MSI GS66 Review – Best Thin And Powerful Gaming Laptop?
Lets check it out in this detailed review and see what improvements theyve made over the older GS65.. My GS66 is one of the highest specced options available: theres an Intel i9 10980HK overclockable 8 core processor, Nvidia, RTX 2080 Super Max Q, graphics, 32gb of memory in dual channel, though not running at the DDR4 2933 speeds, 10th gen is capable of a 1TB NVMe M.2 Ssd and a 15.6 1080p 300Hz screen. For network connectivity, its got 2.5 gigabit, ethernet WiFi, 6 and Bluetooth 5.. The GS66 is available with different specs, though you can find examples and updated prices linked in the description.. The laptop is made out of aluminium on the lid interior and bottom.. The lid is a clean, matte black and same on the inside.. The whole device is pretty much black, with the exception of the silver MSI logo below the screen, which is too bad, as even the last gen GS65 had that blacked out. There are no sharp corners or edges anywhere, and the front was actually plastic with a shiny Finish along the edge. MSI list, the weight of the GS66 as 2.1kg, though mine was closer to 2.2, and with the 230 watt power, brick and cables for charging the total rises to 3.1kg.. The dimensions are on the slimmer side for a 15 gaming laptop. However, its a couple of millimeters thicker than the older GS65, which I think was a good move as the chassis, seems more solid as a result.
. This smaller footprint means the screen. Bezels are just 8mm thin on the sides.. The 15.6 1080p 300Hz screen has a matte finish and viewing angles looked fine. Before tons of people comment. That 300Hz is useless. It has its place for esports titles and Ive tested quite a few games that could hit 300 FPS without much trouble on it. Ive. Seen demos of 240Hz and 300Hz side by side in games like CSGO and Dota 2, and there is actually a noticeable difference. Dont want it No problem. There are other screen options like 240Hz or 144Hz available too. Theres, no G Sync here, however theres a MUX switch which lets you disable or enable Optimus and MSI have advised me. This is present in all configurations.. This means we can use the Intel graphics outside of GPU intensive tasks for increased battery life or after a reboot disable Optimus, and only use the Nvidia GPU for improved gaming. Performance. G, Sync or advanced Optimus would have been icing on the cake, but having this is still a good option.. Speaking of new Nvidia features, theres no Dynamic boost available here. Either. Ive tested the screen with the Spyder 5 and got 96 of sRGB 69 of NTSC 74 of AdobeRGB and 74 of DCI P3. At 100 brightness. I measured the panel at 299 nits in the center, with a 10001 contrast ratio, so fair colour, gamut, contrast, ratio and ok brightness. Expect different results with others like the 240Hz or 4K panels.
Backlight bleed was minimal to my eyes. It didnt look too bad in this worst case scenario, but this will vary between laptop and panel.. There was some screen flex when intentionally trying to move it. Despite the metal build the lid isnt too thick., The hinges felt quite sturdy, though they have a metal exterior and are found out towards the far corners. MSI noted that the hinges have been improved over previous models, which is good to see, as many people have complained About their hinges in the past, however, its difficult for me to say how the improvements will help without long term use., The laptop can be opened up easily, with one finger demonstrating an even weight distribution and the screen can go back. The full 180 degrees., Despite the thinner bezels, the 720p camera, is found above the display in the center, and it has IR for Windows, Hello, support which worked well.. Even with the fan at low speed. You can still hear it quite easily. Heres. What typing on the keyboard sounds like, and this is what it sounds like if we set the fan to maximum speed., So it is pretty loud, but you can still hear me. Ok over those fans., The keyboard has per key RGB backlighting, which illuminates all keys and secondary key functions., Theres, no numpad, so it doesnt feel cramped and, unlike the older GS65, the power button is found on the top right corner next to delete.
So you might want to change the setting in Windows to prevent accidental presses, triggering sleep, which is the default. Overall, I enjoyed typing with the keyboard and didnt find the key presses loud heres how it sounds to give you an idea of what to expect.. There are 4 levels of key brightness which can be adjusted either through software or with the function and F10 and F11 shortcut keys.. I did have an intermittent issue with the keyboard, though, for about a day I wasnt able to adjust the lighting either through the steelseries software or with the shortcut keys. Holding the function. Key, usually lights up the keys that you can press but that didnt work, either., Rebooting didnt fix the issue. It just went away on its own after a day or so, but it would appear Im not alone with this bug. So hopefully, it gets resolved with an update. Keyboard flex, wasnt too bad when intentionally pushing down hard. No issues during normal use. Definitely an improvement over the older and slightly thinner GS65.. The precision touchpad physically clicks down anywhere. When pressed., I found it to work pretty well with no issues to note. Its quite wide. However, my hands never came into contact with it, while typing. Others have reported crap palm rejection, but thats, just not my experience at all., Even while typing. If I intentionally start moving my hand over onto the touchpad to try and move it or click, my typing isnt interrupted.
