MSI GL65 2020 Review – Boosted RTX 2060 Worth It?
Lets check it out in this detailed review and find out if its something you should consider. Ive got the 10SEK configuration which has some decent specs for a gaming laptop. But there are a few different configurations available. You can find examples and check prices with the links in the description.. The lid is a matte black metal. The interior is the same while the bottom is plastic. Overall build quality felt fair and there were no sharp corners or edges anywhere.. The weight is listed at 2.3kg, though mine was closer to 2.2kg., With the 230w power brick and cables for charging the total rises to almost 3.2kg or 7lb.. The GL65 is on the thicker side for a gaming laptop with this hardware inside. However, the width and depth are reasonable for a 15 machine, and this smaller footprint allows for 7.5mm screen bezels on the sides.. The 15.6 1080p 144Hz screen has a matte finish and uses Optimus, which cannot be disabled, theres no G Sync. By default, the MSI Dragon Center software has display OverDrive, enabled, with this on, I measured a 5.3ms grey to grey response time, but this did introduce a little Overshoot. With OverDrive off the response, time only increases to 8ms and the overshoot was gone, its good that youve got options most other laptops. Dont give you a choice. Ive tested the screen with the Spyder 5 and got 95 of sRGB 66 of NTSC 71 of AdobeRGB and 71 of DCI P3.
At 100 brightness. I measured the panel at ‘6 nits in the center, with a 6401 contrast ratio. So pretty good results for a gaming panel overall, though lower on the contrast. Backlight bleed, was pretty good too just some small imperfections that were only detected on camera in this worst case, but this will vary between laptop and panel.. There was some screen flex when intentionally pushing it, despite it being metal, probably as its on the thinner side, but the hinges otherwise felt sturdy, though they dont seem to be redesigned to be stronger, like we saw in the GS66. It wasnt possible to open up with One finger as like many other laptops from MSI: the battery is up the back with the heatpipes, but it still felt fine sitting on my lap., Despite the screen, bezels being quite thin, MSI have still managed to fit the 720p camera above the screen in the center. No Windows, hello, support, though.. This is what the camera and microphone look and sound like on the GL65. Heres. What it sounds like to type on the keyboard – and this is what it sounds like if we set the fan to max speed. So you can still hear me: ok over the fan, noise., The steelseries keyboard seems the same as many others from MSI its got per key RGB backlighting, which illuminates all keys and secondary key functions, but they do also sell a red only option., Theres, 4 levels of Key brightness or you can turn it off.
. I liked typing, with the keyboard no problems to report heres how it sounds to use to give you an idea of what to expect.. The power button is above the keyboard on the right, as well as shortcuts to boost fan, speed or change the keyboard lighting effect. But these can be done through software too.. There was some keyboard flex when intentionally pushing down hard, but I never noticed any stability issues during normal use.. The precision touchpad does not click down, however. Its got physically separate, left and right click buttons.. It uses the available space well and again worked fine with no issues to note.. Fingerprints show up easily on the matte black interior and lid, but as a smooth surface, theyre fairly easy to clean, with a microfiber cloth. On the left from the back theres a kensington lock slot air exhaust vent, gigabit ethernet, HDMI 2.0 and mini DisplayPort outputs USB 3.2 Gen1 Type: A port, USB 3.2 Gen2 Type C port, no thunderbolt and 3.5mm headphone and mic jacks. On the right from the front. There are two USB 3.2 Gen1 Type: A ports, full size, SD card slot power input and no exhaust vent on this side.. The position of the front Type A ports is strange. Almost anything you plug in is going to get in the way of your mouse hand.. I confirmed that both the HDMI and mini DisplayPort outputs were connected directly to the Nvidia graphics. The Type C port does not have display output.
MSI lists the HDMI port as supporting 4K 30Hz, but mine ran fine at 60Hz.. The back just has a couple of air exhaust vents towards the corners with Leopard text in the center. While the front has some status LEDs in the middle. On the lid theres an MSI logo in the center, which gets lit up from the screens backlight, so it cannot be controlled. Underneath there are plenty of air ventilation holes towards the back half of the machine. A stark contrast when, compared to the TUF A15. Getting inside involves taking out 12 phillips head screws of the same size. It wasnt too hard to open, but I did have to pry around the entire perimeter. Inside weve got the battery right up the back with the heatpipes, which is why its more back heavy. There are two memory slots and a single M.2 slot. Despite there being space for a second theres, no connector. Theres a spot for a 2.5 drive bay, but mine didnt come with a cable or mounting hardware to install one.. Its also worth noting MSI are using slower, DDR4 2666 memory here, while Intel 10th gen supports 2933. So you could potentially get a little speed boost by upgrading or tweaking speeds in BIOS.. The speakers are found down the front to the left and right.. They didnt sound, very good. They were tinny with no bass a bit high pitch sounding and muffled.. They get loud enough at maximum volume and the latencymon results looked good.
