MSI GF63 THIN 9SC-257 Review

I recently purchased the MSI GF63 THIN 9SC-257 laptop with the intention of having a powerful laptop for work and some light gaming. I was blown away at the ability of this laptop to handle gaming, getting high frame rates at high graphics settings on almost every game I’ve thrown at it. Let’s take a look under the hood of this powerful, affordable, portable gaming machine.

The Specs

The MSI 9SC-257 comes with an Intel Core i5-9300H. This CPU runs at 2.4 GHz, with the ability to be overclocked to 4.1 GHz. For graphics, it comes with an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q, with 4GB of GDDR5 GRAM. The laptop includes 8GB of DDR4-2666 RAM, and a 512GB SSD, which is upgradeable. A 15.6” Full HD IPS display ensures that you see exactly what the graphics card is capable of displaying, and an ultra thin bezel keeps the laptop compact.

For wireless connectivity, the 9SC-257 includes an internal Intel 9560 802.11ac WiFi card for fast transfer speeds, and a modern Bluetooth 5.0 card.

9SC-257 Portability

The MSI 9SC-257 is incredibly lightweight, making it easy to pack up and go! The laptop has a total weight of 4.1 pounds.

The battery life is decent for a laptop this powerful, due to the adaptive nature. When running off of battery power, the laptop will use the Intel graphics card, unless the NVIDIA card is specifically needed. A LED light on the power button lets the user know which graphics card is being used at the moment, glowing white when the integrated graphics are being used, and amber when the NVIDIA is activated. 

The included Dragon software also provides several profiles for how plugging in the laptop affects the battery. There is an option for best battery health, where the laptop will only charged if the battery is under 50% when plugged in, and won’t continue to charge past 60%. I’m not an expert on laptop batteries, but this is supposed to be really good for the health of the battery, instead of constantly charging when plugged in. But there is also an option for portability, where it will charge the laptop to 100%. I only use this option if I know that I’ll be using the laptop on battery power for an extended period of time. There is also a middle ground option that charges the battery to 80%.

Dragon Center's Battery Master
Dragon Center’s Battery Master

What I’ve Tested

I’ve tested this laptop with several demanding games, including Final Fantasy XIV Online, Second Life, and Sansar. For those unfamiliar with these particular titles, Final Fantasy XIV is a graphics intensive MMORPG. Second Life is a virtual social world that can be intensive based on where you are in the game. Some areas, such as virtual nightclubs, have many assets running at the same time, and can quickly overload a graphics card. And Sansar is a virtual reality social “game,” that can also be used in desktop mode without a VR headset. Obviously, this means it is also graphics intensive. I have yet to test it with a VR headset, but it runs exceptionally well in desktop mode.

Nighttime screenshot in Final Fantasy XIV Online
Nighttime in Final Fantasy XIV Online

These were all tested at high graphics settings and I never ran into a drop below 60 FPS. It can get pretty warm at times when running demanding software, but the included Dragon software makes it easy to keep an eye on GPU and CPU temperatures. The Dragon software also allows full control of the fans, including setting different profiles for how the fans respond. A high power fan blast option kicks the fans into overdrive, and they are serious! The fans get loud when running in blast mode, but you can feel the air shooting out of the fans, and they work to cool the laptop back down within a matter of seconds. You can watch the temperatures of the CPU and the GPU drop quicker than I’d imagine possible.

Dragon Center app tuning window
The Dragon Center software contains many tuning options, including the ability to push the fan into “blast mode”

This laptop also handles high-performance, non-gaming activities as well due to the ability to tap into the NVIDIA GeForce for extra processing power. It runs 3D design software such as Blender with ease. I will also be testing with several development applications, such as Unity 3D. I have also used this laptop to run several Virtual Machines for work with exceptional performance.

The Cons

I hesitated to call this section “The Cons,” because I really have no complaints about this laptop. I really had to try way too hard to come up with any negatives about this machine, but there are a couple of issues that I’ve noticed.

The LED indicator on my laptop  is almost always amber, indicating that the NVIDIA card is being used. This happens even when I’ve confirmed that the laptop is running off of the integrated graphics, such as when doing general web browsing or web development. I’m not sure if this means that the GRAM is being used for extra processing, or if it’s just a false indicator, because when I check the usage, the GPU shows 0%. This may just be a bug, and in no way affects the performance of the laptop. Again, this is an incredibly nit-picky issue that I had to struggle to come up with.

Second, the additional backslash key in between the spacebar and the right Alt key keeps throwing me off. I am used to dragging my thumb off the spacebar to the Alt key when I want to Alt+Tab between applications, but always wind up hitting the backslash key instead.

Conclusion: I Recommend the MSI GF63 THIN 9SC-257

In conclusion, I cannot recommend this laptop enough, and at a purchase price of $699.99 (Micro Center) it’s incredibly affordable for how powerful it is. (Note: At the time of this writing, this is currently a sale price. Price may be subject to change). So far I’ve had no issues with unplugged battery life, overheating, frame rate drops when gaming, or crashing. The system boots from completely shutdown to fully operational in under a minute.

MSI GF63 Thin 9SC-257 on sale at Micro Center
MSI GF63 Thin 9SC-257 on sale at Micro Center

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