MSI's Most Powerful Gaming Laptop - GE76 Review

MSI’s Most Powerful Gaming Laptop – GE76 Review


Msis new GE76 is their most powerful gaming laptop that Ive ever tested its even able to beat their much thicker desktop replacement. The GT76 titan Ive got the highest specced config here, including an 8 core i9 Intel processor, 64 gigs of memory and a 4K 120Hz screen, which is powered by Nvidia RTX, 3080 graphics. There are different specs available, though my 3080 has 16 gigs of VRAM, but there is also an 8 gig option. The design of the GE76 looks very similar to the 15 version from last year. The GE66 and overall build quality feels great.

The laptop alone weighs close to 3kg or 6
6Lb then, over 4kg or 9lb, with the large 280 watt power brick, but lower specced models have smaller bricks and will be lighter. The dimensions are similar to many other 17 laptops, its not exactly thin but its not as thick as larger, desktop style replacement machines. My GE76 has a 17.3 4K 120Hz screen, but its also available with 1080p higher refresh options too. The colour gamut is decent and it gets fairly bright at full brightness and has a 932:1 contrast ratio.

Its possible to disable optimus and only use the Nvidia, discrete graphics after a reboot which will boost gaming performance, but unfortunately theres no G-Sync. Here I measured average grey-to-grey response times at 7.6ms, which is a decent result. Given our target for a 120Hz monitor would be an 8.3ms response time for transitions to occur within the refresh window.

Granted some transitions were longer than this Heres. How these results compare against other gaming laptops.
There are definitely faster 1440p and 1080p panel options. I dont have any other 4K data to compare with. Unfortunately, Backlight bleed was very minor with a small patch towards the right, but this will vary between laptops Theres, a 1080p camera above the screen in the middle, but it does not have IR for Windows Hello.

This is what the camera and microphone look and sound like this is what it sounds like to type on the keyboard, and this is what it sounds like if we set the fan to full speed. So you can still hear me: ok over the fan noise.

The keyboard has per key RGB backlighting, which illuminates all keys and secondary key functions.
Its got 4 levels of key brightness, though even at maximum. I thought it was a little dim compared to previous MSI laptops.

I had no issues typing with the keyboard. It worked fine and had a light. Clicky feel Heres how it sounds to give you a rough idea of what to expect The power button is in the top right corner of the keyboard, but, unlike others, its not next to delete or backspace so should be clear of accidental presses, though you can, of Course, control the action of a button press in Windows.

The precision touchpad clicks down anywhere and works. Fine
I thought it was a little small given the overall 17 size of the machine, but it gets the job done.

Fingerprints and dirt arent too obvious, but theyre easy to clean with a microfiber cloth. Thanks to the smooth surface On the left from the back theres, a Kensington lock air exhaust vent, USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-A port, USB 3.2 Gen2x2 Type-C port, which is the 20 gigabit one and a 3
5Mm audio combo jack, The right has two USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-A ports, a full sized SD card slot and theres an air exhaust on this side too.

The rest of the I/O is on the back between two more air exhaust vents From left to right. Weve got a mini DisplayPort 1
4 output, USB 3.2 gen2 Type-C port with DisplayPort support, 2.5 gigabit ethernet HDMI output and the power input

Unfortunately, theres no Thunderbolt and you cannot use Type-C to charge the laptop, but all 3 display outputs connect directly to the Nvidia graphics, bypassing optimus, which you would expect from a machine which has a MUX switch. The ethernet port in mine is definitely 2
5 gigabit, but the specs list gigabit, so it might vary by region Its easy to open up with one finger despite there not being any groove.

The lid just sticks out a little instead.

Theres also the light bar on the front which can be customized with the steel series software same as the keyboard or turned off. If you prefer Theres a little screen flex, it felt quite sturdy though, and like the GE66 last year, the GE76 is using MSIs. Newer hinge, design Keyboard flex was extremely minor when pushing down hard. It felt very solid overall
Underneath has air vents directly.

Above both intake fans. Getting inside was easy enough. There are 13 phillips head screws which are all the same size. I pried the panel off starting at the back using the tools linked in the description.

The light bar is part of the main laptop chassis, so there arent any cables to worry about when removing the panel Inside weve got the battery down the front two M
2 storage slots above it on the left two memory slots to the right of that and WiFi 6e card to the right of those.

The speakers sound good, definitely above average for a gaming, laptop and theres a bit of bass. Sound comes out from both sides towards the front and also from the front facing speakers on either side of the keyboard. The latencymon results were looking good too, Like other MSI gaming laptops, the BIOS, the GE76 uses is excellent. Once you press this epic cheat code to enable advanced mode, you can change pretty much everything from power limits, undervolting and overclocking.

Just make sure you understand what youre doing as you could brick the machine.

