to their recommendations.  These are probably rectangular in shape so you might have to do a thin line down the middle.  I won’t go into too much detail with this because there are so many opinions on what’s right and wrong with each paste.  There are plenty of other guides on how to do paste though, so I recommend looking at some videos if you’re not experienced.

The screws holding in place the CPU and GPU, in case you go for repasting

The screws holding in place the CPU and GPU, in case you go for repasting

Reassembly is pretty much everything in reverse.  Double check all your connections and make sure all your screws are where they should be.  I recommend doing a boot and a mini performance test before putting the back cover on.  If it doesn’t power on, don’t panic just yet – you have to attach the power cord when powering it on for the first time after disconnecting the battery.

Hopefully at this point, everything is working.  If so, reattach the back cover, put in all the screws and make sure the clips are clipped back in.  You’re done!

Hope this helps someone and feel free to message me below if you have questions.

In addition to being a tech enthusiast, Derek has a career as a biomedical engineer. He enjoys taking things apart, figuring out how they work and finding ways to make them better. His other hobbies include spending time with his family, "Do it yourself" projects such as home automation and running.

52 Comments

  1. JO

    September 30, 2016 at 11:48 pm

    Great disassembly instructions. Can you please post the mother board removal photos or video for the GS63VR?

    • Derek Sullivan

      October 1, 2016 at 7:17 am

      Sorry, I don’t have that model anymore. It’s basically the same though, except the power button ribbon cable is located centered at the top instead of the left hand side by the cpu fan. From my understanding, the motherboard fits in more snuggly as well, where mine just pulls right out.

      • JO

        October 3, 2016 at 9:58 pm

        Actually what I’m having trouble with is unplugging the batter cable from the motherboard. It seems to wiggle side to side, but won’t come out. Is there a tab holding it back? Thanks.

        • Derek Sullivan

          October 3, 2016 at 9:59 pm

          No tab but it’s really tight and tough to pull

  2. ddd

    November 7, 2016 at 6:10 pm

    How did u opened back cover? I unscrewed everyhing I could see.. it just so f*ing lit! Cant put even a needle through

  3. Matt

    November 9, 2016 at 12:06 am

    Can I replace the stock 128gb ssd with a 1TB SATA 2.5" 7mm (with 9.5mm adapter) SSD, or does it have to be a M.2? Either way, if I was only going to replace one, would it be better to replace the 1TB HDD or 128GB SSD with a new 1TB SSD?

    • Derek Sullivan

      November 9, 2016 at 1:10 am

      the 1TB drive is 2.5" and the 128GB SSD is M.2 PCI-e. YOu have to change them out with the same type. Unless you're really comfortable with a near total disassembly of the laptop, I'd replace the 1TB HDD with a 1TB SSD and leave the 128GB alone.

      • Matt

        November 9, 2016 at 1:12 am

        ok, thanks

  4. Muzafar Umarov

    November 14, 2016 at 8:03 pm

    Do you know what kind of cable is the ribbon that connects to the HDD? I bought the amazon exclusive version of GS63VR. It doesn't have the HDD. I really didn't want it. But when I opened it, I saw the same thing, but there is no cable for the HDD/SSD. I bought an SSD to put in the empty slot, but do not have a cable. I have been searching all over the Internet and couldn't find anything. I am going to contact MSI support tomorrow, hopefully they can help me out.

    • Derek Sullivan

      November 14, 2016 at 10:17 pm

      Call Tom Ho at MSI. He can help you with a part order. You can Google his name for the contract info.

      • Muzafar Umarov

        January 12, 2017 at 6:48 pm

        Hey I want to say thank you for pointing me to Tom, My cable is arriving next week. It took two months to get here from the time I ordered. :(
        Do you know what brand the m.2 SSD was from factory? Your pictures are downscaled, so I can't see the info on the m.2

        • Derek Sullivan

          January 14, 2017 at 4:00 pm

          I have the full model number in the crystal disk screenshot in the gs73vr article. Sorry, I'd your it out but I'm limited to my phone right now.

      • Kusan

        February 16, 2017 at 2:54 pm

        I have the same issue, do you have a contact or something?

        Is it not possible to command that part of ebay or something?

        Really sad that they didn't include the cable for people that might want to use that empty slot.

        Thanks in advance,

  5. Matt

    November 20, 2016 at 3:08 pm

    What is the best way to clone the existing SSD over to the new one? I can't seem to find a NVMe to USB adapter. Any suggestions?

