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MSI gaming laptop buyer’s guide

The best MSI gaming laptops currently available across all budgets

Updated: Nov 21, 2022 10:04 am
MSI gaming laptop buyers guide 1

The shortlist for best MSI gaming laptop in 2022 has some fierce competition, given the quality of MSI as a laptop brand. We’ll be looking at various candidates for this prestigious title, all of them worthy in their own way, depending on your own budget and priorities in terms of screen size, display resolution, refresh rate, raw FPS power, etc. We will be keeping our selections on this page updated as new MSI gaming laptops are released, so be sure to check back throughout the year to keep yourself up-to-date. If you want to know the best gaming laptops across all brands, check out our Best gaming laptop page or one of our price-focused buyer’s guides that you can find in the menu above.

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Is an MSI laptop good for gaming?

In short: yes. Micro-Star International is a Taiwanese company that has been manufacturing various computer components since 1988, but today they most are well known for their premium and mid-range gaming laptops. MSI’s high-end gaming laptops are regular features on our Best gaming laptop under $2,500 page, and some of them often make it into our more mid-range price guides too. Of course, not every MSI laptop makes it into our best of lists, and some models are definitely better than others in terms of performance and value.

For more information about this, we recommend you have a quick scan through our Things to consider when buying an MSI gaming laptop section further down this page before you pull the trigger on any of these laptop purchases.


Best MSI gaming laptops: first look


Things to consider when buying an MSI gaming laptop

If you want to know what to consider when looking for a gaming laptop in general, regardless of subcategory, have a quick look at this same section on our Best gaming laptop in 2021 page. The below points will be a quick summary of what you need to be aware of when shopping for an MSI gaming laptop specifically.

What products do MSI make?

MSI make a range of computer components, desktops and laptops, though they are mostly focused on targeting the PC gaming market, either through their graphics card AIBs, desktop gaming PCs, or their laptop range.

In terms of MSI gaming laptops, the company tends to focus its efforts on the mid-range to high-end price points, with high powered core components, although they do also produce one or two budget laptops, and previous generation models of higher-specced machines can often be found at reduced prices, making them worthy budget options.

MSI gaming laptop model names

As with most laptops, MSI models come with a confusing array of names that can be difficult to distinguish when you’re shopping for a specific product.

Most MSI gaming laptops have a codename that starts with 2 letters: the G is almost universal across all the gaming laptop ranges, but the second letter signifies the specific model range/line and there is often an accompanying brand name before or after which matches it. For instance the GP66 Leopard, the GE66 Raider, the GS66 Stealth, and Katana GF66.

MSI laptops also tend to have two numbers, the first of which signifies the size of the laptop, and the second its generation. The GP66 and GE66 for instance are both 15-inch laptops, whereas the GP76 and GE76 are both 17-inch machines. The older versions of these machines, which usually come with Nvidia 20-series GPUs, come with a 5 at the end, e.g. the GE65, whereas the 30-series laptops have a 6 e.g. GE66.

There are however other laptops that fall outside of this convention, such as the MSI Alpha, Bravo, and Delta ranges, which are all AMD-powered machines, that end with either a 15 or a 17 to signify the size of their display.


The best MSI gaming laptop in 2022

01
17-inch pick
The most high-end 17-inch MSI gaming laptop

MSI GE76 Raider (1080p)

MSI GE76 Raider

CPU

Intel Core i9-11800H or higher

Graphics

Nvidia RTX 3070 (125-140W) / RTX 3080 (150W)

RAM

16GB

Storage

1TB SSD

Screen Size

17.3”

Max Refresh Rate

240Hz/300Hz

4.0
/5
Editor’s Rating
Pros
  • Jaw-dropping performance
  • Excellent power/portability ratio
  • Beautiful Pro Motion display
Cons
  • Pricing doesn’t make sense
  • Lacks XDR display of 12.9-inch model

The MSI GE76 Raider is the top of the MSI gaming laptop range. Not only does it have the same high powered 30-series GPU as the MSI GP76 (either the RTX 3070 or RTX 3080 depending on how much you want to spend) and also comes with a high-powered Intel CPU, but it comes with the additional features and design quality that mark it out as a more premium product all round, assuming you don’t mind spending a bit extra. Undoubtedly one of the best gaming laptops money can buy.

The MSI GP66 is a top-notch gaming performer. It comes with different specification options, including an RTX 3070 option or an RTX 3080 version, though given how well the former performs you might consider picking this cheaper option. The RTX 3070 with 140W max TGP in games actually performs on par or better than some other gaming laptops equipped with the more highly specced RTX 3080, so well-tuned it is within this machine. The Intel processor can also be changed, with the Intel Core i7-11800H CPU being the most common, and solid value for gamers with great FPS performance, even if it seriously underperforms AMD machines in terms of battery life. All told this means gaming performance on this machine is top notch.

