MSI’s GS66 Stealth review: powerful but pricey

MSI’s GS66 Stealth in 2021 small It is different from last year’s model. The 2020 version wasn’t particularly bursting in any way. In fact, the previous model took some time to reach Razer’s high standards for gaming laptop design. But the crust of this year’s model is the same as last year, but what’s in it is mostly entirely new, so I can live with it.

The review unit we tested is currently the pinnacle of mobile graphics technology. Nvidia’s new RTX 3080 Max-Q graphics chip and 16GB of video memory (Nvidia also has an 8GB variant). MSI also added a nice display canvas like a 15.6-inch 1440p (QHD) IPS G-Sync screen that supports a fast 240Hz refresh rate. This configuration is priced at $2,599 when it launches in June.

Other specs are good too, but not necessarily cutting edge. It features 16GB RAM, 1TB NVMe SSD, and the same 4-cell 99.99Wh battery as the previous version. It is equipped with an Intel Core i7-10870H processor, which went down a bit on paper compared to the previous model Core i7-10875H I tested, but I didn’t notice any performance difference.

The first look of this laptop focused on how well it played games at QHD resolution. Since then, our team has reviewed Nvidia’s latest RTX 30 series graphics card and a few other laptops with QHD screens. At the time, we agreed that the next step in the totem pole of Nvidia’s latest lineup of graphics cards, the RTX 3070, is better for QHD gaming than we expected. The Razer Blade 15 Base and Asus’ ROG Zephyrus G15 are two prime examples.

If it’s confusing to understand how a lower GPU can get close to how it outperforms what is expected with much better performance, it’s mostly about the thickness of the laptop. These two examples are slightly thicker than the GS66 Stealth and have similar or higher power levels assigned to a GPU set to a similar or higher boost clock speed. As we’ve seen, it costs hundreds of dollars less than this, but you can get similar performance.

On the other side of this coin, the RTX 3080, like the one you see on this laptop, is great for getting a few extra frames per second. However, most gamers, especially those looking to save money if possible, will still be happy with the performance of cheaper laptops. MSI makes an inexpensive variant of the GS66 Stealth I’ve listed below, but for now I’m only limiting the use of nice QHD screens to this high end model. It’s disappointing because other companies like Razer and Asus are including them in more budget-conscious gaming laptops with performance not far from this model.

MSI GS66 Stealth

This year’s GS66 Stealth is good and bad in some ways, with the same look and feel as 2020.

Going back to the specs, this year GS66 Stealth leaps forward with Wi-Fi 6E compatibility and Bluetooth 5.2. This laptop has an HDMI 2.0 port, so it is limited to 4K resolution output of up to 60 frames per second. Of the MSI updates on this year’s GS66, the HDMI port must have been slightly higher than the Wi-Fi 6E. Several other models we reviewed feature HDMI 2.1, allowing 4K output at up to 120 frames per second, so you can really take advantage of the hardware while connecting to an external high refresh rate monitor.

Non-gaming performance in general felt as fast as last year’s model. Along with Slack and Spotify, Microsoft Edge’s big stack of tabs hasn’t slowed down this system. However, in Adobe Premiere Pro export testing, it rarely performed well. The laptop tasked with exporting 5 minutes 33 seconds 4K video took 6 minutes 30 seconds compared to the 3 minutes 14 seconds export time obtained on last year’s model. The battery life can last about 3 hours and may change under the light load of the application. It’s less than the roughly five hours of screen time I got on last year’s model, but again, I have a QHD screen compared to FHD.

MSI GS66 Stealth

Cyberpunk 2077 It was the worst of the recent AAA titles I’ve tested, but those numbers are still impressive.

But the real question is, was Nvidia’s latest high-end graphics chip worth the wait? Can you catch up with the QHD display? The short answer is that, as my colleague Tom Warren saw on the desktop version of the RTX 3080, this mobile version outperformed what the last generation RTX 2080 could offer. It’s a bit difficult to compare the two because it’s a first-generation gaming laptop that offers a QHD screen, but there’s no doubt that the game looks better than before.

With 16GB of video memory, the RTX 3080 is capable of running the most demanding games in QHD with well over 60 frames per second. Adjust all graphics settings to their maximum and enable ray tracing and other RTX settings (if applicable). That’s an amazing achievement. And if you’re someone who doesn’t always play with the latest games released, this spec will give you more free space to handle your backlog, and you’ll be able to boot through a fantastic display. The IPS screens MSI chose to use are rich in contrast and provide a better viewing angle than I expected, and the G-Sync adaptive synchronization does a great job of not having artifacts in the footage.

