You may have read the review of the MSI GE75 that Andrei wrote a few months back.  He gave it some good marks, praising its performance, screen and speakers.  But it was pretty short with battery life and the keyboard felt a little off to him.

MSI was able to provide me with an updated top of the line sample, with an i9 CPU and the RTX 2080.  I’m really excited to test the performance on this one, as it’s the first i9 I’ve tested and it’s also a full 2080, not the Max-q variant.

To start off, I can easily say that I’m pretty pleased with what MSI is offering.  There’s a lot to like about this laptop, as it really does perform phenomenally.  It’s also a pretty reasonable size for having such powerful components in it.

But there are some things that I think need improvement, most of which align with what Andrei noticed in his earlier review.  See my findings below for more details.

Specs as reviewed – MSI GE75 Raider 9SG

MSI GE75 Raider 9SG
Screen 17.3 inch, 1920 x 1080 px, IPS, 144 Hz, matte
Processor Intel 9th Gen Coffee Lake i7-9880H CPU, octa-core 2.3 GHz (4.8 GHz boost)
Video Intel HD 630 and NVIDIA GeForce 2080
Memory 32 GB DDR4 2667Mhz (2×16 GB DIMMs)
Storage 1 TB M.2 NVMe (Samsung PM981 MZVLB1T0HALR)
Connectivity Killer Wireless-AC 1550i, Bluetooth 5.0
Ports 2x USB-A 3.2 gen2, 1x USB-A 3.2 gen1, 1x USB-C 3.2(no Thunderbolt 3), headphone, mic, Ethernet, HDMI 2.0, Displayport
Battery 65 Wh, 280 W charger
Size 397 mm or 15.63” (w) x 268.5 mm or 10.57” (d) x 27.5 mm or 1.08” (h)
Weight 2.66 kg (5.86 lbs)
Extras individually lit RGB keyboard, clickpad, HD webcam, stereo speakers, subwoofer SD card reader

Design and build

The 2019 GE75 Raider is the middle ground in terms of size for MSI laptops, as it’s a little thicker than the GS75, but much thinner and lighter than the GT75.  It’s basically about as thin as it takes to not have Max-Q versions of the GPU.

The GE75 is surprisingly lighter and thinner than I was expecting, especially having a full RTX 2080.  The construction is a mix of metal and plastic, but is put together pretty decently.  I did notice a little bit of flex in the lid though, which I wasn’t expecting on a laptop this thick, especially with it being metal.

The lid is made of a thin sheet of brushed aluminum.  Instead of the more subtle logo on their GS series, MSI opted to go with their classic glowing dragon emblem on this one.  There are also some hard red lines which bulge out a little on the lid.  I wouldn’t say it’s overly flashy, because I’ve seen much worse (these used to glow), but it’s nonetheless a little much for my taste.

The sides, palmrest and underbelly are all made of plastic.  The keyboard area is actually pretty normal-looking until you get to the trackpad, where there’s a bright red border surrounding it.  There’s a lot of stickers on the palmrest, which can be peeled off, thankfully.  But the debossed Dynaudio logo and Steelseries emblems are both there to stay.

There are three buttons above and to the right of the keyboard.  The power button is up top and has a small led which changes color based on if the dGPU is being used.  The middle button changes the keyboard lighting profile.  The bottom button activates the cooler boost fan profile.

There’s lots of connectivity on this laptop.  Starting on the left, there’s an HDMI and Mini Displayport for your video outputs.  There’s also a USB-C port, but it’s not Thunderbolt 3, unfortunately.  A single USB-A port is between the USB-C and Mini-DP.  There’s also a headphone and microphone jack.  That headphone jack supports Hifi by the way, so if you have supported headphones, they’re gonna sound great.

Also on the left side is an Ethernet port.  Behind that is one of the exhaust fans, and finally behind that is the Kensington lock.  The right-hand side of the laptop is far less eventful.  There are only two USB-A ports and a full-sized SD card reader.  Finally, there’s another exhaust fan towards the back and the power jack is right behind it.

