The MSI Stealth 15M gaming laptop with Intel Gen11 and RTX 3060 represents a stunning blend of portability and graphics performance.

Highs

  • Excellent weight/performance ratio
  • User-upgradeable RAM and SSD
  • Thunderbolt 4 and USB 4 connectivity

Lows

  • Chassis has a bit of flex
  • Display brightness and colors could be improved

Rating + Price

  • Rating: 8.6/10
  • Price: ~$1649.99

The MSI Stealth 15M is a 15-inch ultralight gaming laptop similar to Intel’s concept presented at CES 2021. Gaming laptops come in all shapes and forms, but, indeed, they are rarely slim and light. The MSI Stealth 15M pushes the boundaries for gaming performance / Lbs, a metric that can be key for some users.

Specifications Highlights

This new MSI Stealth 15M features the latest Intel Core i7-11375H (11th Gen) paired with the new NVIDIA RTX 3060 6GB (65W), and that’s quite an upgrade from the previous Core i7-1185G7 + RTX 2060 MaxQ configuration.

This i7-11375H CPU has a base frequency of 3.3GHz and can go as high as 5.16 GHz, contributing to the high single-core performance. This laptop has a maximum of 16GB of RAM and up to 1TB of storage (Kingston SSD model OM8PCP31024F-AI1) at purchase time. The user can upgrade RAM and SSD.

All the details can be found on the official MSI Stealth 15M Intel Gen11 + RTX3060 page.

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Chassis Design

MSI’s Stealth 15M design has an agreeable look, with a slightly aggressive look as many gaming products, but not to the point of raising attention in a corporate meeting.

It is even a little thinner and lighter than consumer laptops such as the Lenovo Yoga C740 15 with a 1692g weight and 16mm thickness. That said, the C740 has a 16% larger battery capacity and a more rigid chassis, so the weight reduction does come at a cost.

The MSI Stealth 15M’s chassis has some flex if you press on and around the keyboard, and the screen can flex quite a bit compared to other designs. There are no obvious functional downsides, but some users might prefer the extra rigidity even at the price of a slightly higher weight. You decide.

The mesh in the front and back are nice-looking air intakes that provide a very inflow of cool air, even in the most extreme conditions.

The rear can be opened for maintenance or to replace the RAM and SSD drive. The SSD access is easy, but the RAM access is more complicated, as illustrated in the video below. There seems to be enough room inside for a second M.2 SSD slot. That would have been a fantastic addition for storage expansion (games are massive these days) and even disk cloning.

Keyboard and Trackpad

The Stealth 15M’s keyboard is agreeable, with a key-travel of ~1mm and a non-slip surface that feels dry and clean. MSI seems to be using quality paint on top of the plastic, which feels like it will hold well over time.

The tactile feel is pretty good, and the keyboard design was probably more optimized to be thin than comfortable. I like the RGB LED backlight as it gives a soft glow which makes keys very legible. You can choose different colors, but it will be the same color for the whole keyboard (one-zone).

The trackpad’s size is comparable to other 15.6” laptops (~10.8 sq in) and feels smooth. I suspect that the material is Mylar because it’s not quite the smoothness that I would expect from a Glass surface, but unless you’re a heavy trackpad user, that’s totally okay.

Ports

Gaming laptops rarely lack ports, and that’s indeed the case here, despite the thin chassis. Thunderbolt 4 is one of Intel’s new platform’s cool features, and it improves upon Thunderbolt 3 in many functional areas such as wake-from-sleep or 4K display support.

  • 2x USB Type-A, 3.2 Gen2
  • 1x USB Type C, Thunderbolt 4
  • 1x Standard HDMI
  • 1x Flash Reader, MicroSD
  • 1x 3.5mm audio

The weight and overall performance (more on that later) make the MSI Stealth 15M one of the most portable gaming laptops we’ve seen. If someone wants to meet with friends regularly outside their homes, the lightweight could make a big difference in the user experience.

Sound quality

The audio quality is good and without distortion. The bottom-firing speakers do work better than I would have expected, but the maximum volume isn’t that loud. It’s probably okay for gaming, but something a little bit more powerful might be better to watch action movies, for example.

The bass could be better, and the sound somewhat lacks “body,” but the overall quality is acceptable and within range of what this kind of chassis can deliver.

Display

The display we tested is the 144Hz IPS LCD model, and it is customary for users to choose between high Hz and high color accuracy when it comes to IPS LCD. The hinge allows reclining the display to 180-degrees (flat), which is not that common in gaming laptops.

The 259 NITs brightness is low as laptops typically feature mid-300 NITs or higher brightness levels. Unless you plan on gaming outdoors, this shouldn’t be an issue, but you might have to find a spot with minimal glare.

A lower color-accuracy (45% NTSC in this case) is generally an accepted tradeoff by gamers, which is why there’s such a market for 144+ Hz displays. The colors don’t look “bad” at all in the context of gaming, but they might not be accurate enough for design or video-editing.

