MSI GE76 Raider Dragon Tiamat laptop review

MSI GE76 Raider Dragon Tiamat review

We’re big fans of MSI’s limited edition laptops. The first we saw was the Dragonshield GE66 designed by the guy who designed the Death Star’s trench in Star Wars: Rogue One. Then there were the recent Sword, Katana and Pulse laptops we recently got hands on with. But this… this is a modified MSI GE76 Raider which resembles an ancient Babylonian stone tablet that’s designed to summon the ancient Dragon, Tiamat. Who wouldn’t want that?

It was unveiled as the headline act of MSI’s ‘Ultimate Shockwave announcement.’ The blurb [sic-ly] states; “Inheriting the spirit of Tiamat, the surface is engraved with ancient Babylonian pattern by unique etching technology and show the fusion of old and new spirits.’

Awesome! For those who need a refresher on their ancient Babylonian history, here’s the deal with Tiamat:

The legend of Tiamat.
The legend of Tiamat.

With that all in mind, is the MSI GE76 Raider Tiamat Dragon laptop any good?

KEY SPECS OF THE MSI GE76 Raider Tiamat Dragon

17.3-inch, matte, 300Hz, 1920 x 1080, non-touchscreen, IPS LCD; 2.2-5GHz Intel Core i7-10870H CPU; 32GB RAM; 2TB NVMe HDD; Nvidia RTX 3070; 99.9Wh battery; 2.9KG. SKU: GE76 Dragon Tiamat 10UG. Full specs here.

Design and Handling

We had early hands on with an engineering sample of MSI’s GE76 Raider and didn’t think it was particularly pretty beyond the night-club-like Mystic Light bar that flashes high-resolution, RGB-lighting patterns across the front of the laptop. The Dragon Tiamat version, is the opposite of that, only it still has the Mystic Light bar too.

When ancient Babylonian meets a 21-st Century night club, in a laptop.

When the lid is closed it looks like something that Indiana Jones might take a rubbing from while being pursued by an ancient cult in a dusty tomb: the dragon depiction, cuneiform writing and general Babylonian design makes it look like a slab of stone with a plunder-worthy, gold-bar-lettered, MSI moniker on the front.

It belongs in a museum.

Inside, things get even better thanks to a circular design that’s enhanced when it reaches the mousepad thanks to golden cuneiform symbols and a palm rest packed with additional design flourishes. Even the fonts on the keyboard have a subtle design tweak.

How to design a trackpad.

The 11 divine beasts are engraved on GE76 Raider Dragon Edition Tiamat with unique etching technology. Every time you open it, you can feel the distinct rough notch and texture. Let them bring you back to the Mesopotamia. Tiamat is unearthed and leads you to relive flourishing era.

MSI

Our only (minor) concern is the build quality. While our MSI GE76 Raider engineering sample wouldn’t close properly, with the lid getting caught on the rear of the main chassis (which is inset from the edge), the lid on the Dragon Tiamat edition could also get caught. We also noted that the Mystic Light bar didn’t sit completely flush with the chassis in the middle which slightly-spoiled the premium effect. We’re nit-picking but this is supposed to be MSI’s ultimate flagship laptop.

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

Aside from the impressive livery, the MSI GE76 Raider is very much a 17-inch version of the 15.6-inch GE66 Raider which is one of our favourite laptops.

The individually lit, RGB, Scrabble-tile keyboard is very comfortable to type upon for extended periods and it’s also very accurate for gaming. There’s a full number pad albeit with thinner keys. The arrow keys are full-sized (yay!) The trackpad (apart from looking amazing) is perfectly smooth and has well-weighted, integrated buttons . Above the screen is a Full HD webcam.

The screen itself is impressive. While a 4K variant is available (along with a 240Hz Full HD version) our model featured the crazy-fast 300Hz Full HD display. There’s virtually no blurring or ghosting and all motion is rendered as smooth as we’ve seen anywhere.

Colours are bright and vibrant and gradients are rendered smoothly. Monochromatic performance isn’t quite so good with gradients becoming stepped and frequently artefact-ridden – but there are few games that dwell on this sort of content. Contrast is impressive, with details remaining visible in scenes with both bright and dark areas.