. This laptop is powered by a 6 cell 51Wh battery. Ive tested with the screen brightness at 50 background apps, disabled and keyboard lighting off. The results, while gaming were just over an hour and similar to others, while the YouTube playback test was 4 and a half hours And below some alternatives with similar battery sizes. Next lets get into the thermal testing. The Dragon Center software lets you select between different performance modes, which, from lowest to highest, are silent, balanced and extreme. Performance. Youve got the option of overclocking the GPU in extreme performance mode. However, no overclock is applied by default.. You can also toggle coolerboost here, which sets the fan to max speed. However, there is some manual customization that can be done to CPU or GPU fan. Theres, also no undervolting done out of the box and by default its disabled. However, if you boot into the BIOS and then press this epic cheat code, youll be able to enable undervolting, as well as a ton of other options, so be careful and only change what you understand. Thermals were tested with a 21 degree Celsius. Ambient room, temperature. Idle results down. The bottom were good. Worst case. Stress tests were done with the Aida64 CPU stress test, with CPU only checked and the Heaven benchmark at max settings. At the same time and gaming was tested with Watch Dogs 2, as I find it to use a good combination of processor and graphics.. The CPU would thermal throttle at 95 degrees celsius, which was happening in all stress tests, with the exception of the cooling pad and was also happening while gaming in silent mode.
. The GPU was also thermal throttling at 86 degrees Celsius in silent mode, but thats fine, given its meant to be a quieter mode, so kind of expected.. The cooling pad was making the biggest improvement to thermals likely due to that huge air vent underneath the machine.. These are the clock speeds in the same tests., The GPU doesnt really change outside of silent mode as its no longer thermal throttling., Otherwise balanced and extreme modes perform. Similarly, until we apply the undervolt, which gave us the next biggest boost to performance., This is because of the power limits, while under combined CPU and GPU loads, like these PL1 never seemed to rise above 45 watts, and this was despite software reporting PL1 as 200. So I wasnt able to boost this.. Interestingly, the GPU wasnt, constantly running at its full 115 watt limit, though it would spike to it and on average, it wasnt far behind. Heres how an actual game performs with these different modes in use. So even the lowest silent mode still does quite well here comparatively while overclocking the GPU undervolting, the CPU and using a cooling pad, got us a 7 boost.. When we look at CPU, only performance, silent and balanced modes still have a 45 watt cap. However, with the GPU idle extreme mode is able to go up to 62 watts now., The undervolt was required in order to reach the full 4.3GHz, all core turbo boost, speed of the 10750H processor and while the undervolt didnt help improve temperatures here as the power in Use didnt change: the cooling pad did help a bit Heres how the different modes perform in Cinebench.
I suppose this test isnt as demanding as the stress test previously as were now getting similar scores in extreme mode as to using the undervolt or cooling pad.. This is how the score stacks up against other options, so getting beaten by cheaper Ryzen 5 4600H laptops. If processing power is your preference, you might want to look there.. As for the external temperatures, where youll actually be putting your hands at idle, it was hardly getting to 30 degrees at the warmest points, an average result. With the stress tests running in silent mode, its getting up to 50 in the center. But if you recall, the fans are quiet now and the internals are at the hottest point. It felt warm but not hot, to the touch. In balanced mode. The fan speed increases, though, were seeing similar temperatures. In extreme mode with coolerboost its still similar again just warm in the middle, but not hot. Lets have a listen to the fan noise.. It was silent at idle with the stress tests going in silent mode. It was on the quieter side, which explains the GPU thermal throttling noted earlier, but does at least mean you have the option of gaming well enough with a quieter machine., Balanced mode was notably louder, then youll probably want headphones for extreme performance mode with coolerboost. Lets. Also, take a look at how this new 115 watt RTX 2060, compares with other laptops in games. Use these results as a rough guide only as they were tested at different times with different drivers.
