There’s one more addition to MSI’s already impressive lineup of laptops. It’s called the MSI PS63 Modern-096, and it’s an interesting device. Not because it’s the next notebook icon. Rather, what makes it great is its wide range of usage scenarios and mobility. It will handle daily tasks, photo and video editing jobs, number crunching, coding, gaming, streaming 4K content, you name it. All that on the go, for just under $1000 (price available at the time of this review).
The MSI PS63 is a sort of a hybrid laptop which combines the performance of a mid range laptop, like the ASUS Vivobook S15 with the high portability of a true ultrabook, such as the ASUS ZenBook 15. Both popular and great notebooks in their own rights. What the PS63 has to offer is the best of both worlds: affordable portability.
Its design is understated, with some brilliant blue accents. If that blue seems familiar, it’s because it has been manufactured in partnership with Discovery Channel. The chassis features this sandblasted texture, with a carbon gray finish and blue trimmings. Key travel is limited to a standard 1.4mm, with keys having plenty of room to be comfortable for the bulkiest of fingertips.
Other interesting features include True Color Technology, Creator Center and Cooler Boost 3. The first is basically software that sets up the monitor and changes certain settings for different viewing modes. The second optimizes and monitors system resources and prioritizes CPU/GPU load depending on your particular use pattern. The third one is actually hardware related: the MSI PS63 Modern-096 efficiently cools the system using two fans and three heat pipes.
Performance-wise, I’d say the MSI PS63 doesn’t impress when compared to its competition, but certainly doesn’t disappoint either. It’s fairly priced and equipped accordingly. For starters, it’s fitted with an 8th generation Intel Core i7-8565U processor.
This is the same CPU we can find in laptops like the more expensive ASUS ZenBook 15 UX534FT-DB77 or the more affordable Dell Inspiron 15 I5580-7707SLV-PUS. It has four cores, eight threads, frequency ranging from 1.8 GHz to 4.6 GHz and a cache size of 8 megabytes.
Basically, it’s 15-20% faster than an Intel Core i5-8265U. As such, this CPU will handle everyday tasks beautifully, and allow you to use more advanced editing or design apps without struggling.
While processing power is adequate, I’m afraid I can’t say the same about system memory. The MSI PS63 Modern-096 has only 8 gigabytes of available DDR4-2400 RAM. For most users, this will be sufficient in order for the system to run silky smooth. However, if you’re into heavy multitasking, rendering, editing or gaming, I’d recommend further upgrading its memory.
You can easily do just that. MSI have fitted the PS63 with two memory slots. So, I’d recommend 16 gigabytes of RAM to fully take advantage of the processor. Make sure to verify how the standard memory is installed to decide if you need to fully replace it or just add another 8 gigs.
Using 16 gigabytes is best for most advanced apps and games. This way, you’ll avoid spending extra cash on too much memory you’ll end up not actually using.
Storage space is generous. MSI have fitted the PS63 Modern with a 512-gigabyte NVMe PCIe Solid State Drive. It will be speedy enough to not cause a bottleneck. Rather, the only weak point as of now would be system memory.
If you need some extra space, MSI offer the option of installing an additional M.2 SSD to further expand capacity. Note that this second drive must be compatible with the slower SATA protocol, unlike its main drive.
Graphics and display
THE PS63’s graphics department is well represented by the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q graphics card. This is a dedicated GPU that runs on the Pascal architecture, not the latest Turing one. Still, it’s a high performance graphics card that will handle visual jobs beautifully. Benchmark tests rate it as being 20-30% slower than the GTX 1660 Ti Max-Q present in many modern gaming laptops, such as the Dell G3 I3590 or the Gigabyte Aero 15 Classic.
You’ll have success while playing games, but not recently launched top titles, such as Battlefield 5 or Control. Here are some framerates you can expect from popular games with the standard 8 gigabytes of RAM installed at 1080p, very high settings:
- Metro Exodus: 15 fps
- Battlefield 5: 20 fps
- Forza Horizon 4: 30 fps
- APEX Legends: 40 fps
- GTA 5: 60 fps
- Fortnite: 60 fps
- Minecraft: 60 fps
- FIFA 20: 60 fps
The MSI PS63 Modern-096 has a 15.6 inch anti-glare Full HD IPS Level display with a slim bezel on all sides, making it a more compact laptop overall. It’s nothing out of the ordinary. Standard brightness and picture quality for its price. Colors are deep and vivid, but not really up to the standards of more premium, creative-oriented laptops like the MSI P75 Creator.
I/O options are plentiful. And by that I mean four total USB ports, all modern. It has a USB Type-C port and one which features Qualcomm quick charge 3.0 technology, promising that your phone will charge up to 80% in less than 40 minutes.
- 1 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C
- 1 x USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A
- 2 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A (one with QC3.0)
- 1 x HDMI-out (4K – 30Hz)
- 1 x Micro SD card reader
- 1 x Combo Audio Jack
As for networking, choices are more limited. There is no RJ-45 port available, so no Ethernet connection as well. For such a thin and portable device, I don’t think it’s necessary either. It does feature 802.11ac wireless and Bluetooth 5 technology.
Portability and battery life
Portability is where the MSI PS63 Modern-096 truly shines. For a 15.6″ laptop, this thing is surprisingly light. It weighs just 3.5 pounds, which is significantly less than the more expensive ZenBook 15. I’m not sugarcoating how featherweight the MSI is. If you’re interested in a casual gaming laptop that’s also portable, this is a great choice. Most other gaming rigs weigh in excess of 4…4.5 pounds.
Battery life is also excellent. It features a 4-cell Li-Polymer, 82Whr battery pack which will power the laptop for about 15 to 16 hours before needing a wall socket. More than two full workdays worth of work is something else for a device hovering around $1000 at the time of this review. Also, they’ve made the charger more compact. This way, you can carry it around without all the bulk we traditionally associate these chargers with.
So, regarding portability, the MSI PS63 Modern is one of the best affordable laptops currently on the market. It will allow for daily commuting either to work or college, and will even work as a companion for traveling professionals who favor larger screens.
On the whole, I think the MSI PS63 Modern-096 is a fantastic all-rounder laptop in the truest sense of the word. Compromises are sparse, mainly limited to system memory size: 8 gigabytes are not enough for its potential. Other than that, I can’t fault this laptop.
It’s lightweight, pretty powerful, allows for activities like studying, designing, office work, gaming and more under the same hood. Sure, take it to the office during the day, use it as a multimedia center when back home, as a gaming rig on the weekend and as a companion to your Sunday morning trip to the local coffee shop.
All things considered, the MSI PS63 Modern presents fantastic value for money, if you’re willing to upgrade the memory to 16 gigabytes of RAM.