Among gaming laptops, the MSI Raider series has been historically known for its excellent performance and thermals in the mid-range segment.
For the last few weeks we’ve spent time with a retail version of the latest member in this lineup, the MSI GE65 Raider, and gathered our thoughts in the review down below. Our test unit is the GE65 Raider 9SE configuration, with a Core i7 processor, Nvidia RTX 2060 graphics and a 240 Hz screen.
This is not your average RTX 2060 laptop though, as both the CPU and GPU are overclocked in order to deliver improved performance in demanding loads and games, but without skimping on temperatures or noise levels. Of course, the thermal module has an important role in this, alongside the optimized software package.
At the same time, though, the GE65 Raider is also more expensive than the average full-size RTX 2060 laptop, and by a significant margin. In fact, price-wise, it comes close to the performance ultraportables out there, and that could make it a hard-pick for most buyers. As you’ll find down-bellow, there’s very little to complain about the performance, thermal/noise balance, typing experience, screen quality or audio, but all these might still not justify a $1799+ RTX 2060 full-size notebook.
The specs sheet as reviewed – MSI GE65 Raider 9SE
|MSI GE65 Raider 9SE|
|Screen||15.6 inch, 1920 x 1080 px resolution, IPS, 240Hz, matte, Sharp SHP14D3 panel|
|Processor||Intel Coffee Lake-R Core i7-9750H, six-core|
|Video||Intel UHD 630 and Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 6GB 90W (GeForce 440.97)|
|Memory||16 GB DDR4 2666 MHz (2x DIMMs)|
|Storage||512 GB SSD (M.2 80 mm PCIe x4 – Samsung PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ-00000) + empty M.2 slot + empty 2.5″ bay|
|Connectivity||Killer WiFi 6 AX1650x 2×2 with Bluetooth 5.0, Killer E2600 Gigabit LAN|
|Ports||3x USB-A 3.2, 1x USB-C 3.2 gen 2 with DP, miniDP, HDMI 2.0b, LAN, headphone and mic, SD card reader, Kensington Lock|
|Battery||51 Wh, 180 W power adapter|
|Size||358 mm or 14.1” (w) x 248 mm or 9.8” (d) x 26.9 mm or 1.06” (h)|
|Weight||2.25 kg (4.96 lb), .76 kg (1.67 lbs) power brick and cables, EU version|
|Extras||RGB backlit keyboard with per-key control, quad speakers, HD webcam|
This is a mid-range configuration of the GE65 Raider, identical to the one most wide-spread in stores. You can configure the laptop with more RAM and storage, as well as opt for a higher-tier RTX 2070 variant in the GE65 Raider 9SF. Our review mostly focuses on the 2060 model, but this article shows how the 2060 and the 2070 fare against each other in the larger 17-inch sibling of this laptop, the GE75 Raider.
Design and exterior
The GE65 Raider is a new design and a more compact and nicer-built successor of the GE63 Raider. It still burrows some of the iconic MSI design elements, like the screen-lit Dragon shield on the lid-cover, flanked by two bar-accents, but it’s overall cleaner and simpler.
Gone are the obnoxious red elements of the past and even the most visible branding elements. They’re still there, the MSI writing on the screen’s chin and the Steelseries and Dynaudio branding on the interior, but they’re black now and fade into the overall design. The palm-rest is still plastered with stickers, though, so peel them off asap.
Looks aside, the GE65 is both smaller and lighter than the GE63, but also sturdier built. The screen and the interior don’t flex as much, even when abused, and that’s what I like seeing in a gaming laptop that won’t always be pampered by its owners. I’m especially happy to see these improvements considering that the build-quality has not been historically one of MSI’s selling points. Finally, the GE65 can now stand proudly next to its piers, like the Asus ROG Scar III or the Lenovo Legion Y740.
As far as practicality goes, I’ll start with a less obvious detail: this is a black laptop and normally that means it should show smudges and finger oil all over the interior. It’s not really the case here, though, as the interior is coated with a slightly harsher finishing that does a fair job at absorbing those. The outer lid still shows them, so you’ll still have to rub that clean quite often. I haven’t clean the laptop for this shoutout so you’ll know how it looks after using it for a few days, but keep in mind my hands are dry and not oily at all.
I’ll add that MSI smartly places the status LEDs out of the way on the front lip, and while the Power Button is always-lit, it’s also dim and easy to ignore when watching a movie on a dark-room.
These aside, I’ll also touch on the fact that MSI made sure to blunt and round the front lips and corners, so they don’t dig into wrists with daily use. They also mounted hinges that allow simple one-handed operation and adjustment of the screen, as well as the ability to lean it back more than on most other gaming laptops, to about 160 degrees. Finally, the rubber feet on the bottom do an excellent job of keeping this anchored on a desk.
Down there on the belly you’ll also notice the vast air-intake space, with wide-open grills. That ensures excellent airflow over the components, but also means that you shouldn’t cover them while running games and you should take the precaution to periodically clean the dust that will definitely gather inside through those large openings. The hot air is pushed out through exhausts on the back, away from the user, like on all other notebooks in this class.
As for the IO, there’s pretty much everything you’ll want on this laptop, aside from Thunderbolt 3 support and USB-C charging. You do get several USB-A slots, one USB-C with DP, HDMI, and miniDP for video output, a card-reader and separated HiFi mic and earphone jacks, as well as a card reader. Most of the ports are placed on the left edge, and the USB-A slots are lit by default, but you can choose to disable the lights from the software.
All in all, the GE65 Raider is one of the nicest MSI laptops I’ve ever touched. It’s perhaps not as exquisite as the GS65/GS75 lines and still inherits some gaming elements of the past that might not be appreciated in certain strict work/school environments, but it’s better built than the GS65 and overall a practical design that checks most boxes I’d expect in a modern gaming notebook.
Keyboard and trackpad
The GE65 Raider gets the Steelseries chiclet keyboard that MSI has put on most of their gaming notebooks in recent years.
The layout is mostly fine, with a full-sized main deck of keys, full-sized arrows, and a narrower NumPad section. You do get some perks characteristic to MSI notebooks that I find annoying, like the Windows key placed towards the right side next to the \ key, or the oddly placed Delete key at the top of the NumPad. You’ll get used to them after a while, and there is an option to switch the Fn and Windows keys in the Dragon Center app, but I just don’t understand why MSI had to reinvent the wheel here.
As far as the typing experience goes, I personally find this keyboard a little unforgiving. The stroke is fairly deep and the keys require a firm press to actuate, and for me, that leads to a fair-bit of errors and below-average typing speed. Derek, on the other hand, swears by these MSI keyboards, so there’s definitely a good matter of personal taste involved here. All in all, I’d say most people will get along fine with this implementation, past the initial accommodation period.
This keyboard is, however, one of the quietest in the market. Even the Space key was fairly quiet on this unit, unlike on other MSI laptops I’ve got my hands on in the past.
MSI also implements per-key RGB illumination on their Steelseries keyboard, with bright LEDs that cover both the main letter and the secondary function of each key. The included SteelSeries Engine app gives control over the illumination and allows to set custom profiles, effects, etc.
I will also note that this keyboard offers a neat trick when pressing the FN key, turning off the keys that don’t have an FN associated function and only lighting-up those that do. This helps to find the various shortcuts, especially since some of them are not where you’d normally expect them to be from other notebooks (like the keyboard’s brightness toggles, placed all the way to the right, in the NumPad section)
For mouse, MSI went with a non-clickable touchpad with physical click buttons underneath. It’s averagely sized, made out of plastic and gets Precision drivers, so it feels alright to the touch and handles swipes, taps, and gestures well. The surface doesn’t rattle when tapped firmly, but the mechanical click buttons are very stiff and clunky, borderly awfull in actual use. Stick to taps and hook up an external mouse.
There’s no finger sensor or set of IR cameras on this laptop, thus no biometrics.
MSI offers the GE65 Raider with an FHD 240Hz IPS matte screen, with the Sharp LQ1561JW03 panel available in similar-variations on other premium gaming laptops, including the MSI GS65, Razer Blade 15 or the Asus ROG Scar III.
This is an excellent panel for gaming, with fast refresh rates and response times, but also a fairly-good option for everyday use, with fair contrast, brightness and color coverage. At around 270-nits peak-brightness, this will struggle in bright environments, though.
