One of our favourite-ever laptops is finally back, but we barely recognised it. MSI’s Raiders have been the company’s de facto flagships for years in the face of its (physically) massive, top-tier Titan range delivering a tad too much disappointment in recent years. Now, the MSI Raider GE68 HX 13V has had an extreme makeover – one which makes it look like a mini version of the most-recent Titan GT77. Will our review show that it’s all for the better… or worse?
Table of Contents
|Screen||16-inch, matte, 120Hz, 3,840 x 2,400, IPS display|
|Processor||4-5.5GHz Intel i9-13950HX CPU|
|Memory||32GB DDR5-5600 RAM|
|Graphics||8GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070|
|Hard drive||2TB PCIe 4.0 NVMe|
2 x USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 with DP
1 x Thunderbolt 4
1 x USB-A 3.2 Gen 2
1 x USB-A 3.2 Gen 1
1 x HDMI 2.1
1 x SD card reader 1 x 2.5GbE LAN
1 x 3.5mm audio
|Speakers||4 x 2-Watt|
|Extra Security||Webcam privacy slide TPM 2.0|
|Dimensions||357 x 284 x 28mm|
Features, Ergonomics and Design
So, gone is the gunmetal grey, Aston Martin class of the old Raider and in is the new, black-with-RGB-shiny bits, MSI Raider GE68 HX 13V. The embossed, silver dragon logo has been replaced by a large, dark shield that glows with RGB lighting.
The rest of the chassis is matte black (and a little bit of a fingerprint magnet) and it’s very solidly built. Opening it up reveals the screen which is surrounded by a not-thin bezel that’s thicker at the top. Beneath it is a ridged design element surrounded by an orange strip that looks cool. Everything else is generally black. Until you turn it on.
The RGB, touch-type keyboard looks great with no light leakage afforded by the very low-travel keys. Meanwhile, the power button and WASD keys are totally translucent which gamers will like, but somewhat undermines its traditional corporate disguise.
Meanwhile, the Mystic Light front bar has been completely overhauled, moving away from being a fine-resolution night-club-like light bar to a ‘low resolution’ version of the same. It’s certainly different and, along with the other new design elements, may (or may not) prove more-appealing to gamers. We also fear that could be deemed a little garish by those who liked having a discreet laptop that could mask its gaming credentials in an office. But, who are we to judge art?
The keyboard is generally excellent and very comfortable and accurate to type and game upon for extended periods. There’s a reduced size number pad and the arrow keys are smaller than normal, but it all remains very usable. We also like all the alternative, Fn-press shortcuts which include the activation of an onscreen crosshair, fan maximiser and media key functions. The large touchpad is smooth and accurate and its buttons actuate well.
Above the screen is a Full HD webcam with conspicuous, red, privacy slide which we approve of. The camera’s quality is also very good – even in low light – while the surrounding microphones capture impressively clear audio, even in a noisy environment.
There are four, 2-Watt speakers which produce loud audio that offers good clarity, good fidelity (from top to bottom) and punchy bass. Impressive.
The MSI Raider GE68 HX 13V’s bright, 16-inch, matte, IPS screen has a very high, UHD resolution of 3,840 x 2,400. It displays a crisp and clear Windows Desktop with vibrant colours and these facets extend to its multimedia performance.
Videos and games exhibit very good contrast although, on occasion, detail can get lost in bright areas. It’s not an issue in dark areas and it will be tough for enemies to jump out at you from shadows. Both colourful and monochromatic gradients are generally smooth, but banding (and black and white blockiness) can blight some content. Beyond that, the only potential issue for some will be the washed-out blacks. Naturally, we don’t expect OLED-like, true-blacks but they’re not as dark as other IPS screens.
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The screen has a 120Hz refresh rate which isn’t the fastest, but it’s still impressive for such a high-resolution screen. It keeps fast-moving objects looking smooth but, when combined with not-the-fastest pixel response times, fast-moving objects can get a smidge blurry, which competitive FPS players will object to. However…
The MSI Raider GE68 HX 13V is the first laptop we’ve seen with a ‘marketed’ dual display-mode: it also supports 240Hz at 1,920 x 1,080 which makes motion much smoother. Almost all blur gets banished to the point where only top-tier, pro shooters might object. Impressively, switching to this mode doesn’t impact upon any other elements of the display. The only bugbear is that you have to reboot when switching between the two modes.
All in all, the MSI Raider GE68 HX 13V is a joy to interact with. The new styling won’t be for everyone, but it’s still a great laptop for all-round usage.
The MSI Raider GE68 HX 13V is powered by a powerful Intel i9-13950 HX processor which operates between 4 – 5.5GHz. It has 8 Performance cores and 16 Efficiency cores which, between them, utilise 32 threads. It’s flanked by a generous 32GB of fast DDR5-5600 memory and a speedy, PCIe 4.0 NVMe hard drive with a generous 2TB of storage. There’s a spare PCIe 5.0 slot, if you’d like to upgrade the latter.
In PCMark 10, the general computing benchmark, it scored 8,426 which is quick, but a little lower than what we hoped – the Lenovo Legion Pro 7i scored slightly higher with a lesser processor.
