MSI GS77 Stealth assessment: don’t let the identify idiot you

Don’t let the identify idiot you — there’s nothing stealthy about this machine.

The MSI GS77 Stealth has lengthy been the moveable possibility amongst MSI’s gaming elite, and whereas that reality remained dubiously true with final 12 months’s 5.4-pound GS76 Stealth, this 12 months’s 0.79-inch-thick, 6.17-pound GS77 has successfully launched that concept into the solar. This laptop computer is huge, thick, and hulking, and whereas it lacks the sunshine strips and LED grids that different showy gaming laptops boast, its RGB keyboard nonetheless makes very clear that it’s for gaming above all else.

This isn’t essentially an enormous knock towards the machine — the GS76 was fairly gentle for what it was, and the GS77 has introduced the Stealth sequence again according to the remainder of the 17-inch market. It now weighs a bit greater than Razer’s Blade 17 and Asus’ Zephyrus S17. And it’s virtually the identical weight as MSI’s extra highly effective GE76 Raider.

One can see why MSI might have wished to go larger as a result of the chips inside have been frying nearly each chassis they contact this 12 months. The mannequin we had been despatched features a twelfth Gen Core i7-12900H — one of the crucial highly effective cellular chips in Intel’s historical past — paired with Nvidia’s RTX 3070 Ti, 32GB of RAM, and 1TB of storage, all powering a 240Hz QHD display screen.

But the brand new girth takes away a serious benefit that the GS77 used to have over these fashions: the GS77 Stealth seems to have misplaced a few of what made it fascinating as a “portable” purchase. The keyboard is on the flat aspect, the touchpad is uncomfortably stiff, the battery life isn’t good, and the machine is just too huge and too heavy to reliably convey wherever. What we’re left with is a pc that asks most of the identical compromises as probably the most highly effective gaming laptops in the marketplace with out bringing the identical distinctive body charges.

Good Stuff
Good body charges at excessive decision
QHD show
Useful port choice
Bad Stuff
Short battery life
Stiff touchpad
Mushy keyboard
Big and heavy

For extra info on our scoring, see how we fee.

The major benefit the Stealth has now could be its worth. My take a look at unit is at the moment listed for $2,899. To get this GPU within the GE76 Raider (which has a fair beefier Core i9 in addition to a fancier design) could be $100 more, whereas a QHD Razer Blade 17 with the 3070 Ti could be a complete $3,399.99. I’ve additionally been capable of finding GS77 fashions for as low as $1,799 (for a 144Hz 1080p display screen, an RTX 3060, and 16GB of RAM), whereas the cheapest Blade on Razer’s site is $2,799 and the twelfth Gen Raider begins at $2,299. Still, $2,899 is hardly a funds worth, and it’s value understanding what compromises you’re making for that decrease value.

The lid is pretty fingerprint-free.

So is way of the keyboard deck.

First, the facet of the GS77 that’s an unquestionable enchancment over final 12 months: construct high quality. I’ve had gripes about MSI’s chassis previously, however the GS77’s base and lid are each sturdy and unyielding. The trackpad collected some fingerprints pretty simply, however the remainder of the chassis wasn’t an excessive amount of of a magnet for them. It’s a nice-looking pc, and it didn’t decide up any scratches or dents after being battered round in a suitcase for a number of days.

Other perks of earlier fashions stay. There’s a great vary of ports together with two USB-C, two USB-A, a headphone jack, HDMI, ethernet, and an SD card reader. (The SD reader is weirdly slower than it was final 12 months, nevertheless, as other reviewers have noted.) The QHD show does make video games look nice. There are a whopping six audio system inside, and whereas they don’t ship the very best audio on the 17-inch market, my video games nonetheless sounded fairly good. I had no bother with the microphones, which assist AI noise cancellation, and the webcam has a bodily shutter change on the aspect for some peace of thoughts.

But the touchpad’s one other story.

That mentioned, I actually can’t see myself utilizing this machine as a every day driver for 2 essential causes: the keyboard and touchpad. The keyboard has fairly lighting, however it’s fairly skinny to sort on, with extra of a spongy than a clicky really feel. And whereas there’s a quantity pad, the keys are all a bit cramped in consequence. The arrow keys, particularly, really feel small.

And the touchpad is the place I actually had bother. It’s massive however was as tough of a click on as I’ve ever skilled on a touchpad. (And it’s fairly loud as nicely.) I felt like I actually needed to thunk my finger all the way down to get a click on registered. I used to be near plugging in a mouse (one thing I don’t do once I’m testing for productiveness use circumstances, as a normal coverage) due to how a lot I hated navigating with it. These aren’t unheard-of compromises on the subject of 17-inch gaming laptops, however they do underscore how little I’d advocate this to double as a every day driver.

