Let’s start with MSI’s head-turning GE76 Raider Dragon Edition Tiamat. The laptop features artwork of Tiamat, one of the primordial gods. And no, it’s not just paint or a sticker—the artwork has an engraved look and texture on the lid and keyboard.
The GE76 Raider Dragon Edition includes a 17.3-inch screen with refresh rates ranging from 144Hz to 300Hz at 1080p resolution, as well as a 4K UHD option. The 6.4 lbs. laptop will run off of a 230-watt to 280-watt power brick depending on your chosen GPU. Of course, the GPUs you can choose from are Nvidia’s new GeForce RTX 3080, RTX 3070, or RTX 3060 Max-Q.
The GeForce RTX 3080 is the full power version, which should outclass laptops using the energy-efficient Max-Q version. Despite the belief that few people need large batteries in a gaming laptop, as you should usually plug into the wall while playing, MSI will stuff a 99.9 watt hour battery inside the GE76 Raider Dragon Edition.
MSI is also apparently betting on Intel this cycle. The CPU options range from Intel’s 6-core Core i7-10750H to the 8-core Core i7-10870H.
Perhaps more important in this Zoom-obsessed world is the webcam. MSI equipped the GE76 Raider Dragon Edition with a 1080p unit—a nice bump from typical 720p webcams. MSI didn’t skimp on networking options either, with both Killer LAN-based 2.5GbE and Wi-Fi 6E onboard. Wi-Fi 6E is the latest wireless standard and uses relatively clear 6GHz bands.
We don’t know the pricing of the spiffy Dragon Edition, but the Titanium Blue version of the GE76 Raider will range from $1,500 to $2,900.
For those who want a smaller screen and less weight, MSI will also offer the 5.25 lbs. GE66 Raider that will range in price from $2,200 to $2,800. Unfortunately, the GE66 Raider won’t come in a Dragon Edition.
MSI GP66 Leopard
If the aggressive dragon-covered look of the GE76 is too much to trick your boss into buying for you, the more tame MSI GP66 Leopard just might be the laptop you’re looking for.
The 15.6-screen laptop will weigh in at about 5.25 lbs. It comes with GeForce options from the GeForce 3070 through the RTX 3080 Max-Q, paired with 6- and 8-core Intel 10th-gen processors, and range in price from $1,800 to $2,600. You won’t get the 1080p webcam or Wi-Fi 6E available in the GE76 Raider, but you’ll probably appreciate that the power cable and monitor cables that connect to the the back of the laptop. We generally prefer monitor and power cables plumbed to the rear because they’re so stiff, they often interfere with plugged-in mouse movement—and most laptop gamers use plugged-in mice.
MSI Stealth 15M
While other MSI laptops such as the GS66 Stealth, GF65 Thin, and Creator are also receiving a GeForce RTX 30-series upgrade, the notebook we’re most excited to see is the Stealth 15M. Unlike the other laptops which rely on Intel’s existing 6-core and 8-core 10th-gen Comet Lake H CPUs, the MSI Stealth 15M will use Intel’s new Core i7-11375H, a.k.a. “Tiger Lake H35.”
It’s a a quad-core chip built using latest Intel’s 10nm process and core design, tuned to run with a larger thermal envelope of 35 watts. People caught up in the core count war may turn their nose up at a quad-core chip, but the 10nm process should make the Core i7-11375H capable of sitting near its 5GHz boost clock for far longer than an older 14nm 10th-gen chip could could.
Since most gaming is still largely dependent on the performance of just one or two threads, the Stealth 15M could surprise some with its gaming performance. The GeForce RTX 3060 Max-Q inside means the laptop will weigh in at 3.75 lbs.—a fine number as there’s an oddly a significant increase in portability once you’re under 4 lbs. in our experience. The efficient CPU and GPU also means MSI can downsize the power brick to a 150 watt supply, which also cuts down the total weight in your bag.
All in all, we have high hopes that the 15.6-inch Stealth 15M could be sleeper that winds up surprisingly fast in most of the things people actually do on a laptop. We’re a little bummed the battery is “just” 52 watt hours, but with its Tiger Lake H35 chip, it may do just fine in battery performance.
The MSI Stealth 15M will come with Thunderbolt 4, two USB-A ports, a zone RGB keyboard, a 15.6-inch 1080p 144Hz panel, and range in price from $1,400 with 16GB of RAM and 512GB SSD to $1,700 with 32GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD.