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MSI Crosshair 15 R6E review: 'excellent performance in an outdated chassis'

MSI Crosshair 15 R6E gaming laptop
(Image: © Future)

GamesRadar+ Verdict

The MSI Crosshair 15 R6E is a powerhouse, but it's not without its drawbacks. While you're getting excellent performance under the hood, the outdated chassis and cheaper build may put many Rainbow Six fans off.

Pros

  • +

    Unique coloring without being gaudy

  • +

    Improved display

  • +

    Performs brilliantly

Cons

  • -

    Chunkier chassis than competition

  • -

    Soft keyboard

MSI laptops are well known for providing excellent value in their component rosters while holding onto chunkier chassis designs to keep costs down. In a world moving towards slimline machines, these are definitely outliers. The MSI Crosshair 15 R6E is firmly in its army's camp, with a hefty weight and stout design. However, there's plenty of power in this 2022 workhorse, and with a unique Rainbow Six design, it's set firmly apart from the competition on the shelves. 

We got our hands on an i7-12700H / RTX 3070 configuration (currently retailing at $1,799 / £1,899) and put the mid-range rig through its paces to see how well it compares to the best gaming laptops released this year.  

MSI Crosshair R6E Key Specs
CPUi7-12700H (tested) / i9-12900H
GPURTX 3060 / RTX 3070 (tested) / RTX 3070 Ti
RAMUp to 64GB
Storage1TB SSD
Display15.6-inch 2560x1440, 165Hz
Ports2x USB Type-A 3.2 | 1x USB 2.0 | 1x USB Type-C 3.2 | HDMI | Ethernet | 3.5mm

Design

MSI Crosshair 15 keyboard

(Image credit: Future)

The design of the MSI Crosshair R6E is definitely its most defining characteristic. Fans of Rainbow Six will be particularly enamoured with these yellow accents and in-game motifs, but even those who haven't dabbled (the Crosshair ships with a game code to cover you there) will find this aesthetic pleasing. While the vast majority of gaming laptops look to slink into the background with all-black chassis', the Crosshair wants to stand out. 

The keyboard sports a graduated shift from a bright yellow top, down through a darker green, and into the black of the rest of the build, with an angular yellow triangle cutting across the right-hand side of the lower deck. Such a color scheme has the potential to feel cheap, ruining a premium piece of kit with garish insignias. However, the Crosshair sidesteps such a trap with a flourish. While vibrant and fun, these accents never felt gaudy. All of this is complemented with a bright set of yellow WASD keys as well. 

MSI Crosshair 15 lid

(Image credit: Future)

You've got a few hints as to the identity of this machine from the back as well. The Rainbow Six logo is mounted onto the top lid, with the yellow of the keyboard deck just peaking out above the grills.

Overall, it's an intriguing aesthetic and one that works hard to keep your machine from feeling too generic. I say too generic because this is still an outdated chassis design. From the thickness of the build overall to the angular lines and panels running up the lid, the Crosshair still feels like it's been left in 2009. This is compounded by the thicker bezels running around the display, a design that makes the Crosshair R6E feel significantly cheaper than its $1,799 MSRP by 2022's standards.

Features

The new MSI Crosshair 15 R6E comes packed out with Intel's latest 12th generation processors, an impressive feat considering the starting prices of RTX 3070 models. We are starting to see these current generation CPUs making their way to more affordable machines these days, but the Crosshair seems to be among the cheapest rigs offering such specs. The MSI Pulse line, for example, has been refreshed with a similar spec sheet and hit the market at over $2,000. 

MSI Crosshair 15 ports

(Image credit: Future)

However, it is easy to identify where sacrifices have been made to keep costs down. Aside from the chunkier chassis form factor, there's no customizable RGB in the keyboard (instead, you're limited to four zones of blue, yellow, green, and white), and the deck itself has some considerable flex under it. This is by no means the worst keyboard on a gaming laptop, but with a mushed feel and particularly wide set keycaps, I didn't find it nearly as precise or satisfying as that found on an Alienware laptop, for example. You are, however, picking up a small number pad to the right - a rarity in a 15.6-inch form factor.

The 2022 Crosshair has had a facelift in its display, though. The QHD screen shined in my everyday play, offering a crisp and noticeably speedy experience that still managed to hit nice brightness and vibrancy levels despite being coated in a matte finish. Previous generations stuck with 1080p at 144Hz, while still levelling at a similar price point and the leap here is one of the most immediately observable improvements to the whole setup.

MSI Rainbow Six gaming mouse

(Image credit: Future)

There's a solid selection of ports up for grabs here, though - again - they do age this device slightly. You'll find a USB Type-A 3.2 on each side of the chassis, with an older USB 2.0 on the left. On the right-hand side, there's an Ethernet port, HDMI with 4K support, and a USB Type-C 3.2. That Type-C doesn't offer power delivery which is disappointing from a 2022 release, and the USB 2.0 on the left feels a little archaic.

