MSI GS77 Stealth review: don’t let the name fool you

MSI GS77 Stealth review: don’t let the name fool you

Don’t let the name fool you, there is nothing stealthy about this device.

The MSI GS77 Stealth has long been the portable choice among MSI’s gaming elite, and while that fact remained dubious with last year’s 5.4-pound GS76 Stealth, this 0.79-inch-thick, 6.17-pound GS77 year has effectively brought that idea to market. sun. This laptop is big, thick, and bulky, and while it lacks the light strips and LED grilles that other flashy gaming laptops have, its RGB keyboard still makes it abundantly clear that it’s for gaming above all else.

This isn’t necessarily a huge blow against the device: the GS76 was pretty light for what it was, and the GS77 has brought the Stealth series back in line with the rest of the 17-inch market. It now weighs slightly more than Razer’s Blade 17 and Asus’ Zephyrus S17. And it has almost the same weight as MSI’s most powerful GE76 Raider.

One can see why MSI may have wanted to go bigger because the internal chips have been frying just about every chassis they touch this year. The model they sent us includes a 12th generation Core i7-12900H, one of the most powerful mobile chips in Intel’s history, along with Nvidia’s RTX 3070 Ti, 32GB of RAM and 1TB of storage, all This with a 240 Hz QHD screen.

But the new girth removes a big advantage the GS77 used to have over these models: The GS77 Stealth seems to have lost some of what made it desirable as a “portable” purchase. The keyboard is flat, the trackpad is uncomfortably stiff, battery life isn’t great, and the device is too big and heavy to reliably carry anywhere. What we are left with is a computer that requires many of the same compromises as the most powerful gaming laptops on the market without offering the same exceptional frame rates.

For more information on our scoring, see how we rate.

The main advantage that Stealth has now is its price. My test unit is currently listed for $2,899. Getting this GPU in the GE76 Raider (which has an even beefier Core i9 and sleeker design) would cost $100 more, while a QHD Razer Blade 17 with the 3070 Ti would cost a total of $3,399.99. I was also able to find GS77 models for as little as $1,799 (for a 144Hz 1080p screen, an RTX 3060, and 16GB of RAM), while the cheapest Blade on Razer’s site is $2,799 and the Raider 12. generation starts at $2,299. Still, $2,899 isn’t cheap, and it’s worth knowing what compromises you’re making for that lower cost.

The MSI GS77 Stealth seen from above half open on a green fabric bench.

The lid is fairly free of fingerprints.

The rear left corner of the MSI GS77 Stealth.

So is much of the keyboard deck.

First, the aspect of the GS77 that is an unquestionable improvement over last year: the build quality. I’ve had complaints about MSI’s chassis in the past, but the GS77’s base and lid are sturdy and unyielding. The touchpad picked up some fingerprints quite easily, but the rest of the chassis was no magnet for them. It’s a good looking computer, and it didn’t suffer any scratches or dents after being banged around in a suitcase for a few days.

Other advantages of the previous models are maintained. There’s a good variety of ports including two USB-C, two USB-A, a headphone jack, HDMI, Ethernet, and an SD card reader. (However, the SD reader is strangely slower than last year, as other reviewers have pointed out.) The QHD screen makes games look great. There are a whopping six speakers inside, and while they don’t offer the best audio on the 17-inch market, my games still sounded pretty good. I had no problems with the microphones, which support AI noise cancellation, and the webcam has a physical shutter switch on the side for added peace of mind.

The MSI GS77 Stealth keyboard console seen from above on a yellow fabric bench.  The screen displays the home page of The Verge.

But the touchpad is another story.

That said, I really can’t see myself using this device as a daily driver for two big reasons: the keyboard and the trackpad. The keyboard has nice lighting, but it’s pretty thin to type on, with a more spongy than clicky feel. And while there is a number pad, the keys are a bit cramped as a result. The arrow keys, in particular, feel small.

And the touchpad is where I really had trouble. It’s big, but it was as hard to click as I’ve ever experienced on a trackpad before. (And it’s pretty loud, too.) I felt like I really had to move my finger down to register a click. I was about to plug in a mouse (something I don’t do when testing productivity use cases, as a general policy) because of how much I hated navigating with it. These aren’t unheard of compromises when it comes to 17-inch gaming laptops, but they do underscore how little I’d recommend this doubling as a daily driver.

