MSI Stealth GS66 review

MSI Stealth GS66 Review (12U) 2022

We found the 17-inch MSI Stealth GS77 to be the almost-perfect High Performance Laptop: it’s thin, light, portable and very very powerful. Now, here’s the 15.6-inch version, the MSI Stealth GS66. It has identical specs but a smaller chassis and a significantly lower price tag. But, having seen plenty of MSI Stealths over the years we need to answer the question, ‘Will the small chassis struggle to contain the power inside?’ Let’s find out.

MSI Stealth GS66 Specs

15.6-inch, matte, 60Hz, 3840 x 2160, IPS display; 3.8-5GHz Intel Core i9-12900H CPU; 64GB DDR5-4800 RAM; 2TB HDD; 16GB GDDR6 Nvidia RTX 3080 Ti graphics; 99Wh battery. Dimensions: 358 x 248 x 20mm. Weight: 2.24KG. SKU: 12UHS-098AU. Full specs here.

Features, Ergonomics and Design

We love the MSI Stealth GS66’s livery, it’s designed to be like a Stealth fighter and it succeeds. You wouldn’t even know there’s a Dragon logo on the front unless you get it to catch the light just so. It’s a great little detail.

MSI Stealth GS66 review rear
The Stealth GS66’s Dragon logo can be invisible or dark or bright depending on how the light catches it. Awesome!

As with its predecessors, the Stealth GS66 is very solidly built. The lid is very stiff and the whole device feels solid. The 15.6-inch GS66 differs slightly from the GS77 in that the chassis’ hinges are at the rear. While this means that connectivity ports can’t be added to the rear it also shaves a whole millimetre off the thickness – so it’s a bit stealthier.

Opening it up sets off the fabulous RGB Steel Series keyboard with each key being individually lit. The colours look even more impressive due to the contrast against the jet-black interior. There’s no number pad but full-size arrow keys are included. The Stealth’s large keys are low-travel and yet very comfortable and accurate to type (or game) with for extended periods. The wide trackpad is smooth while the hidden buttons are accurate and have a nice clicking action. We did, on occasion, brush over it with our palms while typing (which moved the cursor) but we won’t fault it for that – we’d get used to it.

MSI GS66 Stealth review RGB
The colours look even better when on a totally-black surround. We also like keyboards with a Crosshair button.

There’s an integrated fingerprint reader which supports Windows Hello. This is also supported by a decent HD Webcam above the screen. It can get grainy in low light and we’re a little disappointed that it’s not a Full HD variant as seen in MSI’s other top-tier models, but at least it logs you in very quickly when you look at it.

MSI says the Stealth is designed the for both Business and Gaming. In terms of looks, it’s succeeded in creating a laptop whose appearance excels (or blends into) in both environments depending on the RGB. Not many laptops can achieve this.

However, the GS66 is not an unqualified success. There are several variants with most of the differences surrounding the processor and screen. Our review unit sported a 4K, UHD, 3,840 x 2,160 IPS screen. However, this comes with a 60Hz refresh rate – which is poor for gaming. But does that mean we’re supposed to judge it as a Creator laptop?

Another MSI Stealth GS66 12U variant has a UHD 2,560 x 1,440 screen which has a speedy, 240Hz refresh rate and also supports 100 per cent of the difficult DCI-P3 colour space – which is better for Creators. Meanwhile, yet another variant sports a version of the 4K UHD 3,840 x 2,160 screen but with both a 120Hz refresh rate AND support for 100 per cent of DCI-P3. Based on the specs, the screen on our Stealth GS66 seems to benefit nobody in particular and yet it’s part of the highest-spec’d, most-expensive SKU. Weird.

MSI GS66 Stealth review front
Our MSI GS66 Stealth has a high quality screen… that can’t handle fast moving motion(!) Fortunately, other variants do.

Nonetheless, the screen on our GS66 got very bright and displayed vibrant colours with excellent transitions in gradients. Monochromatic gradients were excellent too. Contrast was excellent with impressive amounts of detail remaining in both bright and shadowy areas. It’s not quite HDR, but still excellent for any laptop. The problem was that fast moving objects didn’t just suffer from the pedestrian 60Hz refresh rate, the pixel response time is rather slow too. This leads to smearing which hurts your eyes – and has no business being on a gaming laptop, or any laptop for that matter.

It’s worth noting that the Stealth GS66’s screen can fold down flat, which some users like for showing off their work to people sitting opposite.

We were pleased that the twin, 2-Watt speakers offer good volume, well-rounded fidelity and punchy bass.

