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MSI GE66 Raider Review

Is there ever anything with too much power? If you ask MSI, the answer is undoubtedly no, especially when it comes to the latest laptop, the MSI GE66 Raider. With $2,999, the Raider packs specs you’d expect to see in the case of the GT76 Titan. This baby is equipped with an overclockable Intel Core i9 processor and an Nvidia 2080 Super GPU. Besides, he has an SSD that serves up blink-and-yourself speeds and a beautiful display. This is our MSI GE66 Raider Review.

Last updated on August 10, 2020 12:01 pm

However, the audio quality has to work, and the keyboard can get better feedback. But if you’re searching for the most powerful 15-inch in the country and the latest addition to our best gaming laptops list, look no further.

Specifications

MSI GE66 Raider Specs
Price:$2,999
CPU:2.4-GHz Intel Core i9-10980HK
RAM:32GB
Storage:1TB NVMe PCIe SSD
Display:15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080, 300Hz refresh rate
GPU:Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super Max-Q GPU
VRAM8GB
Battery life:Around 5 hours
Size: 14.1 x 10.5 x 0.9-inches
Weight: 5.3-pounds

MSI GE66 Raider Review: Design

The MSI GR66 Raider looks like a baby MSI GT76 Titan, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. It is a beautiful laptop consisting of a granite grey aluminum lid, black metal side panels, and a black plastic base. The lid is bare, except for the royal dragon connoisseur at the top. The reinforced hinges and back panel have a lot of aggressive corners that give the impression that the system is about to transform. The interior of the laptop is mainly made of onyx-colored aluminum that feels cool and supple.

The keyboard is located in a light recess above the touchpad and the palm rest. Relatively thin edges on the sides surround the display, but MSI could stand to trim the grease on the top and bottom, especially at the bottom. But my absolute favorite is the thick glass prism on the front of the laptop. MSI names it the Aurora, and when the RGB lighting goes through, it looks like a wavy river of color — just like a mini Aurora Borealis.

Ports, gates, everywhere! MSI loaded the Raider with ports, which includes a pair of USB Type-A 3.2 ports and a 3-in-1 card reader on the right. On the left side, there is a USB Type-A 3.2 Gen 2 port, a Thunderbolt 3 port, and a headset jack. Look at the back of the system, and you will get another USB Type-C port, a Gigabit Ethernet input, a Mini DisplayPort 1.4, HDMI 2.0, and your charging port.

Weighing in at 5.3 pounds, the 14.1 x 10.5 x 0.9 inch Raider is heavier than the Gigabyte Aorus 15G (4.9-pounds, 14 x 9.8 x 1-inch) and the Acer Predator Triton 500 (4.8-pounds, 14.1 x 10 x 0.7-inches). It is lighter than the Razer Blade Pro 17 (6.1 pounds, 15.5 x 10.2 x 0.8 inches), but that is to be expected because it is a 17-inch system.

Keyboard and TouchPad

Designed by the GE66, the SteelSeries keyboard provides an excellent typing experience. Keystrokes arrive with a satisfactory thud, and there is no bending on the keyboard deck. The touchpad is also excellent, with an even clicking sensation everywhere except at the top of the pad. In addition to adjusting the keyboard illumination with the SteelSeries Engine app, you can also raise, lower, or lower the backlight using the F10 and F11 keys. Other function keys provide quick access to the MSI Dragon Center and the ability to turn the maximum speed of the cooling fans on or off.

MSI GE66 Raider Review

As you can probably guess, you’ll end up using Dragon Center and SteelSeries Engine a lot, especially as you’re adjusting the settings for the first time to set up the laptop as you like. Unfortunately, neither is intuitive or bug-free. Many of the preset in Dragon Center requires you to restart the app or even the entire system when you change them.

MSI GE66 Raider Review: Display

Anti-glare for victory! I took the Raider’s 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080 screen in the backyard to work on the review and my brown color. The color remained as vivid outside as it was inside. That meant that when I watched the 1080p trailer for Miss Juneteenth, actress Nicole Beharie’s beautiful brown skin shone against her burgundy top, just like the little piece of turquoise in her gold chain. The details were so sharp that the soft waves of her curls gave the impression of an ebony sea flowing out of her scalp with thin bands of red and gold.

