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Planning to buy a new laptop? Narrowed it down to MSI vs ASUS?
Check out the best general-purpose and gaming laptops from MSI and ASUS. We compared models from two companies in four price brackets.
If you plan on getting a laptop, finding the right model can be a nightmare. There are lots of excellent models in every price tier, from a multitude of manufacturers. Even when you narrow your price range and type of laptop (gaming or general-purpose device) the struggle to find the best one can be real.
Today, we tried making the quest for the best laptop a bit easier. We picked two brands – MSI and ASUS – and compared the best offerings from the two companies. We picked the best budget, mid-range, high-end, and best overall (when the price doesn’t matter) models from the two manufacturers.
We compared two models and picked the winner in each price range. We did this both for gaming and general-purpose laptops to help you find the best laptop if you’re choices are between MSI and ASUS.
1. ASUS VivoBook 15 3500U & ASUS Chromebook C202: Best budget laptops for general purpose
This product category includes entry-level laptops. And we already faced the first problem. There aren’t MSI laptops that are extremely affordable. So, instead of a face-off, the budget category features two affordable models from ASUS – a Windows machine and a Chromebook. Yes, for those who wonder ASUS is the clear winner in the general-purpose budget category.
The first choice is the inexpensive ASUS VivoBook 15 3500U equipped with an eighth-generation Core i3 CPU and 8GB of RAM. A solid combo for a budget device, this ASUS laptop is more than enough for menial tasks. Surfing, watching movies, and doing some work in Word won’t be an issue. Problems might arise if you multitask.
The good stuff continues with a 128GB SSD and a 15.6-inch 1080p display. The design is stunning for an entry-level device. Bezels are very thin and the laptop looks slim and quite attractive. You also get a fingerprint sensor on the touchpad and a USB-C port on the side.
The main downside is that the preinstalled Windows is Windows S, which only supports apps downloaded from the Microsoft Store. Luckily you can switch to Windows Home. Next, the keyboard is average at best (but it has a backlight) and the display leaves a lot to be desired. Also, battery life is below average (for better results, turn off the keyboard backlight).
Overall, this is a more than solid convertible for the price. If you want something more powerful, the model comes with Ryzen 5 CPU, 256GB SSD, and a higher price.
The 11-inch ASUS Chromebook C202 is perfect for kids. It can also be a great portable device for those who need something basic and rugged. It offers a basic setup with Celeron CPU, 4GB of RAM, and a choice between 16GB and 32GB of flash storage. Not much, but enough for basic tasks such as typing and surfing.
The C202 is shock and water-resistant and its thick chassis hosts a surprisingly good keyboard. The display isn’t bright, sharp, or has great color accuracy. The battery is excellent and should offer more than 8 hours of use. Overall, this is a dirt-cheap Chromebook that packs a lot for the price.
2. ASUS TUF FX505DT & MSI GF63 Thin 9SC-614: Best budget laptops for gaming
The ASUS TUF FX505DT is a pretty good pick for a budget gaming laptop. For the price, this portable gaming machine offers an excellent CPU, relatively capable GPU, 8 gigs of RAM, and 256GB of fast SSD storage. The chassis is bulky and made of plastic, with solid ruggedness. It does creak and flex a bit under pressure but that’s expected for this price range.
The screen is okay, for the price. A 1080p, 120 Hz panel with average brightness, solid contrast, and slim bezels. Colors, on the other hand, are shallow and color accuracy is well below average. Finally, monitor ghosting could be a problem since response times are below par. Battery life is average and you’ll need a power outlet nearby when gaming. Also, the 256 gigs of storage are fast but you’d want to upgrade since a handful of games can fill it to the brim.
Gaming performance is decent for an entry-level gaming laptop. Ryzen 5 3550H can match Core i5-8300H, which means it won’t be a bottleneck in any game. Gaming performance is solid. You’ll be able to play modern AAA titles with high details at about 40 frames per second. On the other hand, esports and multiplayer titles will run smoothly as butter. Overall, this model packs a mighty punch for the price and is an excellent choice for gamers on a budget.
