MSI GS66 Stealth (2021) Review: Expensive But Powerful!
The MSI GS66 Stealth (2021) is a high-performance gaming laptop that offers a sleek design and powerful hardware. Here's a review of its key features and performance aspects:
Power and Elegance Combined
In the world of gaming laptops, the MSI GS66 Stealth (2021) stands out as a formidable contender. Combining power, elegance, and portability, this laptop offers an exceptional gaming experience without compromising on style. With its sleek design, top-notch hardware, and efficient cooling system, the GS66 Stealth is sure to impress both gamers and content creators alike.
Design and Build Quality
The GS66 Stealth boasts a sleek and sophisticated design that exudes professionalism. Encased in a black aluminum chassis, it gives off a stealthy vibe, making it an attractive choice for those who prefer a more understated gaming laptop. The slim profile and lightweight construction make it highly portable, allowing gamers to take their gaming experience on the go.
The build quality is exceptional, with solid construction that gives the laptop a durable feel, ensuring it can withstand the rigors of frequent travel and heavy use.
Equipped with a 15.6-inch IPS display featuring a Full HD (1920 x 1080) resolution, the GS66 Stealth delivers impressive visuals. The high refresh rate of 240Hz ensures smooth and fluid gameplay, particularly for fast-paced games where every frame matters. The display also boasts a fast response time, minimizing motion blur and providing crisp and clear images. Additionally, the display offers accurate color reproduction and wide viewing angles, making it suitable for both gaming and content creation tasks. Whether you're immersing yourself in the latest AAA game or working on graphic-intensive projects, the GS66 Stealth's display won't disappoint.
Under the hood, the GS66 Stealth packs a powerful punch. It can be configured with up to an Intel Core i9 processor, providing excellent processing power for demanding tasks. The GS66 Stealth also offers impressive graphics options, including the latest NVIDIA GeForce RTX 30-series graphics, up to the mighty RTX 3080. This combination ensures a smooth and immersive gaming experience even in the most demanding titles, allowing gamers to enjoy high frame rates and stunning visuals. Content creators will appreciate the laptop's capabilities for video editing, 3D rendering, and other resource-intensive tasks. With ample RAM options of up to 64GB, multitasking becomes a breeze, enabling seamless transitions between applications and workflows.
Efficient thermal management is crucial for any high-performance gaming laptop, and the GS66 Stealth does not disappoint. It incorporates MSI's Cooler Boost Trinity+ cooling system, which employs multiple heat pipes and fans to keep temperatures in check during intense gaming sessions. This advanced cooling solution effectively dissipates heat, ensuring optimal performance and preventing thermal throttling. Gamers can enjoy extended play sessions without worrying about overheating issues, as the GS66 Stealth keeps temperatures within acceptable ranges, maintaining consistent performance.
Keyboard and Trackpad
The GS66 Stealth features a SteelSeries RGB backlit keyboard that offers a comfortable and responsive typing experience. The keys have good travel distance and feedback, making this laptop enjoyable for both gaming and everyday productivity tasks. The per-key customization options allow users to personalize the lighting effects to suit their preferences, adding a touch of personalization to their gaming setup. The laptop also sports a large and accurate trackpad, enabling smooth navigation and easy gesture controls.
Whether you're in the midst of an intense gaming session or working on intricate tasks, the GS66 Stealth's keyboard and trackpad ensure a satisfying user experience. With an amazing key-push button keyboard and extra-wide button-less touchpad, the GS66 Stealth has excellent tactile feedback and is easy to operate.
Connectivity and Ports
In terms of connectivity, the GS66 Stealth provides a wide array of ports to accommodate various devices and peripherals. It includes Thunderbolt 4, USB Type-A, USB Type-C, and HDMI, offering versatile options for connecting external displays, storage devices, and more. The Thunderbolt 4 port provides lightning-fast data transfer speeds and allows for the connection of multiple high-resolution displays, making it a valuable feature for gamers and content creators alike. With Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1, you can expect fast and reliable wireless connectivity for online gaming, streaming, and other activities.
The high-end Killer E3100X 2.5Gbps port on the Ethernet connector is used to connect to LAN (or the internet). Three USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports (two Type-A and one Type-C) & a headset jack all make it easy to connect with various devices, increasing its productivity.