    • Derek Sullivan

      November 20, 2016 at 4:07 pm

      You aren't going to find a PCI-e USB adapter. It's a totally different protocol, so the adapter would be more like a GPU dock and it'll likely connect via USB-C. So your choices in order of expense are:
      -If you're talking about the GS63 or GS73, odds are you have a SATA M.2 drive in the stock unit. If so, swap out hte drives and put the old drive into a SATA M.2 to 2.5" adapter and put it in the 2.5" slot. Or use a USB adapter. Either way, it's a $10-15 adapter and is the easiest way to get the job done. If you happen to have a PCI-e drive in your laptop already, it would be the first I've heard of it but the below steps would work.
      -buy a cheap PCI-e x4 adapter and clone it on a desktop. If you have two PCi-e drives, you'll need two adapters and a MB that supports two slots. Of course you'll also need a desktop for this. Total cost is about $15 per adapter
      -buy a larger portable HDD and clone an image to it. Then swap out your M.2 drives and clone the image back onto the new drive. Total cost is the price of the external drive.
      -Buy an external PCI-e dock and a PCI-e x4 adapter. Attach the drive to the adapter, insert into dock and attach to your laptop. Even though those docks are got external GPUs, they still work just fine for PCI-e SSDs. Super expensive though and could run you a couple hundred dollars or more.

      • Matt

        November 20, 2016 at 4:44 pm

        Ok thanks. I'll probably just end up taking it to a computer store to see if they can do it. I'm pretty new at this. I have the GS63VR. I bought a Crucial 1 TB Sata III 2.5" SSD to replace the existing HDD with, 32gb ram upgrade, and a Plextor M8Pe 512gb NVMe M.2 SSD to replace the existing SSD with. I tried to get it installed at Best Buy, but they wouldn't do it because of having to remove the mother board. I was hoping to do it myself, but it may be a little too complex.

      • jim

        November 21, 2016 at 5:16 pm

        If you have a USB Hdd you can use macrium reflect (free for home use edition) to make a back up image, then make a rescue USB
        Then put in new M2 drive boot from macrium rescue stick and restore the image from the usb hdd, dead easy I've done it loads of times.

        all you need is a USB HDD and 8gb usb stick

  6. QO

    November 21, 2016 at 5:44 am

    Is it fine if i touched the pins on the bottom left of the casing where the white and gold ribbon cables are?

    I removed the yellow sticker thinking I would have to lift up the ribbon to swap out my HDD for a SSD. I've connected it correctly now and its working fine (SSD has been detected).

    • QO

      November 21, 2016 at 5:46 am

      I can hear the CPU processing noises as well (not the fan). Is this normal?

    • Derek Sullivan

      November 21, 2016 at 2:14 pm

      You risk static shock but in general, you can touch pretty much anything. As for your CPU processing noises, yes that unfortunately is normal. All i7 quad core Skylake CPUs have had this issue for some reason

  7. jim

    November 21, 2016 at 5:46 pm

    Thanks for taking the time on this, did you notice much difference when you re pasted? I will be cracking mine open to change boot m2 drive and may as well re paste as well while I'm in there unless the stock job is good?

    • Derek Sullivan

      November 21, 2016 at 6:16 pm

      From what I can tell, the difference in repasting isn't all that drastic. Maybe a couple degrees but certainly not enough to warrant all the extra work and the risk, in my opinion.

      • jim

        November 21, 2016 at 6:40 pm

        thanks I'll leave it then

      • James Golden

        November 24, 2016 at 1:56 pm

        phew well i did it stripped it all out and replaced the Nvme sm951 / 256 with pm961 1tb & put a 2tb 850 in the drive and upgraded the wifi to intel 8260 while i was in there

        thanks to your guide it all came apart so easy so i did re paste too, quite pleased with the results.

        The re assembly didnt quite go to plan but it worked out ok in the end.

        my abosulute max CPU temp went from 91 to 85 so worth doing for me, i may try LM for even better results….

        my issue are detailed here, forum.notebookreview.com

        • Derek Sullivan

          November 24, 2016 at 2:12 pm

          That's great James! Glad it worked out and thanks for sharing your results.

        • Todd

          January 14, 2017 at 2:44 pm

          Do you know if you can upgrade to the Intel 18265 triband? If so, is the third antenna going to be an issue and where do you get the antennas from? New to this and looking to upgrade my killer wireless on my gs63vr to something with wigig. Thanks in advance.

  8. Matt

    November 26, 2016 at 3:13 pm

    It's a bummer to see the second M.2 slot disappear. The GS70 has two mSATA slots, plus the 2.5". Not that it's entirely necessary, but nice.