The MSI GS77 Stealth closed on a yellow cloth bench seen from above.

The dragon is still there, but it’s off.

When it comes to frame rates, how do these specs compare? With all sliders at maximum, red dead redemption 2 it ran at an average of 60 frames per second at native resolution (technically 59.3, but we can call it 60). That jumped to 65 at 1080p. In Shadow of the Tomb Raider at 1080p, we saw an average of 83 frames per second with ray tracing on Ultra (its maximum setting) and 121 with the feature disabled. At native resolution, these translated to 58 frames per second (another number we can call 60) and 86, respectively. In short, more than playable.

The GS77 featured an absurd 400 frames per second on heavy CPU CS: GO in 1080p and a still pretty high 286 in native 1440p. The only title that gave the game any trouble was cyberpunk 2077, which, in native resolution, at maximum settings, with ray tracing cranked up to “Psycho”, ran at 19 frames per second (but managed 33 at those settings in 1080p).

Overall, these are certainly an improvement over last year’s model’s results, showing you shouldn’t have a problem running most modern games at QHD resolution, though they’re below what you can get from Core. More expensive i9 and RTX 3080 machines. However, there is one disappointing omission: the GS77 does not support MUX. This component (which both the Raider and Blade have) allows laptops to support adaptive features like G-Sync and can also make a substantial difference in performance. It’s kind of weird to exclude it at this price point and something I imagine a lot of people willing to pay $2,900 won’t be willing to compromise on.

The ports on the left side of the MSI GS77 Stealth.

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

When it comes to other workloads, Stealth was more competitive. It completed our five-minute, 33-second Adobe Premiere Pro 4K video export test in two minutes, 15 seconds. The Raider topped this time, clocking in at a minute and 56 seconds, but it’s one of the few laptops to do so. Last year’s 3070 GS76 was 12 seconds slower. (These aren’t meant to be apples-to-apples comparisons, as different versions of Premiere can change over time; they’re more meant to give you an idea of ​​how long an export might take.)

The GS77 also beat the GS76, as well as the Blade and other creative workstations like the Gigabyte Aero 16, in Puget Systems’ benchmark for Premiere Pro, which tests live 4K and 8K playback and export performance. . (He lost to the Raider by a lot.) This isn’t a laptop I’d recommend people use for office workloads, so the GS77’s strong performance here isn’t its biggest selling point.

The ports on the right side of the MSI GS77 Stealth.

Two USB-C and one SD on the right.

The MSI GS77 Stealth keyboard deck seen from above.

The charging port, HDMI and ethernet are on the back.

MSI’s software is definitely not as buggy as it has been in recent years, which is an encouraging sign. I had no problem adjusting fan profiles and such with the pre-installed programs. I ran into a glitch where the screen started dimming when I tried to run games (a problem on a gaming laptop). MSI sent me a replacement unit, which did not have this problem. Still, it’s not the kind of thing we love to see in $2,900 products.

And then we come to what I see as the biggest compromise here: battery life. I only averaged two hours and 16 minutes of continuous use with this thing, and some tests even lasted less than two hours. That must be close to the worst battery life I’ve ever had with a gaming laptop. While it’s generally understood that cheaper laptops will have less powerful chips, having to give up battery life on top of that power (the Raider lasted me about two hours longer under the same workload) is a tough pill. to swallow

If you’re just looking for frame rates on paper, this laptop is a good buy. You can run all kinds of games in QHD resolution without burning down your basement.

But the Stealth moniker, and the way the line has historically been positioned, might imply to some people that this device is a good choice for more than just gaming. It is not; MSI’s changes to the Stealth line have made it more powerful at the expense of other features that made it, well, Stealthy. It’s too big and heavy to constantly carry around in a briefcase or backpack, the battery life can’t be used for daily work away from a power outlet, and the keyboard and trackpad just wouldn’t be my go-to for all the days. This isn’t really a portable alternative to the Raider anymore. It’s just a more affordable version of the Raider.

Which is fine, if that’s what you’re after. But with the Raider offering more powerful specs, better battery life, more RGB, and a MUX switch for a couple of hundred dollars more, I think it offers a better experience that will be worth it for people shopping in this range.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.