, Others have also mentioned an issue where, if you press down between the touchpad and keyboard, it triggers a click. However, I did not experience this either.. The front facing speakers are found on the left and right corners. The gap is a little large and I cant see any sort of filter, so dont dropping any crumbs in there I guess.. I thought they sounded quite average quality wise. However, they did get very loud at maximum volume where there was some vibration in the wrist rest area and the latencymon results. Looked good. Fingerprints and dirt show up very easily due to the matte black metallic finish, and they needed a little extra effort to clean. With a microfiber cloth, despite the smooth surface. On the left from the back theres, the power input, Type C, Thunderbolt 3, with 4 lanes plus Type C charging, HDMI 2.0 output and USB 3.2 Gen2 Type, A port. On the right theres, a 3.5mm, audio, combo jack. Second Type C: port, no Thunderbolt on this side, just USB 3.2 Gen2 for this one, but with DisplayPort support two more USB 3.2 Gen2 Type, A ports and 2.5 gigabit ethernet facing the preferred way. However, as its close to the middle, a cable may get in the way of your mouse hand., The HDMI port and Type C ports are also wired directly to the Nvidia graphics.. The back just has air exhaust vents towards the corners and theres, nothing on the front.
. Underneath is pretty clean with just some air intake vents towards the back, and there are rubber feet in the middle, which would help reduce center chassis flex.. The bottom panel can be removed, taking out 9 Phillips head screws and only the one down the front in the middle was smaller than the rest.. I found the panel a little hard to remove, but was able to pry it off from around the back. Once inside. Weve got the large 99.9Wh battery down the bottom, then above that from left to right, theres, the killer, WiFi 6 card, two M.2 slots for storage. The left is PCIe only while the right supports, PCIe or SATA, and two memory slots. Its also great that the motherboard isnt upside down, like the older GS65, making upgrades easier. However, for some reason, MSI are using slower, DDR4 2666 memory in the GS66, when the Intel 10th gen supports DDR4 2933. Ive tested the difference. This makes in the GS66 in a dedicated video. You can check the card at the top right of the screen or link in the description for the full comparison, but the difference isnt all that much on average. The 99.9Wh battery is basically the largest you can legally take on a plane. Ive tested it with Optimus Enabled the screen brightness at 50 background apps disabled and keyboard lighting off. With the screen at the default 300Hz speed. It lasted for 5 and a half hours while watching YouTube.
, While playing the Witcher 3 with medium settings and Nvidias battery boost set to 30 FPS. The battery lasted for an hour and 19 minutes. At this point, the frame rate dipped to 13 FPS and was no longer usable. Despite having 27 charge, remaining. Ive also run the same, watching YouTube test with the screen set to 60Hz instead, and it lasted for 7 hours and 17 minutes with the slower refresh rate. So it can offer much better results with that simple change. Ive also tested with Optimus disabled, where we just got 3 hours of battery life, with only the Nvidia graphics in use.. The dragon center software also lets you set the charge level too, so you can prolong battery life by not keeping it consistently at 100 charge if youre always plugged in., As mentioned the GS66 also has Type C charging through the Thunderbolt port on the left hand side. So you could use this with a smaller Type C charger when travelling instead of the larger 230 watt power, brick so long as you arent doing resource heavy workloads. Ill. Just summarise the thermals. You can check the card in the top right or link in the description for far more detailed information., The MSI Dragon Center software lets you select different performance modes which, from lowest to highest, are silent, balanced and extreme performance.. Only extreme performance lets you enable coolerboost, which sets the fan to maximum speed and user mode, gives you some basic fan.
