MSI GL73 8SE Stealth laptop review: RTX gaming made affordable

A relatively affordable gaming laptop with RTX 2060 GPU.

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Nvidia RTX is the latest mobile GPU that caused a stir with its advanced functionalities. Though the laptops with RTX installed might burn a hole in your pocket, the older variants are available at a lower cost. However, you might lose on a few new features. Well, MSI GL73 could be a solution, as it is the least expensive RTX gaming laptops out there.

Rating:
4.0/5

MSI GL73 8SE Stealth gaming laptop review

 

The 17-inch laptop will be facing competition from laptops such as Asus ROG Strix GL704GV that offer similar innards. There aren't many laptops out there that possess the RTX 2060 graphics since the GPU is fresh. So, we got a chance to play around with the MSI GL73 8SE gaming laptop, and we believe it safe to pass judgment. Let's find out whether or not you should buy the MSI GL73 8SE Stealth gaming laptop.

Specifications

  • 17.3-inch display
  • 1920 x 1080 resolution
  • Intel Core i7-8750H processor
  • Intel Cannon Lake HM370
  • RTX 2060 graphics card
  • 16GB RAM
  • 256GB SSD
  • 1TB HDD
  • 2.7 kg weight

Design
 

Design

Aesthetically, the GL73 borrows a lot from its precursor - the GL72. While the overall appearance and chassis material remains the same, the GL73 has more grilles for ventilation. This means the company's first priority was overcoming the heating issues while designing the new product. It is chunky like any other gaming laptop weighing around 2.7 kg and you'll have a tough time fitting it into your bags.

Speaking of the lid, it has a design that screams gaming. It has two red stripes with the MSI logo in the middle. I tried twisting the lid a bit and found it more bending than other MSI laptops. Overall, the durability seems fine but isn't better than other inexpensive gaming notebooks.

As for the chassis, the dimensions are almost identical to its predecessor, however, it is around 200 g to 300 g lighter than the latter. The device also has big display bezels forcing us to deduct some points on the aesthetic front. The company has retained all the ports from the GL72, however, rearranged them on the GL73 to make room for more ventilation grilles.

Display

The best part about the GL73 is that it packs the same Chi Mei N173HHE-G32 TN panel as seen on the heftier MSI GE73 Raider. The display has a 120Hz native refresh rate that makes the Windows experience even better.

The GL73 also borrows the color space and contrast levels from the GE73 Raider. Basically, its a high-end display at a relatively lower price. We didn't notice any graininess during our time with the device.

The sunlight legibility of the panel is limited and adjusting the lid for reducing the glare might cause contrast and color to shift quickly. Well, most of the gaming laptops are designed for indoor usage, and GL73 is just another example.

Audio

The GL73 comes equipped with top-notch quality speakers. Since this is a relatively a cheaper laptop, we thought the company might trim down on the audio front, however, the sound quality is an absolute treat while gaming and playing other multimedia.

These are probably one of the loudest and best sounding speakers seen on gaming laptops. We didn't notice any muffled audio even at higher volume levels, however, the device misses out extra bass and audio. The audio jack also offers a well-balanced audio output.

Keyboard and touchpad

The keyboard is another aspect that has been borrowed from its predecessor, though a red backlight is kept as standard. The feedback felt a bit soft which is really satisfying during long typing sessions. The keyboard also offers a Turbo Fan mode and Dragon Center buttons.

Speaking of the trackpad, it has the same matte finish as the palm rests. Glide is smooth, however, we found the cursor movements inaccurate at times. We noticed that the cursor stayed still even after gliding the finger slowly, and this happened on multiple occasions. Also, the trackpad was accidentally triggered quite often as we placed our hands on the palm rest for typing or playing games.

The trackpad also has two integrated mouse buttons which are something seen on several gaming laptops from the company. The keys offer good travel and feedback, while the click feels like any other mouse. Also, you'll have to manually enable the Precision for the Synaptics trackpad.

Performance

The MSI GL73 comes with the same Core i5-8300H and i7-8750H CPU options, same as seen on the GL72. What makes the difference is the GeForce RTX 2060 Turing GPU on the latest MSI offering. The CPU has been clocked at 2.2GHz, backed by 16GB of RAM.

In addition, you get hybrid storage with a 256GB SSD and a 1TB HDD, so that's enough space for all your graphics-hungry games and multimedia. The RTX 2060 graphics card features 6GB of GDDR6 RAM, that makes gaming smooth even at high resolution.

We ran some benchmark tests on the laptop, and the device performed really well. We were impressed by the gaming performance of the device, all thanks to the RTX 2060 GPU. In the 3DMark benchmarks the RTX 2060 performed around 30 percent better than the GTX 1060, however, it was a tad slower than the GTX 1070.

Once DLSS comes to retail games, we might be able to achieve higher performance. The feature needs more promising low-end RTX GPUs such as the RTX 2060. The cooling system on this laptop is something to be appreciated as it cools down the laptop quickly after we played some extensive games.

We fired up some really graphics-intensive games like GTA V, Battlefield, Watch Dogs 2, including others, and found out the CPU and the GPU can take some serious abuse. The MSI GL73 all games smoothly, without breaking a sweat.

Well, if there's something that might disappoint you, it's the battery life of the MSI GL73. We noticed that the device has a very short runtime. Well, that's something we have seen with other entry-level MSI products as well. The device only managed to run for around three hours because of the small internal battery of just 41 Wh. Charging the laptop from zero to hundred takes around 1.5 hours.

Verdict

Well, playing games on the MSI GL73 was an absolute treat and our experience with the device was very good. However, it still falls short in some aspects when pitted against devices with the GTX 1070.

The MSI GL73 comes with a good 120 Hz display, brilliant speakers, and triple internal storage bays. You won't find these features on this budget. The company could have made the fans a bit discreet and battery could have been better.

If you are someone who wants to see the latest GeForce RTX in action, you can opt of the MSI GL73 is a great alternative. However, if RTX gaming isn't your priority, you will find a lot of options with GTX 1070 GPU as the laptops are seeing a price slash in this segment.

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