Price Analysis And Conclusion
Until recently, gaming laptops made major compromises in either performance, heat, price, or some combination. Nvidia's Pascal lineup addresses at least two of these points, as performance and heat are no longer major issues. Our Stealth Pro comes in a much smaller package than the other GTX 1060-equipped laptops we've tested, yet performs competitively against them in synthetic, productivity and gaming benchmarks. It also exhibits impressive battery life bordering on two hours of play time on a full charge, making it an ideal gaming solution for frequent commuters.
MSI has crafted a thin, light gaming laptop with sleek aesthetics and solid performance. Despite its understated profile, the MSI Stealth Pro's perfectly placed aggressive edges and impressive keyboard backlighting unmistakably make it a gaming machine.
That isn't to say the Stealth Pro is perfect. We found the Stealth Pro's display to be fairly inaccurate out of the box, especially at high brightness settings. The grayscale and average color accuracy aren't particularly great, making color errors easily visible at times. Also, The Stealth Pro's thin design doesn't make it upgrade-friendly. At best, you can upgrade the 2.5mm HDD, but that's it; you cannot upgrade the SSD or memory because these slots are installed beneath the motherboard. If you want more memory and a larger SSD, you'll have to buy a different model with these options pre-configured.
At $1700, the MSI Stealth Pro-034 comes equipped with an i7-6700HQ, a GTX 1060, 16GB of DDR4-2400 memory, a 256GB SSD, and a 1TB HDD. For the same price, the Stealth Pro-041 includes 32GB of memory but downgrades to a 128GB SSD. It will benefit from the extra memory in synthetic workloads and productivity, but storage speed will be diminished. For $150 cheaper, the Stealth Pro-068 configuration trades the 256GB SSD and 1TB HDD for a 512GB SSD. Alternatively, for $2,000, the Stealth Pro 4K-021 includes both a 512GB SSD and 1TB SSD as well as a 4K display.
If screen size and/or high refresh rates are your preference, you can step up to MSI's 17" GS73VR Stealth Pro models. Laptops that come in 15" and 17" variants usually have the same thickness, but also increased width and depth to accommodate for larger screens. However, the GS63VR and GS73VR Stealth Pros vary in thickness, with the 17" variants being slightly thicker. Interestingly, for the same cost as the Stealth Pro-034, the Stealth Pro-025 comes equipped with the same specifications plus a wider 12 0HZ display. Of course, the wider screen and overall thickness of the GS73VR Stealth Pro model makes the system less portable.
And now we must revisit our previous recommendation, the Asus Strix GL502VM. Head-to-head against the Stealth Pro, the GL502VM comes out on top on nearly every performance metric, except battery life (MSI's laptop is six minutes better here). The GL502VM offers a better display and better cooling performance, which likely also helps it outperform the Stealth Pro on nearly every game in our test suite. But not by that much!
At the time of this writing, the Stealth Pro is $1700 on Amazon (the price buttons on each page should reflect up-to-the-minute pricing). The Asus laptop is $1400.
But that $300 difference gets you a few things, and this is where it gets tricky and subjective. The Stealth Pro is almost a pound lighter, and a quarter inch thinner than the GL502VM. Its aesthetic is less Axe body spray, as one of our favorite commenters likes to say, and more understated — and yet, despite the Stealth Pro's more demur presence, it still has what we think is a healthy enough dose of gamer flavor. So is that worth $300 extra? From the comments on previous gaming laptop reviews, it is to some of you.
Finally, the Stealth Pro also includes a 256 GB SSD, whereas the GL502VM only has its HDD. Adding a 256 GB SSD option to the GL502VM bumps it up to $1600. So now the question comes back to you? Would you pay $100 more to shed some girth, at the expense of a little performance (and a little more heat)? We're going to give a slight edge to our original selection, the Asus Strix GL502VM, just based on raw performance per dollar. But we can't also help but give our same Recommended award to the Stealth Pro, which manages to perform almost as well in a more mature, lighter package.
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