The big picture: MSI has partnered with AMD to create a relatively inexpensive, entry-level gaming laptop. The Alpha 15 is a capable machine that offers a high refresh rate display and “giant” speakers in a compact package that starts at $999.
This week AMD launched the Radeon RX 5500 graphics solution for people on a tight budget. MSI took that as an opportunity to create an affordable laptop that’s powered by 7nm AMD components and should offer decent gaming performance for the price. Specifically, AMD says the 5500M should be 30 percent faster that Nividia’s GTX 1650 mobile graphics, and capable of “60 fps in select AAA titles and 90 FPS in eSports games.”
The MSI Alpha 15 is equipped with the mobile counterpart of the RX 5500, which will drive a 1920 by 1080 display. Some Alpha 15 models will come equipped with 120 Hz panels and others will integrate 144 Hz IPS panels, but all of them have 5mm bezels and support FreeSync. The Radeon RX 5500M has 4GB of GDDR6 VRAM (half the amount found in the desktop version), and has access to AMD’s Radeon Image Sharpening and Anti-Lag technology.
Since this is an all-AMD laptop, it also integrates the company’s Ryzen 7 processor lineup, with a choice of up to Ryzen 7 3750H in the maxed out model. This is paired with up to 64 GB of DDR4 RAM (2 slots), but the base model only comes with one 8 GB module. The Alpha 15 has enough room to house one M.2 SSD and a 2.5 inch HDD, so you can get the best of both worlds.
The cool all that hardware, MSI is using a 7-heatpipe cooling module that should hold decently under long gaming sessions. Despite the fact that the Alpha 15 is slightly more compact than other 15-inch gaming laptops, the company filled 25 percent of the space inside the chassis with “giant” speakers. However, that only left enough room for a 51 Whr battery, which will likely only give you a few hours of backup power.
In terms of connectivity, the Alpha 15 has one USB Type-C port (no Thunderbolt) and 3 regular USB ports, along with the usual assortment of microSD card reader, mini-DisplayPort, and audio jacks. You also get Wi-Fi 5, Bluetooth 5.0 and Killer Ethernet. It’s worth mentioning the keyboard features per-key SteelSeries RGB lighting and there’s also a distinct dragon logo on the back of the display.
You should expect the MSI Alpha 15 to drop in stores later this month. The base model will cost $999 with 8GB of RAM and a 120 Hz display, and $1,099 for 16GB of RAM and a 144 Hz panel. The laptop is also part of AMD’s Raise the Game promotion, which means you can get Borderlands 3 or Ghost Recon Breakpoint for free with your purchase.
MSI seems to be aiming to compete against the popular Acer Predator Helios 300 gaming laptop that also prioritizes gaming capable hardware and starts at ~$1,000. For people who aren’t interested in gaming, it’s worth looking at Microsoft’s recently announced Surface Laptop 3.