Over the last few years, we’ve seen a notable increase in the number of notebook shipping with AMD Ryzen processors. MSI’s Alpha 15 is one of the company’s newest gaming laptops to ship with an AMD CPU. With the Alpha 15’s rich, gaming-oriented set of features, does it have what it takes to compete with Intel? Let’s take a look.
Features & Design
At the core of the Alpha 15 is an AMD Ryzen 7 3750H processor and an AMD Radeon RX 5500M GPU. Priced at $999.99, this system also comes with 16GB of RAM, a half-terabyte PCI-E SSD, and a fast 144Hz 1080p FreeSync display. This hardware loadout makes the system relatively fast for a 2020 notebook.
The Alpha 15 also ships with a keyboard that was designed in collaboration with SteelSeries and features per-key RGB LED backlighting. This does nothing to improve the system’s performance, but the controllable RGB lights are always a crowd favorite.
On the downside, the system’s external chassis is predominantly constructed out of plastic. MSI tossed in aluminum palm rests and an aluminum back cover on the lid, but you will still see and feel a considerable amount of plastic on the system.
Our sister site PCMag tested one of MSI’s Alpha 15 notebooks against a handful of competing systems, all of which utilize Intel processors and Nvidia GPUs. The MSI Alpha 15 compares most favorably with the MSI GL65 9SC-004. Both of these systems include quad-core processors with eight threads, and the GPUs in these two notebooks are also more evenly matched.
The other three notebooks are considerably faster as they utilize Intel’s 6-core 12-thread Core i7-9750H processor. These systems also have more powerful GPUs, and you will see these three systems hold a clear lead in the following benchmarks. However, these systems are priced higher than the Alpha 15 and are best viewed as examples of what you could get if you had a few hundred extra dollars to spend.
Kicking things off with Cinebench R15, which is a processor-intensive test, we see the Alpha 15 fall behind all other competing systems. The same can be seen in the Photoshop CC test, clearly showing the AMD Ryzen 7 3750H isn’t quite able to match the competing Intel products.
Turning to graphics benchmarks we get more mixed results. In 3DMark the Alpha 15 continues to hang at the bottom of the list, but it trades places with the MSI GL65 back and forth in this test and the other graphics test.
Unigine’s Superposition 1.0 test shows the Alpha 15 as the slowest system in the group when tested with the 720p low quality preset. Switching to 1080p and turning the graphics settings up to high shows the MSI GL65 now in last place.
MSI finally scores a few decisive wins with the Alpha 15 when tested with Far Cry 5 and Rise of the Tomb Raider. The lead the Alpha 15 holds over the GL65 is relatively small in Far Cry 5, but it holds a fairly substantial lead in Rise of the Tomb Raider.
Looking over these test results, you may get a false impression that the Alpha 15 is a somewhat lackluster product. It’s true that the Alpha 15 struggled to rise above last place in many of these tests, but there’s more to a laptop than just how well it benchmarks. The Alpha 15 is targeted as being both an affordable gaming laptop and a high-performance gaming PC.
Priced just under $1,000, the Alpha 15 offers substantial value in the form of its high-end keyboard and fast 144Hz display. This, added to its solid gaming performance, makes the system a rather tempting solution for gamers looking to get the best system they can without spending more than $1,000. It’s also worth noting that all of the competing systems, with the exception of the MSI GL65 9SC, carry higher price tags. Overall, given its price point, performance, and features, I’d recommend the Alpha 15 as a strong option for anyone shopping in the sub $1,000 gaming laptop market.
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