MSI breaks back in the workstation game with a straight-up champion, also known as the WS65 9TM. For the high price of $3,499, the WS65 packs a powerful 9th-generation Core i7 processor and Nvidia Quadro RTX 5000 Max-Q GPU in a super-slim, durable chassis. Finish that with stable battery life and a beautiful 17.3-inch 4K screen. Even with its fantastic price topic, the MSI WS65 is one of 2020 Updated: Best workstations and 2020 Updated: Best laptops for experienced users. Here is our MSI WS65 9TM Review.
MSI WS65 9TM Review – Design
The MSI WS65 is based on the MSI GS75 Stealth and the MSI GS65 Stealth Thin and has a slim aluminum chassis layered in a matte black-gold diamond around the lid. A golden, stylized W for the workstation is stamped just above the middle of the hood. Each side of the laptop’s hinge has a neat, golden circle around a spiral texture. The interior is just as sleek and decent as the exterior, with a clean, white backlit keyboard with an elongated touchpad underneath with a gold finish. The on/off button also has a gold border and a recess for heat dissipation just below.
There is an abundance of ports on the MSI WS65. On the left, there is a slot for a security slot, an RJ45 Ethernet port, two USB 3.2 Type-A ports, a microphone connection, and a headphone connection. On the right, there is space for the power connection, an HDMI 2.0 port, a mini DisplayPort, a Thunderbolt 3 port, and a USB 3.2 Type-A port.
With 4.3 pounds and 14.1 x 9.8 x 0.7 inches, the MSI WS65 is quite light for a 15-inch laptop, particularly a workstation. The Dell’s Precision 7730 (7.5 pounds, 16.3 x 10.8 x 1.2 inch) and the HP’s ZBook 15 G5 (5.7 pounds, 14.8 x 10.4 x 1.0 inch) were decent hefty, but the Lenovo’s ThinkPad P1 (4 pounds, 14.2 x 9.7 x 0.7) inches) was slightly lighter.
Keyboard and TouchPad
The keys on the MSI WS65 were spicy and pleasantly clickable to type on, but the keys were still reasonably shallow for a 15-inch laptop. The white backlight on the keyboard was solid, and the font on the keys was a bit edgy, which is typical of MSI. I was able to type quite quickly on the keyboard of the MSI WS65, but if the keys had more travel, that would have been much more comfortable.
The elongated 5.5 x 2.5-inch touchpad feels supple, and although there is a lot of property to work with, the built-in fingerprint reader in the touchpad is an excellent addition. Also, the Windows 10 gestures, such as two-finger scrolling and three-finger tabs, worked well thanks to Windows Precision drivers.
MSI WS65 9TM Review – Display
The 15.6-inch, 3840 x 2160 display of the MSI WS65 was so damn lively that I could taste the rainbow. The green-and-brown bow tie from Jack Black in the Jumanji: Next Level trailer may have been hidden on another panel because of the darker hues, but it popped up on the panel of the MSI WS65. When Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was about to choke on Rory “The Hound” McCann, I could tell the cracks in the walls of the dimly lit room around them. The screen was also sharp enough to catch the fine stitching in a black vest.
According to our colorimeter, the panel of the MSI WS65 destroyed 251% of the sRGB color range, resulting in the workstation average (155%), the Precision 7730 (211%), the ZBook 15 (112%) and the ThinkPad P1 (179%) have been canceled. With 393 nits of brightness, the display of the MSI WS65 again crushed the category average (366 nits), as well as the Dell Precision 7730 (330 nits) and the Lenovo ThinkPad P1 (285 nits). However, the HP ZBook 15 has nailed (631 nits) the competition.
MSI WS65 9TM Review – Audio
The bottom-firing speakers of the MSI WS65 were comfortable to listen to, but the lack of bass resulted in a few hollow sounds.
I listened to the “R U Mine?” From the Arctic Monkeys. And the first guitar riffs were good, but the drums were somewhat muted. The vocals were clear and loud, but not as clear as they could have been. In general, the audio was decent, but it didn’t sound clear enough to make guitar and vocals shine, and it wasn’t deep enough to hit those satisfying drum beats. If you are a professional creative, these are not the speakers you want to use for mixing sound.
The MSI brand version of the Realtek Audio Console app was useless because the sound only got worse. The sound effects depicted made the speakers sound as if they were everywhere, from an auditorium to a sewer pipe (yes, a sewer pipe). There are various equalizer effects such as Rock, Treble, and Powerful, but none of them helped the audio so much.
Graphics and Gaming
The MSI WS65 comes with a deadly Nvidia Quadro RTX 5000 Max-Q GPU with 16 GB VRAM that has nailed 15,364 on the synthetic graphical benchmark 3DMark Fire Strike, which flies past the average workstation (10,555). It has also destroyed the Quadro P5200 GPU (14,566) and the Quadro P2000 GPU in the HP ZBook 15 (6,121) and the Lenovo ThinkPad P1 (6,044). On the 3DMark Fire Strike Ultra benchmark, the MSI’s WS65 scored 4,369, again shattering the average category scores (3,028), the Dell Precision 7730 (3,953), the HP ZBook 15 (1,645), and the Lenovo ThinkPad P1 (1,576).
