MSI’s GS66 Stealth hands-on: gaming is better with the RTX 3080 and QHD

I had hoped that MSI’s GS66 Stealth for 2021 would feel and look a little completely different than final yr’s mannequin — not that the 2020 version was notably busted in any main manner. Actually, the earlier mannequin was a number of nips and tucks shy of reaching Razer’s excessive bar for gaming laptop computer design. However whereas the skin shell of this yr’s mannequin is precisely the identical as final yr’s, I can stay with that as a result of what’s inside is generally all-new.

The evaluate unit we had been despatched was kitted out with the present pinnacle of cell graphics tech: Nvidia’s new RTX 3080 Max-Q graphics chip, with 16GB of video reminiscence (Nvidia additionally makes an 8GB variant). MSI additionally added a stunning canvas of a show: a 15.6-inch 1440p (QHD) IPS G-Sync display screen with a quick 240Hz refresh charge.

The opposite specs within the evaluate mannequin are good, too, however not essentially cutting-edge. It has 16GB of RAM, a 1TB NVMe SSD, and the identical large, four-cell 99.99Wh battery that was within the earlier iteration. It’s outfitted with an Intel Core i7-10870H processor, which on paper is a slight step down in comparison with the Core i7-10875H within the earlier mannequin I examined, however I didn’t discover a distinction in efficiency.

Every little thing from video games and web sites to desktop backgrounds look so crisp in QHD.

Different minor tweaks worthy of point out embrace a bump as much as Wi-Fi 6E compatibility and Bluetooth 5.2. This laptop computer has an HDMI 2.0 port, so it’s restricted to outputting 4K decision at as much as 60 frames per second. Of the issues MSI up to date on this yr’s GS66, the HDMI port ought to have been a little bit larger on the record than Wi-Fi 6E. Razer’s new Blade 15 and 17 Pro every function HDMI 2.1, permitting 4K output with as much as 120 frames per second to actually benefit from the {hardware} whereas linked to an exterior monitor.

The refreshed GS66 Stealth lineup with RTX 30-series chips and both a 1080p or 4K show will likely be transport in February, however sadly, the mannequin with the QHD show received’t be obtainable till someday in Q2 2021. MSI doesn’t have a value nailed down for the evaluate configuration, both. On condition that assessing worth is a vital a part of the evaluate course of, we’re reserving a rating till the fee is obtainable.

I’ve been testing the flagship configuration of the brand new GS66 Stealth for every week. Basic efficiency exterior of gaming felt equally snappy to final yr’s mannequin. An enormous stack of tabs in Microsoft Edge, alongside Slack and Spotify, didn’t sluggish this machine down. It didn’t carry out almost as properly in our Adobe Premiere Professional export take a look at, although. Tasked with exporting a five-minute, 33-second 4K video, the laptop computer took six minutes, 30 seconds, in comparison with the three-minute, 14-second export time that we acquired with final yr’s mannequin. (It wouldn’t be truthful to not point out that this configuration has 16GB of RAM versus 32GB in final yr’s mannequin, however I plan to retest this as soon as last drivers are launched for the GPU.)

MSI GS66 Stealth

Cyberpunk 2077 carried out the worst of any current AAA title I examined, however the numbers are nonetheless spectacular.

However the true query is: was Nvidia’s newest high-end graphics chip well worth the wait — and might it sustain with a QHD show? The quick reply is that, like my colleague Tom Warren noticed on the desktop version of the RTX 3080, this cell variant is an enormous leap over what the last-gen RTX 2080 might present. Since that is additionally the primary technology of gaming laptops that provide QHD screens, it’s a little bit arduous to match the 2, however there’s no query that video games look nice.

The RTX 3080 with 16GB of video reminiscence is able to working a few of the most demanding video games in QHD properly past 60 frames per second — with all graphical settings adjusted to max, and with ray tracing and different RTX settings activated, when relevant. That’s an unimaginable achievement. And when you’re somebody who doesn’t at all times play the most recent video games as they’re launched, these specs will afford you much more headroom to energy by your backlog, with a implausible show to take pleasure in them on in addition. The IPS display screen that MSI opted to make use of is wealthy with distinction and higher viewing angles than I anticipated, and its G-Sync adaptive sync does an important job of holding visuals freed from artifacts.

I used to be in a position to spend time taking part in Horizon: Zero Daybreak, Cyberpunk 2077, Dying Stranding, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, and Management, most of which have ray tracing and / or DLSS (deep-learning tremendous sampling) graphical choices to take additional benefit of this highly effective graphics chip. I examined it by working temporary snippets of those video games at 1440p and 1080p with the intention to see the good points from taking part in video games at a barely much less demanding decision.