By the way, these USB ports actually light up.  It’s controllable in Dragon Center and there are two brightness settings as well as a way to turn them off.  Hope you like red, because that’s the only available color.  It’s still a nice feature if you’re constantly connecting devices in the dark, though.

The back edge of the laptop has a Raider logo with red accents.  Flanked on both sides are some more exhaust vents.  On the front edge, is just some indicator lights, which are white.

The underbelly is pretty unique.  There’s a lot of cutouts for vents and speakers, but they are cleverly made into a cool-looking design.  The footpads are also unique, but work well.

Overall, I’m just ok with the design.  It’s a lot more subtle than the previous version of this class, but it’s still a little too unprofessional for me to use.  I hate to say deal breaker, but for me it just is.  That’s just my opinion, though, and it’s literally the only thing that would hold me back from this model.  What I’d really like to see in the future is a GS75 that’s merely thicker and built stronger.  My two cents.

Keyboard and trackpad

The keyboard is very familiar to me, as it’s pretty much the same layout that has been used in all of MSI’s laptops 15” and over.  Being a former GS60, GS63VR, GS73VR and GS65 owner, I adapted just fine.

Strangely enough, I found this keyboard significantly different to type on, though.  It’s not bad, just different.  The combination of key feedback and the long travel might be the cause of it.  And maybe I’m just so used to thin laptops with low travel. Somwhow, I just found that I really have to hit the keys harder than I did with all the previous MSI laptops I’ve used.

That said, my typing experience was fine once I adjusted.  I took my standard typing test and scored 56 wpm, which is pretty much as good as I typically type.

The keyboard layout is pretty normal for the most part, with good sized shift keys and arrow keys that are out of the way, but not cramped.  There are some oddities though, such as the delete key tucked above the Numpad, the key on the bottom row and the windows and Fn keys being swapped.

Those latter keys can be swapped back in software and can the caps can also physically be swapped.  If I owned this laptop, that would be the first thing I would do, as it would make altering brightness and volume a one-handed operation.

The keyboard is backlit with individually lit RGB keys.  These can be changed in the included SteelSeries software.  Overall, it’s pretty easy to customize a profile you want.  There are 4 levels of brightness to the keys, which are changeable with the keyboard shortcut

The trackpad is pretty good.  It’s not a clickpad and has some physical buttons below it.  If you’re not into buttons, you can still use the trackpad with taps and double-finger taps, which is pretty much what I opt to do naturally.

Tracking and multi-touch gestures worked very well for me.  I had no problems with using the trackpad for my day to day activities.  It’s a little smaller than I’m used to having, and is smaller than their thinner GS75, but I’m guessing they opted for this to maximize space for batteries.

The buttons are flush with the trackpad, which is good and bad.  I like that they don’t bulge or stick out, but it’s a little difficult to distinguish between them, as the space between is nearly non-existent.  What’s also kind of annoying is the fact that they depress differently.  It could just be my model, but the right button is much more clicky than the left.

At the end of the day, the trackpad is still good and I’m really ok with both the input devices on this laptop.

Screen

This model of the GE75 has a 17.3-inch IPS panel with FHD resolution and 144 Hz refresh rate. It’s made by Chi Mei, with part number N173HCE-G33.

This panel is absolutely brilliant, as it was pretty much calibrated right out of the box, is bright and has great viewing angles.

The maximum brightness I was able to achieve was 389 nits, which is perfect for even outdoor use.  The blacks are also very deep, resulting in a contrast ratio of nearly 1500:1.

I took some measurements on my xRite i1 Display Pro sensor and here’s what I got:

  • Panel HardwareID: Chi Mei – N173HCE-G33;
  • Coverage: 95% sRGB, 68% NTSC, 73% AdobeRGB;
  • Measured gamma: 2.2;
  • Max brightness in the middle of the screen: 389 cd/m2 on power;
  • Contrast at max brightness:1496:1
  • Native white point: 6880 K;
  • Black on max brightness: 0.26 cd/m2.
  • PWM: Yes.