The MSI WS65 averages 222 frames per second on the Dirt 3 benchmark, quickly past the workstation average (184 fps) and the Lenovo ThinkPad P1 (190). However, it landed the 3rd place against the Dell Precision 7730 (223 fps) and the HP ZBook 15 (235 fps).
MSI WS65 9TM Review – Performance
It is no surprise that the MSI WS65 is packed with a few sturdy components: an Intel Core i7-9750H processor and 32 GB RAM. It flipped through 40 Google Chrome tabs and five 1080p YouTube videos while Spotify was running in the background without a single sign of delay.
On the Geekbench 4.1 general performance benchmark, the MSI WS65 scored 22,876, higher than the workstation average (21,991). It also passed the Core i7-8850H CPU (22,013) of the ZBook 15 and the Xeon E-2176M CPU of the ThinkPad P1 (18,782) but remained behind the Dell Precision 7730’s Core i9-8950HK CPU (24,800).
The MSI WS65 9TM took 10 minutes and 36 seconds to transcode a 4K video to 1080p on our HandBrake benchmark, which was slightly slower than the category average (10:18). The Dell Precision 7730 (8:59), the HP ZBook 15 (9:53), and the Lenovo ThinkPad P1 (9:45) have completed the task much faster.
MSI’s 512 GB SSD copied 4.97 GB of data in 7 seconds, which translated to 727 megabytes per second, and although that is below the workstation average (1,145 Mbps), it is still relatively fast. The 512 GB SSD in the Precision 7730 (565 MBps) and the ZBook 15 (508 MBps) fell behind on the MSI WS65, but the 2 TB SSD of the ThinkPad P1 was ultimately faster (848 MBps).
After playing the Dirt 3 for 15 minutes, the bottom hit 118 degrees Fahrenheit, hovering above our 95-degree comfort threshold. The middle of the keyboard reached 111 degrees, while the touchpad measures 90 degrees. The hottest machine got 130 degrees on the right side of the vents. The bottom felt incredibly warm.
Despite that, the fans were on Auto during the test. With the same test, I manually enabled the Cooler Boost setting in the MSI Creator Center, making the laptop feel remarkably cooler (safe for the subsurface). The hottest bottom was 107 degrees, followed by 106 degrees of the keyboard and 90 degrees of the touchpad. If you want to keep this machine cool, you need the fans at full speed.
However, the MSI WS65 was cool during our regular heat test. After streaming a 15-minute 1080p YouTube video, the bottom hit 89 degrees, which was the hottest. Meanwhile, the middle of the keyboard and touchpad reached 88 and 80 degrees, respectively.
For a sturdy workstation with a 4K display, the MSI WS65 has an impressive battery life. Surfing the internet continuously via Wi-Fi with a brightness of 150 nits, the laptop lasted 6 hours and 57 minutes, sliding with the average of the 6:09 workstation. With 4K screens, the Precision 7730 and the ThinkPad P1 reached 4:14 and 4:16, respectively. With a 1080p panel, however, the ZBook 15 lasted 8:56.
Price and Configuration Options
The basic model costs $2,199 and comes with an Intel Core i7-9750H processor, 16 GB RAM, a 512 GB SSD, a Quadro T2000 GPU, and a 1080p screen. I tested the $3,499 version of the MSI WS65, equipped with an Intel Core i7-9750H processor, an Nvidia Quadro RTX 5000 Max-Q GPU with 16 GB VRAM, 32 GB RAM, a 512 GB SSD and a 4K screen. But if you want to maximize your performance, the $4,199 version provides you with a Core i9-9880H CPU and a 1 TB SSD of our current model.
If none of these laptops are in your game, consider viewing our best video editing laptops page or 2020 Updated: Best photo editing laptops page, depending on your usage.
MSI WS65 9TM Review – Conclusion
The MSI WS65 9TM is a fantastic workstation. Take powerful performance, solid battery life and a crackling 4K screen, put it in a super-smart, durable military chassis, and you get one of 2020 Updated: Best workstations there are. If you are looking for something even lighter, with a much more impressive keyboard, then the Lenovo ThinkPad P1 is the workstation for you.
But overall, the cruel colorful 4K display of the MSI WS65 combined with a great battery life makes it one of the most impressive workstations there are.
The MSI WS65 9TM is a powerful workstation with a solid battery life and a gorgeous 4K display in a superslim, durable chassis.
- Slim, lightweight design
- Gorgeous 4K display
- Strong performance and graphics
- Military-durable and secure
- Solid battery life