MSI GS66 Stealth with RTX 3080 (16GB) efficiency

Benchmark (set to highest potential settings) Common outcomes working at 1440p Common outcomes working at 1080p
Benchmark (set to highest potential settings) Common outcomes working at 1440p Common outcomes working at 1080p
Horizon: Zero Daybreak 76fps 88fps
Crimson Useless Redemption 2 58fps 72fps
Shadow of the Tomb Raider (RT shadows and DLSS on) 62fps 78fps
Cyberpunk 2077 (RT and DLSS on high quality mode) 40fps 56fps
Dying Stranding (DLSS on) 100fps 130fps
Management (RT and DLSS on) 56fps 80fps

Since Cyberpunk 2077, Dying Stranding, and Management don’t ship with built-in benchmarking checks, I merely ran round quite a lot of locales to stress-test the {hardware} (the opposite video games have scripted strategies for gathering efficiency metrics). As somebody who’s used to taking part in video games on a 1080p show, I used to be impressed to see such graphically intensive video games run this fluidly, particularly at a better native decision. (In the event you’re a gamer who wouldn’t be completely proud of a few of the numbers above, you could possibly most likely enhance the body charge by pulling down a number of graphical settings.)

As I discussed up high, the design of the 2021 GS66 Stealth is note-for-note the identical as final yr’s mannequin. The general look is stellar, although, and I want each gaming laptop computer had a trackpad this generously massive. It has backlit keys that may be programmed to dazzle with RGB splendor by SteelSeries software program, however that’s actually the one ingredient that reveals this can be a gaming laptop computer.

Properly, except for the very loud followers. I famous that final yr’s mannequin was comparatively quiet, even beneath stress. I’ve heard laptops louder than this new RTX 3080 model, however the decibel stage went excessive sufficient in order that at occasions I felt I wanted headphones to listen to the entire in-game particulars. After all, that differed relying on the sport. Cyberpunk 2077 made this laptop computer whir the loudest of the video games I examined, whereas Management truly ran pretty quietly by comparability.

MSI GS66 Stealth

This QHD display screen is pin-sharp, however importantly, it’s actually vibrant, and the viewing angles are beneficiant.

I discovered different flaws with the design. The keyboard format remains to be crowded, with the vital operate key positioned awkwardly subsequent to the management key, making it cumbersome to do easy duties like alter the quantity and brightness. Additionally, the underside of the laptop computer chassis nonetheless flexes in a barely worrying manner. I don’t suppose it’s liable to interrupt beneath regular use, however for a dear machine like this, the design doesn’t encourage confidence.

Nvidia says that QHD-equipped laptops that includes RTX 30-series graphics chips will start launching at present, with programs from Razer, Asus, and Eluktronics launching first. For instance, Razer’s Blade 15 with a 165Hz QHD screen and the RTX 3070 will price out at $2,199.99. We haven’t gotten our fingers on it but, however we look forward to finding related efficiency in fashions with related specs. Nevertheless, since not all QHD panels are created equally, it is going to be fascinating to see how the others examine to the wonderful show in MSI’s evaluate unit.

MSI GS66 Stealth

I couldn’t cease holding my eyeballs this near the display screen.

In the event you’re seeking to purchase considered one of MSI’s non-QHD fashions at present, there’s quite a few choices. You will get a system outfitted with a much less highly effective RTX 3060 chip beginning at $1,799.99, one with the RTX 3070 for $2,399.99, or with the brand new RTX 3080 chip beginning at $2,699.99. The specs begin with a 1080p IPS show with a 240Hz or 300Hz refresh charge. MSI’s product landing page signifies that it is going to be potential to improve to a 4K 60Hz IPS show.

In the meantime, when you’re interested in how the RTX 3070 is shaping up whereas working alongside an FHD show, my colleague Monica Chin has our review of the MSI GP66 Leopard. We’ll have much more protection of laptops constructed with the most recent RTX graphics chip within the coming weeks and months.

However the TL;DR is that the RTX 3080, working in tandem with the QHD show and every little thing else that this GS66 Stealth is packing, has implausible graphics efficiency, reaffirming {that a} show like this actually is value spending additional for (when you can swing it). The sharpness of the 1440p show makes footage and textual content extra satisfying and nice to take a look at — each in-game and with on a regular basis duties.

Images by Cameron Faulkner / The Verge

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