Today’s review sees MSI send over their Stealth 15M laptop for review. Packed with an Intel Core i7-11375H 4-core 8-thread CPU and an NVIDIA GeForce RTX3060 mobile GPU in one of the thinnest chassis we’ve seen to date.
MSI Stealth 15M: Specifications
|Stealth 15M A11UEK|
|CPU||11th Gen. Intel Core i7-11375H|
|OS||Windows 10 Home
(Free upgrade to Windows 11 when available)
|I/O PORTS||1x Type-C (USB / DP / Thunderbolt™ 4) with PD charging
1x Type-C (USB3.2 Gen2 / DP)
2x Type-A USB3.2 Gen1
1x Micro SD
1x HDMI (4K @ 60Hz)
|DISPLAY||15.6″ FHD (1920×1080), 144Hz, IPS-Level|
|GRAPHICS||NVIDIA® GeForce RTX™ 3060 Laptop GPU 6GB GDDR6
Up to 1357MHz Boost Clock, 65W Maximum Graphics Power with Dynamic Boost.
*May vary by scenario
|MEMORY||16GB (8GB*2) DDR4-3200 Memory Type
2 Slots Number of SO-DIMM Slot
Max. 64GB Max Capacity
|STORAGE CAPABILITY||1x 1TB M.2 SSD (NVMe PCIe Gen3)|
|WEBCAM||HD type ([email protected])|
|KEYBOARD||RGB Backlight Keyboard|
|COMMUNICATION||802.11AX Wi-Fi 6 + Bluetooth v5.1|
|AUDIO JACK||1x Mic-in/Headphone-out Combo Jack|
52 Battery (Whr)
|AC ADAPTER||150W adapter|
|DIMENSION (WXDXH)||358.3 x 248 x 16.15 mm|
|WEIGHT (W/ BATTERY)||1.7 kg|
Product page: HERE
MSI Stealth 15M: Video Preview
MSI Stealth 15M: Closer Look
The MSI Stealth 15M arrived in a large laptop-sized brown box. Opening this up and we have a second black box with some MSI branding and a features list making sure the laptop arrives safe and sound through the postal system.
Inside that: a UK power cable, a delta electronics power brick rated for 150w and the Stealth 15M laptop itself.
We might as well start with the lid and like the rest of the chassis, it is made using a magnesium alloy which provides strength and impressive lightweight characteristics. The MSI logo is noticeable in the middle of the lid. The only logo you’ll find on the entire laptop much like the badge on the front of a sports car, bar the new MSI label on the bottom of the monitor bezel.
Flipping it over reveals the bottom cover, you’ll immediately notice the large mesh ventilation cut out covering almost half of the entire bottom cover. Offering plenty of airflow under the laptop, vital for cooling in this case. Notice the rubber strips along the top and bottom and pads in the centre to provide clearance for airflow under the laptop.
Moving to the rear and the edges are ventilated allowing for exhaust. The centre is closed off, due to the cooling solution covering the whole rear section internally.
Around to the front and there’s not much worth noting here, bar a small indentation in the middle to open the lid. Another nice touch is that the lid is held closed with magnets, but is equally easy to open.
Moving on to IO, the left side has ventilation grills, a DC-in plug, a micro-SD card slot, a USB3.2 Gen 1 Type-A port, and the combo 3.5mm headphone and microphone jack. Finally, a small battery indicator LED is present.
The right side has more ventilation grills, a single USB3.2 Gen 2 Type-C with DisplayPort, a Thunderbolt 4 port, a second USB3.2 Gen 1 Type-A port, and an HDMI 2.0 port. Capable of 4K @ 60Hz.
Opening the lid, and we can see the 15.6” 1920×1080 FHD “IPS-level” display, this bad boy runs at 144Hz! Showing its gaming orientated features.
The panel itself has a 45% NTSC colour gamut so we wouldn’t recommend doing colour professional work, and at only 248 nits the panel isn’t particularly bright and doesn’t feel particularly vibrant. Gaming on it is fine, but it’s a bit lacklustre!
The bottom of the panel has the only other branding on the laptop in the form of the MSI logo.
