MSI GE66 Raider 10SFS Review: Best Gaming Laptop Of The Year?

MSI GE66 Raider 10SFS Review

MSI regularly churns out great laptops. Even their “mid-range or budget” gaming laptops are far ahead of their competitors. Thus, I find it quite pleasing to use and review an MSI laptop. Last time out, we had reviewed the GP65 Leopard. And this time around, we bring to you the review of MSI GE66 Raider 10SFS with us.

MSI GE66 Raider 10SFS Specifications:

  • Processor: Intel Core i9-10980HK
  • Display: 15.6″ LED-Backlit FHD (1920×1080) 240Hz IPS-level Panel
  • GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Super, with 8GB GDDR6 VRAM
  • RAM: 16GB DDR4 2666MHz
  • Storage: 1TB SSD
  • Ports: 2 x USB 3.2 Type-C, 3 x USB 3.2 Type-A, 1 x HDMI 2.0, 1 x mini DisplayPort, 1 x 3.5mm headphone jack, 1x RJ45, 1x SD Card Reader
  • Connectivity: Integrated 802.11 ax Wi-Fi 6 + Bluetooth 5.1, Killer GB LAN
  • Keyboard: SteelSeries Keyboard; Per-Key RGB Lighting
  • Battery: 99.9 WH Lithium-Polymer Battery
  • Price in Nepal: Rs 370,000
  • Buy Here (ITTI)

MSI GE66 Raider 10SFS Review:

This laptop is a follow-up to the GE65, which was a beast of a laptop. Performance-wise it was superb. However, its subpar battery life and sound system left many people disappointed. Nonetheless, the GE66 has a lot to live up to. 

And with my experience with this laptop, I won’t shy away from saying that this laptop does stake a claim to be one of the best gaming laptops of the year. However, there is no such thing as a perfect laptop and the same goes for this one too. So, let’s dive into our review of the MSI GE66 Raider 10SFS to find out its good’s and the bad’s. 

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Configuration Options

People who are planning on buying the GE66 are really spoilt for choices. Basically, there are 3 different versions of this laptop. There’s the 10SF with RTX 2070, 10SFS with RTX 2070 Super, and finally the top-end 10GS with RTX 2080 Super Max-Q. And depending on the model you get, the screen options are FHD; 144Hz, 240Hz, 300Hz, or UHD with 60Hz refresh rate.

Out here in Nepal, the one available in the market is 10SFS. Our review unit is equipped with an Intel Core i9-10980HK processor, an FHD 240Hz panel, Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Super, 16GB DDR4 2666Mhz RAM, and 1TB SSD. And it is priced at Rs. 370,000. By the way, there are 2 DIMM slots and you can increase the RAM to up to 64GB.

Another option that is available in Nepal only differs in the processor and the storage available. The other one has a 10th Gen Intel Core i7 processor and 2TB SSD. And it too is priced at Rs. 370,000. Finally, the cheapest option with regards to the GE66 comes with 10th Gen Intel Core i7, RTX 2070 1TB SSD, and a 240Hz panel. No 300Hz option in Nepal. Anyway, depending upon your preference you can go for either of the three. 

Design & Build

With that out of the way, let’s get into the design of the GE66. It has a complete design overhaul from its predecessor the GE65. Let’s put it this way, it is subtle, yet it gives you a gaming vibe.

MSI GE66 Raider Design 10SFS

At the first glance, the GE66 Raider looks similar to the GT76 Titan. The red stripes from the GE65 are completely gone. It now looks a bit subdued. It has a gray aluminum lid with only the dragon sigil near the top. Furthermore, the logo’s color is also toned down and it perfectly blends in with the granite gray lid. However, the subtlety is somewhat reduced by the angle near the hinges. But hey, I’m not complaining cause it does add some modern looks to the design. 

Thankfully, MSI has removed the Raider moniker from the rear edge. It now sports various I/O ports and that’s a more sensible choice. The ports on the rear edge include a power port, HDMI, ethernet port, USB-Type C port, and a mini DisplayPort. And on either side of the ports are a couple of air vents. 

The lid was subtle but the front edge is anything but subtle. The front lip is occupied by a huge glass prism/lightbar that MSI calls Aurora. It offers 16.7 million colors, customizable through the SteelSeries Engine app and it syncs with the per-key lighting of the keyboard. You can turn the lights on when you want to flex your laptop around other gamers or choose to completely turn it off in an office environment.