Adding to the gaming experience is the display: the 240Hz refresh rate is high enough for even competitive gaming, and the response time comes in at around 3.5ms grey-to-grey, which is up there with the very best on the market, and ensures maximum responsiveness in twitch shooters. The screen has 99.5% sRGB coverage, meaning you could easily use this laptop for color work in this space.

So what are the downsides? Well, compared to the significantly more expensive MSI GE66 Raider, the MSI GP66 doesn’t have the same bells and whistles outside of actual gaming performance. The 720p webcam does the job well enough as does the in-built mic, but neither are high quality. There are no real complaints about the membrane keyboard or the trackpad, but both are merely adequate and the keyboard in particular doesn’t match up to the mechanical keyboards that certain competitors come with, like the Eluktronics Mech 15 / XMG Neo 15. Battery life when doing undemanding non-gaming tasks (a mix of web browsing, Word processing, and watching YouTube) comes in at between 3 and 4 hours, which is disappointing, though somewhat unsurprising given the power of the core components and the fact this is an Intel machine and not an AMD one. Still the battery size is smaller than its more expensive MSI GE76 brethren.

Ultimately though this may not matter to those purely interested in the gaming potential of this machine, and if you can find it for substantially cheaper than the GE66, we think this stripped-back MSI gaming laptop offers great value at the very high end of FPS performance. The 15.6” MSI GP66 comes in a larger 17.3” version called the MSI GP76, which is obviously more expensive but still offers good value. If you’re interested in greater immersion in your games and don’t mind the hit in terms of portability then we’d also recommend this.

02
15-inch pick
The best high-end MSI gaming laptop for the money

MSI GP66 Vector (1080p/1440p)

MSI GP66 Vector

CPU

Intel Core i7-12700H / i9-12900H

Graphics

Nvidia RTX 3070 Ti / RTX 3080 / RTX 3080 Ti

RAM

16GB / 32GB

Storage

1TB SSD

Screen Size

15.6”

Max Refresh Rate

360Hz / 165Hz

4.0
/5
Editor’s Rating
Pros
  • High TGP Nvidia GPU
  • Powerful Intel CPU
  • superb response time with overdrive
  • 360Hz 1080p option
  • good value
  • detailed BIOS for performance tweaking
  • decent color replication
  • good brightness & contrast
  • good build quality
Cons
  • No MUX Switch
  • No G-Sync/FreeSync
  • speakers could be better
  • poor battery life
  • runs hot
  • not the nicest looking

The MSI GP66 Vector is essentially the updated version of the GP66 Leopard listed below, but with a few minor tweaks.

The primary difference is that it comes with the latest Intel 12th gen CPU options, as well as Nvidia 30-series GPU options (i.e. the RTX 3070 Ti and RTX 3080 Ti). These GPUs both have nice and high TGPs, making them among the more powerful options available. The 1080p version fo the display now comes with a 360Hz maximum refresh rate, which is ridiculously fast, and there is also a 1400p 165Hz option.

The Vector also comes with a USB-C port and a mini-DisplayPort connection (both welcome additions).

The laptop still doesn’t come with a MUX Switch or G-Sync, and the former in particular is missed. Battery life still isn’t great, the aesthetics are sub-par, and the speakers could definitely be better, but ultimately this is still a solid, more affordable option for those looking for a high-end gaming laptop that won’t break their bank account.

03
Runner up 15-inch pick
A more affordable previous gen 15-inch gaming laptop

MSI GP66 Leopard (1080p)

MSI GP66 Leopard 10UH 244

CPU

Intel Core i7-11800H or higher

Graphics

Nvidia RTX 3070 (125-140W)/ RTX 3080

RAM

16GB

Storage

1TB SSD

Screen Size

15.6”

Max Refresh Rate

240Hz

4.5
/5
Editor’s Rating
Pros
  • High TGP Nvidia GPU
  • Powerful Intel CPU
  • superb response time with overdrive
  • 240Hz display
  • good value
  • detailed BIOS for performance tweaking
  • decent color replication
  • good brightness & contrast
  • good build quality
Cons
  • No MUX Switch
  • No G-Sync/FreeSync
  • speakers could be better
  • poor battery life
  • runs hot
  • not the nicest looking

The MSI GP66, also known as the MSI GP66 Leopard, is not the most high-specced MSI gaming laptop on this list, that honour goes to the MSI GE66 Raider, but it contains similarly powerful core components as the more expensive machine, forgoing the inclusion of certain ports, having a less developed wi-fi card, and a shorter battery life to reduce costs. This means that, on a price per performance basis it is the best high-end gaming laptop that MSI produces, and our top pick for gaming enthusiasts.