As you can see, the brightness is very high and pretty evenly distributed.  The only complaint I have at all with this panel is that I have some pretty significant backlight bleed on this unit.  It’ll vary from unit to unit, but mine was pretty noticeable all the time.  This is typical of IPS screens, but it’s something you should be aware of.

One last thing to note is that GSYNC is disabled and MSI has opted for better battery life with Optimus.  It’s probably for the best, as the 144Hz refresh rate will prevent most tearing with most games anyways.

Backlight bleed aside, this is my favorite 17” panel thus far.  It’s bright, color accurate and has a fast refresh rate.  It is on the border of being too low in pixel density, as I find QHD more appealing a resolution at this screen size.  But I’ll take what I see here any day.

Hardware and performance

This particular model of the GE75 Raider comes with an Intel Core i9-9880H, which is one of the top-of-the-line mobile CPUs available as of the second part of 2019.  It’s an octa-core and tops out at 4.8Ghz of boost, which makes quite a difference in the performance in demanding loads. 32GB of RAM is paired with the CPU on this configuration, as well as a full-power Nvidia RTX 2080 GPU, which also doesn’t disappoint.

The NVMe drive on this model is 1TB and is upgradable.  The model number is Samsung PM981 and the speeds are excellent.  See my Crystal disk mark benchmark for the details on the speeds.  There’s an extra M.2 slot on this laptop, so you can also add a second M.2 NVMe or SATA drive, if desired.  There’s also an additional 2.5” SSD bay.

Upgrading isn’t as easy as I hoped.  The Phillips screws are easy to remove, but note that one is behind a factory seal sticker.  The bottom cover is also held on by some tight clips though, so you need to use a plastic opening tool or a guitar pick in order to unclip them.  Be really careful if you decide to do this.  I started from the front and worked my way counterclockwise.

Once inside, all the swappable components are clearly visible.  Everything should be pretty straight forward to replace, but if you don’t get a model with a 2.5” drive, you’ll have to improvise when adding your own.  It looks like there’s supposed to be a bracket there, but it wasn’t included in mine.

The performance on this laptop is just incredible.  The i9 combination with the RTX 2080 pretty much guarantees greater than 60fps on most games, even at ultra settings.  Day to day tasks opened as quickly as possible and I didn’t notice any performance stutters the entire time I was using the laptop.  Having a Razer Blade 15 as my daily driver, I’m quite envious at how much better this laptop performs.

I took a number of synthetic benchmarks.  For these tests, I left the fan profile in Auto and the profile in Dragon Center was set to Turbo.  Here were my results:

  • 3DMark 11:27341 (Graphics – 35329, Physics – 16366);
  • 3DMark 13 – Fire Strike:21122 (Graphics – 25020, Physics – 20278);
  • 3DMark 13 – Time Spy:9864 (Graphics – 10067, CPU – 8854);
  • 3DMark 13 – Port Royal:5864
  • Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Extreme:6304;
  • PCMark 10:6107 (Essentials 9264, Productivity 8176, Content 8160);
  • GeekBench 4.3.3 64-bit:Single-Core: 5615, Multi-core: 29812;
  • CineBench R15: OpenGL 129.01 fps CPU 1635 cb, CPU Single Core 188 cb;
  • CineBench R20: CPU 3563 cb, Single Core 424 cb

There was a little thermal throttling on the CPU while running these tests, so I retook them with a -125mV undervolt.  I also added a 150Mhz overclock to the GPU.  Here were my results:

  • 3DMark 13 – Fire Strike:21181 (Graphics – 26011, Physics – 20968);
  • 3DMark 13 – Time Spy:10157 (Graphics – 10322, CPU – 9316);
  • 3DMark 13 – Port Royal:6051
  • Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Extreme:6502;
  • PCMark 10:6022
  • GeekBench 4.3.3 64-bit:Single-Core: 5553, Multi-core: 29546;
  • CineBench R15: OpenGL 127.05 fps CPU 1708 cb, CPU Single Core 186 cb;
  • CineBench R20: CPU 4029 cb, Single Core 444 cb

It’s not clear if undervolting improved the CPU performance, but it certainly helped the temperatures by a few degrees.  HWinfo reported a little thermal throttling on some of the cores during testing, but it wasn’t that bad and hardly affected the scores.