The GE76 has a large 99.9Wh battery inside Ive run my YouTube playback test, both with optimus enabled and disabled, and I was able to get more than an extra hour of run time using Optimus as the Nvidia discrete graphics alone draws more power Heres how the best Case results compare against other laptops,
Despite the large 99.9Wh battery, the battery life isnt great likely owing to the high end specs in my unit, The MSI Dragon Center software, which is the control panel for the machine, also lets you modify the maximum level to charge to which can help increase battery life Span

Lets check out thermals next, The MSI Dragon Center software lets us change between different performance profiles which, from lowest to highest, are silent, balanced and extreme performance.
Extreme mode lets us enable coolerboost mode which sets the fan to max speed and were also given the option of overclocking the GPU. Here too, though, no overclocks were applied by default.

Although software only lets us enable coolerboost in extreme mode, we can use the F8 keyboard shortcut to enable it in any of the modes. Additionally, we can set user mode which lets us customize, the fans for both CPU and GPU. If you want to get more granular, The idle results down, the bottom were on the warmer side. In my 21 degree Celsius room, especially for CPU Stress tests, were done with the Aida64 CPU stress test, with stress, CPU only checked and the Heaven GPU benchmark run. At the same time, while gaming was tested playing, Watch Dogs 2

Cpu thermal throttling was at 95 degrees Celsius, though this was only happening in the worst case, stress test with extreme mode and the fan set to auto.

It was possible to remove this simply by enabling cooler boost The GPU, on the other hand, was thermal throttling any time its at 86 or above We kind of expect stuff like this in the lower modes, as the fans will be quieter, though, it was easy enough To remove it by boosting fan speed, The cooling pad, which is linked in the description, was then able to lower temperatures further well, at least in the stress test. The gaming result is weird as youll soon see. These are the clock, speeds for the same tests just shown.

Basically, clock speeds increase as we move up to higher performance modes and improve cooling. The biggest boost to CPU performance was seen from the undervolt, though this didnt appear to affect this particular game.

The 10980HK in my model has a 4.4GHz all core turbo boost speed and this wasnt being hit in any of these tests and thats. The reason I havent bothered with manual CPU overclocking here, With the stress tests going silent and balanced mode. The CPU seems to be limited to 30 watts, though, with an actual game running. This is a differed a bit, and this is likely due to dynamic boost

The gaming workload would vary a bit more based on whats, going on in the game compared to the stress test, which is more consistent.

The GPU was able to run up to 150 watts, though I didnt see this as often while playing the game Im, not sure why the CPU TDP was higher here, as we saw earlier, it was hotter too. Both the CPU and GPU were higher than the undervolted result, which is a little strange so again, not sure. If its dynamic boost shenanigans, The CPU seems to cap at 55 watts long term, though it can of course boost much higher than this Heres. How an actual game performs with these different modes in use?

Interestingly, silent and balanced mode are still offering excellent results, but well check out, fan noise differences soon By manually overclocking, the GPU.

Through the software, it was possible to get a little boost Heres how the different modes perform in Cinebench R23 Theres, not that much difference between balanced and extreme modes here and by undervolting. It was possible to boost the multicore score a little higher. The results arent too impressive for Intels top tier 8 core processor
The lower tier i7-10870H is able to beat it both in single and multicore scores, simply due to higher power limits, while Ryzen options can go even higher. Now the MSI BIOS does let us modify things like power limits, but even with mine set at 200. I still found a CPU only workload to be power limited once boost periods had expired, but this could just be due to me not being familiar with the one million available BIOS options.

The performance drops quite a bit when running on battery power too, so youll probably want to stay plugged in for best performance. The GE76 was sitting in the low 30s when idling, so cool and normal. It warms up with the stress tests running but remember, as we saw earlier, silent mode is still offering good performance.
The next balanced mode was similar, mid 40s in the center, and just warm but not hot Extreme mode was fairly similar and hot up. The back, though you dont need to touch there With coolerboost enabled its now cooler, which makes sense, as we saw earlier.

This change could lower the internal temps a bit, but the trade off is fan. Noise lets have a listen,

The fans were audible when idling, despite the warmer internal temps, Silent mode with the stress tests wasnt that loud when you consider that it was offering excellent gaming performance still, the trade off was, of course, thermal throttling, but it is still possible to run quieter without too Much performance loss a good option for those that prefer that
Balanced mode was louder, extreme mode starts getting loud, then for cooler boost, ideally youd, be using headphones. Now lets find out how well the GE76 compares against other laptops in games, but use these results as a rough guide only as they were tested at different times with different drivers. Ive tested Battlefield 5 in campaign mode at ultra settings and the GE76 is highlighted in red Its on another level, compared to all other laptops that Ive tested so far with an average frame rate, almost 19 % higher than the next closest competitor, which is also using New RTX 30 series: graphics,

Unfortunately, Ive only got 1080p data for comparison at higher resolutions. The differences could be even larger, especially with the 16 gigs of VRAM that my RTX 3080 has.