The power jack, a Thunderbolt 4/USB-C connector, an HDMI 2.0b video output (noted for its compatibility of 4K/60Hz), and a further USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A port are all located on the left edge of the device. Unfortunately, the laptop lacks an SD card reader, but it's an excellent variant nonetheless as gamers often prefer to connect hard disk drives instead of SD cards. Bluetooth 5 and Wi-Fi 6 connections are provided inside this powerful laptop via a Killer AX1650i module.
Two DDR4-3200 memory slots (providing a combined 64GB) & two M.2 Type-2280 SSD slots are accessible through the GS66 Stealth's detachable bottom panel. Compared to the MSI GS66 Stealth, the Alienware M15 R4's RAM can't be upgraded because it's soldered onboard, so its upgradeability shouldn't be taken for granted. This puts the MSI GS66 Stealth slightly ahead of its competitor, the Alienware m15 R4.
All Metal Body, and Slim Enough in Design
The GS66 Stealth maintains its 0.8 by 14.1 by 9.8 inch trim measurements. Although it weighs 4.63 pounds, the durability of its all-metal construction makes up for that. Both its lid and chassis are impressively rigid. For a seamless appearance, the metal base of this notebook is made from only two parts.
However, there are some concessions in its design, most notably in the notch on the right edge for the Ethernet connector. Additionally, the lower edges of the chassis could have been made smoother.
Twin speakers project sound from above through holes on either side of the palm rest areas. They are loud enough for personal listening and gaming thanks to Dynaudio tuning.
Security at its Best
Fortunately, the GS66 Stealth does contain an IR webcam for facial identification in place of a fingerprint reader. This is really beneficial as many gaming laptops lack biometrics. However, the camera itself is only a 720p type, and its somewhat pixelated output is on par with that of the majority of notebook webcams in this price range.
Meet the GeForce RTX 3080 Laptop GPU
The MSI GS66 Stealth is one of the first laptops to come equipped with the powerful GeForce RTX 3080 GPU. Naturally, laptop GPU support is supposed to be less powerful than desktop cards, but that's actually not the case with the GS66 Stealth. Consider the GeForce RTX 3080 in the GS66 Stealth as a distant relative of the desktop card given the stark variances. Although it has a larger amount of video memory, the slower GDDR6 model has a smaller interface with approximately half the bandwidth. Its boost frequency is likewise considerably lower, and so it is undervalued; according to software called GPU-Z (Opens in a new window). However, it sustained 1,350MHz to 1,400MHz in the 3DMark Fire Strike stress tests.
Naturally, the RTX 3080 Laptop GPU uses less power than the desktop model. According to the GPU-Z logs, the total graphics power (TGP, often known as "board power") in the GS66 Stealth is just 95 watts. Given that, Nvidia claims laptop manufacturers may use the card with a TGP of up to 150 watts or more, the GS66 Stealth's low rating leaves a lot of possible performance issues on the table. However, no such problem is encountered in real-life testing.
In addition to its low-wattage components, the GS66 Stealth offers a slim chassis and reasonably moderate operating temperatures. When testing or analyzing the GS66 Stealth with gaming, both the GeForce RTX 3080 and Core i7-10870H CPUs reached their maximum temperatures in the mid-70s. Despite this, the outdoor temperature also remains good. These are excellent low values that help avoid thermal performance throttling.
After playing Shadow of the Tomb Raider for about 30 minutes, the chassis was generally acceptably cool, although the keyboard center was a bit warm. This is a significant accomplishment for a tiny metal notebook. Only the left-side fan?there are three in the GS66 Stealth, one on the left and two on the right?seemed to constantly be going, even when the computer was inactive. But while you're gaming, the fans are well-managed and keep their noise level low enough that you can play games next to others without bothering them.
Testing the GS66 Stealth: The Nature of an RTX 3080
Overall, the GeForce RTX 30 series makes it difficult to choose a gaming laptop. The model 10UH-290US of the GS66 Stealth, which retails for about $2,699, was made available in Q2 2021. It has an eight-core Core i7-10870H CPU (2.2GHz, up to 5GHz Turbo Boost), a built-in 16GB GeForce RTX 3080 graphics card, and a 1TB NVMe SSD for Windows 10 Pro, but only 16GB of RAM, when 32GB is customary at this price. The memory and storage, however, are upgradeable, as already mentioned earlier. Like other leading brands, only one year warranty is provided for the laptop GS66 Stealth by MSI.
