MSI Titan 18 HX review: a gaming colossus

 An MSI Titan 18 HX on a table.
An MSI Titan 18 HX on a table.

MSI Titan 18 HX: Two minute review

The MSI Titan 18 HX returns in 2024, reclaiming its title as the best gaming laptop for those looking to splurge on the most over-the-top desktop replacement money can buy.

The Titan 18 HX, like its 2023 predecessor, the MSI GT77 Titan HX, is a $5,000 desktop PC masquerading as a gaming laptop. Clocking in at just under 8 lbs/4kg, you're going to feel this one if you ever have to actually carry it anywhere, and most backpacks out there won't even fit it. This laptop, then, will be relegated to your desk with the occasional trip to another room at most.

While it sacrifices portability, it does come with some absolutely bonkers hardware, including a 175W RTX 4090 mobile GPU, a 95W Intel Core i9-14900HX processor, up to 128GB DDR5 RAM, and up to 4TB SSD storage, with one of its three M.2 SSDs slots being a PCIe 5.0 interface for the best SSD speeds possible (though it doesn't come with a PCIe 5.0 drive, you'll have to provide that yourself). Throw in the world's first 18-inch 120Hz 4K+ mini LED display with 120Hz refresh and HDR1000 certification, and you have the most decadently specced gaming laptops I've ever tested.

And before you say it, mini LED isn't an OLED, I know, but I honestly prefer mini LED displays on gaming laptops, and this one can get you 112% of the DCI-P3 color gamut, so video editors and other creative pros might want to take note of this one as well.

Design-wise, this laptop is an improvement over its predecessor in a number of ways, not the least of which is that it does introduce some grey into the chassis to help break up the super-aggressive gamer black styling of the GT77 Titan HX (and even adds some light blue accent touches to the rear), as well as introducing a seamless trackpad and more refined curves into the keydeck.

The Titan 18 HX's mechanical keyboard, meanwhile, features Cherry MX ultra low-profile switches that are a dream to type on, and the seamless trackpad is adequate for basic use; but as with any gaming laptop, you'll probably want to use the best gaming mouse you have handy while actually gaming.

Given the laptop's size, MSI was able to pack in some powerful speakers that provide a much more immersive audio experience than you'll find on a lot of other laptops. Of course, you'll have to turn the volume up to drown out the whine of the laptop's cooling system, which can get noticeably loud under strain. You can adjust this in the MSI Center, though it will come at the cost of performance.

Speaking of performance, gaming on this laptop is an absolute joy. The very best PC games run buttery smooth at max settings, and while enabling ray tracing at the laptop's native 3840x2400p resolution on some titles will require you to use DLSS upscaling to get a playable framerate at 4K, that's the case with even the best graphics card in a desktop PC.

Still, for the amount of money this laptop will cost you, you could also be forgiven for asking if it's really worth the price. If you're the type to ask such a question, don't worry, it's an easy question to answer: this laptop isn't for you. If you want the absolute best gaming performance in a theoretically portable form factor and money isn't an object for you? Well, you are exactly the person this laptop is designed to cater to, and you won't find many, if any, better gaming laptops on the market than the MSI Titan 18 HX.

MSI Titan 18 HX: Price and availability

An MSI Titan 18 HX on a table
An MSI Titan 18 HX on a table
  • How much is it? Starting at $4,999.99 / £4,379.98 / AU$6,999

  • When is it available? It is available now.

  • Where can you get it? You can get it in the US, UK, and Australia

The MSI Titan 18 HX is available now in the US, UK, and Australia, starting at $4,999.99 / £4,379.98 / AU$6,999. All configurations come with an Intel Core i9-14900HX processor and 4K+ mini LED display, and the US has two configurations on sale right now. They both feature an Nvidia RTX 4090 mobile GPU and 4TB storage, with the only difference being a choice between 64GB or 128GB RAM.

