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MSI GS65 Stealth Thin 8RF Review

Gaming laptops have long been associated with big, hulking machines which can weigh as much as a full-sized desktop and come dressed up in flashing lights. For the longest time, laptop companies have stuck to this formula since that was the perception of what ‘hardcore gamers’ want. While this is true to an extent, there are many who would prefer a more subtle look – something that can be carried to a business meeting, while still being able to handle a few rounds of Doom after work.

Razer has long been an advocate of slim and light gaming laptops with its Blade series, and it seems as though others are warming up to the idea as well. MSI recently unveiled its 2018 lineup of gaming laptops in India, refreshed with new 8th generation Intel ‘Coffee Lake’ CPUs. Among the new launches, the GS65 Stealth Thin 8RF was one laptop which got our attention during the preview session MSI held about a month ago. The company claims it’s the first laptop with a 144Hz display and such narrow screen borders, but what’s really interesting to us is the slim profile and the lack of any LEDs on the exterior.

However, all of this comes at a steep price, which we’ll get into later in the review. First, let’s see what MSI’s new kid on the block has to offer.

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin 8RF design

With the lid closed, it’s hard to tell that the GS65 is in fact a gaming laptop.

It has very understated looks thanks to the matte finish of the metal on the lid and the rest of the chassis. At 17.9mm in thickness, it’s quite slim as far as gaming laptops go and we found the weight to be pretty manageable during our daily commute to work. The body doesn’t attract too many fingerprints, which is nice.

The new soft gold trim around the edges of the lid and the logo will be quite appealing to some people. The lid is a bit heavy so it does wobble if you’re using the laptop on the move. However, the dual hinges offer good support, and can open all the way to 180 degrees.

The 15.6-inch IPS display has very good brightness and produces vivid colours. The matte finish of the display helps prevent reflections. Along with a 144Hz refresh rate, you get a 7ms response time to boot.

Nvidia’s G-SYNC is missing, which would have a nice feature to have. The borders on either side of the screen measre just 4.9mm in thickness, which gives the effect of immersion when gaming or watching movies. The strip above the display is slim too, and yet MSI has managed to squeeze in an HD webcam.

The keyboard deck of the GS65 Stealth Thin is made of a single piece of metal, and there’s no discernible flex when you type. We liked the spacious palm rest and the large trackpad.

For the latter, we found the tracking to be smooth and precise, but the button feedback was quite stiff. There’s a single physical button for left and right clicks, which is no-go for a gaming laptop in our books. The chiclet keyboard has per-key RGB backlighting and is designed by SteelSeries.

The keys have comfortable travel for typing and gaming. We like the fact that MSI hasn’t compromised the size of the direction keys, although we could have used a bit more separation from the rest of the keyboard. There’s an isolated power button along with an LED for indicting which GPU is in use (white for integrated graphics, orange for discrete).

Being a premium gaming laptop, MSI hasn’t compromised on the type or number of physical ports you get. There are three USB 3.1 (Type-A) ports, one Thunderbolt 3 (Type-C) port, Ethernet, HDMI, and a Mini-DisplayPort. You also get separate headphone and microphone sockets.

Both sides of the laptop have vents for air circulation, and there are soft gold accents added here too. There are also vents between the two hinges at the back, and plenty more on the bottom of the laptop. The Stealth Thin doesn’t have any quick-release hatch for easily swapping out the RAM or SSD, which means you’ll have to take it down to a service centre to make any modifications.

The MSI GS65 Stealth Thin 8RF is a refreshing change in design and this is a trend we can totally get used to. We love the whole understated look of it, and the fact that it’s practical to carry around is a huge advantage. In our opinion, the Stealth Thin is one of the more premium-feeling laptops that we’ve seen from MSI in a while.

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin 8RF Review

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin 8RF specifications and features

The GS65 is small in size, but still manages to pack in some pretty powerful components. We have a hexa-core Intel Core i7-8750H CPU with support for HyperThreading, giving you 12 threads. There’s a total of 16GB of DDR4 RAM running in dual-channel mode, so if you wish to upgrade, you’ll have to swap out the existing modules (up to 32GB is supported).

