- Build quality, Case and design and looks
- Keyboard and Trackpad
- Sound and Speakers
- General subjective performance experience
- Gaming Performance
- Test methods and drivers
- Synthetic 3D benchmarks
- Summarized gaming performance
- Crysis 3
- Bioshock Infinite
- Civilization : Beyond Earth
- Total War : Warhammer
- Total War : Attila
- Metro : Last Light
- Battlefield 4 Campaign
- World of Tanks
- Elite : Dangerous / Horizons
- Shadow Of Mordor
- Ashes Of Singularity
- Anno 2205
- Fallout 4
- ARK: Survival Evolved
- The Talos Principle
- Rise of the Tomb Raider
- Doom (2016)
- No Man's Sky
- Star Wars : Battlefront
- Thermals, Throttling & Noise handling
- Screen / Screen quality
- Competing gaming laptops / alternatives
++ Main reason to consider:
Good option for a small and lightweight gaming laptop, with high gaming performance and some good features (TB3, IPS, keyboard)
-- Main reason to avoid:
Heat, performance/price and VR may be a problem with the Optimus system (but you might be able to use eGPU)
+ Relatively compact and lightweight at around 1.8kg
+ Very comfortable keyboard, in my opinion, with very good feedback, respond and travel depth and sufficient resistance
+ Cooling system keeps the CPU and GPU temps at reasonable levels (although the GPU throttles a bit)
+ Under load, the hotter parts of the chassis are not the ones that in use usually
+ High contrast and high brightness IPS display with good colors and viewing angles
+ Very good WiFi solution with good stability, low pings
+ TPM 2.0
+ M.2 "M" slot, allowing PCIe SSDs
+ Thunderbolt 3 port
+ 16GB 2400MHZ DDR4 RAM
+ 2 years warranty
+ Dedicated DAC
+ Simple looks
- Some GPU throttling under gaming laptop
- Chassis could get quite hot in hot environment (summer)
- Included SSD is not NVMe like in previous model
- Only 3xUSB ports including the TB3 port, one of them USB 2.0
- Speakers can barely make you feel anything inside
- Build quality could be better - hinges and outer lid.
- Two RAM slots occupied
- Noise is high even at low levels of load
So, the new Nvidia GPUs are here and manufacturers start refreshing their lines. This specific version is the GS43VR Phantom Pro-006. The MSI GS43VR is the successor of the MSI GS40 6QE (review here) and it is updated with the GTX 1060 6GB instead of the GTX 970M. It’s basically the same machine – still has Thunderbolt 3, M.2 PCIe NVMe slot, same LG 1080p IPS display, same cooling system as we’ll see later. Even the HDMI is 1.4 and not 2.0. The basic MSI GS43VR model comes with a 120GB SSD SATA drive and not NVMe drive, which is a downgrade.
MSI has added a software tool to control fan control as I don’t remember it from the GS40 review (but maybe I’m wrong).
