MSI GS66 Stealth RTX 3080 gaming laptop computer assessment

MSI GS66 Stealth RTX 3080 gaming laptop computer assessment

The newest model of the MSI GS66 Stealth gaming laptop computer sports activities essentially the most highly effective cell graphics card ever made. Sporting the Nvidia RTX 3080, in 16GB trim, that is about as high-end a gaming specs sheet as you are going to get on the go. Although, as we have come to be taught with trendy gaming laptops, the uncooked elements inside these glossy, matte black chassis is basically solely half the story. 

With gaming efficiency being ever extra dynamic than ever earlier than—and by that I imply an virtually unknown amount everytime you come to check a machine—even deciding which of the brand new RTX 3080-based laptops to purchase shall be a wrestle. 

There’s a dizzying array of various clock speeds and TDPs obtainable to producers in relation to choosing precisely how the given Ampere-based GPU behaves of their machines. Meaning one RTX 3080 can carry out vastly higher than one other, in reality you would possibly see some cell RTX 3070 GPUs getting uncomfortably near the higher-tier silicon relying on the chassis.

It is all concerning the pocket book cooling obtainable to the GPU, and to a sure extent the CPU too, as a result of how excessive a graphics chip clocks all comes right down to how a lot thermal headroom it has to play with. The extra cooling potential the upper it is going to push its GPU frequencies, and the converse is true too—if the chassis is thermally constrained then you definately’re not going to see the total energy of the brand new Nvidia Ampere silicon at its coronary heart.

Specs

(Picture credit score: MSI)

What’s contained in the MSI GS66 Stealth?

This configuration of the MSI GS66 Stealth packs in a complete suite of latest goodies that have not been seen in gaming laptops earlier than. Clearly the large ticket merchandise is the Ampere-based Nvidia RTX 3080 16GB pixel-pusher. That is the newest cell GPU from the inexperienced crew, and a brilliant highly effective slice of 8nm silicon it’s too. 

However is it actually an RTX 3080? Other than the Ampere structure itself, the cell model is fairly totally different from its desktop counterpart, utilizing the GA104M GPU, which is way nearer to the desktop RTX 3070 than the GA102 of the ‘real’ RTX 3080.

GS66 Stealth specs

CPU: Intel Core i7 10870H
GPU: Nvidia RTX 3080 Max Q 16GB
RAM: 16GB DDR4 @ 3,200MHz
Storage: 1TB WD SN730 SSD
Display screen dimension: 15-inch
Native decision: 2560 x 1440
Refresh fee: 240Hz
Value: $2,700

That additionally means we’re a GPU with solely 6,144 CUDA cores inside it versus the 8,704 within the GA102 chip within the desktop Nvidia RTX 3080. That additionally means it is solely barely extra well-specced than the large boi RTX 3070 graphics card with 5,888 CUDA cores. In cell trim the brand new RTX 3070 comes with 5,120 cores, placing it nearer to the specs of the Nvidia RTX 3060 Ti in actual phrases.

With the model of the RTX 3080 inside this MSI GS66 you are really getting seemingly the bottom spec 16GB Max Q model, with a lift clock of simply 1,245MHz and a most GPU energy restrict of 95W that is positively a chip designed to enter the slimline chassis of the MSI machine with out melting a gap in its brushed aluminium surrounds.

It does include that 16GB of VRAM, however realistically that’s solely actually going to be of profit to you if you happen to’re aiming to make use of the laptop computer for pro-level shenanigans comparable to video rendering and 3D modelling.

Paired with the brand new Nvidia GPU is a tenth Gen Intel Core i7 10870H processor, sporting eight cores, 16 threads, and a possible max frequency of 5GHz. Although in our testing, when it was pushed on all cores it caught across the 3GHz mark on common. Thermal constraints of a thin chassis, and all that…

Talking of the pocket book chassis, it is the identical GS66 Stealth encompass from the final era—most laptop computer makers have stored to the identical designs for this spherical of laptops. That makes all of it fairly acquainted apart from the brand new GPU, apart from the brand new screens. Sure, we’re lastly getting 1440p panels in gaming notebooks, and this one is a fairly beautiful 240Hz beast.

