MSI Alpha 15 review

The overall system performance of the MSI Alpha 15 is excellent. Most productivity applications are very responsive and start quickly. Boot times and resuming operation from standby are also impressively fast.

MSI’s Alpha 15 caused a stir when it debuted a year ago because it was the only gaming notebook to use AMD hardware exclusively. Other manufacturers have since followed suit, but MSI has prepared well, refreshing the Alpha 15 in late 2020 with a more powerful “Renoir” Ryzen 7 processor and a stronger 6GB Radeon RX 5600M graphics card. The new notebook delivered great 1080p gaming performance in our test while retaining the high-end features of the original, such as the backlit RGB per-key keyboard.

Our favorites among the high-end entry-level gaming rigs are still the HP Omen 15 and the Acer Predator Helios 300, but the Alpha 15 is a good alternative, especially if you can find it on sale. The back of the lid is the only metal on this laptop. Considering that the Alpha 15 is now $100 or $200 more expensive than last year’s model, you could use more of it to feel as durable as Acer and HP notebooks. Still, all surfaces are well protected from twisting.

The system is a bit too big and overweight for a 15.6-inch gamer. At 1.1 inches, it’s 0.2 inches thicker than the Omen 15, and at 5.3 pounds, it’s heavier than 4.6 pounds. The narrow side display bezels result in a reasonable width of 14.1 inches, although the thick bottom bezel increases the depth to 9.8 inches, 0.4 inches more than the HP.

Design

We appreciate the sleek, matte black chassis of the MSI Alpha 15 because it doesn’t flaunt gaudy red or blue colors like most gaming laptops do. Instead, it has curves on the hood that resemble those of a race car, with a green thunderbird in between that would be cool if it didn’t peel off like a sticker once we got the laptop. The hinge of the MSI Alpha 15 shows a hint of MSI red, with glossy red lines forming a wide in the middle.

The interior contrasts with the exterior by having the deck in dark gray, which looks good in combination with the RGB-lit keyboard. While individual key illumination is a rarity on a sub-$1,000 gaming laptop, the lighting could be brighter. Above the keyboard are dedicated buttons for power, keyboard backlight and fans.

Keyboard and Touchpad

In the 10fastfingers.com typing test, we achieved 79 words per minute, well above my usual average of 70 words per minute. The keys offered good resistance and were relatively smooth for an entry-level gaming notebook. we was also happy to see that the keyboard has RGB lighting per key. You can customize the keyboard lighting via the SteelSeries Engine 3 app.

You can easily change the lighting via the button on the keyboard or manually via the app for each key. There are also presets you can edit, such as Rainbow Split, Freeway and the Aqua. The 4.3 x 2.4-inch touchpad was relatively smooth, but discrete keys were a bit slow. But Windows 10 gestures, such as three-finger tabbing and two-finger scrolling, were smooth and responsive thanks to the Windows Precision drivers.

Display

For a gaming notebook that costs just under $1,000, the MSI Alpha’s 15.6-inch 1080p display is great, as it is relatively colorful and bright. It also offers a 144 Hz refresh rate and AMD FreeSync, a fancy technology that is supposed to prevent in-game tearing by synchronizing the refresh rate between the display and GPU.

In the Mulan trailer, the protagonist’s metallic armor was held together by woven crimson fabric that screamed bloody murder on the Alpha 15 screen. As Mulan and her father talked in their dimly lit home, the red and blue objects in the background were visible, albeit in indistinct focus. In the same scene, Tzi Ma’s wrinkles and pores were very detailed.

In Shadow of the Tomb Raider, we immediately noticed the contrast between Lara Croft’s rich green and blue shirt. Even though they were in shadow, the leaves growing over the mountain range were clearly visible. Lara’s silky brown hair was incredibly vibrant, as we could see every strand of hair sticking out of her head.

Audio

The sound from the Alpha 15’s speakers sounded like someone had put the cheapest Bluetooth speaker they bought on Amazon into a tin can. The opening guitar riff of Sum 41’s “The Hell Song” was flat and soft, while the power chords just sounded like static. The cymbals were appropriately sharp in the background, but overall lacked power. The vocals were extremely bland and should have been much brighter.

In Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Lara’s footsteps on the stone steps of the tomb we was exploring sounded crunchy and hollow instead of thick and firm. Even when we shot an arrow at the wall, the resulting crackle was faint and didn’t offer enough bass to give it any emphasis. The drums playing in the background of this particular puzzle moment also suffered from the lack of good bass.

