A Thin and Rather Sharp Gaming Notebook
On this review, we are taking a look at the MSI GS73VR 6RF Stealth Pro. A gaming notebook specifically designed for those who requires performance in one light and slim gaming solution. The MSI GS73VR 6RF Stealth Pro falls under MSI’s GS Series of notebooks – featuring a Quad Core Intel Core i7-6700HQ, with a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 6GB graphics card to boot.
The display panel on the other hand, is a 17.3 inch Full HD display with a 120 Hz Refresh Rate and a 5ms response time. With those main specifications in mind, the MSI GS73VR 6RF Stealth Pro is leaning towards the desktop replacement segment. A slim and portable yet capable gaming notebook that you could slide into your backpack with ease. Learn more about the notebook HERE.
MSI GS73VR 6RF Stealth Pro
|CPU||QuadCore Intel Core i7-6700HQ|
|CHIPSET||Intel Sunrise Point HM170|
|MEMORY||16 GB Kingston DDR4-2400 SO-DIMM|
|GRAPHICS||NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 6 GB|
|DISPLAY PANEL||120 Hz CHIMEI 17.3 inch Full HD 5ms Panel|
|DISPLAY OUTPUT||HDMI 2.0, Mini DP, Thunderbolt (Type-C)|
|AUDIO SOLUTION||Realtek ALC899 + ESS SABRE DAC, 4x 2W Speaker, 2x 3W Woofer|
|LAN||Killer E2400 Gigabit Ethernet Controller|
|WLAN||Killer Wireless-n/a/ac 1535 Wireless Network Adapter + BT|
|STORAGE||256GB SAMSUNG SSD + 1TB HGST 5400 RPM, SATAIII HDD|
|I/O PORTS||1x USB 3.1 Type-C, 3x USB 3.0, 1x USB 2.0, SD Card Reader, Audio In, Audio Out|
|COOLING||MSI Cooler Boost Trinity 3x Fan Design|
|BATTERY / POWER||3-Cell 65 Whr, 180W Power Adapter|
|OPERATING SYSTEM||Microsoft Windows 10 64-bit|
The MSI GS73VR 6RF Stealth Pro with these specifications will set you around 134, 995 PHP mark locally. Our model as said earlier, come with a 120Hz panel, which is very much so desired for the price point. Storage is also on point with a 256 GB PCI-E SSD from SAMSUNG together with a 1TB 5400 RPM mechanical drive.
DESIGN LAYOUT AND CONNECTIVITY:
If the MSI GE72VR sports a beefier chassis, then the MSI GS73VR 6RF is the leaner and sexier cousin. It still sports the same aluminum materials and color scheme but it is a little easier to the eyes with a stealthier overall design.
The notebook weighs in at 2.43 kilograms which is a point lighter than the GE72VR. Build quality is typically of the same caliber, but we’re giving this one an extra point for the all aluminum undercarriage.
MSI opted for an RGB enhanced input layout for the GS73VR. It is designed by their gear partner SteelSeries and features a 2mm travel distance from top to bottom.
The left side of the GS73VR 6RF Stealth Pro is full of connectivity options. You’ve got gold-plated audio jacks here, 3x USB 3.0 ports, an SD card reader, the LAN port for the Killer LAN, and a Kensington lock. A venting area is also located here.
The other side of the notebook features a USB 2.0 port which is better suited for input devices. This area also houses the Thunderbolt 3 interface, a HDMI port, miniDP and the power adapter port. I’d rather see these port behind the notebook though.
The notebook comes with a 180W power adapter and I’m happy to report that it isn’t the bulky type we used to see from high-performance devices.
The build quality is rather good, and there’s hardly any creaking parts to be found. One thing to note though is the notebook’s sharp under edges so be careful not to slide your fingers underneath when handling it.
MAINTENANCE AND COMPONENTS:
Maintenance is not really this notebook’s strong point seeing that you’re greeted by a rather bland internals. Other than the HDD, and the battery cell, there isn’t much to play with inside. To access the SO-DIMM slots and SSD, you have to flip the PCB so it really is not that friendly to upgrade this notebook. Lucky for you, the MSI GS73VR comes with a 16GB 2400MHz memory kit from Kingston, and a 256GB NVMe SSD from Samsung.
With the internals in sight, we could see that MSI had the majority of components situated at the top. Leaving lesser components such as the HDD and the battery cell near the palm area ensures better surface thermals for your hands to work with.
MSI utilized the Chimei N173HHE-G32 panel with the GS73VR Stealth Pro model we got. It’s a 17.3 inch 1080P TN panel with a refresh rate of 120Hz and a visible viewing area of 17.2 inches. GTG response time is rated at 5ms, but we are unable to check out the actual response time since our hi-speed camera just came in a little late to check that one out.
Since this is a TN panel, extreme viewing angles are far from ideal. Still, a 120Hz panel will make sure that motion blur is lower than what you would expect from a 60Hz panel. Good enough panel with no game breaking motion artifacts to be found.
The MSI GS73VR sports a full layout keyboard with scissor switch keys designed by SteelSeries. It’s not a true 100% layout, featuring a slightly slimmer number pad. Each key has a travel distance of 2mm, with an actuation force of around 60 grams.
Key illumination is superb – with a non-straining glow from the edges and laser etched legends. Now as for the touchpad, MSI had the notebook equipped with an 11×6 cm multi-touch pad. You can tap, scroll, and drag icons with it alone.
TEST SETUP AND METHODOLOGY:
The performance of the system shall be evaluated by various benchmarking tools and applications. With the CPU, memory, storage, gaming, power and audio performance being the focus of the tests. We are testing this system with the high-performance settings enabled at the OS, with the default UEFI configuration. Background processes such as anti-virus and third-party applications are disabled as well. Outlined below are the applications and benchmark tools for reference:
CPU AND MEMORY PERFORMANCE:
- Super PI – 32M Calculations
- wPrime – 32M and 1024M Calculations
- AIDA64 Extreme Edition – Memory Benchmark
- GIMP – 7 MB worth of image processing
- HandBrake – 150 MB MP4 to H.264 video encoding
- WinRAR – Internal benchmark tool
- Overwatch – Ultra Settings | V-SYNC off
- Battlefield 4 – Ultra Settings | V-SYNC off
- Starcraft 2 – Extreme Settings | V-SYNC off
- DOTA 2 – Maximum Settings | V-SYNC off
- DIRT: Rally – Ultra Settings | V-SYNC off
- Project CARS – Maximum Settings | V-SYNC off
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – Ultra Settings | V-SYNC off
- The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Ultra Settings | HairWorks off | V-SYNC off
- Crystal Disk Mark – Storage performance
- RightMark Audio Analyzer – Audio performance
- AIDA64 Extreme Edition – Temperature, Power and Noise
TEMPERATURE, POWER AND NOISE:
The AIDA64 System Stability Test uses a 64-bit multi-threaded stress testing module to drive the system to its absolute limits. Power readings are recorded with a watt-meter.
The AIDA64 System Stability Test is also used to evaluate the system thermals. Readings are taken with AIDA64 and is cross-referenced with HWiNFO.
The system noise level is evaluated during idle and a 15-minute load via AIDA64’s Stress Test. The noise measurement is taken by a sound level meter.
External temperature is also checked to evaluate the system’s surface temperature around the keyboard area. Readings are taken with a temperature gun.
The MSI GS73VR 6RF Stealth Pro features a respectable thermal output for its size. Power figures are not bad as well.
The system’s battery life is evaluated via the Whr / Watts formula. This is to ensure a leveled benchmark across the systems.
With a measly battery pack, don’t expect the notebook to last long unplugged. Of course, light browsing and movie playback shouldn’t be a portability issue. Just keep it close to a wall socket.
CPU AND MEMORY PERFORMANCE:
Super PI is a single-threaded program that calculates pi to a specified number of digits after the decimal point. It is a widely used benchmark and stress test within the industry.
WPrime is a multi-threaded program that calculates a set number of square roots for estimating functions. It verifies the results by squaring them, then compares it with the original numbers.
The AIDA64 Memory Benchmark measure the maximum achievable data transfer bandwidth of the memory. That includes the Read, Write, Copy and Latency performance.
The MSI GS73VR features a better CPU performance compared to the MSI GE72VR. Both systems has the same processor, but we felt that the improved cooling solution of the thinner unit proved itself worthy. The extra memory frequency aided the notebook too on this area.
GIMP or GNU Image Manipulation Program, is a free and open-source image editing tool. A 7 MB worth of images is be processed and converted to gauge the system performance.
HandBrake is a free video encoding tool that supports a wide variety of media codecs. A 150MB worth MP4 video is converted using the H.264 codec to gauge the system performance.
WinRAR is a file archive utility that can create, view and unpack numerous archive file formats. The software’s built in benchmark tool is utilized to gauge the system performance.
