Taiwanese brand founded in 1986, MSI (Micro-Star International) is above all specialized in computer components and has known establish itself as one of the key players in this market against its compatriots ASUS and Gigabyte, by marketing motherboards and graphics cards for almost 20 years.
For the past ten years, MSI has nevertheless established itself in the gaming laptop sector, with overpowering machines in many cases benefiting from the know-how of their manufacturer. We have chosen the three most interesting laptops from the MSI catalog for 2020. A catalog which, luckily, was largely updated just before the writing of this article.
Without further ado, here are MSI’s best laptops for traveling, working … and playing, of course.
1. MSI GS66 Stealth: the gaming laptop that will make you want to play on vacation
Despite its 15.6-inch diagonal and the dimensions that go with it, the chassis of the MSI GS66 Stealth makes the device among the most compact gaming laptops on the market … and the lightest. With 358.3 x 248 x 19.8 mm for a total of 2.1 kilos on the scale, the PC can easily accompany you on your travels … and this even if it will not do as well in the matter as ‘an Asus ROG Zephyrus G14, whose diagonal does not exceed 14 inches for a format close to an ultraportable.
As we indicated in the introduction, MSI has the good taste to have refreshed its main laptops. The GS66 Stealth thus embeds the latest generation components and can therefore benefit from an Intel Core i7-10750H processor in the version we have chosen (model 10SF-003FR). As a reminder, the latter was launched last April, and embeds 6 cores and 12 threads clocked between 2.6 and 5.0 GHz. High frequencies which partly contribute to improving (approximately 10% difference) the performance of this new processor compared to those developed by the Core i7-9750H of the previous generation.
An RTX 2070 Super at the controls of a 240 Hz screen!
Offered for around 2200 euros online, the GS66 Stealth 10SF-003FR is also equipped with an RTX 2070 MaxQ. A graphics card that no longer has to prove itself after almost a year and a half of presence on the market. It will literally animate all games, even the most greedy, in the best conditions in Full HD and by activating the effects linked to ray tracing.
For fans of competitive titles, this chip is also quite capable of taking advantage of the 240Hz Full HD IPS display added by MSI to the GS66 Stealth. A panel that will be of particular interest in the game, but also in the context of daily use of the device since its refresh rate allows a very significant fluidity in various tasks ranging from office automation to surfing the net. To try a refresh higher than 60 Hz is to adopt it anyway; in gaming as elsewhere.
1TB M.2 SSD by default and Thunderbolt 3 on the menu
Alongside the Core i7-10750H and RTX 2070, MSI offers 16 GB of 2666 MHz DDR4 (via two 8 GB modules) on its GS66 Stealth 10SF-003FR. Expandable capacity up to 64 GB as needed. Useful for creatives, in heavy video editing or modeling, for example. Finally, there is 1 TB of M.2 SSD on this model.
In terms of connectivity, MSI also puts the small dishes in the big ones with 1 USB-C Thunderbolt 3 port, 1 USB-C 3.2 Gen2 port, 3 USB-A 3.2 Gen1 ports, 1 HDMI port (supporting an output 4K at 60Hz), 1 RJ-45 port and 1 microphone / headphone output. Finally, we take advantage of a Killer Wi-Fi 6 AX1650 modem for latest generation connectivity that will use the capabilities of the latest routers.
The battery has a capacity of 99.9 Whr. This is the maximum possible, or almost since the FAA (American aviation authorities) does not allow batteries of more than 100 Wh in the cabin. What consolidates the MSI GS66 Stealth in its role of nomadic gaming laptops, which can be used on the train or on the plane. As for autonomy, plan on 6 to 7 hours in multimedia and office use.
It’s hard to fault MSI with this product which ticks all the boxes of what you expect from a laptop PC designed for gaming … while remaining elegant and compact. Very thin, the device may nevertheless be more subject to heating than its thicker competitors. It is partly for this reason that we did not choose the model GS66 Stealth 10SGS-014FR, which for its part is equipped with a Core i9-10980HK and an RTX 2080 Super MaxQ. More powerful, this variant is also much more demanding in watts and will more often have to overheat.
