MSI GE63 8RF-089AU
A new six-core CPU helps stimulate MSI’s mainstream gaming laptop.
The GE line has traditionally been MSI’s value gaminglaptop proposition — offering a well-rounded set of powerful components in a package that isn’t cutting edge, but which also won’t cost a fortune. This year’s update keeps the tradition going with a minor price drop, CPU upgrade and some RGB lighting synchronisation. At 2.8cm thick, this range wedges itself into a gaming-specific size bracket with ample internal space for the device’s 8th-gen Intel CPU, dedicated Nvidia GPU and 16GB of memory.
A 1080p 120Hz screen was the big new feature on last year’s GE63, and the speedy screen’s return is definitely still a highlight. Mind you, that screen doesn’t have an ideal colour gamut for editing photos or working on design projects, at just 94% NTSC coverage, but its responsive nature is perfectly tailored to performance gaming. On less demanding games, the GE63 8RF-089AU — MSI’s higher-end GE63, with a GTX 1070 GPU — is easily capable of producing frame rates that utilise the faster screen, and it can even extend past 60fps on some of the latest titles (even on Ultra settings at times). You’ll want to opt for the more powerful GTX 1070 GPU configuration.
The biggest change to this 2018 model is a new six-core Intel Core i7-8750H CPU, which adds two extra cores to the quad-core setup that’s been the max we’ve seen on Intel laptops for over half a decade now. That means there’s the potential for 50% performance boosts — and that’s alongside any 8th-gen enhancements. Comparing this new GE63 8RF model against 2017’s similar GE73 7RF on CineBench’s single-core CPU test, we noted a decent 9% boost in performance, while the multi-threaded performance showed a far more impressive 49.7% increase. In general use tasks, this raw processing power translates to PCMark 10 scores at 20% better than the 2017 GE range.
Per-key RGB keyboard backlighting has returned, courtesy of MSI’s ongoing SteelSeries partnership, but MSI has actually extended that functionality with its new ‘GameSense’ software. This allows you to match lighting schemes to specific in-game data points, like health levels or remaining ammunition, letting you turn your keyboard into an additional HUD. These neat perks are backed up by solid gaming performance, with the 3DMark Time Spy benchmark showing a respectable 10% boost over last year’s GE73 7RF (which also sported a GTX 1070).
While the $2,999 price tag is quite competitive for a 15.6-inch laptop packing an 8th-gen Core i7 CPU and a GTX 1070 GPU, if that’s too pricey, there’s a GTX 1060 model (the 8RE) that’s $300 less. The model we tested sported a 128GB SATA SSD and 1TB HDD storage combination, but both models sold in Australia will come with a bigger and faster 256GB NVMe SSD alongside that 1TB HDD.
If there’s a weak spot in this unit, it’s battery life, which left a lot to be desired. Lasting just 1 hour and 45 minutes for movie playback, you definitely won’t want to leave home without the power brick. The chassis is also a little bulkier than we’d like, but that’s par for the course with gaming laptops. Otherwise, though, the more powerful CPU and faster SSD help add a lot to what was already a wellbalanced and reasonablypriced option.