There is a huge difference between the MSI GS66 Stealth gaming laptop I reviewed a little over a year ago and the one sitting in front of me now. Not in appearance, given – it’s the same sleek chassis that MSI has used for its GS66 machines for generations – but the performance is very different thanks to the core components chosen for this 12th generation build.
The 2021 version of this machine chose the Nvidia RTX 3080 GPU and paired it with a 10th generation Core i7 10870H processor. Compared to the Core i9 12900H MSI has fallen into this laptop, it’s just a silicon dunce sitting in the corner of the class right now. It is also interesting that the more modern Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 Ti used in the new GS66 Stealth can also be compared to last year’s model.
But that does not mean I fall for this plate of black technology in front of me.
It’s a gaming laptop in 2022, which inevitably means a few things. First, it means that there has hardly been the slightest change in the chassis or cooling on offer; two, there will be some strange specifications choices; and three, you’ll need a pair of good noise-canceling headphones because it will kick out a wicked fan-based roar.
Stealth GS66 12UGS specifications
CPU: Intel Core i9 12900H
Kernels: 14 (6P | 8E)
Memory: 32 GB (2x 16 GB) DDR5-4800
GPU: Nvidia RTX 3070 Ti
Screen: 15.6 inches
Native res: 3840 x 2160
Update speed: 60 Hz
Storage: 2TB PCIe 4.0 SSD
Price: ~ $ 3,000 | £ 3,100
So the specifications. For the best part of three thousand, you get a 14-core Alder Lake CPU that matches six Performance cores with eight Efficient cores, for a total of 20 threads of total multi-thread grunt. The 12th generation Intel platform means DDR5 memory and you get 32GB of 4800MHz RAM inside.
Next to all that is the RTX 3070 Ti, a refreshed Ampere GPU with 5632 CUDA cores and 8 GB of GDDR6 memory. The GPU inside MSI is fixed to 105W, which is slightly higher than the 95W TDP on the RTX 3080, the previously used one.
So far so good. Where I struggle is in the way that MSI has beaten a 4K screen to the one running at measly 60Hz. I was excited to look at the online specifications for the latest GS66 12UGS, which promised a 120Hz UHD panel, so I was quite disappointed to boot up into a sluggish 60Hz Windows desktop.
I have a UK SKU which may or may not appear Stateside so you may be lucky and find a 120Hz monitor in your region but the price will be around the same brand as I would expect.
Maybe I’m a bit of a legitimate Timmy about this, but no gaming laptop in 2022 should be obsessed with a 60Hz update screen. Granted, this RTX 3070 Ti machine struggles to reach 60 fps – again suggesting that this may not be the smartest spec – but even just on the desktop, moving an Explorer window around is a blurry joke.
The contrast is okay and the white saturation is decent, but the gradient band is clear and the black levels are also pretty sub-standard. I guess what I’m saying is: I do not like the panel.
But I’m impressed with the way the 105W RTX 3070 Ti performs. At least it feels like a better match for the chassis than the 95W RTX 3080 did before. It regularly emits higher frame rates than last year’s laptop, although it is inevitably lower than the 150W RTX 3070 Ti Asus stuck in the mighty ROG Strix Scar 17.
1080p gaming performance
The positive is that the latest MSI Stealth GS66 does so with lower maximum operating temperatures than any of these machines. The same goes for the processor as the GPU. Where the 10th generation chip and Strix’s own 12900H CPU peaked at 100 ° C, the new GS66 peaked at 97 ° C.
Sure, it’s hot, but the processing performance you get from 12th generation chips certainly justifies it. The single-core speeds are amazing, and with the smaller cores coming online to help with multi-threaded workloads, it definitely has some power at the workstation level as well.
I mean, I like it, but not so much the noise it makes from keeping the temps down. Honestly, it’s downright offensive; there is no way you can play on this thing in polite company.
My two-year-old walked into the room while I benchmarked Metro Exodus and exclaimed loudly, “da fuq is that, Dad ?!” I paraphrase, but that was his general essence. Hell, even with a pair of good headphones, I can still hear its fans thumping away.
And I really struggle to recommend this system because of it. I’ll happily forgive the little give in the keyboard when typing, and the strange ultra-wide and rattling touchpad, but the noise is a deal breaker for me. Like the price. When Nvidia announced the RTX 3070 Ti, we were promised $ 1,500 laptops, of which I have seen exactly zero. For double the price, this MSI Stealth GS66 does not do enough to justify the price.
Of course, it’s thin, but with the rackets it makes when it’s playing, it’s certainly not insidious.