Suppose we are desktop computers thinking about building a new system. What would we look for? If we are looking for a gaming system, we clearly need a large GPU. A very powerful CPU is also a nice touch if we want the GPU to stay powered. Lots of memory, lots of storage space and maybe lots of expansion ports. Add a nice RGB keyboard, maybe a screen with high refreshment and a lot of cooling. Imagine now we pack it in a 2.9 kg / 6.4 lb package. That seems impossible, doesn’t it? What if we added a 99.9 Wh UPS as well? That’s really crazy. Let me introduce you to the MSI GE76 Raider, which combines all of this into a version of MSI’s 2021 Raider series of gaming laptops.
Raider: Replacing the desktop for games
MSI are not unknown gaming systems, as they have focused almost exclusively on them for most of the last decade. The company offers a range of devices, including a true Titan desktop replacement platform, an enthusiastic-level Raider series and more subtle Stealth offerings, as well as several other offerings that will hit even lower prices. In the world of gaming laptops, MSI really covers the whole spectrum and with some of the most recommended devices on the market. They are often not cheap, but they are always full of performance and function.
Which brings us to the 2021 MSI GE76 Raider line, which has just been refreshed and includes the latest Intel Tiger Lake-H processors along with NVIDIA Ampere graphics for the laptop. The unit that MSI sent us for review contains an Intel Core i9-11980HK processor, with a maximum gain frequency of 5.0 GHz and overclocking capabilities. Intel’s current flagship processor is paired with NVIDIA’s flagship in the RTX 3080 laptop (now known as the 3080L) GPU. There are two SODIMM slots for DDR4, which provide up to 64 GB of system memory, and two M.2 slots for storage.
On the screen side, MSI offers a great selection for its 17.3-inch GE76 Raider, and all the options offer high refreshment, which is fantastic. The viewing unit comes with a 360 Hz 1920×1080 panel, but for those who would like a higher resolution, MSI also has 165 Hz and 240 Hz 2560×1440 screens, and even a 120 Hz 3840×2160 screen. All screens are also “IPS-Level” panels, which means they’re not the old Twisted Nematic TFT that forces terrible viewing angles at the receiver, which is fantastic. All screens have their niche and it’s great to see so many product choices when other devices have focused almost exclusively on the goal of e-sports.
|MSI GE76 Raider|
|Component||GE76 Raider options||As tested|
|CPU||11th generation Intel
45W TDP 4.6 GHz Max Boost
65W TDP 5.0 GHz Max Boost
|GPU||NVIDIA GeForce RTX 30 Series Laptop
RTX 3060L 6GB GDDR6
RTX 3070L 8GB GDDR6
RTX 3080L 8/16 GB GDDR6
|GeForce RTX 3080L 16 GDDR6
165 W TDP w / Dynamic Boost
|Display||17.3-inch IPS high refresh rate
|17.3-inch 1920×1080 360 Hz|
|Memory||2 x DDR4-3200 SODIMM
Up to 64 GB maximum
|32 GB DDR4-3200|
|Storage||1 x PCIe 4.0 M.2
1 x PCIe 3.0 M.2
|1 TB PCIe 4 NVMe|
|Keyboard||SteelSeries RGB backlight by key|
|Webcam||Resolution 1920×1080 30 FPS|
|Audio||Dynaudio speakers 2 x 1 W / 2 x 2 W subwoofers
3.5 mm headphone jack
|I / O||1 x Type-C Thunderbolt 4
1 x Type-C 3.2 Gen2
2 x Type-A 3.2 Gen1
1 x Type-A 3.2 Gen2
1 x SD Express
1x HDMI (8K @ 60Hz)
1 x Mini-DisplayPort
|Networking||Killer AX1675 Wireless
Wi-Fi 6E with Bluetooth 5.2
Killer E3100G 2.5 Gbps Ethernet
|Dimensions||397 x 284 x 25.9 mm
15.6 x 11.2 x 1.02 inches
|Weight||2.9 kg / 6.9 lbs|
|Price||The Core i7 / RTX 3060L starts at $ 1499
The Core i7 / RTX 3070L starts at $ 2249
The Core i7 / RTX 3080L starts at $ 2999
MSI has equipped the GE76 Raider with a SteelSeries keyboard that offers RGB backlighting on a turnkey basis, and there are probably enough ports to satisfy almost anyone. There are USB Type-C, one of which supports Thunderbolt 4 and the other USB 3.2 Gen 2, two USB Type-A Gen 1 ports and a USB Type-A Gen 2 port. We also get HDMI 2.0, which supports up to 8K output at 60 Hz / 4K 120Hz, mini-DisplayPort, 2.5 Gbps Ethernet, and even an SD card reader. It would be a surprise to see that this does not satisfy almost every potential customer.
MSI has packed the largest possible 99.9 Wh battery. Batteries larger than this cannot be taken on an airplane, which makes this a more or less legal restriction for laptops, and to try to help with battery life, MSI offers both a hybrid graphics mode (NVIDIA Optimus) and a discrete graphics mode. Unfortunately, they don’t do this via NVIDIA’s new Advanced Optimus, but with a more traditional multiplexer, which means a reboot is required.
What’s more, if you think this is “great, but playing 17 inches is too big for me” MSI has also refreshed the GE66 Raider which is the 15.6-inch smaller brother of this capable and well-equipped gaming laptop.
As usual, let’s start the review by moving on to the design.
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