The lighting is great and all but the lightbar just runs a tiny bit off the length of the front edge. I found it a bit problematic as I felt the sting of the overrun edges, quite a few times. The interior is made up of onyx-colored aluminum. It feels smooth and does not attract any smudges. There’s enough room to rest your palms and the keyboard lies a tad bit below the level of the touchpad. 

Thick bezels

Its beautiful display is surrounded by thin bezels on either side, however, the top and the bottom are still quite thick. 

 

In addition to the ports on the rear edge, there are three additional USB Type-A ports, an SDXC card reader, a headphone jack, and a USB Type-C port. There’s a glaring omission of Thunderbolt 3, however, to appease gamers, the unit does have Killer wired and wireless chipsets for Gigabit Ethernet connection. Hey, you win some you lose some, right? By the way, there’s also a status LED that shows whether the laptop is charging or not on the left-hand side.

charging brick GE66 MSI

The laptop measures 14.1 x 10.5 x 0.9 inches and weighs around 2.3 kilos. And it’s pretty much standard these days. However, you can get smaller 15-inch laptops these days such as the GS66 Stealth. But the extra thickness in the GE66 does come in handy as it allows the laptop to pack a larger cooling grill. You’ll find one on both sides and in addition to that, there are six heat sinks and two fans to cool the device. We will talk more about the cooling capabilities a bit later.

On the whole, the design is sort of a perfect blend between a gaming laptop and a work laptop. Furthermore, there’s little to no flex on either the lid or the keyboard, and the build material suggests that the laptop is a very robust one.

Display

The panel on this one is the same as that of the GE66. It too has a panel with a 240Hz refresh rate. The IPS level panel has great viewing angles and reproduces great color both indoors as well as outdoors. The FHD display gives little to complain about because you can observe great details on anything that you are viewing. With such fine details on the screen, you’ll find playing games such as The Witcher 3 a lot more eye-pleasing.

GE66 Raider display

The display is fairly color accurate. It covers about 100% sRGB color gamut and 72% AdobeRGB. And these days it is the standard. Furthermore, due to the MSI True Color software, you’ll find that its grayscale and colors lie in the ideal range. Overall, I’d label it as a good display for content creation. However, you can always get a more color-accurate display such as the Predator or Razer Blade.

As I had mentioned earlier, my test unit has a 240Hz panel and for most gamers out there, this should suffice. A 300Hz variant is also available in the market(not in Nepal though), however, unless you are into ultra-competitive esports and play low impact games, there’s simply no need for you to buy that one. 

For others, the 240Hz is more than enough. You get to enjoy the vibrant colors and at the same time get great fps on your games unless you are playing a AAA title on max settings that are.

Keyboard and Touchpad

GE66 keyboard

The SteelSeries keyboard is tailored for gamers, however, it did bring out mixed feelings in me. It’s clicky, has deep travels, and overall provides a great typing experience. However, there are some key combinations such as Insert+delete and the cramped up function and control key that you’ll have to get used to.

There’s no Numpad and the windows key makes a comeback in the GE66. The GE65 did not have one to prevent gamers from accidentally pressing them while in an intense gaming session. Well, it is here now, however, if you don’t need it, you can disable it from the Dragon Center app.

keyboard lighting GE66 MSI Aurora

There are some useful shortcuts on the keyboard. You can adjust keyboard lighting through the F10 and F11 buttons, change the color scheme from F9, activate cooler boost from F10, and open up the Dragon Center from F7. For customization of the key colors, you’ll have to go to the SteelSeries Engine app. 

As for the touchpad, I’ve no complaints whatsoever. It has a smooth finish and thus it ensures quick inputs. It is sturdy enough and the lack of buttons means that clicks are triggered by pressing the bottom surface.

Dragon Center

The last time I used the MSI Dragon Center was on the GP65 Leopard. And frankly, I was agitated I had to use the app. It kept crashing, had to re-install it a few times just to get it working. It was a mess. 

And it’s no different on the MSI GE66 Raider 10SFS one eitheras I came to discover during the review. Thankfully, I did not have to re-install the app multiple times, nonetheless, the app remains as buggy as ever. I had to restart the entire system just to change some minor settings.

You will be using the Dragon Center a lot. All the customizations, barring keyboards, and lightbar color have to be done through this app. The buggy nature of this app will certainly get on your nerves. MSI should really do something about the Dragon Center pronto. 

