MSI's 1.8kg Phantom is the lightest gaming laptop yet

The MSI GS40 6QE Phantom has the latest sixth- generation Intel processor.
The MSI GS40 6QE Phantom has the latest sixth- generation Intel processor.PHOTO: MSI

This MSI gaming laptop will run most games without a hitch. But the real surprise: It tips the scales at just 1.8kg. To put this figure in perspective, Razer, which started the trend of slim and lightweight gaming laptops, launched its latest Blade notebook earlier this year - but it weighs around 2kg.

Both the MSI GS40 6QE Phantom and the Razer Blade have a 14-inch display and sport a capable Nvidia GeForce GTX 970M chip.

The MSI does not have the sharp, high-resolution 3,200 x 1,800-pixel screen of the Razer Blade. But the MSI's 1,920 x 1,080-pixel matte display is still an in-plane switching display with excellent viewing angles and vivid colours.

The Phantom has the latest sixth-generation Intel processor, unlike the Blade. In my testing, this chip contributed to a slight bump in system benchmarks. But both laptops are neck and neck in gaming performance. Games such as Crysis 3 run fine on these laptops, with the Phantom producing around 43 frames per second at Very High setting. While gaming laptops with beefier graphics chips are available, they are not as slim and light as these two models.

  • TECH SPECS

    PRICE: $2,999

    PROCESSOR: Intel Core i7-6700HQ (2.6GHz)

    GRAPHICS: Nvidia GeForce GTX 970M 3GB GDDR5

    RAM: 16GB

    SCREEN SIZE: 14 inches, 1,920 x 1,080 pixels

    CONNECTIVITY: HDMI, mini-DisplayPort, 2 x USB 3.0, Super Port, SD card reader, Gigabit Ethernet, audio jack

    BATTERY: 61 watt-hour

  • RATING

    FEATURES: 5/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 2/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

Compared with the Blade's single solid-state drive (up to 512GB), the MSI offers more capacity, with a 1TB hard drive supplementing its 128GB solid-state drive.

More importantly, the Phantom is cheaper at $2,999 compared with the Blade, which starts at $3,299.

The MSI's keyboard is designed by well-known gaming peripheral brand SteelSeries. It has very good key travel. The preloaded SteelSeries program lets you customise the keyboard settings, such as creating custom macros. Another preloaded app lets you disable the Windows logo key to prevent accidental key presses while gaming.

Like the brand-new laptops that I have tried recently, the Phantom comes with a USB 3.1 Type-C port that MSI dubs Super Port. On paper, it is very versatile. It can be used to transfer data, charge mobile devices and output video to two external displays at 4K resolutions. But I could not really test this because MSI, like other PC makers, does not include any cables or adapters and there are few peripherals now that use this port.

The Phantom is equipped with a hi-fi audio DAC for better audio quality. The speakers sound pretty decent and produce crisp and loud explosions in games and videos. The base gets uncomfortably warm, so place it on a desk while gaming.

As for battery life, the Phantom lasted 3hr 38min playing a video at full brightness and volume.

If you prefer a larger display, the MSI GS60 6QE Ghost Pro is a 15-inch model with identical specifications. But it is heavier, at 2kg, and costs $3,399.

Vincent Chang

  • VERDICT: A light yet powerful gaming laptop with a good keyboard and display.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 11, 2015, with the headline 'The lightest gaming laptop yet'. Print Edition | Subscribe