MSI is likely one of the greatest makers of highly effective however nonetheless transportable gaming laptops. And with this 12 months’s Stealth 15M, apart from a pair minor quibbles, it actually appears like MSI has honed its craft. Not solely is the Stealth 15M the thinnest 15-inch gaming laptop computer you will get proper now, it contains a 144 Hz display mixed with surprisingly stable battery life, so you’ll be able to truly recreation away from residence in confidence.
As a substitute of the loud black and pink paint jobs you get on a variety of different MSI laptops, the Stealth 15M is delightfully minimalist. It has a matte carbon grey aluminum physique (additionally out there in white for a small premium), and MSI even opted for a extra stealthy emblem (sorry, I couldn’t resist) as a substitute of its typical black and gold badge. The choice of ports can also be good: one USB-C port with Thunderbolt 4, two USB-A 3.2 ports, a full-size HDMI 2 port, 3.5mm audio jack, and even microSD slot lining its left and proper sides. And whereas there’s some flex to its inside deck, for a system that’s thinner and lighter than an XPS 15, the Stealth 15M feels fairly stable.
Whenever you open the Stealth 15M, you’re greeted by one of many system’s biggest strengths—though although relying in your preferences, it could even be one among its weaknesses. In step with the push for increased refresh fee shows, MSI features a 1920 x 1080 144 Hz display on all however one config (which will get a typical 60 Hz panel), which is nice for gamers searching for that added little bit of responsiveness.
Nonetheless, with a examined brightness of simply 250 nits, the Stealth 15M’s show is a contact dimmer than I’d like (300 nits and better is healthier). It’s not low sufficient to be a dealbreaker, however if you happen to’re the sort of individual that likes to work or recreation outdoors, you would possibly wrestle extra with the Stealth 15M in comparison with an XPS 15, which pumped out almost 500 nits from its 4K display.
The opposite essential factor to know is that the Stealth 15M comes with a matte show, which is the place issues can get extra divisive. In comparison with the shiny screens that so many individuals have grow to be accustomed to, colours don’t pop fairly the identical on matte screens, which could end in some folks pondering the Stealth 15M’s show appears barely washed out. Although on the flip aspect, you don’t see any reflections, which minimizes distractions whereas gaming. On this technique, I believe going matte makes a variety of sense.
Inside, the Stealth 15M stays understated with the identical darkish grey end. However if you wish to showcase, you are able to do that, too, with MSI’s colourful (and fairly snug) RGB-lit keyboard, which will be simply custom-made utilizing the Mystic Mild tab in MSI’s Dragon Heart. Beneath the keyboard, there’s the compulsory trackpad, which is each correct and responsive, although I do have to say that the scale of the touchpad does appear a bit small in comparison with the Stealth 15M’s total dimensions.
I’ve a pair different small nitpicks with the Stealth 15M. For a laptop computer in 2021, its large backside bezel appears misplaced. I don’t suppose MSI must fully remove each single border round its screens—a small backside bezel will help stop your arms from blocking content material whereas gaming—however a small discount could be good. In its default mode, the Stealth 15M’s followers also can get loud fast, going from a mild whir to a miniature jet engine as quickly as you boot up a recreation. Fortunately, there are settings within the Dragon Heart that let you management its fan speeds, together with a silent mode if you happen to’re simply searching the net and don’t need to trigger a ruckus. However if you happen to’re searching for prime efficiency, you’re going to should put up with some fan noise.
MSI is seeking to repair its webcam problem throughout all of its laptops this 12 months with new full HD sensors, however sadly the Stealth 15M at present ships with a 720p webcam that’s mediocre at greatest. Even in a comparatively well-lit room, images look fairly noisy. The Stealth 15M can render your face on a Zoom name or livestream, however anybody who cares about picture high quality will most likely need to get an exterior webcam.
Nonetheless, the Stealth 15M makes up for many of that with nice specs for its dimension, routinely delivering round 30% higher graphics efficiency than an XPS 15. Not solely does the Stealth 15M include a brand new Intel Core i7-1185G7 chip, it additionally options an Nvidia RTX 2060 Max-Q GPU in comparison with the XPS 15’s GTX 1650 Ti card. That benefit is seen in video games, with the Stealth 15M hitting 77 fps in Far Cry 5 at 1920 x 1080 and “Extremely” settings (54 fps for the XPS 15), and 70 fps in Shadow of the Tomb Raider at 1920 x 1080 and “Highest” settings (53 fps for the XPS 15). Granted, this isn’t world-shattering efficiency when in comparison with bigger 15-inch programs like MSI’s own GP66, which has room for greater and extra highly effective RTX 3070 and 3080 playing cards, however in a system this skinny and lightweight, the Stealth 15M stays a modern and highly effective bundle.
Even with its beefier GPU, the Stealth 15M nonetheless affords stable battery life, coming in at 7 hours and 59 minutes, simply half-hour lower than the XPS 15 (8:28). Along with its included energy brick, the Stealth 15M may also be recharged by way of USB-C in a pinch, which is beneficial for folks on the go. However as a result of USB-C chargers sometimes can’t ship the complete 150 watts of energy you get from MSI’s included adapter, charging isn’t fairly as quick. If you wish to ensure you’re getting optimum efficiency, you’ll nonetheless want to make use of the default energy brick.
Not like so many gaming laptops, the Stealth 15M is a system that really encourages you to maneuver round. It’s acquired glorious efficiency for its dimension, a stable minimalist construct, and fairly respectable battery life besides. I anticipate MSI will tackle the Stealth 15M’s minor points in a future mannequin, however even now, apart from its lackluster webcam, the 15M’s shortcomings are extra like quirks than precise drawbacks. And whereas there are bigger 15-inch gaming notebooks that may ship a bit extra graphical oomph, you’re additionally shelling out $250-$300 additional for a Razer Blade 15 or MSI’s GP66. In the event you don’t thoughts turning down graphics settings a contact when enjoying new AAA titles, the Stealth 15M is a finely balanced pocket book for gaming each at residence and on the go.
- Weighing 3.7 kilos and measuring 0.62 inches thick, the Stealth 15M is definitely a tiny bit smaller and lighter than an XPS 15.
- Fortunately the Stealth 15M’s followers are adjustable, as a result of when taxed, issues can get fairly loud.
- The Stealth 15M is accessible in two colours, carbon grey and white, although white prices additional.
- You possibly can cost the Stealth 15M in a pinch with a USB-C cable, however if you would like max efficiency, you’ll want MSI’s energy brick.
- In the event you care about built-in webcam high quality, the Stealth 15M may not be for you.