I also ran some testing on games.  All gaming tests were also done on Auto fan profile with default CPU and GPU settings in Dragon Center.

FHD
No Man’s Sky (Ultra)  100-132 fps
Battlefield V (DX 12 ON, Medium Preset, Ray-Tracing ON)  95-111 fps
Battlefield V (DX 12 On, Medium Preset, Ray-Tracing OFF)  144 fps
Battlefield V (DX 12 On, Ultra Preset, Ray-Tracing ON)  64-74 fps
Battlefield V (DX 12 On, Ultra Preset, Ray-Tracing OFF)  110-124 fps
Final Fantasy XV (High)  110-120 fps
Final Fantasy XV (Highest)  80-114fps
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (DX 11, Ultra Preset, Hairworks Off)  133-153 fps
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (DX 11, Ultra Preset, Hairworks On)  106-132 fps

You can clearly see what I mean now – this thing can game.

Having the 144Hz screen paired with this laptop was certainly a good call.  But I do kind of wish they would make a 144Hz QHD screen, since I think this CPU/GPU combo would have handled it well.

Emissions (noise, heat), Connectivity and speakers

The cooling system on this laptop is pretty extensive.  It really needs to be, considering the CPU and GPU are as powerful as they are.  I took the laptop apart to take a look.

Both the CPU and GPU carry a large array of heatpipes, which are connected to the two large fans.  The CPU gets five heatpipes and the GPU gets three, with one being shared between the two.  There’s also an extra heatpipe that sits on the top of the CPU heatsink, which probably helps cool the VRM.

It’s a lot of heatpipes, but unfortunately, that still isn’t enough to keep your CPU under 90C.  Even undervolted, I still barely broke under 90C.  The only way to get it lower is to set the fans to cooler boost, but then you’re dealing with some loud noise.

I think undervolting is enough though.  CPU temperature may spike in the 90s occasionally, but it’s not sustained there.  And if it is sustained, the fans eventually catch up to compensate.  My gaming results were better than my benchmark results.

As you would expect with fans this large, the noise levels are definitely noticeable.  I took some noise levels in a quiet room, which ambient noise levels registering at 28dB.

With normal day to day tasks, I detected some light fan noise that measures 35dB at ear level and 37dB at the unit.  Moderate gaming measured 40dB at ear level and 50dB at the laptop itself.

For heavy gaming, I just turned on Cooler Boost mode, which pretty much maximizes the fans.  With those turned on, I measured 48dB at ear level and 60dB at the unit.  Pretty loud.

For external temperatures, I took some readings on the outside of the casing, top and bottom, while under normal loads and also while gaming.  Here’s what I got:

*Daily Use – Netflix for 30 minutes
*Load (fans ~48 dB) – playing Battlefield V for approximately 30+ minutes on ultra FHD settings

It gets pretty hot under gaming loads, but this isn’t much of a surprise to me.  After all, there’s an i9 CPU inside paired with a full-sized 2080.

For connectivity, the Killer E2500 module gives a great connection to both Wifi and Bluetooth 5.0.  My internet connection was maxed out at 480Mbps as far as 30 feet from my access point.  No drops in connection, which is what I expect.  Overall I’m very happy with it.

For audio, there’s a pair of downward-facing speakers, as well as two downward-facing subwoofers.  These are some nice speakers!  They aren’t the loudest, as they only reached 63 dB on my sound meter.  But the sound is rich and full.  Whether watching movies or playing games, you’ll certainly enjoy either. Even though they were downward-facing, the sound wasn’t  muffled at all.

You can customize the sound using Nahimic’s software which is built into the Realtek software.  Unfortunately, you can’t adjust the gain, which is the only complaint I have I guess.  But the rest of the settings are nice to have.

Where the settings really shine is with the HiFi jack.  Putting my B&W P5’s on was a complete joy, as the sound was stellar.  I found myself preferring to watch my shows on this laptop rather than my daily driver.

