MSI GE73 Raider RGB 8RF Review
Whenever we're reviewing laptops there are always a few things to take into consideration, and how well it fits your particular needs and your willingness to accept certain factors are a strong element that has to be contemplated.
With the MSI GE73 Raider RGB 8RF you're getting a huge amount of hardware, all wrapped up in a chassis that can just about handle it all. Let's start with the headline items. The CPU is the Intel Core i7-8750H, a six core, twelve thread CPU that reports at around 2.2 GHz and goes all the way up to 3.9 GHz depending upon core loading and thermals. The thermals we'll get to in a moment, but what it boils down to is that you have plenty of threads if you plan on utilising something that prefers more cores to raw clock speed, yet if you're gaming which normally just uses a couple of cores then you're not being limited by low clock speeds and instead you get some pretty beefy clocks. This is backed up by Intel's UHD 630 graphics which keep the desktop battery life nice and long, but when the going gets intense then the nVidia GTX 1070 takes over and produces smooth frame rates at maximum image quality settings on the 1080P display. As we said in our intro you can get the Raider in two flavours with either a 60Hz 4K screen or a 120Hz 1080 screen, and we hugely recommend the latter. 4K screens below 27" or so are pretty pointless and certainly at 17" they do nothing other than suck the juice and kill your eyesight. Whereas 120Hz is a benefit that everyone can enjoy and the panel in the GE73 Raider 8RF is excellent, giving rich colours and consistent brightness. It's also worth noting that the GTX 1070 inside the 8RF is overclocked, but also kept cool enough that the nVidia GPU Boost technology can work its magic and boy does it ever, giving scores and frame rates close to, and sometimes better than, the scores we saw from the GTX 1080 in the ASUS Zephyrus GX501G.
There are, however, a couple of downsides to the GE73 Raider RGB 8RF and both of them are related to the same thing. All laptop manufacturers have a handful of chassis designs that they use across their range. The type that the Raider uses is usually found on their mid to mid-high range models and has been successful when we've reviewed it previously with quad core processors inside it. We think that the cooling capacity and physical size, thus battery size, isn't quite enough to handle the upgraded components within. Let's be clear, it never overheats, it just gets very warm which in our longer tests showed up by the CPUs inability to be heavily turbo'd for long periods. Looking at the Raider versus the Zephyrus, both equipped with the same CPU, it was clear that the slightly larger ASUS model allowed for higher performance. Of course if you're running this as a gaming machine then CPU performance is less of an issue and clearly the Raider smoked the games happily, but you also need to keep it plugged in. It's more of a portable system kept near a plug than it is a mobile laptop. If you accept this then it doesn't really matter how long the battery life is or isn't as you need to plug it in to let the hardware stop crippling itself in power saving modes and run flat out. We still would much rather have a laptop a bit thicker but with beefier battery life and great cooling than pretend that a inch thick 17" sized laptop is more portable than a 1.5" thick one. That is an argument for another day, as thin is still king.
If you accept that you're buying a system which runs a little warm, a little loud (because the fans are struggling to keep it cool) and needs to be plugged in 90% of the time, then the MSI GE73 Raider RGB 8RF is a seriously capable gaming laptop and brings a lot of power to the table. If we were buying it we'd spec the excellent 120Hz 1080 display and we'd definitely swap the SSD out for a M.2 model. But six cores and blinding gaming performance for just a shade over 2 grand is tempting enough to win the MSI Raider our Gamers Choice Award.