Price Analysis & Conclusion
It looks like MSI is aiming to shake up the upper-middle range market with the GE63VR Raider. However, this market is incredibly competitive, and you can expect near identical performance from any the laptops with GTX 1070s and high-end mobile CPUs. Therefore, competing vendors need to rely on features and looks to appeal to gamers; MSI seems to have nailed the gamer aesthetic, but we're not sure if the Raider has all of the necessary features to separate itself.
The MSI GE63VR Raider's synthetic scores paint a positive, but expected picture. The GTX 1070 delivered excellent performance, pitting the Raider head-to-head against the Alienware 15 and the EVGA SC17 in GPU-reliant benchmarks. Meanwhile, the mobile Intel Core i7-7700HQ provided adequate computational power that is only definitively bested by the overclockable i7-7820HK. However, it appears that MSI skimped on SSD. The Samsung PM871 exhibited incredibly slow sequential speeds.
Gaming performance is everything you can expect out of a GTX 1070. The GE63VR Raider doesn’t top our benchmarks; that distinction goes to the Aorus X7 DT v7. However, the Raider delivers outstanding performance, hitting 60 FPS in the vast majority of the titles in our suite. In particular, the Raider performs well in Metro: Last Light Redux and The Division, two incredibly demanding titles that a GTX 1060 cannot adequately handle. It’s not perfect, however. The GTX 1070 isn’t a match for Grand Theft Auto V, especially during its infamous Vinewood Sign scene.
Unfortunately, thermal performance isn’t great. The MSI’s cooling isn’t bad, per se, but its primary competition, the Alienware 15 and the SC17, run much cooler during Furmark stress testing, and they contain almost the same specifications. Meanwhile, the Aorus and AVADirect run warmer, but do so because they have stronger components and slimmer builds, respectively. The Raider’s cooling solution would be much better suited when paired with a GTX 1060; MSI offers such a model with all other specifications held constant.
Battery life isn’t outstanding either. The Raider contains a rather small 51Wh lithium ion battery, which only delivered us 78 minutes of uninterrupted play time. Meanwhile, the EVGA SC17 lasted nearly 20 minutes longer than the Raider, and the Alienware 15 lasted even longer still. This is because they’re outfitted with 74.48Wh and 99Wh batteries, respectively.
On a more positive note, the GE63VR Raider possesses an excellent display. It isn’t an IPS panel, so we weren’t expecting good contrast levels, but the Raider’s display scored the highest contrast ratios out of the comparison group. RGB levels were also well balanced, which resulted in high grayscale accuracy. The overall color accuracy was also the best out of the laptops tested; the only problem was the lower than average gamma, which resulted in undersaturation.
The Raider also receives props for its excellently constructed chassis. The aluminum surfaces are sleek, while the plastic bottom panel is sturdy; at no point did we find weak points in the laptop's construction. However, the Raider feels lackluster; similar performance and build quality can be found at this price. Speaking of which . . . .
This configuration of the GE63VR Raider costs $2,300 on Newegg, which is quite expensive for a GTX 1070 laptop. MSI offers the Raider for $2,000 with a GTX 1060 (currently $1,930 on Newegg) and GTX 1050 with 16GB of memory and no SSD for $1,700. Given the Raider's features, we can't help but think that the Raider was intended to be paired with a lower-end GPU, especially when competing GTX 1070 models come with extra bells and whistles at a similar price.
Comparatively, the Alienware 15 we reviewed previously runs as low as $2,260 on Newegg, and offers better cooling and battery life at the expense of 16GB of memory, which is an easy sacrifice for gaming. A few months ago, we reviewed the Asus Strix 15 GL502, which offers a GTX 1070 for about the same price as the GTX 1050-based Raider. If MSI offered the Raider with 16GB of memory and a faster 256GB SSD at the $1,600-$1,800 price range, we'd recommend it in a heartbeat.
MORE: Best Gaming Laptops
MORE: Gaming Laptop Previews
MORE: All Laptop Content