MSI GE66 Raider Gaming Laptop ReviewAugust 12, 2020
Here are the specifications of the MSI GE66 Raider I’ve been testing:
- Model: MSI GE66 Raider (10SGS-057)
- Display: 15.6-inch 300Hz 3ms FHD (1920×1080)
- Processor: 10th Gen Intel Core i9-10980HK 2.4GHz (16M cache, 5.3GHz Max Turbo)
- Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Super with Max-Q (8GB GDDR6)
- Memory: 32GB 2666Mhz DDR4
- OS: Windows 10 Pro
- Storage: 1TB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD
- Webcam: 1080p
- Ports: 1 x SD card reader, 1 x HDMI 2.0, 1 x Ethernet port, 1 x USB-C miniDisplay USB 3.2 Gen 2, 2 x USB 3.2 Gen 1, 1 x USB Gen 2, 1 x USB-C 3.2 Gen 2×2
- Connectivity: WiFi 6 802.11ax, Bluetooth 5.1
- Dimensions: 14.09 x 10.51 x 0.92-inches (WxDxH)
- Weight: 5.25-pounds
- Price: $2,999
The best way I can describe the GE66 Raider is that it’s a low key gaming laptop. When powered off or with the lid shut, the laptop looks incredibly bland, dull, and boring. But once you boot it up, the entire front edge of the deck lights up, along with the keyboard. On the front is the RGB Aurora Mystic Lightbar looks downright cool. You can customize its color scheme in MSI’s software, but during my testing, I left it at the default rainbow of colors just because it was mesmerizing.
There’s a 1080p webcam centered above the 15.6-inch display, which has narrow bezels on either side, with thicker bezels on the top and bottom. The full-size keyboard has individually lit RGB keys, with a touchpad that’s centered with the keyboard, not the laptop’s deck.
There’s an abundance of ports on the GE66, spanning three different sides. On the back, you’ll find a miniDisplayPort, a USB-C USB 3.2 Gen 2 port, a Killer E3100 Gigabit Ethernet jack, HDMI 2.0 port and the power connection. I’ve said it before, but having ports on the back of a laptop is one of my favorite features. It allows you to hide extra connections behind an opened lid, instead of plugging things like external drives and monitors into the side of the housing.
Speaking of the sides, on the left side is a USB 3.2 Gen 2 port and a USB-C 3.2 Gen2x2 port that can handle up to 20GB of data speeds. There’s also a headphone jack on that same side.
On the right side of the housing is an SD card reader, and two USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports.
The outer shell of the Raider is silver, and has some subtle geometric protrusions where the hinge meets the rear of the deck, but is otherwise rather boring.
Again, how the GE66 looks on the outside is not at all how it looks once you open it up.
Performance and gaming
I’ve seen a handful of gaming laptops come across my desk in the last few months, all of which have boasted the same core internals: 10th Gen Intel Core i9-10980HK and an Nvidia RTX 2080 Super w/Max-Q. The Raider starts there, with MSI adding 32GB of 2666MHz memory, 1TB of NVMe SSD storage, and a 15.6-inch FHD 300Hz display.
Sounds impressive, right? And it is. IGN recently reworked our benchmark guide, so we don’t have many data points to compare. But I happen to have a Razer Blade 15 Advanced on hand, and it’s similarly spec’d. Here are those results:
From Minecraft Dungeons to Call of Duty: Warzone, the Raider kept up with whatever I could throw at it. I used Xbox Game Bar to monitor fps rates in Warzone, writing down random 60-second averages throughout a match, which I then averaged those readings, and after that long-winded explanation, the Raider put out a very comfortable 133fps, with RTX enabled.
The 300Hz screen is far faster than anything I need right now, but nonetheless, I appreciated how smooth quick turns and intense gunfights were displayed.
Sound volume was more than loud enough, but the sound quality left me wanting more. Especially when it came to finer sounds, like voice chat, during games. Oftentimes the background music and noise in a game overshadowed everything. Footsteps were audible, but the direction was almost impossible to detect. And, as I said, voice chat was unusable unless I went into the game settings and made significant adjustments. With headphones, however, the audio was more even across the board.
Another minor gripe I have with the Raider is the keyboard. It looks amazing as it lights up, but the keys are, for lack of a better word, mushy. The keys also feel like they bleed together when typing and gaming, leading to errant key presses. Over my time testing, I started to get a better feel for when key presses would register and where the keys were located, but the Raider’s keyboard is not one I enjoyed using at the start.
The entire system ran cool and smooth, and the fans weren’t overly loud, even at full tilt.
All said, the GE66 Raider has been a fun machine to game on. I wish the 300Hz display was something I could fully leverage, but at the same time, playing Warzone at 130fps on a laptop is something I’m more than happy with.
The 1TB storage is more than enough for me, but there’s another slot available to add another PCIe NVMe SSD if you want more space.
Best Gaming Laptops
I put the Raider through IGN’s battery rundown test, which consists of setting the display to 50% brightness, disabling Bluetooth, Location and any other unnecessary connections, but leaving Wi-Fi enabled, and running PCMark 10’s Modern Office battery test.
The 99.9Wh hour battery-powered through 255 minutes or 4 hours and 15 minutes. The Razer Blade 15 Advanced surpassed the Raider, with 374 minutes in the same battery test.
Either way, as far as gaming laptops go, several hours of battery life is nothing I will ever find fault with.
For the most part, MSI gets out of the way of Windows 10 Pro. However, there are some of MSI’s own apps preinstalled, and, unfortunately, Norton Security.
I used MSI Dragon Center quite a bit to move between MSI’s performance profiles and monitor system stats during gameplay.
There are several different performance settings, with Extreme Performance being the profile I spent most of my time using. There’s also a Super Battery profile you can use to squeeze out every last minute of battery life when you really need it.
SteelSeries Engine 3 is what you’ll use to customize and change the color scheme of the RGB keyboard and Mystic Light on the front of the Raider. The app is easy enough to understand and navigate, allowing you to create custom keyboard themes and use them for specific games.
Outside of Norton Security, there’s nothing to complain about when it comes to preinstalled software on the GE66 Raider. Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but a $3,000 laptop should not come with bloatware.
I’ve been testing the top of the line $2,999 model, which comes equipped with a 300Hz display, Intel Core i7 processor and Nvidia RTX 2080 Super for a few weeks. You don’t have to get the top of the line model, however. There are several different configurations, ranging from $1,799 for a 240Hz display, i7 processor and RTX 2070 GPU to the $2,699 model with 300Hz display, i7 processor, and RTX 2080 Super.