Here’s what to expect, according to our Sypder4 sensor:
- Panel Hardware ID: Sharp SHP14C5 (LQ156M1JW03);
- Coverage: 98% sRGB, 72% NTSC, 75% AdobeRGB;
- Measured gamma: 2.3;
- Max brightness in the middle of the screen: 267 cd/m2 on power;
- Contrast at max brightness: 777:1;
- White point: 8900 K;
- Black on max brightness: 0.34 cd/m2;
- PWM: Yes, 24 KHz at < 20% brightness;
- Response time: ~14 ms GTG.
I’d make sure to calibrate this screen in order to address the WhitePoint and Gamma imbalances. Calibrated (our profile is available for download here), the panel gets very accurate for what it is. MSI also offers a few different color profiles in the Dragon Center app, adjusted for various scenarios (Gaming, Movie, Office, Anti-Blue, etc).
We also haven’t noticed obvious uniformity issues on our sample, nor light bleeding on dark backgrounds.
Hardware, performance, and upgrades
Our test model is a mid-tier configuration of the MSI GE65 Raider. It comes with the Intel Core i7-9750H processor, 16 GB of DDR4 memory (2x 8 GB DIMMS), the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 90W graphics chip, one M.2 PCIe x4 Samsung PM981 SSD and an extra M.2 slot for expanded storage. There’s also a 2.5″ storage slot, with the required connector the hook up a drive.
It’s also a retail model with mature drivers from Nvidia (Version 440.97) and the latest BIOS version available as of late-October 2019.
The CPU and GPU are standard for a mid-tier gaming laptop of this generation. However, performance-wise, both the CPU and GPU are able to run at higher power profiles than on normal implementations, which translates in improved results in games and other demanding loads. We’ll get to that in a little bit. The RTX 2060 on the GE65 runs at 90W and is overclocked out of the box, while a standard 2060 runs at 80W and lower frequencies.
While the CPU and GPU are soldered on the motherboard, the memory and storage are upgradeable. Getting to them is a little bit easier than on the GE63, but still requires attention, as the back panel wraps around some of the connectors on the left side. Take care of the handful of screws on the back, then pop up the plastic bottom starting from the back and ending on that left edge. You’ll need a prying tool.
Careful though, there’s a warranty sticker on one of the screws, so check with the local MSI reps if you’re allowed to get inside the laptop without voiding the warranty. I know you can in the US, but you might not be permitted to in other countries.
Inside you’ll find the RAM slots, the two M.2 SSDs, and the 2.5″ bay, as well as the wireless chip, speakers, thermal module and battery. The internal space is well optimized to accommodate the various components and IO.
With that out of the way, let’s talk about performance. The GE65 Raider is primarily a gaming-notebook, but it also gets Optimus and power-efficient profiles in the Dragon Center control app that favor low-noise for everyday use, both when plugged in or on battery. Here’s what to expect in terms of performance and thermals with browsing, text-editing, and Netflix.
On to the more demanding chores, first, we test the CPU’s performance in demanding loads by running Cinebench R15 for 10+ times in a loop, with 2-3 sec delay between each run, which simulates a 100% load on all the cores.
MSI offers several power-profiles in the Dragon Center app, which is a fairly useful software package, but also in dire need of a redesign imo, both aesthetically and functionally. Still, it allows to select between these modes, customize the fan’s behavior and even overclock the GPU, among others.
- Turbo is the max-performance profile, and that’s what we used for our tests. In this mode, the CPU’s power limit is raised to 55 W (up from the standard 45 W) and the GPU is overclocked at +100 MHz Core and +200 MHz Memory by default;
- Sport – CPU at 55W, Stock GPU settings;
- Comfort – CPU at 45W, stock GPU settings;
- Eco – greatly limits the CPU/GPU performance, favors low fan noise.
With these settings, the CPU settles for around 3.5-3.6 GHz after several Cinebench runs, scores of around 1170 points, a TDP of 55 W and temperatures of around 90-94 degrees Celsius. As mentioned above, the Turbo profile raises the TDP limit, and as a result, the CPU runs at higher clocks that translate in high scores and raised temperatures. Thermal throttling is the limiting factor here.
We proceeded to improve this behavior by undervolting the CPU. In this case, on Turbo our unit proved stable at -125 mV, which resulted in pretty much flawless CPU performance: 3.9-4.0 GHz, 55W TDP, 1280+ points and temperatures of around 92-94 degrees Celsius.