In the UK, the Titan 18 HX starts with an Nvidia RTX 4080 GPU, 64GB DDR5 RAM, and 2TB PCIe 4.0 storage, and goes up as high as an RTX 4090 with 128GB RAM and 4TB storage. In Australia, the Titan 18 HX starts with an RTX 4080 GPU, 32GB RAM, and 2TB storage, and goes up to an RTX 4090, 128GB RAM, and 4TB storage.

In no universe is this a cheap gaming laptop, and it's challenging to think of another 18-inch laptop that goes quite this hard on the specs. Even the Alienware m18 R2 pulls back from a full 4K display, much less 4K+, and tops out at 64GB RAM. Even upping the m18 R2's storage to 8TB with everything else maxed out doesn't even bring you up to the MSI Titan 18 HX's starting price.

Again, I can't stress this enough, only those with the deepest pockets need consider this one.

  • Value: 2.5 / 5

MSI Titan 18 HX: Specs

An MSI Titan 18 HX on a table
An MSI Titan 18 HX on a table

This is easily the most obscenely configured gaming laptop I've ever laid hands on, and I wouldn't be surprised if you could still play the latest AAA games at max settings at 4K for the rest of the decade. The hardware will likely physically fail on you before this thing is rendered obsolete when it comes to gaming or high-end performance.

  • Specs: 5 / 5

MSI Titan 18 HX: Design

An MSI Titan 18 HX on a table
An MSI Titan 18 HX on a table
  • Gorgeous mini LED display

  • Improved chassis aesthetics

  • Ports galore

  • Low-profile mechanical keyboard with Cherry MX switches

The MSI Titan 18 HX introduces several improvements over last year's Titan, while generally keeping the fairly Decepticon-like aesthetic that the Titan is known for.

Starting with the sheer size of the thing, it's slightly bigger than its predecessor, a feat I didn't think possible. It also adds about 0.5 lbs to its weight, making it by far the heaviest laptop I've used in at least a decade or more.

Image 1 of 5

An MSI Titan 18 HX on a table
An MSI Titan 18 HX on a table

Image 2 of 5

An MSI Titan 18 HX on a table
An MSI Titan 18 HX on a table

Image 3 of 5

An MSI Titan 18 HX on a table
An MSI Titan 18 HX on a table

Image 4 of 5

An MSI Titan 18 HX on a table
An MSI Titan 18 HX on a table

Image 5 of 5

An MSI Titan 18 HX on a table
An MSI Titan 18 HX on a table

Opening it up, you'll find a low-profile mechanical keyboard with Cherry MX switches for some seriously smooth typing. The trackpad has gone seamless, as well, offering a glassy but responsive surface for your palms and fingertips to glide over. The trackpad itself is responsive, with good feedback, though a gaming mouse or controller is recommended for higher-level precision.

An MSI Titan 18 HX on a table
An MSI Titan 18 HX on a table

The Titan 18 HX comes loaded with 4x2W up-firing speakers on either side of the keyboard, as well as 2x2W subwoofers for extra bass, all of which work together to create some very rich sound, at least as far as laptop speakers go.

An MSI Titan 18 HX on a table
An MSI Titan 18 HX on a table

The IR webcam also gets an upgrade over last year's model, now at full HD as opposed to 720p, and features a physical privacy shutter, which you always love to see on a laptop.

An MSI Titan 18 HX on a table
An MSI Titan 18 HX on a table

The display though is the big feature here with a speedy 120Hz refresh rate on a 3840x2400p mini LED panel that is bright and vibrant. It also has VESA DisplayHDR 1000 certification for a fantastic color contrast with deep blacks, and covers 112% of the DCI-P3 color gamut according to our tests.

An MSI Titan 18 HX on a table
An MSI Titan 18 HX on a table

In terms of ports, having a chassis this big means you can cram in a lot of ports, and the Titan 18 HX does not disappoint. You get three USB-A 3.2 Gen 2 ports, two Thunderbolt 4 ports with DP output (with one featuring PD3.1 certification for fast charging devices), one HDMI 2.1 port that can push 120Hz video at 4K, an SDCard slot, an RJ45 ethernet port, and a 3.5mm combo jack. You even get a Kensington lock slot for good measure.

