MSI's Alpha 15 Laptop: First With AMD RX 5500M Graphics

(Image credit: MSI)

Alongside AMD's Radeon 5500 series desktop graphics card, MSI today announced its Alpha 15 laptop, the first with a Radeon RX 5500M GPU. The laptop will start at $999 and is expected to release by the end of the month.

Details on the laptop are still limited, but we do know the AMD's new mobile RX 5500M will be driving a 15-inch, 1920x1080 144 Hz IPS panel (in some models) that supports FreeSync, alongside a quad-core, eight-thread AMD Ryzen 7 3750H processor.

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SpecMSI Alpha 15
CPUAMD Ryzen R7 3750H
GPUAMD Radeon RX 5500M (4GB GDDR6)
RAMUp to 16GB DDR4-2400
Display15.6-inch FHD FreeSync up to 144Hz
Storage512GB NVMe M.2 2280 SSD
Battery6-cell 51Whr
ConnectivityWi-Fi 5, Bluetooth 5.0, Killer Ethernet

The base $999 model will have a 120Hz display, 8GB of RAM and a single-zone backlit keyboard. For $1,099, you get a SteelSeries per-key RGB keyboard and 16GB of RAM with 144Hz display -- which sounds like a pretty good upgrade for an extra $100.

Performance of the 5500M is said to be up to 30% faster than the GTX 1650 mobile part and in line with AMD’s performance metric of “60 fps in AAA titles and 90 FPS in eSports games.” The AAA titles AMD is talking about with the RX 5500M include Borderlands 3, The Division 2, Civ 6, World War Z, Monster Hunter: World and Battlefield 5. AMD and MSI claim that the system managed to reach 90 fps on popular eSports titles such as World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth, PUBG and Apex Legends.

At 357.7 x 248 x 27.5 mm, MSI claims that the Alpha 15's chassis is 11% smaller than competing 15-inch notebooks. Its bezels are just 5mm thick on the sides of the display.

Also notable is the laptop's, which is not a MSI dragon we're used to, but a Thunderbird.

Like many MSI laptops before it, the Alpha 15 will include a keyboard made in conjunction with SteelSeries in the $1,099 model. Under the shell, MSI's Cooler Boost 5 tech utilizes 7 heat pipes with 3 exhausts for cooling, which sounds ample for what seems to amount to a mainstream gaming notebook.

We look forward to putting the MSI Alpha 15 through a full battery of tests to see how it stacks up against competing Intel/Nvida laptops in the $1,000 price range, and how competitive the Radeon RX 5500M will be in a graphics space that's been all but completely dominated by GTX and RTX models for several years. Clearly the RX 5500M isn't going to take on high-end GPUs like the RTX 2070 or 2080, but the fact that AMD has a fresh new offering in the mainstream realm is of course good for competition.

And the fact that MSI went out of its way to both have a laptop to announce with it on launch day is probably a good sign. The only real question there is whether the company created the Alpha brand because it's confident that it's a line the company can expand behind AMD, or if they're trying to draw a distinction between the kind of experience you can expect with a dragon-branded MSI laptop, and what you'll get with an AMD-powered Alpha.

Joe Shields
Motherboard Reviewer

Joe Shields is a Freelance writer for Tom’s Hardware US. He reviews motherboards.