If you’re available on the market for a transportable gaming laptop that serves the twin functions of working demanding video games and making everybody round you jealous, look no additional than the MSI GE66 Raider Dragonshield Edition. This rig has a flashy head-turning design, a 300Hz display, a complete port choice, distinctive construct high quality, and a few of the greatest gaming efficiency you may get from a 15-inch laptop. It’s not good, and $2,899 is greater than anybody must spend for excellent gaming efficiency. But if you wish to be the individual with the good laptop in no matter room you occur to be in, you gained’t be upset.
The common MSI GE66 Raider has a reasonably commonplace gaming-laptop design with a grey aluminum lid and a black deck. That’s why I waited to evaluate the DragonDefend version, which accurately seems to be like a part of a spaceship. It was designed by veteran artist Colie Wertz, who labored on the upcoming Dune, The Mandalorian, and the latest Star Wars motion pictures. You can see that affect throughout this laptop; each the lid and the keyboard deck are a vibrant orange and black, emblazoned with a sci-fi rendering of MSI’s brand and an intricate grid of panes and elements.
There’s a narrative behind this Raider. Wertz designed it to seem like a panel that’s fallen off a spaceship. (It truly comes with a mannequin ship, so you may see precisely the place it got here from.) It’s clear that he put quite a lot of work into the Dragonshield’s artwork — when you look carefully on the lid and deck, you may see the numerous geometric segments which may make up a spaceship’s panel, and the nuts and bolts that fasten all of them collectively. I really like seeing this sort of artistic design on a laptop, regardless that it’s clearly not appropriate for each setting. It simply reveals how a lot is feasible when firms and designers are keen to strive.
You could make the remainder of the laptop your personal. There’s an RGB keyboard with per-key customizable lighting. (My one gripe with the keyboard is that MSI caught the brightness and quantity controls onto the arrow keys, and the Fn key it’s worthwhile to press to make use of them is half the scale of the remainder of the keys and wedged between the backslash and management buttons.) To high it off, a stunning LED bar runs alongside the entrance edge, which presents 16.7 million customizable colours. Regular Raiders have this, too.
Obviously, a kooky design gained’t impression your gaming efficiency or each day utilization in any way. The remainder of this evaluate will provide you with an correct image of what to anticipate from the common GE66 Raider as nicely, and that’s clearly the extra pragmatic buy for most individuals (you may get one with a 2070 Super for as little as $2,199.99). But when you’re trying to splurge on an eye-popping design, the Dragonshield is about as distinctive as they arrive.
Open this up, and also you’ll discover a Core i9-10980HK, Nvidia’s RTX 2070 Super, 32GB of RAM, 1TB of storage, and a 15.6-inch 300Hz 1080p display. If you need one of the best body charges the Raider can provide, you’ll need to go as much as an RTX 2080 configuration (at present, these are solely listed on MSI’s web site in non-Dragonshield kind). But the check system can nonetheless deal with nearly any recreation at its highest settings (although “handle” is subjective, and I’m utilizing it a bit loosely right here).
Diving into the efficiency, I used to be impressed to see how nicely the Raider ran Horizon Zero Dawn — it averaged 80fps on Ultimate settings. Motion was silky easy as I ran round Meridian, and colours seemed pleasantly brilliant. The laptop additionally held its personal on the extremely taxing Red Dead Redemption 2, averaging a gentle 50fps and by no means dipping under 45 all through the built-in benchmark. Those outcomes edge out the RTX 2070 Razer Blade 15 and and beat Asus’ smaller Zephyrus G14 by a major margin.
The RTX 2070 put up 70fps on Shadow of the Tomb Raider’s highest settings with ray tracing on extremely. That’s playable — it’s barely higher than the RTX 2080 Super Max-Q GS66 tends to attain and significantly better than the G14. It’s truly not too far off of what we’ve seen from the RTX 2080 Super Max-Q Blade 15.
You’ll have to play much less demanding titles if you wish to see the total glory of the 300Hz display. Rocket League averaged 250fps on its highest settings (the identical consequence because the Blade 15 and about one of the best you may anticipate, since that recreation caps out at 250). The Raider additionally breezed by means of Overwatch on epic settings, averaging 124fps and by no means dipping under 112.