Lastly, there’s a small HD webcam above the screen.  It’s just ok – nothing special.  It’s not Windows Hello enabled and the low light video is kind of grainy.  In good lighting, the picture is decent though.

Battery life

Even with all the space, the GE75 only has a 65Whr battery.  Clearly, they valued the speakers over the battery, which I happen to be ok, with since the sound is that good.  But don’t purchase this laptop expecting it to last you through the day, on the go.

I did some testing to see how long the battery would last in certain scenarios.

  • 12.6 W (~5 h 10 min of use)– idle, Best Battery Mode, screen at 0%, Wi-Fi ON;
  • 17.9 W (~3 h 38 min of use)– text editing in Google Drive, Better Battery Mode, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON;
  • 18.3 W (~3 h 33 min of use)– 1080p Youtube fullscreen in Chrome, Better Battery Mode, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON;
  • 18.7 W (~3 h 29 min of use)– 1080p Netflix fullscreen video in Chrome, Better Battery Mode, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON;
  • 17.5 W (~3 h 43 min of use)– 1080p fullscreen .mkv video in the Movie app, Better Battery Mode, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON;
  • 27.6 W (~2 h 21 min of use)– heavy browsing in Chrome, Better Performance Mode, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON;
  • 68.4 W (~57 min of use)– Gaming – No Man’s Sky, Maximum Performance Mode, 60fps, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON.

Even with Optimus, the results aren’t all that great.  And that’s kind of the norm for a gaming laptop.

Fact is, there are other laptops around this size that have better battery life.  But on those models, the trade-off is poorer sound, fewer storage options and to some point, simpler and less efficient cooling.  The GE75 being right for you is really going to come down to what you care about. If it’s still of interest, just don’t go far without your charger and you’ll be fine.

Price and availability

The MSI GE75 Raider is available at many major retailers, including Amazon.  At the time of this review, the model I’m reviewing costs a whopping $3400!  This is close to the most expensive laptop I’ve ever reviewed, with the highest being the old Razer Blade Pro at $4k.  The good news is this laptop has FAR more value in it than that old RBP(I can’t imagine how people who bought that are feeling now).

If this model is just too much for you, you can always drop down from the i9 to the i7 processor and save a lot of money.  It has less SSD space, but that model starts at $2630. Follow this link for the available configurations and updated prices at the time you’re reading the article.

If you need to drop the price further, you’ll need to drop your expectations on the GPU.  The GTX2060 model starts at just under $1700, if that’s more to your appeal.  Andrei has reviewed both the 2070 and 2060 models, so see his articles for comparison.

Final thoughts

To sum up, I really enjoyed playing with this laptop.  It’s a little thicker than I’m used to, but the added thickness and weight are worth it for the extra performance you get.  Not to mention the nice speakers!

I’m also very happy with the bright, 144Hz screen that they offer with this model.  It really makes a difference in the experience.  On top of that, the input from both the keyboard and trackpad is good enough.

But with added performance, you also get a lot of heat and lots of fan noise.  So that’s something to keep in mind when making your choice.  Those are nonetheless comparable to other brands, so I still think MSI has something great to offer with this model.

The only other major gripe I have is I think the keyboard could be a little better.  It could be that I’ve been away so long, but I remember my experience with the GS60, GS63VR and GS73VR to be excellent, and this looks like the exact same keyboard.  It’s just not, though.

I also would have liked it a lot more without the flashy red accents and red border.  In fact, if it didn’t have that nonsense, I would seriously be considering purchasing one of these myself.

At the end of the day, if you feel like this laptop is right for you, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.  It has it where it counts as far as gaming laptops are concerned.  You can even use it for serious work as well – just don’t expect to go long without a charger.

So that finishes this review of the MSI GE75 Raider 9SG.  Hope you found it helpful.  Please leave me a comment and let me know if you have any questions.

In addition to being a tech enthusiast, Derek has a career as a biomedical engineer. He enjoys taking things apart, figuring out how they work and finding ways to make them better. His other hobbies include spending time with his family, “Do it yourself” projects such as home automation and running.



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