Let’s see how well it does
|Price||Basic version: $1500|
|CPU||I7-6700HQ (2.6GHZ-3.5GHZ, 45W)|
|Motherboard||MSI MS-14A3 / Intel HM170 (Skylake PCH-H)|
4xPCI Express x1, 5xPCI Express x4, 1xPCI Express x16
|GPU||Nvidia Geforce GTX 1060 6GB GDDR5, 1280 shadars core@1405-1671MHZ, GDDR5@2GHZ, 192-bit bus|
|RAM||Kingston 2x8GB DDR4@2400MHZ MSI24D4S7S8MB-8|
2 banks of memory available
|Storage||HDD : WD HGST HGST HTS721010A9E630, 1TB, 7200RPM, 32MB cache, 2 slots total|
SSD: M.2 TOSHIBA THNSNJ128G8NY 120GB SSD (SATA)
M.2: 2 slots, 1xNVMe PCIe M.2 SSD
|LCD Panel||In review: 1080p 14.0", LG LP140WF3-SPD1, IPS, 30-pin eDP|
|Weight / Dimensions||~1.89kg / 4.61 lbs|
345 x 245 x 21.8-22.8 mm
13.8" x 9.65" x 0.86-0.90"
(w x d x h)
|Keyboard||red backlit, 3 levels including off|
|Connection Ports||right side: Kensington Lock, HDMI (1.4), 1xUSB 3.0, 1xThunderbolt 3 USB-C|
Left: RJ-45, power-in, USB 2.0, card reader, microphone jack, headphones jack
|WiFi / Ethernet||WiFi: Killer Wireless-n/a/ac 1535 Wireless Network Adapter|
Ethernet: Qualcomm/Atheros e2400 PCI-E Gigabit Ethernet Controller (Vendor Description: Qualcomm Atheros Ar81xx series PCI-E Ethernet Controller)
|Speakers||2x2W speakers, front bottom|
|Battery||4 cell, 61Wh|
|Bios / EC version (test unit)||E14A3IMS.102 /|
|Extra features||Embedded TPM 2.0|
I’ll paste the build quality from the previous model, the MSI GS40 6QE:
Well, the MSI GS40 body feels all-plastic. I don’t know if that’s true, but it certainly looks and feels as such. It’s not bad by itself. Most of the chassis will bend a bit under high pressure – nothing too bad, but the parts ‘above’ the keyboard and around the hinges do yield under mild and even low pressure. The display’s outer lid is yielding under light pressure, which is a problem and a proper protection is needed if the laptop is carried in a bag, for example. The keyboard’s surface will also yield a bit under typing level pressure.
I also felt the the power plug is not that firm and a bit loose.
So, bottom line, the MSI GS40 chassis build quality isn’t that great, given that it’s a ‘premium’ laptop and there is a need to watch for the display health.
The arragement of connection ports is the same as in the MSI GS40 6QE. I’d like another USB 3.0 Type-A port (or at least, instead of the USB 2.0) or, alternativaly, they should have shipped it with some Thunderbolt 3 -> USB 3.1 gen2 hub)
Maintenance and inner parts
Maintenance is rather easy. The backplate is easily removed by removing ~10 screws. However, installing the bottom piece again is a little problematic due to some sponge near the battery – nothing too series, but annoying.
Both CPU and GPU are soldered. The GPU has two dedicated fans and three heatpipes. The CPU has two heatpipes and one fan. It makes sense, because the GPU is hotter with such hardware. I would add one heatpipe between these two in order to share the thermal load.
That’s the same cooling system as the MSI GS40 6RE and internal component arragement (check)
From the MSI GS40 6QE:
Keyboard. The keyboard quality is actually pretty good. The feedback is very good, and so is the responsiveness. Add to the clear pressure points, sufficient resistance and good travel depth and it makes a keyboard that is very comfortable for typing, with low relative ratio of misclicks and fingers that do not hurt. A little better resistance at the deeper points could make it even better, but that’s fine the way it is. Keys texture could be nicer.
Touchpad. The touchpad is quite average, but with a smooth surface so the fingers don’t get “stuck”. However, it’s not sensitive enough to a point that using it with gloves is a problem (no matter what is the configuration).
I woud add that some would appreciate bigger arrow buttons and dedicated and well positioned PGUP/PGDN/HOME/END buttons, perhaps programmers and writers.
Pasting the MSI GS40 6QE speakers description (in short – mediocre):
MSI really tried to save on the speakers. Two speakers at the front’s bottom provides the waves, but don’t excel in it. Bass is obviously a big issue and barely exists and generally, many kinds of sound that should have been there (even compared to my lousy latitude e7440’s speakers) and that’s true with or without the “Nahimic” software bundled with the laptop. I don’t see why couldn’t they just invest few more dollars and get a little better speakers.
Anyway, there is a dedicated DAC which should be a little plus for head mounted speakers of a kind.
Bottom line, not that great and better not expect too much
With the Samsung 850 Evo M.2 SSD, the laptop feels very fast.
Added CPU-Z and GPU-Z screenshots.