I could have a playtime Horizon: Zero , Cyberpunk 2077, Death stranding, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, and ControlMost have ray tracing and/or DLSS (Deep Learning Super Sampling) graphics options to take advantage of this powerful graphics chip even further. after Cyberpunk 2077, A strand of death, and Control It doesn’t come with built-in benchmarking tests, but simply ran around various locales to do hardware stress tests (other games have a scripted way to collect performance metrics).

MSI GS66 Stealth

I couldn’t stop holding my eyeball so close to the screen.

As someone familiar with playing games on 1080p displays, I was impressed to see graphics-intensive games run fluidly, especially at higher native resolutions. But now we know that this laptop isn’t the only computer on the market that can achieve gaming performance of over 60 frames per second, and in most cases the RTX 3080 is not required.

MSI GS66 Stealth with RTX 3080 (16GB) performance

Benchmark (set to highest possible setting) Average QHD result Razer Blade 15 Base (QHD, RTX 3070) Asus Zephyrus G15 (QHD, RTX 3070)
Benchmark (set to highest possible setting) Average QHD result Razer Blade 15 Base (QHD, RTX 3070) Asus Zephyrus G15 (QHD, RTX 3070)
Horizon: Zero 76 fps 71 fps Unverified
Red Dead Redemption 2 58 fps 59 fps 58 fps
Shadow of the Tomb Raider (RT shadow and DLSS on) 62 fps 46 fps 61 fps
Cyberpunk 2077 (RT and DLSS in quality mode) 40 fps Unverified Unverified
A strand of death (DLSS on) 100 fps Unverified Unverified
Control (RT and DLSS on) 56 fps Unverified Unverified

As mentioned above, the design of the 2021 GS66 Stealth is the same as last year’s model. Still, the overall look is great, and I wish every gaming laptop had a trackpad that was generous enough for this. There are backlit keys that can be programmed to dazzle with RGB splendor via SteelSeries software, but this is the only thing that shows that it’s a gaming laptop.

Well, except for a very loud fan. Last year’s model was relatively quiet, even under pressure. The laptop sounded louder than this new RTX 3080 version, but the decibel level was high enough so I felt I needed headphones to hear all the details in the game. Of course it was game specific. Cyberpunk 2077 I made this laptop the loudest of the games I’ve ever tested. Control Actually it ran quite quietly compared to it. However, it also makes a sound when the GS66 Stealth is idle in the browser.

MSI GS66 Stealth

This QHD screen is clear, but what’s important is that it is really vivid and has a wide viewing angle.

I found another flaw in the design. The keyboard layout is still crowded and important function keys are awkwardly placed next to the control keys, making it cumbersome to perform simple tasks like adjusting volume and brightness. Also, the bottom of the laptop chassis still bends in a slightly worrisome way. I don’t think it’s fragile in normal use, but for an expensive machine like this, the design doesn’t inspire confidence.

If you’re looking to buy one of MSI’s non-QHD models today, you have multiple options. You can get a less powerful RTX 3060 chip starting at $1,799.99, a system with an RTX 3070 chip for $2,399.99, or a system with a new RTX 3080 chip starting at $2,699.99. Than this RAM). Specifications start with a 1080p IPS display with a refresh rate of 240Hz or 300Hz. MSI’s product introduction page indicates that it can be upgraded to a 4K 60Hz IPS display.

Like last year’s GS66 Stealth, this is a fascinating package that offers almost anything you want from a gaming laptop. Its design is mature and has a large amount of ports. Like last year’s model, it bends more than it should have some flaws, such as overcrowded keyboards and some problem areas on the chassis. Including a QHD screen with GPU capability will mask most of your problems, making it a great machine for gaming and watching movies.

This is one of the thinnest and most powerful laptops, but it’s hard to recommend it directly to most people if an inexpensive model like the Zephyrus G15 or Razer Blade 15 Base can offer most of the way in terms of gaming. Performance in QHD resolution.

Photo from Cameron Faulkner / The Verge

UPDATE 2:09 PM ET, March 24th: MSI has announced the price of this laptop, so we added a score with more context for performance and value compared to other gaming laptops we reviewed recently.

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