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MSI GS73VR Stealth Pro 4K review: Big-screen gaming with a couple misfires

Though MSI put together a generally competent slim gaming laptop, the 4K-resolution screen and overall build quality are out of sync with the rest of the package and price.

Joshua Goldman Managing Editor / Advice
Managing Editor Josh Goldman is a laptop expert and has been writing about and reviewing them since built-in Wi-Fi was an optional feature. He also covers almost anything connected to a PC, including keyboards, mice, USB-C docks and PC gaming accessories. In addition, he writes about cameras, including action cams and drones. And while he doesn't consider himself a gamer, he spends entirely too much time playing them.
Expertise Laptops, desktops and computer and PC gaming accessories including keyboards, mice and controllers, cameras, action cameras and drones Credentials
  • More than two decades experience writing about PCs and accessories, and 15 years writing about cameras of all kinds.
Joshua Goldman
4 min read

MSI's Stealth Pro 4K is a thin gaming laptop with a nice 4K-resolution 17.3-inch display. There's plenty to like inside and out including an Intel Core i7-7700HQ processor and Nividia GTX 1060 graphics and great connectivity options, but the system really targets gamers and graphics pros who want a big, accurate, high-res display in a slim chassis.


MSI GS73VR Stealth Pro 4K

The Good

The MSI GS73VR Stealth Pro 4K is much thinner than your average 17.3-inch gaming laptop and packs a nice 4K-resolution display, a responsive RGB LED backlit keyboard and extensive connectivity options.

The Bad

Though the slim metal body is appreciated, but the lid and body are flimsy given the system's $2,300 price. The GPU is not quite enough for 4K gaming with detail settings cranked up, so you might find yourself picking between high resolution or high details. The fan noise can be distracting and the speakers sound thin and hollow.

The Bottom Line

If you don't mind paying extra for a thin chassis and a 17-inch 4K-resolution display, the MSI GS73VR Stealth Pro 4K is worth looking into, but you can get more performance for your money if you keep looking.

The configuration I tested comes in at $2,300, though if you hunt around you might be able to find it for a little less. A similar configuration in the UK sells for about £1,900 and in Australia for AU$3,400. That's a far cry from the near $4,000 Razer wants for its similarly thin 17-inch Blade Pro, though that laptop is significantly better in almost all aspects.

On the other hand, if you don't mind some extra thickness and/or don't need the 4K display, you can find other less expensive options like HP's 17-inch Omen and the Asus ROG Strix GL753 that can match or surpass the MSI's performance.

MSI GS73VR Stealth Pro 4K

Price as reviewed $2,300
Display size/resolution 17.3-inch 3,840x2,160 display
PC CPU 2.8GHz Intel Core i7-7700HQ
PC memory 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,400MHz
Graphics 6GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060
Storage 512GB SSD + 2TB HDD
Networking 802.11ac wireless, Bluetooth 4.0
Operating system Windows 10 Home (64-bit)

And not only do those laptops compete on price and performance, they feel better constructed than the MSI. The Stealth Pro is a nice-looking laptop with a brushed aluminum body and a relatively unobtrusive logo that illuminates when you open the lid. It's reasonably lightweight, too, at 5.4 pounds (2.4 kg). But pick it up and start using it and its looks start to tarnish.

Flexible, but not in a good way

In general, I don't get too hung up on whether a laptop lid or chassis is a little too flexible. When I call it out in a review, such as with the LG Gram, it's usually because it was particularly noticeable during use, and that's the case here. Just while typing I could feel the keyboard deck giving under pressure from my palms. And when I picked up the laptop with the screen open and my hand wrapped around the back, my fingers pressed into the bottom of the lid causing the screen to bend in.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The bending has no bearing on the performance of the system, but if I'm paying $2,300 for a laptop, it shouldn't bend and flex like that. It speaks to the overall perceived quality of the laptop and with the 4K display being a chunk of what you're paying for here, maybe the lid should be reinforced so as to not bend so easily. I mean, aluminum chassis are nice, but I'd rather have plastic if it means protecting the screen and components and delivering a more comfortable experience.

Also, because of how thin the laptop is -- only 0.8 inch or 20.3 mm -- there isn't much space for airflow to keep its components cool. As soon as you launch a game or do anything else demanding, the Stealth Pro's fans kick in. The fan noise is noticeable, and if you're using the system's speakers, you'll have to crank the audio to hear clearly over the sound.

Unfortunately, you might not like what you hear once you crank the speakers. They aren't the worst I've heard recently (that honor goes to the Asus ROG G752VS), but music sounds thin and hollow. Even after tweaking the included Nahimic 2 audio software, I couldn't get music or movies to sound particularly good. However, when using the game-type-specific presets, audio did sound better with games. Still, you'll probably want to invest in a good headset or external speakers.

