MSI GF65 Thin 9SD Review: A Thin and Light Laptop Built for Gamers
Much like its name, the MSI GF65 Thin 9SD gaming laptop is thin, measuring in at only 21.7mm at its thickest part. Usually gaming laptops are slightly chonkier than their creator counterparts; this aids with heat dissipation and makes room to house more powerful components, which tend to be larger.
However, MSI managed to fit an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660Ti graphics card, an Intel Core i5-9300H processor, 8GB of DDR4 2666mHz RAM, and a 512GB SSD into a sleek little chassis weighing under 2kg.
But does its performance live up to its specs on paper? Let's dive deeper into the MSI GF65 Thin 9SD (honestly tech companies need to come up with catchier naming strategies) and find out!
The plastic and aluminium chassis is black and red in colour - a combination that's practically a mating call to all gamers out there. The lid is simple and sleek with just the MSI dragon emblem against a brushed metal texture.
Opening up the lid reveals more of the same colour scheme - the keyboard sports an edgy font that's clearly meant to appeal to gamers, while the touchpad is a decent size. The webcam and mic are placed traditionally at the top of the display.
Ultra-slim bezels are always a welcome sight, and the thicker chin sports MSI's typographic logo engraved subtly into the plastic, which is a nice, understated touch.
The hinge is solid and meaty, and allows you to open the lid single-handedly without the bottom of the laptop lifting off the table.
Keyboard and Trackpad
The keyboard is well-sized, albeit with a relatively short travel distance. Typing on it is extremely quiet, which is great if you're fond of partaking in heated games or internet arguments in public spaces. Also, the backlight is red only - sorry RGB fans. ON the bright side, the backlighting is extremely even, making the letters look extra crisp in dim lighting.
The brightness and volume keys are located on the arrow keys instead of the usual function keys at the top, which struck me as a bit odd - until I found out that this was perfect for 1-handed operation.
I'm not a big fan of the touchpad, which has a slight bit of give to it - it depresses ever so slightly if you so much as rest your finger on it; it's not a click though - to actuate a click you'd have to press down further until you feel tactile feedback.
Otherwise, it functions well enough - most gamers would opt to have a mouse on them at all times anyway.
The selection of ports are decent. You'll find the HDMI and charging ports on the left side, while the right offers the following:
2x USB Type-A 3.2 Gen 1
2x USB Type-C 3.2 Gen 1
3.5mm combo jack
It's nice to see MSI moving into the future by offering 2 USB-C ports instead of 1, but I would have preferred an additional USB-A port instead, as some gamers might want to plug in a storage device on top of the usual keyboard and mouse. I'm also not a fan of the choice of positioning - the ports USB-A ports are smack-dab in the center, potentially hindering mouse movement when devices are plugged in.
This unit boasts a 120Hz display, which is always a treat for gamers, especially those who enjoy competitive FPS titles. The matte display reduces reflections and minimises fingerprints, while the slim bezels allowed for a larger screen-to-body ratio.
Colour-wise, it leans towards the warmer side with the blues looking rather muted. It shouldn't be apparent to most gamers' eyes, but if you're looking to do some creative work with this laptop, it is definitely something to take note of.
Gaming performed decently on this laptop. The Intel Core i5-9300H paired well with the GTX 1660Ti, and most major esports titles such as Dota 2 cruised easily at 75FPS on high settings.
You might think that it's a shame that the 120Hz screen would not be fully utilised, but do take into account that most competitive FPS titles - which would actually make full use of a buttery smooth display - do not have to be configured to maximum graphics settings for the optimum experience.
Booting up programs and games was pretty speedy, thanks to to the 512GB M.2 SSD. There is also an extra M.2 slot should you want to expand your storage. You also have the option of adding another stick of RAM; if you have a penchant of opening 100 Chrome tabs (ha), you should definitely consider topping it up to 16GB.
Surface temperature was acceptable, averaging out around 30 while idling, and increasing to anywhere between 43°C - 50°C while gaming. Thankfully, the heated areas are confined to the top left and middle areas above the keyboard, so it's unlikely that you will feel major discomfort while playing. The fans, however, were extremely loud while under load (gotta work hard to keep things cool!), so prepare to use a headset if it bothers you.
The battery life is average, with a full charge clocking in at about 5 hours for regular usage, and around 2 hours while gaming. However, since this is a gaming laptop, you'll be wanting to bring your charger around to eke out the best performance anyway, so it is not a big issue.
Do note that the charger is pretty hefty at about 740g, so be prepared to factor that in on top of the 1.86kg laptop.
The MSI GF65 Thin 9SD gaming laptop is a sleek unit with a speedy display and decent hardware under the hood. It's slim form factor and lightweight build makes for excellent portability, although the average battery life might means you'll have to bring out the charger if you're planning to use it all day. Gaming performance was great on most mainstream esports titles, but the fan does get loud under a heavy load.