The MSI GP66 is a top-notch gaming performer. It comes with different specification options, including an RTX 3070 option or an RTX 3080 version, though given how well the former performs you might consider picking this cheaper option. The RTX 3070 with 140W max TGP in games actually performs on par or better than some other gaming laptops equipped with the more highly specced RTX 3080, so well-tuned it is within this machine. The Intel processor can also be changed, with the Intel Core i7-11800H CPU being the most common, and solid value for gamers with great FPS performance, even if it seriously underperforms AMD machines in terms of battery life. All told this means gaming performance on this machine is top notch.

Adding to the gaming experience is the display: the 240Hz refresh rate is high enough for even competitive gaming, and the response time comes in at around 3.5ms grey-to-grey, which is up there with the very best on the market, and ensures maximum responsiveness in twitch shooters. The screen has 99.5% sRGB coverage, meaning you could easily use this laptop for color work in this space.

So what are the downsides? Well, compared to the significantly more expensive MSI GE66 Raider, the MSI GP66 doesn’t have the same bells and whistles outside of actual gaming performance. The 720p webcam does the job well enough as does the in-built mic, but neither are high quality. There are no real complaints about the membrane keyboard or the trackpad, but both are merely adequate and the keyboard in particular doesn’t match up to the mechanical keyboards that certain competitors come with, like the Eluktronics Mech 15 / XMG Neo 15. Battery life when doing undemanding non-gaming tasks (a mix of web browsing, Word processing, and watching YouTube) comes in at between 3 and 4 hours, which is disappointing, though somewhat unsurprising given the power of the core components and the fact this is an Intel machine and not an AMD one. Still the battery size is smaller than its more expensive MSI GE76 brethren.

Ultimately though this may not matter to those purely interested in the gaming potential of this machine, and if you can find it for substantially cheaper than the GE66, we think this stripped-back MSI gaming laptop offers great value at the very high end of FPS performance. The 15.6” MSI GP66 comes in a larger 17.3” version called the MSI GP76, which is obviously more expensive but still offers good value. If you’re interested in greater immersion in your games and don’t mind the hit in terms of portability then we’d also recommend this.

04

iPad Pro 12.9″

iPad Pro 12.9 inch

Display

12.9-inch, 2388 x 1668 pixels, 120Hz

Storage

128GB / 256GB / 512GB / 1TB / 2TB

Memory

8GB / 16GB

Processor

Apple M1

3.5
/5
Editor’s Rating
Pros
  • good gaming performance
  • 240Hz refresh rate
  • fast response time
  • fast RAM
  • superb battery life
  • good color gamut
  • relatively thin & portable
Cons
  • poor microphone
  • build quality could be better

This MSI Delta 15 is a 15-inch all AMD laptop from MSI, that enjoys the high battery life that AMD processors tend to bring, along with great FPS performance in games and great specs almost entirely across the board. Of the few complaints we’ve got with this laptop, these only extend to the slightly plasticy build quality and the poor onboard microphone. Besides this, it’s an impressive piece of kit.

The MSI Delta 15 is a great mid-range AMD gaming laptop, and one of the rare few MSI laptops that come with an AMD processor and graphics card. In terms of FPS performance in gaming, the AMD Radeon RX 6700M when combined with the Ryzen 7 5800H CPU performs somewhere between an Nvidia RTX 3060 and a RTX 3070, depending on the game, which at this price you can’t complain about.

The color gamut of the display is respectable, covering around 97% of sRGB, meaning it can be used for light color work in this color space. Brightness is decent, though nothing to write home about, and the same is true for the contrast ratio. The 240Hz refresh rate of the screen however is great, more than enough for competitive gaming on a laptop with core components of this power level. Similarly, the response time of the screen is also very good, at least with overdrive enabled, coming in at around 5ms grey-to-grey, which is as good as you can expect at this price point.

In terms of battery life, the Ryzen CPU really shines, extending the lifespan to around 11 hours in non-strenuous, non-gaming general use (web browsing and word processing and the like). This is far above what Intel models will be able to manage in this price range or any other, and is a contender for the best battery life you’ll find in any gaming laptop.

The 720p webcam is adequate for a gaming laptop, though the inbuilt mic is certainly less so, and isn’t great at isolating external noise. The keyboard and trackpad won’t set the world on fire either, with the keys feeling slightly stiff and the trackpad a touch loose, but both do the job. Speakers are about average for a gaming laptop, which is to say not great, but still about average vs the competition.

