MSI GE76 Raider 2021 Review

MSI GE76 Raider 2021 (Intel 11th Gen) review

Despite the fact this is the fifth MSI GE-series Raider laptop we’ve seen this year, we were particularly keen to get our hands upon it. But first, for those who don’t know, the GE66 is the 15.6-inch variant while the GE76 is the 17-inch model. First we saw the spectacular, last-gen Dragonshield Limited Edition, then we saw a GE76 engineering sample which was similar internally but had upgraded, RTX 3060 graphics and wasn’t put together too well. Then we reviewed a full-retail version of the GE66 Raider, with 10th Gen Intel graphics and RTX 3070 Nvidia GPU, before finally reviewing the GE76 Dragon Tiamat special edition Raider which was the larger version of the same thing but with an awesome design. Now here’s the latest and greatest MSI GE76 Raider with updated, 11th Gen, Core-i9 CPU and RTX 3080 graphics. With all its forebears performing so well, we had very high hopes for it.

KEY SPECS OF THE MSI GE76 Raider

17.3-inch, matte, 165Hz, 2560 x 1440, non-touchscreen, IPS LCD; 3.3-5GHz Intel Core i9-11980HK CPU; 32GB RAM; 2TB NVMe HDD; Nvidia 16GB RTX 3080; 99.9Wh battery; 2.9KG. SKU: GE76 Raider 11UH, Full specs here.

Design and Handling

When compared to the Dragon Tiamat Limited Edition, there’s no doubting that the ‘Titanium Blue’ chassis of the stock GE76 Raider looks a bit dull. Nonetheless, it’s slick, classy and very well built. The lid barely flexes when twisted and although it’s built like a tank it tips the scales just under 3KG (2.9KG).

The MSI GE76 Raider’s Scrabble-tile keyboard is well-weighted and comfortable to type on for extended periods. It’s very accurate for gaming too. It also sports a thin-key number pad and full-sized arrow keys (hooray!).

Front view - keyboard and mouse.
Full frontal view: few will be disappointed by the ergonomics on offer.

Each key is individually lit with Steel Series RGB technology and this works in conjunction with the fantastic, Mystic Light, high-res, pulsating, RGB bar at the front which can turn the laptop from a stuffy corporate-looking affair into a head-turning objet-d’art in an instant.

MSI Mystic Light.
We can’t get enough of the Mystic Light RGB bar at the front. It never gets old.

The trackpad is smooth and has comfortable, integrated buttons that only make a mild clicking noise.

The screen is outstanding. The 2560 x 1440 UHD IPS panel also has a 165Hz refresh rate, meaning all forms of media are rendered very smoothly and with very high detail. When partaking in fast-and-frantic gaming, motion blur and ghosting is kept to a minimum. It also gets very bright to the point where it’s almost akin to HDR when it comes to bright colour accents popping out of a dark screen. Contrast on the whole was excellent with details being preserved in both highlights and shadows. While there could be minor stepping in both colour and monochromatic gradients it wasn’t distracting.

On the inside we were pleased to see a Full-HD webcam. Meanwhile, the speakers get impressively loud and punchy with some good bass response too – not what we normally get from laptops.

Performance of the MSI GE76 Raider

The 11th Gen Intel 3.3-5GHz Intel Core i9-11980HK processor (flanked by 32GB of DDR4-3200 RAM and 2TB of super-fast, PCIe Gen 4, NVMe storage) flew through PCMark 10, scoring 7175 which is even higher than the previously all-conquering AMD Ryzen 9 5900HS processor we saw in the Zephyrus G15. In the CineBench rendering tests it was also impressive – scoring 1861 (best we’ve seen) in R15 and 11,630 in R23 (which is just behind the behind the Ryzen).

However, it truly hit the afterburners on in the 3D tests where its integrated 16 GB Nvidia RTX 3080 GPU scored a whopping 11,072 in 3DMark Time Spy. That’s an average of 72fps and is easily the highest 3D score we’ve seen on this site. It was a similar deal in FireStrike Extreme where it scored a massive 14,101 (67fps) and 7353 in Port Royal (34fps). Nothing else gets close.

Connectivity

On the right
On the right are two USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 ports and a UHS-II SDcard reader.
On the left.
On the left is a USB-A 3.2 Gen 2 port, USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 port and a 3.5mm audio jack.
From behind.
At the rear is a Mini DisplayPort 1.4, USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 (with DP 1.4 and ThunderBolt 4), Ethernet port, HDMI 2.0 port and power socket.

Inside the MSI GE76 Raider, there’s the (very) latest Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth v5.2 wireless connectivity.

Portability

MSI’s GE76 is very solidly built and should withstand life on the road. It’s not light at 2.9KG but then it is a 17-inch gaming laptop. Also note that its power brick is not small. We’ve seen impressive power efficiency from Intel’s 11th Generation processors but in Extreme Battery Mode with all the flashy lights turned off and in Flight Mode it still only managed 5hrs 33mins – despite having a 99.9Wh battery which is a little disappointing.

Underside of the MSI GE76 Raider.
Underside: there’s a hefty PSU but plenty of vents for the efficient CoolerBoost 5 fans and heat pipes which only get loud under consistent high loading.

Should I buy the MSI GE76 Raider?

At $5,699 it’s $1,000 more than the Dragon Tiamat! However, while the exterior can’t compete, the new internals certainly can… and then some. There’s nothing that comes close for 3D performance. If the price still hurts, know that MSI is currently running a Winter Sale and you can get big discounts on many models (including this) and also a free gift to help sweeten the deal.

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