Hands on: MSI GE65 Raider (2019) review

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MSI GE65 Raider

Early Verdict

The MSI GE65 isn't the most exciting gaming laptop in the world, but its balance of power, portability and high refresh rates is sure to find an audience out there.

For

  • High refresh rate
  • Good performance
  • Not too thick

Against

  • Updates are a bit iterative
  • Mediocre trackpad

There are a ton of gaming laptops at Computex 2019 that try to be extremely powerful or extremely thin, but the MSI GE65 Raider manages to balance performance and portability. You likely won't be bringing it to the office, but this gaming laptop is perfect to haul to the next LAN party.

The MSI GE65 Raider is going to be the gaming laptop for anyone looking for a jack of all trades. It's not going to be cheap, but it will be powerful and portable enough to please most people. But, because we don't know how much the GE65 Raider will cost, or when it'll be available, it's hard to get a grasp on whether it's worth your time or money.

MSI GE65 Raider

Pricing and availability

Unfortunately we don't have any solid pricing or availability information at the time of writing, so it's hard to pin down the value of the MSI GE65 Raider. However, the model we got our hands on was equipped with an Intel Core i7-8750H, a full-fat mobile Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 and 32GB of RAM – definitely not the specs of a budget laptop.

We got a vague Q3 2019 release window, but we don't know exactly when the GE65 Raider will appear in stores. But, either way, it's coming this year. 

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Design

The MSI GE65 Raider looks like a gaming laptop, in that it has a black and red design and plenty of RGB lighting. It's not as smooth as something like the MSI GS65 Stealth, but it's still not as obnoxious as a desktop replacement like the GT75 Titan.

Still, this gaming laptop is only about an inch thick – we don't have the precise measurements – and weighs about 4.5 pounds. It's enough for you to notice it in your backpack, but you shouldn't get winded walking down the street with it in your backpack. 

But, what's impressive is that even in the modestly-sized chassis, MSI was able to fit a full-fat Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070, rather than the Max-Q variant. That does mean that there is some robust ventilation, and plenty of noise to go along with it.

Luckily, MSI plans to balance the loud fan noise with improved speakers. They're frustratingly located on the bottom of the laptop, something we wish laptop manufacturers would just stop doing, but the speakers are five times bigger than the 2018 model, and thus should get much louder. 

We're testing this laptop in a conference room, so we can't exactly blast the volume to check how the speakers sound, though.

What we were able to test, however, is the display. The MSI GE65 Raider is now equipped with a Full HD display running at 240Hz – that's an incredibly speedy display for a laptop. We're not sure how much of the color gamut it covers, but it's plenty colorful for some gaming, and Battlefield V looked and felt excellent here.

The keyboard is also excellent. It's responsive and there's plenty of travel, plus the GE65 Raider features per-key RGB backlighting, so it looks great, too. The mousepad, on the other hand, is fine, but we would definitely advise going with a dedicated mouse – something you should be doing with a gaming laptop anyway.

The best part of the design of this laptop, however, is the port selection. You're getting three USB 3.0 Type A ports, HDMI, Mini DisplayPort, Ethernet and Thunderbolt 3. You definitely don't need to worry about not being able to plug all your peripherals in.

MSI GE65 Raider

Performance

The MSI GE65 Raider we're looking at is equipped with an Intel Core i7 processor and an RTX 2070. This isn't even the most powerful configuration available – you can get up to a Core i9 and an RTX 2080 – but it should be more than enough for most people.

With the Core i7 and RTX 2070-equipped model we can run the "Tirailleur" mission of Battlefield V at a comfortable 100 fps. That's the most demanding section of the entire game, and even though we're not turning RTX on, it's promising performance. However, it doesn't come close to hitting the 240Hz that this panel is capable of – though, we expect esports titles to soar on this laptop.

When we're pushing this hardware, though, you can definitely hear this laptop go. The fans obviously spin up when the laptop is under pressure, and it gets loud. Even in a noisy conference room we can hear it rev up. Make sure you're equipped with a good gaming headset.

MSI's Dragon Center software will let you control fan speed to a certain extent, but it's probably not wise to turn the fans down too low, as this powerful hardware will definitely get toasty.

MSI GE65 Raider

Early verdict

Until we know how much the MSI GE65 Raider will cost and how it will perform in the real world, its hard to make a definitive recommendation. However, we will say that this might end up being the perfect choice for any traveling esports players that need a high-refresh monitor on the go. 

The MSI GE65 Raider isn't the fastest gaming laptop in the world, or the sleekest, but the balance it manages to achieve between performance and portability are noteworthy. We'll just have to wait until we get it in for a full review to see how this gaming laptop withstands more rigorous testing.

Images Credit: TechRadar

Check out all of TechRadar's Computex 2019 coverage. We're live in Taipei to bring you all the breaking computing news and launches, plus hands-on reviews of everything from fresh laptops and desktops to powerful new components and wild overclocking demonstrations.

What is a hands on review?

Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.