Will you immediately notice how much improvement a 300Hz refresh rate and a 3ms response speed make your gameplay? Probably not. But it does make a difference to image reproduction. I get the most out of the game when I play shooters like Division 2 or Borderlands 3 because there’s little or no delay. And when it comes to those headshots, my accuracy is a lot better at 300Hz compared to a standard 60Hz screen.

But to get some breathtaking views, I played The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and basked in a glorious sunset. As the sun rose, the sky slowly changed from pink to orange to gold and finally to a beautiful blue baby, while Geralt’s ash-white hair was blowing in the wind.

As we measured the color rendering, we found that the panel only represented 114% of the sRGB color range. Well, not only because it’s above our 100% minimum. That result is similar to the Aorus but does not meet or exceed the average of 139% of the premium gaming laptop or the Predator (117%) and Blade (119%).

The laptop did slightly better on the brightness test. The Raider’s screen averages 300 nits, which is lower than the average of 345 nits and the Razer Blade’s 304 nits. However, the MSI Raider is still brighter than the Gigabyte Aorus (243 nits) and the Predator (277 nits).

MSI GE66 Raider Review: Audio

I like the idea of side-mounted speakers because they help create an illusion of surround sound. However, the performance isn’t as good as I’d hoped – at least if Nahimic’s surround sound effect isn’t turned on. But even when it’s turned on, the sound of the Dynaudio DuoWave speakers gives me the impression of listening to an old-school FM radio. So while Janelle Monae’s sexy vocals sounded good, the bass was weak and the electric guitar tingling, even when I tried to slide through the Nahimic software presets.

When I played through Witcher 3, I began with the Gaming setting on the Nahimic software, but in the end, I got stuck in the Music setting because it gave me the best results. But no matter on which setting I played, the music took a backseat for the sound effects even if I adjusted the in-game audio settings. That meant that the strong wind, rustling leaves, and violently beaten branches of the storm that I resorted to were crystal clear.

MSI GE66 Raider Review: Graphics and Gaming

You can do all that and more with Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 2080 Super Max-Q GPU with its 8GB video memory. At least that’s how it felt when in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, I was cutting down a bunch of wraiths, and I gracefully walked between the undead, strategically striking and throwing spells until they disintegrated into piles of ashes with a silky 108 frames per second on Ultra. The framerate jumped to 146 fps on High.

MSI GE66 Raider Review

The GE66 Raider lived up to its name on our synthetic benchmarks, plundering its competitor’s premium on the Shadow of the Tomb Raider test. The notebook got 109 fps and shattered the 71 fps premium gaming laptop average. The Blade and his RTX 2080 Super Max-Q GPU came closest to the Raider at 98 fps. The Predator, which also has an RTX 2080 Super Max-Q GPU, reached 66 fps while the Gigabyte Aorus and its RTX 2070 Super Max-Q GPU reached 83 fps.

When running the Grand Theft Auto V benchmark, the Raider reached 91 fps, exceeding the 85 fps average. The blade was hot on its heels at 89 fps; the Aorus reached 76 fps while the Predator reached 60 fps. In the Far Cry New Dawn test, the Raider produced 99 fps, beating the 85 fps average by hand, as well as the Blade and Aorus, which scored 87 fps. On the Metro: Exodus (DirectX 11-RTX) benchmark, the MSI GE66 Raider hit 58 fps, averaging along the Blade (54 fps), Aorus (52 fps), and 55 fps.

MSI GE66 Raider Review: Performance

MSI serves power in the field of gaming and multitasking. The Raider’s 2.4 GHz Intel Core i9-10980HK processor and 32GB RAM is lean, mean, and overclockable. However, it’s a powerful piece of silicone, even when it’s at its average clocking speed. I streamed an episode of Queer Eye on Netflix while running 32 tabs in Google Chrome, some of which played 1080p videos on YouTube, Twitch and Mixer, and Tweetdeck.

The Raider turned out to be a beast during our synthetic tests, beginning with Geekbench 4.3. On our performance benchmark, the laptop shredded the competition with a score of 32,767. The score is much higher than the average of 26,538 premium gaming laptops. Equipped with Intel Core i7-10875H CPUs, the Gigabyte Aorus and Razer Blade reached 28,508 and 22,810, while the Acer Predator and its Intel Core i7-8750H processor produced 20,990 respectively.