Sport issues similar results, while on Comfort the laptop runs a little slower and cooler in this test. We then unplugged the laptop and reran Cinebench on the Comfort mode (the others are deactivated on battery), which resulted in excellent scores, with the CPU pinned at 45W for most of the loops, but eventually dropping to around 20W towards the end. Details in the logs below.
All in all, the MSI GE65 Raider does not disappoint, allowing excellent CPU performance once undervolted. That comes associated with high temperatures, but the fans don’t get as noisy as on other 15-inch notebooks we’ve reviewed in the past.
Next, we move on to test the performance in combined CPU and GPU tests. We do that by running the 3DMark Stress test, as well as the Luxmark 3.1 stress test. The laptop passes the 3DMark tests both with stock settings and in a Tweaked profile. This Tweaked profile is pretty much the Turbo profile with a further overclocked GPU to 175 MHz Clock/350 MHz memory. We’re going to use this Tweaked profile for the reminding of our tests and compare it to the stock Turbo mode.
From the 3DMark logs below you’ll notice that the CPU/GPU temperatures remain about the same even with the undervolt, but both in the low to mid-70s, which are excellent when compared to other implementations. This hints some impressive thermals on the GE65, which we’ll further confirm later on.
The Luxmark stress test shows that the CPU and GPU can both run smoothly in demanding loads, with the CPU averaging a TDP of 45 W and the GPU averaging its 90W design TDP. Things differ when unplugging the laptop, though, as in this case the CPU is limited to 20W and the GPU drops to around 30W, which suggests the laptop will struggle in demanding chores while unplugged.
Next we’ve added a set of benchmarks, for those of you interested in numbers. First, here’s what we got on the stock Turbo profile.
- 3DMark 11: 19026 (Graphics – 22598, Physics – 13062);
- 3DMark 13 – Fire Strike: 15629 (Graphics – 17468, Physics – 16800);
- 3DMark 13 – Time Spy: 6636 (Graphics – 6655, CPU – 6535);
- 3DMark 13 – Port Royal: 3747;
- Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Extreme: 3934;
- GeekBench 4.4.2 64-bit: Single-Core: 5378, Multi-core: 23975;
- GeekBench 5.0.1 64-bit: Single-Core: 1188, Multi-core: 6052;
- CineBench R15 (best run): CPU 1292 cb, CPU Single Core 185 cb;
- CineBench R20 (best run): CPU 2772 cb;
- x264 HD Benchmark 4.0 32-bit: Pass 1 – 210.82 fps, Pass 2 – 74.464 fps.
- x265 HD Benchmark 64-bit: 48.92 s.
Then we reran some of them on the Tweaked Manual profile: -125 mV undervolted CPU and overclocked GPU:
- 3DMark 11: 19413 (Graphics – 23228, Physics – 13385);
- 3DMark 13 – Fire Strike: 15971 (Graphics – 17687, Physics – 17556);
- 3DMark 13 – Time Spy: 6931 (Graphics – 6928, CPU – 6952);
- 3DMark 13 – Port Royal: 3860;
- Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Extreme: 4048;
- PCMark 10: 5617 (Essentials – 9517 , Productivity – 7107 , Digital Content Creation – 7112);
- PassMark: Rating: 6407, CPU mark: 15092, 3D Graphics Mark: 11815;
- GeekBench 4.4.2 64-bit: Single-Core: 5400, Multi-core: 24069;
- GeekBench 5.0.1 64-bit: Single-Core: 1188, Multi-core: 6130;
- CineBench R15 (best run): CPU 1318 cb, CPU Single Core 185 cb;
- CineBench R20 (best run): CPU 2973 cb, CPU Single Core 436 cb;
- x264 HD Benchmark 4.0 32-bit: Pass 1 – 213.84 fps, Pass 2 – 79.68 fps;
- x265 HD Benchmark 64-bit: 45.88 s.
The CPU scores are hardly affected by the undervolting, and that’s because the processor already runs excellently out of the box. It does have an impact on temperatures, though. The GPU scores, on the other hand, jump by about 5% on the Tweaked profile.
We also draw a few other conclusions from these benchmarks results:
- this is the fastest Core i7-9750H notebooks we’ve reviewed to date;
- this is also the fastest RTX 2060 notebook we’ve come upon, due to the fact that the GPU runs at 90W and is also further overclocked. At this level, it comes within 10-15% of the RTX 2070 115W available on the MSI GE65 Raider 9SF and the Asus ROG Scar III G531GW, with the gap getting wider (15-20%) in RayTracing apps and tests.
