MSI GS43 6RE Phantom Pro Gaming Laptop Review
MSI’s GS43 6RE Phantom Pro is a gaming laptop I first did an unboxing of here. On paper at least, it purported to be powerful enough to run the latest games despite its relatively slim form factor.
The laptop specs are as follows:
- LED Panel: 14” Anti-Glare IPS (1080p)
- CPU: Intel Core i7-6700HQ Processor
- GPU: Nvidia Geforce GTX 1060 6GB
- SSD: 256GB
- HDD: 1TB 7200RPM
- Wifi: WLAN+BT combo module
- OS: Windows 10 64bit
- Battery: 61.25Wh 4 cells
- Weight with battery: 1.8 kg
In terms of accessories, it comes basic with what you’d expect, a huge power brick (expected for a gaming laptop), documentation and a driver disc and the nicest (free) laptop bag I’ve seen yet, with its stylish dark grey fabric and stitching. This is one bag I wouldn’t mind being seen with, so kudos to MSI for putting some thought into the its design.
For this review, I’m giving you my own personal real world experience and tests as opposed to benchmarks, with emphasis placed on its usability as a daily driver. For three weeks, I brought it with me to the office, and on business travel; using it for light office work and, of course, gaming sessions with the OMGeek community. During this period I was mainly playing a lot of Battlefield 1, Titanfall 2 and FIFA 17.
Before we get into the games, let’s talk about the experience of using downloading and installing the games. All of them were on Origin, so this should be fairly straightforward, or so I thought.
I queued up BF1 to download and attempted to browse Reddit and watch some YouTube videos while I waited. This is where things started getting hairy. The computer just kept chugging and stuttering. It got to the point where I was unable to even type text in Discord or on the URL bar of Chrome. The laptop fans started spinning extremely loudly, and they sounded like they were almost at full capacity. There was micro stuttering every few seconds where the mouse cursor would just skip. I was unable to load Chrome tabs, let alone navigate windows and open Task Manager without waiting 30 seconds. It was a real pain, to be honest.
When it eventually loaded, I spotted 100% CPU usage. At this point I wasn’t even running a game. The screenshot above shows all the basic applications I was running at the time I encountered this severe slowdown. Something here wasn’t right — this was a brand new laptop out of the box that had only been running for 15 minutes.
Five minutes of Googling later I found multiple threads on Amazon talking about the exact same issue so I figured it was time for some experimentation. It appeared that the proprietary MSI software Dragon Center was the main culprit. I figured I’d have to just call it what it is, plain ol’ bloatware. Despite my frustrations, I wanted to give the software another chance, so instead of uninstalling it, I decided to download the latest version from MSI’s website.
After installing the latest version of the MSI software, I resumed my download. Unfortunately, this changed nothing and the microstutters continued unabated. Frustration setting in, I was now determined to completely wipe all traces of bloatware. First I uninstalled Nahimic as per advice on the Amazon reviews, then Norton (seriously this software is horrible and should be considered straight up malware ), then proceeded to force close all MSI related software, the bloatware issue was pretty real here. Finally I proceeded to systematically uninstall and wipe all traces of MSI software. I mean we’re talking The Purge here.
Once that was done, without even needing a restart, things changed dramatically. I continued my downloading and installation of the games with zero microstutter this time around. It felt like a totally different computer. Through process of elimination I determined that the cause of the slowdown and microstutter was the MSI-bundled software. A plea and word of advice to MSI, if you could test and check your proprietary software more rigorously before release, that would be fantastic.
Look and feel
The laptop has a black brushed aluminum finish that looks and feels really premium. Upon closer examination however, you will start to notice a bit of flex particularly in the back of the screen panel and on the underside of the chassis which breaks the “premium” illusion.
Despite this, the laptop generally feels great to use and type on. In my opinion you could totally pull off bringing this to the office daily if your workplace had a BYOD (bring your own device) policy — maybe use it for work and then slip in some gaming at lunch time. This is a high end 14’ compact gaming laptop with an unassuming look that could easily pass for a business laptop. Weighing in at a decent 1.8 kg, I carried it on my daily commute to the office no issues and would gladly do so again.