2. MSI Creator 17: a laptop dedicated to creation and armed with a Mini LED screen
Allows “creative people” to take advantage of an overpowering machine but devoid of the aesthetic eccentricities specific to gaming laptops. This is one of the goals of the Nvidia Studio label. A banner that MSI proudly chooses to display for its Creator 17: one of the very first laptops to include a MiniLED panel. .
The RTX Studio label does not only affect the design of the laptops concerned. In addition to specifications aimed at sobriety and an ideally thin chassis, this transversal “range” to many manufacturers (in all several dozen laptops stamped ASUS, Acer, HP, Dell or Gigabyte benefit from the said label) involves high-performance components and special software support (designed for computer graphics, editing, retouching, etc.). This is enough to ensure that you start off on the right foot when you are a professional, while enjoying high performance and elegant devices.
Heavy under the hood
The Creator 17, launched in the spring, also includes latest generation components. We find in particular a Core i7-10750H in operation, supported by 32 GB of 2666 MHz DDR4 (via two 16 GB strips). A capacity that can be extended up to 64 GB. On the graphics card side, the model we have chosen for this selection (Creator 17 A10SFS-260FR) is adorned with an RTX 2070 MaxQ.
Enough to fly without problem in a professional situation, in assembly or in various calculations, but also to be used to play any game in optimal conditions. The device also benefits from a TB of M.2 SSD. An NVMe slot is also left vacant to later add an additional SSD in bar format and thus benefit from increased storage capacity. Perhaps more interesting, this vacant slot also opens the door to RAID configurations for advanced users.
For the rest, the Creator 17 is limited to 396.1 x 259.4 x 20.25 mm for 2.5 kilos. It has the most complete connectivity, which will convince, including 1 USB 3.2 Gen2 type C / DisplayPort (capable of displaying 8K) and Thunderbolt 3, 1 USB 3.2 Gen2 type C / DP port (for display up to ‘in 8K there too), 3 USB 3.2 Gen 1 type A ports and 1 HDMI output (for 4K / 60 Hz this time). Connectivity side, no concessions either with Wifi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1.
Attention on the other hand to the autonomy of the device which does not announce itself folichonne. With components of this caliber and a “only” 82 Wh battery, you must not stay too long from a power outlet (4 to 6 hours of autonomy to be expected … and not for too long activities. applicants).
An Ultra HD MiniLED screen to enhance your content and take care of your productions
One of the main assets of the Creator 17 is nevertheless to have a very interesting Ultra HD screen on board since it is based on an IPS MiniLED panel: a “new” display technology (at least on the laptop market) which aims to compete with the ‘OLED with particularly high brightness, good color reproduction and contrast capable of easily outperforming traditional backlit LCD screens. A technology that should speak to many professionals wanting a screen capable of competing with OLED without copying its defects (marking, for example).
Here, MSI made sure to select high-end Ultra HD MiniLED panels, calibrated individually. We are talking about 100% coverage of DCI-P3 and Adobe RGB color spectra, VESA DisplayHDR 1000 certification (thanks to a maximum luminance announced at 1000 nits) and Calman. On a diagonal of 17.3 inches, they allow the Creator 17 to ensure colorimetric precision and excellent display fineness.
Under the Nvidia Studio label, the Creator 17 is intended primarily for demanding professionals with high-end components and a miniLED screen on the hair. If we regret a timid autonomy (but predictable on this type of device), this product only suffers from its price. The most upscale version of the Creator 17 is in fact negotiated around 4000 euros. The model we have selected is a bit cheaper, but will not suit all budgets either. It should really be considered as a professional tool requiring a significant investment.
3. MSI GT76 Titan: the colossus for playing on a laptop or at your desk
Why settle for low consumption components? With its GT76 Titan, MSI does not cut corners and offers an extraordinary “portable” device, closer to the office machine than to the laptop PC. This beast of power simply embeds components from the desktop world … starting with a furious “full size” Core i9-10900K.