We’re going to cover how the GE65 Raider fares against other RTX 2060 laptops in a future article, we’re we’ll include the Asus ROG Scar III, the Lenovo Legion Y740 and the competitively priced MSI GL63 and Acer Predator Helios 300 options.
Before we get to the gaming section, I’ve also run some of the workstation benchmarks on this product, so you’ll know how it compares to some of the RTX Quadro alternatives on the market in terms of performance (without accounting for the optimized drivers and stability enhancements of Quadro laptops).
- Blender – BMW GPU Car scene: Time – 6:26.95;
- Blender – Classroom scene: Time – 14:21.79;
- Luxmark 3.1 – Luxball HDR – OpenCL CPUs + GPUs score: 25467;
- SPECviewerf 13 – 3DSMax: 162.03;
- SPECviewerf 13 – Creo: 159.65;
- SPECviewerf 13 – Energy: 17.56;
- SPECviewerf 13 – Maya: 201.08;
- SPECviewerf 13 – Medical: 47.54;
- SPECviewerf 13 – Showcase: 92.03;
- SPECviewerf 13 – SNX: 15.95;
- SPECviewerf 13 – SW: 73.35.
Here’s a list of our RTX Quadro notebook reviews, for comparison. The RTX Quadro 3000 is the same-tier alternative for the GeForce RTX 2060 inside this GE65 Raider.
Finally, let’s look at some gaming results.
We ran a couple of games representative for DX11 and DX12 architectures on a few different profiles, with stock and Tweaked settings, and at the screen’s native FHD resolution or on an external 4K monitor hooked up via HDMI. This section of our reviews and is sponsored by Acer, who supplied us with their Nitro XV273K 4K 144 Hz gaming monitor for our tests (follow this link for more details).
|FHD Turbo stock||FHD Tweaked||UHD Tweaked|
|Battlefield V (DX 12, Ultra Preset, Ray-Tracing OFF)||80-90 fps||82-94 fps||– fps|
|Battlefield V (DX 12, Ultra Preset, Ray-Tracing ON, DLSS OFF)||44-52 fps||44-54 fps||– fps|
|Far Cry 5 (DX 11, Ultra Preset, SMAA)||98 fps||101 fps||37 fps|
|Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor (DX 11, Ultra Preset)||123 fps||125 fps||44 fps|
|Rise of Tomb Raider (DX 12, Very High Preset, FXAA)||88 fps||96 fps||38 fps|
|Shadow of Tomb Raider (DX 12, Highest Preset, TAA)||81 fps||83 fps||29 fps|
|The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (DX 11, Ultra Preset, Hairworks On 4)||80-108 fps||84-116 fps||40-50 fps|
- Battlefield V, The Witcher 3 – recorded with Fraps/in-game FPS counter in campaign mode;
- Far Cry 5, Middle Earth, Tomb Raider games – recorded with the included Benchmark utilities.
The HWinfo logs below show the CPU and GPU speeds in Witcher 3, Far Cry 5 and Shadow of Mordor, on the Stock Turbo profile with the fans on Auto. You’ll notice flawless performance, but the CPU runs at very high temperatures in the mid-90s.
Switching to the Tweaked profile, while keeping the fans on Auto, leads to a drop in CPU temperatures and a slight increase in GPU frequencies, which translates in the marginal fps gains recorded above. As mentioned earlier, the major benefit on the Tweaked profile is the drop in CPU and even GPU temperatures.
We also noticed that the CPU and GPU run even cooler when connecting the laptop to the external 4K screen, as detailed in the further log.
MSI also offers a CoolerBoost fan profile, which turns the fans to maximum speeds. They also ramp up much louder in this case, to 50-52 dB at head-level, up from the 44-45 dB measured on the Auto profile. This, however, helps further lower the CPU/GPU temperatures.
I don’t feel you’ll have to switch to CoolerBoost on this laptop, though. The Auto fan profile does a good-enough job at balancing noise and thermals once you undervolt the processor. On the other hand, you will most likely have to rely on the faster and louder fans if you opt for the RTX 2070 configurations of the GE65 Raider, which would require to cool an extra 25W of heat.