Finishing the specs checklist is 16GB of twin channel DDR4 reminiscence, operating at 3,200MHz, and a 1TB WD SN730 SSD.

(Picture credit score: Nvidia)

Nvidia Max Q third Gen

However with the third era of Max Q laptops now hitting the cabinets we’re additionally getting refreshes of key applied sciences alongside the brand new GPUs themselves. Max Q represents a extra holistic design philosophy than ever earlier than, with OEMs having to work carefully with Nvidia to make sure the absolute best efficiency out of their methods with the inexperienced crew’s new chips.

Key to that’s Dynamic Increase 2.0, an AI-tuned algorithm that operates on the fly, dynamically balancing energy supply to the GPU and CPU on a per-frame foundation. Load on the 2 predominant gaming laptop computer elements modifications continually throughout video games, and by diverting extra of the pocket book’s energy price range to at least one facet than the opposite Dynamic Increase 2.0 is promising larger body charges.

In Nvidia’s personal checks it is claiming no less than a ten p.c efficiency increase utilizing the know-how, however that is one thing we will not take a look at ourselves as there is not any option to toggle the tech to see the distinction. 

The identical is true for the newly launched Resizable BAR, a PCIe spec that has long-existed, however solely just lately got here to the fore when AMD enabled it utilizing its personal CPUs and GPUs beneath a distinct title. 

It is a technique for permitting the processor to entry your entire VRAM stash on the graphics card directly, the place earlier than it needed to make do with many, smaller reminiscence entry requests. But it surely’s an ‘on’ function and—as long as the OEM has enabled the total suite of Max Q goodness—is simply enabled by default with no off swap. Although it is simply including a modicum of free efficiency to the system, so there is not any actual cause you’d wish to.

third Gen Max Q additionally brings with it Superior Optimus… which is the place I ended up super-confused. Optimus is actually a battery saving function which permits the system to dynamically choose whether or not to make use of the discrete GPU or the built-in graphics of the CPU, relying on what the system’s wants are on the time. 

(Picture credit score: Nvidia)

The difficulty with OG Optimus is that irrespective of which GPU the system chosen it was at all times the Intel built-in graphics really hooked up to the laptop computer’s show. And meaning, whereas the Nvidia GPU may be rendering the body, it then needed to write it to the built-in chip’s framebuffer and from there to the display screen.

This ‘Superior’ model, nonetheless, will now mechanically swap GPU outputs in order that the discrete graphics silicon will really drive the display screen, although confusingly the part in Nvidia Management Panel the place you possibly can allow it nonetheless has the unique Optimus choice with the Superior model merely labelled as ‘Computerized Choose’.

Why does that matter? Properly, in a world the place we’re now getting excessive refresh fee 1440p screens in our gaming laptops the built-in GPUs can’t at all times cope. The one method you are going to get G-Sync, 1440p at 240Hz, or 4K at 120Hz, is with Superior Optimus.

WhisperMode 2.0 is one other piece of the Max Q puzzle, and is a method for a slimline gaming pocket book, with high-performance elements inside it, to have the ability to go Jacob’s patented laptop computer embarrassment take a look at. Principally that is whether or not you’d be snug utilizing a gaming machine in public given the customarily insane noise ranges system followers will get to, realizing the person might be carrying a gaming headset. Would you apply it to a practice journey, for instance.

Usually talking, with this MSI GS66 Stealth, I might completely say no—this factor will get actual loud and actual hissy once you’re taxing both it is Intel Core i7 10870H CPU or RTX 3080 GPU. Whisper Mode 2.0, nonetheless, is a system setting that permits you to specify a fan degree (three steps from silent to balanced) and a body fee restrict (from 40fps to 60fps). Then, once you allow it, GeForce Expertise will mechanically change the sport settings it has entry to, utilizing one other AI-powered algorithm to steadiness CPU, GPU, and system temps.

Efficiency

(Picture credit score: MSI)

How does the MSI GS66 Stealth sport?

