Hands-On, Laptop

MSI GL63 8SE Hands-On: The Most Affordable RTX 2060 Gaming Laptop

Gaming laptops equipped with Nvidia’s latest GeForce RTX GPUs are steadily coming into Malaysia, and one of the most interesting laptops with the new GPU is the MSI GL63 8SE. Equipped with an RTX 2060 GPU, this is the most affordable gaming laptop with the GPU – that’s a huge selling point.

But beyond its sheer value for money, is the MSI GL63 any good? Let’s find out.

Before we get into it, we’ll have to talk about the GL63’s attractive price tag. There are two variants of the laptop in Malaysia: an Intel Core i5-8300H model with a 128GB SSD, and a Core i7-8750H variant with twice the amount of SSD storage at 256GB. The former retails at only RM5,399, while the latter goes for RM6,299.

Without a doubt the more affordable model is the most attractive option, and beyond the processor and SSD storage capacity, both variants of the GL63 have similar hardware. These include a 15.6-inch 1920 x 1080 display, a GeForce RTX 2060 GPU with 6GB of GDDR6 memory, 8GB of DDR4 RAM, a 1TB 7200rpm HDD, as well as a 51WHr battery.

In terms of connectivity, the GL63 has a generous selection of ports. It has three USB-A ports, one USB-C connection, an HDMI port, a Mini DisplayPort, an SD card slot, and an RJ45 connection.

Now that we’ve got its specifications out of the way, let’s talk about the MSI GL63’s display. For the most part, it’s a decent screen with relatively good viewing angles. However, this isn’t an IPS panel, so you do get colour shifts when you’re not looking directly straight at the display.

But on a brighter note (excuse the pun), the GL63’s display can get quite bright. On top of that, thanks to the matte finish of the screen, the display’s outdoor visibility is pretty good too. Unfortunately, the Malaysian market isn’t getting the GL63 with a 120Hz display; that would’ve made it a more compelling gaming machine.

When it comes to build quality, the GL63 leaves much to be desired. Although the palm rest area and top chassis of the laptop are made out of metal, plastic is found on many parts of the GL63. The bottom chassis is plastic, the sides are plastic, and the screen can be flexed quite a bit too without too much effort.

Besides that, the GL63 is also a thick and heavy laptop. Measuring 29.5mm thick and weighing 2.3kg, you’ll definitely feel the weight of this machine in your backpack. I’m also not a fan of the GL63’s large bezels surrounding the screen, which gives the laptop a dated-looking design.

However, these shortcomings aren’t exactly surprising: MSI’s GL series of laptops are made to be affordable. There are some things that need to be sacrificed here and there, and most buyers in this price segment want value for money above all else – premium build material and design will drive up the price of the laptop.

In exchange, the GL63 offers excellent gaming performance for the money. The RTX 2060 GPU powering this laptop is much, much more capable than its predecessor, the GTX 1060. Considering the fact that this laptop only has a 1080p display, the RTX 2060 is powerful enough to run most modern games with maxed out settings at this resolution too.

It’s also worth noting that you’ll get Nvidia’s full suite of RTX-specific features with the RTX 2060, including ray tracing and Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS). Previously, these features were available exclusively on more costly GPUs like the RTX 2070 and 2080.

A gaming laptop has to have a keyboard that is suitable for gaming, and in this aspect, the GL63 performs just fine. The SteelSeries keyboard has just enough travel for a comfortable typing experience, and the keys are tactile as well. Unfortunately (or not, depending on your preference), the keyboard has a red backlight only. No RGB lighting here.

As for the trackpad, it’s…functional. It’s not the most accurate trackpad – not by a long shot – but it will get the job done in a pinch. Considering the GL63’s focus on gaming, you should be using a physical mouse with this laptop anyway.

So is the MSI GL63 8SE worth it? At a glance, definitely. While its design and build quality could be better, you’re getting great value for money and gaming performance. At the time of writing, the RM5,399 Core i5 variant of the GL63 is the most affordable RTX 2060 gaming laptop in the market now.

However, the Core i7 variant doesn’t have very good value proposition. Retailing at RM6,299, it’s priced too close to the Asus ROG Strix Hero II, which goes for RM6,499. For that kind of money, the Hero II offers a much sleeker design with minimal bezels, double the SSD storage at 512GB, as well as a fast 15.6-inch 1080p 144Hz IPS display.

If you want absolute value for money, you cannot go wrong with the base model of the MSI GL63. But if you want more processing power, more SSD storage, and a sleeker-looking laptop, it’s worth looking at the ROG Strix Hero II instead. It’s simply a better buy over the higher-end GL63.