MSI GE66 Raider review

MSI GE66 Raider review

It doesn’t take long to see what’s special about the MSI GE66 Raider, MSI’s 15.6-inch all-rounder. While the styling might not have the head-turning gaudiness of a Lambo, it’s as understated, gun-metal Aston Martin as you like. But with hidden, added disco lights. 

Key specs of the MSI GE66 Raider 

15.6-inch, matte, 240Hz, 1920 x 1080, non-touchscreen LCD; 2.2-5GHz Intel Core i7-10870H processor; 16GB RAM; 2TB NVMe HDD; Nvidia RTX 3070; 99Wh battery; 2.38KG. SKU: GE66 Raider 10UG-078AU. Full specs here

Design and Handling 

The MSI GE66 Raider is very much a gaming-designated laptop as you can tell by the IPS screen and its stupid-fast, matte, 240Hz refresh rate. This joins with a 3ms response time to banish ghosting and motion blur and ensure that everything is rendered sharply and smooth no matter how fast and frantic you’re playing. This being said, there’s also a 300Hz variant if you’re, like, a fly or something that sees time differently compared to other humans. If you’re a designer but still want the machine, there’s also a 3,840 x 2,160 resolution UHD screen which covers 100 per cent of Adobe’s RGB colour gamut. That all said, we still found that the screen was colourful and vibrant and able to simultaneously display impressive amounts of details in both bright and good contrast when partaking in multimedia and gaming. 

The 240Hz Screen isn't even the fastest variant. 300Hz is available.
The 240Hz Screen isn’t even the fastest variant. 300Hz is available.

The MSI True Colour tech lets you quickly switch between Gamer, Anti-Blue, sRGB, Office and Movie modes to help you get the appearance just-so and quickly. 

The screen is surrounded by a 5mm bezel and has a Full HD webcam above it (which we appreciate more than the usual, lesser HD resolution.) 

Below it is the SteelSeries keyboard that we’ve become big fans of over the years. It has large, low-travel keys which enable fast and accurate typing for extended periods plus very good gaming performance. There are also full-sized number keys (yay!) but no number pad. It’s also an RGB keyboard with each key being individually lit. This, in tandem with the awesome, high-resolution, RGB, Mystic Light colour bar at the front, gives enough, controllable, flashy governance to (almost) recreate Kubrik’s iconic 2001: A Space Odyssey trippy scene.  

The Mystic Light bar at the front has a very fine resolution and is fully programmable. It's behaviour never gets old.
The Mystic Light bar at the front has a very fine resolution and is fully programmable.
It’s appearance and behaviour never get old.

The MSI GE66 Raider’s large trackpad is smooth and accurate and its buttons work fine. 

Ultimately its great to use, can look like a Bond Car or a 1970’s UFO, depending on your preference. But, what of its performance? 

Performance of the MSI GE66 Raider 

The Raider’s octa-core, 10th gen Intel Core i7 10870H processor is a familiar site in this generation of High Performance Laptops. It operates between 2.2GHz and 5GHz and, when partnered with 16GB of DDR4-3200 RAM and two, 1TB, Gen 3, PCIe NVMe drives, managed to score a very impressive 6496 in PCMark 10 which is the same, best-in-class score that we recently saw with Razer’s Blade 15 Base Model rival.  

In our 3D tests, despite “only” sporting the second-tier RTX 3070 GPU, it managed a highest-we’ve-ever-tested 10,263 in 3DMark Time Spy which equates to an average of 65fps. In FireStrike Extreme it scored 12,340 (average of 57fps) which is also the best we’ve tested. Interestingly, we also tried crypto-mining on it for a separate group test and found it hit a consistently faster hash-rate than anything else on test.  

RELATED: MSI GE76 (2021) review with Intel 11th Gen Core i9 CPU and RTX 3080)

We didn’teven make use of the highest performance overclocking options within MSI’s performance-tuning Dragon Center 3 software. While the Cooler Booster 5 technology – which is powerful, efficient and impressively quiet – is very impressive, we’ve seen it in sibling machines without similar performance gains. 

We are usually told if a review sample is an engineering sample, but a) it didn’t look like one b) we weren’t told it was one and c) this would normally mean it’s slower than normal. So, fair’s fair, this is the fastest laptop we’ve tested. 

Connectivity 

The connectivity that the MSI’s GE66 Raider offers is top notch. On the left are USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A and Type-C ports, plus a 3.5mm audio jack. On the right are two, USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A ports and an SDcard reader. Meanwhile, at the rear is Gigabit Ethernet, another USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 port which doubles as DisplayPort 1.4. There’s also a miniDP 1.4 port and HDMI 2.0. Inside there’s Bluetooth 5.2 and the first manifestation we’ve seen of Wi-Fi 6E which makes use of the 6GHz band. The latter is nice to see but offers no meaningful benefit performance benefit over Wi-Fi 6 just yet as there are no compatible routers available. 

The ports on the left of the GE66 Raider.
To the left…
The right-hand side of the MSI Raider GE66.
… to the right.
Ports at the back - we approve!
Ports at the back – we approve!

Portability 

At 2.38KG it’s not the lightest laptop but, considering the power inside, it’s a genuine portable powerhouse. Build quality is sturdy enough to survive being hauled between office and home and between LAN to LAN. However, despite the huge 99.9Whr battery, it only lasted 4hrs 29mins (in low-power mode) in PCMark 10’s Modern Office 3 test which is poor. As such, while it will work for some time away from the mains, it’s not something you can take out of the office all day. 

The underside and power brick of the MSI GE66 Raider.
The underside and power brick of the MSI GE66 Raider.

Other features 

It’s worth noting that the dual, 2-Watt speakers get impressively punchy. They’re not the loudest but offer good fidelity, decent treble and even some bass. That’s good for any laptop.

Should you by the MSI GE66 Raider? 

At $3,199 the MSI GE66 Raider is not cheap but it’s a fantastic laptop with superb performance, connectivity and looks that will suit any occasion, whether it be ostentatious or a stuffy C-Suite office. It’s also now $800 less than the launch price. The two-year warranty is nice to have and while there’s some great competition in the current high performance laptops space, it’s our favourite model right now. 

[UPDATE] From July 12 you’ll be able to pick up an Raider from $2,799 in MSI’s Winter Sale.

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