Performance is relatively good. The Sky M5 GPU clocks remain on their highest. The 6GB VRAM helps a bit in some situations probably, though not so much in 1080p.
Thief sees some advantage using Mantle API over the DX11. Heavily Vulkan/DX12 optimized games/game engines should see much higher improvements.
Seems like the performance is a little bottlenecked. The numbers aren’t considerably higher than the GTX 970M numbers
The new Total War stuff. The 3D engine has been vastly improved and performance is much better than in the case of Total War : Attila
The new iteration of Total War : Rome II, Attila is a much more demanding game and FPSs are much lower.
Elite Dangerous performance near the planet surface has been vastly improved in latest versions of the game. FPSs are much higher than before
The new Fallout 4 is rather demanding, but the benefits of the high graphics presets are not clear to me.
The new ARK: Survival Evolved is not completely cooked yet, so don’t take these results too hard. The game obviously need some real optimisations, FPSs are really low and it seems that for nothing, more or less.
As described before, the GPU and CPU has two heatpipes which are connected to two fans. Cool air sucked from the bottom of the machine (hence, it’s important to keep its bottom above the sitting surface) and is thrown from the rear ventilation hole.
1. Idle, power saver mode
2. Gaming : Ashes Of Singularity benchmark. “Crazy” settings, “High performance” power mode.
3. Prime95 torture test. “High performance” power mode.
4. Prime95 + Furmark on 1080p test, AAx2. “High performance” power mode.
The GS43VR does stay under 90 degrees, but the costs are high fans speed and lower clocks, at least in the case of Furmark and Prime95.
The MSI GS43VR case does get hot under high load, especially around the “F” keys and the center of the keyboard. Same goes to the bottom part. I can’t say that I felt that the heat interfere with my gaming, but it’s an indivdual experience. Bottom line, it’s not a low heat case laptop.
The MSI GS43VR fans are easily activated, so even if the CPU/GPU temps are good, you’ll hear the fans. However, it is customizable via the MSI Dragon Center, which is very nice. With fans off for light load, you can have less noise. However, you’ll probably notice the HDD working (I did) and maybe some electrical noises.
Under high load (like gaming), you’ll notice some high frequency noise from the fans, as they spin very fast and it may be the result.
I wouldn’t say that the MSI GS43VR is a quiet machine, also because the body doesn’t block noise that much.
The MSI GS43VR comes with the same LG LP140WF3-SPD1 as in the previous model. Overall, very good stats. Could be better in terms of color accuracy and maybe color pallete coverage, but generally a good display. PWM could not be detected (confirmed) and response time is good, but not great (hoping to have some equipment to test this myself soon).
G-Sync is not supported, but that’s probably due to the Optimus system.
I couldn’t get power consumption to get as low as in other machines (usually with the “U” CPUs), but the battery isn’t small and there are few hours of work or movies on battery.
- I had some lag when starting some programs, like the laptop would get stuck for two seconds, but that has stopped after some driver updates
- Some issues with DX11 not running well, but I guess it has more relation to the NV/Intel drivers
Currently, as a small and lightweight gaming laptop with a GTX 1060, the options are limited. We’ll probably some Gigabyte option.
Other laptops with GTX 1060 can be cheaper, with better feature-set thermal performance, including G-Sync, more storage and connection ports and even stuff like better speakers (like the Clevo P650RP6, Asus GL502VM which isn’t that heavy and more)
I’ll try to keep it short. The MSI GS43VR is a nice laptop with good basic features (keyboard, IPS display, 3D performance, enough RAM, SSD). If you want a small and relativelty light weight gaming laptop, this is a good option. However, the laptop has some caveats. The performance/price ratio isn’t the best, chassis heat is high, there is some GPU throttling under gaming load, SSD is not an NVMe. So that’s not the perfect laptop.
I’d recommend waiting to see how good are the competitors and, maybe, whether eGPUs will be available until the end of the year, it could change the MSI GS43VR value, in my opinion.