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Monday, August 15, 2022

MSI GS77 Stealth assessment: don’t let the identify idiot you

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Don’t let the identify idiot you — there may be nothing stealthy about this system.

The MSI GS77 Stealth has lengthy been the moveable possibility amongst MSI’s gaming elite, and whereas that reality remained dubiously true with final 12 months’s 5.4-pound GS76 Stealth, this 12 months’s 0.79-inch-thick, 6.17-pound GS77 has successfully launched that concept into the solar. This laptop computer is large, thick, and ponderous, and whereas it lacks the light strips and LED grids that different showy gaming laptops boast, its RGB keyboard nonetheless makes very clear that it’s for gaming above all else.

This isn’t essentially an enormous knock in opposition to the system — the GS76 was fairly mild for what it was, and the GS77 has introduced the Stealth collection again in step with the remainder of the 17-inch market. It now weighs a bit greater than Razer’s Blade 17 and Asus’ Zephyrus S17. And it’s nearly the identical weight as MSI’s extra highly effective GE76 Raider.

One can see why MSI could have needed to go greater as a result of the chips inside have been frying nearly each chassis they contact this 12 months. The mannequin we had been despatched features a twelfth Gen Core i7-12900H — one of the vital highly effective cell chips in Intel’s historical past — paired with Nvidia’s RTX 3070 Ti, 32GB of RAM, and 1TB of storage, all powering a 240Hz QHD display.

However the brand new girth takes away a significant benefit that the GS77 used to have over these fashions: the GS77 Stealth seems to have misplaced a few of what made it fascinating as a “moveable” purchase. The keyboard is on the flat aspect, the touchpad is uncomfortably stiff, the battery life isn’t good, and the system is simply too large and too heavy to reliably carry anyplace. What we’re left with is a pc that asks most of the similar compromises as probably the most highly effective gaming laptops in the marketplace with out bringing the identical distinctive body charges.

For extra info on our scoring, see how we rate.

The first benefit the Stealth has now could be its value. My check unit is at present listed for $2,899. To get this GPU within the GE76 Raider (which has a good beefier Core i9 in addition to a fancier design) could be $100 more, whereas a QHD Razer Blade 17 with the 3070 Ti could be an entire $3,399.99. I’ve additionally been capable of finding GS77 fashions for as low as $1,799 (for a 144Hz 1080p display, an RTX 3060, and 16GB of RAM), whereas the cheapest Blade on Razer’s site is $2,799 and the twelfth Gen Raider begins at $2,299. Nonetheless, $2,899 is hardly a price range value, and it’s value figuring out what compromises you’re making for that decrease price.

The MSI GS77 Stealth seen from above half open on a green fabric bench.

The lid is pretty fingerprint-free.

The back left corner of the MSI GS77 Stealth.

So is way of the keyboard deck.

First, the side of the GS77 that’s an unquestionable enchancment over final 12 months: construct high quality. I’ve had gripes about MSI’s chassis previously, however the GS77’s base and lid are each sturdy and unyielding. The trackpad collected some fingerprints pretty simply, however the remainder of the chassis wasn’t an excessive amount of of a magnet for them. It’s a nice-looking laptop, and it didn’t decide up any scratches or dents after being battered round in a suitcase for just a few days.

Different perks of earlier fashions stay. There’s a superb vary of ports together with two USB-C, two USB-A, a headphone jack, HDMI, ethernet, and an SD card reader. (The SD reader is weirdly slower than it was final 12 months, nonetheless, as other reviewers have noted.) The QHD show does make video games look nice. There are a whopping six audio system inside, and whereas they don’t ship the most effective audio on the 17-inch market, my video games nonetheless sounded fairly good. I had no bother with the microphones, which help AI noise cancellation, and the webcam has a bodily shutter change on the aspect for some peace of thoughts.

The MSI GS77 Stealth keyboard deck seen from above on a yellow fabric bench. The screen displays The Verge homepage.

However the touchpad’s one other story.

That mentioned, I actually can’t see myself utilizing this system as a every day driver for 2 necessary causes: the keyboard and touchpad. The keyboard has fairly lighting, however it’s fairly skinny to sort on, with extra of a spongy than a clicky really feel. And whereas there’s a quantity pad, the keys are all a bit cramped in consequence. The arrow keys, particularly, really feel small.

And the touchpad is the place I actually had bother. It’s giant however was as troublesome of a click on as I’ve ever skilled on a touchpad. (And it’s fairly loud as effectively.) I felt like I actually needed to thunk my finger all the way down to get a click on registered. I used to be near plugging in a mouse (one thing I don’t do after I’m testing for productiveness use {cases}, as a basic coverage) due to how a lot I hated navigating with it. These aren’t unheard-of compromises with regards to 17-inch gaming laptops, however they do underscore how little I’d suggest this to double as a every day driver.