The MSI GF63 Thin 9SC-614 is more expensive than the ASUS TUF FX505DT but it does come with a few upgrades. First of all, you get double the storage with 512 GB of SSD storage. Next, you get aluminum chassis and a slightly better keyboard. The case creaks and flex but it’s better than the ASUS model.
The screen is okayish. Low brightness is accompanied by shallow colors and low color accuracy. 1080p and only 60 Hz aren’t something to be excited about. Finally, the contrast is solid but the response time is slow.
The battery is bad, especially when gaming. But performance is where the MSI GF63 shines. Fast Core i5-9300H CPU is a bit faster than the Ryzen 5 found on the ASUS laptop.
Paired with 8 gigs of RAM and GTX 1650 it offers the same performance as the other model in this comparison. This is great since you’ll be able to play AAA games on decent settings and esports titles at full 60fps.
The MSI GF63 offers lots for the money. It isn’t as affordable as the ASUS TUF FX505DT. But, it does come with a better case, bigger storage, and a bit more powerful Intel CPU.
3. ASUS ZenBook 13 UX331FA-AS51 & MSI Modern 14 A10M-460: Best mid-range laptops for general purpose
The two general-purpose picks sport almost the same price. The MSI offers a newer model with the latest Core i5 processor.
The first is the ASUS Zenbook 13 UX331FA-AS51 equipped with an 8th gen Core i5 CPU and a nice 512 GB SSD. First, the design is excellent for a mid-range device. The thin silhouette combined with a slick aluminum chassis makes for a highly attractive convertible. The case is rigid but it will bend a bit if you apply high force.
When it comes to the keyboard and touchpad, they’re decent. The backlight keyboard is solid. Typing is enjoyable but there are much better keyboards out there. Also, the keyboard feels cramped and some keys are smaller than the standard, like the right Shift and CTRL. The touchpad is fine. It could be bigger but it comes with a nice bonus in the form of a fingerprint reader.
The 13-inch 1080p IPS display is sharp with great viewing angles. Contrast is great for an IPS display, with accurate colors and a wide color gamut, in line with high-end models. The viewing experience is superb, with deep blacks and vibrant colors. The only downside is low brightness. The battery is another major plus. It should last up to 12 hours with average usage (surfing, watching videos).
Finally, the performance is on the level with similarly priced laptops. The Core i5-8265u allows snappy performance in any scenario, with room for multitasking. Coupled with 8 gigs of RAM, the Zenbook 13 UX331FA-AS51 is a powerful mid-ranger. Overall, this is an amazing device for the price. It can clash with more expensive models and it doesn’t have any major downside.
Next, we have the MSI Modern 14 A10M-460. The main point of difference is the latest Core i5-10210u processor that offers performance in line with older i7 CPUs. You also get 8GB of RAM and 512 GB of SSD storage. The aluminum chassis does bend a bit, but it gives an impression of a well-built device. The design is not as attractive as with the Zenbook 13. The Modern 14 features a cold industrial design that lacks that subtle touch of the ASUS model.
The screen is a 14-inch 1080p IPS panel, and it is pretty good. Colors are accurate and vibrant with wide viewing angles. On the other hand, we have an average contrast and low brightness. Overall, good for the price but one on the Zenbook 13 is noticeably better. The keyboard is average. Typing is okay and the layout features small right-side CTRL and Shift keys. The trackpad is also average. It’s small and not very accurate. You also don’t get a fingerprint scanner.
The performance is great. The latest i5 CPU is superb for mixed-use. You can multitask without issues and have some serious work done on this device. Overall, MSI Modern 14 is a solid laptop for the price. But when compared to the Zenbook 13 UX331FA-AS51, it falls short, even though it packs a newer CPU.
