MSI’s Raider line-up of gaming notebooks is probably the most refined of all the devices the company offers. They employ fast and powerful hardware, input devices which are of very good quality and also a 120 Hz Full HD monitor while keeping the temperatures adequate inside a thin form factor. We certainly like where the gaming laptop industry is going and we are looking forward to introducing the MSI GE63VR 7RF to you.
Actually, some time ago we showed you the 17.3-inch version of this very laptop, which is similarly named as MSI GE73VR 7RF. Both of them feature 120 Hz Full HD screens and a combo of Intel Core i7-7700HQ and GeForce GTX 1070 onboard. In addition to the remarkable hardware, we have RGB backlight under Steelseries certificate. This device also bears a “VR” branding which, according to the company, verifies that the laptop is good for Virtual Reality content. We are going to directly compare it to its larger brother and more precisely, we are going to check how temperatures change, when you decrease the amount of available space inside the machine.
You can check the prices and configurations in our Specs System: http://laptopmedia.com/series/msi-ge63vr-raider/
MSI GE63VR 7RF Raider technical specifications table
What’s in the box?
Inside the colorful box, there are two smaller boxes surrounding the device. Opening them reveals that one of them holds the cable that plugs into the wall, and the other one holds the charger itself. Beneath the laptop, which is put in a safety bag, there are a couple of the usual manuals and guides as well as a driver disk.
Design and construction
MSI has opted to use aluminum for the lid cover and the surface area of the GE63VR 7RF. Visually it is an almost complete copy of its larger brother although it’s smaller (obviously) and measures at 383 x 260 x 27 mm (15.08″ x 10.24″ x 1.06″) and weighs 2.2 kg, which while being heavier than the benchmark – MSI’s own Stealth Pro series, is pretty light for a GTX 1070-equipped notebook.
Thankfully, it lacks severe bending on the display when exposed to torsion load. The lid can be opened easily with one hand. Doing so reveals the keyboard and touchpad of the device. Here are also present the trio of buttons of which the northernmost one turns the device on/off. The second one is dedicated to the Dragon Center utility, while the last one pumps the fans to 100% to give you a maximum cooling performance.
Once again, the keyboard is illuminated by RGB LEDs by SteelSeries, which are programmable by MSI’s application. Keystrokes are tactile and fast, making typing experience pleasant. The touchpad is good enough, supports Microsoft Precision drivers, although it has Synaptics engines on top of it. It also has its keys separate from the touch area.
This laptop’s I/O include an RJ-45 connector, HDMI and Mini DisplayPort, one USB 3.1 Type-C and one of three USB 3.0 Type-A on the left, accompanied by two 3.5 mm audio jacks. On the other side are located the other two USB 3.0 Type-A ports as well as the SD card reader. On both sides as well as the rear there are exhaust vents for a total of four heatsinks.
Disassembly and maintenance
As you can see from the picture of the bottom of the device we shared with you earlier, you can peek inside through the huge vents. If you want to upgrade RAM or storage you need to open the MSI GE63VR 7RF, as the manufacturer has not provided a service cover. To do so, you have to unscrew 11 Phillips head screws and than carefully unclip the bottom cover with the help of a plastic tool.
You can see the complex cooling solution, which comprises a total of seven heat pipes and four heatsinks. Appart from the Core i7-7700HQ and GTX 1070 those heat pipes also cool their respective VRMs and memory modules. On the top of this photo, you can see a simple configuration of cells inside the 51Wh battery.
In the following image, you can see the Hard drive as well as the Wi-Fi adapter and one pair of speaker and woofer combo.
Here you can see a total of two RAM DIMMs currently taken by 16 GB of DDR4-2400 modules. There is also the same amount of M.2 slots, which support PCIe NVMe drives in RAID 0. They are located underneath a PCB that controls the RGB array of LEDs beneath the keyboard.