In Battlefield 5 Ive got the GL65 highlighted in red.. The average frame rate is right on par with the ASUS Scar III, which has the higher tier RTX 2070 graphics, though MSIs own GE65, with 90 watt 2060 is doing better just above it, particularly in terms of 1 low performance, though that model does apply a GPU Overclock out of the box, so we could probably boost performance by doing that.. These are the results from Far Cry 5 with ultra settings in the built in benchmark.. The GL65 was once more quite close to the 2070 in the Scar III, though many other 2070 laptops of same power limit were able to do better either way, though the 115 watt 2060 isnt that far behind them.. These are the results from Shadow of the Tomb raider, with the built in benchmark at highest settings.. Many of the other lower wattage 2060s, like the Triton, 500 or Scar II, are around 10 FPS lower. So this more powerful 2060 does have an edge over most of those older ones.. The exception seems to be MSIs GE65 again, which was just 1 FPS lower with the 90 watt variant. But again, as mentioned, that laptop is overclocked by default., If youre after more gaming benchmarks check the card in the top right corner or link in the description where Ive tested 20 games in total on this machine.. Now, for the benchmarking tools, Ive tested, Heaven Valley and Superposition from Unigine, as well as Firestrike Timespy and Port Royal from 3DMark just pause.
The video, if you want a detailed look at these results. Ive, used Adobe Premiere to export one of my laptop review, videos at 4K and the GL65 was doing ok compared to others, though the lower specced Y540 was completing it. Faster. Ive also tested Premiere, but with the Puget systems benchmark, which also accounts for things like live playback rather than just export times. This time the GL65 was ahead of the Y540.. The results were on the lower side in Photoshop, at least when you consider the hardware compared to other options.. Davinci Resolve was doing better than the last couple. Presumably, as this is a more GPU bound test, though that said, lower wattage GPUs, like the 1660 Ti in the TUF A15, were ahead. Ive also tested SPECviewperf, which tests out various professional 3D workloads. Ive used the OpenVR benchmark to test the HTC Vive Cosmos Elite and The GL65 was doing fairly well here, really only the bottom. Two machines struggled to play: Half Life Alyx, so Id expect these specs to do well enough. In most VR games. Ive used Crystal Disk Mark to test the storage.. The 512GB NVMe M.2 SSD was doing alright, but this may vary by region based on what storage is being used.. The SD card slot was on the slower side, but better than not having one at all. The SD card does click in most of the way into the laptop at least. For updated prices check the links in the description, as prices will change over time.
At the time of recording in the US. The GL65 with similar specs is going for around 1300 USD, though there are cheaper options. Too. Here in Australia were looking at about 2700 AUD for the same configuration Ive tested here. With all of that in mind. Lets conclude by summarising the good and bad aspects of the MSI GL65 gaming laptop to help you decide if its worthwhile. Overall, the GL65 is a decent gaming laptop. The metal build sets it aside from many of MSIs other plastic models, and although there was still some chassis flex present, I had to go out of my way to notice it. The performance from the 115 watt 2060 was fair, typically beating many 90 watt options, but For the price compared to those lower specced options, its hard to say whether its worth paying more for as prices vary., For instance, at 1300, USD Id be fine saving 100 or more on another model that had a 90 watt 2060. But thats me the difference in practice. Isnt too big.. The GL65 could run on the warmer side depending on the workload, but as weve seen, there are different performance modes and fan speed controls to adjust this plus its good MSI is allowing us the option to undervolt. In the BIOS as many 10th gen laptops have locked this., Big improvements were also possible from a stand or cooling pad. Thanks to the large mesh bottom. Were able to surpass 4.
1GHz all core turbo boost speed on the i7 under heavy workloads, which I think is fair with some easy tweaks, while also running below 90 degrees.. It would have been good to have the second connector for the M.2 slot theres space physically available, it seems like MSI, are reusing the same motherboard and segmenting their products based on price and features, and if a bunch of space is going to be set aside for A 2.5 drive it would be good to have the necessary parts to install included. Battery life wasnt amazing, but the battery was on the smaller size.. The speakers werent great port selection was reasonable, but having the two USB ports right at the front on the right hand, side wasnt optimal, even if I can see why they had to do it.. The keyboard and touchpad were decent, no problems there and the screen was above average for a gaming, laptop good 5ms response time, with the default overdrive enabled above average, brightness good colour gamut. No noticeable bleed. The only downside was the lowest contrast. When it comes down to it. The features that are actually important for playing games and having a good experience are quite good. With this laptop it just comes down to pricing and how others compare.. Let me know what you thought about MSIs GL65 gaming laptop down in the comments and, if youre new to the channel get subscribed for future laptop reviews and tech.