Originated from Babylonian mythology, Tiamat, the mother of all gods, is now awakened and possess unparalleled power. Now, ride on the GE76 Raider Dragon Edition Tiamat, leading the divine beasts that carved on the Ishtar Gate. Under the blessing of Tiamat, follow her to revolt and join the battle against evil forces. Just as powerful as the legend, GE76 Raider Dragon Edition Tiamat will lead you to create a legendary glory.

MSI

Connectivity

On the right are two USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 ports and an SDcard reader.
At the rear is a Mini DisplayPort 1.4, USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 (with DP 1.4), Ethernet port, HDMI 2.0 port and power socket.
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.

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

Performance of the MSI GE76 Raider Tiamat

Under the hood is a (last-gen) octa-core, 10th Generation Intel Core i7-10870H processor which is flanked by 32GB of DDR4-3200 RAM and a roomy, 2TB NVMe drive. These conspired to score 5531 in PCMark 10 which is a bit meh (in the world of high performance laptops), to be frank. However, as with the GE66 Raider, it ran uncommonly fast in 3D tests. Despite being based around Nvidia’s second-best RTX 3070 it scored 10,346 in 3DMark Time Spy (which is an average of 66fps) which is the fastest time we’ve seen on this site. Similar occurred in the 3DMark Fire Strike Extreme test with a score of 12,679 (average 61fps) and Port Royal (6516) – the latter only coming second to the impressive, Ryzen-based, Zephyrus G15.

We suspect that one part of this anomalous performance is the excellent MSI Dragon Centre software’s automatic overclocking settings. Another part is MSI’s Cooler Booster 5 technology which seems to default to a higher performance baseline than rivals and at lower temperatures too. It’s worth noting that when running flat out it can make quite a loud, steady swooshing sound. However, this drops quickly when a workload is complete, demonstrating the efficiency of the cooling. If you choose to max-out the fan speeds it doesn’t improve the default overclocking performance, so there’s headroom for those who want to manually overclock even more.

When it came to CPU rendering tests, it scored an impressive 1691 in Cinebench R15 and 9420 in Cinebench R23. These are the best, Intel-based scores we’ve seen but still someway behind the Ryzen-based Zephyrus.

Nonetheless, it punches above its weight and is one of the fastest laptops we’ve tested.

Other features

MSI’s GE76 Raider Dragon Tiamat has something called a, “Duo Wave woofer speaker design by Dynaudio system.” [sic] Regardless of its name, it’s very good indeed. Bass gets loud and punchy, vocals are distinct and treble is powerful without causing vibrations. They’re among the best speakers we’ve heard from a laptop.

It’s also worth noting the inclusion of the Tiamat, special-edition gift pack which includes a wide, Babylonian mouse mat, matching gaming mouse and decorative metallic medal.

Some interesting extras that come with the Tiamat. And here’s its backside.

Portability

Speaking of weight, this is one chonky boi. It doesn’t only resemble an ancient, Babylonian stone slab it feels a bit like one too – 2.9KG is not light in this day and age. Still, the embossed, metallic casing makes it very stiff and sturdy and it will withstand being lugged around if needed. It’s got a huge, 99.9Whr battery and this lasted a reasonable 6hrs 31mins in PCMark 10’s Modern Office 3 test, which is impressive for a high performance laptop.

Should you buy the MSI GE76 Raider Dragon Tiamat?

If you want a statement laptop then it doesn’t get much better than this. It’s a head turner that’s not totally ostentatious (so long as you have the disco lights turned off) and oozes class. We hope the minor build-quality foibles stem from ours being a review unit and not what’s typical of a public offering, though. At $4,699 it’s one of the most expensive laptops we’ve seen but it’s worth noting that, at the time of writing, MSI is holding a Winter Sale and the Dragon Tiamat is included (you can also get a free gift). Also know that the 11th Generation Intel processor version has also just been released and can be had for $4999. There are certainly better performance-vs-value propositions available, like the $1,000-cheaper Aorus 17G YC. However, no other laptop has such an aura of awesomeness like this limited edition GE76 Raider with ancient Babylonian Dragon Tiamat detailing. If you’ve got the cash, you’ll love it.

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