MSI have brought to light the new WS65 mobile workstation series. They’re powerful, ready to tackle everything a pro designer or engineer will throw at them, and they’re ridiculously expensive. Today I’m looking at the MSI WS65 9TM-857 model, which features some serious hardware options, but costs about as much as a second hand car.
MSI WS65 9TM-857 – A series of superlatives
First off, I’ll start by saying this isn’t necessarily an overpriced piece of equipment. Its price is justified, judging by specs alone. Even more so if we take into account the brand new Quadro GPU from NVIDIA, created specifically for working professionals. It caters to a specific audience in need of specific requirements for their workflow. But more on that further down.
Design-wise, the MSI WS65 9TM-857 is understated, features an all-metal chassis with gold colored trimmings, a thin screen bezel and a white backlit keyboard. All these make for a somewhat unassuming device. Much like its sibling, the MSI P75 Creator, this laptop will pack a more powerful punch than you’d think when looking at it. And that’s because of its slim profile.
Although its keyboard is decent enough, I would have loved to see a numpad being cramped in there. We’re talking about a mobile workstation, and not a typewriter, after all. Still, I like the fact that MSI have enlarged the touchpad horizontally, so that now it occupies a large portion of the bottom part of its body.
Jumping to performance, I’ll start with the processor. The MSI WS65 9TM-857 features an Intel Core i7-9750H processor. This is a hexa-core, twelve-thread CPU, with a base frequency of 2.6 GHz which goes up to 4.5 GHz in turbo mode. It has 12 megabytes of cache and a thermal design power of 45 Watts.
Although it is not the apex of Intel processors, it will get you where you need to go. And it will do it fast. Compared to an Intel Core i9-9880H, as seen on the P75 Creator-469, this CPU is slower. You can see the difference in benchmark tests here. However, considering its performance is on par with what top-end gaming notebooks bring to the table these days, there’s little room for concern. The Core i7-9750H will likely manage everything work-related with ease.
The MSI WS65 9TM-857 has 32 gigabytes of DDR4-2666 RAM installed. While adequate for most power users, some may still want to upgrade. You can further expand available system memory to 64 gigabytes by replacing the two existing RAM modules.
Personally, I’d hold back and get a feel of the whole system before doing just that. You never know if you truly need more resources until you actually hit that wall. And with 32 gigabytes, that wall is some distance away.
Storage space is ample. You get a 1-terabyte NVMe PCIe Solid State Drive with the MSI WS65 9TM-857. You also get another M.2 2880 PCIe Gen3 x4 SSD slot in which to insert an extra drive if you choose to. Note that it features RAID 0 and RAID 1 support, as well.
With this mobile workstation, graphics is where it’s at. It’s specifically aimed at visual creators and professional designers. So, it’s no surprise that MSI have fitted the new WS65 9TM-857 with the NVIDIA Quadro RTX 5000 GPU.
This revolutionary graphics card features 48 RT cores (for ray tracing), 384 Tensor cores (for AI computing) and 3072 CUDA cores (for parallel computing).
It’s the first mobile oriented GPU from NVIDIA to have 16 gigabytes of ultra fast GDDR6 RAM, draws only around 100 Watts of power (but can easily go to over 200 if pushed) and allows users to benefit from 10-bit color support. Simply put, there is no mobile graphics solution that’s better in terms of how fast it can tackle extremely complex tasks at this moment. The Quadro RTX 5000 is the best option you have if you want or need peak mobile performance.
All things considered until this point, this is a workstation most suited for professional creative types. Architects, product and interior designers, movie editors, photographers and project engineers will all love how fast the MSI can translate ideas into reality. ISV certification certainly helps. Autodesk, Siemens, Adobe and Dassault all officially recommend MSI as a suitable mobile powerhouse.
As expected from such a pricy notebook, display quality is top notch. Its 15.6-inch screen delivers a stunning and vivid experience thanks to IPS technology and 4K resolution (3840 x 2160 pixels). Refresh rate is limited at 60Hz. So, if you’re into gaming, consider looking for models which feature game-oriented GPUs and/or higher display refresh rates. For designer work (drawing, illustrating, rendering, editing), the MSI will handle itself just fine!
Interface and networking
The MSI WS65 9TM-857 features a spectacular array of interface options. More specifically, I’m excited about the Thunderbolt 3 port, which has a transfer rate of 40Gbps, has 4K display capability, can fast charge devices and work as a USB 3.2 port all at the same time. More importantly, using this port alongside the mini Displayport and HDMI port, you’ll be able to hook up 3 external monitors to further improve your workflow.
These are the available ports:
- 3 x USB 3.2 Type-A
- 1 x Thunderbolt 3
- 1 x mDP 1.4
- 1 x HDMI 4K
- 1 x Mic-in
- 1 x Headphone Jack
- 1 x RJ-45
As for networking, the MSI features both ethernet and wireless options:
- Qualcomm QCA8171 Ethernet
- Intel 9560 Wi-Fi (2×2 802.11ac)
- Bluetooth 5.0
Portability and battery life
For a mobile workstation, the MSI WS65 9TM-857 doesn’t weigh that much. At nearly 4.2 pounds, it’s on par with Samsung’s Notebook 7 Force. Mobility-wise, I think the MSI is light enough and thin enough to carry around everywhere your job may take you, especially considering that for many professionals, working on an ultrabook like the ZenBook isn’t a viable option. At least not in terms of acceptable performance.
Battery life is modest by modern standards, but great by workstation ones. Its 4-cell, 82Whr battery pack will hold a charge for up to 8 hours of moderate use. Of course, don’t even think of traveling without your charger, even for a couple of hours, if you plan on actually getting some work done wherever you go.
To sum up, the MSI WS65 9TM-857 is a fantastic piece of equipment. If you’re a regular laptop user or gaming enthusiast, this laptop is not for you. If, however, your work involves editing videos and large batches of photos on-site, designing or engineering on the go, the MSI is a match made in heaven. It features the latest technology across the board, fantastic graphics, great display quality and a useful assortment of interface options.
Recent advances in mobile graphics cards have made possible workstations like the MSI WS65. Thin, lightweight and presentable. The days of cumbersome 17.3″ workstations are, thankfully, behind us at this point. However, there’s the price. Consider one only if you really need this level of performance and mobility for your work.