If you want a dual-use (Creative+Gaming) experience, you can opt for the 60Hz screen option with a much better 99% sRGB color gamut.

Performance

The Intel Core i7-11375H is an 11th Gen Intel processor (aka “Tiger Lake”), and since it was announced recently (CES 2021), here’s a quick overview of what’s changed.

Tiger Lake processors are built with a 10nm SuperFin semiconductor process (aka 10SF) and use Intel’s Willow Cove CPU cores.

The new core design brings about 15-20% more performance at the same clock, and the 10nm process can reach 5GHz clock speeds, a 25% increase from the previous generation. Finally, additional L2 and L3 cache reduce the likelihood to be slowed down by RAM accesses.

Launched last month, the Core i7-11375H is part of the H-series (H35) specifically designed for mobile gaming, a new category that users demand, according to Intel and several OEMs. Each laptop design can power the processor from 28W-35W TDP, depending on their cooling systems. That’s higher than most thin & light, but lower than much bigger laptops.

This processor features very high single-core performance, and that could be a big advantage in many instances where games don’t scale beyond the physical 4 cores (8 threads) available to the app.

"THE GRAPHICS PERFORMANCE IS WAY HIGHER THAN YOUR TYPICAL CONSUMER 15.6"

Because it is a gaming laptop, the graphics performance is way higher than your typical consumer 15.6. While it is fantastic, the price to pay is the shorter battery life for everyday activities such as web browsing and editing text documents.

Looking at the older version of this laptop with the RTX 2060 GPU, the RTX 3060 version’s overall gaming performance is higher since it uses the latest NVIDIA architecture, with a more efficient semiconductor process.

The Ray Tracing speed has increased as well, as illustrated by the 3DMark Port Royal test. Given that ray tracing’s integration in games will only increase in the future, I strongly recommend the RTX 3060 over the RTX 2060.

Portability and Value

When compared to non-gaming 15.6” computers, the Stealth 15M features excellent Gaming Portability (graphics speed/weight) and Gaming Value (graphics speed/price). You’re essentially getting immense graphics performance per dollar and Lbs.

Disk performance

Synthetic tests such as CrystalDiskMark or more realistic disk tests such as PCMark 10 show the MSI Stealth 15M’s SSD drive lagging a bit in reading performance compared to systems such as the Lenovo Yoga 9i or a business-oriented laptop like the ThinkPad T480s.

The Writing performance is a bit more nuanced, and the Stealth 15M finds itself in the middle, and overall the disk performance is decent but not particularly impressive.

Battery Life

The battery capacity of 52Wh is commonly found in 13-inch or 14-inch laptops and is a relatively small capacity on a 15.6-inch laptop. That said, people aren’t gaming on battery power because the hardware can draw so much power: up to 150W in this case.

However, there may be a time when you need to be on the go and doing other things than gaming. That’s particularly true for an ultralight such as this one.

In the Office Productivity test (web, spreadsheet, etc.), the laptop ran these tasks non-stop for 5h04mn, which is not terrible but well below traditional productivity laptops such as the Dell XPS13, which lasted for 14h41mn at the same test.

"2X FASTER CHARGING"

Numbers like these are a classic reason why Gaming laptops are not ideal for the typical road-warriors worker, even when they are light and small. The higher average power draw makes power-hungry for simple applications.

As a proxy for gaming, I ran the 3Dmark Timespy stress on battery: after ~40mn, the performance will drop as the laptop enter battery saving mode, then 10 minutes later, you’ll get a “battery is running low” warning before a complete shutdown two minutes later, for a total of 52mn.

Fortunately, the MSI Stealth 15M has a fast charging speed of 55Wh per hour, so whenever you need it, you can top it off quickly and be on your way. That’s a 2X faster-charging than other non-gaming 15.6” laptops we’ve tested recently.

The Stealth M15’s USB-C port is also a charging port. However, it is limited to 100W instead of the included power supply’s 150W.

Conclusion

The MSI Stealth 15M gaming laptop with Intel Gen11 and RTX 3060 represents a stunning blend of portability and graphics performance.

By some estimates, up to 40% of potential gaming laptop buyers would like to have lighter-weight options. If that’s true, the Stealth 15M could easily satisfy these customers.

"A STUNNING BLEND OF PORTABILITY AND GRAPHICS PERFORMANCE"

We’ve seen ultralight laptops with discrete GPUs before, but the numbers are clear: there’s no comparison between thin & light laptops with GeForce MX250/1060 Ti and this one with an RTX 3060. We went from ultralights with “some” gaming capabilities to a full-on gaming laptop in this case.

Gamers aren’t the only ones to potentially profit from such portability: Creative users who count on GPU-acceleration for video editing or 3D rendering could also boost their productivity. That said, keep in mind that MSI has specific laptops for these use cases, like the MSI Creator.

Overall product rating: 8.6/10

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