The MSIs are a terrific value.
I loved the trackpad on the Stealth – great, glass-surfaced MS Precision trackpad. Major thumbs-up.
I did not love the keyboard. I eventually got it where I was happy with the lighting, but the SteelSeries’ penchant for light-bleed-as-feature took some work to overcome the glare, especially the function key row, where the half-depth keys and a fairly high desk height meant that I often caught the LED light directly in the retina. I ended up putting them one notch from “off” to make it work.
I’m actually a little surprised that the Asus felt worth it to me, despite the higher price coupled with several technical shortcomings when compared with the MSI (no Thunderbolt, half the RAM, odd 24GB RAM cap, single 4-channel NVME capability preventing RAID 0).
Ultimately what won me over to the Asus when directly comparing the two in-house was the superior overall performance coupled with sheer refinement and attention to detail. What it does, it does really, really well.
The fans sound better (lower frequency, more airflow sound vs more fan noise), and do their job with slightly lower overall noise – although both are surprisingly excellent in this (provided you avoid Turbo like the plague, on either – and you almost certainly do not need it), but overall the Asus gets a slight nod in the fan department. That’s on the thin models, though – the DTR devices like the Raider should do better.
The keyboard lighting is the best I’ve used – great, saturated colors with practically zero bleed. Excellent key feel for a chicklet keyboard (no wobble).
The Asus loses points for the trackpad, partly due to size but mostly due to the material – it’s plastic so there’s too much friction compared to a modern glass trackpad. It works fine, with good gesture and scrolling performance, and the placement to the right of the kb works better than you might expect.
Those points are made up by the GPU performance. They use the top-binned Max Q GPU the way it was meant to be used: to enable a wide range of performance, from electron-sipping silent mode all the way up to rip-snorting desktop-level performance that still manages to keep the heat down. I have yet to see it exceed 75C (usually it is 71-73), and it’s basically pegged at 1500Mhz (+/- 100) when gaming in Balanced mode. It’s impressive.