4. ASUS TUF FX505DV & MSI GF65 Thin 9SE-013: Best mid-range laptops for gaming
Climbing into the mid-range gaming category, we have the most powerful 2019 TUF model, the ASUS TUF FX505DV. It packs a Ryzen 7 3750H CPU, 16 gigs of RAM, and an RTX 2060 GPU. These major upgrades over the budget model come with almost a double in price. When it comes to the chassis, keyboard, and display, read the overview of the basic model. In short, okay 120 Hz 1080p display that lacks brightness and color gamut.
On the other side, gaming performance is miles better than on the basic model. Expect silky smooth 60 frames per second in most modern AAA games with all settings turned to the max. Outliers include extremely demanding games such as Metro Exodus or Control. You can turn on RTX effects in games that support it, but the performance will dip below 40 FPS. When it comes to esports titles, they will run at 120 frames without any issue.
Performance-wise, this is an excellent gaming laptop that’s also relatively affordable. The same chassis as on the base model combined with more powerful internals means the laptop will get quite hot on the GPU side when under load.
Battery life is okay for a gaming machine. Ryzen 7 and RTX 2060 use power from the same battery packed in the base model. This means 4-5 hours of usage when browsing the web or watching movies. Gaming will drain the battery in one hour.
Overall, this is a solid mid-range laptop that offers performance over screen quality. If you’re ready to sacrifice a nice screen you’ll get a powerful gaming machine with a 120 Hz display.
The MSI model is the GF65 Thin 9SE-013 that packs the same GPU but with an Intel i7 CPU. You also get 16 GB of RAM and a 512 GB SSD. Build quality, keyboard and trackpad are the same as on the GL63.
The display is a 15-inch 1080p 120 Hz IPS with solid contrast and wide viewing angles. Everything else is average. It’s an okay display for the price and at least it comes with a 120 Hz refresh rate. Performance is where the GL65 shines.
Expect a smooth 60 Hz experience with all the latest AAA games with 120 FPS and more with esports titles. And RTX-supported games will be able to run at decent framerates. This is the same as with ASUS TUF but with a more capable CPU.
Battery life is a bit better than with TUF. Expect about 1 hour more with light usage. The GF65 is a capable mid-range gaming laptop that offers a lot for the price. It’s a better choice than the RTX 2060-equipped ASUS TUF laptop.
5. ASUS ZenBook 15 UX534FT & MSI Prestige 15 A10SC-010: Best high-end laptops for general purpose
General-purpose picks in the high-end segment include ZenBook 15 and Prestige 15 models. Do note that the MSI model is about 30 percent more expensive than the ASUS device.
Climbing into the high-end segment we expect excellent all-around specs and the ZenBook 15 UX534FT doesn’t disappoint. You have a powerful Core i7-8565u processor, 16 gigabytes of RAM, and 1TB of SSD storage. The brushed aluminum chassis is great. Slim and rigid, it’s amazing to the touch.
The keyboard takes some time to get used to but once you do, typing is enjoyable. You get the numeric pad but also a rather small arrow and function keys. The layout can be a problem, making typing somewhat slow until you get used to it. ZenBook 15 features a ScreenPad, which is a full-touch display in the place of the touchpad.
It offers solid general performance. As a secondary display, it comes with solid brightness and contrast but also a grainy image. The main display is a 1080p unit with narrow bezels on all sides. It offers average brightness, excellent contrast, and solid colors. Viewing angles are wide but there’s a bit of backlight bleeding present. Overall, it’s pretty good but not great.
The performance is superb. The powerful CPU and lots of RAM are suited for almost any task. You can do everything aside from advanced video editing. You can edit videos on this model, but if you want the best it’s better to get a proper workstation. The inclusion of GTX 1650 Max-Q allows for some light to moderate gaming, which is another plus.
The battery life is excellent. It can last more than 8 hours with medium use, even more, when just surfing or watching videos. We also noticed the lack of Thunderbolt 3 support and the lack of a fingerprint reader. This shouldn’t happen in this price range.
At least the camera supports Windows Hello feature. Overall, this is an excellently built high-end ultrabook. It offers great performance, a solid keyboard, and a solid screen.