The Crosshair 15 also comes packed with Cooler Boost 5 technology; two fans and six heat pipes to keep everything running smoothly during demanding gameplay. It works, while the WASD keys do sometimes feel a little toasty under the fingertips, temperatures never reached concerning levels. That said, I did find these fans to be particularly noisy. They're certainly some of the loudest fans I've treated my ears to recently, rivalling those of the Alienware M15 R7 and sometimes kicking just above. They do jump to life quickly, but this is definitely a job for a gaming headset.

It's worth noting that the MSI Crosshair 15 R6E ships with a Rainbow Six mouse and mousepad in the box, but these are more gimmicks than quality gaming peripherals.

Performance

Benchmarks

Time Spy: 10,056
Fire Strike: 20,377
PC Mark 10: 7,105
Crystal Disk Mark: Read - 3,600MB/s; Write - 3,457MB/s
Cinebench: Multi-core - 10,866

For its larger chassis and louder fans, the MSI Crosshair 15 R6E certain cranks out some solid numbers. I was blown away by the smooth performance on offer here, whether ziplining through the jungles of Shadow of the Tomb Raider or speed-scrolling across a stuffed Planet Coaster map, the Crosshair didn't feel like it ever gave up a frame at High settings. Pushing things to their limits did drop us below 60fps in more demanding titles - struggling to hit the threshold in Red Dead Redemption, Total War: Three Kingdoms, and Metro Exodus. Considering you can spend far more on a slimline machine and still not post these numbers, though, the overall result is impressive. 

Not only that, but the Crosshair managed to blitz its way through more intense stress tests. That 20,377 Fire Strike score is stunning at this price point - as is the 10,056 Time Spy posting. My only concern with the everyday running here is that Crystal Disk Mark score. The SSDs on offer here are slower than average - another cost-cutting measure. On paper, these scores are significantly lower than other machines we've tested. In practice, I didn't notice too much grinding when booting games and loading scenes. 

MSI Crosshair 15 gaming laptop

(Image credit: Future)

Real-world benchmarks
1080p1440p
Shadow of the Tomb RaiderHigh: 100fps | Highest: 99fpsHigh: 97fps | Highest: 92fps
Total War: Three KingdomsHigh: 116fps | Ultra: 83fpsHigh: 76fps | Ultra: 50fps
Red Dead Redemption 2High: 87fps | Highest: 72fpsHigh: 70fps | Ultra: 51fps
Metro ExodusHigh: 90fps | Ultra: 73fpsHigh: 71fps | Ultra: 58fps
The Division 2High: 103fps | Ultra: 88fpsHigh: 83fps | Ultra: 64fps

Should you buy the MSI Crosshair 15 R6E

MSI Crosshair 15 R6E full gaming laptop

(Image credit: Future)

If you're a Rainbow Six fan looking to represent, the MSI Crosshair R6E is an easy recommendation to make. You're not sacrificing power by opting for an aesthetic to tie in with your go-to game, and you're getting solid value for money with the components under the hood as well. Even if you're not too enamoured with Rainbow Six, the affiliated game isn't plastered across this device and the design could easily fit into a wide range of setups. 

However, if you're looking for something a little cheaper (and don't mind keeping that thicker chassis), we'd recommend checking out the MSI Pulse GL66. This is an industry workhorse consistently offering excellent prices for its components and we tend to the 11th generation models on sale for more often. 

If that form factor is putting you off, it's worth taking a look at the Asus TUF Dash F15. You'll find similar specs available, with a new 2022 model also listing 12th generation processors in its feature lists. 

How we tested the MSI Crosshair 15 R6E

I used the MSI Crosshair 15 R6E for my everyday play and a few days of work over the course of two weeks, running The Sims 4, Planet Coaster, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, and Apex Legends regularly. I also ran in-game benchmarks in Metro Exodus, Total War: Three Kingdoms, Red Dead Redemption 2, and The Division 2 while stress testing with programs like 3D Mark, PC Mark 10, Cinebench, and Crystal Disk Mark benchmarks. You can find out more about how we test gaming laptops in our full GamesRadar+ Hardware Policy

If you're after something a little more luxurious, it's worth checking out the best Razer laptops available now. For discounts, though, head to our full guide to cheap gaming laptop deals - updated every week for the latest savings. 

More info

Available platformsHardware, PC
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Tabitha Baker
Managing Editor - Hardware

Managing Editor of Hardware at GamesRadar+, I originally landed in hardware at our sister site TechRadar before moving over to GamesRadar. In between, I've written for Tom’s Guide, Wireframe, The Indie Game Website and That Video Game Blog, covering everything from the PS5 launch to the Apple Pencil. Now, i'm focused on Nintendo Switch, gaming laptops (and the keyboards and mice that come with them), and tracking everything that suggests VR is about to take over our lives.