In this article, we will be reviewing the MSI GF63, a budget-friendly gaming laptop that packs some impressive specs for its price point. We will be covering various aspects of this laptop, including its screen, ports, TRX 4050, battery life, and more, to help you decide if it’s the right choice for you.
MSI GF63 15.6″ 144hz Gaming Laptop
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Design and Build Quality
The laptop’s design and build quality appears to be similar to the previous year’s model, sporting an all-black brushed aluminum finish on both the lid and interior. However, the laptop’s construction feels flimsy, with more flexibility than usual, despite its metal exterior. Additionally, the brushed finish makes it challenging to clean and prone to fingerprints, resulting in a perpetually untidy appearance. Although the hinge isn’t remarkable, it seems to be an improvement over the previous model, and the laptop is easier to open. While it still tilts back somewhat due to its weight distribution, it doesn’t tip as much as last year’s iteration.
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The laptop I purchased is configured with an Intel i5-12450H processor, Nvidia RTX 4050 graphics, 16GB of DDR4 dual-channel memory, and a 15.6″ 144Hz screen. However, the RTX 4050 graphics card’s power consumption can vary significantly, ranging from 35 to 115 watts. Unfortunately, the GF63 falls on the lower end of this range, utilizing only 45 watts, which means it may not perform as well as more expensive 4050 laptops with higher power limits.
Size and Weight
The laptop on its own weighs almost 4.1lb or 1.85kg, and with the included small 120-watt charger, it increases to 5.1lb or 2.3kg. However, it’s still relatively lightweight compared to many other 15-inch gaming laptops, which is partially due to the lower wattage graphics. This feature eliminates the need for a massive power brick, making it more portable. Additionally, the lower power consumption allows for a smaller cooler, contributing to the laptop’s overall portability.
Webcam and MIC
The laptop features a 720p camera located in the middle of the screen but lacks an IR sensor for Windows Hello face unlocking.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The laptop keyboard features red backlighting that illuminates all keys and secondary functions. You can adjust the brightness levels to three different settings by holding the function key and using the page up and down keys on the right-hand side. However, even with the backlighting turned off, the keys remain red. The keys feel flat and lack any tactile feedback, making them less than ideal for extended typing sessions. Nonetheless, they’re still serviceable. The plastic touchpad performs well enough, but it feels slightly undersized compared to modern laptops.
MSI GF63 Ports
The MSI GF63 Thin 10UCXR-096US laptop has a few ports on the left side and most on the right. On the left side, there is the power input near the middle and a USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A port. On the right, there are separate 3.5mm headphone and mic jacks, two more USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A ports, a USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-C port, gigabit ethernet, and Kensington lock. The Ethernet port is not facing the preferred way and seems low, but it is still possible to remove a cable without lifting the laptop. The HDMI port is located in the middle of the back and supports 4K 30Hz, as it connects to the Intel integrated graphics and not Nvidia. However, this year’s version has added DisplayPort support over USB Type-C, which can be used to bypass optimus as it connects directly to the RTX 4050 graphics. The Type-C port cannot be used to charge the laptop though. It’s worth noting that having most of the ports on the right might be inconvenient for right-handed mouse users as cables may get in the way of their mouse hand. However, if only connecting a mouse over USB Type-A, it could be connected to the left side without any problem.
Inside and Internals
Inside we’ve got the battery down the front, a 2.5” SATA drive bay for an SSD, or hard drive if you like pain, two DDR4 memory slots near the middle, one PCIe Gen 4 M.2 SSD, and the Wi-Fi 6 card up the top corner
Wi-Fi and SSD Speed
The Wi-Fi speed on this laptop was decent, scoring similarly to the older GF63 model which used the same Wi-Fi card. The 512GB SSD on this laptop was also an improvement, with a sequential write speed that was about a gigabyte per second faster compared to last year’s model. These are both welcome improvements in performance.
The laptop has room for a larger double-sided drive, but the included pads need to be removed to access it. Two memory sticks are installed for dual-channel, which is an improvement compared to last year’s models that only had one stick. Using only one stick of DDR4 can reduce performance. However, opening the laptop to upgrade it was annoying, so half a point was deducted from the upgradeability score.
The speakers on the MSI GF63 Thin are found underneath towards the front on the left and right sides. While they do get the job done, they sound a bit muffled and not that good, especially at higher volume. As for the latencymon results, they weren’t great, but there is a known Nvidia bug at the moment that may increase this.
The GF63 is equipped with a 3-Cell 51Wh battery, which performed well in tests. MSI Center software has a display power saver feature enabled by default, which reduces the screen’s refresh rate to 60Hz when the charger is unplugged to save power. This causes the screen to flicker black and revert to 144Hz when the charger is plugged back in. In the YouTube video playback test, the battery lasted 10% longer compared to last year’s GF63 with an older CPU and GPU. In the game test, the battery lasted at least 38% longer, which makes sense as the RTX 4050 is more power efficient.
The GF63’s cooling system features a single fan, similar to last year’s model, but the heatpipe at the bottom now covers both the CPU and GPU. The intake holes on the bottom panel aren’t located above the fan but over the CPU and GPU, which could help bring air in over these components. The single fan exhausts air out of the left side and one corner at the back. The MSI Center software provides different performance modes, ranging from silent to balanced and extreme performance. The extreme performance mode allows overclocking of the GPU, but there’s no overclock applied by default. Cooler boost, which sets the fan to full speed, can also be enabled, or users can customize the settings in advanced mode.
Temperature, Clock Speed and TDP
The GF63’s internal temperatures were cool during idle, but during combined CPU and GPU stress tests, extreme mode remained relatively cool despite having only one fan. Setting the fan to max speed lowered temperatures slightly but increased noise levels. Alternatively, using a cooling pad proved to be slightly more effective than maxing out the fan while being quieter. The laptop performed similarly with or without the lid closed, making it suitable for docking. Interestingly, higher fan speeds or a cooling pad resulted in slightly higher clock speeds, but it is unclear why since the temperatures were relatively cool and the power levels were the same in balanced and extreme mode. The GPU power maxed out at 45 watts, which is 5 watts higher than MSI’s older GF63 with RTX 3050 graphics, but the CPU power was slightly lower, closer to 25 watts.
There’s not really that much of a performance difference between the different modes when running an actual game. Although balanced and extreme modes were running with the same CPU and GPU power levels in the stress tests, extreme mode was 5 FPS faster than balanced here.
The GF63’s CPU can only boost slightly higher when the GPU isn’t active, like in Cinebench. It started out at 60 watts in extreme mode, but lowered to 50 watts after just a second or two, at which point it started thermal throttling at 50 watts, dipping down to 45 over time. Balanced mode was thermal throttling too, but it was running fairly quietly to be fair. This is the first i5-12450H that has been tested, and although it’s similar to a 10th gen 8 core 16 thread CPU from a couple of generations prior, the single core performance is much improved compared to any laptop that’s near it in multi-core. There’s a 10% boost to multi-core compared to the older GF63, and a 12% boost in single-core. Performance lowers if the charger is unplugged and the laptop runs purely on battery power. The older GF63 was now slightly ahead in multi-core performance, and although the newer version was still ahead in single-core, the gap is smaller now.
Most laptops have a keyboard temperature in the low 30 degrees Celsius range when idle, and the GF63 is in line with this. With stress tests running, it’s warmer, but the keyboard doesn’t feel hot. In the higher balanced mode, only the back section above the keyboard on the left feels hot, but you don’t need to touch there. Extreme mode is cooler because the fan gets louder, even though the CPU and GPU are running at the same power levels as balanced mode. With the fan maxed out, it’s slightly cooler, but it’s louder now too. The fan is off and completely silent some of the time at idle, but it randomly turns on for 10 seconds every minute or so. It gets louder in the higher performance modes, and still gets fairly loud at maximum despite it not having two fans, but we can lower the fan noise and temperatures with a cooling pad.
MSI GF63 Screen
The GF63’s screen has always been one of its weaker points, which is understandable given that manufacturers typically cut corners on display quality in budget laptops. However, has the newer 2023 model improved upon its predecessor’s display? Unfortunately, the answer is no. Although the GF63 still sports a 1080p 144Hz panel, its color gamut has actually decreased since the previous model, with the older screen reaching 61% sRGB. Maximum brightness remains about the same, but anything under 300 nits is still too dim. Response time is similarly unimpressive, clocking in at around 19.5ms, and is actually a bit worse than last year’s model. There’s also no MUX switch, advanced optimus, or G-Sync available at this price point. Despite these issues, the system’s total latency is faster than the older GF63, due to the newer RTX 4050 graphics. Backlight bleed isn’t too bad, but it may vary between panels. All in all, the screen remains one of the GF63’s biggest compromises.
