The MSI GV62 8RD-200 affirms the new concept of portable, powerful and reasonably priced laptops that compete well with most midrange gaming desktops.
PROS: Strong performance. Newer CPU. Thing and lightweight. Optane Memory Module.
CONS: Not VR-ready. Middling gaming performance. Short battery life.
Unless you have a sky-high budget, getting that ideal gaming laptop will always attract a few compromises. The MSI GV62 8RD-200 is one of those systems that satisfy that premise, but not prohibitively so. Its 8th generation ‘Coffee Lake-H’ chip is the latest in the Series, with significant improvements over the 7th generation ‘Kaby Lake’ for mobile enthusiasts. Granted, its 1050Ti GPU doesn’t support VR gaming, it does cram more and more power into thinner and thinner designs.
The MSI GV62 8RD-200 packs the same components as its predecessor, but adds 16GB Intel Optane Memory and an eight-generation “Coffee Lake” processor. With this module, it amends the only issue we had with its predecessor –lack of a solid-state-drive (SSD).
If VR gaming is a must, our Editors’ Choice, the Acer Predator Helios 300 readily offers that capability, but if you need portability and strong gaming performance in on package, the MSI GV62 is an excellent choice.
Optane Memory Module
While Optane Memory isn’t a replacement for a true SSD, it offers a way of rejuvenating traditional spinning drives and giving them SSD-like performance, without spending too much.
At first, Optane Memory might sound like RAM, but its in fact a specialized storage solution that connects to the M.2 storage slot (PCIe Gen 3.0×2) on a PC motherboard. It is available on the latest motherboards, first designed for Intel Kaby Lake (7th Generation) processors alongside the 200 series Intel chipset.
It is now available in Coffee Lake processors (8th Generation). What the connected storage drive does is offer 16GB or 32GB of Optane Memory and the result is blazing fast cache, and excellent overall performance.
MSI uses the same case as most of its predecessors in the MSI GV62-line, only that it gets thinner here. And a few more differences too. Like, the MSI GV62 8RD-034 doesn’t get an optical drive, which is a sacrifice you need to accept in getting a thinner 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.
Overall, the design is stylish and has the gaming allure in the right portions. In fact, it’s a system you might be tempted to use in the office –were it not for the red accents and ‘gamer-inspired’ Steel series keyboard.
Portability is something MSI attempted to perfect in this system, and at 1.06 inches thin and just over 4.8 pounds, the MSI G62 is extremely portable over its 17-inch siblings, like the MSI GL72M 7RDX-800 (1.16 inches; 5.29 pounds). If you need something even more portable, the Asus ROG Strix GL502VM is worth a long look; measuring 0.9 inches thin and weighing 4.9 pounds but packs a better GPU and is VR-ready.
The 15-inch matte display features full HD (1920-by-1080) resolution and uses 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 Steel series 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.
Ports and Storage
Port options 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 1050Ti 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 3.1 ports, one USB 2.0 port, a mini-display port, a HDMI port with 4K support and audio jacks. An RJ-45 port lets you connect to the Internet, and for wireless you have Intel Wireless-AC 9462 3168 Sandy Peak 1 (1×1 802.11 ac) and Bluetooth 5.0. On the front is a 720p HD Webcam which is decent for an entry-level system.
This system fuses the aforementioned 16GB Optane Memory module and a 1TB 5400rpm hard drive for storage. This combination offers ample storage, but 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. Having 1000GB is flexible enough to install games, store your documents and still have some more left for downloads.
While not playing, the MSI GV62 8RD-200’s newer 8th-Gen ‘Coffee Lake-H’ Core i7-8300H chip, speedy hybrid storage drive configuration and 8GB of RAM (max 32 GB) are more than sufficient. This is a 6 core CPU that can most certainly handle any productivity tasks, as well as any demanding tasks like video editing. For that profile, it stacks well as a system that can perform well on specialized media tasks, like converting audio files, editing images in Photoshop, or any other tasks an average PC user may likely perform in a day.
For a gaming laptop, the graphics card is perhaps the most important component. The MSI 8RD-200 packs a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti with 4GB of GDDR5 memory. This is part of Nvidia’s latest line of Pascal architecture, and largely replaces the GTX 965M used in previous midrange gaming laptops. Unfortunately, even if it’s a newer card, it doesn’t translate to class leading performing. It is an average performer on most AAA games, and when you tone up the settings playability tends to suffer.
It average 44 fps on Valley frame rate tests, 65 fps on Titanfall 2 and 59 fps on GTA V, all played at full HD (1080p) settings. This level of performance would be great for a general-use laptop, but for a system billed as a dedicated gaming laptop, it’s a smidge disappointing. Plus, it doesn’t support VR gaming. Its closes rival, the Acer Predator Helios 300 uses a GTX 1060 GPU, is VR-ready and manages smooth playability on most AAA games: Titanfall 2 (96 fps) and 60.3 fps on GTA V (90.3 fps).
The MSI GV62 8RD-200’s battery lasted 3 hours, 52 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.
The Bottom Line
Like the new class of mainstream counterparts, gaming laptops come in various sizes and flavors. The MSI GV62 8RD-200 affirms the new concept, among others, that you don’t have to stick with bulky black boxes with insane accents that would be absurd if you bring them into a professional setting, in order to enjoy your games. On the other hand, while the design looks future-driven, this system will mostly appeal to folks who want a laptop that can’t be mistaken for anything than gaming.
That said, in the same category are VR-Ready gaming systems with support for Virtual Reality headsets Oculus or HTC VIVE like the Acer Predator Helios 300, but the MSI GV62’s strengths are still soldered on its superb display, size, weight and, of course, pricing. Those are serious considerations, especially if you’re always on the move and need to play games away from your desk. If you want a portable, yet, powerful gaming laptop, you should have this system at the top of your list. It is our newest Editors Choice for budget entry-level gaming laptops.