Software

MSI’s Dragon Center is one of the best gaming software available. The latest version of the app allows you to adjust the power level and fan speed of your laptop to enjoy maximum performance from your device. You can also monitor CPU, memory, RAM, fans, and even Wi-Fi usage. There’s a Game Mode and a Creator Mode that allow you to prioritize the performance of specific applications, including games or creative applications like Photoshop.

Graphics and Gaming

Our first two benchmarks in this section measure a PC’s performance potential for gaming. In UL 3DMark, we run the subtests Sky Diver and Fire Strike (more demanding, for high-end gaming PCs), both based on DirectX 11. Our other game simulation, Superposition from Unigine Corp, uses a different rendering engine to create a complex 3D scene.

The Alpha 15 and the Omen 15 had an exciting duel, with the Alpha coming out on top in 3DMark Fire Strike. However, the Superposition 1080p benchmark shows that the two GPUs are neck-and-neck. Both were far ahead of the Bravo 15. Next, we try out some real-world games. We use the integrated 1080p benchmarks of Far Cry 5 and Rise of the Tomb Raider. Far Cry 5 uses DirectX 11, while we switch Rise of the Tomb Raider to DirectX 12.

Performance

Under the deck of the MSI Alpha 15 is an AMD Ryzen 7-3750H processor with 16GB of RAM that could handle 40 Google Chrome tab and five 1080p YouTube videos while the Shadow of Tomb Raider ran in background. But despite it’s real-world performance, the Alpha 15 didn’t fare so well in the synthetic benchmarks. In the Geekbench 4.3 overall performance test, the Alpha 15 scored 13,980 points, falling short of the 15,302-point average for entry-level gaming laptops.

The Alpha 15 came close to Zephyrus G, which has the same CPU. However, both laptops were beaten by Intel’s alternative: the Core i7-9750H CPU in the Legion Y545 (23,868) and the Pavilion 15 (21,326). The Alpha 15 took the 14 minutes and 51 seconds to the transcode a 4K video to 1080p in our HandBrake benchmark, falling behind the category average (14:32) and the Zephyrus G. It didn’t even come close to the Legion Y545 (8:51) or the Pavilion 15 (10:42).

Battery Life

While gaming laptops have a reputation for poor the battery life, that is simply no longer the case. Powerful RTX devices like the Razer Blade 15 (2019) and Gigabyte Aero 17 HDR were able to achieve over 5 hours of battery life, so there is no longer an excuse for less demanding laptops like the MSI Alpha 15.

When the Alpha 15 surfed the Internet continuously via WLAN at a brightness of 150 cd/m², its battery was drained after 3 hours and 55 minutes, which is more than an hour below the average of 5:15 hours for entry-level gaming laptops. The Legion Y545 (3:38) was worse, but the Zephyrus G (4:48) and Pavilion 15 (5:26) lasted longer.

Heat

The MSI Alpha 15 stays relatively cool. After playing Shadow of the Tomb Raider for 15 minutes, the bottom of the case reached its hottest point of 117 degrees Fahrenheit, which is above our 95-degree comfort limit. However, thanks to the plastic, the underside only ever felt warm. The center of the keyboard and touchpad measured 103 and 85 degrees, respectively. In our basic heat test, streaming a 15-inch 1080p video, the bottom reached 86 degrees, the keyboard 85 degrees, and the touchpad 76 degrees.

Final Words

We hope you like this article on MSI Alpha 15 review. The MSI Alpha 15 does everything right for a $999 gaming notebook. It has a solid graphics card, a colorful 144 Hz display that outshines the competition, and a comfortable keyboard with rare key illumination. However, its AMD CPU is not as powerful as its Intel rivals. In addition, the battery life is a bit short and the speakers are weak.

Editorial Staff
Editorial Staffhttps://www.bollyinside.com
The Bollyinside editorial staff is made up of tech experts with more than 10 years of experience Led by Sumit Chauhan. We started in 2014 and now Bollyinside is a leading tech resource, offering everything from product reviews and tech guides to marketing tips. Think of us as your go-to tech encyclopedia!

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The MSI Alpha 15 does everything right for a $999 gaming notebook. It has a solid graphics card, a colorful 144 Hz display that outshines the competition, and a comfortable keyboard with rare key illumination.MSI Alpha 15 review