Review: MSI GS60 Ghost ultra slim Portable Gaming Laptop

A few months ago we got to know the slimmest portable gaming laptop on the market, the MSI GS70 and now MSI has launched a new version GS60 with a 15.6” screen. The GS60 Ghost was developed from a well – designed predecessor but has inherited some problems that must be corrected, still we have high expectations for this laptop.

Introduction

The majority of us are no longer satisfied with power. Now we want stylish, lightweight, and compact portable devices that have a minimum of noticeable playing capability. In the GS60 we will find most of these requirements. It has a slim light-weight modern look that makes it a great portable gaming device.

The GS60 Ghost is slimmer than the GS70, by 2mm, and it is more than half a kilo lighter than the GS70. But we also require them to make other improvements, such as better thermal control of the processor, which will result in an absence of throttling which is caused by its poor capability of ventilation.

Technical Performance

The more common variations we have found in the models sold are differences in the graphics card and in the storage. We have received the most basic of the GS60 models which cost about 1699 dollars. With this important investment you can receive a truly efficient laptop. The more expensive model doubles the SSD disk capacity, has a RAID 0 system, and increased graphics with a GeForce GTX 870 M, which costs around 1799 dollars.

MSI GS60 Ghost

The processor selected by MSI is a Haswell Core i7- 4700 HQ quad core processor with eight threads and is great processor with minimal frequencies of 2.4 to 3.4 GHz. It is a high-end processor similar to the Sandy Bridge processors which are used in desktops. This is where we are presented with the first side effect of reducing the laptops thickness and thus the cooling capacity of this device. MSI has limited turbo mode in this processor up to a maximum of 3.2 GHz which decreases its performance by 6%. Though the 3.2 GHz frequency load is certainly very stable the truth is that we have the first limitation in performance for its users.

MSI GS60 Ghost CPU

In our load tests the processor never went past 3.2 GHZ, with a maximum temperature of about 85°, which are within the specifications of this processor as it can work without throttling to temperatures up to 100°. Without a doubt the turbo is set at different parameters, but it does not load on startup, and even with much lower temperatures we have not seen it surpass the 3.2 GHZ frequency which makes us believe that the limitation comes since its manufacture. We have also checked Windows power management to ensure there were no limitations to this test.

MSI GS60 Ghost Test

In this screenshot we can see the limitation

MSI GS60 Ghost

The processor comes with 16 GB of RAM which is the maximum allowed rate of 1600 MHz DDR3L, dual storage solution. On one hand it can use 128 GB SSD and is also compatible with mSATA raid and a 1TB mechanical drive for storage. The built in operating system is Windows 8.1.

The Wi-Fi connection comes from an Intel 7600 chip which allows the laptop to access dual-band networks, 2.4 and 5 GHz, AC technology and Bluetooth 4.0 without the necessity of adding extra modules.

MSI GS60 Ghost Specs

Screen and Graphic Card

The variants MSI have brought of the GS60 come with screens that are 1920x 1080 pixels for resolution and IPS panels. They are matte screen, which is appreciated, but it is interesting to use Windows 8.1 with the touch capability. That said the screen has an excellent quality, definitely a great panel, the graphics are well defined and perfectly adapted to the capacity of the graphics card. The angles are almost perfect and we have detected some “bleeding” backlights in the lower area of the screen (this is common in IPS panels) but with no major defects. The screen is large although we sometimes see big frames that leave the screen with a small aspect that takes some getting used to.

MSI GS60 Ghost screen

And now,  it will be difficult to find but there exists a variant of this portable laptop that comes with a 3K screen, IZGO panel, and has 2880×620 pixels of resolution. A screen we currently can’t get in these parts.

MSI GS60 Ghost

What has disappointed us a bit is the integrated graphics card and we don’t know if the fault lies with MSI or with Nvidia. With Nvidia perhaps for having two products with the same name that have noticeable differences and on the other hand it lies with MSI for not taking care with its machines to offer the best possible product.

Some of you may already know where I am going with this, but for the rest of you let me make it clear that the GeForce GTX 860M that is integrated into this device is not the most modern model based on Maxwell, but is instead a variant of Kepler. The Maxwell despite having less shaders engines is as fast as the GeForce GTX 750 ti used in desktops. While the Kepler is 10% slower. Still it is not only slower but less efficient regarding energy as it consumes more and is slower, and that gentlemen from MSI and Nvidia is a bad move as buyers of this type of graphic chip will not realize what they buy until they get home.

MSI GS60 Ghost GPU

Personally it is one part of this great machine that I have not liked at all because an 860 Maxwell has more power, consumes less energy, and is quieter. It is a real shame that we can’t even confirm that all GS60 in the stores come with this chip. There is no way of knowing, but what is certain, is that the one we obtained to test was “bad”.

That said the integrated graphics engine mounts 1152 shaders with 2GB of GDDR5 RAM as frame buffer. Their frequencies practically reach 800MHz for the GPU and 5Gbps for the memory of the graphics card. Its data bus, 128-Bit, provides 80GB / s of bandwidth. The 860M Maxwell works at more than 1 GHz frequency over its advantage, while consuming less both in charging and resting.

