MSI Stealth 15M assessment: Coasting on its good looks

It’s solely pure that an individual’s tastes and preferences change over time. So after years of thirsting for giant, beefy gaming laptops with shiny lights, I’ve began gravitating in the direction of extra understated all-rounders that do not scream “Look at me.” And for the previous few generations, MSI’s Stealth 15M line has been probably the greatest at balancing good efficiency with a discreet look. But sadly, it seems like MSI is coasting with the 2022 mannequin. While there aren’t a ton of main flaws, issues just like the Stealth’s show, battery life and audio simply aren’t fairly as good as I’d’ve favored.

Design

For a gaming pocket book, the Stealth 15M is about as incognito because it will get. It’s acquired a easy, considerably boxy build with a matte black end (which is a little bit of a fingerprint magnet, by the way in which). The solely visible aptitude, at the least on the surface, is MSI’s dragon emblem, which will get a brand new holographic remedy for 2022.

Pros

  • Slick
  • understated design
  • Comfy Spectrum keyboard
  • Solid port choice

Cons

  • Weak battery life
  • Dim show
  • Low-res webcam
  • Small touchpad

Then you open it up and also you get MSI’s beautiful Spectrum backlit keyboard, an enormous speaker grill that runs the width of the deck and a smallish touchpad. Along its sides MSI features a good choice of ports together with 4 USB 3.2 ports (two Type-A and two Type-C, one among which helps DisplayPort), a full-size HDMI 2.1 connector and a combo headphone/mic jack. And with a weight of slightly below 4 kilos (3.96 lbs), the Stealth is definitely a contact lighter than plenty of different 15-inch gaming laptops (and a few 14-inch techniques too).

Display, sound and webcam

On paper, the Stealth 15M’s display looks like an ideal match for its specs. It’s a 15.6-inch IPS panel with a 144Hz refresh rate. It even has a matte end to assist forestall distracting reflections. The situation is that as a result of it has considerably boring colours and a examined brightness of round 250 nits, films and video games look type of lifeless. Sure, if you happen to like gaming in darker environments, it is not an enormous deal. But its mediocre gentle output additionally signifies that in sunny rooms, it may be troublesome to learn textual content, particularly if you happen to’re somebody who prefers darkish mode apps.

Sam Rutherford/Engadget

As for audio, the Stealth options twin two-watt audio system that may get fairly loud, although they’re missing a little bit of bass. Don’t get me mistaken, they’re completely positive, I used to be simply hoping for slightly extra contemplating the dimensions of its grille. And then perched above the show is a 720p webcam which is serviceable however it does not ship the type of high quality you’d need for stay streaming. It’s extra so you possibly can present your face throughout Zoom conferences, and that is about it.

But as soon as once more, whereas nothing is egregiously dangerous, I really feel like MSI is doing the naked minimal right here. Its audio system are simply okay, its webcam does not even seize full HD and that huge chin under the show makes the entire laptop computer look form of dated.

Performance

Sam Rutherford/Engadget

When it involves efficiency the Stealth has loads of oomph due to an Intel Core i7-1280P CPU and an NVIDIA RTX 3060 GPU. Our assessment unit even comes with a 1TB SSD and 32GB of RAM, the latter of which is arguably overkill given the remainder of the system’s specs. However, you will need to ensure you determine the place the Stealth’s fan velocity settings are within the MSI Center app, as a result of when this factor spins up, you are in for greater than only a delicate whoosh.

In Shadows of the Tomb Raider at 1920 x 1080 and highest settings, the Stealth averaged 106 fps, which is only a tiny bit higher than the 102 fps we acquired from the similarly-sized Alienware x14. Meanwhile, in Metro Exodus, the Stealth tied the Alienware’s efficiency, with each machines hitting 55 fps at full HD and extremely settings. So not precisely face-melting horsepower, however nonetheless greater than sufficient to play trendy AAA titles with loads of graphical bells and whistles enabled.

Keyboard and touchpad

The Spectrum keyboard on the Stealth 15M has a smooth, soft press, although sadly, you possibly can’t alter its shade sample like on plenty of different gaming laptops.

Sam Rutherford/Engadget

One factor I actually like in regards to the Stealth 15M is its Spectrum keyboard. Not solely do the keys have a smooth, soft press, they let simply the correct quantity of sunshine to leak out the perimeters, including slightly razzle dazzle with out searing your retinas. And after all, you possibly can flip all the things off if you wish to go absolutely undercover. Below that you just get a touchpad that measures simply 4 inches extensive and two and half inches tall, which may really feel a bit cramped at occasions. That stated, having an undersized touchpad is not as huge of a deal because it is likely to be on a extra mainstream pocket book. Most avid gamers will in all probability carry an exterior mouse since touchpads actually aren’t preferrred for gaming.

Battery life

Perhaps the most important weak point of the Stealth 15M is its battery life. It comes with a 53.8Whr energy cell, which feels frustratingly small in comparison with the Alienware x14, whose battery is 50 % bigger at 80Whr, regardless of each techniques being about the identical dimension. That ends in some fairly disappointing longevity, with the Stealth lasting simply 4 hours and quarter-hour on our native video rundown check versus 9:45 for the x14 and 5:42 for the extra highly effective Razer Blade 15.

Wrap-up

Sam Rutherford/Engadget

After utilizing the Stealth 15M for some time, I’m not likely mad, I’m simply dissatisfied. I really like the overall design and aesthetic and the Stealth delivers an incredible stability of efficiency and portability. In plenty of methods it seems like a extra grown-up take on thin-and-light gaming laptop computer.

The situation is that it virtually seems like MSI has uncared for the Stealth line. Compared to earlier years, the primary upgrades for 2022 are a refreshed CPU and GPU together with a brand new badge on its lid. That’s not nothing, however I do know MSI can do higher and I’m actually hoping to see the Stealth get a full redesign someday quickly.

Ultimately, assuming you possibly can abdomen the brief battery life, the worth of the Stealth 15M hinges loads on its worth. I’ve seen this factor listed as excessive as $1,700 from retailers like Walmart, which is just too a lot. At that time, you are a lot better off going for a pocket book with a barely smaller display just like the Alienware X14 and getting very related efficiency, or choosing Asus’ Zephyrous G14 whereas additionally saving a pair hundred bucks within the course of. But if you happen to can nab the Stealth for under $1,400, plenty of the system’s trade-offs turn into much more palatable. I simply want this model of the Stealth felt extra like James Bond and fewer like Agent Cody Banks.

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