Properly, the MSI GS66 Stealth is unquestionably fairly damned speedy with this new Nvidia RTX 3080 graphics card at its coronary heart, however there are completely caveats to the type of gaming efficiency you’ll get out of this slimline chassis. For a begin MSI has opted for the underside rung of the RTX 3080 ladder, although it has made obtainable one other 15W additional potential juice over it is baseline 80W TGP ranking.

However the chassis is totally the limiting issue, and the first cause why MSI opted for the lower-spec GPU. You need to settle for that your want for a slimline gaming laptop computer goes to must imply a compromise on potential graphics card efficiency, and that is going to be the theme of this assessment going ahead.

Gaming efficiency

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You possibly can see that within the relative efficiency in opposition to the Gigabyte Aorus 15G, which is sporting the brand new cell RTX 3070 GPU. There’s actually not loads in it in relation to gaming body charges, and the additional girth of the Aorus chassis implies that it has the sting on cooling so it may possibly let its Ampere silicon run a bit hotter, and subsequently sooner.

The MSI’s RTX 3080 is, nonetheless, positively faster in gaming phrases, and the gen-on-gen bump is highlighted by the comparability with the last-gen GS66 Stealth which housed the earlier quickest cell GPU on the planet, the RTX 2080 Tremendous.

In pure body fee phrases we’re seeing a 24 p.c enhance in each customary and ray traced efficiency. That is with each methods operating at 1080p, however the fantastic thing about the brand new system is in that 1440p panel. The brand new MSI GS66 Stealth, with the RTX 3080, gives basically the identical degree of gaming efficiency at 1440p because the earlier machine did with the RTX 2080 Tremendous at 1080p.

Nonetheless at 1440p, the GS66 delivers in Hitman 3 at over 100fps on the best settings, and on Horizon Zero Daybreak you are close to 80fps on common at this display screen’s native decision. Positive, that is not going to precisely match the 240Hz refresh fee, however you possibly can completely inform the distinction between 80fps at a 240Hz refresh in contrast with 60Hz, belief.

System efficiency

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What’s lower than thrilling is the processor efficiency. Understandably it is beneath the efficiency of the Core i9 within the last-gen GS66 machine, however it’s additionally effectively beneath the degrees provided by the very same CPU within the chonkier Gigabyte machine. Once more, you are paying in efficiency phrases for that stealthier chassis.

That is completely exemplified by the Hitman 3 Dartmoor benchmark, a take a look at which runs the CPU as exhausting as virtually any sport on the market. The CPU-based body fee outcome from the take a look at exhibits the Gigabyte forward once more.

Throughout our testing we discovered the CPU usually hitting the very limits of its thermal ceiling, knocking into 100°C with disturbing regularity. On the GPU facet, nonetheless, the GS66 Stealth managed to maintain the RTX 3080 right down to a most of 75°C, which is not dangerous in any respect. Although to have the ability to maintain issues so chilled the MSI machine does must wind up its followers to a borderline offensive diploma. 

Positive, a number of avid gamers are going to be strapping a pair of gaming headphones to their bonce, however it’s nonetheless the best expertise. In fact you possibly can decrease efficiency and allow WhisperMode 2.0 to maintain issues quiet, which is efficient, however feels such as you’re chopping your high-performance graphics card off on the knees. 

Evaluation

(Picture credit score: MSI)

How does the brand new Nvidia RTX 3080 really feel in cell type?

For those who had been hoping that the newest era of Nvidia-powered gaming laptops meant an finish to compromise you’re sadly mistaken. In fact, you’re getting essentially the most highly effective graphics silicon in cell type, however the GS66 Stealth is barely offering you a mildly hobbled model of it. A shadow of an RTX 3080, designed to not sweat it beneath a skinny coat of aluminium.

It is also virtually solely an RTX 3080 in title. Positive, it is operating the identical spectacular architectural Ampere goodness as its desktop namesake, however with a distinct GPU inside it, the cell model feels extra akin to a desktop RTX 3070. And one which’s operating slooooow too. 

In contrast with the Nvidia RTX 3080 Founders Version card on the desktop, this cell model is a few 37 – 49 p.c slower by way of common body fee.

That is perhaps to be anticipated from a gaming laptop computer, the place it is much less concerning the absolute highest efficiency, and hold the facility calls for, however after we’re speaking a few pocket book which prices $2,700 that is nonetheless a bitter tablet to swallow.