The MSI GS77 Stealth closed on a yellow fabric bench seen from above.

The dragon’s nonetheless there, however it’s subdued.

Relating to body charges, how do these specs stack up? With all sliders maxed out, Crimson {Dead} Redemption 2 ran at a median of 60 frames per second at native decision (technically 59.3, however we are able to name it 60). That jumped as much as 65 at 1080p. On Shadow of the Tomb Raider in 1080p, we noticed a median of 83 frames per second with ray tracing on Extremely (its most setting) and 121 with the characteristic off. At native decision, these translated to 58 frames per second (one other quantity we are able to loosely name 60) and 86, respectively. All in all, greater than playable.

The GS77 put up an absurd 400 frames per second on the CPU-heavy CS:GO in 1080p and a nonetheless fairly excessive 286 at native 1440p. The one title that gave the sport any bother was Cyberpunk 2077, which — at native decision, at most settings, with ray tracing cranked as much as “Psycho” — ran at 19 frames per second (however achieved 33 at these settings in 1080p).

All in all, these are actually an enchancment over the outcomes from final 12 months’s mannequin, and so they present that you simply shouldn’t have bother operating most trendy video games at QHD decision, although they’re beneath what you will get out of pricier Core i9 and RTX 3080 machines. There’s a disappointing omission, although: the GS77 doesn’t help MUX. This element (which each the Raider and the Blade do have) permits laptops to help adaptive options like G-Sync and may also result in a considerable efficiency distinction. It’s an odd factor to exclude at this value level and one thing I’d think about many people who’re keen to pay $2,900 received’t be eager to compromise on.

The ports on the left side of the MSI GS77 Stealth.

See that little change? That’s for the webcam.

Relating to different workloads, the Stealth was extra aggressive. It accomplished our five-minute, 33-second 4K Adobe Premiere Professional video export check in two minutes and 15 seconds. The Raider beat this time, clocking in at one minute and 56 seconds, however it’s considered one of only a few laptops that has ever achieved so. Final 12 months’s 3070 GS76 was 12 seconds slower. (These aren’t meant to be apples-to-apples comparisons, as totally different variations of Premiere can change over time; they’re extra meant to provide you an thought of how lengthy an export would possibly take.)

The GS77 additionally beat the GS76, in addition to the Blade and different artistic workstations just like the Gigabyte Aero 16, on the Puget Programs benchmark for Premiere Professional, which checks dwell playback and export efficiency at 4K and 8K. (It did lose to the Raider by so much). This isn’t a laptop computer I’d suggest individuals use for workplace workloads, so the GS77’s good efficiency right here isn’t the largest level in its favor.

The ports on the right side of the MSI GS77 Stealth.

Two USB-C and an SD on the fitting.

The keyboard deck of the MSI GS77 Stealth seen from above.

The charging port, HDMI, and ethernet are within the again.

MSI’s software program is unquestionably not as glitchy because it has been previously few years, which is an encouraging signal. I had no downside adjusting fan profiles and such with the preinstalled applications. I did run into one glitch the place the display began turning off after I tried to run video games (an issue on a gaming laptop computer). MSI despatched me a substitute unit, which didn’t exhibit that downside. Nonetheless, it’s not the kind of factor we like to see on $2,900 merchandise.

After which we get to what I see as the largest compromise right here: the battery life. I used to be solely averaging about two hours and 16 minutes of steady use on this factor, with some trials even lasting beneath two hours. That’s obtained to be near the worst battery run I’ve ever gotten out of a gaming laptop computer. Whereas it’s usually understood that cheaper laptops may have much less highly effective chips in them, having to surrender battery life along with that energy (the Raider lasted me about two hours longer with the identical workload) is a troublesome capsule to swallow.

Should you’re wanting purely at body charges on paper, this laptop computer is a high-quality purchase. It could possibly run all types of video games at QHD decision with out burning your basement down.

However the Stealth moniker, and the way in which the road has traditionally been positioned, would possibly suggest to some those who this system is an effective decide for extra than simply gaming. It’s not; MSI’s modifications to the Stealth line have made it extra highly effective on the expense of different options that made it, effectively Stealthy. It’s too large and heavy to be persistently carrying round in a briefcase or backpack, the battery life isn’t usable for every day work away from an outlet, and the keyboard and touchpad simply wouldn’t be my alternative to make use of daily. That is now not actually a conveyable different to the Raider. It’s only a extra inexpensive model of the Raider.

Which is ok, if that’s what you’re after. However with the Raider delivering extra highly effective specs, higher battery life, extra RGB, and an MUX change for a pair hundred {dollars} extra, I believe it delivers an all-around higher expertise that will probably be definitely worth the cash for individuals buying on this vary.

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