Being its main competitor, the Alienware m15 R4 costs around $2,779 and has 32GB of RAM and a GeForce RTX 3080 with a greater TDP, but it offers a full HD screen with a lower refresh rate. Asus ROG Strix Scar 15 (G533QS-XS98Q), which costs around $2,699, is another rival of the GS66 Stealth. Similar to the GS66 Stealth, it is thicker and heavier. Overall, the GS66 Stealth is inexpensive compared to its offerings.
Storage, Media, and CPU Tests
In the initial test using the software called PCMark 10, the GS66 Stealth scored an outstanding 6,175 points. It's suitable for many real-world productivity and content creation activities, and one can use it for basic to advanced tasks including word processing, spreadsheet fiddling, web surfing, and even long videoconferencing without issue. Additionally, it performed as least as well as the rest in the Storage subtest of PCMark 8, indicating that its 1TB NVMe SSD has plenty of space to fill up useful data. In the CPU test, it easily transcoded a 12-minute 4K movie to 1080p, while the Cinebench R15 pushed all available processor cores and threads when rendering a complex picture. Despite having the identical eight-core Core i7-10870H CPU, the Alienware and Gigabyte outperformed the GS66 Stealth in Cinebench.
Although we couldn't observe CPU power usage figures for both of them, we did see that the GS66 Stealth's chip only used 45 watts when it was under stress. The Core i7-10870H's thermal design power (TDP) rating is 45 watts, so it may sound like an unusual statement, but Intel CPUs can be allowed to surge far higher than their TDP for brief periods of time. It looks that the GS66 Stealth cannot accomplish that since it is locked down. This explains why, despite having two more cores, the GS66 Stealth laptop struggles to differentiate itself from the earlier GS66 with its 45-watt Core i7-10750H processor.
The GS66 Stealth had no issue keeping up with the speed in picture editing or video rendering, which is the final test and a great result in this segment. However, these tasks are not as CPU-focused as Cinebench or Handbrake. We applied 10 complex filters and effects to a typical JPEG image using the early 2018 version of Adobe Photoshop Creative Cloud, and the processing time and results were satisfactory.
A Well-Rounded Gamer, if Not the Fastest
The GS66 Stealth benefited greatly from an upgrade in technology in 2021, which also resulted in longer battery life and increased gaming performance. Since our review machine was already equipped with a QHD screen, it also added this wonderful option for a top-notch gaming experience. The GS66 Stealth finds a decent balance across the board thanks to its metal chassis as well as its optimally designed cool chassis.
However, despite employing a GeForce RTX 3080, our test unit lagged behind the Alienware m15 R4 which used a lower-wattage GeForce RTX 3070. This means that it is not the quickest gaming laptop on the street.
The Alienware continues to be our Editors' Choice selection for premium 15.6-inch gaming laptops, but the MSI is a respectable runner-up if you value its upgradeability, long battery life, and considerably more subdued appearance.
Given its powerful hardware, the battery life of the GS66 Stealth is relatively average. During gaming sessions, it's recommended to have the laptop plugged in for optimal performance, as intensive gaming tends to drain the battery quickly. For normal productivity tasks, the laptop can last around 5-6 hours, providing sufficient battery life for on-the-go usage. However, it's worth noting that heavy usage and resource-intensive tasks will require the laptop to be plugged in to ensure consistent performance.
The MSI GS66 Stealth (2021) is a remarkable gaming laptop that combines power, elegance, and portability. With its sleek design, top-notch hardware, efficient cooling system, and stunning display, it offers an immersive gaming experience for enthusiasts. The laptop's performance prowess extends beyond gaming, making it an excellent choice for content creators and professionals who require high processing power. While the battery life may not be its strongest suit, the GS66 Stealth excels in almost every other aspect. If you're in the market for a premium gaming laptop that delivers both style and substance, the MSI GS66 Stealth (2021) should definitely be on your radar. With its blend of power, elegance, and portability, the GS66 Stealth sets a new standard for gaming laptops.