In the Cinebench rendering tests, the MSI Raider GE68 scored 4,733 in the drag-race, R15 test and 28,385 in the longer R23 test. These scores are more inline with the performance we’re expecting. It’s ultimately where the components would place it and only the large, 17-inch behemoths beat it.
The Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 (with 8GB of fast, GDDR6 RAM) in our review model, isn’t the fastest GPU – well not for a flagship model – but it’s not slow. In the difficult 3DMark ray-tracing tests, it scored 7,229 (average 33.5fps) in Port Royal and 2,896 (average 29fps) in Speed Way. These scores illustrate that the MSI Raider GE68 won’t play the most-cinematic games smoothly at top, UHD resolutions, without reducing the detail settings.
In the AAA-gaming benchmarks, it scored 12,789 (average 75fps) in Port Royal and 13,569 (average 63fps) in Fire Strike Extreme which illustrate that it will happily play the latest and greatest games with few issues.
In the 3DMark Night Raid test, which apes casual and competitive gaming, it scored 74,857 (average 683fps) which underlines that there’s no problem in this area.
In our difficult, CS:GO test, which stresses the whole system, we did have problems. The lesser, MSI Pulse, which also has an Nvidia 4070 GPU, averaged 422fps across the whole benchmark and dropped to 80fps in the slowest one per cent of frames (1% Low Test).
However, the MSI Raider GE68 scored 134fps and 23fps respectively. We adjusted every available setting an ran the test multiple times. Evidently, something wasn’t firing right, but we’ll have to go to MSI to find out what might have happened here. We’re not penalising the laptop for such an anomalous result, though, especially for such an old game.
Meanwhile, the updated, ‘Cooler Boost 5’ cooling system is efficient, but not always quiet. It uses two fans and six heat pipes that are shared by both the CPU and GPU for ‘improved thermal capability.’
If you have all silent mode and power efficiency settings turned on, then it will be silent (assuming you’re not clogging all the vents). However, even when the MSI Center app’s Silent Mode is activated, it can emit a low whoosh under light load. Fans frequently dial-up and get loud when gaming, but they come back down quite quickly. Nonetheless, the system runs stably and rarely gets more than lukewarm. There’s plenty of headroom here for overclocking.
Inside, there’s Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3. Virtually every flavour of modern connectivity technology is covered!
We never expect bulky gaming machines to be particularly portable. Nonetheless, the 28mm-thick MSI Raider GE68 weighs 2.71KG, which is on the money for a powerful, 16-inch gaming notebook. We’re pleased to see MSI finally doing away with the massive, third-party power bricks but, this slimline, 280-Watt version (and cables) still add an additional 1.07KG to the mix.
Just note that the 4080 and 4090-wielding SKUs of this laptop use the older, bulkier, more-powerful, 330-Watt PSU that weighs 0.5KG more.
The MSI Raider GE68 has a maximum-sized, 99.9Wh battery and this ran our PCMark 10 Modern Office test for just-shy of seven hours: 6 hours 49 minutes. That’s not brilliant, but it’s an improvement compared to its predecessors.
Meanwhile, build quality is impressive. The lid is solid and doesn’t flex much when a twisting force is applied. The dense, solid chassis has no flex or creaking to it. It should easily survive life on the road, being lugged between LANs.
Price and Availability
The MSI Raider GE68 HX 13VG is available now with an RRP of $5,999. However, as we went to press, it’s just gone on sale for $3,998.
While our review model (13VG) had Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 graphics, other SKUs are available with 4090 (13VI), 4080 (13VH) and 4060 (13VF) graphics.
Alternatives to the MSI Raider GE68 HX 13V
Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 – Its appearance can go from boring to bonkers at the flick of a switch. Another tempting option, but it’s hard to find top SKUs.
Razer Blade 14 – Razer’s latest gaming machine looks phenomenal, has similar internals (and RRP) but is two-inches smaller.
MSI Pulse 17 – It’s an inch larger and doesn’t have matching ergonomics, but the Pulse has sports a 4070 GPU for half the retail price of the Raider.
MSI Vector GP66 – MSI’s Vector is now its sleeper range: the gaming laptop that can best fit into an office. It’s less money, but still a powerful gaming laptop.
Conclusion: Should you buy the MSI Raider GE68 HX 13VG?
There are some fantastic, 16-inch gaming laptops available right now and the MSI Raider GE68 HX 13VG is one of them. We strongly believe that, if we had the top-tier spec in for this review, it could very well be our new Number One Best Laptop. Nonetheless, there’s much to like about this 4070 version which is powerful and great to interact with. The current sale price (if you’re quick) helps boost the value proposition too.
The new ‘gamers-only’ styling won’t be for everyone, but hardcore gamers will likely love it more than before. With no real weak points, we’re happy to give it our Highly Recommended Award.
Good gamer looks
Divisive new design
A bit noisy
MSI Raider GE68 HX 13VG Scores
The MSI Raider GE68 HX 13VG is now a fully-fledged gaming laptop with new looks but the same, excellent ergonomics, features and power.