The dragon’s nonetheless there, however it’s subdued.

When it comes to border charges, how do these specs stack up? With all sliders maxed out, Red Dead Redemption 2 ran at a mean of 60 frames per second at native decision (technically 59.3, however we are able to name it 60). That jumped as much as 65 at 1080p. On Shadow of the Tomb Raider in 1080p, we noticed a mean of 83 frames per second with ray tracing on Ultra (its most setting) and 121 with the function off. At native decision, these translated to 58 frames per second (one other quantity we are able to loosely name 60) and 86, respectively. All in all, greater than playable.

The GS77 put up an absurd 400 frames per second on the CPU-heavy CS:GO in 1080p and a nonetheless fairly excessive 286 at native 1440p. The solely title that gave the sport any bother was Cyberpunk 2077, which — at native decision, at most settings, with ray tracing cranked as much as “Psycho” — ran at 19 frames per second (however achieved 33 at these settings in 1080p).

All in all, these are definitely an enchancment over the outcomes from final 12 months’s mannequin, they usually present that you just shouldn’t have bother operating most trendy video games at QHD decision, although they’re under what you may get out of pricier Core i9 and RTX 3080 machines. There’s a disappointing omission, although: the GS77 doesn’t assist MUX. This element (which each the Raider and the Blade do have) permits laptops to assist adaptive options like G-Sync and may result in a considerable efficiency distinction. It’s an odd factor to exclude at this worth level and one thing I’d think about many people who’re keen to pay $2,900 gained’t be eager to compromise on.

See that little change? That’s for the webcam.

When it involves different workloads, the Stealth was extra aggressive. It accomplished our five-minute, 33-second 4K Adobe Premiere Pro video export take a look at in two minutes and 15 seconds. The Raider beat this time, clocking in at one minute and 56 seconds, however it’s one among only a few laptops that has ever executed so. Last 12 months’s 3070 GS76 was 12 seconds slower. (These aren’t meant to be apples-to-apples comparisons, as totally different variations of Premiere can change over time; they’re extra meant to present you an concept of how lengthy an export would possibly take.)

The GS77 additionally beat the GS76, in addition to the Blade and different inventive workstations just like the Gigabyte Aero 16, on the Puget Systems benchmark for Premiere Pro, which exams dwell playback and export efficiency at 4K and 8K. (It did lose to the Raider by lots). This isn’t a laptop computer I’d advocate individuals use for workplace workloads, so the GS77’s good efficiency right here isn’t the most important level in its favor.

Two USB-C and an SD on the precise.

The charging port, HDMI, and ethernet are within the again.

MSI’s software program is unquestionably not as glitchy because it has been previously few years, which is an encouraging signal. I had no downside adjusting fan profiles and such with the preinstalled applications. I did run into one glitch the place the display screen began turning off once I tried to run video games (an issue on a gaming laptop computer). MSI despatched me a alternative unit, which didn’t exhibit that downside. Still, it’s not the type of factor we like to see on $2,900 merchandise.

And then we get to what I see as the most important compromise right here: the battery life. I used to be solely averaging about two hours and 16 minutes of steady use on this factor, with some trials even lasting beneath two hours. That’s obtained to be near the worst battery run I’ve ever gotten out of a gaming laptop computer. While it’s usually understood that cheaper laptops could have much less highly effective chips in them, having to surrender battery life along with that energy (the Raider lasted me about two hours longer with the identical workload) is a troublesome tablet to swallow.

If you’re wanting purely at body charges on paper, this laptop computer is a high-quality purchase. It can run every kind of video games at QHD decision with out burning your basement down.

But the Stealth moniker, and the way in which the road has traditionally been positioned, would possibly indicate to some folks that this machine is an effective decide for extra than simply gaming. It’s not; MSI’s modifications to the Stealth line have made it extra highly effective on the expense of different options that made it, nicely Stealthy. It’s too huge and heavy to be constantly carrying round in a briefcase or backpack, the battery life isn’t usable for every day work away from an outlet, and the keyboard and touchpad simply wouldn’t be my selection to make use of day-after-day. This is now not actually a transportable various to the Raider. It’s only a extra inexpensive model of the Raider.

Which is ok, if that’s what you’re after. But with the Raider delivering extra highly effective specs, higher battery life, extra RGB, and an MUX change for a pair hundred {dollars} extra, I believe it delivers an all-around higher expertise that will probably be well worth the cash for individuals buying on this vary.

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