MSI GE63VR 7RE Connectivity
For a 15in laptop, the GE63VR Raider 7RE is generously endowed, though at this kind of price point we would be hoping for Thunderbolt 3; mainly to give the user the option of upgrading to an external graphics solution like the Razer Core in future.
On the left this consists of a Kensington lock slot, Killer Gb LAN jack (which prioritizes gaming packets over any other traffic), full size HDMI 2.0 port, mini DP (DisplayPort) 1.2, USB 3.0 connector which can be lit with a red LED, and USB Type-C 3.1 port.
This is followed by microphone and headphone jacks. It’s worth noting that, thanks to its GTX 1060 GPU and HDMI 2.0 port, this Raider should do just fine outputting content to your 4K UHD TV at 60Hz, where some gaming laptops still only manage 30Hz thanks to being saddled with older HDMI 1.4 ports.
To its starboard side, MSI’s little beast offers a full SD card slot, twin USB 3.0 ports again lit up in red like miniature Cylons, and the power jack. Personal preference from an aesthetic viewpoint aside, we really like the option to make the USB ports glow as this makes it very easy to insert cables and memory sticks even in the dark.
It’s these kind of extra touches which genuinely enhance usability (and looks if you’re a fan of red) that set manufacturers apart from their competitors. Just keep in mind that SD cards will stick out slightly from the reader, so some care is required.
The front and rear of the GE63VR are thankfully port-free, which is really as it should be to make them easy to use on the tiny tables in many trains and airplanes, and to prevent potential damage of your ports and/or cables. Finally on the wireless side of things you get Killer Wi-Fi 802.11 AC and Bluetooth V4.2.
MSI GE63VR 7RE Usability – Touchpad
The touchpad on the MSI GE63VR Raider 7RE is a fairly standard affair but ends up on the good side of average. It offers a large, slightly soft surface which allows for smooth and comfortable movements with just the right amount of resistance for good control.
We also always prefer to see physical buttons on gaming laptop pads, as that single click can be too important to get wrong because you didn’t press far enough down on the integrated ones. Mind you, it goes without saying that any self-respecting gamer would be using a mouse where possible, but these buttons have a nice solid action.
MSI GE63VR 7RE Usability – Keyboard
When a peripheral or input device bears the SteelSeries name it’s usually pretty good, and the keyboard on this MSI Raider is no exception. While this is not a mechanical model but rather a chiclet affair with membrane key switches, feedback is still nice and crisp with plenty of travel and no unwanted flex. Plus you enjoy the added benefit of very quiet key travel so you won’t disturb your significant other when gaming in bed with headphones (aside from all the cussing and yelling, that is).
Layout is slightly on the odd side: while the GE63VR 7RE(Raider)-045UK sports a UK style keyboard with most symbols exactly where you would expect, the Enter key is shaped like a US model with an extra-wide hash key right above it. Right-shift is also slightly truncated by the full-size cursor keys, but luckily we didn’t notice an increased error rate because of it. Essentially, all of this has been squeezed in beside a full-size number pad without any significant compromise.
Yet where this SteelSeries keyboard really shines (pun intended) is its per-key illumination. SteelSeries Engine 3, which we’ll be looking at in detail in the Software section, allows you to configure the RGB backlighting in a huge variety of ways, with different colours, rhythms, effects and settings all linked to a selection of presets or even to what software you happen to be running. Heck you can even set the keyboard to show things like ammo count or health by colour coding in certain titles. Unnecessary? Maybe. Way cool? Definitely!