The webcam and stereo microphones are housed in the perfect location at the top of the monitor panel.
Below this is the backlit RGB keyboard. Overall, the layout is clear and concise with sensibly sized keys such as shift, caps, alt, control, and enter keys. The keyboard itself is comfortable to use, even when using it for gaming. I didn’t find myself pressing any unwanted keys by accident whilst testing out the games for this review.
The Stealth 15M also includes some ventilation on the top section of the keyboard panel increasing air intake from both the top and bottom. This highlights the cooling needed for the CPU and GPU pairing.
Should you also not be a fan of the backlit keys on the keyboard you can configure them to your heart’s content using the Dragon Centre software included, more on that shortly, or turn the LEDs off completely for a more professional look when using it at work, school, the office, etc.
Finally, the trackpad is in the ideal location for typing and gaming. Not once did I accidentally move the cursor or misclick the pad using the laptop. Though, the shortcut keys allow you to disable the trackpad when gaming anyway.
It’s by no means a large trackpad, compared to the likes of ultrabooks, but nor should it be. It’s big enough, at 5” or 130mm’s, for use whilst not gaming and is super smooth and intuitive to use. Left-click is available on the whole trackpad whilst right-click is limited to the bottom right corner as well as 2-finger scrolling, etc.
Things under the hood are just as promising too. The Stealth 15M features an Intel Core i7 11375H 4-core 8-thread CPU capable of 5.0GHz boost clock, 2x8GB sticks of DDR4 running at 3200MHz, Intel Iris Xe discreet graphics for low power graphics tasks, paired with an NVIDIA GeForce RTX3060 with RTX features such as Ray Tracing, DLSS, and Dynamic Boost 2.0, Intel AX201 WiFi 6 with Bluetooth 5.1 and a 1TB NVMe M.2 SSD (in this case a Micron 2210 mtfdhba1t0qfd PCIe Gen3 M.2 SSD).
Sound is provided by a pair of 2w Nahimic Hi-Res downward-firing speakers on the front edges of the laptop. The implementation here is pretty average and fine for content consumption like movies or YouTube videos, with generally okay highs and mids whilst lows, unsurprisingly, are pretty weak. Another disappointing show from MSI here.
The Nahimic software works in tandem with the speakers to provide sound effects and a slight improvement in certain situations.
Gaming, where surround is needed, isn’t great either but that’s to be expected.
A 3-cell 52Wh battery is included which boasts average battery life. Performance is drastically reduced when the Stealth 15M is configured for gaming on the battery, as expected.
MSI boasts about their cooling for the Stealth 15M too, calling it Cooler Boost 5, with 6 heatpipes and 2 fans boasting impressive 0.1mm thin blades.
Measuring in at 358 x 248 x 16 mm or 14.10 x 9.76 x 0.63 inches it’s going to easily fit into any 15” laptop bag with relative ease and weighing in at just 1.7 Kg’s or 3.73 lb’s it’s light enough that you’d barely even notice it.
The Stealth 15M comes pre-installed with Windows 10 Home but MSI has you covered here should you wish to upgrade to Windows 11 as it’s “Windows 11 ready” out of the box.
The first software package that needs a mention is the Dragon Control software.
It has a gaming mode that allows you to add and remove games, and a User Scenario mode that sets fan profiles to the type of “work” you are doing on it at the time.
The profiles range from:
Extreme Performance, which is the most aggressive fan profile and also allows small overclocks to the GPU in the software.
Balanced, which give the user a balanced fan profile.
Silent, which greatly reduces the fan profile.
Super Battery, which has the same profile as the silent option, but reduced things like the screen brightness and turns off the keyboards LED’s.
Finally, User, which allows the user to set the performance level from Turbo, High, Medium and Low as well as the Fan speed from Auto, Advanced and Cooler Boost. So it’s safe to say it’s fairly comprehensive.
Next up is the General Settings tab and the Monitor tab. The monitor tab shows current loads on the system and includes neat shortcuts to Disk Cleanup and free-up memory, but removing unwanted software and closing programs that are running in the background.
