Anirudh RegidiDec 10, 2020 13:33:47 IST
When I reviewed the MSI GS65 Stealth in 2018, I was blown away by how thin and light it was, especially given the performance on tap. It was easily my favourite gaming laptop that year.
The 2020 avatar, dubbed the GS66, is a little more stealthy, a lot more powerful, but also not as unique or special as the GS65 once was.
It scores a solid ‘meh’ on the performance front, ditto on design, and about the same on speakers and display quality.
In 2018, the idea of a slim and light gaming laptop was something relatively new. Few companies had managed to balance performance and form factor, and fewer still managed to sell their devices at a reasonable price.
In 2020, however, Nvidia’s low power Max-Q GPUs are now the default, CPUs are a lot more efficient, and high-refresh rate displays are the norm.
The GS66 Stealth offers the following specs:
● CPU: Intel Core i7–10750H
● GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Super Max-Q
● RAM: 32 GB DDR4
● Storage: 1 TB PCIe SSD
● Screen size: 15.6″
● Screen resolution: 1920×1080 (FHD)
● Refresh rate: 300 Hz
● I/O: 1x Thunderbolt 3 (100 W USB-PD), 1x USB-C 3.2 Gen 2, 3x USB-A 3.2 Gen 2, 1x RJ45, 1x HDMI (4K 60)
● Battery: 99.9 Wh w/ 230 W power adapter
● Weight: 2.1 kg
You also get an IR webcam that’s compatible with Windows Hello, and a SteelSeries keyboard with per-key RGB lighting.
The design is an all black affair, perhaps to keep it in line with the laptop’s ‘stealth’ theme, and it does look pretty stealthy, I guess. That being said, I preferred the muted gold lining and gold MSI Dragon logo on the GS65. It added a bit of understated flair to what would otherwise have been a very plain laptop.
Build quality has improved somewhat from 2018’s GS65, a much-needed improvement given the amount of flex in that laptop’s chassis. The quality is still not in the same league as what I’ve seen from MSI’s competitors, though.
Performance is pretty decent overall, but it’s nothing special. At max settings and with RTX enabled where possible, I saw about 55 fps in Borderlands 3, 77 fps in Modern Warfare’s campaign, 68 fps in The Division 2, and a very playable 50 fps in Metro Exodus. Overall, these figures put the laptop about 15–20% behind competing laptops like the ASUS ROG Zephyrus S15.
I saw similar results in productivity tests as well. Video conversion took about 5 minutes longer than on the S15, GeekBench scores were 20 percent lower, and even Lightroom and Photoshop performance was a lot slower. Performance also dropped off more dramatically on battery than it did on the S15.
Heat is a real problem, and I don’t see much improvement compared to what I saw a couple of years ago on the GS65. The keyboard area — especially under that all-important WASD region — gets very hot after about 15 minutes of gaming, and the fans can get quite loud. The heat also appears to be impacting CPU performance, which throttles significantly in CPU-bound tests. In fact, it’s quite likely that poor thermal management is resulting in the relatively poor performance of the machine.
The rest of the features aren’t that exciting. The 300 Hz display is superb for gaming, but it only manages 96 nits of brightness when running at 300 Hz. This is half of what most laptops offer.
The speakers are loud enough but lack any bass. The cheapest iPad sounds better.
Verdict: The price isn’t right
The ASUS ROG Zephyrus S15 offers a slightly more powerful CPU (a 10875H), a more powerful GPU (RTX 2080 Super Max-Q), a brighter display (300 nits vs 100 nits), better build quality, exotic thermals (liquid metal), 15–20% better performance, and a lower price tag of Rs 2,47,000.
The Zephyrus Duo 15 offers similar specs, a better build, two displays, vastly improved thermals, better performance, and a laptop bag, also for Rs 2,47,000.
The MSI GS66 Stealth is officially priced at a ridiculous 2,91,990. That’s Rs 45,000 higher than both Zephyrus models. Thankfully, Flipkart and Amazon are both listing the device at a more reasonable Rs 2,54,000 and Rs 2,69,000 respectively. In either case, the GS66 is simply too expensive for what it’s offering.
It’s a decent enough laptop, but unless the price drops significantly, I simply cannot recommend the GS66 to anyone.