When performing the Handbrake test, the Raider transcoded a 4K video to 1080p in 6 minutes and 59 seconds, smoking the 8:48 average. The Aorus was one minute behind at 7:59 with the Leaf right behind at 9:31 with the Triton finishing with a time of 11:04.

The 1TB NVMe PCIe SSD of the Raider is incredibly fast. It has duplicated 4.97 GB of multimedia files in 0:03 seconds, which translates to a 1,458.2 megabyte per second. It smoked the average of 944.1 Mbps along with the Blade (848 Mbps, 512 GB PCIe NVMe SSD) and Aorus (658 Mbps, 512 GB SSD). However, the Acer Predator and its dual NVMe PCIe SSDs managed to outperform the Raider with a result of 1,696.4MBps.

MSI GE66 Raider Review: Heat

When you pack all those powerful, high-end specs, you need an equally strong cooling system to keep everything at the optimal temperature. To prevent overheating, MSI has refined its custom Cooler Boost system. Now in its 5th version, Cooler Boost 5 comprises several copper tubes that are wider than previous models and two fans with 53 blades per fan that should allow for more efficient cooling.

So how did Cooler Boost perform? I spent 15 minutes exploring the battle in Witcher 3, rejecting the undead horrors. When I checked the touchpad, it had a temperature of 85 degrees Fahrenheit below our 95-degree comfort threshold. However, the center of the keyboard and chassis reached 108 and 125 degrees. However, thanks to the plastic base, the heat didn’t feel as intense as I expected when I used it in my lap.

MSI GE66 Raider Review: Battery Life

Like its slim cousin, the MSI GS66 Stealth, the Raider is equipped with a 99.9-watt battery, the largest that the TSA allows on a flight. That helped the laptop to last 4 hours and 57 minutes on our battery test, which consists of regular web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness. The time was enough to survive Blade’s 4:41, the 4:19 premium gaming laptop average, and the Predator 3:04, but not the Aorus that clocked in at 6:16.

Price and Configuration Options

The basic model of the Raider will cost you to $1,899, but you get a 2.3 GHz Intel Core i7-10875H processor with 16GB RAM, a 512GB of NVMe SSD, an Intel’s UHD Graphics GPU, an Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 2070 GPU with 8GB VRAM and a 1080p (Full-HD) display with a 240Hz of refresh rate and 3-millisecond response speed. Need more power? Take a look at the $2,199 model that comes with a 2.6 GHz Intel’s Core i7-10750H CPU, 32GB RAM, and a 1TB of NVMe SSD. For $2,499, you leap an RTX 2080 Super Max-Q GPU.

MSI GE66 Raider Review

I settled on the $2,999 model, which gave me access to the 2.4 GHz Intel’s Core i9-10980HK processor and a 1920 x 1080 (Full-HD) display with a 300Hz refresh rate and a 3ms response speed. If you want to save a few hundred dollars, go for the $2,799 that gives you a 2.3 GHz Intel Core i7-10875HK processor.

MSI GE66 Raider Review: Conclusion

The MSI GE66 Raider gives you the power of a desktop replacement in a more compact and portable 15-inch chassis. For $2,999, you get a gaming rig packed at the gills with power thanks to an overclockable Intel’s Core i9 processor and Nvidia’s 2080 Super GPU. It’s an undeniable powerhouse whether you’re looking for or cracking numbers — it’s one of the most powerful gaming laptops on the market. And it has a good battery life for a gaming laptop.

However, I wish the display was livelier and brighter. And the audio quality certainly leaves a lot to be desired. If those things are priorities, I would recommend the 3,199 Razer Blade Pro 17, although you will lose some of that top performance. However, for pro gamers in the hunt for power, the MSI GE66 Raider is at its peak.

9 Total Score
Our Verdict

The MSI GE66 Raider packs the power and speed of a desktop replacement into a more manageable 15-inch chassis, thus making it one of the best gaming laptops.

PROS
  • Stellar graphics and overall performance
  • Solid battery life
  • Blazing fast SSD
  • Excellent webcam
CONS
  • Weak audio
  • Runs hot
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