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Alienware m15 vs. MSI GS65 Stealth Thin: Which gaming laptop is better?

The differences between the Alienware m15 and MSI GS65 Stealth Thin are the visuals and cost. Both house latest Intel Core i7 processors, dedicated NVIDIA GTX and RTX GPUs, support Thunderbolt 3, can be configured with high refresh rate displays, and come with plenty of RAM for gaming. However, Dell not only offers more configurations to choose from, but also starts at a lower price.

It's not all about the looks

The MSI GS65 Stealth Thin is a seriously good looking laptop. The company knows how to design some killer hardware and it shows with the sleek black finish, gold accents, and a unique hinge. It's not all about the visuals, however, as plenty of thought was spent on making sure all the components housed within the chassis are kept cool by the advanced cooling system.

The same can't be said about the Alienware m15, which sports a similar cooling setup, but won't win any awards for design. However, Dell isn't attempting to blow you away in that regard. While the look of a product can sway your purchasing decision, Dell knows you won't gaze at the outside of the m15 for very long — you're going to be gaming or being productive — and made sure there are plenty of configurations so you can choose the best specs.

Benchmarking the insides

Comparing the two laptops at different price points and configurations can get a little messy, but you can equip both laptops with up to an NVIDIA RTX 2080 GPU, 32GB of RAM, and plenty of flash storage. Dell has a few bonus points against MSI by offering a more affordable entry model of the Alienware m15 and allows you to add an Intel Core i9 processor for good measure.

Dell Alienware m15MSI GS65 Stealth Thin
CPUIntel Core i7-8750H
Intel Core i9-8950HK
Intel Core i7-8750H
GPUNVIDIA GTX 1060
NVIDIA RTX 2060
NVIDIA RTX 2070
NVIDIA RTX 2080
NVIDIA GTX 1060
NVIDIA GTX 1070
NVIDIA RTX 2070
NVIDIA RTX 2080
Display15.6-inch Full HD (60Hz)
15.6-inch Full HD (144Hz)
15.6-inch Full HD (240Hz)
15.6-inch 4K (60Hz)
15.6-inch Full HD (144Hz)
Storage1TB hybrid drive
256GB PCIe M.2 SSD + 1TB hybrid drive
512GB PCIe M.2 SSD + 1TB hybrid drive
1TB PCIe M.2 SSD + 1TB PCIe M.2 SSD
256GB PCIe M.2 SSD
512GB NVMe M.2 SSD
256GB NVMe M.2 SSD
RAMUp to 32GB DDR4 2666HzUp to 32GB DDR4 2666Hz
Ports1x Power/DC-in Port
1x Killer Networks E2500
3x USB 3.1-A
1x Thunderbolt 3
1 Alienware Graphics Amplifier Port
1x HDMI 2.0
1x Mini-Display Port 1.3
1x audio
1x Killer Networks E2500
3x USB 3.1 Gen2
1x Thunderbolt 3
1x HDMI 2.0
1x Mini-Display Port 1.2
2x audio
Battery60Whr
90Whr
82Whr
Dimensions0.83 x 14.3 x 10.8 inches
(21 x 363 x 275 mm)
0.69 x 14.08 x 9.75 inches
( x x mm)
Weight4.78 lbs4.14 lbs

Opting for a newer RTX 20 series GPU and an SSD is the best way to enjoy a smoother gaming experience. At a minimum, 16GB of RAM is recommended and the Intel Core i7-8750H is more than enough to handle latest titles. The Intel Core i9-8950HK is overkill for most people, but should you need even more performance, it's available for the Dell Alienware m15.

Dell not only offers more configurations to choose from, but also starts at a lower price.

Both laptops come with USB 3.1 ports, HDMI, Thunderbolt, Killer LAN, capable wireless connectivity, and Bluetooth for connecting your favorite gamepad and/or accessories. When it comes to battery, the Dell Alienware m15 comes with a 60Whr power plant, which may sound a little on the low side, but the company does offer an optional 90Whr upgrade. MSI uses an 82Whr battery for all of its GS65 Stealth Thin models. When gaming, do not expect for more than a few hours of up time.

Regardless of how you configure either laptop, they will perform well under load in even some of the more demanding PC titles. Should you be on the hunt for a killer deal and on a tigther budget, you'll want to consider the Alienware m15, whereas the MSI GS65 Stealth is a sleek-looking gaming machine that costs a little more for additional benefits like a 144Hz display (optional upgrade on the m15) and premium design. Overall though, we'd choose the m15 simply because you get to choose from a number of configurations at a lower price.

More configurations to choose from

Dell matches the GS65 Stealth from MSI and even undercuts the entry laptop at a similar price point with a faster GPU, but a weaker monitor with a refresh rate of just 60Hz. There's also the downside of using a hybrid 1TB drive, compared to a speedier SSD found in the MSI gaming rig. Still, you have way more configurations to choose from with Dell and you do get more for your money overall, with the option to go all out with a 4K display and the best hardware.

Paying more for the display

While the GS65 Thin starts at a higher price than the Dell Alienware m15, you're getting a 140Hz panel, matched with an Intel Core i7 processor, GTX 1060 GPU and 16GB of RAM. It's powerful enough for playing games and you'll be able to enjoy a butter smooth gaming experience.

Rich Edmonds
Rich Edmonds

Rich Edmonds is Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him over on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.