MSI GS40 6QE Phantom Gaming Laptop First Look

Benchmarks And Conclusion

We're using our typical "first look" suite to test the MSI GS40 6QE Phantom, including the synthetic metrics PCMark 8, 3DMark Fire Strike and Unigine Valley, along with real-world runs through Metro: Last Light Redux and Bioshock Infinite, both of which possess an in-game benchmarking utility. For battery tests, we adopted the method featured in our EVGA SC17 first look, which uses Tomb Raider.

MSI's GS40 6QE Phantom competes directly with several other laptops we've looked at. The Acer Predator 15 and EVGA SC17 both sport an Nvidia GeForce GTX 980M module, though the Predator 15 wields a standard Intel Core-i7 6700HQ processor, while the SC17 boasts the much more powerful Core i7-6820HK. For an apples to apples comparison, we pit the GS40 against Asus' G752VT, which sports nearly identical specs. Finally, the GS40 faces off against the Y700-15 Touch, an entry-level gaming laptop from Lenovo's IdeaPad line.

For more consistent results, we retested previously-reviewed laptops at maximum fan speed whenever possible. Each one was set to its High Performance power profile at 100 percent brightness.

Synthetic Benchmark - PCMark 8

The GS40 6QE possesses almost identical specifications as Asus' G752VT, but falls short in PCMark 8. Keep in mind that the G752VT's ventilation is particularly robust, and we tested with the fans at full speed. The Asus even pulls ahead of Acer's Predator 15, which sports a smaller cooling system. Otherwise, our GS40 behaves as expected, outperforming the lower-end Lenovo Y700-15 Touch and succumbing to the Predator 15.

Synthetic Benchmark - 3DMark Fire Strike

The GS40's results in Fire Strike come closer to what we'd expect. MSI's Phantom lands in the middle of the pack, losing to the GTX 980M-equipped Predator 15 and SC17, while trading blows with the evenly matched G752VT. Finally, it clinches a victory against the Y700-15 Touch.

Synthetic Benchmark - Unigine Valley

The Unigine Valley test closely resembles what we saw in 3DMark Fire Strike. This time, the Phantom swaps places with Asus' G752VT, though their scores are very close.

Gaming Benchmark - Bioshock Infinite

Similar to the results from our synthetic metrics, MSI's GS40 performs like Asus' G752VT on average. The exception was the Monument Island scene, where the GS40 pulled ahead (but still couldn't come anywhere near the Predator 15 or SC17).

Gaming Benchmark - Metro: Last Light Redux

Metro is extremely demanding, even on high-end gaming desktops. And yet, the Phantom maintains an average frame rate just above 30, which you could argue is the minimum for playable performance. Really, it's those dips down to 11 FPS that kill your experience.

Battery Test - Tomb Raider 2013 Run-Down

We naturally have to change Windows' Power settings for battery testing. This benchmark benefits from Nvidia's Battery Boost, which enforces a frame rate ceiling to prevent wasteful output from burning through the power source. By default, Nvidia sets the technology to 30 FPS.

Before starting the test, we make sure the laptop is fully charged, and that keyboard and accent lighting are either dimmed or completely off. The Balanced profile is selected, and we set Hibernate to kick in once the battery hits 5 percent. We run Tomb Raider's in-game benchmark until the laptop goes to sleep, giving us a minimum frame rate result and an accurate battery measurement.

Unfortunately, the GS40 6QE doesn't stack up well against competing gaming notebooks, though this was to be expected given compact dimensions that make it tough to stash lots of battery capacity.

MSI GS40 6QE Phantom


MSI's GS40 6QE Phantom provides impressive performance at an attractive price. The system we tested contained nearly identical specifications as the Asus G752VT we tested previously, and you wouldn't be able to distinguish between their performance were it not for our chart labels. But the GS40 enjoys a small advantage; at $1600, it's $50 cheaper than the G752VT.

Additionally, the Phantom is the thinnest and lightest gaming laptop we've tested so far. Keeping to the GS line's naming convention, the Phantom is sleek, light and discreet.

There's one important caveat tied to those sexy dimensions and potent benchmark results: modest battery life. Given how much power the system consumes even when it's trying to conserve (if only by virtue of its high-end hardware), you have to expect the 61Wh battery to run out of juice before larger and more accommodating platforms. In the same vein, fast components in a compact enclosure are difficult to cool. The byproduct of that is greater heat density. And indeed, the GS40 6QE Phantom can quickly get uncomfortably warm.

Clearly, MSI had to make compromises to deliver its GS40 6QE Phantom. But with Nvidia's GeForce GTX 970M in a system under 3.5lbs for $1600, we really cannot complain.

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Alexander Quejado is an Associate Contributing Writer for Tom’s Hardware and Tom’s IT Pro. Follow Alexander Quejado on Twitter. 

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  • Chris Droste
    I've been Targeting the MSI and Gigabyte Gaming Laptops; While this has everything i want in a truly flexible machine (size/weight; power, aesthetics) I wonder/worry about this and Gigabyte's software and drive suite(s). Does anyone have experience between these brands and can shed some light on their general reliability? It seems like there's plenty of each the MSI, Asus, and Gigabyte machines with 6th-gen intel hardware trading blows in the $1,100-$1,400 range (at resale outlets; Newegg, Amazon, etc)
  • hotsacoman
    I've been Targeting the MSI and Gigabyte Gaming Laptops;

    Don't target and just pull the trigger lol
  • Reynar
    I love my MSI laptop but after just 2 months of moderate gaming the letters are wearing off. I can see the plastic under the w and s keys.
  • JQB45
    I like it. Modest gaming ability, light weight seems like a good pick but the price needs to be a few hundred dollars less to truly be special.
  • damric
    My ADD must be acting up. Did it mention MSRP in this article?
  • iPanda
    My ADD must be acting up. Did it mention MSRP in this article?

    at the end, it mentions $1600 -_/(`--`)\_-
  • cats_Paw
    "the GS40 6QE Phantom can quickly get uncomfortably warm" - Thats a diplomatic way to put it.
    This thing will get HOT. I dont even want to think about the temps when there is some dust in the cooling system.
    We are talking 50 to 70 degrees C.... on the case.
  • hst101rox
    Does it get hot on the bottom of the laptop, topside or both or just the hot air coming out of the vents? More detail in the article about this would have been helpful.

    Also, throttling issues with full CPU and GPU utilizing or just full GPU utilization (gaming) or just full CPU utilization? No mention of throttling, just that it 'gets hot'.

    It would be awesome if they had powerful enough fans in this 3.5 pound laptop to keep the CPU & GPU from throttling!

    If the battery is easily swappable, the small battery is no big deal. If you take this to work or school, bring a few extra batteries or the AC adapter.
  • anonym005
    Owner of a GS60-6QE with the same spec here. The 15" doesn't have the same heat issues when gaming and it's only 4lbs. Does the GS40's Type-C port also support Thunderbolt? The GS60 doesn't have a removable battery, so I seriously doubt the 14" does either.
  • Alan Caldwell
    MSI makes cool looking laptops.