Adjustment. Extreme mode also applies a GPU overclock, which can be adjusted here. Ill note that my software seemed buggy and didnt properly apply this. So I manually used MSI Afterburner instead and set the same OC for all testing in extreme mode. By default. Undervolting is disabled. However, you can either do it through the advanced BIOS or preferably via XTU or throttlestop software once enabling it, through the BIOS., Just press right shift right control, left, alt and F2 in the BIOS to enable the advanced options. But note there are plenty of options in here that could brick your machine. If you dont know what youre doing. Inside there are 7 heatpipes in total 2 shared between the CPU and GPU, with 3 fans and in addition to coming up from underneath air, also gets pulled in through the vents above, the keyboard. Thermals were tested with a 21 Degree Celsius ambient room, temperature. Idle results down. The bottom were on the warmer side, but no real issue with that. Worst case stress tests were done with the Aida64 CPU stress test, with CPU only checked and the Heaven benchmark at max settings. At the same time and gaming was tested with Watch Dogs 2, as I find it to use a good combination of processor and graphics., The CPU would thermal throttle at 95 degrees. However, we could remove this simply by boosting fan, speed with coolerboost mode. In the game. Tests undervolting and using a cooling pad helped further, and I didnt see that much worse results with the lid closed.
Clock speeds were looking pretty good in these tests. Again. Remember the CPU results in the blue bars are averaged over 8 cores with the i9, so reaching 4.4GHz in the game test and 4.3GHz in the stress test are pretty good results., Given the all core turbo of the i9 is barely being hit. Theres no point trying to overclock for these tests. However. Msi seem to set the all core boost: speed to 5.3GHz anyway. Outside of silent mode. The 2080 Super Max Q had no issues running at its 80 watt limit, and the CPU would only hit power limit throttling around the 55 to 60 watt mark. It varied dynamically based on thermals and I couldnt adjust it with software. Heres. How CPU only performance looked in Cinebench with the different modes in use so that basic, not tuned in the slightest undervolt at the top, allows us to boost the multicore score by 11. Heres how the GS66 stacks up against other 8 core laptops, Ive tested.? Interestingly, its only just ahead of the Aero 17 below it with 8 core i7, despite the Aero not supporting undervolting, and this is because the Aero 17 could run this workload at 95 to 100 watts., Its also slightly ahead of the 4900HS in the ASUS G14, though, That runs at 35 watts in a smaller machine and it does win in single core.. As for the external temperatures, where youll actually be putting your hands at idle, it was in the mid 30s a little warmer than many other laptops tested.
But no issue. With the stress tests running in silent mode. The center was actually hot to the touch and Id say: WASD was starting to feel uncomfortable here. In balanced mode. Its performing better and also cooler in the center. Now due to higher fan, speed. Extreme mode seemed the same as balanced, which makes sense, given it performed. Equivalently. With cooler boost mode, the wrist rests felt cool. Now, only the middle was warm. So despite it being a metal machine which usually means it easily conducts heat, it felt pretty cool. Now, though, as we'll hear next, the fan is quite loud to achieve. This., The fans were only just audible in silent mode, but they would spin up ever so slightly from time to time, and I did notice a very small amount of coil whine when the fans were quiet. With the stress tests in the same silent mode. Its still on the quieter side., Both balanced and extreme modes, were about the same. Then coolerboost is about 10 decibels, louder and is quite loud.. Although max fan speed is loud. I see this as an advantage. Youre not locked to a lower fan, speed and hotter machine. The user has some control. Next lets find out just how well the GS66 actually performs in games. Ive tested with extreme performance mode and coolerboost enabled for best results and just as a reminder, this does apply an overclock to the GPU. In Battlefield. 5 Ive got the GS66 highlighted in red near similarly specced machines.
In this test. The 1 low is one of the best out of this selection of laptops, while the average FPS is second best here., Its very close to the Triton 500 just below it, though, and although that has the non Super 2080 Max Q graphics, it does gain a benefit By being the 90 watt variant, the GS66 runs the GPU at 80 watts.. These are the results from Far Cry 5 with ultra settings in the built in benchmark. This time the average FPS is only a little behind the much more powerful 180 watt 2080 in the Triton 900, just above it, but interestingly also a little behind the 2080 Max Q and i7 in the Triton 500., The 1 lows are still higher when compared to most other laptops tested and either way. This is still one of the best results out of the laptops, Ive covered.. These are the results from Shadow of the Tomb raider, with the built in benchmark at highest settings.. This time the GS66 was outperforming the higher wattage 2080 Max Q in the Triton 500. Once more, however, its still about 10 FPS behind the 180 watt 2080 in the Triton 900 above it., If youre after more gaming benchmarks check the card in the top right corner where Ive tested 20 games in total on the GS66. Overall, the gaming performance from the Msi GS66 is quite impressive, especially when we consider that its got a lower powered 80 watt.