Here's the good news

Sarah Tew/CNET

The rest of the laptop's features are actually pretty good. The SteelSeries keyboard delivers a comfortable and responsive typing experience, and RGB LED lighting in three zones is fun and useful. The touchpad is decent, too, though you'll want to tune the sensitivity to help with palm rejection and cursor jumpiness.

MSI's Dragon Center software groups together MSI's utilities for doing things like monitoring performance and adjusting display color along with third-party apps like the aforementioned Nahimic 2 and SteelSeries Engine 3 for controlling the keyboard lighting and creating key macros.

If you're plan is to use this as part of a desktop setup, you should be pretty happy with its connectivity. Along with one USB 2.0 and three USB 3.0 ports, Ethernet and an SD card slot, you'll find mini DisplayPort and HDMI 2.0 outputs, a USB 3.1 Type-C with Thunderbolt 3 and separate mic and audio output jacks.

Sarah Tew/CNET

High-res or high detail?

While the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 card in the Stealth Pro is VR-ready and plenty good enough for games new and old, it can't effectively handle playing at the screen's native resolution with detail settings at ultra or high. You can set it to 4K and back the details down to medium and get playable (and enjoyable) frame rates or you can drop the resolution to 1,920x1,080 and crank up the detail settings, but you can't really do both. Of course, this is going to depend on the games you're playing, but generally speaking, the best experience won't be at 4K with high detail settings.

The 4K display is good for photo and video editing, however, and MSI calibrates the screen and lets you easily switch between sRGB and 100 percent Adobe RGB color spaces. If this is something that you need, then the MSI is worth checking out.

Battery life is never particularly good on gaming laptops (you can only really expect about an hour when playing a game), but the Stealth Pro is shorter than most. In our streaming video battery rundown test it reached 3 hours and 28 minutes.

Sarah Tew/CNET

It's a mixed bag

Assuming you don't care about the flimsy build quality, the MSI Stealth Pro 4K still isn't the easiest to recommend. There's a lot to like about it, especially its 4K display, connectivity options and thin body, but it comes at a higher price than competing systems that might be a little thicker. Plus, its graphics card can't effectively push all those pixels for games. But, if the display and slim design are must-haves, the Stealth Pro is worth checking out.

Multimedia Multitasking test 3.0

Asus ROG G701V 133Asus ROG G752V 159Razer Blade Pro 176HP Omen (17-inch) 184MSI GS73VR-7RF Stealth Pro 193Asus ROG Strix GL753VE-DS74 200
Note: Shorter bars indicate better performance (in seconds)

Geekbench 3 (Multi-Core)

Asus ROG G701V 18063Asus G752V 15562Asus ROG Strix GL753VE-DS74 13708HP Omen (17-inch) 13362Razer Blade Pro 13313MSI GS73VR-7RF Stealth Pro 12788
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

Streaming video playback battery drain test

HP Omen (17-inch) 270Asus ROG Strix GL753VE-DS74 262Asus G752V 256MSI GS73VR-7RF Stealth Pro 208Asus ROG G701V 203
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance (in minutes)

3DMark Fire Strike Ultra

Asus ROG G701V 5226Asus G752V 4126HP Omen (17-inch) 3816MSI GS73VR-7RF Stealth Pro 2647Asus ROG Strix GL753VE-DS74 1822
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

Asus ROG G701V 93.3HP Omen (17-inch) 75.8Asus G752V 73.5MSI GS73VR-7RF Stealth Pro 53.9Asus ROG Strix GL753VE-DS74 36.1
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance (FPS)

Bioshock Infinite gaming test

Asus ROG G701V 209.85Asus G752V 190HP Omen (17-inch) 137.56MSI GS73VR-7RF Stealth Pro 122.66Asus ROG Strix GL753VE-DS74 89.35
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance (FPS)

System Configurations

MSI GS73VR-7RF Stealth Pro Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.8GHz Intel Core i7-7700HQ; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,400MHz; 6GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060; 512GB SSD + 2TB HDD
Asus ROG G701V Microsoft Windows 10 Pro (64-bit); 2.9GHz Intel Core i7-7820HK; 64GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,800MHz; 8GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080; (2) 512GB SSD RAID 0
HP Omen (17-inch) Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.6GHz Intel Core i7-6700HQ; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,400MHz; 8GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070; 256GB SSD + 1TB HDD
Asus G752V Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.9GHz Intel Core i7-7820HK; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,800MHz; 8GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070; (2) 256GB SSD RAID 0 + 1TB HDD
Asus ROG Strix GL753VE-DS74 Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.8GHz Intel Core i7-7700HQ; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,400MHz; 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050Ti; 256GB SSD + 1TB HDD

MSI GS73VR Stealth Pro 4K

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 8Performance 7Battery 7