MSI GS66 Stealth Review: Thin and small, with a 300Hz screen

That 300Hz screen alone could be worth the price.

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Graphics Performance

To get a feel for the graphics performance of the MSI GS66 Stealth, we’ll kick this off with 3DMark Time Spy’s DirectX12 graphics test. It’s a synthetic test, but respected and also very repeatable. The graphics sub-score excludes CPU performance and measures just the GPU.

The result is good, but not that much faster than anything else. Perhaps worse, it’s running neck-and-neck with the XPG Xenia 15 (which we’ll soon review), with its RTX 2070 non-Super. In mostly older tests such as FireStrike, which is a DirectX 11 test, the GS66 Stealth just can’t open up any space between itself and other similar-sized laptops with lower-tier GPUs. 

msi gs66 3dmark time spy gpu IDG

In 3DMark’s Port Royal Ray Tracing test, the song was about the same. The GS66 Stealth’s performance was good, but it was looking over its shoulder most of the time.

msi gs66 3dmark port royal IDG

We did run a few games, such as the older Rise of the Tomb Raider,  a DirectX 11 title. The GS66 Stealth is again in a good position and offers plenty of performance, but we just expected more.

msi gs66 rotr 1080p IDG

Perhaps the most important test for any laptop this light (and yes, 4.6 pounds is light for this much hardware) is battery run time. For this test we set the laptop’s display brightness to 250-260 nits, enable airplane mode, and insert earbuds with the volume at middle setting. We then loop a 4K video using Windows 10’s Movies & TV app. We also set the GS66 Stealth to its Power Saver option, which we think most would do if they were truly trying to stretch out the battery.

The result is a very good finish, with nearly 7 hours of run time. Your mileage will vary, and this test is pretty lightweight. If you were to say browse the web, you should expect to shave off a quarter to a third of that battery life. If you were to encode a video or do intensive CPU tasks, cut it to just two hours. If you fire up that GPU, you’ll probably be luckily to get more than 90 minutes.

Still, this is very good performance in battery life for a gaming laptop. MSI clearly wrings everything it can out of that 99.9-Watt-hour battery.

msi gs66 video run down IDG

Should you buy the MSI GS66 Stealth?

If you glance back at the charts above, the MSI GS66 Stealth posts solid performance overall, especially considering its weight and size. The problem is when you consider the pedigree of the components inside—Core i9 and RTX 2080 Super—as well as the price as configured, we hoped for more.

The reason, of course, is how thin the laptop is. We measured our unit at just about 19mm. That’s maybe 1mm to 2mm thinner than competing designs we’ve seen, probably enough of a damper on thermal performance to prevent that Core i9 and RTX 2080 Super from stretching their legs fully.

The easy fix is to click it down a notch on the components. The same laptop is available with a 6-core Core i7-10750H and RTX 2080 Super for $2,699 currently on Amazon. The best bang for the buck is likely the GS66 Stealth with Core i7-10750H and RTX 2070 Super for $2,249 currently on Amazon

All three configurations come with that sweet, sweet, 300Hz panel, which might be worth the price at any configuration.

gs66 2 Gordon Mah Ung

This story, "MSI GS66 Stealth Review: Thin and small, with a 300Hz screen" was originally published by PCWorld.

At a Glance
  • The MSI GS66 Stealth is an impressively thin and light gaming laptop with solid performance, but our high-end configuration probably strained the thermal limits of the design. A dialed-down configuration will probably deliver better bang for buck.

    Pros

    • Thin and light for a gaming laptop
    • 300Hz panel obliterates blurring in games and apps
    • Fast when in Extreme mode

    Cons

    • Quick to trigger fans in Extreme mode
    • Audio quality is mediocre
    • Core i9 and RTX 2080 Super configuration struggles in the thermally-confined chassis
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