Rtx 2080 Super Max Q, rather than say the 90 watt limit that others will have. Keep in mind that Ive got the highest CPU and GPU options available in my GS66. So expect lower results with lower specced models. This is kind of a best case.. That said, the GS66 does allow you to disable optimus. So there will be a nice speed boost in many games as a result of that and as we saw its possible to get some extra performance with faster memory. Ive used Adobe Premiere to export one of my laptop review videos at 4K and Ive done this with Optimus enabled, as this test can utilize Quicksync. The GS66 with these specs gave me the fastest export time so far granted theres diminishing returns. Once you have a 1660 Ti. Now for the benchmarking tools, Ive tested, Heaven Valley and Superposition from Unigine, as well as Firestrike Timespy and Port Royal from 3DMark just pause. The video, if you want a detailed look at these results. Ive, also tested SPECviewperf, which tests out various professional 3D workloads. Ive used Crystal Disk Mark to test the storage and the 1TB NVMe M.2 drive was performing quite well but expect different results with different storage options.. For updated pricing check the links in the description as prices will change over time. At the time of recording in the US. The GS66, with the same specs Ive tested here, is 3000 USD. However, there are much more reasonable specs for almost half the price too.
Here. In Australia were looking at a fair bit of money, however, theyve only got the higher end, GPU options at pccasegear for now.. With all of that in mind, lets conclude by summarising the good and bad aspects of the GS66 gaming laptop.. I thought the muted black design was quite clean, its personal preference, but I prefer it over the gold trimmed GS65, though it would have been nice to also have the white MSI logo below the screen, blacked out, too. Its all metal and feels quite solid. Another advantage over the slightly thinner GS65, however, the matte finish makes it quite the fingerprint magnet. Speaking of improvements over the GS65, not having the motherboard flipped was a welcome change. All upgrades are now much easier.. The large battery is also welcome and it was possible to improve the performance a fair bit by lowering the refresh rate.. The GS66 has a nice IO selection, theres Thunderbolt 3 with Type C charging, and all USB ports are 3.2 Gen2, no slower Gen1 in sight.. The ethernet port is 2.5 gigabit. However, a cable could get in the way of your mouse hand., While its nice that MSI have added the option to disable Optimus after a reboot. It would have been preferable for them to take advantage of Nvidias new advanced optimus feature.. It also would have been good to have G Sync included at the price point, given one of the requirements to do it is that direct connection from the display to the Nvidia graphics, which the GS66 has.
The option of disabling optimus when combined with the higher end Specs and GPU overclock in extreme mode gave us excellent gaming performance. Other applications, like Adobe Premiere, also performed very well. The GS66 is currently the fastest laptop Ive tested there.. The GS66 can run hot to achieve this, though, which is expected with an 8 core Intel. I9 processor and RTX 2080 Super max q, graphics in a thinner body.. That said, it was possible to remove thermal throttling by boosting fan speed. Plus there are other modifications we can do to improve temperatures like using a cooling pad or undervolting. Its also good. That undervolting is at least possible, even if its tucked away in the advanced BIOS other 10th gen machines, Ive tested just have it completely disabled.. The 300Hz screen would only be beneficial in esports titles at lower settings. So if you dont want that, then you might be able to save some money getting a 240Hz or 144Hz screen instead.. Otherwise, in terms of colours and brightness, the 300Hz panel was pretty average for a modern gaming. Laptop and bleed was fine. Given youd want every drop of performance. You can get for that high refresh rate panel. I found it strange that MSI are selling it with DDR4 2666 memory, despite the 10th gen platform supporting faster. Perhaps there are shortages of faster memory Yeah on average, it didnt make that much of a difference, but as a seemingly more premium, positioned laptop Id expect, the best, like others, are offering.
. All things considered. The GS66 looks like a nice improvement over the GS65. In my opinion. Youre, definitely paying a bit more for it due to the extra features, but there are some nice extras on offer that others are missing. If there werent other products with OLED screens and SD card slots. I could almost see myself buying this for content creation, but for what its designed to do gaming, it performs quite nicely.. Let me know what you thought about the MSI GS66 gaming laptop down in the comments and, if youre new to the channel get subscribed for future laptop reviews and tech.