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  • About the MSI Stealth 15M

  • What we like

  • What we don’t like

  • Should you buy it?

  • Related content

Pros

  • Sophisticated aesthetics

  • Pleasant keyboard

Cons

  • Middling performance

  • Muddy display

  • Poor battery life

The MSI Stealth 15M stands in the shadow of its competition.

About the MSI Stealth 15M

We tested the MSI Stealth 15M laptop with the following configuration:

  • Processor: Intel Core i7-1280P
  • Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060
  • RAM: 32GB DDR4 RAM
  • Storage: 1TB NVMe SSD
  • Display: 144Hz @ 1920 x 1080p resolution
  • Ports: 1 x USB-A 3.2 Gen 2; 2 x USB-A 3.2 Gen 1; 2 x USB-C 3.2 Gen 2; 1 x HDMI; 1 x headphone jack
  • Wireless connectivity: Intel Wi-Fi 6; Bluetooth 5.2
  • Webcam: 720p webcam
  • Battery: 52Whr battery
  • Weight: 3.73 pounds
  • Size: 14.10 in. x 9.76 in. x 0.63 in.
  • Warranty: 1-year limited warranty

The Stealth 15M is a midrange gaming laptop with two configurations. We tested the pricier configuration, which retails for $1,699. The cheaper $1,599 configuration has an Intel Core i7-1260P processor, the same RTX 3060 graphics processor, 16GB of RAM, and 512GB SSD storage.

What we like

It’s pleasing to the eye

Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

Some gaming laptops are obnoxiously flashy with RGB strips on the bottom or LED arrays on the outer lid, but the well-named Stealth 15M is anything but. Its all-black body and offset MSI logo won’t draw your eye away from the ThinkPads or MacBooks in a lecture hall or conference room. But if you miss that gamer flare, you can always admire the stealthy RGB lighting under the keyboard. While you can’t customize it, the subtle shift across the color spectrum from the left side of the keyboard to the right side is mesmerizing to look at, and it’s a step above a single-color backlight.

The laptop is also reasonably thin at 0.63 inches wide—it’s actually slimmer than the Razer Blade 14, the Dell XPS 15, the MacBook Pro 16, and MSI’s own line of business laptops, but it still keeps a touch of that lovely gamer flare.

The keyboard is large and easy to type on

Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

MSI omitted the Numpad on its Stealth 15M to make the keys as big as possible. The arrow keys are full-sized, and the right of the keyboard has a row of keys commonly hidden in macros (Delete, Page Up/Down, and Insert). The keys themselves are easy to read even when the backlighting is off thanks to the black background under white lettering and borders.

Pressing the keys is a smooth experience with a soft keystroke and a springy upstroke, which makes it easier to quickly press keys in the middle of an intense typing or gaming session. While I was testing it, the anti-ghosting worked really well (tech that makes a keyboard register two or more keys that are pressed at the same time), and I did not pick up on missed keystrokes. My hands didn’t feel fatigued after typing for a long time, although the keys’ softness could be scaled back to make them feel snappier.

Ray tracing performance beats AMD

We weren’t impressed with the Stealth 15M’s performance overall, but it does have one advantage: Its budget Nvidia graphics card outperforms AMD’s equivalent cards when it comes to ray tracing.
Even though the Asus ROG Strix G15 and MSI Delta 15 both annihilate the Stealth 15M in synthetic benchmarks, the script is flipped when you enable ray tracing in-game. Cyberpunk 2077’s highest graphics preset with ray tracing is notoriously difficult to run for many PCs, but at 1080p, the Stealth 15M squeezes out 47 frames per second (fps) with its RTX 3060 graphics card.

Meanwhile, the Asus ROG Strix G15’s AMD Radeon RX 6800M and the MSI Delta 15’s Radeon RX 6700M limped through the benchmark with about 20fps each. Control and Metro Exodus had similarly awful ray tracing performance compared to the MSI Stealth 15M, which consistently pumped over double the framerates.

What we don’t like

Performance is weak against the competition

Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

Performance matters above all else when it comes to gaming laptops, and the Stealth 15M does not deliver. With an Intel Core i7-1280P processor and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 graphics card, we didn’t expect the performance to break any records, but the build quality and (lack of) extra features on the Stealth 15M left performance as its only line of defense for redemption. It’s a tall ask from an entry-level graphics card and a power-capped core processor.

The laptop has enough power to run most games much faster than 60fps on 1080p with the graphics set to the highest preset and ray tracing enabled, but things slow way down with graphically demanding games. High-fidelity games like Cyberpunk 2077 run at an average of 56fps on the same settings without ray tracing. Shadow of the Tomb Raider, a moderately demanding title, fares much better at 103fps. Low-fidelity games like Overwatch, Fortnite, League of Legends, and Final Fantasy XIV easily run at 120fps or more at max or near-max 1080p graphics settings.

However, this is the performance we expect from budget gaming laptops like the Acer Nitro 5 or HP Victus 16, both of which performed about on par with the Stealth 15M both in games and in synthetic benchmarks—all three share the same GPU, despite massive the price differences.
But the Stealth 15M’s processor is part of Intel’s high-efficiency P-line, which means its max power draw is capped well below the limit for Intel’s high-performance H-line processors like the Intel Core i7-11800H in the 2021 Acer Predator Helios 300. Usually, a high-efficiency processor is the better choice to boost battery life during less intense tasks, but the Stealth 15M’s battery life is abysmal anyway (more on that later).