MSI GE63VR 7RF has the same display that the company put on their 15.6-inch GS63VR 7RF Stealth Pro notebook – the Chi Mei N156HHE-GA1. It has a 1920 x 1080 resolution and runs at 120 Hz. The pixel density of the screen is 142 ppi with a pitch of 0.18 x 0.18 mm. This means that the screen can be considered as “Retina” when viewed from further than 60 cm.
Viewing angles are quite uncomfortable.
We’ve recorded a peak brightness of 351 nits in the center of the screen and 328 nits as an average across the surface with an unacceptably high maximum deviation of 21% in the lower right corner (falling to 280 nits). The correlated color temperature at maximum brightness is quite cold – 7650K and it goes even further away from the optimal 6500K as we go along the grayscale – 14000K – rather bluish light, which is fixed by our profiles. You can see how these values change at 140 nits (42% brightness) in the image below.
The maximum color deviation dE2000 compared to the center of the screen should be no more than 4.0 and if you are planning to do color-sensitive work, it should be lower than 2.0. We measured a surprisingly high contrast ratio of 1280:1 (1080:1 after calibration)
To make sure we are on the same page, we would like to give you a little introduction of the sRGB color gamut and the Adobe RGB. To start, there’s the CIE 1976 Uniform Chromaticity Diagram that represents the visible specter of colors by the human eye, giving you a better perception of the color gamut coverage and the color accuracy.
Inside the black triangle, you will see the standard color gamut (sRGB) that is being used by millions of people in HDTV and on the web. As for the Adobe RGB, this is used in professional cameras, monitors etc for printing. Basically, colors inside the black triangle are used by everyone and this is the essential part of the color quality and color accuracy of a mainstream notebook.
Still, we’ve included other color spaces like the famous DCI-P3 standard used by movie studios, as well as the digital UHD Rec.2020 standard. Rec.2020, however, is still a thing of the future and it’s difficult for today’s displays to cover that well. We’ve also included the so-called Michael Pointer gamut, or Pointer’s gamut, which represents the colors that naturally occur around us every day.
The new TN panels that MSI puts on their devices are exceptional. They provide super vibrant colors that cover completely the sRGB color gamut and spread further into the DCI-P3 to cover 96% of it.
Our “Design and Gaming” profile delivers optimal color temperature (6500K) at 140 nits luminance and sRGB gamma mode.
We tested the accuracy of the display with 24 commonly used colors like light and dark human skin, blue sky, green grass, orange etc. You can check out the results at factory condition and also, with the “Design and Gaming” profile.
The next figure shows how well the display is able to reproduce really dark parts of an image, which is essential when watching movies or playing games in low ambient light.
The left side of the image represents the display with stock settings, while the right one is with the “Gaming and Web Design” profile activated. On the horizontal axis, you will find the grayscale and on the vertical axis – the luminance of the display. On the two graphs below you can easily check for yourself how your display handles the darkest nuances but keep in mind that this also depends on the settings of your current display, the calibration, the viewing angle and the surrounding light conditions.
Response time (Gaming capabilities)
We test the reaction time of the pixels with the usual “black-to-white” and “white-to-black” method from 10% to 90% and reverse.
We recorded Fall Time + Rise Time = 8 ms – super fast panel, surely going to appeal to the gamers.
PWM (Screen flickering)
Pulse-width modulation (PWM) is an easy way to control monitor brightness. When you lower the brightness, the light intensity of the backlight is not lowered, but instead turned off and on by the electronics with a frequency indistinguishable to the human eye. In these light impulses, the light/no-light time ratio varies, while brightness remains unchanged, which is harmful to your eyes.
You can read more about that in our dedicated article on PWM.
MSI GE63VR’s display uses PWM to adjust the brightness of the screen up until 95 nits. However this is done with a very high frequency that doesn’t particularly affect the eyesight in that aspect.
Blue light emissions
Installing of our Health-Guard profile not only eliminates PWM but also reduces the harmful Blue Light emissions while keeping the colors of the screen perceptually accurate. If you’re not familiar with the Blue light, the TL;DR version is – emissions that negatively affect your eyes, skin and your whole body. You can find more information about that in our dedicated article on Blue Light.