Overall, this is one of the best-looking MSI gaming laptops I've seen this year, and its wealth of features, ports, and more make it a standout device before we even get to its performance.

  • Design: 4.5 / 5

MSI Titan 18 HX: Performance

An MSI Titan 18 HX on a table
An MSI Titan 18 HX on a table
  • Best-in-class performance

  • Able to hit 60 FPS at 2400p on most games without upscaling

  • Upscaling can get you 60 FPS or better in games with ray tracing turned on

This gaming laptop absolutely puts some of the best gaming PCs to shame with its performance. Its 2400p resolution understandably taxes the hardware when playing high-end games at its native resolution at max settings, but in titles like Assassin's Creed Mirage, Assassin's Creed Valhalla, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, and Far Cry 6, the Titan 18 HX is easily able to clear 60 FPS at 4K on its highest settings, and that's not even factoring in any graphics upscaling.

Turn upscaling on, where available, and you can push the limits of the display's refresh rate on most games. If you factor in ray tracing, though, you can get in the neighborhood of 60 FPS or higher with appropriate upscaling, and on games like Cyberpunk 2077, it's an absolute necessity if you want to max everything out and get a better-than-just-playable frame rate.

Looking at its competitors, though, among the other 18-inch gaming laptops we've tested in our labs so far this year, none can match what the MSI Titan 18 HX brings to the table in terms of performance. The fact its competitors are all limited to 1600p QHD+ displays means that if you want the absolute bleeding edge of what laptop gaming can deliver in terms of 4K visual spectacle, the Titan 18 HX is really your only option.

  • Performance: 5 / 5

MSI Titan 18 HX: Battery life

An MSI Titan 18 HX on a table
An MSI Titan 18 HX on a table
  • Terrible battery life, but it'll rarely be on battery power anyway

  • Charging to full will take you a couple of hours

Understandably, battery life is not this laptop's greatest strength, but to call it a weakness is a bit unfair. This is not the kind of laptop you'll use unplugged for any length of time, as you would one of the best ultrabooks or a MacBook Pro.

This is a desktop replacement, so even though its two hours and 40 minutes of battery life while surfing the web is a pretty funny data point for a $5,000 laptop, you'll never actually use the Titan 18 HX this way outside of extremely rare instances. Its bulk will make it difficult to bring it anywhere period, much less somewhere that doesn't have an available wall outlet.

Still, compared to other 18-inch gaming laptops, the Titan 18 HX's battery performance still falls about 20% below the class average of three hours and 27 minutes. That means it doesn't get a total pass from me on battery life, but it is hardly a factor anyone should realistically consider for a laptop like this.

  • Battery Life: 2.5 / 5

Should you buy the MSI Titan 18 HX?

Buy the MSI Titan 18 HX if...

Don't buy it if...

Also consider

If my MSI Titan 18 HX review has you considering other options, here are three other laptops to consider:

How I tested the MSI Titan 18 HX

  • I spent about a month testing the Titan 18 HX

  • I used our standard suite of benchmark tests

  • I primarily played games on the Titan 18 HX, though I also used it for general computing and content creation

I spent about a month with the MSI Titan 18 HX, using it as an everyday work machine at home while gaming at night once work was done. I also used it for content creation work with Adobe Photoshop.

This is a gaming laptop, first and foremost, so I tested it with our standard battery of gaming benchmarks and other benchmarks that check for CPU, GPU, and overall system performance.

I've been reviewing laptops for TechRadar for nearly half a decade now, and as a lifelong PC gamer, I know how games should run on given hardware, and how much that hardware should cost you to maximize the value to the consumer. I also have a Master's Degree in Computer Science, so I'm able to really dig in and analyze the nitty-gritty of the hardware in a way many other reviews can't.

  • First reviewed May 2024