The MSI GL62M 7RDX-1408 is among the few gaming laptops fitted with Nvidia’s Pascal graphics and the latest Kaby Lake processor, but still fairly priced. It sweetly balances a thin design and powerful performance, while still offering useful port options and a backlit SteelSeries gaming keyboard.
PROS: Top-notch performance. A ton of storage space. Useful port options. Backlit keyboard.
CONS: Physical design may not be appealing to some
The MSI GL62M 7RDX-1408 is an entry-level device that checks all boxes in the prosumer gaming world. Its pricing and classification in the MSI line-up point towards a system that makes a few trade offs, though not prohibitively so. After all, its specification isn’t bad either: A Kaby lake processor quad core processor, Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1050 graphics card, 8GB system memory, a 128GB solid-state-drive (SSD) plus 1TB hard drive storage. It isn’t one of those systems that will blow through the latest AAA titles with butter-smooth frame rates, but the fact that its super thin and lightweight makes it appealing to most of us. If you need something with a thin profile and lighter than the Acer Predator Helios 300, our Editors’ Choice, then you should seriously have the MSI GL62M 7RDX at the top of your list.
MSI uses the same case as most of its predecessors in the MSI GL62M-line, only that it gets thinner here. And a few more differences too. Like, the MSI 408 doesn’t get an optical drive, which is a sacrifice you need to embrace in getting a slender device. The body is mostly matte black plastic, with a thin red accent on the rear, joining the dual fan grilles. MSI laptops are meant for expandability, and to achieve that you’ll have to remove the underside.
Its design is stylish, to a large extent, it’s a system you might be tempted to use in the office –were it not for the red accents and ‘gamer-inspired’ SteelSeries keyboard. Measuring about 1.06 by 15.07 by 10.23 inches (HWD), and weighs about 5.29 pounds, which is way both lighter and thinner than its 17-inch sibling iteration, the MSI GL72M 7RDX-800 (1.16-by-16.45-by-10.6 inches; 5.29 pounds). Still, it doesn’t beat the Asus ROG Strix GL502VM in portability; measuring about 0.9 by 15.4 by 10.5 inches and weighs 4.9 pounds, but packs a formidable Intel Core i7 Kaby lake processor, GeForce GTX 1060 (6GB) and 16GB of RAM.
The matte display features full HD resolution and In-Plane Switching technology that offers wider viewing angles, but the effect isn’t well prominent when the screen doesn’t have a glass coating. If you factor the new graphics card, 1080p is still ideal for notebooks, which aren’t configured to compete with desktops that run QHD+ OR 4K resolution, but you don’t get meaningful performance drops.
The built-in SteelSeries keyboard is well designed and comfortable to use. It boasts single backlighting and an anti-ghosting key. The red lighting pattern with a silver lining across the three zones is well-crafted, the keys are comfortable to type on, but too much travel makes them feel somewhat bouncy. The touchpad is slightly offset towards the left, but its smooth and sturdy; with responsive left-and right click functions just beneath the touchpad.
Port options on the GL62M are plentiful and varied, considering that you won’t be doing VR gaming –that takes up a few of your ports at once. That feature isn’t supported on GTX 1050 cards, but if it’s a must-have, you’ll have to grab a system with a GTX 1060 GPU and above which supports that feature.
On the right flank is a USB 2.0 port, an SD card slot and the power jack. The right side holds one USB 3.0 Type-C, two USB 3.0 ports, a mini-display port, an HDMI port with 4K support and audio jacks. An RJ-45 port lets you connect to the Internet, and for wireless you have Intel 3168 Sandy Peak 1 (1×1 802.11 ac) and Bluetooth 4.0. On the front is a 720p HD Webcam which is decent for an entry-level system.
A lot of storage is on board the MSI GL62M: 1TB 5,400rpm hard drive and a 128GB M.2 SATA. It’s surprising to see a slow hard drive make its way here, instead of a faster 7200rpm, but it isn’t a deal breaker. This is more than the Acer Predator Helios 300’s storage options as it only offers a 256GB SSD, but skimps on a storage hard drive. While 128GB is a little tight once you install games on the drive, the system is practically upgradable, so you can swap it with a bigger capacity SSD.
Alongside the brand new 2GB GTX 1050 graphics card, the MSI 7RDX is equipped with an Intel Core i7-7700HQ processor and 8GB RAM. The CPU’s base clock is 2.8GHz, but it can stretch thanks to Turbo hitting a maximum of 3.4GHz (four cores). These clock speeds are almost 200MHz higher than what you’d get from its direct Skylake competitors (intel Core i7-6700HQ). For that, the system yields better results in benchmark tests (4819 on PCMark 8, and 142 points on CineBench R15), and it gets a performance boost as well. However, any meaningful in performance isn’t directly a result of change in architecture, apparently Kaby Lake and Skylake aren’t so different–focus is on energy efficiency.
Given the new graphics system, though, we’re more interested in the 3D and gaming performance. With the new GeForce GTX 1050 graphic card, Nvidia adds an entry-level range model to its GPU line-up in early 2017. It belongs to the Pascal generation, with support for DirectX 12. It features a 2GB GDDR5 VRAM, making it a better performer over its predecessor the GTX 960M. The GL62M performs about 10 percent better than the ASUS ROG G752VT-DH72, thanks to the new GPU and efficient cooling system that allows the system to seamlessly clock higher speeds.
The system is muscular enough to play modern PC games smoothly. It won’t give you the butter-smooth frame rates you’d get from high-end systems like the ASUS ROG Zephyrus GX501, but it still delivers playable frame rates on Full HD resolutions –Resident Evil 7 (56FPS); GTA V (65 FPS) and Need for Speed (61 FPS). If you intend to run games in 4K on an external display, the GPU might disappoint. It isn’t cut for such a requirement, you’ll have to look at a notebook with a GTX 1060, like the Predator Helios 300, or even better, a GTX 1070 or GTX 1080.
Finally, the 7RDX-1408’s battery lasted 3 hours, 42 minutes, on rundown tests, which is expected of a gaming laptop. This is way lower than even a desktop replacement, but we have a few scoring well including the Dell Inspiron 15 – 11 hours 06 minutes; Razer Blade (early 2017) – 10 hours 29 minutes; and, Acer Predator 15 that will last 5 hours 36 minutes. As always, this ilk of gaming notebooks are just portable enough to allow you move in a pinch to your next destination, but they aren’t designed for use all-the-way.