You can see the levels of emitted blue light on the spectral power distribution (SPD) graph.
This display is definitely meant for gamers. It boasts with 100% sRGB coverage, extending even into the DCI-P3 gamut, which means that you get super colorful and vibrant image, very rarely achievable by a laptop screen. Also there is no harmful PWM in use here, being easy on the eyes. In addition the panel is one of the fastest on the market and the high contrast and brightness make it a jewel. The only drawback of this screen are the poor viewing angles, which is inevitable due to the TN nature of the panel.
Buy our profiles
MSI GE63VR 7RF configurations with 15.6″ Chi Mei N156HHE-GA1 (FHD, 1920 × 1080) TN screen and the laptop can be found at: Buy from Amazon.com
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Read more about the profiles HERE.
In addition to receiving efficient and health-friendly profiles, by buying LaptopMedia's products you also support the development of our labs, where we test devices in order to produce the most objective reviews possible.
Office Work should be used mostly by users who spend most of the time looking at pieces of text, tables or just surfing. This profile aims to deliver better distinctness and clarity by keeping a flat gamma curve (2.20), native color temperature and perceptually accurate colors.
Design and Gaming
This profile is aimed at designers who work with colors professionally, and for games and movies as well. Design and Gaming takes display panels to their limits, making them as accurate as possible in the sRGB IEC61966-2-1 standard for Web and HDTV, at white point D65.
THealth-Guard eliminates the harmful Pulse-Width Modulation (PWM) and reduces the negative Blue Light which affects our eyes and body. Since it’s custom tailored for every panel, it manages to keep the colors perceptually accurate. Health-Guard simulates paper so the pressure on the eyes is greatly reduced.
MSI GE63VR 7RF sounds really well. Its two regular speakers and two woofers pump loud crisp sound (for a laptop), which is clean in low, mid and high-frequency ranges.
MSI keeps the trend of providing a disk with the necessary drivers, although their device lacks an optical drive. However, you can find all drivers and utilities on MSI’s official website: https://www.msi.com/Laptop/support/GE63VR-7RF-Raider
As always, the battery tests were run with Windows power saving setting and Wi-Fi turned on, and the screen brightness adjusted to 120 nits. MSI GE63VR 7RF shares the same battery style as its larger brother, featuring 6 cells and a total capacity of 51Wh. This was enough for just three hours and 44 minutes of web browsing and 3 hours and 20 minutes of video playback. The 120 Hz screen drains the battery so fast, that you’ll get just over an hour of gaming experience if you actually try gaming away from the plug.
In order to simulate real-life conditions, we used our own script for automatic web browsing through over 70 websites.
For every test like this, we use the same video in HD.
MSI GE63VR 7RF is equipped with a 1 TB HDD and 256 GB Samsung PM871A SATA SSD. Since it is a SATA device, it won’t be the fastest device on the market, but with 541.7 MB/s Read and 511.3 MB/s Write speeds it proves to be on par with the supply on the market.
CPU – Intel Core i7-7700HQ
The Core i7-7700HQ is Kaby Lake’s top-shelf direct successor of the Skylake Core i7-6700HQ offering slightly higher clock speeds on the almost identical architecture and TDP. While Intel markets Kaby Lake’s architecture as “14nm+”, the Core i7-7700HQ is still on the same 14nm node with the only significant update being in the iGPU department. That’s why the slightly altered clock speeds (2.8 – 3.8 GHz vs 2.6 – 3.5 GHz) bring not more than 10% increase in performance compared to the Core i7-6700HQ. We still have the supported Hyper-Threading technology with 4/8 – core/thread design, the same 45W TDP and 6MB cache.