Besides this, the only other real downside of this MSI gaming laptop is the rather plasticy build quality, but even this isn’t terrible. All told, this is a great mid-range gaming laptop and well worth your money with the specs we’ve recommended.

05
Budget pick
The best MSI gaming laptop for those on a budget

MSI Sword 15/ Katana GF66

MSI Sword 15 Katana GF66

CPU

Intel Core i7-11800H

Graphics

Nvidia RTX 3060 (80-85W)

RAM

16GB

Storage

512GB SSD

Screen Size

15.6”

Max Refresh Rate

144Hz

2.5
/5
Editor’s Rating
Pros
  • fast response time
  • fast RAM
  • decent peak brightness
  • good upgradability
  • relatively thin & portable
Cons
  • pricey at MSRP vs the competition
  • poor battery life
  • loud fans
  • poor microphone

The MSI Sword 15, sometimes just referred to as the MSI GF66, or Katana GF66 depending on the color you go with, is a solid budget gaming laptop from MSI, assuming you can find one at a reduced price. The 144Hz display has one of the fastest response times you’ll find in a laptop in this price range, making it ideal for fast-paced gaming on a budget. These laptops can come with a range of different specifications, though the one we recommend trying to get hold of is the Nvidia RTX 3060 GPU iteration.

The MSI Katana GF66 aka MSI Sword 15 is the cheapest entry in MSI’s 2021 range of gaming laptops. The Intel i7-11800H is nice and powerful for this price range, and though the 80-85W RTX 3060 iteration underperforms the competition slightly in gaming, though only by a couple of FPS. One competitive edge this laptop certainly does have is the RAM speed: whilst many 2021 released laptops have come with slower stock RAM (ASUS gaming laptops for example), in part due to global supply shortages, MSI machines are invariably equipped with fast dual-channel x8 DDR4 memory, so there’s no danger of bottlenecking here.

In terms of color gamut, the display covers about 84% of the sRGB space, meaning it certainly isn’t suitable for any color related workflows, but for gaming at this price it’s pretty decent. Brightness is good for the price and contrast ratio is respectable. The two best things about the screen and indeed of this gaming laptop overall however are the 144Hz refresh rate and fast response time. At around 5ms with screen overdrive turned on, the grey-to-grey response time of this screen is the fastest you will see in a laptop at this price.

In terms of the other specs the 720p webcam does the job, although the inbuilt mic is pretty poor. The machine is relatively thin considering the power and price, not too heavy, and easy to transport. The hinge on the screen has a full 180 degrees hinge back action. The keyboard is adequate and the touchpad disappointing, but chances are you’ll be using a mouse anyway for gaming.

The fans on this laptop are fairly loud even when idle, and the battery life is pretty poor. Expect up to 3 hours of battery life in non-demanding general use. We would have liked to have seen a larger SSD than 512GB but thankfully the MSI GF66 is easily upgradeable, and the 16GB is a good amount for this price.

Ultimately, the biggest issue with this laptop is the price, and if the MSRP was a couple of hundred dollars lower we’d have likely scored it higher. If you can find an example on sale for around this price with the RTX 3060 GPU then go for it, otherwise we’d consider the RTX 3060 equipped Legion 5 2021 version instead if you’re not fully committed to buying an MSI gaming laptop.

Other gaming laptop brand guides

In-depth laptop reviews

‘Best of’ brand guides

‘Best of’ price guides

MSI gaming laptop FAQs

Which is better ASUS or MSI?

This is a difficult question to answer when it comes to gaming laptops. Both of these brands feature heavily in our best-of lists across a variety of price points. Overall, ASUS are really impressing us in 2022 with their range of upgrades across all laptop types: from mid-range gaming laptops, to workstation machines, however, the MSI GE76 Raider remains one of the most powerful high-end gaming laptops we’ve ever seen, and our top pick for best premium gaming laptop in the 17-inch range.

Is MSI a cheap brand?

MSI gaming laptops tend to target the more medium to high-end performance markets, so aren’t known to be a cheap brand that targets consumers on a budget. However, the MSI Katana GF66 aka MSI Sword 15 does offer a fairly cheap upper low-end / lower-mid-range option.

Final Word

This has been our buyer’s guide to the best MSI gaming laptop in 2022. We hope that you’ve been able to find the right MSI machine for you, if not, either leave us a comment below to suggest an alternative that you’d like us to consider. Please also have a look at our other guides to the best gaming laptops across different brands and price points, which you can find listed in the site menu at the top of this page under Custom Gaming PC > Gaming Laptop.

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