Finally, we unplugged the laptop, which automatically activates the Comfort power profile in Dragon Center. In this case, the CPU drops to about 15W and the GPU settles at around 30W, but the laptop still pushes decent frame-rates. However, we’ve noticed occasional glitches that we later tied to the CPU dropping to 800 MHz once in a while, visible in the log below. That means the GE65 Raider is not a good choice for gaming on battery, but then again, pretty much no other laptop of this type is.
Noise, Heat, Connectivity, speakers, and others
The GE65 Raider keeps a complex thermal design and one that’s a little different than the others used on most performance-laptops, due to the fact that the battery is placed between the fans. That means the fans are pushed towards the sides and longer heatpipes are used to hook up the CPU/GPU and VRMs. The design is similar to that of the GE63, but the overall heatpipe layout is slightly different.
As mentioned in the previous section, this cooling implementation does a good job of keeping the hardware at bay on this i7/RTX 2060 configuration.
However, you should undervolt the CPU to lower its temperatures, as those are the laptop’s Achilles heel on stock settings. Once you opt for the Tweaked profile, the system runs smoothly and fairly cooly on the Auto fan profile, which ramps the fans to about 44-45 dB at head-level. That’s good for a gaming laptop at full-load.
The Cooler Boost fan profile pushes the fans to 50-52 dB, which further lowers the inner and outer temperatures, but it’s not necessary on this configuration. You’ll most likely have to rely on it on the RTX 2070 variant, though.
I’ll also add that MSI allows creating a custom fan profile for the two fans inside, based on temperature brackets. It’s not the most intuitive interface, but you can further tweak their behavior based on your needs, favoring either temperatures or lower-noise in games.
The fans stay quiet with daily use. The right one remains inactive, and the left one spins slowly and only ramps up with multitasking. I did, however, notice a fair bit of electronic cringing that you’ll hear when the fans quiet-down. Electronic noises are a known potential issue of modern computers, and the amount you’ll get on your unit is, unfortunately, a lottery. Thus, make sure to listen for it and test your laptop within your return period, and just ask for a replacement if it’s louder than you’d be willing to live with.
*Daily Use – streaming Netflix on Edge for 30 minutes, fans on Auto (35-40 dB)
*Load Tweaked – playing Far Cry 5 for 30 minutes, Tweaked profile, fans on Auto (44-45 dB)
*Load Tweaked Cooler– playing Far Cry 5 for 30 minutes, Tweaked profile, fans on Cooler Boost (50-52 dB)
For connectivity, there’s a fast Killer Wifi 6 implementation on this laptop, as well as Bluetooth 5 and Killer Gigabit Lan. We’ve mostly used our sample on wireless, and it worked well. There’s nothing to complain about when it comes to the overall signal quality, but other Wi-Fi 6 laptops proved to be significantly faster with our setup. This one barely matched an average WiFi 5 implementation.
As far as the speakers go, MSI’s gaming laptops favor audio over battery life, and this is no different. It gets two speakers and two subwoofers that occupy most of the laptop’s lower back part. However, these speakers are smaller on the older GE63 or the GE75, due to the fact the GE65 is a much more compact product.
The sound comes out punchy and loud, at about 80 dB at head-level in our measurements., but it’s nor as loud or as rich as on the GE75 and GE73. I’m not sure if that’s entirely due to the different design or it’s also a driver’s issue. I had a hard-time with drivers on this notebook, as the one on MSI’s website pretty much killed the speakers, so I had to try a few other Realtek drivers before I found something that brought the sound back. This, unfortunately, is a known issue of MSI laptops and I now know how frustrating it gets when it occurs.
MSI laptops also get excellent audio output, though, with an integrated ESS Sabre HiFi DAC that does a great job of pushing sound onto good-quality headphones. You should definitely use headphones when running games.
Finally, we’ll mention the included webcam. It’s 720p, thus mediocre at best, but it’s there and it’s placed where it should be, at the top of the screen, flanked by microphones.
There’s only a 51 Wh battery inside the GE65 Raider, much like on the previous GE63 generation.
As mentioned before, MSI bundles a small battery on most of their gaming laptops and uses the space inside for bigger speakers. That makes sense, given how you’ll have to plug-in the laptop in order to benefit from its capabilities anyway, but at the same time, I feel this compromise can push some potential users away. I’m also concerned about the battery degrading faster due to the fact that it’s exposed to higher temperatures, due to its positioning next to the heatpipes, than in a standard implementation that puts the battery beneath the clickpad.
