MSI has been making laptops for years, but they're not something I typically get excited about. That changed last year with impressive GS65 Stealth gaming laptop, which I still use regularly, and the unique Prestige PS42.
For 2019, MSI is combining the NVIDIA GTX 1050 GPU with a tamed-down Intel Core i7 U-series processor. The result is a 15-inch Ultrabook that's light and portable but still delivers a punch for graphics without sacrificing battery life.
Here's what's great about this laptop ... and the one thing that prevents it from reaching a perfect score.
An Ultrabook with punch
Bottom line: The MSI PS63 Modern delivers a powerful NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 (or 1050Ti) in a 15.6-inch Ultrabook, making it a rare find. The 10 hours of battery life, and excellent display and keyboard, make it ideal for creative types.
- Excellent full-HD display.
- Light and thin.
- Perfect GPU and CPU combo.
- Outstanding battery life.
- No Thunderbolt 3 or Type-C charging.
- Audio is not good.
- A "2K" display may have been better.
a traditional laptop
MSI PS63 Modern design, specs, and features
MSI offers a few versions of the PS63 including Modern-008, Modern-085, and Modern-091. All have a Core i7 processor but vary on the use of the GeForce GTX 1050 with Max-Q Design or the slightly more powerful GeForce GTX 1050Ti with Max-Q Design and the use of NVMe or SATA for storage. For our review, we received the 085 model with an NVMe solid-state drive (SSD) and GeForce GTX 1050.
The PS63 Modern is a straight-up 15.6-inch Ultrabook laptop. There is no touch display, nor does the screen lay completely flat. But the PS63 Modern does something unique. MSI paired the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 – a moderate GPU – with a 15W Intel i7-8565 U-series processor. That's unusual because most laptops are paired with a hefty GPU like the GTX 1050 with a 45-watt CPU, like the popular Dell XPS 15.
Because of the efficient 15W Ultrabook CPU, the PS63 Modern gets excellent battery life, but it can still game when needed or help creative types who want to render video, graphics or do more advanced computing.
MSI uses a common alloy for the frame of the PS63 Modern, and it feels ridged with little flex. Blue chamfered "diamond-cut" accents add some pizzazz to an otherwise serious design – the PS63 Modern is an attractive laptop.
Intel Core i7-8565U (up to 4.6GHz)
|RAM||16GB (x1) DDR4 2666MHz|
|Storage||512GB NVMe SSD or SATA|
|Display||15.6-inch FHD (1920 x 1080)
IPS level Anti-Glare Wide View Angle
|Graphics||NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 or GTX1050TI Max-Q Design
|Ports||Two USB 3.1 Gen 2
Two USB 3.1 Gen 1
Type-C 3.1 Gen 1 (with Display)
HDMI (4K at 30Hz)
|Audio||Dual 2W speakers|
802.11 A/C (2 x 2)
|Keyboard||White backlight keyboard (84 Key)|
|Biometrics||Fingerprint reader for Windows Hello|
|Battery||4 cell (82Whr)|
|Weight||3.53 lbs to 3.6 lbs (1.6 kg to 1.63 kg)|
|Dimensions||14.05 in x 9.20 in x 0.63 in|
|OS||Windows 10 Home|
MSI provides three USB Type-A "classic" ports, as well as USB Type-C. A microSD slot is also available. That Type-C port can only do data and display out, and it is not Thunderbolt 3 nor can it be used to charge the PS63 Modern, which is a huge letdown. Instead, users must rely on the included (and tiny) 90-watt barrel charger. In other words, you cannot use a Type-C phone charger in a pinch.
Two two-watt speakers are placed on the bottom of the laptop near the edges. Sound output is decent for volume but lacks bass and richness, making these speakers merely adequate and at most average or slightly worse than average.
Finally, weighing just 3.6 pounds (1.63 kg), the PS63 Modern is one of the lightest 15-inch laptops that also has a full GeForce GTX 1050 or 1050Ti GPU.
a bit low res
MSI PS63 Modern display
MSI tends to use top display panels, and the PS63 is no exception. The 15.6-inch screen is matte (anti-glare) with a 16 x 9 aspect ratio and a full-HD 1920 x 1080 resolution. Color accuracy is 95 percent of sRGB and 75 percent AdobeRGB, which, while not perfect, is still very good.
Brightness is also excellent, peaking at 315 nits, which when combined with the anti-glare design makes it perfect for office environments with overhead lights. Being a traditional laptop, the PS63 Modern does not support touch and or inking, nor does the display lay flat. Overall, if you are OK with full HD resolution at 15.6-inches the PS63 is excellent.
Nailing the fundamentals
MSI PS63 Modern typing and trackpad
The PS63's keyboard is excellent for typing, with well-sized keys that are spaced appropriately. The keys are backlit and viable in all lighting conditions due to the color combination. Key travel is also good, hovering around the 1.2 to 1.3mm mark.
The trackpad on the PS63 Modern is excellent, as well. MSI uses Microsoft Precision drivers, and the exceptionally spacious (elongated) physical trackpad is smooth with a very satisfying click; it's one of the best trackpads we've tested.
Located on the top left of the trackpad is small fingerprint reader for Windows Hello bio-authentication. While it's an odd placement compared to other laptops, the reader is very good with no missed or false reads.
Considering MSI positions the MS63 for creatives, the typing and trackpad match the company's ambitions, delivering well above average performance.
