May 8, 2021

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MSI GS66 Stealth Review (2021): Gambling Comes to Laptops

4 min read


The latest from MSI GS66 Stealth can watch the identical to last year’s model, but there is much more to do. It is powered by New NVIDIA RTX 30 Series GPUs, and it is one of the first gaming laptops with a 1440p (or 2K) display. It’s a big problem. In recent years, laptop gamers could choose between low-res 1080p displays with fast refresh rates or 4K displays that contained a ton of pixels, but also required a your of the power to make games.

1440p is a good compromise: it’s sharper than 1080p, but not as demanding as 4K. The MSI GS66 Stealth and other 1440p laptops also support fast refresh rates to make gaming silky smooth. So take this new screen technology, more power and the relatively slim design of the GS66, and it looks like a winner, right?

Gallery: MSI GS66 Stealth (2021) | 7 photos


For the most part, yes. But I ran into a major downside: tons of fan noise. That’s the cost of storing so much material in a thin laptop. And while all PC gamers have to deal with fan noise, the GS66’s cooling system was way louder than most.

But let’s start with the right things first. As soon as I got the GS66, equipped with NVIDIA’s RTX 3080 mobile GPU, Intel’s i7-10870H processor, and 16GB of RAM, I quickly installed Overwatch to see how well his 240Hz 1440p display performed. I was not deceived. This 240Hz figure means the screen can display up to four times more frames per second, compared to standard 60Hz monitors. The more data there is, the smoother everything is. Quite simple.

In OverwatchI hit around 175 fps on average with epic graphics settings at 1440p. The fluidity of the gameplay made it easier for me to line up sniper fire or just wreak havoc as Junkrat. Of course I saw the game run even faster GS66 from last year, which had a 300Hz 1080p display. But that lower resolution offered less detail every time I slowed down to take a close look at Overwatch’s characters and stages. With the new 1440p display, I could make out things like the thin lines of the costumes, as well as distant objects and slightly muddy players at 1080p. I’d be happy to trade an incredibly high refresh rate like 300Hz for a slightly better screen.

Devindra Hardawar / Engadget

And while 4K displays are obviously sharper, 1440p gaming requires a lot less power. You will probably see great results with the GS66 even if it doesn’t have NVIDIA’s most powerful graphics card. Most 4K displays have been largely limited to 60Hz refresh rates, so while you could run a game well, it could never be as smooth as a 1080p display. Ironic, isn’t it? We are now seeing 4K 120Hz displays in expensive machines like the Razer Blade Pro 17, but it’s still quite rare.

1440p isn’t a particularly useful resolution for watching videos, but the GS66’s screen still looks great when streaming content. This 240Hz panel also made browsing the web and reading documents incredibly smooth – although you would have to manually activate NVIDIA’s GPU to see the full benefits of this refresh rate. By default, the GS66 uses NVIDIA’s Optimus technology to automatically switch between the system’s integrated Intel graphics and the RTX 3080 GPU. This helps with battery life, but it also limits the screen to a 60Hz plus standard with integrated graphics. And as a side note: if you’re still not sold on 1440p as your ideal gaming resolution, you can also hook up the GS66 with a 300Hz 1080p display or 4K panel.

PCMark 10

3DMark (TimeSpy Extreme)

Geekbench 5

ATTO (main reads / writes)

MSI GS66 Stealth (2021, Intel i7-10870H, NVIDIA RTX 3080 Max-Q)

5369

4,538

1 247/6 505

3.1 GB / s / 2.9 GB / s

MSI GS66 Stealth (2020, Intel Core i7-10750H, NVIDIA RTX 2070 Super Max-Q)

4 778

3 231

1 159/6 901

1.8 Gb / s / 1.8 Gb / s

Gigabyte Aero 17 HDR XB (Intel i7-10875H, NVIDIA RTX 2070 Super Max-Q)

5 155

3 495

1 137/5 681

2.93 GB / s / 2.59 GB / s

ASUS Zephyrus Duo 15 (Intel i9-10980HK, NVIDIA RTX 2080 Super Max-Q)

5 616

3,680

1 365/8 055

3 Gb / s / 3.24 Gb / s

ASUS Zephyrus G14 (AMD Ryzen 9 4900HS, NVIDIA RTX 2060 Max-Q)

5,436

2,725

1,189/7705

1.7 Gb / s / 1.67 Gb / s

Switching to a more demanding game, the GS66 was able to run Control between 55 and 75FPS with maximized graphics and ray tracing settings. I had to use NVIDIA’s DLSS technology to get this smooth game, meaning it was actually rendered at a resolution below 1440p, before being resized with AI algorithms. Given how taxing ray tracing can be, I found DLSS to be practically a requirement with Control, whatever system I’m playing.



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