You get 512GB of storage, which is comprised of two 256GB NVMe SSDs in RAID 0. Having two drives in a RAID 0 configuration improves the read/write speeds, and generally offers better performance than a single large drive, but if either one fails there’s no way to get data off the other. Due to space constraints within the chassis, a regular Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 probably wouldn’t have been the ideal choice, which is why MSI has gone with an Nvidia GTX 1070 with its Max-Q optimisations The Max-Q moniker indicates that the GPU has been tweaked to stay within the sweet spot of performance and power efficiency by lowering clock speeds whenever possible.

This Max-Q GTX 1070 runs at a base speed of 1,101MHz, compared to the 1,506MHz of a standard GTX 1070. This would be a slight compromise in performance but in return, you get to use a much slimmer chassis. Other specifications include Gigabit LAN, Wi-Fi 802.11ac, and Bluetooth 5 by Killer Networks and two bottom firing stereo speakers that are placed underneath.

Windows 10 runs well, and like most laptops, this one ships with a bunch of preinstalled software including a 60-day trial of Norton Internet Security, a 30-day trial of Norton Online Backup, a one-year licence for Xsplit Gamecaster, and a 30-day trial of Microsoft Office 365. MSI also has its own utilities such as True Colour for switching between different colour profiles, a battery calibration app, and an SCM app, which gives you quick toggle switches for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, etc. MSI GS65 Stealth Thin 8RF Review

The main MSI app is called Dragon Centre, and this has gotten a major overhaul for 2018. First off, it looks a lot slicker than before with a nice transparency effect for the background. System information is also a lot easier to get to thanks to the cleaner layout.

The ‘System Tuner’ tab lets you set custom power profiles, fan speed and display colour profiles. To switch between these, you still have to launch the app, which can be done via a keyboard shortcut. It also offers an option for boosting the audio level when you use a VoIP program and the ability to check your system status through the MSI smartphone app, provided you’re on the same Wi-Fi network.

The big ‘G’ button in the middle is ‘Game Mode,’ which lets you set customised lighting effects, display profiles, etc for a supported game when you launch it via Dragon Centre. Currently, only about 10-15 games are supported.

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin 8RF performance and battery life

Given the powerful components inside, the Stealth Thin has very good boot times and has no trouble with multitasking and usage in general. When running on battery power, the laptop defaults to the ‘Eco’ mode which keeps clock speeds down in order to give you the best battery life.

Streaming videos in a Web browser does make the fans ramp up a bit, but they are still not audible. In an air-conditioned room, the laptop ran fairly cool with general browser and Office document usage. However, in an open room during the current Indian summer, the laptop got hot quickly.

Even streaming video caused the metal area near the vents to get very hot, very quickly. We would strongly advise using this laptop on a flat desk or similar surface so that the vents on the bottom don’t get blocked. Fire up a game, and the laptop gets very hot, even if you’re in an air-conditioned room.

MSI uses what it calls the Cooler Boost Trinity cooling solution, which uses copper blocks, heat pipes, and three fans to keep the temperatures under control. However, it simply isn’t enough to handle the heat this laptop puts out. We would have liked to see something more capable, like a vapour chamber solution.

Thankfully, the heat is kept away from the palm rest area and most of the keys you’d typically use for gaming. The base of the laptop, near the vents, got too hot for us to use this laptop on our laps. The fans are also noisy, so make sure you have a pair of headphones handy when gaming.

Games, and even Windows, feel buttery smooth thanks to the high refresh rate. This does mean a slight overhead, which we noticed as a dip in framerates in some games. For instance, in Rise of The Tomb Raider, we recorded 87fps in the built-in benchmark at 144Hz (Very High preset) versus 89fps at 60Hz.

It’s not a big difference when you’re pushing a 60fps+ framerate, but it’s there. MSI GS65 Stealth Thin 8RF Review In Doom, we managed to average 100fps in the Foundry level.

This was with the settings cranked up to Ultra, anti-aliasing set to SMAA (1TX) and at the native resolution of 1080p. In Metro: Last Light Redux, we averaged 63fps with the Very High graphics preset, 16X anisotropic filtering, and the motion blur and tessellation set to Normal. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is another stressful game for any GPU, but it avenged a healthy enough 40.1fps with the settings at Very High and with 2x MSAA enabled.