With this processor (10 cores / 20 threads clocked between 3.70 and 5.30 GHz), the CPU performance is at the level of what we find on a desktop computer, making this GT76 Titan one of the best laptops. more powerful on the market alongside some custom laptops offered by groups like Origin PC, XMG or Clevo. This processor power is combined with the benefits of Nvidia’s most powerful mobile chip on a laptop computer: the RTX 2080 SUPER, launched alongside Intel’s Comet Lake H processors in April.
A Core i9 socket mounted
Another advantage of the GT76 Titan, it is based on a motherboard similar to what we find, here too, on a desktop computer. Understand that it is based on an Intel Z490 chipset and that the Intel Core i9-10900K is mounted on an LGA1200 socket. Provided that Intel makes the latter compatible with its next processors, it will therefore be logically possible to replace the CPU with another Intel desktop processor. Good news for users who need to stay on top of things.
RAM side, note the presence of 32 GB (via four 8 GB DDR4 3200 MHz strips). A capacity that can be extended up to 64 GB (!) But this time in DDR4-2666. The storage is focused on several slots: 1 slot for 2.5-inch HDD and 2 slots for M.2 PCIe Gen 3 SSD that you can configure more or less as you want. What to see coming there too.
An extraordinary machine … but beware of the size (and the price!)
On the screen side, MSI offers on the i9 model an Ultra HD 60 Hz IPS panel for a diagonal of 17.3 inches. The 1080p 300 Hz screen (very interesting in game) is also offered as an option on the GT76 Titan model, which is the best equipped in terms of components. 4K is not relevant for everyone, so it is interesting to be able to opt for a panel with high scanning frequency for use mainly focused on gaming. This was not the case on the model launched last year …
In terms of connectivity, no need to worry there either. Considering the dimensions one could not more imposing of the Titan (397 x 300 x 33 at 42 mm for 4.5 kilos), MSI was able to integrate all the ports which one needs. There is thus 1 USB 3.2 Gen2 type C Thunderbolt 3 port, 1 USB 3.2 Gen2 type C port, no less than 4 USB 3.2 Gen2 type A inputs, 1 HDMI output (4K / 60 Hz), 1 Mini DisplayPort 1.2 output, 1 input RJ45, a microSD card reader and separate 3.5mm jack ports for mic and headset.
Unsurprisingly, don’t expect much from the built-in 90 Wh battery though. With such on-board components, the latter will above all be figurative by allowing the GT76 to be roughly moved from one outlet to another.
Laptop with all superlatives, the GT76 Titan is an extraordinary machine that comes at a high price. Integrating stationary computer components into its laptop is growing wings at MSI, which offers the most high-end version of its product at more than 5,000 euros. A purchase beyond the reach of everyone and which primarily reserves this product for companies, professionals and / or small structures looking for an overpowered and portable device to use as a “nomad” workstation … note the quotes .
How to choose the right laptop?
What is MiniLED?
As we mentioned above for the MSI Creator 17, MiniLED technology is starting to enter the laptop market after being seen by several manufacturers of monitors and televisions, such as Chinese TCL. Its peculiarity, and its interest, is to rely on a backlighting system made up of several thousand mini LEDs instead of conventional LEDs integrated only up to a few hundred on “classic” LED LCD screens.
This overabundance of mini LEDs allows finer management of blacks and therefore better contrast, zone by zone, but also a greater maximum luminance. Coupled with a quantum filter (also used on QLED screens from Samsung, LG Nanocell or Sony Triluminos), these mini LEDs are also capable of faithfully reproducing colors for complete coverage of certain color spaces (sRGB or DCI-P3, for example).
These qualities allow MiniLED screens to establish themselves as the future successors of our current LED LCD screens, but also as potential rivals to OLED screens. The latter nevertheless benefit from better contrast, but are vulnerable to panel marking when fixed elements are displayed on the screen for too long. A problem that is much less likely to appear on a MiniLED panel.
What is the best processor for gaming?