Game Highlights allows you to capture and upload gaming clips. Finally, the Mystic light tab allows you to control the LEDs on the keyboard to your heart’s content. Ambient Link also allows the LEDs to change colour depending on the game you are playing and a few games presets are preloaded for more immersion.
Other than that Norton 360 is also pre-installed with a 60-day trial.
MSI Stealth 15M: Testing
PC MARK 10 scored a respectable 5913 and highlights a low video creation score. That doesn’t mean editing and rendering video isn’t possible, but that the Stealth 15M excels much more at “mobile” gaming.
3D MARK testing needed to be done then and with:
Timespy being the DirectX 12 benchmark it scored a decent enough 6279.
Firestrike Extreme is the DirectX 11 benchmark and it scored 7749.
Port Royal is the Ray tracing benchmark and it scored 3877.
Acceptable scores in the 3D Mark benchmark tests, highlighting a good mix of both the CPU and GPU. Click the score numbers above to load the results pages.
RED DEAD REDEMPTION 2 faired well in this round of testing. Using the Ultra preset we got an average of 64FPS, highs were 106FPS while lows were just 39FPS, although I have to admit gameplay felt smooth at all times even during intense moments where FPS dips are the most prevalent.
CYBERPUNK 2077 and the Stealth 15M held it’s own using the Ray Tracing Medium preset, I recorded an average of 51FPS, highs of 79FPS and lows of 29FPS. Many would argue that anything below 60FPS is unplayable, but it felt smooth with consistent average frames and was certainly playable here. It’s fair to say that the Ray Tracing Ultra preset would have been unplayable here.
CS:GO using the “Auto” graphics preset unsurprisingly got the best FPS from all the testing with an average of 199FPS, highs of 222FPS and lows of 167FPS. Making it good enough for even competitive/professional gamers to use this as a daily driver. Note too that the Auto preset set all settings to maximum, so turning it down could even give you a full 240FPS experience.
CALL OF DUTY: MODERN WARFARE is, in my opinion, one of those games where you do need a good balance of FPS and visuals for an enjoyable experience. So I ran the game using the in-game pre-configured settings by clicking the “reset tab” button. Getting an average of 92FPS, highs of 122FPS and lows of 60FPS. Again, provided a decent gaming experience.
BATTLEFIELD V is the last, but by no means least, game on test in today’s review. Using the Auto: Max Fidelity setting whilst enabling the full array of DirectX 12, DXR (Ray Tracing) and DLSS. This allows the game to select settings that, again, it thinks is best for FPS and visuals and with an average of 76FPS, highs of 111FPS and lows of 55FPS it was a smooth and enjoyable experience.
MSI Stealth 15M: Temperatures and Acoustics
So, with all this performance on the table how good are the thermals and acoustics I hear you ask? Well, unfortunately, pretty hot and loud and this is the Achilles heel of the Stealth’s low profile design.
Stress testing the Stealth 15M with AIDA64’s system stability test for 30 minutes is a good way to test thermals and acoustics as it’s the worst-case scenario for a CPU and GPU as both are being hit at as high as 100% the entire time.
The “Extreme performance” profile, which is the default, recorded temperatures of 92°C on the CPU and 74°C on the GPU.
However, the quiet profile puts both the CPU and GPU in a lower power state. Both of which are unsuitable for gaming, and are probably set to make the Stealth 15M more suitable for productivity situations where you don’t want the fans to be annoyingly loud.
To make matters worse, the acoustic levels while gaming is extremely loud, and in the defence of the Stealth 15M, is to be expected.
Densely packing high-end gaming components into a chassis at 0.63″ or 16mm thick is going to need some decent cooling, and to be fair, the Cooler Boost 5 implementation does a decent job at the expense of loud fan noise.
To be clear, gaming with the speakers isn’t off the table here but it will take some getting used to especially during intensive moments when the fans are particularly loud.
MSI Stealth 15M: Roundup
So with the testing, temperature and acoustic testing done and dusted it’s clear the MSI Stealth 15M is a capable and very portable gaming laptop.