Last but not least, we also tested everyone’s favourite open-world game, GTA V. Here, with nearly all the sliders pushed to their limit and at 144Hz, we got a benchmark score of 67fps. The two SSDs in RAID make a big difference in the load times and general speed of running Windows programs.

We averaged a sequential read speed of 2.89GB/s and write speed of 2.26GB/s in SiSoft Sandra, when we’ve typically recorded speeds of around 1.7GB/s and 1.4GB/s on average for the same test with a single SSD. The SteelSeries keyboard lighting is smartly implemented. Pressing the Fn button only lights up those keys which have a second function, so they’re easier to get to.

You can select some of the presets or customise one of your own with an RGB palette. Switching profiles is as simple as hitting a shortcut key on the keyboard. The intensity of the lighting can also be varied.

The SteelSeries app has a section called ‘Engine Apps’ which lets you use the keyboard lighting in creative ways, like for displaying a graphic equaliser while a song or video plays for instance. Audio performance from the two stereo speakers is not bad. Sound can get pretty loud and you can add vocal effects and tweak the bass and treble levels through the Nahimic program.

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin 8RF Review MSI claims that the GS65 Stealth Thin 8RF can deliver 8 hours of battery life but this seems a little ambitious. In our experience, with regular usage, we averaged at the most 4-4.5 hours while using the onboard GPU.

The power adapter is fairly slim, which is good as there’s less weight to lug around. In the Battery Eater Pro test, which is designed to stress the battery, the laptop ran continuously for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Verdict
The top-end version of the MSI GS65 Stealth Thin 8RF that we reviewed today retails for Rs.

1,89,990 and comes with a backpack, plus you get a two-year warranty. This is a lot of money to sink into a laptop designed for recreational needs (unless you’re a professional gamer) but given the configuration, there’s no avoiding this sort of pricing. You could get other similarly configured laptops with GeForce GTX 1070 GPUs for a similar price but finding one that’s as slim and light as the GS65 is tough.

Besides the compact form factor, the laptop also has a good quality display, a comfortable keyboard with endless lighting customisation options, good set of physical ports, speedy hard drive performance and for the first time, in a long time, a genuine premium feel. With that said, the the MSI GS65 Stealth Thin 8RF runs hot very easily and the trackpad buttons are quite stiff, which is something we didn’t like. Slim gaming laptops with Nvidia’s Max-Q optimisations have only just started trickling into our market, and this year, we’ll be seeing a bunch of similar new laptops.

Among these, we feel the Asus Zephyrus M (GM501) looks particularly interesting and should compete well with the GS65 Stealth Thin 8RF when it hits India. Plus, Asus’s option also has a 144Hz panel but with G-SYNC, something that’s missing on MSI’s offering. We’re only just seeing the first of a new wave of slim and light gaming laptops that don’t have to compromise much on performance.

Sure, these will cost and arm and a leg initially, but so do standard gaming laptops. We hope that over time, they will become a lot more affordable.
Price (MRP): 1,89,990

Pros

  • Slim and relatively light
  • Powerful specifications
  • Well built
  • Vivid 144Hz display

Cons

  • Runs hot
  • No Nvidia G-SYNC
  • Stiff trackpad button

Ratings (Out of 5)

  • Design: 4
  • Display: 4
  • Performance: 4
  • Software: 4.5
  • Value for Money: 3.5
  • Overall: 4

The tonic pouring mistake that is ruining your G&T

Making sure you stock up on the right gin and a decent tonic is one way to make sure you get a decent G&T.
But, there’s something that can make your precious drink less than perfect, even if you have all the right ingredients to hand.

According to Michael Stringer, drinks expert and Managing Director of Black Leaf Events, pouring your tonic water too fast can result in a flat gin and tonic.

“Pouring your tonic too quickly causes the tonic to fizz up at the top of your drink, releasing lots of CO2 which means less fizz in your glass,” he told Good Housekeeping. MORE: BEST GIN COCKTAIL RECIPES

And not only should we be taking a little extra time when we prepare our drink, we need to make sure we have plenty of ice too.