However, the Kaby Lake generation boasts an updated video engine for the iGPU, although, its performance is just about the same. Branded as Intel HD Graphics 630, the GPU offers slightly higher clock speeds (350 – 1100 MHz vs 350 – 1050 MHz) compared to the Intel HD Graphics 530 and support for H265/HEVC Main10 profile at 10-bit color depth and the VP9 codec for full hardware acceleration. In addition, the HDCP 2.2 is also supported allowing Netflix’s 4K video streaming.
You can browse through our top CPUs ranking: http://laptopmedia.com/top-laptop-cpu-ranking/
Results are from the Cinebench 15 CPU test (the higher the score, the better)
Results are from the Fritz chess benchmark (the higher the score, the better)
GPU – NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 (8GB GDDR5)
The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 is the second fastest mobile GPU after the GTX 1080. It’s part of NVIDIA’s Pascal generation of GPUs and unlike previous releases, the company finally closes the gap between mobile and desktop graphics processors and that’s why there’s no “M” in the branding of Pascal GPUs. All thanks to the 16nm TSMC manufacturing process of the GPU, which allows better thermals and overall performance in a smaller form factor. That’s a big technology jump compared to the 28nm Maxwell generation.
Compared to its desktop counterpart, the GTX 1070 doesn’t differ too much. They share an identical number of ROPs (64) and identical memory – 8GB GDDR5 with 256-bit bus clocked at 8000 MHz. However, there’s a minor difference in clock speeds – the laptop GPU ticks at 1443 MHz and can go up to 1645 MHz while the desktop variant is running at 1506 MHz – 1683 MHz. To compensate to some extent, the laptop 1070 carries more CUDA cores (2048 vs 1920) and slightly more TMUs (170 vs 120).
Due to its performance, thermals and power consumption, which is believed to be 10W more than the GTX 980M, the GPU is suitable for large 17-inch laptops with the appropriate cooling solution.
You can browse through our top GPUs ranking: http://laptopmedia.com/top-laptop-graphics-ranking/
Results are from the 3DMark: Fire Strike (Graphics) benchmark (higher the score, the better)
Results are from the Unigine Heaven 3.0 benchmark (higher the score, the better)
Results are from the Unigine Heaven 4.0 benchmark (higher the score, the better)
Results are from the Unigine Superposition benchmark (higher the score, the better)
While being smaller and housing a lot less space than the GE73VR (the big brother), GE63VR managed to even slightly outperform it. The performance was typical for a GTX 1070 unit – nothing short of brilliant, especially for a 1080p gaming. Experience is further enhanced by the 120 Hz screen, which utilizes the high framerates to deliver a super smooth image.
|Grand Theft Auto V (GTA 5)||Full HD, Medium (Check settings)||Full HD, Very High (Check settings)||Full HD, MAX (Check settings)|
|Average FPS||117 fps||72 fps||54 fps|
|Min FPS||64 fps||44 fps||25 fps|
|Far Cry Primal||Full HD, High (Check settings)||Full HD, Very High (Check settings)||Full HD, MAX (Check settings)|
|Average FPS||87 fps||79 fps||77 fps|
|Rise of the Tomb Raider (2016)||Full HD, Medium (Check settings)||Full HD, Very High (Check settings)||Full HD, MAX (Check settings)|
|Average FPS||119 fps||73 fps||48 fps|
|Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands||Full HD, High (Check settings)||Full HD, Very High (Check settings)||Full HD, Ultra (Check settings)|
|Average FPS||89 fps||78 fps||50 fps|
|Min FPS||75 fps||67 fps||44 fps|
The temperature tests go this way. We use Prime95 and FurMark to torture the CPU and the GPU respectively. This won’t give real-life representation but with our methodology, we try to give you the most optimal results.
The first values from the test are from the 30th second of running the Prime95 stress test, which simulates a heavy task run on your computer (usually lighter tasks take from a part of the second up to a couple of seconds). Next, we take the ones from the 2nd-minute mark, which imitates a very heavy task, run on the CPU. The last values we give you are the ones at the end of the test, which is 15 minutes, simulating the CPU load when it renders a video, for example.
