Let us pretend we are desktop people, thinking about building a new system. What would we look for? If we are after a gaming system, clearly, we need a big GPU. A very beefy CPU is a nice touch as well if we want to keep the GPU fed. Plenty of memory, lots of storage, and maybe lots of ports for expansion. Add in a nice RGB keyboard, perhaps a high refresh display, and lots of cooling. Now let us imagine we pack that into a 2.9 kg / 6.4 lb package. That seems impossible, doesn’t it? What if we added in a 99.9 Wh UPS as well? Now that is really crazy. Let me present to you the MSI GE76 Raider, which brings all of this together into the 2021 version of MSI’s Raider series of gaming laptops.
Raider: The Gaming Desktop Replacement
MSI is no stranger to gaming systems, having almost exclusively focused on them for the better part of the last decade. The company offers a lineup of devices, including the true “desktop replacement” Titan platform, “enthusiast-level” Raider series, and the more subtle Stealth offerings, as well as a few more offerings to hit lower price points as well. In the gaming laptop world, MSI truly covers the entire spectrum, and with some of the most recommended devices on the market. They often do not come cheap, but they are always packed full of performance and features.
Which brings us to the 2021 MSI GE76 Raider lineup, which has just been refreshed to include the latest Intel Tiger Lake-H processors coupled with NVIDIA’s Ampere laptop graphics. The unit MSI sent us for review features the Intel Core i9-11980HK processor, with a 5.0 GHz maximum boost frequency and overclocking options. Intel’s current flagship processor is coupled with NVIDIA’s flagship in the RTX 3080 Laptop (henceforth known as the 3080L) GPU. There are two SODIMM slots for DDR4, which allow up to 64 GB of system memory, and two M.2 slots for storage.
On the display side, MSI offers plenty of choices for their 17.3-inch GE76 Raider, and all of the options offer high-refresh, which is fantastic. The review unit shipped with a 360 Hz 1920×1080 panel, but for those that would prefer a higher resolution, MSI has both 165 Hz and 240 Hz 2560×1440 displays, and even a 120 Hz 3840×2160 display. All the displays are “IPS-Level” panels as well, meaning they are not the old Twisted Nematic TFT which forces terrible viewing angles on the recipient, which is fantastic. The displays all have a niche that they fill, and it is great to see this much choice in a product when other devices have focused almost exclusively on the e-Sports target.
|MSI GE76 Raider|
|Component||GE76 Raider Options||As Tested|
|CPU||Intel 11th Generation Core
45W TDP 4.6 GHz Max Boost
65W TDP 5.0 GHz Max Boost
65W TDP 5.0 GHz Max Boost
|GPU||NVIDIA GeForce RTX 30 Series Laptop
RTX 3060L 6GB GDDR6
130W TDP w/Dynamic Boost
RTX 3070L 8GB GDDR6
140W TDP w/Dynamic Boost
RTX 3080L 8/16 GB GDDR6
165W TDP w/Dynamic Boost
GeForce RTX 3080L 16 GDDR6
165W TDP w/Dynamic Boost
|Display||17.3-inch IPS-Level High Refresh
|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 Per-key RGB Backlit|
|Webcam||1920×1080 resolution 30 FPS|
|Audio||Dynaudio 2 x 1W speakers / 2 x 2W woofers
3.5 mm headset 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 ([email protected])
1 x Mini-DisplayPort
|Networking||Killer AX1675 Wireless
Wi-Fi 6E w/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||Core i7 / RTX 3060L Starts At $1499 USD
Core i7 / RTX 3070L Starts At $2249 USD
Core i7 / RTX 3080L Starts At $2999 USD
MSI has outfitted the GE76 Raider with a SteelSeries keyboard offering per-key RGB backlighting, and there are likely enough ports to satisfy almost anyone. There are USB Type-C, one of which supports Thunderbolt 4 and the other which is 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 not satisfy almost any prospective buyer.
MSI has packed in the largest battery possible at 99.9 Wh. Batteries larger than this can not be taken on an airplane, which makes this more or less a legal limit for laptops, and to try to help with battery life, MSI offers both hybrid-graphics mode (NVIDIA Optimus) as well as discrete graphics mode. Unfortunately, they do not do this via NVIDIA’s new Advanced Optimus, but instead with the more traditional multiplexer which means that a reboot is required.
What’s more if you think “this is great, but a 17-inch gaming is just too big for me” MSI also has refreshed the GE66 Raider which is the 15.6-inch smaller sibling of this capable and well-equipped gaming notebook.
As usual, let us start the review by going over the design.