The MSI Prestige 15 A10SC-010 is one of the best laptops made by MSI. It comes with powerful internals that includes an i7-10710u CPU, 32 GB of RAM, and a 1TB SSD. The GTX 1650 is also present, allowing for some gaming in between working sessions. The build quality is solid but below the ZenBook 15. Rigidity is lower and the chassis can flex quite easily.
The keyboard is solid. It comes with shallow keys, like most other ultrabooks. On the other hand, typing is pleasant and the layout is better than on the ZenBook 15. The touchpad is wide and great for multi-touch. It offers good accuracy and is overall pretty solid.
The screen is a 4K unit with excellent color accuracy. It has saturated colors that pop thanks to the excellent brightness. Contrast is also excellent but the response time is slow. This leads to noticeable ghosting.
Performance is great thanks to the hexacore CPU and tons of RAM. Add the GTX 1650 and you got yourself an all-around machine where everything is smooth. The performance is on par with last-gen Core i9 devices, which is praiseworthy.
Battery life is quite good. Expect a bit below 8 hours from the battery on medium use. You get a fingerprint reader but no Windows Hello support. The device also comes with 2 Thunderbolt 3 ports.
The MSI Prestige 15 is an excellent high-end convertible. It looks nice, comes with a bright and saturated screen and it offers superb performance. It’s more expensive than the ZenBook 15 but if you have the money, the Prestige 15 is a better choice.
When it comes to gaming laptops, we picked two models that are just a step below the ultimate best. They are almost as powerful as flagship devices but sport up to 50 percent lower price.
6. ASUS ROG Strix Scar III G531GW-DB76 & MSI GS75 Stealth-1074: Best high-end laptops for gaming
The ASUS ROG Strix Scar III G531GW-DB76 is one of the best gaming laptops around. You get Core i7-9750h CPU, RTX 2070, and 16 gigs of RAM. The offering completes with a large 1TB SSD and a 15.6-inch 1080p 240 Hz display. The chassis is thick but it looks thinner than it is. The build quality is solid, with strong rigidity and a premium feel on touch.
The screen is sharp and ultra-fast with a 240 Hz response time. Despite this fact, the panel is IPS, not TN. This gives the display excellent color reproduction and accuracy. However, brightness and contrast could’ve been better. Color gradients can be visible when viewing videos. Response time is great and without any ghosting artifacts. The display is excellent for gaming but it isn’t perfect.
The keyboard is excellent for typing. You’ll be able to have long typing sessions without issues. And the touchpad is serviceable. The laptop is also covered with RBG lighting. You have it on the cover, on the keyboard, and also at the bottom.
When it comes to performance the Strix Scar III is a beast. 16 gigs of RAM is enough for every game and the RTX 2070 (not Max-Q) will run any game in high FPS on the 1080p display.
Battery life is mediocre. It offers about 4 hours when browsing or watching movies. One major downside is that you won’t find a webcam here. Yes, there isn’t any. Overall, this is an excellent gaming laptop that comes with beastly performance and a slick design. The only major downside is the omission of the webcam.
The MSI GS75 Stealth-1074 sports the same internals as the ROG Strix Scar. It features more RAM but that doesn’t affect the overall performance. In other words, expect excellent performance in any current or future game. This is a serious gaming laptop and there’s no game at the moment that can challenge it. Except maybe Control with full RTX effects.
Now, to the build quality. The GS75 looks thinner than the ROG Strix Scar and it comes with excellent build quality. We like its minimalistic design. The potential downside is that the body is mostly made out of plastic, but that doesn’t hurt it. It flexes a bit, but it’s nothing worrying. Overall, the GS75 is rigid and well built.
When it comes to the display, we have a 1080p 144 Hz panel. That’s not 240 Hz like with the ASUS model but here you get better brightness and contrast ratio. Like with the other model, the display features great color reproduction and a short reaction time. In other words, this is an excellent display. It just isn’t a 240 Hz one, which might be a problem for some.
