In the wake of thin and lightweight laptops, large screen laptops are being discouraged because there is less market for them. That doesn’t however mean that no consumer is ready to buy a large screen laptop.
On the contrary, still many people prefer a large-screen laptop as a desktop replacement. The dilemma of today is there are not many large-screen laptops available at an affordable price.
Hence the MSI Alpha 17 is a product I wanted to look at because it is a 17-inch laptop that comes at an affordable price and has a Ryzen processor. I know this combination seems intriguing so let’s begin with the review.
MSI alpha 17 was the first laptop to feature an AMD graphics card along with an AMD processor. This was a great move by MSI has by incorporating AMD they were able to deliver a product that is not only performance but also a light on the pocket.
Design and Build Quality
Most MSI laptops look almost the same from the exterior. This is due to companies’ negligence of using the same chassis across their laptop range. This ruins the uniqueness of their offering but if you like the design of MSI laptops you will feel right at home here.
On the lid is a centrally positioned Dragon logo and flanking the logo are two lines on either side. Say what you will but I think we all can agree that this makes the laptop look tackier than it otherwise should.
The rest of the chassis however is pretty barren and simple. One aspect we especially like about the design of this laptop is that there are massive vents on the chassis for cooling. This of course will play into the thermal performance of this laptop which we will touch on later.
When it comes to the practical bits of the chassis, the one thing that jumps out is the weight of the laptop. This laptop weighs in around 2.39KG which is categorized as very heavy in today’s day and age of slim and light laptops.
The advantage this laptop gets due to the old school chassis is that it has the tough feel of a big and large gaming laptop. This laptop is not pulling apart anytime soon and on the surface, the construction of the laptop seems very good. Overall, regarding the build quality, we have no complaints with the MSI Alpha 17, and it passes this segment with flying colors.
Keyboard, Trackpad, and Speakers
The SteelSeries keyboard has always been the crown jewel of MSI gaming laptops and this one is no different. Here you are getting the usual high-quality key feel associated with the MSI keyboard and the RGB lighting of the board is also bright and flashy. On top of that, you are getting per-key RGB lighting here which means that each key can have its color.
In terms of the trackpad, there is nothing noteworthy and it gets the job done. It is of course not the most consistent or the smoothest feeling trackpad on a gaming laptop but most of the time gamers will use a mouse anyway, so it is not a big deal.
We were more interested in the speakers of this laptop as on the surface they seem pretty large. Low and behold finally a gaming laptop that does not sound. The speakers here get pretty loud while maintaining the audio fidelity.
The bass is nice, and the treble range is also decent. Do bear in mind that at the end of the day these are still laptop speakers so don’t expect them to sound better than your headphones. Nonetheless one of the better laptop speakers we have come across so far.
Screen, Battery life and I/O
Msi Alpha 17 has a 1080 144hz screen. For gaming the screen is pretty good due to the high refresh rate but when it comes to content creation or consumption this screen just falls flat in every metric. I would go as far as to say that the screen on the MSI Alpha 17 is the worst out of all the laptops featured on this list in terms of picture quality.
Things do get better in the battery life department. This laptop has a 65Wh battery which on paper does not seem like a whole lot but due to the efficiency of Ryzen, it is more than adequate. When using the laptop for watching videos and browsing the web it sips power like an Ultrabook and provides a battery backup of 7 hours. Quite impressed with the laptop in this regard as I expected the battery life to be much worse due to the large 17-inch screen.
When it comes to connectivity, the laptop is well equipped with every port that you will need. Starting from the right side of the laptop we have a full-size Ethernet port, HDMI, Mini DisplayPort, USB Type-A gen 3.2, USB-C gen 3.2, and separate 3.5mm outputs for the Audio and the Mic. Moving to the left side of the laptop and there we 2x USB Type-A ports, a full-size SD card slot, and a power plug.
Gaming Performance and Thermals
We all know by now that AMD hardware is impressive when it comes to performance but what does MSI has to offer that makes this laptop stand out among the sea of laptops available in the market in question.
Well, unfortunately not a whole lot. This laptop barely has enough cooling for the processor and the graphics card. It would be nice if MSI revamped the chassis of the machine and upgraded the cooling system. As of now, there is just so much untapped potential with this laptop that is just an arm’s reach for MSI.
Still, when it comes to the performance you won’t be disappointed with this laptop. The combination of the Ryzen 4800H and the RX 5600M just works. You will easily be able to run all the latest games including the more demanding ones like Red Dead Redemption, CyberPunk, and others at 60FPS.
On the other hand, battle royal games like COD WarZone, Apex legends, Fortnite will cross the 100FPS mark quite easily taking advantage of the 144hz refresh rate. The same is the case with esports titles like Valorant, CSGO, Overwatch, Dota, and others.
Gaming performance aside, a gaming laptop also needs to have a smooth and fluid user interface. For this purpose, MSI has allocated 16GB dual memory for this laptop that is running in a dual-channel configuration. 16GB is more than enough for most gamers out there even for those who are heavy multitaskers.
For storage, we have a 512GB NVME SSD. This drive is fast but might not provide enough storage for some gamers. Those gamers out there can use the empty M2 slot to expand the storage capacity of the laptop.
Should You Buy the MSI Alpha 17
MSI Alpha 17 has that traditional gaming laptop vibe around it which many manufacturers are going away with. It is large, thick, heavy, and not so portable.
This will be the laptop that you use primarily on the desk as your desktop replacement. If that is your thing then you cannot go wrong with this laptop despite a few shortcomings.
The shortcomings however are not a deal-breaker and overall, as a complete package this laptop is a compelling buy. Simply because there is none like it that can fill the same shoes as this laptop at an affordable price.