0-15 min. CPU torture test
Prior to beginning our torture test the Intel Core i7-7700HQ inside this unit was idling at 42C. In the first 30 seconds, the frequencies were kept steadily at 3.4 GHz, while CPU temperature climbed gradually to 92C.
Further, after around 10 seconds of the second checkpoint, the temperatures grew up to 94C. At this moment, the clock speeds went down to 3.1 GHz as temperatures also fell down to around 85C. Of course, the device became a little louder as fans sped up.
While Prime95 was torturing the Core i7-7700HQ, the CPU was capable of 3.1 GHz and on some occasions up to 3.2 GHz. Temperature-wise, the device found its sweet spot at around 85C, balancing between fan and clock speeds to maintain it.
0-30 min. GPU torture test
While also idling at 42C, the GeForce GTX 1070 reached a maximum of 76C at an average frequency of 1537 MHz. Strangely enough that frequency is higher than that on the 17.3-inch notebook, although the temperature is also higher. It’s worth noting that if you don’t mind the loud noise from the fans, you can press the dedicated button in the top right corner to get 100% cooling performance, which will help you utilize those extra 100 MHz from your GTX 1070.
Temperatures on the surface were warm but surely not hot. Due to the allocation of heat pipes, the top part is far warmer than the bottom, which ensures a cool wrist rest area. There is also a lot of heat dissipated from the center of the keyboard as there is a GTX 1070 underneath it.
MSI GE63VR 7RF doesn’t fall short of its larger brother in any aspect. Despite the size difference, not only it matches the GE73VR 7RF completely but in some cases, it excels in performance. It has been a while since we’ve liked almost every aspect of a device we test, but today we are certainly impressed by what we saw.
Once again we encountered good build quality, reasonable dimensions, and relatively low weight. Most of our attention, though, fell upon the 120 Hz TN panel. Although it has poor viewing angles, the display pumps beautiful colors that with the help of our Gaming and Web design profiles become accurate enough for color sensitive work. This, combined with the super fast panel and PWM-adjustment only for low brightness levels at a high frequency (this can be completely fixed by the Health-Guard profile), make for an amazing display quality. Moreover, when you connect a 120 Hz screen to a GeForce GTX 1070 – magic starts to happen, as the display utilizes the higher frame rate and transforms it into an immersive gaming experience.
Speaking of the GPU, this device is more than capable to cool down the beast. In longer gaming sessions we didn’t notice any severe drop in frame rates like we did when we tested the 15.6 and 17.3-inch devices of the Stealth Pro line-up – GS63VR and GS73VR respectively. This power-hungry monster makes gaming on a battery almost stupid as you’ll get a tad over one hour of gaming.
There is something in this notebook that disappointed us – the battery life. Well, okay – it is meant for gaming, so it is not expected to give you a lifetime on battery, but after all, this is a portable device. Take the Alienware 15 R3, for example – it is loaded with a huge 99Wh battery. We think that a portable computer should provide you with more than just 3 hours and 44 minutes of web browsing that you get with this notebook. Not only that but this unit may not go through an episode of Lord of the Rings on a single charge… shame.
Going back to reality, we really enjoyed the keyboard with its RGB backlight, and the touchpad, which is far more adequate than some of the laptops in this category. The good cooling solution and the ease of use of the Dragon Center utility, combined with the super useful fan boost button just add to the greatness of this device. If you’re ready to give battery life away for the immersive gaming experience provided by the 120 Hz screen, we can truly recommend the MSI GE63VR 7RF to you.
- Good build quality and slender outfit
- Support of RAID 0 (combining two storage drives virtually into one)
- Super fast vibrant display
- RGB keyboard
- No aggressive PWM-adjustment (our Health-Guard profile completely bypasses PWM)
- RAM and storage are easy to access and upgrade
- Loud and crisp speakers
- CPU gets quite hot during extreme load
- Unacceptable battery life
- Poor viewing angles