  9. Nicholas Newell

    November 27, 2016 at 12:53 am

    I picked up a GS73VR with 16GB of RAM and upgraded the HDD to an SSD with the help of your guide here – thanks!

    I'm doing neural network R+D using this machine for CUDA development, and I would like to upgrade the machine to 32GB of memory to enable it to handle larger models. I'd rather not do the full dissassembly myself though. Do you know if MSI will do it if I send it to them? Or do you know of a reputable third party place I could send it to?

    Thank you.

    • Derek Sullivan

      November 27, 2016 at 12:57 am

      I'm sure MSI would do it. If not, they should at least know someone who does. They're going to charge a pretty penny though.

      • Nicholas Newell

        November 28, 2016 at 4:18 pm

        Thank you. I'm also going to see if the Micro Center will do it.

  10. Joe

    December 1, 2016 at 5:28 pm

    Awesome write up. I just got the GS63vr a couple weeks ago and with 2 games installed, the ssd is already as full as I'd like it to be. I want to go with the Samsung 950 Pro. I have the Evo 850 ssd coming to replace the 1T hdd. Unfortunately I won't be able to clone the 950 drive myself, I don't know of any way to bridge it to the computer to do so, so will be doing a fresh reinstall. It'll be nice to be rid of a ton of bloatware that came on this thing. Might even max the ram while I'm at it.

    • Derek Sullivan

      December 1, 2016 at 5:41 pm

      To clone, just get an external USB adapter off of amazon. The m.2 drive in your unit is almost definitely m.2 sata. Double check, just to make sure.

    • James Golden

      December 1, 2016 at 6:44 pm

      easier way if you have a USB HDD with enough space to cover the used space on your current ssd & a 4gb usb thumb drive as well.

      1. load macrium reflect it will bring up your drives, it will ask do you want to create rescue media, choose yes and follow instructions to create the rescue usb.
      2. back into main program choose your OS drive (ssd) and click image this drive, then choose you removable drive (you can even save it to the storage drive in the gs63)
      3. let it make the back up image
      4. shut down , strip out board and replace ssd with new larger one.
      5. power up laptop hitting del or whatever to get into bios.
      6. boot from recovery media you made, it brings up the macrium program in standalone environment, it will see your drives find the back up choose restore to the new empty drive as the target.
      7. when its finished you will have an exact copy of you system like before
      8. you r C drive will currently still be the same size though, so got into control panel , administrative tools, computer management, storage and used the function to extend the disk to take up the new unused space.

      so yeah come to think of it if you have enough space on the storage drive on the laptop just make the back up there no need for any external drives or adapters just a 4gb usb and some free software.

      hope this helps its really easy to do.

      • Joe

        December 5, 2016 at 2:45 pm

        Awesome. Yeah I have decided to use my internal data drive (D:) to copy my 128 ssd to. Then when I get the bigger one swapped in I can load it over. Oh and I picked up the Samsung 960 pro ssd. It's a PCIe ssd. But from reading the bios menus for system settings, there is a slot for it and it's saying it's empty. Would that mean I don't need to use the D drive to clone the ssd and I can just go from 128 ssd to new 960? I really want or crack this laptop open and see what's all on the motherboard. I've never owned a laptop that wasn't easy to get into. And I've build desktops which are too easy. Thanks for the info!!

        • James Golden

          December 5, 2016 at 3:18 pm

          Not sure regards slot 2

          I had a 63 15" which only had 1 m2 slot, the 73 may well have 2 if thats the case then yes you just out the new one in and clone

          when you do clone / or image your OS drive dont forget to increase the size of your C partition to use up the new space on the new drive

          they are quite easy to open up and work on just be careful

        • Joe

          December 5, 2016 at 3:23 pm

          After saving and zooming into the image of the MB. I'm guessing the M.2 slot where the current ssd is also supports the PCIe. I believe that's what I read on another comment about someone who swapped in the 950 pro PCIe ssd into this exact laptop. I'll just attempt to clone my ssd into the D drive then load as recovery to put it on the new ssd. Rather than mess with an external. If I'm thinking absolutely a** backwards let me know. Thanks again. Much appreciated!!

          • Derek Sullivan

            December 5, 2016 at 3:38 pm

            There's only a single M.2 slot on both the 63 and 73. That slot is compatible with both sata based and PCI-e drives. The one I had in both my units was SATA based. In my GS73, I put a 1 TB Samsung 950 Pro into the M.2 slot and a Evo 850 2TB in my 2.5" slot. Overkill, maybe, but I use a lot of the space for pictures and videos and I no longer use a desktop.