Performance

Inside the Stealth GS66 is a mighty 3.8-5GHz 12th Gen Intel Core i9-12900H processor with its 14 cores (six Performance and eight Efficiency) and 20 threads. This is flanked by a whopping 64GB of DDR5-4800 RAM and supported by two 1TB PCIe 4.0 hard drives. We expected greatness but with a cautious recognition that this was a very small chassis for such powerful (and hot) components.

In the general PCMark 10 test the Stealth scored 7,271. This is very high but it’s still between four and 14 per cent slower than other, larger laptops with similar specs. Still, its scores of 2,942 and 17,107 in the Cinebench processor-based rendering tests (R15 and R23 respectively) are more in-line with the high scores we hoped to see here.

3D performance is based around the mighty Nvidia RTX 3080 Ti (with 16GB of GDDR6 RAM). In 3DMark Time Spy it scored 9,688 which is an average of 60fps. This is a good score but its 5fps slower than the similarly spec’d GS77 and 24fps behind the larger MSI Raiders with the same GPU. In Fire Strike Extreme the GS66 scored 12,442 (average 55.2fps) which is good, but also noticeably down on its larger 3080 Ti-sporting siblings. In the tricky, Port Royal ray-tracing benchmark it score 6,034 (27.9fps) which is practically the same as the lesser, 3070-sporting HP Omen.

It’s hard not to think that the components are somewhat overkill in the GS66. With 3D performance dialed back to the point where it matches lesser laptops with RTX 3070 GPUs, why fit an expensive 3080 Ti if it can’t make use of it?

The other consideration is heat and noise. Under load, the MSI Stealth’s Cooler Boost Trinity+ tech (with its three fans and seven heat pipes) can develop an audible whoosh with a minor high pitch whine but we’ve certainly heard worse and it’s impressive considering the performance and chassis thickness. It also does a noticeably better job at keeping cool and quiet than previous models.

Connectivity

MSI GS66 Stealth review left
On the right is a 3.5mm jack, two USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 (with DP 1.4) ports, a USB-A 3.2 Gen 2 port and Gigabit Ethernet.
MSI GS66 Stealth review right
On the left is a USB-C Thunderbolt 4 port, HDMI 2.1 port and another USB-A 3.2 Gen 2 port.

Inside there’s Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2. It’s connection options are very impressive all-round.

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Harvey the Dat

Portability & Battery life

Considering the components, MSI’s Stealth GS66 is very thin at 20mm. The 2.24KG weight is relatively light, too. Just note that the power supply is not small and adds another 720g to this. It’s very solidly built and should easily survive life on the road.

The big 99.9Wh battery ran the PCMark 10 Modern Office test for 7 hours 5 minutes. While we’d like this to be higher, we’re still impressed that such beefy components could last this long.

MSI Stealth GS66 Price

It’s tricky to establish the exact price of the Stealth GS66. Our review spec seems to have been pulled from sale in Australia but, with the dodgy screen, that’s no bad thing. More-sensible variants are available and, at the time of going to press, they’re on sale with MSI’s Gamer’s Day promotion which offers up to $500 off and come with free backpacks (which you can also get for free in our giveaway below).

Still, all of these Stealth GS66 variants drop RAM from 64GB to 16 or 32GB. They all have a single, 1TB hard drives and the top-end GPU is a straight RTX 3080. The top-spec, for-sale SKU has a sticker price of $5,499 (currently reduced to $4,999). While we’d like to recommend that, we simply haven’t tested it. What we do know is that the theoretical price of our model would be considerably higher – and that knocks the value score.

Conclusion: Should I Buy the MSI Stealth GS66?

It’s tricky to say for sure… but probably yes. It’s a very good laptop and we’ve said it would be better with lesser components and that’s exactly what MSI is selling. Going on our review spec and higher price tag alone it’s in our top 10 best laptops, but if lower specs (with lower prices) can perform in a similar way, the MSI Stealth GS66 is in the top 5. Ultimately, that means if you want a thin and light powerful, 15.6-inch laptop, this is the model to get. But be very sure about the SKU you’re choosing and pay particular attention to the screen specs and GPU.

Pros

Looks great
Powerful
Portable

Cons

Confusing specs
Performance throttling

Giveaway

MSI Titan Laptop bag
MSI 2022 Limited edition Gaming backpack.

MSI is giving away two MSI laptop backpacks to three random people to subscribe to our mailing list below. This is only open to ANZ residents, we’re afraid. Just be sure to mention this laptop’s name in the message!

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