It didn’t take very long to notice that MSI’s new GS65 Stealth Thin was different from the other thin-and-light gaming laptops I recently tested. Though it has the same basic specs as the others — 3.9-GHz, six-core Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB RAM, and a GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q graphics card — this laptop is a better overall experience for myriad reasons.

The rest of the $1,899+ GS65’s features include extremely narrow bezels (but room for a webcam on top) around a 144Hz full HD display, SteelSeries backlit RGB keyboard, and MSI’s suite of hardware management software (fans, graphics tweaking, battery profiles, etc.). But the real magic behind the GS65 isn’t found in the specs — it’s in the experience where everything works while not getting in your way.

Regarding MSI’s nomenclature, saying “GS65 Stealth Thin” is a mouthful and a bit dramatic, but it makes up for that with an admiringly simple and sharp design. The laptop is all black, with copper highlights near the fan vents, touchpad, and power button. The logo on the lid is simply the MSI gaming dragon, also done in copper — it looks great, or at least better than the glowing logos on Asus and other laptops.The GS65 weighs just 4.14 pounds and is 0.69 inches thick, making it thinner and lighter than other thin-and-light gaming laptops. It has a smaller overall footprint, thanks to the lack of a numpad and those thin bezels, while the demure paint job and copper trim help visually mask its dimensions.
Touch the GS65 and you’ll find that it feels more like plastic than the actual aluminum it’s made out of. While I would describe the build quality as good, it’s not stellar: the keyboard, touchpad, palmrest, and screen all have noticeable flex if you apply moderate pressure. However, it doesn’t look cheap, which isn’t something I can say for all MSI laptops I’ve used. You could argue if it can flex like it’s cheap, then it is, but the GS65’s build quality doesn’t mar the experience for me.During my test, I had a few keyboard hotkey issues (using the Fn + SteelSeries or MSi Dragon Center) where they wouldn’t register, but downloading a SteelSeries keyboard update resolved the issues.

Flaying games is what the GS65 was designed to do and it rips. It takes whatever game you throw at it and crushes it. Ultra settings, high refresh rates — it doesn’t matter, the GS65 can handle it better than any other Max-Q-equipped laptop I’ve used.

The specific MSI GS65 I’ve tested is a $1,999 Best Buy exclusive; this includes a 512GB SSD, the six-core Intel Core i7-8750H processor, 16GB RAM, and the GTX 1070 Max-Q GPU. On Amazon, MSI has a $1,899 model with a GTX 1060 Max-Q chip and 256GB of storage, while more expensive models have the GTX 1070 and faster storage.