That is what makes one thing just like the MSI GS66 Stealth a fairly area of interest product. There are few individuals who shall be snug ponying up almost three grand and not getting absolutely the highest degree of efficiency. You need to take the compromise, and be the type of one that will prioritise type issue over gaming body fee substance.

Body charges are essentially constrained by having a chassis that is beneath 2cm thick, however due to that it is chip chilling must run loud to even provide that gaming efficiency. And I assume that is the place WhisperMode 2.0 is available in, providing to compromise efficiency much more to be able to drive down the general acoustic assault. 

However I’ve bought to say, I used to be supremely impressed by it. I am a giant fan of Nvidia’s GeForce Expertise software program. The compelled login is irritating, however the precise app is supremely helpful, particularly in a gaming laptop computer. WhisperMode 2.0 is a one-touch deal inside GFE, and as soon as I would set to 60fps and enabled it the software program went off and adjusted my sport settings instantly.

From there the followers barely bought above the place they sit in a basic Home windows desktop surroundings and but I used to be gaming at a strong 60fps. It does, admittedly, drop your constancy settings to supply the perf/acoustic steadiness, however with one thing as highly effective as an RTX 3080 it would not have to go that low. And hey, Hitman 3 nonetheless appeared improbable, as did F1 2020. 

And also you’re solely actually going to make use of WhisperMode 2.0 in conditions the place you do not wish to be a dick. Most of us will jam on a gaming headset and be oblivious to the fan-based commotion till somebody faucets us on the ought to and holds an index finger to their lips. That is the final time I baseball bat some Cyberpunk 2077 perps from our public library… However WhisperMode 2.0 ensures that your gaming would not develop into a difficulty for everybody else.

My solely concern is that it solely works when the system is plugged into the wall. Although in its personal method Battery Increase does that when you’ve it enabled.

I’ve bought to say, nonetheless, that essentially the most irritating a part of my testing with the newest Nvidia-powered gaming laptop computer was the Superior Optimus function. Positive, it is cool you can now have excessive refresh charges once you’re gaming as a result of it may possibly dynamically swap outputs to your discrete GPU on the fly, however it nonetheless leaves the Home windows desktop on the mercy of the processor graphics and a lowly 60Hz refresh fee on my shiny new 240Hz 1440p display screen.

I get the battery saving advantages of the swap, however having to duck into the Nvidia Management Panel app to pressure using the RTX 3080 simply so I can have a slick 240Hz desktop after I’m plugged into the wall is irritating. If there was a method that it could default to the discrete GPU when powered and swap to Computerized Choose, née Superior Optimus, when on battery I might be far happier. 

Verdict

(Picture credit score: MSI)

MSI GS66 Stealth (RTX 3080) verdict

There’s loads to like concerning the newest MSI GS66. Which implicitly means there’s additionally loads that can frustrate. The general machine is fairly beautiful—it is severely skinny, particularly for a gaming laptop computer, and comes with some severely tasty inner specs too, however there are locations the place it feels prefer it may need benefitted from a bit additional design time.

Laptop computer producers are seemingly simply utilizing previous chassis and cooling for his or her new Nvidia-based gaming laptops, which suggests we’re getting ever extra thermally constrained in relation to efficiency as a result of new {hardware} is being dropped into previous designs. That is the compromise with the GS66, and it’s important to be completely invested in having a low profile gaming laptop computer to make it price paying the worth. And bear in mind, that worth is paid each in body charges and in greenback greenback payments—$2,700 of them.

But it surely’s hella fast, the brand new 240Hz 1440p display screen is scrumptious, and that chassis nonetheless appears to be like cool even when it does get louder than anybody would really feel snug about gaming on in public.

Nvidia’s new suite of Max Q goodies feels complete too, and it is a disgrace that few are more likely to be broadly used as producers fail to supply constant messaging about them and customers aren’t essentially going to go digging into precisely how all of them work. 

However they do work, and this newest tranche of gaming laptops will completely be the perfect we have ever seen. Sadly it would simply be more durable than ever to determine precisely which machine is best for you.

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