The keyboard is pleasant to type on, but not as good as on the ROG Strix Scar. The layout is a bit wonky, with a small Windows key and cut-off right Shift key. The touchpad is solid but its placement can be problematic. There’s also plenty of RGB lighting here.
Battery life is solid. It can offer almost 6 hours during medium usage (browsing, multimedia). Overall, the MSI GS75 Stealth is another superb gaming laptop. It sports almost the same price as the ASUS Strix Scar III but offers more RAM. The choice should be up to you since both are excellent gaming machines.
7. ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo UX581 & MSI WS75 9TL-496: Best enthusiast laptops for general purpose
Now, let’s compare the best of the best from both manufacturers.
The ASUS Zenbook Pro Duo UX581 is the ultimate laptop from ASUS. It’s a powerful workstation targeted at photo and video editors. The main selling point of the Pro Duo is its two screens.
The main one is a 14-inch 4K OLED panel that offers a fantastic viewing experience. Superb color gamut, excellent color accuracy. Wide viewing angles, and solid brightness. You won’t find many laptop displays that are better than this one.
The secondary screen takes the upper half of the bottom part of the laptop. It’s a 14.1-inch and is quite large. It isn’t OLED but it comes with wide viewing angles and solid brightness. Color accuracy is excellent though. Anyway, the second screen is great for well, secondary screen. It also supports lots of different features. Both the main and secondary displays are touch-sensitive.
The chassis is made of aluminum and it is thick. That also means the laptop is sturdy and it won’t flex easily. The keyboard is solid. A bit mushy but enjoyable to type on. Just forget typing on your lap since it’s pretty much impossible. The touchpad is also a screen. It’s serviceable and plays the role of both the touchpad and Num Pad.
The performance is amazing. The Core i9-9980HK combined with 32 gigs of RAM is excellent for virtually any work scenario. Heavy-duty video editing could use more RAM though. The RTX 2060 allows for serious gaming.
Battery life is mediocre at best. You’ll get about four hours, which is okay since there are two screens. Overall, the ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo is a powerful workstation perfectly suited for photo and video editors.
The MSI WS75 9TL-496 is another heavy-duty workstation. It packs the Core i9-9880H CPU combined with 32 GB of RAM and a powerful Quatro RTX 4000 professional graphics card. The case is the same as on the GS75 model, which we already covered. The keyboard used is quiet and very pleasant to use. You’ll be able to type for as long as you want without any issues. The touchpad is solid and quite wide.
The screen is 1080p (there’s also a 4K model) and it’s excellent. Brightness is solid and contrast is excellent for an IPS panel. Color accuracy is very good, although it could’ve been better. While photo and video editors should take the 4K version (which offers full AdobeRBG coverage), the 1080p panel is good enough for everyone else.
Performance is superb, as expected. Lots of RAM and a fast CPU are suited for any use scenario. There isn’t a task that the WS75 can’t handle. The RTX Quatro 4000 is more than enough for both professional use and gaming. It stands between RTX 2070 and 2080 when it comes to gaming performance. If you want one laptop to rule them all, this is an excellent choice.
Battery life is very good. About 6-8 hours while surfing and watching movies. Overall, The MSI WS75 is a superb mobile workstation. The only major downside is its price.
8. ASUS ROG Mothership GZ700 & MSI GT76 Titan DT-040: Best enthusiast laptops for gaming
The ASUS ROG Mothership GZ700 is the ultimate gaming laptop from ASUS. It features a modular design with a detachable keyboard and is huge. The built quality is excellent. Aluminum-made, thick and sturdy, this is a well-made machine.
The display is beautiful. Well saturated colors, excellent accuracy, and wide viewing angles. The 144 Hz refresh rate, nice contrast, and solid brightness are the cherry on the cake. Games look amazing and the display is also great for movies.
The detachable keyboard is very pleasant to type on. Keys provide bouncy feedback and are firm. You can adjust the keyboard to your liking and can use it wirelessly or in wired mode. The touchpad is a touchscreen that is quite usable. It also plays the role of the Num Pad, just like on the ZenBook Pro Duo.