On our real world benchmarks, the MSI GS73VR also proved to be a better performer overall compared to its bulkier brother.
Overwatch is Blizzard Entertainment’s critically acclaimed First Person Shooter. The game runs on a custom engine utilizing the DirectX 11 API.
Battlefield 4 is Electronic Art’s popular First Person Shooter, running on the Frostbite 3 game engine developed by DICE. It utilizes the DirectX 11 and the Mantle API.
Starcraft 2 is Blizzard Entertainment’s critically acclaimed RTS game. The game runs on the HAVOC engine utilizing the DirectX 9 API.
DOTA 2 is VALVE’s popular F2P MOBA game. The game runs on the Source engine with multi-API support.
DIRT: Rally is CODEMASTER’s take on the rally racing game genre. It utilizes the EGO game engine with support for the DirectX 11 API.
Project CARS is Slightly Mad Studios’ latest simulation racing game, running on the Madness game engine utilizing DirectX 11 support.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is Bethesda’s critically acclaimed Action Adventure RPG. Skyrim utilizes the Creation Engine with DirectX 10 support.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is CDProjekt RED’s award-winning Action Adventure RPG. The Witcher 3 utilizes the REDengine 3 with DirectX 11 support.
Overall gaming performance is excellent with the exception of the DOTA 2 and Project CARS results. Those games screwed my GTX 1080 Ti FE benchmarks too, and I’d love to test the MSI GE72VR again just to refresh the results.
Crystal Disk Mark is a storage benchmarking software widely used throughout the industry. It feature synthetic benchmarks to test both the read and write performances of a storage medium.
The NVMe SSD featured a stellar result, while the USB 3.0 performance is just decent. The card reader however appears to be connected to the USB 2.0 controller so if you have a USH-1 card, better slap it on a USB 3.0 reader.
RightMark Audio Analyzer (RMAA) is a tool designed to test the quality of audio devices. The results are obtained using test signals passing through the audio paths via frequency analysis algorithms. We utilized a high quality 3.5mm stereo audio cable to loop the line-in and line-out of the system with a sample rate of 24-bit at 48 kHz. The recording level should be around -1dB if possible, with software audio enhancements disabled.
|Frequency response (from 40 Hz to 15 kHz), dB|
|Noise level, dB (A)|
|Dynamic range, dB (A)|
|THD + Noise, dB (A)|
|IMD + Noise, %|
|Stereo crosstalk, dB|
|IMD at 10 kHz, %|
Internal audio is kinda meh. The frequency response for example has unnecessary dips at the lower ranges, and Signal-to-Noise Ratio is not helping either. The on-board ESS SABRE on its own shouldn’t behave like this and perhaps these performance figures could be related to the line-in of the notebook. Our RMMA results heavily relies on the line-in so consider that as a note. Below is the frequency response graph from RMMA.
As for the 4:1 speakers, they feature a decent output. But, aren’t exactly enough to break the 85 dB SPL barrier on their own so the configuration isn’t as powerful as I expected. Usable, but not exceptional.
WRAPPING IT UP:
The MSI GS73VR 6RF Stealth Pro is a thin and compact gaming notebook that features a desktop class performance under 135, 000 Pesos. It bested the GE72VR 6RF Apache Pro on most benchmarks and that alone speaks of this notebook’s gaming prowess. The display on the other hand is a TN panel, but it is a proper 120 Hz so I can’t complain about it. Less motion blur is always better if you’re a gamer.
Cooling is also better compared to the thicker GE72VR which means that the MSI Cooler Boost Trinity design is working as expected. Surface temperature is not bad featuring a warm yet still good results. Battery life on the other hand is what you should expect from a 65000 mWh cell. We only got 25 minutes of playtime with it which is not the best. It could be improved upon though by locking the frame rate. Still, refrain from draining the cells that fast so better keep the adapter at bay if you wish to play intensive titles.
Now pricing is set at 135, 000 Pesos based on the MSRP but you can actually get this at a significantly lower price point depending on the retailer. The latest GS73VR Stealth Pro model for an instance, could be had for about 97, 700 Pesos. That’s a model with the Core i7 7700HQ, but I’m unsure if it features the same 256 GB NVMe SSD inside.
All in all, the MSI GS73VR 6RF Stealth Pro is a great gaming notebook. It is a proper desktop replacement featuring a compact and stealthy design that encompasses the 100K pesos gaming notebook bracket with a well rounded performance.