MSI PS63 Modern performance and fans
MSI uses the latest 8th Generation Intel Core i7-8565 "Whiskey Lake" processor, which deliver the expected results. The quad-core chip provides excellent performance, and while it's far-behind current hexa-core 45-watt processors, like the one in the Dell XPS 15, the GPU makes up for it.
The GeForce GTX 1050 is not a new GPU, but there are no RTX 2050's on the market yet, either, making it a solid choice for this laptop. Performance falls in line with expectations, and it allows for gaming, including some 2D titles and Microsoft's latest Crackdown 3, which runs flawlessly.
Geekbench 4.0 benchmarks (higher is better)
|Device||CPU||Single core||Multi core|
|MSI PS63 Modern||i7-8565U||4,909||14,466|
|LG gram 17||i7-8565U||5,161||13,370|
|LG gram 15 (2018)||i7-8550U||5,033||12,906|
|Samsung Notebook 9 Pro 15||i7-7500U||4,431||8,669|
|Lenovo Yoga 720 15||i7-7700HQ||3,784||10,255|
|HP Spectre x360 15||i7-7500U||4,098||8,022|
|Dell XPS 13 (9370)||i7-8550U||4,681||14,816|
|Huawei MateBook 13||i7-8565U||5,336||17,062|
|Huawei MateBook X Pro||i7-8550U||4,706||14,342|
|Surface Laptop 2||i5-8250U||4,203||13,233|
Geekbench 4.0 CUDA (higher is better)
|MSI PS63 Modern||GTX 1050||74,815|
|Dell XPS 15 (9570)||GTX 1050||76,948|
|LG gram 17||UHD 620||36,801|
|LG gram 15 (2018)||UHD 620||22,334|
|Huawei MateBook 13||MX150||48,430|
|Huawei MateBook X Pro||MX150||41,730|
|Samsung Notebook 9 15||MX150||48,536|
CrystalDiskMark (higher is better)
|MSI PS63 Modern||3,300 MB/s||1,875 MB/s|
|LG gram 17||536 MB/s||500 MB/s|
|LG gram 15 (2018)||554.1 MB/s||449.6 MB/s|
|Huawei MateBook 13||3,436 MB/s||2,553 MB/s|
|Samsung Notebook 9 15||2,952 MB/s||1,948 MB/s|
|Surface Laptop 2||1,509 MB/s||811 MB/s|
|Surface Laptop||486 MB/s||244 MB/s|
|Surface Pro 6||1,632 MB/s||814 MB/s|
For storage, at least in our model, MSI uses a Samsung SSD that brings outstanding results including 3,300 MB/s for reads and 1,875 MB/s for write speed, which is exceptional.
There are two fans for the PS63 Modern, one for the CPU and one for the GPU, that operate independently depending on the compute load. The fans are relatively quiet, though under heavy duress they are audible. Overall, the thermals are very good for this laptop with no observed throttling or performance issues.
All good but the sound
MSI PS63 Modern is easy to recommend, if ...
In using the PS63 Modern for a few weeks, there are some things that make this laptop truly unique right now:
- GeForce GTX 1050 GPU.
- Weighs just 3.6 lbs.
- Battery life between 10 and 12 hours.
- 15.6-inch anti-glare display.
- Costs just $1,500.
Not all those things may be relevant to you, but the combination of all five is scarce in a single device.
Battery life is outstanding due to the sizeable 82WHr battery combined with the efficient Core i7 U-series processor. Getting 10 or more hours of regular usage is easy, but of course, that could drop if you use the power-hungry GPU regularly.
That GPU is far from outrageous for performance when compared to a proper gaming laptop (usually GTX 1060 or higher), but it's much better than the NVIDIA MX150 processor most Ultrabooks rely on. When it comes to photo or video editing, the PS63's GPU can do some serious work, and it's rare to find it in such a light and thin laptop.
Build quality is also the best I have seen in any MSI laptop, and while it feels a bit plasticky, that's due to the materials used, and they also deliver that light weight.
The display is fantastic considering it is just full HD (another power-saving trick). However, I would have preferred the same panel but at a 2K resolution. Creatives would appreciate the extra clarity, and I think 4K could be overkill and a power drain.
The one thing that MSI flubbed is audio. The speakers are average at best. It's not terrible and that's a non-issue when wearing headphones, but it sticks out as one area where MSI can improve. HP and Lenovo show how audio should be done these days, demonstrating that Windows PCs don't have to have terrible sound.
There's also the lack of Thunderbolt 3. While not a deal breaker, the inability to connect the PS63 Modern up to an external GPU or use Thunderbolt 3 external drives seems like a missed opportunity, especially for those using this for creative purposes.
For people seeking an easy-to-carry 15-inch laptop that has a real GPU on board, the MSI PS63 Modern is something unique. It's great for typing, writing, media editing, and it's just fun to use. While you surrender 2-in-1 functionality or inking compared to other laptops, the PS63 Modern gets crazy battery life, with the ability to utilize true NVIDIA graphics power, in a smooth, handsome package.
GeForce + Ultrabook
A rare combo of power and battery life
MSI created a laptop for creative that brings a powerful GPU and a power-efficient processor into one laptop with a substantial internal battery. Weighing just 3.6 lbs, this is a 15-inch laptop that will let you edit photos and videos for hours on end without breaking the bank.
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