Here’s what to expect from the GE65 Raider, with the screen set at around 120 nits of brightness (40%).
- 13 W (~3 45 min h of use) – text editing in Google Drive, ECO Mode, screen at 40%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 12 W (~4 h of use) – 1080p fullscreen video on Youtube in Edge, ECO Mode, screen at 40%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 10.5 W (~4 h 20 min of use) – Netflix fullscreen in Edge, ECO Mode, screen at 40%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 28 W (~2- h of use) – browsing in Edge, Comfort Mode, screen at 40%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 49 W (~1 h 10 min of use) – Gaming – Witcher 3, Comfort Mode, screen at 40%, Wi-Fi ON, no fps limit.
Two hours of daily browsing and four hours of movies, that’s hard to accept in a 2019 laptop.
MSI also bundles the laptop with a fairly chunky 180W power brick, about the same size as the 230W bricks others put on RTX 2070 notebooks, and that’s something ti consider when you pretty much have to carry that brick around every day. The GE65 Raider doesn’t charge via USB-C either. RTX 2070 variants get an even larger and bulkier 280W brick.
Price and availability
The MSI GE65 Raider has been available in stores for a few months now.
Our test-model is the best-value configuration and one of the most widespread variants, available on Amazon, Best-Buy and most other smaller retailers. It comes with the Core i7 processor, the RTX 2060 90W GPU, 16 GB of dual-channel RAM, a 512 GB Samsung SSD and the 240 Hz screen, for an MSRP of $1799 in the US at the time of this post. The RTX 2060 model is not that widely available in Europe, though.
Over here the GE65 is mostly available in the RTX 2070 variant, with an MSRP of 2099 EUR in Germany and 1999 GBP in the UK. The same GE65 Raider 9SF goes for $1999 in the US.
Prices and configurations vary over time, so follow this link for more details and updates. We do get a small commission if you buy via our links, without you having to pay anything extra, which allows us to keep on providing helpful reviews like this one.
The GE65 Raider is an excellent product and one of the best-balanced mid-tier gaming notebooks of this generation. At the same time, though, this is also one of the most expensive RTX 2060 options, and that makes it a rather hard-sell for the average user.
You shouldn’t compare this to the Clevo/Eluktronics options out there or even the MSI GL63/Acer Predator Helios/HP Omen 15, this is not in the same class. It’s built better, it gets a better display, it performs better and offers a superior thermal module that allows for lower temperatures and quieter fans. Of course, if you’re looking for the best gaming performance for your buck, you should go with those models instead, but make sure to read our detailed reviews in order to understand their quirks.
That doesn’t mean the GE65 is not without its quirks either. The design, although cleaner than before, might still not appeal to everyone, but my major knit is with the small battery. I get it, this is supposed to spend most of its life on a desk, plugged in, but a mid-range RTX 2060 configuration is rather a jack-of-all-trades, a computer for work, school, and fun and everything else people do with a laptop these days. And with 2-3 hours of daily use on a charge, it can’t be that laptop.
If you’re fine with the shorter battery life, then the GE65 Raider might be the one for you. But even in this case, I’d recommend checking out the Asus ROG Scar III G531 and the Lenovo Legion Y740 as well.
The RTX 2060 ROG sells for $150-$200 less than the Raider for a similar 2060 90W configuration. We haven’t reviewed the 2060 ROG, but based on other reviews it’s a bit slower than the 2060 GE65, runs cooler and a bit noisier. It’s also larger and uglier, but packs a bigger 66 Wh battery. As for the Legion, the 2060 80W configuration goes for under $1400 at the time of this article, with the superior RTX 2070 Max-Q variant going for around $1700, so both more affordable than the GE65. You’ll find more about the Legion Y740 in our review, and I plan on publishing a more detailed comparison between these in the following weeks.
Bottom point, the MSI GE65 Raider is a great mid-tier gaming notebook, but it’s expensive and lasts little on a charge, which might be enough to steer some of you towards the alternatives. At the same time, if you’re fine with these aspects, you’ll hardly find a better proposition in this segment.
Looking forward to your thoughts and questions in the comments sections below.
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