The combination of Core i9 and RTX 2080 provides the best gaming experience you can have on a laptop. Every game will work perfectly and you don’t need to worry about performance with future titles. The laptop offers lots of RGB lighting. Battery life is okay. It can last up to five hours with mixed-use.
Another plus of this model is that it’s cooler than most other gaming laptops thanks to its modular design. The ASUS ROG Mothership truly is the ultimate portable gaming machine. It’s expensive as hell but if you have the money, it’s worth it.
The last model covered today is the ultimate gaming laptop from MSI, the GT76 Titan DT-040. This is a true desktop replacement. It’s a desktop PC that you can move around. It features desktop Core i7-9700K, RTX 2070, and 32 gigs of RAM. It’s a beastly machine that will eat every game for breakfast.
The device is built like a tank. It’s huge and bulky, but also sturdy and rugged. It’s extremely heavy but if you want a desktop replacement, you have to accept this. The fact that the Titan hosts desktop-grade components means that, during gaming, it will be loud as hell. Cramming such powerful components into such a small case will also make it hot. Remember that if you think about buying one.
The 17.3-inch 4K display is excellent. It has very high brightness and color accuracy. The colors are nice and saturated and the contrast value is solid. The keyboard is also superb. Pleasant to type on it for hours, and with great ergonomics.
Performance is, as expected, top of the line. Gaming at 4K is possible for lots of games. Some titles will require to turn some settings down or turn down the resolution. Battery life is average. 4 hours with medium use, which is solid when we take into account desktop-grade components.
The GT76 Titan is a proper desktop replacement. It’s a great gaming laptop but it’s huge and quite heavy. Also, it heats up rather easily and can be louder than any other laptop when gaming. But if you want the best, this is one of the better choices. If you want the most powerful version, check out the MSI GS75 Stealth equipped with Core i9-9880H and RTX 2080.
Some background on MSI and ASUS
Both ASUS and MSI built their brands as PC hardware manufacturers. For years, decades even, their focus was graphics cards and motherboards. The two are among the four biggest motherboard makers, along with Gigabyte and ASRock. And they’re also quality graphics card makers, with ASUS usually having a bit more expensive cards.
When it comes to other product categories, ASUS made the shift much sooner than MSI. Today, ASUS is a notable manufacturer of all kinds of hardware. From smartphones and tablets to laptops, to monitors and All-in-one PCs. MSI made the shift much later and is now recognized for its gaming laptops and monitors.
When it comes to notable products both companies are known as quality motherboard makers. ASUS’ ROG models are some of the best motherboards available. MSI’s MPG and Tomahawk are excellent high-end and mainstream gaming motherboards.
ASUS is also known for its legendary Xonar sound cards, Padfone series of smartphone hybrids, and the Nexus 7 tablet which ASUS made for Google. Its Republic of Gamers (RoG) brand encompasses a wide range of products. Its ZenBook business laptop line rivals many of Lenovo’s cult-favorite ThinkPad laptops. From monitors and motherboards to smartphones and laptops to graphics cards and PC peripherals ASUS has truly expanded to everything PC-related.
MSI, on the other hand, is known for its Optix series of gaming monitors – an excellent brand that packs lots of bang for the buck. The company also makes solid PC peripherals, but they aren’t market-leading or anything like that.
Which is the more recognizable laptop maker?
When it comes to products we’re talking about today – laptops – ASUS is by far the bigger name of the two. The company’s Zenbook line of notebooks gave one of the first ultrabook models back in 2011. Its Eee PC netbook started the short trend of ultra-portable netbook devices in 2007. The company also makes innovative products. Products such as the ScreenPad tech (putting a touchscreen in place of the touchpad). Or the world’s first 300Hz laptop screen, or dual-screen ASUS Pro Duo line.
MSI can’t brag about innovative technologies or ultra-popular notebook models. But, the company does have solid products. Its Prestige line is a solid choice for professionals. Stealth models are powerful gaming devices packed inside slim chassis. And Titan models are the ultimate portable gaming machines.
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