MSI GF65 Thin with Pop_OS! Review

Lenovo Ideapad 110 I had been using for 4 years was fried when the charger broke down. I started using my brother's MSI GF65 laptop with Pop_OS! And I got to say, I didn't expect it to work as well as it did, especially given that MSI builds computer optimized for and preinstalled with Windows.

This review of MSI GF65 Thin will highlight what worked out-of-the-box, what didn't and what required some tinkering to get it working. I have been using this laptop for about 3 months as of writing this review.

The Good

Nvidia 3060 Mobile GPU

This powerful GPU is able to run AAA games in High presets without lagging a bit (while using external laptop fans), even on Linux. I played many demanding games such as Detroit Become Human, Satisfactory, Minecraft with realistic shaders and Frostpunk. Visuals were both incredible and smooth (again, with external fans).

Hybrid Graphics

I run this laptop in hybrid graphics mode to avoid killing its battery fast. After all, a powerful GPU is a power hungry GPU. Dedicated GPU only kicks in while playing a game, Blender rendering or video recording. Integrated GPU is used all the time. I am writing this review while unplugged. Battery lasts about 2.5 hours in hybrid graphics mode if not actively using the dedicated GPU.


Boot time of Windows and Pop_OS! are nearly the same even though Pop_OS! is encrypted. Performance during operation is same too. I am very happy with performance of this computer even though MSI builds Windows exclusive devices.

Fan activity and battery charge limit

This laptop has very quiet fans and battery that shouldn't wear out as fast as other laptops thanks to charge level limiting. Unfortunately, only way to configure fan speed and adjusting battery charge limit is to use Dragon Centre software on Windows. MSI doesn't provide Linux build of their software. Yet, after configuring fan speed and battery limit on Windows, they work on Linux as well. I am happy to see that I am not losing these features because I switched to Linux.

The Bad

Battery capacity

51 Whr battery is small for a laptop with this processor and GPU. I can get 2 hours with screen at medium brightness, WiFi on and while running Amberol music player, Publii, Steam, Element, Thunderbird, Nextcloud client and Firefox with 12 tabs. Battery life is barely 30 minutes while playing a AAA game.

Battery life is not any different on Windows according to online reviews. I didn't test this laptop's battery on Windows to come to a conclusion of my own.


Fans will get loud when I play a game. Unless I am using the external laptop cooler, game will start lagging after 10 minutes or so. I have to switch to medium graphics on Detroit Become Human for frame rate to be playable. It is not that fans are useless. They push a good deal of hot air. Even though it has many heat pipes, this cooling system is not good enough for this GPU at times.

The Ugly

Another reason I use hybrid graphics rather than Nvidia Graphics only mode is the visual glitches appearing on GNOME desktop after a suspend. GPU will forget a random selection of glyphs after every suspend. Imagine "Applications" button on the top left corner becoming "A   l cat ons".

Also some games won't open at all and throw unsupported GPU error even though Nvidia GPU is still running and that game uses Nvidia GPU even when in Hybrid graphics mode. It should be noted that I saw this problem with Windows games running via Valve Proton.


I recommend this laptop only as a desktop replacement that won't move around too much. Pop_OS! is a very good choice as long as you configured fan speed and battery limit to your liking on Windows. Pop_OS! is miles ahead of Windows 11 in privacy. In terms of performance, Pop_OS! is match with Windows for daily tasks. Depending on process, sometimes Pop_OS! and sometimes Windows is slightly ahead.


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This article was updated on 19 Jul 2022