Speaker, Camera, and Battery Life

There are 2x 2W speakers on either edge, and the sound they produce is fairly average. Given the laptop’s price, I expected something more but was quite disappointed. You can surely get other laptops with a better audio system at a lower price. Furthermore, the fans on a full blast will completely drown the audio. Thus, there’s still a lot of room for improvement is all I can say.

The addition of a 1080p webcam is a welcome change from the standard 720p that we regularly find. Taken in isolation, you’ll not find it an amazing addition to the laptop, but when compared to the ones on other laptops, it certainly offers a tad bit more. 

Most laptops in this category are plagued by bad battery life. But, the 99.9Wh unit on this one blows away the competitors. While web surfing continuously at about 75% brightness, I was able to squeeze around 4 hours 35 minutes. By decreasing the brightness you can certainly get maybe an hour or so more. And that’s really great.

Hardware and Performance

Our review unit of the MSI GE66 Raider 10SFS is equipped with 16gigs of RAM. However, there are two SO-DIMM slots and thus you can increase your RAM to up to 64GB. Similarly, there are two M.2 slots inside, out of which one only one is free. The 1TB SSD is great, but you’ll see that it quickly starts to fill up once you install a handful of AAA titles. So, with a free M.2 slot, you can always install another SSD yourself. 

MSI GE66 Raider 10SFS

Nonetheless, the 1TB SSD itself gives you nothing to complain for. Its CrystalDiskMark scores indicate that reading or writing is not a problem for this device.

The combination of the 10th Gen Intel Core i9-10980HK and the RTX 2070 Super spells for a power performer. As you’d expect, the GE66 Raider can deal with basic productivity tasks without any trouble. Even with over 15 tabs open on Google Chrome and few word files open, at no point did I notice any lag in performance. 

Gaming performance is impressive too. It can run all AAA titles without breaking a sweat at FHD resolution. The RTX 2070 super with 2560 CUDA cores offers better performance than your standard RTX 2070. I did not notice any performance lag over the 1-hour gaming session with battlefield V. I was able to get around 160fps in medium settings, 140 in high, and about 117fps in ultra settings. The laptop did not give way with DXR on either. With DRX on, the stats are like this: 80fps Ultra, 89-90 high, and about 104 in medium settings. Thus, no matter the setting you choose, you are bound to get pretty good fps and also enjoy the magnificent display. 

FPS stat in various games

High/Ultra Medium Low
Wither 3: Wild Hunt 102 120 155
Battlefield 5 (DXR off) 117 140 160
Battlefield 5 (DXR on) 80 90 104
Apex Legends 143 144 144
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

60 (in all settings)

Warframe

120 (in all settings)

Mind you, I played these games in the extreme performance mode with the cooler booster on, so the fps count may differ depending upon the mode you play in.

Thermals

The MSI GE66 Raider packs in some high-end stuff, and they require a high-end cooling system. As mentioned, previously, it has six heat pipes that are wider than that of its predecessor and its two fans come with 53 blades per fan. Furthermore, it is equipped with Cooler Booster 5. 

The cooling system does somewhat of a very good job in my opinion. Touchpad and the palm rest area are void of any heating issues. And I only noticed the heating in the central area of the keyboard after about 1 and a half hours of gaming. Although I have to mention that I was playing games with Cooler Booster on, so that might have come to the aid of the laptop. However, the cooler booster mode does have one drawback. It runs loud. And in this case, loud is an understatement. 

The plastic undercarriage remains relatively cool in normal use. Though you will start to feel the heat after using it for a couple of hours. But that’s somewhat expected anyway. 

MSI GE66 Raider 10SFS Review: Verdict

All things considered, the MSI GE66 Raider is the perfect follow up to the GE65. The LED lightbar and the 99.9 WHr battery are clearly the selling points for this device. However, the laptop is not just limited to style and battery life, overall the RTX 2070 Super and i9-10980HK deliver solid performance and give users no room for complaints. 

However, the heavy fan noise, poor speaker, and the ever buggy Dragon Center leave you asking for a tad bit more. Nonetheless, I’d still rate the MSI GE66 Raider as one of the best performing laptops of 2020.

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Design and Build
Performance
Display
Gaming Performance
Keyboard
Trackpad
Battery
Value for Money