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OUR VERDICT

MSI combines an 8th generation Intel CPU with RTX 2080 graphics and throws in some colorful effects and a healthy amount of useful software. The result is a reliable, speedy gaming machine with style.

FOR

  • Above-average gaming performance for this price
  • Large, colorful display with 144Hz refresh rate
  • Helpful gaming software

AGAINST

  • Weak battery life
  • Grainy webcam
  • Performed below average in some productivity benchmarks
  • Runs pretty hot when gaming
  • High price tag

Gaming laptops this year are all about seeing what you can do with Nvidia’s GeForce RTX graphics technology. MSI’s GE75 Raider ($1,999 / £2000 to start, $2,999 / £2800 as tested), promises high frame rates, ray tracing and reliable compute power with an RTX 2080 graphics card and 8th generation Intel CPU. Those components are combined with a fast and vivid display, and attractive RGB lights to make a machine with impressive performance and looks to match.

Specifications

CPU Intel Core i7-8750H
Graphics Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 (8 GB GDDR6)
Memory 32 GB DDR4-2666
SSD 512 GB NVMe-PCIe
HDD 2 TB
Display 17.3 inches, 1920 x 1080, 144 HzResponse time: 3 ms
Networking Killer N1550i Combo 802.11ac (2×2 ac)
Video Ports HDMIMini DisplayPort 1.2SD card readerMic jackHeadphone jackRJ-45 ethernet
USB Ports USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C2x USB 3.1 Gen 11x USB 3.1 Gen 2
Audio 2x 3 watt speakers2x 3 watt subwoofers
Camera 720p webcam
Battery 65 Whr
Power Adapter 280 W
Operating System Windows 10
Other Features Tobii eye tracking, Alienware Graphics Amplifier port
Dimensions (WxDxH) 15.6 x 10.6 x 1.1 inches / 396.2 x 269.2 x 27.9mm
Weight 5.9 pounds / 2.7kg
Price (as configured) $2,999 / £2,800

Design

MSI balances sophistication and subtle style with the GE75 Raider. From top to bottom, it’s crafted with careful, understated detail.

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It comes in Aluminum Black with just enough red to keep things fun, yet classy. The lid attracts fingerprints, but your eyes will be drawn to MSI’s coat of arms sporting a dragon. Flanking the emblem are new additions to MSI’s gaming laptop aesthetic: two raised, red stripes. MSI calls these “3D dragon spines” (I’d argue that a dragon has just one spine). Logic aside, they’re just the right amount of flair.

Three 5.7-mm bezels and one wider bottom bezel, with a black-on-black MSI logo, surround the 17.3-inch display for an 82 percent screen-to-body ratio.

The RGB keyboard, which includes a number pad, has an all-caps font, except for the letter n, which for some reason is lower-case. The deck has a triangular power button under a teeny, tiny light that turns red when the machine’s on. Below that is an angular button for toggling through the keyboard’s pre-set RGB lighting profiles and one for maximizing fan speed.

Ports on the left side include an RJ-45 ethernet jack, one port each for HDMI, Mini DisplayPort, USB 3.1 Gen 2 and USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C, plus separate headphone and mic jacks and a security lock. On the right side is an SD card reader, a pair of USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports and the charger connector. All of the USB 3 ports have red LED lighting, which is controllable via the included MSI Dragon Center software. The lighting can be static, breathing or flashing with varying brightness, but is always red (or off).

The GE75 Raider measures 15.6 x 10.6 x 1.1 inches (396.2 x 269.2 x 27.9mm) and weighs a healthy 5.9 pounds (2.7kg). That’s notably heavier and than the Gigabyte Aero 15 X9 (4.7 pounds, 14 x 9.8 x 0.7 inches) and Asus ROG Zephyrus (5 pounds, 14.9 x 10.3 x 0.7 inches) but much more petite than the Alienware 17 R5 (9.8 pounds, 16.7x 13.1 x 1.2 inches).

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Our GE75 Raider played the Hitman benchmark (DX12 on, ultra settings) at 108 fps, outgaming the Aero 15 with its lesser RTX 2070 Max-Q graphics, as well as the ROG Zephyrus (GTX 1080 Max-Q) and Alienware (GTX 1080), as expected.

Rise of the Tomb Raider (very high) ran at 72 fps, again outperforming all of our comparison laptops and the category average.

The Raider played Metro: Last Light (high) at 87 fps, just managing to edge out the Alienware and leaving all the other comparison machines in the dust.

Grand Theft Auto V (very high) ran at 96 fps, more than 10 fps higher than each device in our comparison sample and the category average.

To stress test the machine, we ran the Metro: Last Light benchmark 10 times in a row, which simulates about 30 minutes of gaming. During that time, it ran at an average of 89 fps, occasionally reaching 90 fps. The CPU ran at an average clock speed of 3.1 GHz and an average temperature of 86 degrees Celsius (186.8 degrees Fahrenheit). The GPU’s temperature was 76.4 degrees Celsius (169.5 degrees Fahrenheit).

It earned a score of 11 on the SteamVR test, meaning you should be able to enjoy VR gaming on your HTC Vive or Oculus Rift with this machine.

Productivity Performance

With a 6-core, 12-thread Intel Core i7-8750H CPU, 32 GB of RAM, a 512 GB NVMe-PCIe SSD and 2 TB HDD, our configuration of the Raider GE75 offered reliable productivity performance for my workloads and should be able to sustain much more. However, competitors often bested it in our benchmarks.

When I opened 21 tabs on the GE75 Raider, including one streaming The Office, there was no lag. I was able to switch through tabs rapidly without stuttering, and Michael and Dwight’s pestering of a Canadian hotel clerk carried on uninterrupted.

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