At its recent ‘new gaming laptops’ event, MSI revealed a new budget model that aimed to provide great design and great value to gamers of any budget. It would be relatively thin and light and be adorned with translucent material to look great in any environment. This laptop is the MSI Cyborg 15 and our review is finally here.
Table of Contents
|Screen||15-inch, matte, 144Hz, 1,920 x 1,080, IPS display|
|Processor||3.6-4.9GHz Intel Core i7-13620H CPU|
|Memory||16GB DDR5-4800 RAM|
|Graphics||8GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060|
|Hard drive||512GB PCIe NVMe|
1 x USB-C 3.2 Gen 1 (with DisplayPort)
2 x USB-A 3.2 Gen 1
1 x Gigabit Ethernet port
1 x HDMI 2.1
1 x 3.5mm audio
|Speakers||2 x 2 Watt|
|Dimensions||359 x 250 x 23mm|
Features, Ergonomics and Design
We tend to take promises of simultaneous value and great design with a pinch of salt as cheap laptops tend to look and feel cheap and plasticy but, we have to admit, the MSI Cyborg 15 looks good. It’s dark-metal lid looks and feels like something from MSI’s upper ranges and the subtle, glossy dragon logo looks classy. The translucent strips around the sides aren’t ugly and it’s nice having the sneaker-like, cut-out message on the machine’s sole saying, “MSI True Gamin” (see below).
The lid feels solid and even fends of twisting forces when applied. The whole chassis feels surprisingly high quality and rigid, there’s minimal flex or hollowness on the base, either. Even the hinges are good. Then there’s the keyboard which, despite being a fixed light blue, works well with design flourishes like the translucent WASD and power keys plus the stylised, multi-function arrow keys. It really is a well-tied together design and consequently, our first impressions of the MSI Cyborg 15 are very positive.
The keyboard itself is very impressive with the large, well-weighted, Scrabble-Tile keys proving to be very accurate and comfortable for both extended typing and gaming sessions. The arrow keys and a number pad (having the latter on a 15-inch laptop is impressive) are reduced in size but not squished with impacted usability. The large trackpad is smooth and accurate and its buttons are nicely actuated. That’s also rare for a budget gaming laptop.
We didn’t hold out much hope for the twin, 2-Watt speakers but again, we were impressed. Fidelity is reasonable (not the best) but they also get respectably loud and offer some punchy bass – far more expensive gaming laptops have failed at that lately.
The MSI Cyborg 15’s matte, IPS screen has a Full HD resolution and shows a crisp and clear Windows Desktop. However, it’s not the brightest screen we’ve seen and the colours are a bit washed out and muted.
Multimedia content backed this up with videos exhibiting the same qualities. Colour gradients and transitions exhibited banding while monochromatic transitions got blocky, quickly. Despite all this, contrast is rather good. While, true blacks are a distant dream, detail does remain in both bright and shadowy areas which will make it harder for enemies to leap out at you.
The MSI Cyborg 15’s screen also has a 144Hz refresh rate which just about manages to keep fast-moving objects looking sharp. However, there’s a relatively slow pixel response time and things can get blurry in fast-and-frantic, competitive firefights.
Above the screen is an HD webcam. It performs reasonably well and fends off horror-grain in low light. The array microphones do OK at cleaning up audio in a noisy environment, but they’re not the best we’ve used.
All in all, while the screen is pretty average, the rest of the MSI Cyborg 15’s ergonomics are impressive and better than we’d expect at this tier of the gaming laptop market.
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Inside the MSI Cyborg 15 is a 3.6 – 4.9GHz Intel Core i7-13620H processor which has six Performance cores and four Efficiency cores that operate across 16 threads. It’s flanked by 16GB of perky DDR5-4800 RAM and a small-ish 512GB NVMe hard drive.
In the general-computing PCMark 10 benchmark, the MSI Cyborg 15 scored a speedy 7,669 indicating that there are few non-niche tasks it can’t perform well. In the Cinebench, CPU-powered rendering tests it scored 2,385 in the R15 drag-race and 14,017 in the longer R23 test. These are good scores in the current market – especially for a non Core-i9 HX processor.
3D and gaming performance comes from an 8GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060 GPU. It could just about run the difficult ray-tracing tests, scoring 4,353 (average 20.2fps) in 3DMark Port Royal and 1,825 (average 18.3fps) in the newer Speed Way benchmark. You’ll likely need to drop details and settings to make use of ray-tracing in the top-tier games that utilise it, though.
In the AAA-title-like Time Spy and Fire Strike Extreme 3DMark tests, the MSI Cyborg 15 scored 7,914 (average 45.6fps) and 9,176 (average 41.8fps) respectively. So, while it’s got a decent chance of playing the latest games, you still might have to drop settings and details when things get hectic.
In the easier 3DMark Night Raid test, which illustrates how well a computer can play casual games, it scored 49,739 which is an average of 397fps. There are no problems here!
We also ran our ancient CS:GO test which stresses an entire system. It averaged 325fps which dropped to 72fps in the 1% Low test (the lowest one per cent of frames when smoke grenades are going off). This means that competitive players won’t suffer lag on the Cyborg.
Just note that the cooling system, while efficient, is often running as a low, background whirr. It keeps the laptop from getting anything above warm, though.
Inside the MSI Cyborg 15 is Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.2. Many of the connections might not be cutting edge, but they’re there and they’re still fast in the current market.
The build quality of the MSI Cyborg 15 is impressive considering it’s a budget gaming laptop. The chassis is robust, the lid is too and so is the hinge. We expect it to survive a life of being lugged from LAN to LAN.
It’s reasonably light at 2.05KG and the power supply and cables only add another 455g to the mix.
However, the inevitable Achilles Heal rears its head courtesy of the 53.5Wh battery which ran our PCMark 10 Modern Office test for a lowly 4 hours and 12 minutes. You can’t expect to keep it away from the mains for too long.
Price and availability
The MSI Cyborg 15 is available right now for $2,799 which makes it great value for a budget gaming laptop.
Alternatives to the MSI Cyborg 15
Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 – This ultraportable, 14-inch gaming beast has recently been updated and only costs a little more.
Acer Predator Triton 500 SE – Acer’s high-value, 16-inch Predator is available once again and only costs a little more while offering considerably more power.
MSI Vector GP66 – The last-gen, more-powerful sibling of the MSI Cyborg 15 is slightly more expensive but also offers additional power and features.
MSI Pulse 17 – If you could use a couple more inches, this similar sibling comes in at a minor premium over the Cyborg.
Acer Predator Helios Neo – Another high-value proposition from Acer offers similar performance and a few foibles for a few, additional dollars.
HP Omen – Want to save a lot of money but get less power in return? HP’s last-gen older flagships are available at big discounts.
Find more alternatives in our Best Gaming Laptop monthly group test which has regularly updated prices!
Conclusion: Should I buy the MSI Cyborg 15?
While it’s overall appeal is dented by poor battery life, there’s still a great deal to like about the MSI Cyborg 15. It looks good, has good ergonomics, performs well for the price and represents great value. It sits in a crowded market which includes more-powerful, last-gen models, but many are hard to find. As such, if you, like many, are cash-strapped at the moment, it’s a good, budget gaming laptop. UPDATE: You can find the Cyborg 15 heavily discounted at JB Hi-Fi in the EoFY Sale, right now.
MSI Cyborg 15 Scores
MSI’s new Cyborg 15 is a good, budget gaming laptop. There are few weak points that impact upon its purpose plus, its combination of price, performance and ergonomics make it attractive.