Outside of gaming, efficiency is simply wonderful. The i9 and 32GB of RAM are greater than enough for working quite a few browser tabs, apps, and streaming with none slowdowns or uncomfortable warmth. The system’s twin followers (53 0.25mm blades) did a wonderful job of cooling the CPU all through testing, although the keyboard was virtually (however not fairly) too sizzling to be snug in the course of the extra taxing video games.
However, there are higher choices when you’ll be doing any picture and video work. For one, this display is optimized for gaming relatively than colour accuracy (its brightness maxed out at 269.6 nits and it solely lined 86 % of the sRGB gamut and 64 % of AdobeRGB). But I additionally wasn’t truly in a position to run our conventional export check in Adobe Premiere Pro — the export failed each time I attempted. MSI insisted that this was an issue on Adobe’s finish, however I’ve by no means had a problem working this check on a gaming laptop earlier than. I’ll replace this evaluate if the difficulty is resolved sooner or later, however within the meantime I’d avoid this product when you’ll want to make use of Premiere Pro.
I noticed different glitches that I’d actually choose to not see in a $2,899 product. The Dragon Center app crashed a pair occasions whereas I used to be attempting to alter settings; I as soon as needed to reset the laptop after an replace prompted the display to start out flickering; I generally acquired notifications saying my drivers weren’t updated, even after I’d downloaded every little thing accessible; and Dragon Center initially wasn’t switching between energy profiles accurately, and solely started doing so after MSI remotely tapped into the laptop and redownloaded the software program.
The Raider comprises a 99.9Wh battery, the largest cell a laptop can have. The battery life (after the power-profile challenge was resolved) was not horrible, however not nice. I acquired 4 hours out of my each day load of workplace work (together with multitasking in round a dozen Chrome tabs and apps and a few downloading and file copying, with the display round 200 nits of brightness, Battery Saver on, and MSI’s Super Battery profile chosen). You may get extra juice when you flip off the RGB keyboard and LED bar — however why purchase this laptop when you gained’t be profiting from its coolest options?
The ultimate factor I need to name out right here is the port choice, which is without doubt one of the greatest I’ve seen. On the left is one USB Type-C 3.2 Gen 2×2, one USB Type-A 3.2 Gen 2, and one audio jack. On the precise are two extra USB-A 3.2 Gen 2 ports, in addition to a full-size SD card reader. Then there’s much more on the again: one USB Type-C 3.2 Gen 2 that helps DP 1.4, one Mini DisplayPort 1.4, one HDMI 2.0, and one RJ45 Ethernet port, in addition to a port for MSI’s 280-watt charging brick. Those accommodate all types of gaming peripherals and will cowl every little thing most individuals want. They’re additionally spaced out such that you simply gained’t need to get artistic together with your accent placement or really feel such as you’re squeezing stuff in. The one notable absence is Thunderbolt, however I’ll forgive that given the myriad options right here.
The GE66 Raider is a formidable gaming laptop that delivers concerning the body charges we’d anticipate from a system with these specs and measurement. On virtually all video games, 60fps is in attain, with solely small tweaks required for the heaviest titles. The Raider gained’t be beating larger rigs like Razer’s Blade Pro 17, however it’s actually among the finest 15-inch gaming laptops cash can purchase. But extra importantly: the place else are you going to discover a luminous, colourful laptop that appears like a part of a spaceship?
With all that mentioned: This is $2,899. It’s a luxurious product, and the mind-blowing design is not going to have a lot of an impression in your each day expertise — however the inconvenient keyboard and the unlucky the software program glitches I skilled actually do. If you don’t suppose the Dragonshield’s panache is one thing you want, you ought to be simply wonderful with a daily GE66 Raider, a GS66 Stealth, or a Razer Blade 15, which ought to ship comparable body charges with higher battery life and (in Razer’s case) extra dependable software program.
But in case your high precedence is having a cooler laptop than all your pals, then go forward and splurge on the GE66 Raider, as a result of it undoubtedly might be. I hope extra firms strive distinctive design stuff like this as a result of it makes the entire thing extra enjoyable — and on the finish of the day, most individuals are shopping for gaming laptops to have enjoyable. And if I see you utilizing this in a espresso store, I might be very, very jealous.