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MSI’s new laptop is see-through but not see-through enough

MSI’s new laptop is see-through but not see-through enough


There haven’t been enough translucent gadgets at CES 2023. This MSI gaming laptop earns a little credit for its partially see-through design.

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The bottom of the MSI Cyborg 15 for 2023, revealing its semi-translucent shell design.
One of the coolest parts of the Cyborg 15 will remain out of sight while you use it — a shame.
Image: MSI

There’s something wrong with the seemingly hundreds of laptops that have been birthed so far during CES 2023: almost none of them are translucent. Using a see-through design is proven [no citations found] to make more people want to buy a product because, for one, it looks cool, and two, the company must be pretty confident in its engineering handiwork to want to show it off like that.

The thing is, if a company uses translucent plastic on your gadget, it’s got to go for it 100 percent or go home. And that’s where MSI goes wrong.

At CES 2023, the company is announcing the Cyborg 15, a gaming laptop that uses see-through plastic to show off its internals. Sadly, only the bottom of the laptop (and the trim around its top lid) is translucent, and you don’t actually get to see anything of note inside. When viewed straight-on, you’d be forgiven for simply not noticing its half-translucent design. It’s just your standard gaming machine with an all-black design and RGB LED-backlit keys from the front. Pretty boring stuff. Last year’s Asus ROG Strix Scar 17 showed more guts.

The MSI Cyborg 15 gaming laptop is shown opened up with its display and RGB LED-backlit keyboard showing.
The front of the Cyborg 15 is too normal. I’ll wait for the sequel.
Image: MSI
The side view of the MSI Cyborg 15 for 2023, revealing a power port, HDMI port, Ethernet, USB-C and a USB Type-A port.
The ports and the plastic surrounding the top lid are see-through.
Image: MSI

The hinge and the bottom shell that crawls up the laptop’s sides, ensconcing its ports, are clad in a nice gun metal plastic that has some regrettable design work on it. It says “15 MSI TRUE GAMING,” and the second “G” is practically cut off. To each their own, but when I get see-through tech, I want the most plain design imaginable, with nothing between me and the core of that treasured device except some translucent (colored, preferably) plastic.

As it turns out, MSI devised a backstory for the Cyborg 15’s design ethos. It hired a concept artist to whip up a part-human, part-machine character to base it on, something that’s not unusual at all for this industry. Here’s some of the copy:

A young man codenamed “C15”, who works for a human authority’s special force against robots, undertook cybernetic augmentations and become a cyborg. As augmentations gets heavier, he started to feel the central commander and leader of AI robots, seems to be summoning him, and oddly it feels no stranger to him...

Man or machine? C15 chose to leave the special force, and took on a path to find out....

Cyber up!
Cyber up!
Image: MSI

Alrighty then.

Despite not totally aligning with my taste, the Cyborg 15’s design traits help it stand out a bit from MSI’s many other models, like the more serious Stealth model that rivals the Razer Blade in terms of impressive build quality. But since MSI is, so far, the only company we’ve found to be debuting a semi-transparent laptop at CES, perhaps it’ll hear our feedback that it should go fully transparent next year. I’ll even write the marketing material for C15’s eventual transformation in 2024:

C15, once a very cool and relatable dude, surrendered fully to the leader of the AI robots. Strangely, the ultimate upgrade wasn’t to trade his heart or brain for a CPU, but rather to be released from his tired, aging skin. He’s going full cyborg mode, adopting the latest in see-through skin-like sci-fi materials. With the transformation complete, the world can see C15 for who he really is: a badass cyborg with nothing to hide.

You deserve a treat for getting to the bottom of this post, so I’ll give you some specs. It has a 15.6-inch 1080p display with a 144Hz refresh rate, and it’s not gunning for top performance in the CPU or GPU areas. It has a 12th Generation Intel Core i7 12650H processor with up to Nvidia’s RTX 4060 graphics. The top-end model will cost just $1,099, so it’s a midrange price for midrange components and a design that, with a little more tuning, could be memorable.