It is worth noting that MSI do also sell the GE76 with the 8 gig 3080, so expect different results with that configuration, particularly at higher resolutions.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider was tested with the games benchmark tool with the highest setting preset In this test. The GE76 was reaching 10 % higher average FPS compared to the next best result that Ive recorded a higher wattage RTX 2080 based machine. This is a GPU heavy test, so Im not too surprised to see the 150 watt 3080 at the top of the chart again, but at the same time I really wish I could compare higher resolutions like 1440p

Unfortunately, that just wasnt possible, as laptops with 1440p panels, only started becoming available this year. Far Cry 5 was also tested with the games benchmark tool at max settings.

The GE76 wasnt the best here, though its not far off This test, is heavier on the processor, so its not too surprising to see the desktop i9-9900K 51m at the top granted. At the same time, MSIs GT76 Titan with the same 9900K processor, was one place under the GE76, Regardless still an impressive result, despite not being first place From memory, both of those desktop replacement machines do have overclocks applied to the graphics and CPU. The GE76 does not by default, but, as we saw earlier, we can do that to boost performance.
Ive also tested the GE76 in 12 games at 4K, 1440p and 1080p resolutions in this article over here so check that one out, if you want to get a better idea of how it stacks up in games,

Now, for the benchmarking tools, Ive tested, Heaven Valley and Superposition from Unigine, as well as Firestrike Timespy and Port Royal from 3DMark just pause. The article, if you want a detailed look at these results, Adobe Premiere was tested with the Puget Systems benchmark.

The results from the GE76 are the best Ive seen from this newer version of the test, though its basically within margin of error, with the Ryzen laptop with weaker GPU. Just one point below Adobe Photoshop generally depends more on processor performance and again the GE76 is high up in the results, however, its being beaten by Ryzen based machines,
Davinci Resolve is more GPU heavy, though. Despite this, the lower wattage 3070, with Ryzen processor in the Neo 15, was slightly ahead, but again its a margin of error difference at just 2 points regardless. The GE76 is ahead of most others as wed expect with these top tier specs Ive also tested SPECviewperf, which tests out various professional 3D workloads. The drive speed for the 2TB NVMe M.

SSD was great for the reads, though, lower for the writes.

The SD card slot was also doing well, basically maxing out my V90 card.
The card clicks in and sits most of the way into the laptop I booted, an Ubuntu 20 live CD to test Linux support Out of the box. The speakers and camera worked Screen, brightness did not work and WiFi was not recognized, which could be due to the newer 6e card. Keyboard brightness can be controlled as its not dependent on software.

Lets discuss price. You can check the links in the description for updated prices, as these will change over time. At the time of recording the 3070 config is $ 2300 USD on Newegg, while the 3080 model Ive tested is $ 2900. Granted. This one has less storage RAM and a lower tier CPU.

I couldnt see the exact spec I tested Alright. So, with all of that in mind, lets summarise both the good and the bad of the GE76 to help you decide if its worth, considering As weve seen in many of the benchmarks so far, the GE76 is the most powerful gaming laptop Ive tested to date, but That said, it is also the only one that Ive had so far with RTX 3080 graphics, with 16 gig of memory that can go up to 150 watts, so thats kind of expected

With these specs, it was often at the top of gaming and productivity benchmarks or otherwise close to
Personally, for me, 17 inches is a little too big, as I just prefer portability, but that said, the 4K 120Hz screen looked great while gaming, Its got decent response time, colour, gamut and brightness, though the lack of G-Sync at this price point was a bit sad. Most laptops have a 720p camera, but this one has 1080p. It does look a bit better than most others, but its still, not amazing.

I thought the light bar was kind of cool, but the keyboard brightness seemed a little dim and the touchpad felt a little small, considering the overall larger size.

The I/O selection is pretty good, though theres no Thunderbolt, Despite the big battery it just doesnt. Last too long due to the higher end, specs and performance on battery, was lower too. It can get hot but were expecting this with the i9 8 core CPU and 3080 graphics with 150 watt power limit. But despite that, it was easy to remove thermal throttling just by raising the fan, speed and, of course, weve got other options like undervolting or using a cooling pad too. Overall.

The performance here is great and if your focus is on power while being plugged in and not using battery so much, then the GE76 definitely seems to be one worth considering Ill. Show you how well it performs in 12 games at 4K, 1440p and 1080p resolutions in this article over here.
I only touched on 1080p performance in this review as Ive covered that in depth over in this one so Ill see you over there. Next

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