The recent trend in the gaming industry is shaped by thin and light gaming laptops. Therefore, companies are pushing out newer models that depict this design approach.
The MSI Stealth 15M is MSI’s answer to the crowded thin and light laptop industry. On paper, this laptop promises to deliver a powerful experience in a portable form factor.
Often what is promised by the company is not the real-life depiction of the product. So let’s dive into the review of MSI Stealth 15M and examine each of its aspects to see if the claims of the manufacturer holds true in this case.
The stealth laptop series by MSI depicts the brand’s commitment to making minimalist laptops. This Stealth 15M is a little different from the pack as it not only embodies the idea behind the stealth series of laptops but also takes it up a notch.
Design and Build Quality
The design of the laptop is exactly like the name would suggest, stealthy and clean. What we are getting here is a monochromatic matte black chassis and even the MSI logo is also blended into the chassis as it contains the same color.
There is also no unnecessary frill on the outside and the chassis of the laptop is also purposeful. Another thing that struck us about this laptop was how slim and lightweight the chassis felt. Coming in at just 0.63 inches thin and weighing in under 3.8lbs this laptop is a portable powerhouse. Games that have the go lifestyle will come to appreciate the portability offered by this laptop.
For that purpose, we found the build quality of the laptop to be a little lackluster. The immediate thing that popped about was the flex in the keyboard deck that can be triggered by pressing hard on the keyboard deck.
It does not bother when gaming but might be concerning for the long-term use of the laptop. The fit and finish of the laptop however were good and there were no noteworthy rough edges to the chassis.
Keyboard, Trackpad, and Speakers
MSI does good keyboards on their laptops and this one is no exception. The key feel is typical MSI, and the keyboard is very comfortable to type on or mash on when gaming. RGB lighting also makes a return here which was not featured on the MSI GF65 which we last wrote about.
When MSI do RGB lighting they do it well and the lighting here is bright and uniform. You can also customize the RGB lighting through the MSI dragon center software. The software not only allows you to change the color but also lets you configure different effects for the RGB keyboard.
The trackpad of the MSI 15M is on the smaller side but it performs well. The trackpad precisely registers your finger action, and the surface is also smooth to use. We only wish that the trackpad was a little bigger and roomier.
The internal speakers of the laptop although being bottom-firing provide a lot of volumes. They do however fall flat when it comes to producing rich bass and detail. I may sound like a broken record here but use a headphone when gaming because the internal speakers of most gaming laptops are tiny and lack the fine touch of detail.
Display, Battery Life and I/O
For a laptop meant for portable on-the-go gaming, the display has to be bright and crisp. Unfortunately, MSI has faltered in this regard and the panel of this laptop has a maximum brightness that is lower than 300nits. This makes the screen not legible in bright sunlight and impacts the daily carry mantra MSI is going for.
Apart from that this laptop has nice for gaming. The panel used here is a 1080p one and supports a refresh rate of 144hz. The color accuracy of the screen is also decent though nothing to write home about.
Carrying the bulk of the laptop is a small size battery. As expected, the battery backup is not great coming in at only 5 hours. That too when you are using the laptop for browsing and doing other light tasks. Gaming and other heavy tasks will kill the battery from full to dead in an hour, so we recommend having the laptop on brick power for that purpose.
It is a shame that the power port on the left side of the laptop is the situation right next to the USB-A port. This is concerning as it can hamper the mouse movement of a left-handed gamer. Otherwise, we have a versatile I/O here and it includes HDMI, thunderbolt 4, a micro-SD card, 2x USB-A ports on each side of the laptop, and a combo Audio/Mic jack.
Gaming Performance and Thermals
In this department, MSI has thrown pretty good components on this laptop. It has the latest 11th Intel I7-11375H processor with the RTX 3060 graphics card. This on paper seems pretty impressive given the price as well as the slim chassis of the machine.
On paper, performance does not always translate to real-world applications and unfortunately, this is exactly the case with the MSI 15M. Truth be told the MSI 15M does not perform even close to what the specifications would suggestion and it losses out to other laptops on the list with similar spec.
This is due to the cooling and the chassis of the laptop. Due to the chassis being just 0.63 inches little room is available to implement a sophisticated cooling system. This is the biggest downfall of this laptop as without proper cooling the processor and the graphics card cannot run at their maximum.
The latest generation Intel processor and the Nvidia RTX graphic cards are both notorious for being heat magnets. To keep these components within the thermal limit MSI had to undervolt both the processor and the graphics card, hence limiting their potential output.
So are getting here only 70-80% of the performance you would get from these components when they work at their maximum. Nonetheless, the performance here is still plentiful for 1080p gaming and you will face no trouble in running the latest demanding games like Red Dead Redemption, COD WarZone, and others on this laptop.
Lastly, let’s wrap this section up with the RAM and storage. The MSI 15M has 16GB RAM installed in a dual-channel configuration. Dual-channel configuration provides a slight increase in the performance of the system due to less latency. The storage needs are fulfilled by a single 512GB SSD. In terms of speed, the SSD included on this laptop falls in the middle of the pack.
Should You buy the MSI 15M
MSI 15M is a great machine for its intended audience. It is a gaming laptop that is more focused on portability and everyday use. This laptop is not for a gamer whose laptop remains on the desk for most of its life.
If you respect the intended use of the laptop and are willing to sacrifice some of the performance, then you cannot go wrong with this machine as it truly is the best everyday gaming laptop you can buy on a budget.