The MSI GE66 Raider has a lot to live up to. MSI often provides us with some of the best gaming laptops going. Their premium machines - and even their entry-level ones - can often outdo the competition on power but sometimes fall short of providing the complete package that is demanded of modern gaming laptops. Can the GE66 Raider, packed as it is with new tech and components, pull it all together and offer one of the best portable powerhouses of the year?
Here are the specs for the laptop sent ('10SF' variant) to GamesRadar for review:
Processor: Intel i7-10750H
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 8GB
Memory: 16GB DDR4 2666MHz RAM
Display: 15.6-inch, IPS-level, 240Hz
Storage: 512GB SSD
Ports: 1 x Mini-DisplayPort; 2 x Type-A USB 3.2; 1 x Type-A USB2.0; 2 x Type-C USB 3.2 (One with display support); 1 x RJ45 LAN ; 1 x HDMI; 1 x 3.5mm audio jack; 1 x SD card reader
Connectivity: Integrated Wi-FI 6 AX1650i (2x2 ax) / Bluetooth 5.0
OS: Windows 10 Home 64-bit
The MSI GE66 Raider is definitely a gaming laptop, and that manifests in its design. However, it does so in a cool way: it's not overly angry-looking or bombastic, but rather has fun and well-designed flourishes that make it recognizable as a machine for games, but tastefully so.
The sleek grey finish is cool and gives an industrial aesthetic to the laptop, while angular 'shells' at the base, over the hinges, add some shape to the form. It's not totally flat, thin, and light, but that's fine; it's cool and modern-looking. The screen's frame includes 5mm bezels (of which the top bezel houses a 1080p webcam), and a screen-to-body ratio of 82% which is solid for a gaming a laptop and looks pleasing in the design. There is an LED bar at the front which is pretty cool too. Called 'Mystic Light' by MSI, the RGB-ness extends to the keyboard so you can have some light-based fun, as is customary now.
The GE66 Raider is meant to be a gaming powerhouse and shows its intent in doing so by ensuring that every variant has at least a 2070 graphics card and a new 10th-gen Intel processor. On paper, this is a great combination of the latest in processor tech with Intel's 10th-gen CPU, plus one of the best graphics cards in the ray-tracing spectrum. The other specs that support this main combo are great too, as you can see.
A strong feature that more and more gaming laptops are adopting is simply including a better battery. The GE66 Raider has a 99.9Wh battery which gives it some extra juice and is definitely an attractive factor for those who like to game tether-free for longer, but also a big attraction to those who'll use the laptop for work or home use and want to be able to extend that use on the go.
Its panel is also a standout feature for several reasons. First of which is that it's a non-glare screen and one that genuinely does succeed at being so. It's also blisteringly fast, with the screen on our review unit boasting a 240Hz refresh rate. This pace on a 1080p panel on a powerful gaming laptop has 'excellence in shooters' written all over it. Particularly when MSI alleges that the screen can get close to 100% sRGB too. If the colors can be of that degree, then flying around shooters at that pace on-screen will be a thing of beauty.
Complementing the visuals are audio features. The GE66 Raider's speakers are pretty decent and some work has gone into making them stand out. The Duo Wave Speakers are of a new design and offer generous sound for a laptop - though 'for a laptop' is doing a lot of work there, as the audio is weak, and you'll still be way better off with one of the best PC headsets for gaming.
In terms of connectivity and ports, you can see it's a solid offering, particularly when there are two USB-C ports going, and the HDMI supports 4K at 60fps (allegedly).
How does the MSI GE66 Raider fare against some industry benchmarks? Here's how it got on with some rigorous gaming tests.
Cinebench CPU: 2,972 cb
3DMark Fire Strike: 17,244 pts
3DMark Time Spy: 6,926 pts
3DMark Sky Diver: 39,422 pts
CrystalDiskMark: 3,412 MB/s read; 675 MB/s write
Metro Exodus: RTX (ray-tracing on Ultra): 49 fps; High: 66 fps
Tom Clancy's The Division 2: Ultra: 71 fps; High: 95 fps
Red Dead Redemption 2: Highest: 51 fps; Default: 69 fps
Shadow of the Tomb Raider: Highest: 86 fps; High: 92 fps
Total War: Three Kingdoms: Ultra: 61 fps; High: 84 fps
The highlight of actually using the GE66 Raider came from its performance in games, putting the premium components to the test - though it seemed no game was a real test. The cherry on top was adding in the pace of the screen which made any movement in any game a treat, but, naturally, was particularly at home in games like Apex Legends. While you might never be able to truly mirror the 240hz screen's exact framerate numbers, there is no denying the smoothness; it really is one of the best, fastest screens I've used on a gaming laptop. Each round of Apex Legends is an absolute delight.
The more demanding games of Metro Exodus and Red Dead Redemption 2 were easily taken care of too and were genuinely enjoyable experiences. When a laptop can get close to 60fps in these games, on the highest settings, then you know you've found a tremendously powerful machine.
As you can see from the benchmark scores, this machine isn't messing around: it can munch through the latest and greatest with great ease, and this isn't even the most premium or powerful build! Everything is smooth and pacey on-screen, and everything runs without a hitch; it's often pricey, but there is genuinely a lot to be said for going premium and just getting a good set of powerful components in a laptop.
However. One thing that was forever at the forefront during my testing was the fans. My goodness, these fans are some of the loudest I've ever had blare at me while reviewing gaming laptops. A headset or set of speakers will throw an audio shroud over these to some extent, but if you're at the laptop for gaming (i.e. instead of a different, attached screen) then you will still hear their, quite frankly incredible, noise.
That's at least mitigated by one of the best anti-glare screens I've used. As a tiny result of that, though, everything does have a small hazy sheen to it but nothing that is distracting and certainly not enough of a detractor to outweigh all the other positives in the laptop's performance. The colors also help to make up for this somewhat, but it's certainly not the brightest screen going on a gaming laptop.
As an everyday laptop, it's pretty great. However, you'll need to match it with one of the best gaming keyboards and a pointer that can match the best gaming mouse, because the keyboard and touchpad are just about OK. Due to the compact design and low actuation of the keys, it's very easy to smush buttons and mistype and start different commands so you'll need to be careful at the least.
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Overall - should you buy it?
This is a great, great gaming laptop and a true powerhouse. If you're after something that you can have confidence in from a sheer power point of view, then this is a contender and one you should definitely consider. It has all the makings of a supremely competent and future-proofed gaming machine.
If you need a laptop that can handle a lot of everything then this has the guts for it, and you'll not be left floundering in any game or task. It has a price to match, but if you're looking for a gaming beast, then MSI has the machine for you.