  11. Joe

    December 5, 2016 at 4:02 pm

    Derek, Thanks again for the fast response. Im hoping the 960 drops in and after migration it boots up with no issues. Seems Im reading a lot of comments around with BIOS not seeing the 950s. But most were from 2015 and obviously on older boards and older BIOS. Yeah its only been a year but in tech age thats old lol. If all else fails I can do a fresh win10 install on it. I don't have much to lose on it since its only a few weeks old anyway.

    • Joe

      December 5, 2016 at 4:03 pm

      And thank you as well James!!!

  12. Joe

    December 6, 2016 at 4:37 pm

    Just a quick update, I was able to clone my oem M.2 ssd over to my new Evo 850 after formatting it. Using the Samsung Migration Software that came with it. From there I installed my new Samsung 960 pro. Unfortunately Samsung migration wouldn't recognize it even after formatting it. So I first tried EaseUS and it kept saying not enough disk space. So I used macruim reflect instead. It worked great and only took 9 minutes. From there I wiped the Evo 850 so it no longer had the clone on it and everything booted fine. All system files and installed software works fine. The only thing needed now is to extend the OS volume on my 960 to fit the 11gb that is still unallocated on it. Best part is my oem M.2 ssd will be available just in case my system crashes.
    Just wanted to tank you guys again for the great info and tips for getting this done. Very much appreciated!!

  13. Philippe Bekaert

    December 11, 2016 at 11:38 am

    thanks for these great instructions. They helped a lot. I replaced the NVMe drive on my GS63VR with a 1TB samsung 960 pro and the SATA drive with a 2TB samsung pm863. Everythings works and I have no screws left after reassembling (:-), except for the USB3 ports. Any suggestions what I could have been doing wrong, or what to check ? Thanks! Philippe

    • Philippe Bekaert

      December 11, 2016 at 11:40 am

      oh … the USB3 ports do offer power and work with USB2 devices, but not with USB3 devices (in particular hard drive). They do get power, but no data connection. Thanks. Ph.

      • Derek Sullivan

        December 11, 2016 at 11:51 am

        Did your hard drive work before? Sometimes hard drives need that second USB connection in order to work properly. Do you have a USB3 thumb drive or anything to test?

        I can't imagine what it would be. If I remember correctly, there's only a single header that connects the USB to the motherboard. It might be worth it to try disconnecting and reconnecting it.

        • Philippe Bekaert

          December 11, 2016 at 3:34 pm

          That solved the problem indeed: the wide golden ribbon cable connecting the USB3 daughter board didn't stick in far enough. I eventually removed the battery to get a better grip on it and insert it properly. The battery is glued but comes loose when pulled gently.
          Thanks again!

  14. Ricardo Medina

    January 10, 2017 at 4:33 pm

    THAnk you!!! You dont have the idea how helpful you were!

  15. John

    April 13, 2017 at 8:59 pm

    Hi,

    I've found a good price for 2666mhz Kingston HyperX Impact RAM. Would that work in this system instead of the 2400mhz?

    Thanks :)

    • Derek Sullivan

      April 14, 2017 at 8:44 am

      It might work but it probably would not run at 2666mhz. Technically the CPU supports up to 2133mhz, but I've found 2400 works fine with this CPU. There's no bios setting for the RAM so it's only going to run at what MSI supports it for.

  16. John

    April 14, 2017 at 9:34 am

    Thanks Derek,

    If you have a moment I was wondering a few things with the GS73VR 7RF (FHD 120hz)

    I was planning to use a 960 PRO V-NAND NVMe PCIE M.2 1TB as the primary drive… then a 850 EVO SATA III 2.5inch SSD 4TB as my main storage drive.

    Id swap out the RAM for Kingston HyperX Impact DDR4 – 32 GB: 2 x 16 GB – SO-DIMM 260-pin.

    If all that would work..?

    I'm hoping to have a beast of a machine, I shouldnt have to upgrade again for a good few years. I just hope MSI build quality lasts that long :)

    • Derek Sullivan

      April 14, 2017 at 3:00 pm

      That's actually the same setup I have except I have a 2TB SSD instead of 4TB. It's great! As for longevity, I think it'll last a few years. The hinges are always the unknown point on laptops, but considering they are metal and held by two screws, I think they'll be fine. The laptop itself is also mostly metal, so as long as take decent care of it I think it could easily last that long. Good luck!

      • John

        April 14, 2017 at 10:44 pm

        Hi Derek,

        Glad to know I made all the right choices in picking my upgrades :)

        Thanks for the help, will let you know how it goes.

        John

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