What a bargain to look for a gaming laptop in 2020! If last year the choice in gaming processors for laptops was only (or almost) centered on chips from Intel (Core i5-9300H, Core i7-9750H and Core i9-9880H, in particular), the return in April AMD’s latest in this segment has had the effect of energizing the market and making it more attractive. An about-face followed a few weeks later by the launch of new high-performance processors at Intel.
With the first benchmarking tests pitting Intel’s new 10th generation “H” chips against AMD’s latest Ryzen 4000 “H” components now behind us, it’s time to take stock. Overall, the observation is as follows: AMD has come back in force by launching competitive processors capable of beating the ninth generation processors from Intel and often equaling the tenth generation chips of the blues. Intel, however, keeps a slight lead in the game, while AMD takes advantage of its Zen 2 architecture for heavy and multi-threaded tasks, such as video editing or computing.
To answer the initial question, let’s say the best processors for gaming are the Core i7-10750H and i7-10850H from Intel, and the Ryzen 7 4800H from AMD. For more performance, the Core i9-10980HK and AMD Ryzen 9 4900H are also great options, for example for mounting or for easily steaming parts without fear of lacking performance.
If you have a tighter budget, not allowing you to opt for devices with these high-end processors, playing on a machine equipped with an Intel Core i5-10300H or an AMD Ryzen 5 4600H is a good compromise. Switching to a laptop equipped with a ninth generation Intel processor can also be an avenue to consider if you come across a good deal. These machines have been subject to significant destocking for several weeks and the trend should continue in the coming months while stocks last.
However, we don’t necessarily recommend the third generation AMD Ryzen processors for laptops. Adequate, the latter do not offer the same level of performance as a ninth generation Intel Core. They can nevertheless be interesting from a financial point of view on devices offered at entry level and intended for competitive games, for example.
What is the best graphics card for a laptop?
Far behind in the mobile graphics card sector compared to Nvidia’s current offering, AMD only displays a few references to modest performance. The firm has recently distinguished itself with its Radeon RX 5500 on the entry level, in particular, but most of the manufacturers of gaming laptops choose a GPU signed Nvidia for their devices.
And it must be said that at Nvidia the catalog of dedicated graphics chips is becoming exhaustive. From the GTX 1650, offered on the most affordable machines, to the imposing RTX 2080 SUPER, as swift or almost as a desktop RTX 2080, there is something for all desires and especially all budgets. However, at Clubic we have a few favorite models.
For a capable and versatile gaming machine, we recommend the GTX 1660 Ti, found on many mid-range laptops. Very efficient in 1080p, it is faster than a GTX 1070 and drives without flinching all the current AAAs in Full HD and with all of their details activated at the highest level. The eSports titles can be animated at more than 100 FPS and thus take advantage of the 144 Hz (or higher) panels without any problem.
The RTX 2070 SUPER MaxQ for its part promises to be a supercharged version of the RTX 2070 MaxQ. Compared to a GTX 1660 Ti, its advantage is that it allows ray tracing to be activated without any compromise in 1080p (the RTX 2060 can also do this, but in less good conditions, the DXR being very greedy). In our opinion, this is the best performance / price compromise on a gaming laptop. The RTX 2080 SUPER is naturally more powerful, but accessible than on devices offered at prices that are often completely prohibitive.
If your budget dissuades you from going for the GTX 1660 Ti and RTX 2070 SUPER, going for a GTX 1650 Ti can also be a good alternative, especially if you primarily play competitive games (Fortinte, Overwatch, CS: Go. ..). For triple AAA, however, it will be necessary to be reasonable on the settings and know how to make some concessions in terms of display finesse.
Frequently Asked Questions
best MSI Laptop for traveling
MSI GS66 Stealth
+ An ultra-complete configuration for 2200 euros
+ The 240 Hz screen
+ Sober and elegant design
best MSI Laptop for work
MSI Creator 17
+ A very attractive MiniLED Ultra HD screen
+ High performance
+ Complete connectivity
best MSI Laptop to play
MSI GT76 Titan
+ A true “full size” Core i9-10900K on a laptop
+ Power to spare
+ Great connectivity