Sound

Unlike the Stealth GS70, GS60 Ghost has the sound system 2.0 versus 2.1 system of its older brother. The system is also designed by Dynaudio and like the GS70 model also integrates gold plated analog connectors and headphone output features a Hi-Fi amplifier to improve headphone response between medium and high end range.

MSI GS60 Ghost Audio

The DSP is Realtek, nothing extraordinary but not negligible and has been accompanied by a good set of audio codecs such as Creative Sound Blaster Cinema 2. This software suite allows for a very precise sound equalization and different effects for every occasion.

The function of the speakers is good, and far beyond speakers that can be found in laptops, including high-end laptops. The incorporation of suitable software also allows you to get more out of your sound system and the integration of a headphone amplifier is a great decision and practically a requirement for any self-respecting gamer.

MSI GS60 Ghost Audio Sound Blaster Cinema 2 Control Panel

Design and Format

The MSI GS60 Ghost is really thin, less than 20mm, with a weight that is less than 2kg despite being mounted on a chassis that houses a 15.6 " screen and with its 390mm length could almost hold a 17 " screen. Some light gaming laptops we’ve seen appear at Computex this year are more or less the same weight with inferior screen dimensions. This means that the GS60 Ghost is definitely a light and slim laptop.

MSI GS60 Ghost This laptop has a profile of a 20mm thick. 2kg weight.

Its design in black brushed aluminum is excellent, the light-weight form in the display housing and well defined lines make it a really attractive laptop, one that you can feel proud to open anywhere and place. Its only flaw is that the screen frames are bulky but even something that in initially annoys us, which is the depth, transforms into a useful commodity when you work or play with it. It has almost 27cm of depth, pretty deep certainly, but with 20mm thickness is the only way to feed your twins fans fresh air. This leaves the keyboard below the line dissipation, which makes it nice and cool for hours of "use" and allows the turbines to breathe fresh air quality, without taking it down. Heated air comes both from the side as the rear of the housing and the noise performance of both turbines is quite reasonable for the type of machine it is.

MSI GS60 Ghost Keyboard

Above the keyboard we have the main vent area of this laptop. Heat dissipates to the right of the processor, CPU, and to the left of the graphics card, the GPU.

The side is where MSI has placed all connectors on the front are the only noticeable activity are the LEDs which are many and bright. On the right side is a USB 3.0 port, an SD card reader, an HDMI 1.4a port, a Displayport 1.2a port and gigabit Ethernet port. The video connectors allow you to connect up to three HD displays this laptop. In addition, the DP will also allow us to give life to 4k screens (3840×2160 points) 60Hz (30Hz HDMI only), which are becoming affordable. And, as is customary in MSI in their "gaming" products the Ethernet design comes with a KillerNIC E2200 chip with packet prioritization software.

MSI GS60 Ghost Led

Detail of the front LEDs.

MSI GS60 Ghost PortsRight. With the ports described: USB 3.0, SD, HDMI, DisplayPort 1.2 and Gigabit Ethernet.

MSI GS60 Ghost PortsLeft: port security, power connector, two USB 3.0 ports and audio connections.

Performance Analysis

In our general battery of tests we also added some autonomy tests on the PCMark 8, speed tests on the primary disk and on a video with real gameplay with a Geforce GTX 860M Kepler card integrated in it. The results of processor and storage are very good, overall performance is also excellent which shows a very balanced design but we missed those new generation graphics that this model should have had.

MSI GS60 Ghost performanceTwo hours of battery life, not much to add, but it is a gaming laptop not for using on "road trip".

MSI GS60 Ghost performance

Cinebench’s score, 610cb, is excellent but it should be better.

MSI GS60 Ghost performance

A Geforce GTX 860M Maxwell exceeds 3200 points in the same test.

MSI GS60 Ghost performance

The performance results of "home" with OpenCL on the PCMark 8 v2 is good, very balanced and speaks well of the overall performance of the GS60.

MSI GS60 Ghost SSD

MSI GS60 Ghost Hard Disk

The SSD performance is not spectacular either in sustained linear velocity or demanding tests like AS SSD.

Conclusion

On paper the GS60 Ghost is just slightly less heavy and space and repeats a formula remarkable performance. What happens is that design doesn’t surprise us and one begins to seek perfection elsewhere and we end up realizing that this design is of high quality but internal machinery needs work. For me it’s not the best portable gaming device on the market with its overall design and power, because it doesn’t have an adequate graphics card.

MSI GS60 Ghost

The price is interesting for its performance and design and it is a good competitor with other powerful and lightweight devices. Its keyboard has a variety of spectacular color and its connectivity is adequate. Its screen is of excellent quality and has reasonable sound for the format. Too bad, that it is not the top machine or simply better from the more basic version. It’s better to pass on the 860M, and go directly to the 870M model which is 100 dollars more expensive.

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