There’s no denying that MSI have designed a beautiful looking product. The MSI PS63 Modern will definitely turn heads if you opened it up in a business meeting or even a Starbucks. The carbon coloured grey chassis looks very premium, while the blue/purple rim, branded as the Galaxy Rim, when caught in the right light sends a shimmer around the outside of the laptop. MSI knew what they were doing when they were making this.
At its fattest the laptop when closed is around 1.5cm thick which gets thinner as we move towards the front. There’s enough room towards the back to fit your essentials like three USB ports, a headphone jack, a USB Type-C port that can be used to charge your mobile and a headphone/microphone combi jack. An ethernet port is included on a seperate dongle which I don’t mind too much. It beats having to carry a dongle for your USB ports like with the newer Apple Macbooks.
Cooling from what I can see is vented from the back, and draws air in from the bottom. The rubber standoffs on the base of the chassis stand tall enough to let a nice amount of air to flow through. What is interesting though is the cooling system that MSI have implemented here. They’re calling it the Cooler Boost 3 technology which uses two fans and several heatpipes to dissipate heat away from the graphics card. One big problem I found during my testing however is the fact that when under load for an extended period of time, the area where the screen meets the keyboard gets very hot and is almost untouchable.
Moving onto the inside of the machine, we’re greeted with a keyboard that’s seated on the same carbon grey colour from the external of the laptop and a very generous touchpad that’s incredibly smooth. Much smoother than the sandblasted finish of the carbon grey areas. The mousepad is also rimmed with the same Galaxy Rim, matching again the outside of the laptop and even has a fingerprint sensor in the top right hand corner for that extra security over a password. The keyboard has a cool white backlight which again fits in very nicely with the whole aesthetic of the laptop, as well as a custom typeface for the keys which is very on brand to the MSI aesthetic. There’s no sign of tacky RGB here which in this day and age of computing is a bit of a bonus. But then again, the MSI PS63 Modern is aimed at the business executive rather than the parents’ basement gamer.
Physically using the keyboard and mousepad to get through my workflow was actually quite nice. The keyboard offered smooth actuation with every keystroke and required very minimal pressure to actually activate each key. The mousepad on the other hand was super sensitive from the box, so I had to go into the settings to dial that back a little bit, especially when I moved the cursor from one side of the screen to the other. Once the sensitivity was turned down, it was fine. The multitouch ability on the mousepad is also quite a nice feature to have, especially when zooming into a webpage or a photo. I do however miss a number pad on the side of the keyboard, but that’s the sacrifice you make when choosing a small form factor laptop.
Inside the laptop you’ve got an Intel i7-8565U which has been clocked at 1.8GHz with a Turbo Boost frequency of up to 4.6GHz. There’s also 16GB RAM included too. In terms of its display driver we’re treated to an nVidia GeForce GTA 1050 with Max-Q Design which essentially means nice and thin so they can fit inside a skinny laptop.
The display can produce a full high-definition resolution, sitting at 1920x1080p. It uses IPS technology which means it can produce some lovely vivid colours when consuming media like Planet Earth II on Netflix and some really nice viewing angles. However, the laptop screen is nowhere near as bright as others we have tested in the past, most notably from Dell. To be perfectly honest, if I was on a majority white webpage, it’s fine. But it’s only when I started consuming media and watching Netflix that I just kept wanting to push the screen a little further. And of course, due to its brightness, there’s no HDR capability which is pretty much a given with laptop screens at the moment.
If you’re anything like me, then every time you see an nVidia logo on a laptop, you automatically think what sort of games can it play. Well let me be a little critical here. Yes, this laptop can play games, even AAA games, but it doesn’t play them as you would expect a high end desktop to play them. You’re generally restricted to low to medium graphics presets to give you a playable framerate. Shadow Of The Tomb Raider for example when using the medium preset gave us an average FPS score of 26. Metro: Exodus gave us an average framerate of 21 on its medium preset but 40fps on its low preset. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey gave us an average of 34fps on medium preset settings and Anthem threw back framerates that ranged between 25 – 30fps depending on the environment you were in. And yes, Apex Legends ran very well on low to medium settings. I was getting between 40-50 fps, and I had a little bit of anisotropic filtering on and my anti-aliasing set to TSAA. I had to install MSI Afterburner to measure the FPS and temperatures, which as I mentioned earlier got very hot. The highest temperature hit was 94° from my CPU during a cutscene in Anthem. You can also see the various 3DMark tests we ran and their scores below.
What’s nice about the MSI PS63 laptop is its physical weight, as it only sits at 1.6kg. And with a small form factor charger too, means that it’ll comfortably fit into a small bag and won’t be a burden to carry around with you, or to and from the office. What I am confused about however is the fact that MSI advertise a 16 hour battery life when measured with MobileMark 2014. I couldn’t get anywhere near that with heavy use topping out at just over eight hours. Not sure where their result came from, but it’s very farfetched. And as we’re on a negative vibe, the webcam, although pumping out 720p video, it’s a little splotchy, and there is a tad too much bloatware that comes preinstalled on the machine that I immediately got rid of. NORTON ANTIVIRUS I’M LOOKING AT YOU PAL!
One piece of software that comes with the laptop is their Creator Centre which I believe to be an MSI branded piece of software. What it does is essentially track your usage, and the various software you have on the laptop and optimises its performance. When I first opened up the Content Creator I saw Adobe Photoshop CC 2018 as that was the only thing installed, but it gave me options to turn on the Content Creator software on Premiere Pro, Coral Painter 6, Laplink PCmover Professional among others. It’s also a good software to track your CPU, GPU and RAM usage, as well as change the True Colour profile to sRGB, Gamer and Movie and also switch on various functions like the QuickCharge USB Type-C port for mobiles, which by the way, can be used even when the laptop is off. Also, this is where you can flick between Balanced and High-Performance modes on the laptop itself.
There’s something to love about the MSI PS63 Modern laptop. Whether it’s the beautiful design and purple/blue rim, the fact that it can play AAA games or that it’s nice and light and thin. It’s a great laptop. The biggest downer for me though is its dim screen and average battery life. Of course there are comparable laptops like the Dell XPS 15 and its decent battery life. But even still, I think those who invest in one of the MSI PS63 Modern PCs, you’re not going to be left disappointed. For more information, make sure you head over to the MSI website.