(Pocket-lint) - As you can gather from the GF65 Thin name, this MSI laptop is all about being sleek and portable. It's also reasonably affordable considering the specification, with highlights that include an Nvidia RTX 3060 graphics card, 144Hz screen, and a fast NVMe drive too.
Plus the GF65 Thin certainly looks the part, with a brushed aluminium top and subtle accents. But does it truly deliver for gaming? We've been blasting baddies and tearing up race tracks for a couple of weeks to find out.
Compact spec-filled chassis
- 10th Gen Intel Core i7-10750H processor
- Dimensions: 359 x 254 x 21.7mm
- 16GB RAM (DDR4; 3,200MHz)
- 1TB NVMe PCIe Gen3 SSD
What's immediately appealing about the MSI GF65 Thin is the price tag considering its spec. With many other thin gaming laptops, you'll often see asking prices stretching into the thousands. Not so with this laptop.
It sports a 10th gen Intel Core i7-10750H CPU, 16GB of RAM and Nvidia's RTX 3060 GPU as well. Those 3000-series graphics are remarkably hard to get in the desktop world, so a laptop is a valid alternative if you want the power for awesome graphics and things like ray tracing and DLSS.
Considering that this laptop also sports a 1080p, 144Hz refresh rate panel, that graphics card is certainly a welcome addition. The 3060 also has support for Resizable BAR, which means that the Intel CPU and Nvidia GPU can play nicely with each other. This setting allows for more efficient communication between the two and performance improvements in certain games.
All that in a chassis that weighs just 1.86kg. Meaning it's easy to take with you and doesn't cause your legs to ache if you're gaming or working on your lap.
However, one thing we will say though is the laptop does get hot and loud if you do game that way. That's usually the case with ultra-thin gaming machines though. It's not unbearable to play with it on your lap and the design is good enough that the underside and keyboard don't get overly hot, but the very top near the bottom of the screen sure does. You're much better off gaming on a desk as it'll stay cooler and run more efficiently.
Satisfying 144Hz display
- 15.6-inch FHD (1920 x 1080), 144Hz, IPS-Level panel
- Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 GPU, 6GB GDDR6 RAM
- Game benchmarks: Dirt 5 64.8fps; Far Cry New Dawn 78fps; Rainbow Six Seige 165fps
- Synthetic benchmarks: Time Spy, Time Spy Extreme, Port Royal, Fire Strike Extreme, CPU Profile, PC Mark
As you'll see from our photos, the MSI GF65 Thin is doesn't have a completely bezel-free screen, but it's still fairly compact. It also manages to retain that all-important webcam that some other brands have chosen to ditch in gaming laptops lately.
The screen is a 15.6-inch Full HD affair, with a fast 144Hz refresh rate. That's not quite as crazy as some of the other screen offerings out there at the moment though. Yes, you could go mad and opt for a laptop with 4K visuals or a 360Hz refresh rate panel, but the MSI GF65 Thin strikes a good balance.
That choice also makes it more realistic that you'll be able to get enough frames per second to make it count in most games. We played a few different titles to see how it got on.
We started with Chivalry 2 - which is a gorgeous and gruesome medieval combat shindig that sees you fighting for your life with all manner of weaponry - and it not only looks great on this laptop, but even with the graphics settings turned up we were getting well over 100fps.
We also tested out an external screen, plugging the laptop into a 65-inch 4K TV. The MSI GF65 Thin handled this without fuss and allowed for hours of glorious gaming. It was, unfortunately, a tad loud with the fans ramping up to cope, but nothing we couldn't handle and it's certainly not the loudest laptop we've seen.
We also dabbled in some other games including The Outer Worlds, Dirt 5, Totally Accurate Battlegrounds, and Rainbow Six Siege. All proved smooth and satisfying, with frame-rates often reaching over 100fps. Even on high settings, Kingdom Come Deliverance ran at 80fps - and that's a taxing game.
The MSI GF65 Thin has a good-looking screen too. It's bright, has decent viewing angles, and delivers a rich and vibrant experience.
Connectivity and battery frustrations
- 2x USB Type-C (3.2 Gen1), 2x USB Type-A (3.2 Gen1)
- Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX201(2*2 ax)
- RJ45 Ethernet
- 1x HDMI port
- Bluetooth 5.1
The MSI GF65 Thin ticks a few boxes in terms of connectivity too. It has Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1. We didn't have any signal or connectivity issues; it has a good solid connection, even several rooms away from a router. As gamers we prefer the reliability that comes from a wired connection, but this laptop offers an Ethernet port on the right-hand side too.
We do have some complaints about the other connectivity options on this device though. There are just two USB-A ports - and they're both located on the right-hand side, along with the two USB-C ports, Ethernet and 3.5mm.
This means if you plug in a decent gaming headset (which you'll want to in order to block out the fan noise) and a mouse, you've suddenly not got many ports left. Want to throw in a mic for podcasting or a gaming keyboard for more accurate play? You're suddenly in trouble unless those devices have USB-C.
The other problem here is with everything plugged in on the right you're losing space for your mouse hand and have to sit awkwardly to get your game on. Other laptops we've seen stick some ports at the rear or on the left, so it's odd to see them all here. A minor complaint but one worth thinking about.
Battery life is another area where the MSI GF65 Thin falls down. MSI claims around seven hours per charge, but we found it was realistically more likely to be about three hours. This will depend on what you're doing, but we'd suggest you'll want to not stray to far from a power source.
Really red keyboard
As you'd expect, with a compact frame the MSI GF65 Thin also has a compact keyboard design.
There's no numpad, but for the most part it does feature a nice layout. It's not RGB lighting like other keyboards, but it is backlit with red LEDs and offers a nice subtle glow. The lettering and key edging also has a red accent to them, giving a very red-and-black overall vibe.
We enjoyed this keyboard for what it is. It's easy and comfortable enough to type on and not too loud. It works well for gaming and doesn't have any of the usual niggles that other laptop keyboard layouts do. That said, we're sad there are no media playback buttons, but you can adjust things like screen brightness and keyboard lighting with a couple of keypresses.
The trackpad, however, leaves a lot to be desired. We found the model we tested had a lot of 'wobble' and play in the trackpad buttons. This results in it feeling a bit flimsy and unsatisfying, which takes away from the otherwise premium-feeling design. That said, you can just plug in a mouse, assuming you can find a spare USB port.
In the end, MSI GF65 Thin is a decent gaming machine. It's nicely portable, easy on the eye, and more than capable of handling modern games with decent frame-rates.
The screen is well balanced, the speakers are good enough to block out most fan noise, and it doesn't get too hot and bothered under pressure (unless you're a lap gamer).
It's one of the better thin gaming laptops we've tested, especially when you consider the specification included at this price point.
Lenovo Legion 5 Pro
Another great gaming machine for the money. We thought this laptop had a great screen and could compete with the likes of Alienware in terms of performance - but for less cash.
Asus ROG Zephyrus M16
It's a bit pricier, but the M16 is a stunningly good gaming laptop with plenty of appeal. It's great for gaming and working, plus it looks awesome thanks to a 2560 x 1600 resolution display with 165Hz refresh rate.