Keyboard and trackpad
The keyboard felt great to type on — not quite as good as a mechanical keyboard but definitely up there with high end Macbook Pros. I must say I was very impressed with the typing experience and it was a joy to type up this review on it. With regard to the trackpad, I found it wasn’t the best and is most certainly not one of this device’s strengths. I felt the tactile press too stiff and had inaccurate tracking. But then again this is a gaming laptop and I don’t think you’ll really ever be using it beyond casual surfing or light work in between intense gaming sessions.
I found the sound quality to be adequate. I didn’t use the speakers much as I usually would connect the laptop to my TV (for FIFA 17 sessions) or use my earphones when playing BF1 and Titanfall 2. Safe to say there were no issues with the sound quality or with the onboard sound card.
GPU & display
Although this doesn’t come with a G-Sync panel as seen in other competing models from other high end gaming laptop OEMs, this did not detract from the experience of 1080p at 60 fps on a portable laptop like this. Battlefield 1 performance was good, I had to set V-Sync on to ensure there was no graphical tearing when the framerate went over 60. Otherwise I played just fine at 1080p on ultra settings with the occasional drop to 40-50 fps when playing huge 64 player conquest maps online. For the most part the framerate was consistently at 60 fps which resulted in a very smooth experience with BF1.
Titanfall 2 performance was stellar, hitting about 120 fps with V-Sync disabled. Even with V-Sync on I was able to get a steady 60 fps throughout the fantastic single player campaign. I must say, this display shines when playing a very polished triple A title like Titanfall 2 on ultra at 60 fps and on a 14” screen where all those pixels are condensed.
FIFA 17 was a joy, again using the Frostbite engine like Battlefield 1, the game looked gorgeous and was maxed out at 1080p ultra settings with zero issues or slowdown throughout all my couch gaming play sessions. I must say it was very convenient to have a lightweight gaming laptop like this to connect to my TV as opposed to having a traditional tower PC take up that space. This laptop is great for gaming with your living room TV.
I was using the wifi for the entire duration of the review, for online gaming and experienced no lag or latency issues at all. Downloads on Origin or Steam seemed to be maxed out when using 5GHz networks so there are no complaints from me. I was also watching HD streams on Netflix and Amazon Prime video with no artifacting or issues. Everything in terms of networking, from gaming to file transfers in the LAN worked as expected, especially when transferring very large video files from multiple computers in my home network. The laptop’s onboard Killer NIC seems to be doing it just fine.
The connectivity of this laptop is fairly straightforward. I used the MSI GS43 6RE as my mobile gaming platform while I was abroad for three weeks, and I had no issues at all in terms of accessibility for the ports and hooking up my gaming mouse, portable amp, headphones and gaming keyboard.
On the right side you have:
- USB Type-C +
- Thunderbolt 3
- USB 3.0
- HDMI 1.4
- Kensington Lock
On the left:
- Gigabit Ethernet
- AC adapter
- USB 3.0
- SD reader
- 3.5 mm microphone and earphones
On the rear, there is only a single Mini DisplayPort 1.2. This is a pretty good place to put a monitor connector. There will be no obstruction with the other ports.
It’s a great feeling to have the ability to bring a laptop that is as low key as this to the office and then bust out the ability to play all the latest games along with your spreadsheets. It served me well at home, at the office, and on a three-week vacation overseas; enabling me to play triple A games away from home — a total lifesaver.
Despite the initial challenges I faced in setting up the laptop to run games properly due to the bundled bloatware, I was able to eventually get it to work well. Other than the bloatware, one of my main criticisms is that it looks premium but feels flimsy. However once you sort out the issue with the bloatware, you’ll find the MSI GS43 6RE a very good gaming laptop with a fairly slim form factor. This laptop screams travel gaming laptop. The MSRP at the time of writing is SGD $2899.
- Strong specs for a thin 14’ gaming laptop
- 1080p 60fps at max settings possible
- Keyboard was fantastic, a real joy to use
- Travel friendly - can be used for the working professional gamer
- Looks good - black brushed aluminum very classy
- Bloatware makes the system completely unusable, MSI needs to fix their software
- Slight flex in the chassis and lid
- No G-Sync