MSI GF65 Thin review: The light heavyweight
The MSI GF65 Thin is all about gaming. It's neat, understated and solid. In many ways this is a gaming laptop you can consider if you are buying your first one.
Product: MSI GF65 Thin gaming laptop
Key specs: 15.6-FHD screen (1920 x 1080), IPS-Level 120Hz, 10th Gen Intel Core i7, GeForce RTX 2060, 6GB GDDR6, Windows 10 Home.
The perils of a non-gamer reviewing a gaming laptop are manyfold. For one, our expectations and needs are very different and more often than not, we are left wondering why a certain feature is a letdown. That’s till we are reminded that the very feature we are ruing, is not vital to a gaming laptop.
Gaming laptops are different beasts entirely. If you are not a gamer, you can stop reading the review right now because what this laptop, the MSI GF65 Thin, offers, won’t really change your life. You might as well invest that ₹1,34,990 in something else.
The MSI GF65 Thin comes with a 6GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 graphics chip and a 15.6-inch 1080p display with 120Hz refresh rate. So, straight off the bat you know that graphics and display are in place. For almost all purposes, these configurations should work just fine. However, there’s only 8GB of memory on this, so you might want to add on some more eventually. For someone like me, that didn’t seem to be a matter of concern, but like I said, I am not this laptop’s intended audience.
Compared to how gaming laptops are expected to look - sharp lines and RGB lights everywhere - the MSI GF65 Thin is rather understated with its reds and blacks - which is rather refreshing to be honest. With its all-black metallic lid, black plastic body and the dragon logo in red along with the red backlit keyboard, this laptop looks like a no-nonsense beast that’s just on your desk to get the work done.
It’s a solid, sturdy laptop that would have been heavier than 1.8kg had its body not been made of plastic. I was using this laptop after using the HP Elite Dragonfly, so the significant change in weight threw me off a little initially. But over time, everyone gets used to everything.
As did I - to the spread-out keyboard where I made many a typo till my hands got used to the keys, the ports on the right and the charging port and HDMI output on the left (which is a little awkward and uncomfortable because the wire gets in the way. But then, this laptop is not meant to be used while placed on the lap either.
However, assuming that you are going to plug in additional accessories like a gaming mouse (for sure), it’s understandable why all the ports are on the right.
While it took me a while to get used to the big keyboard, it’s a relief that the WASD keys were not made to stand out in any way, I find that grossly distracting, gamers will think otherwise. There is also no number pad here, which is going to be a problem for some games.
I faced an issue with the absent number pad when I tried to play the ancient Need For Speed Most Wanted. The Num 6 key seemed to be THE ONLY key that could start a race, so I had to pull up the on-screen keyboard to run that command.
Now, the other things that matter.
The 15.6-inch screen is bright and big enough for your games and also for daily work and content you might want to watch. The bezels on the top and bottom are thick but to be very honest, given the all-black body, they don’t really hinder things much. Particularly the bottom bezel that also houses the MSI logo.
MSI could really have pushed for more screen real estate on this, which would have made things better. But, they aren’t bad as they stand.
The audio is loud enough for most purposes, assuming you are in a quiet environment. But since this laptop is meant to be used for games mostly, headphones will fix what’s missing.
It’s getting hot in here
Gaming laptops heat up quite often. Not just while gaming but also through the work day where I was primarily working on Chrome. The heat vents are on the right side and that end gets particularly uncomfortable - don’t even think about using it placed on the lap like I often did and realised my mistake almost instantly.
However, I found the laptop dissipating heat fast enough as well, so that’s a pretty big plus.
The laptop started heating up about 45 minutes into my hands-on session with Anno 1800 (a city-building real-time strategy game, in case you haven’t heard of it before), which went on for another three hours. I found it heating up about 30 minutes into Age of Empires and about the same time with Fall Guys.
With Resident Evil, things started getting warm, much faster.
But all the games loaded without any hitches, the graphics were intense and bright and my rather untrained eye could spot no frame rate drops. All the games I played on this were not as graphic-intensive as many others out there, but as far as my usage with the MSI GF65 Thin was concerned - it all went smooth, albeit a little hot.
The fact that the MSI GF65 Thin comes with the RTX 2060 under the hood, means that this laptop is pretty much equipped to take on any game, even those with Ray Tracing. So, no matter what you intend to throw at it, you can best believe that the MSI GF65 Thin will pull through.
Not enough juice
However, intense performance capabilities mean that the battery life is nothing to write home about. I was using the laptop through the day as my main work driver and post that to play some games.
As I have said, all my work happens on the battery-guzzler called Chrome so I cannot entirely blame the battery performance here, but even then the results were not great. This laptop will not last you half a workday, even less if you are gaming.
Also, battery performance is never a face card with gaming laptops, which are mostly used plugged-in and set up with other accessories. So, if you are planning to get this one, be prepared to be wired to your desk, literally.
Sheldon Cooper might be gaming on battery, but in real life, sorry, that's not how things work for these gaming machines.
Therefore, if gaming is not your requirement, you will not even be considering this device so effectively, a dismal battery performance is nothing to lose sleep over. You can eke out some more juice if you dim the screen, but that’s not how any of us really use laptops so it doesn’t really matter.
There is MSI’s Dragon Center app that helps you keep tabs on the performance and customise profiles so you can conserve power for work or push the laptop to the hilt for gaming - so feel free to tinker around.
Should you buy it?
Given it’s clean, understated looks and pretty solid performance, the MSI GF65 Thin seems to be a laptop you can consider if you are looking to move from a non-gaming one to a gaming one.
This is a good laptop to flex your skills on before you decide to throw in some more money and buy a more expensive device.