“Plenty of ice keeps the temperature of a drink lower, meaning the carbon dioxide in your tonic finds it harder to escape, keeping your drink fizzier for longer.”

The way you pour your tonic can help too, according to Alistair Wilson, Managing Director at Isle of Skyle Distillers.

“I’d always recommend approaching this in the same way you’d pour a pint of beer,” he said. “Tilt the glass sideways, then slowly bring it upright. That way, the tonic will hit the side of the glass rather than the base, and help reduce the speed at which the carbon dioxide is released from the drink.

“Avoid over-stirring your G&T too, as this will cause it to go flatter much quicker.”

MORE: 7 MISTAKES THAT ARE RUINING YOUR GIN AND TONIC

And if you want to invest in some fancy bar equipment, a bar spoon may be a good place to start.

According to Edgar Serra Pou, Food and Beverage Manager from The Chesterfield, the long spoons with the spiral handles are a great tool to pour tonic water.

“To counter tonic going flat prematurely, use the bar spoon to pour the tonic into the gin, this is done slowly to ensure none of the tonic splashes out of the glass.”

The way you pour your tonic water, and the quantity of ice may not always be the culprit however.

Different tonic waters may go flatter more quickly too, depending on the sugar content and acid levels, says Alistair.

So next time your G&T goes flat, don’t blame the speed at which you’re drinking it, take a look at the speed at which you’re pouring it instead!

MORE: AN INTRODUCTION TO GIN: WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT STYLES OF GINS?

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Sony needs a new Walkman

Longtime Sony watchers can debate when exactly one of Japan Inc.’s best turnaround stories began. April 1, 2014 is as good a guess as any. That was the day then-CEO Kazuo Hirai plucked Kenichiro Yoshida from relative obscurity and named him chief financial officer.

At the time, Hirai had held the top job for two years — long enough to see how the likes of Apple, Google and Samsung had run away with industries Sony once dominated. Long enough, too, to realize he needed help stopping the hemorrhaging that had sent shareholders fleeing. That year was epochal for another reason: a North Korean hacking scandal involving a data theft from Sony’s Hollywood movie subsidiary that made a proud Japanese icon the butt of jokes.

One Saturday Night Live skit on Pyongyang’s cyberbreach had actor Mike Myers cracking: “Why pick on Sony? They have not had a hit since the Walkman.” Hirai and Yoshida were not amused — they went to work.

Wisely, they cut off many a gangrenous limb. Sony scrapped its money-losing personal computer business, stomached layoffs and a £1.7 billion write-down on smartphone operations, took an ax to a flailing television unit and invested more in unglamorous microchip businesses. They tried to reform the corporate culture, making some headway in taking down Sony’s notorious silos — competing divisions jealous of each other’s budgets that barely talked and stymied the company’s once-fabled innovative spirit.

It is a work in progress, but it has already generated a revival that has Sony reporting its best operating profit in two decades: £6.61 billion in the fiscal year ended in March. Hirai passed the baton to Yoshida in February. And earlier this week, the 58-year-old Yoshida made his first big move as CEO: paying £2.3 billion to gain control of EMI Music.

It is increasing its stake from 30% to 90% by buying out most of the stock held by the partners with which it originally bought into EMI in 2012. It makes Sony the No.

1 music publisher at a moment when streaming services are adding new life to the entertainment game. Sony now owns more than two million songs from the likes of David Bowie, Kanye West, Frank Sinatra, Queen, Alicia Keys and Pharrell Williams.

Sony is also grabbing a 39% stake in Peanuts Holdings, which holds rights to the “Peanuts” cartoon and comic empire, featuring popular characters Snoopy and Charlie Brown. Equally important, Yoshida said Sony will push on with investments in sensors critical to evolving technologies from self-driving cars to artificial intelligence. Semiconductors, too — a vital profit stabilizer.

Yet one question Yoshida has yet to answer: What, exactly, comes next for Sony in terms of big new hit products? The kind of products with which it made its name. As much as Sony is an exemplar for how other Japanese giants can cut bloat, refocus on core competencies and restore profits, it is a microcosm of where the economy finds itself.