To get a sense of the competition, laptops across a range of prices can outperform the Stealth 15M. The similarly priced Asus ROG Strix Advantage AMD edition, MSI Delta 15, and Lenovo Legion 5 Pro all outperform the Stealth 15M in Shadow of the Tomb Raider at the highest 1080p graphics preset reaching between an average of 105fps and 117fps.

The AMD-based Asus and MSI laptops do fall behind in ray-traced scenes in games like Cyberpunk 20777, Metro Exodus, and Control, but unless ray-tracing is your top priority, you will generally see better performance across the board with those laptops. They especially annihilate the Stealth 15M in synthetic graphics benchmarks like 3DMark, where the ROG Strix G15 scored nearly fifty percent higher than the Stealth 15M.

Dull display

Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

Fewer and fewer gaming laptops are built with low-quality displays these days, but, the Stealth 15M is stuck far in the past for its price point. The display’s 144Hz refresh rate is fast, so it does feel snappy and responsive when you play, but the images won’t be as spectacular as they could be. The display is dim and muddy, covering only about 60% of the sRGB color gamut. Even today’s budget gaming laptops, like the HP Victus 16—which covers the entire sRGB gamut and generally looks amazing—have more vivid screens on average.

If you want to take this laptop out into the sun, you’ll struggle to see the screen, which can’t even make it to 300 nits of brightness. At 288 nits, the image feels a little washed out in a bright office. In games, the dimness meant poor contrast that made dark game scenes harder to analyze. Horror gamers should beware since it’s more frustrating than it is terrifying to get caught by the monster because you couldn’t tell if the dark gray blob was a monster or a fridge.

You have three hours to find a power outlet

Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

If you think a thin, fashionable gaming laptop should put portability at the forefront, you will be disappointed in the Stealth 15M’s three-hour battery life. Our battery life test simulates how long the battery will last while you do productivity work, watch videos, and browse the web. From a full charge, we drain the laptop battery by cycling through popular web pages while the screen is set to 200 nits of brightness.

Some laptops, like the Razer Blade 14, cap power to up the battery life, but even with the power limits and an eight-hour battery life the Blade 14 doesn’t underperform compared to the Stealth 15M. The MSI Delta 15 tops the competition with almost ten hours of battery life from its 82Whr battery, and it still keeps excellent gaming performance. Even budget gaming laptops, like the HP Victus 16, can still manage to get seven and a half hours of battery life.

The laptop is devoid of features, especially for its price

Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

The way this laptop is designed reminds me of something that would have come out five years ago. The bottom display bezel is needlessly chunky, measuring about an inch wide. Meanwhile, the trackpad is small both longitudinally and latitudinally at 2.5 x 4.125 inches—that’s about fifty percent smaller than the MacBook Air’s 3.25 x 4.75-inch trackpad—and the layout of the trackpad, keys, and speaker grille could have optimized its space much better; the audio bar above the keyboard forces the trackpad downward and removes space that could have been used for more trackpad surface area.

The lid of the laptop is another major hiccup. The plastic interior leaves the lid with a flexible flimsiness, and the long border along the screen’s bottom could have been cut to feature a 16:10 display.

Meanwhile, the port selection is middling. On the left side, there is a USB-A port and a headphone jack. On the right, there is another USB-A port, two USB-C ports, and an HDMI 2.1 port. There is no Ethernet port or Thunderbolt ports. With so many laptops in this price range offering Ethernet, 16:10 displays, extra hotkeys, huge and smooth trackpads, and other flourishes, I’m left scratching my head as to what’s supposed to make this laptop stand out from its competition.

Should you buy it?

No, you can get something better for less

Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

The Stealth 15M we reviewed has recently been on sale for as low as $1,499 at Costco, but even at the sale price, this laptop is too expensive for what it offers. It performs on par with budget gaming laptops selling at hundreds of dollars less—laptops tailored to play the most popular esports at high framerates. Some gaming laptops that have the same graphics card as the Stealth 15M justify a higher price tag because they have a stellar high-resolution screen or a phenomenal battery life, but the Stealth 15M asks too much for what it offers.

If you’re looking for a laptop that matches what the Stealth 15M offers for much less, you should be looking at our best budget gaming laptops. The HP Victus 16 and the Acer Nitro 5 are both great sub-$1,000 gaming laptops, each with much better battery life, display quality, and build quality.

On the other hand, if you are looking for the best gaming laptop that’s about $1,600, you have much better options. The MSI Delta 15 and the Lenovo Legion 5 Pro Gen 6 have better performance across the board and are just as stylish. The MSI Delta 15 even throws in almost ten-hour battery life, while the Lenovo Legion 5 Pro’s RTX 3070 is perfect for playing ray traced games. The Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 is a bit pricier at $1,650 for the base configuration (it’s on sale for $1,499 at Best Buy at the time of writing), but it offers similar performance, nine hours of battery life, a small and well-built body, and a jaw-dropping 2160p screen that’s suitable for HDR content.

Even if you see the Stealth 15M drop down to a thousand dollars on sale, the best budget gaming laptops simply have more to offer. Good looks are not enough to carry a laptop, and the aesthetic is the Stealth 15M’s strongest feature.

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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.

Meet the tester

Adrien Ramirez

Adrien Ramirez

Staff Writer

@itsaramkat

Adrien is a staff writer for Reviewed, mainly focused on reviewing laptops and other consumer tech. During his free time, he's usually wandering around Hyrule.

See all of Adrien Ramirez's reviews

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