It plays most with relative ease and is powerful enough for AAA gaming at decent refresh rates.
It’s clear there is a trade-off between performance, acoustics and portability but, honestly, we believe MSI have nailed it.
Importantly, performance isn’t lost when it’s working hard to cool the CPU and GPU in demanding gaming sessions and wearing a headset, which is typically done when gaming, would alleviate the issues with acoustics should the fans really annoy you.
It’s a very aesthetic piece too. MSI has created a very nice looking laptop that doesn’t scream “I’M A GAMING LAPTOP” in your face when you take it out of your bag and put it on the desk.
Much like its namesake, it’s stealthy, slim and sleek, and MSI has done a great job here with the styling to portray a slim and portable machine.
I/O on the Stealth 15M is pretty good for its low profile size and shape, with 2x USB 3.2 ports and Thunderbolt 4 port and USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C with DisplayPort adds versatility, for things like additional monitor outputs with a full-size HDMI 2.0 and aforementioned USB Type-C with DisplayPort port. Finally, audio out is covered with the 3.5mm combo jack.
The webcam quality could always be better, it’s about as basic as they come but functional nonetheless. Due to the size of the bezel where it’s housed and the location, it’s understandable that a larger better one isn’t installed. I do also like the function option on the keyboard to disable it too.
The RGB keyboard is pretty good, both typing and gaming on it are comfortable as is the quality and feel of the trackpad, in its ideal location and size.
The 144Hz panel is fine, again it’s good for gaming but colour/professional work isn’t recommended. We also respect the choice to go with the 144Hz panel as it’s a good match for the included NVIDIA Geforce RTX3060 laptop GPU.
Internally, the Intel Core i7-11375H, NVIDIA GeForce RTX3060, 16GB RAM and Intel WiFi 6 all add up to create a decent package.
- i7-11375H and RTX3060 are a great pairing in this laptop
- The RGB backlit keyboard feels solid
- Available in Carbon Grey or Pure White colours
- Thunderbolt 4 and USB 3.2 Type-C with DisplayPort
- Decent performance
- Screen brightness is poor
- Speaker implementation isn’t as good as expected
- Runs loud under full load and gets hot!
Now the price: several UK retailers have it in stock for £1200 which makes the Stealth 15M an affordable gaming laptop, especially for its good performance and outstanding portability! Let’s not forget at the end of the day it’s a 4-core, 8-thread 1080p, Ray-tracing capable gaming laptop.
The MSI Stealth 15M gets Play3r’s Silver Award for its decent gaming performance, stealthy aesthetic and good I/O. The speakers, panel and webcam are fine, but nothing exceptional, considering the price.
Big thanks to MSI for sending over the Stealth 15M for a review.
Bought the MSI M15 Stealth and was impressed by the presentation, after booting up the laptop for the first time the screen started flickering, no matter how many restarts, shutdowns, and updating / reinstalling drivers, the problem was still there. I did find a solution however, by full wiping the laptop then removing all MSI programs and features (Bloatware) the flickering stopped. I contacted MSI support and they had no idea what planet they were on, so if you have this issue please follow the steps above to actually fix the issue and don’t waste your time with MSI support. The laptop is really good but the fact you have to do this is quite annoying, hopefully, they will fix this for future production runs of this laptop.
Hey Joseph, Thanks for sharing your experience and I’m glad you were able to resolve the problem and enjoy your purchase.
It’s a shame that you had such problems, and a surprise considering the laptop is from an experienced mainstream manufacturer. From your description I would also have concluded that it was a driver issue, but if DDU and a reinstall of the driver didn’t fix it I might have been tempted just to assume that it was hardware and not software at all. It’s also quite shocking that you got such a terrible response from MSI when seeking support. I am of the opinion that any faulty item, no matter the cost, is still the responsibility of the seller or manufacturer to resolve, but when that item costs a significant amount of cash I think pretty much everyone would expect to be treated well by the seller / manufacturer.
Out of curiosity did you buy the laptop direct from MSI or through a retailer, and what was their response when you contacted them? Feel free to name and shame or heap praise depending on what happened.