Sony, like Japan, had its heyday in the 80s, back when it revolutionized consumer electronics and its wares dwarfed the global competition. Yet executives, like Tokyo policymakers, grew complacent. As chieftains rested on their laurels, Steve Jobs of Apple fame eclipsed Sony founders Masaru Ibuka and Akio Morita.

Nearly 17 years after the iPod outpaced the Walkman, which arguably remains the Japanese group’s signature achievement, Sony still has not come up with a globally-competitive answer. Nor has Sony topped Apple’s iPad or Samsung’s ubiquitous Galaxy line of smartphones and tablets. While Sony scaled back on smartphone ambitious, a rebooted Xperia line of phones and tablets — or an entirely new concept — could increase its global reach.

Herein lies Yoshida’s challenge: getting his army of engineers, programmers and networkers to conjure up a game-changing invention — or two — that unlocks Sony’s true potential. Yoshida aided Hirai immeasurably in returning Sony to profitability. That is no small feat, considering the travails of Howard Stringer and Nobuyuki Idei before them.

During his 2005 to 2012 stint, Stringer, Sony’s first non-Japanese boss, spent most of his time struggling to get a handle on the global colossus; the rest praying for a weaker yen and grappling with shocks ranging from the global financial crisis to floods in Thailand that wiped out key factories. The Hirai-Yoshida team finally got Sony into shape. Yet it now stands at the starting gate, plotting a course for catching up with rivals these next 10 to 20 years.

One worry is that Yoshida is not a product man. Just before his death in 2011, Jobs made a parting shot aimed at one-time game-changer Microsoft. No, Jobs said, Microsoft is not a threat because the board replaced visionary Bill Gates with a salesman — Steve Ballmer — not an innovator.

Only time will tell if replacing Hirai, who spent years honing PlayStation products, with finance executive Yoshida will serve shareholders. On the bright side, the EMI purchase is the mergers-and-acquisitions equivalent of hitting the “play” button — acquiring control of a regular revenue stream. Apple’s cash-flow success rests on an ecosystem built around cutting-edge hardware.

Its iTunes model informed the evolution of Amazon, Google, Samsung and others. Sony, too, to some extent. One of Hirai’s preoccupations was crafting a network of games, music, movies and other content around physical PlayStation consoles.

The resulting income stream from a loyal community of customers is bolstering Sony’s bottom line. Yoshida calls PlayStation’s roughly 80 million subscribers Sony’s key “community of interest.” Grabbing control of EMI this week means Sony has more content with which to grow that orbit.

Financial stability is a vital pillar of future success. But imaginative risk-taking is what make a technology power in today’s globalized world great. Sony now has a solid financial base.

Now it must show it has the capacity to tolerate disruption required for corporate invention. An obvious missing link is splashy new hardware that appeals to a broader array of consumers — those with little interest in sitting before a gaming console. Whether that means new advancements in smartphones, tablets, watches or other wearable technology is up to Team Yoshida.

Even better, devising something we have not seen before — a new gadget that surprises and delights the globe. In other words, regaining the innovative mojo that once changed the world. The days when Sony can cut its way to profitability are ending.

In recent years, Sony limited red ink by selling real estate and relying on banking and insurance units. Yoshida needs to turn his own musings into action. In 2014, just a month after becoming CFO, Yoshida chided predecessors for not changing along with the global electronics industry.

Now that Sony has righted itself, it falls to Yoshida to prove he can build as well as he can cut. For now, Yoshida is sticking with the realism he learned from Hirai and setting conservative targets. He is focused on “raising profit quality.” Hence investing in content as a means of “increasing the proportion of recurring revenue,” not least EMI’s streaming revenues.

Yet that conservatism may fall flat with shareholders hoping for a bit of the old Sony magic. The company that Ibuka and Morita founded in 1946 traced Japan’s resurgence from the ashes of war to global dominance. It did so by hitting dramatic homeruns innovation-wise, not with modest tactical gains.

Now that Sony is ready to swing away to the revenues coming from its music portfolio, it falls to Yoshida to wow the tech world anew, not just protect what he and Hirai achieved.

For Japan Inc.’s sentimental favorite, the hard part is just beginning.

William Pesek is a Tokyo-based journalist and author of “Japanization: What the world can learn from Japan`s lost decades.” He is a former columnist for Bloomberg and Barron’s.

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