The performance of the low powered RTX 4050 graphics in games is up next for review. Cyberpunk 2077 was tested in the same way on all laptops, and the GF63 is highlighted in red. At 1080p, the 4050 in the GF63 was almost on par with the RTX 3060 in the Alienware x14, despite the latter using more power. Even at just 45 watts, it surpasses an RTX 2060 at 110 watts from the previous generation. Red Dead Redemption 2 was tested with the game’s benchmark, and once again, the 4050 in the GF63 was close to the 3060 in the x14. It even outperformed the RTX 3070 in ASUS’s TUF Dash F15, which was heavily restricted by its quad-core processor. Control is quite GPU intensive, even at 1080p, and the 4050 was closer to the 2060 now, but with more performance dips, as evidenced by its worse 1% low. Otherwise, it was ahead of all 3050 Ti results, but beaten by all 3060 results this time, but that is expected since all 3060 results are also using more power.
3DMARK And Content Creation
Here are the 3DMark results for those that find them useful, now for some content creator tests. Adobe Premiere was tested with the Puget Systems benchmark tool, and the cheaper GF63 was ahead of last year’s Legion 5 with better CPU and high powered 3060, as this test seems to favor Intel based laptops. Adobe Photoshop generally likes single threaded performance, and although the i5-12450H was better in this regard compared to last year’s i5-11400H, older laptops with that processor were ahead, though only by a small amount. GPU power usually matters more in DaVinci Resolve, but unlike the games, the 4050 was now beaten by higher powered 3050 and 3050 Ti laptops. It’s basically scoring the same as a similar powered 3050 Ti here, so not as impressive as the games. Blender is entirely dependent on the GPU, and like the games the GF63 was behind most of the higher powered 3060s. We’ve also tested SPECviewperf which tests out various professional 3D workloads.
MSI GF63 BIOS
The MSI GF63 is a lower end gaming laptop, but it still offers full access to their advanced BIOS. To access it, you just need to enter a keyboard shortcut. Once inside, you have access to a plethora of customization options such as thermal and power limits, memory speeds, and much more. It’s important to note that you should be careful when making changes as you can potentially damage the machine. So make sure you know what you’re doing before making any modifications.
Linux support was tested with an Ubuntu 22.10 live CD. By default, the keyboard, touchpad, camera, speakers, Ethernet, and Wi-Fi all worked fine. All keyboard shortcuts to adjust screen brightness, key brightness, and volume also worked too, resulting in a good outcome.
MSI GF63 Price
In my opinion, I can’t recommend the MSI GF63, especially when you can get the Acer Nitro 5 for the same $1000 price with a better CPU and GPU power limit that’s more than twice as high. Not only that, but the Nitro 5 chassis is just better. Even last year, $1000 could get you a full powered RTX 3060 laptop with a good sale, like a Lenovo Legion 5 or Acer Helios 300, both of which have a much nicer build quality, a better screen, bigger batteries, and more.
The MSI GF63 is an entry level gaming laptop that offers full access to advanced BIOS through a keyboard shortcut. The BIOS allows for customization of thermal and power limits, memory speeds, and more. Linux support was tested with an Ubuntu 22.10 live CD, and all default features such as the keyboard, touchpad, camera, speakers, ethernet, and Wi-Fi worked fine. Keyboard shortcuts for adjusting screen brightness, key brightness, and volume also worked. The MSI GF63 is priced at $1000 USD on Amazon, which is the same price as Acer’s Nitro 5. However, the Nitro 5 offers a better CPU with 4 more E cores and a GPU power limit that’s more than twice as high, making it a better choice for the same price. Additionally, the Nitro 5 chassis is better than the GF63. The GF63 does have some small improvements such as an extra heat pipe for cooling, 5 watt higher GPU power limit, better CPU and GPU performance thanks to 12th gen and RTX 40, and DisplayPort on Type-C. However, it is still too expensive for what it offers, and there are better options available at the same price point. If you’re on a tighter budget, then a GF63 with GTX 1650 or RTX 3050 graphics might make more sense.