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REVIEW: MSI GF65 Thin 10UE – Portable Performer

MSI’s gaming laptops are made for all types, from hardcore enthusiasts to more casual gamers who want flexibility and portability. The new GF65 Thin 10UE falls into the latter category, and as a fan of the Taiwanese titan’s work, I was eager to get my hands on it and see how well it fared.

Design

First impression of the GF65 Thin: it certainly is. It’s the most slender MSI laptop I’ve reviewed so far at just 21.7mm thick, and weighs in at a little under two kilos. It’s sleek and black, with an aluminum chassis whose glossy finish does unfortunately have a habit of attracting fingerprints.

Being pitched more towards a business/creative market than exclusively gamers, there’s absolutely no RGB lighting – just red backlighting on the keyboard, with variable brightness. Honestly, as someone who’s not actually a fan of RGB, I don’t mind this at all, but for gamers who are into that sort of thing, it could be a turn-off – your mileage may vary.

Connectivity-wise, the laptop includes Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1 compatibility, as well as a good array of physical ports: Ethernet, HDMI (4K/60Hz), two USB-A 3.2, and two USB-C 3.2, as well as a combo 3.5mm headphone and microphone jack.

Display and Sound

The GF65 Thin includes a 15.6-inch full-HD IPS panel with a 144Hz refresh rate. As a display, it’s fine enough, but its construction (at least on the unit we reviewed) did have one flaw: it curved slightly inward. The bend in the lid is subtle, but it was there – I noticed it almost as soon as I fired the laptop up. A possible sacrifice in structure for the sake of thinness.

As for the sound, some day I’ll review a laptop with decent speakers, but today is not that day. The audio is thin, reedy, and tinny, without much volume or substance to it even when you push it as loud as it will go. It’s a shame, because MSI does so well in other areas – it just hasn’t managed to crack high-quality laptop audio yet on any of the units I’ve seen. Alas.

Performance

When it comes to gaming performance, the GF65 Thin does fine. It’s equipped with Nvidia’s RTX 3060 mobile GPU, which is the entry-level model of the Ampere-powered RTX 30 series, and a 10th generation Intel Core i7 processor. This lets it handle most games pretty easily – 2020’s Doom Eternal, which doesn’t have ray tracing (though the developer has been promising to put it in since before launch, grumble grumble), was a breeze on maximum “Ultra Nightmare” settings at more than 100 frames per second.

But as always, when testing a PC’s gaming performance, you want to run the beefiest, most RT-filled games you can find, and really do your best to make the thing suffer. To that end, I turned once more to 2019’s Control, and it was here that the GF65 Thin and its RTX 3060 met its match (well, sort of).

At Control’s maximum graphical and ray tracing settings, the 3060 really chugged, struggling to break 30 frames per second at native 1080p resolution. Fortunately, Nvidia’s AI-powered DLSS upscaling came to the rescue: when I switched that on, the framerate jumped to a healthier 60-70 frames per second. Sure, it’s not the RTX 3070 in the GP76 Leopard, which can handle Control at native 1080p on max settings without complaint, but you’d be hard pressed to notice any difference in quality, and it’s nothing to be sneezed at.

As with many laptops with high-powered graphics, this one runs hot – I definitely noticed the machine getting toasty after a few extended gaming sessions. It’s probably more pronounced because of the laptop’s svelte construction, and the Cooler Boost 5 fans can only do so much.

Verdict

Ultimately, it’s best to think of the GF65 Thin as a business and creativity laptop with decent gaming features, rather than as a dedicated hardcore gaming machine. This is, admittedly, the least impressive notebook I’ve reviewed from MSI – but take that statement with an asterisk, because even MSI’s least impressive notebooks are still pretty impressive.

If you’re an enthusiast you’ll want to look further up the range at the likes of the GP76 Leopard or GE76 Raider, but if you’re after an all-rounder, and you don’t mind making a few negligible sacrifices and turning on DLSS now and again, then the GF65 Thin will serve you just fine.

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