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Side-by-side: MSI GS65 Stealth vs. ASUS Zephyrus S

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It wasn’t that long ago when gaming laptops had a stigma for being large, unwieldy machines. With their power-hungry processors and graphics cards, their batteries served more of a ‘back-up UPS’ role than a genuinely useful power supply.

But times have moved on and so has tech’s power efficiency, and with Nvidia’s introduction of the Max-Q design specifications for its desktop-class GPUs, more and more laptop makers have been able to cram more powerful hardware into thinner chassis designs.

Today we compare two such examples of this ‘slim it down’ craze: the MSI GS65 Stealth and ASUS Zephyrus S. And we start off with a quick spec sheet comaprison:

 MSI GS65 Stealth ASUS Zephyrus S
ProcessorIntel Core i7-8750H 2.2 GHzIntel Core i7-8750H 2.2 GHz
RAM2 slots DDR4, up to 32GB Up to 24GB (8 GB on board)
GPUUp to Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 (Max-Q) 8GB GDDR5Up to Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 (Max-Q) 8GB GDDR5
Display15.6-inch 1920x1080, 144Hz, IPS panel, 7ms15.6-inch 1920x1080, 144Hz, IPS panel, 3ms
StorageM.2 PCIe NVMe 256GB SSD
(1x M.2 SSD slot (NVMe PCIe Gen3)
1x M.2 SSD Combo (NVMe PCIe Gen3 / SATA )
M.2 PCIe NVMe 512GB SSD
Keyboard SteelSeries per-key RGB Backlit chiclet keyboard
Backlit chiclet keyboard
Marked WASD keys
Support 30/N key
4 zones RGB backlight mode
1.2mm travel distance
Aura Sync
Ports1x Mic-in
1x Headphone-out
1x USB 3.1 Type-C Gen 2 / DisplayPort / Thunderbolt 3
3x USB 3.1 Type-A
1x RJ45
1x HDMI 2.0
1x Mini-DisplayPort
1 x USB3.1 Gen2 Type-C with DisplayPort™ 1.2
1x USB3.1 Gen 1 Type-C
1x USB3.1 Gen2 Type-A
2x USB 2.0 Type-A
1x HDMI 2.0
1x 3.5mm headphone and microphone combo jack
1x Kensington lock
WebcamHD type (30fps@720p)720p
Audio2 x 2 watt speakers
Dynaudio sound system
Nahimic 3 enhanced surround sound
2 x 2 watt speakers with Smart AMP technology

Array Microphone
Cooling Triple-fan design with 4 heat pipesDual 12v fan design with 5 heatpipes
Battery4-Cell, 82 Whr4-cell 50Wh
Dimmensions (WxDxH) 357.7 x 247.7 x 17.9 mm
(WxDxH) 360 x 268 x 14.95~15.75 mm
Weight 1.88 Kg 2.1 Kg

We did not run any benchmarks because these machines are both engineering samples. Therefore performance wouldn’t be indicative of final performance figures. And with such similar internal hardware, you can assume that they will perform pretty much the same anyway.

Aesthetic-wise though, these are representative of the finished products. So without further ado, let’s dive right in.

size and profile

As you can see, while the Zephyrus S is a tad thinner than the GS65 Stealth, it has a larger footprint as well. I guess ASUS wasn’t able to implement its ErgoLift trick here, which would have been a boon for cooling and typing ergonomics.

The result is that the Zephyrus S has a noticeable lip sticking out of its back, while the GS65 Stealth goes for a more traditional design. That said, no one will be paying much attention to the Zephyrus S’s butt as their eyes will be fixated on the red-illuminated ROG logo.

Interestingly, MSI seems to have gone for a more mature and subtle look, with a plain gold MSI Gaming logo. This is in contrast to the more three-dimensional red and silver logo we’re used to seeing.

keyboard

One thing that stood out to me while handling these two was that the GS65 Stealth’s keyboard was, ironically, brighter and more vibrant than the Zephyrus S’s. It’s really the first thing you notice when you put the two laptops side by side.

Then there’s the keyboard position. I’m not a huge fan of the Zephyrus S’s forward-positioned keyboard. If you’re using it on your lap or a small table, chances are there will be no room to rest your wrist.

But credit where credit’s due, especially if you’re right handed, the right-side trackpad is something I did like, especially with its built-in digital numpad, which the GS65 Stealth lacks entirely.

However, if I were going to be gaming on these two without an external keyboard, I’d pick the GS65 Stealth. The more natural typing position is simply far better.

display

Both MSI and ASUS has really hit the sweet spot for their displays here. The 15.6-inch 144Hz 1080p IPS-level panels they used have quick response times, are quite color accurate, have high refresh rates, and have thin bezels.

I’m a fan of high-resolution 4K monitors, but at laptop sizes even 1080p gives great pixel per inch figures. Besides, I believe most gamers would still rather run games at 1080p at 120 fps than at 4K sub-60 fps, especially for competitive gaming.

The Zephyrus S has a slight edge in terms of pixel response times. 3ms for the Zephyrus S, 7ms for the GS65 Stealth. But unless you’re a major league eSports player, you probably won’t be able to tell the difference.

The display panels on both support 100% sRGB color gamut so even professionals can do photo and video editing on these machines. Oh, before I forget, bonus credit to both companies for keeping the webcam placed on top of the display.

ports

In terms of ports, the GS65 Stealth trumps a RJ45 connector over the Zephyrus S, as well as separate ports for a microphone and headphones. The Zephyrus S does have an extra USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C, although the GS65 Stealth still has more USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A’s overall.

Either way, you’re unlikely to be left wanting for more ports as both machines offer a wide variety of I/O. With both of them touting USB 3.1 Type C’s, you can always find the right dongle if you really need extra ports.

ASUS Zephyrus S
MSI GS65 Stealth

As far as thin and light gaming laptops go, the two examples we took at a look at today show how far we’ve gotten in terms of mobile PC gaming. In fact, I personally remember lugging around a Celeron-powered laptop that’s just as hefty as either of these machines around six years ago. And it’s bound to get even better soon.

Remember, the Intel 8th generation chips used here are still built on the 14nm process, and the GTX 1070 Max-Q is built on the 16nm process. With the AMD talking 7nm for next year and Intel rushing to get off 14nm, the future of thin and light gaming will only get thinner and lighter in the near future.

 

Jude De Leon
Ever since he's built his dream rig during his early high school years, Migs has always been a keen PC enthusiast. He's been the go-to guy for computer advice for his friends and family ever since.

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