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This MSI Laptop Is A Perfect Mid-Range Compact Machine For Power-Hungry Gamers Out There



AMD has been on the rise for quite some time now with some of its components offering similar or even better performance in some cases over Intel parts. But not all AMD-powered machines, especially laptops are worth checking out, thanks to AMD's "not-so-good" track record when it comes to mobile devices. The new MSI Alpha 15 laptop, however, is something that'll catch your attention.

The Alpha 15 A3DDK is a part of MSI's Alpha series that includes all AMD components. On paper, it seems like it packs a powerful punch for a very lucrative price. But is it really worth it?

Well, I've been using the MSI Alpha 15 laptop as my primary machine for a few weeks now and I think it's a really good machine for the price. 

Here's what I make of it:

1. Design & Build Quality

MSI's Alpha series notebooks look a little different from their usual gaming notebooks. Instead of flaunting a gaudy red or blue colour, which most gaming laptops tend to do these days, the Alpha 15 has a simple matte black chassis.

MSI Alpha 15 review© Karthik Iyer/ MensXP

I like how the front of the laptop looks like a race car hood with two curves and a thunderbird logo in the middle. The hinge of the laptop also feels solid and it's complemented with a few red accents at the back along with the heat vents.

The laptop is not overly heavy, nor is it gigantic in size. It's the kind of compact notebook that I'd happily recommend. On the inside, you'll see a gorgeous keyboard courtesy of the folks over at Steelseries. The display also has minimal bezels on three sides, so there's not much to complain about.

The keyboard layout is made out of plastic, but I'd like to point out that it feels just as premium as a high-end notebook with a chassis made out of a different material. The really like the finish, especially where my palm rests on the laptop as I write this review.

MSI Alpha 15 review© Karthik Iyer/ MensXP

Overall, I'd say the MSI Alpha 15 is a solid gaming notebook. The overall design and the build quality of the notebook kind of reminds of the ASUS TUF gaming notebook series. Solid build quality with impressive looks.

2. Display

The Alpha 15 sports a 15.6-inch FHD display inside. It supports 144Hz refresh rate as well as AMD's FreeSync, which is a fancy tech that's made to eliminate screen tearing in-game by syncing the refresh rate between the display and the GPU. Technical details aside, this is a beautiful looking panel.

MSI Alpha 15 review© Karthik Iyer/ MensXP

The viewing angles are really nice and the brightness is on-point. I also like how the display shows a natural color palette. This is now one of my favorite display to consume content on. Be it gaming, or simply watching a movie, you'll instantly notice a difference, especially if you're like me who's coming from a two-year-old laptop.

3. Keyboard and Trackpad

The Steelseries keyboard on the A3DDK features per-key RGB lighting and it looks great. You can play around the Steelseries software to change the lighting patterns and there's a ton of them to choose from.  There's also a dedicated button to change between the different patterns and brightness.

As for the keys themselves, this has been one of my favorites keyboards to use for typing. Steelseries makes really good keyboards and this is no different. The keys have decent travel and are perfect to churn out long-form stories.

MSI Alpha 15 review© Karthik Iyer/ MensXP

As for the trackpad, it uses Windows precision drivers and it's quite responsive. Instead of a clickable trackpad, you get two buttons. They're nice and sturdy, so no complaints there either. Since this is a gaming laptop, you'll anyway be investing in a good gaming mouse, so there's hardly anything to worry about.

4. Ports

Despite having somewhat of a compact form factor, the Alpha 15 has pretty much all the ports that you'd need. On the right, you a two USB 3.2 Type-A ports along with an SD card slot. On the left-hand side, you get an ethernet port along with an HDMI port, a mini display port, USB 3.2 Type-A, USB 3.2 Type-C ports along with 3.5mm headphone and mic jacks.

MSI Alpha 15 review© Karthik Iyer/ MensXP

If there's one thing that I don't like the placement of the USB Type-A ports on the right side. The wires connecting to the peripheral will often come in the way of your game by restricting the mouse movement. Not a deal-breaker, but it might take you some time to get used to this.

5. Performance

The Alpha 15 A3DDK is powered by the AMD Ryzen 7-3750H processor with 16GB of RAM. My review unit comes with 512GB NVMe SSD which is pretty fast. I remember being able to transfer a 5Gb file in around 11 seconds which is not bad at all.

Since this a gaming laptop, let's talk about the GPU. This machine is equipped with AMD Radeon RX5500M GPU with 4GB VRAM. This GPU is comparable to the GTX 1650 and the GTX 1660 Ti. In many cases, the RX5500M manages to beat the GTX 1650 with better frame rates at 1080p.

I wanted to push the GPU to its limits, so I ran all the games that I tested in 1080p with the highest graphics settings. This is not what I ideally do to test the performance, but I figured why not put the AMD GPU through its paces. You can see the results below in the benchmark chat.

It's' worth pointing out that the frame rates are much better when you tweak the graphics settings a bit. Games like Apex Legends and Fortnite will easily hit 144Hz when you play around the settings a bit or turn them all the way down. But if you want nothing but absolute best when it comes to graphics, then you have the numbers in front of you.

As for the thermals, I'd say the Alpha 15 has some powerful fans. They don't hold back while gaming. I set them to max performance while gaming, so they instantly kick in as soon as I launch a game. The laptop sounds like it's about to take off any moment from a runway, so you definitely need a good pair of headphones to play games.

That being said, the fans keep the laptop from overheating. I am yet to have faced thermal throttling even while playing games for long hours. I've been playing a lot of Apex Legends lately to get better at the game, so I usually end up playing for more than 6 to 7 hours in one sitting. If the laptop can handle that, then I think it's sorted.

6. Battery Life

MSI Alpha 15 review© Karthik Iyer/ MensXP

The Alpha 15 A3DDK packs a 51 Wh battery. Simply put, the battery life of the Alpha 15 is not impressive at all. I think it's the only thing which I don't like about this laptop. With moderate "work" usage, I was only getting 3 to 4 hours of battery life, which is not good. Yes, gaming laptops all have average battery life, but I expected better from the Alpha 15.

7. The Final Say

Overall, I'd say the MSI Alpha 15 A3DDK is a decent mid-range gaming notebook. The Ryzen 7 3750H paired with the RX 5500M will allow you to play all the current-gen AAA titles at 1080p resolution with decent graphics smoothly. As I mentioned, the RX5500M sits right smack in the middle of the GTX 1650 and the GTX 1660 Ti.

I also like the display and the build quality of the laptop, so it definitely gets brownie points for that. The only issue I have with this laptop is the battery life, but I think that's been the case with a lot of gaming laptop these days, so it's not exclusive to the Alpha 15. 

For Rs. 81,000 (best price online), the MSI Alpha 15 is a very good laptop in my opinion. If you're on the lookout for a decent gaming laptop and don't want to spend a ton of cash, then this is worth considering as an option.

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