MSI Katana GF66 Assessment | PCMag

Depend on a gaming laptop computer named after a well-known Blade to outline the leading edge in price range gear. The MSI Katana GF66 (begins at $799 for the in-store Micro Middle mannequin examined right here; $1,199) is a formidable worth amongst 15.6-inch price range gaming laptops, providing an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 GPU at that worth. does what you’ll usually anticipate. An RTX 3050 Ti, an eight-core Intel Core i7 CPU, and an enormous 1TB solid-state drive. Though it has shorter battery life and its display screen is much less vivid than we anticipated, the Katana covers the gaming necessities with out main weaknesses, particularly in as of late of rising core-component costs and people for “price range” gaming. Makes it redefines laptop computer. It replaces MSI’s Bravo 15 as our Editors’ Alternative winner for reasonably priced 15-inch gaming rigs.

staying on the price range rail

The Katana GF66 is as wallet-friendly a gaming laptop computer as you will discover. The $799 base mannequin is sweet for fundamental 1080p gaming and esports with a six-core Core i5-11400H processor, a 4GB GeForce RTX 3050 GPU, a 144Hz display screen refresh charge, 8GB of reminiscence, and 512GB of solid-state storage. Step-up fashions supply Nvidia’s 4GB RTX 3050 Ti for higher efficiency. Home windows 10 Residence and a one-year guarantee are normal throughout the board.

MSI Katana GF66 Right Angle

(Picture: Molly Flores)

The highest-tier $1,199 mannequin seen and examined right here has an eight-core, 2.3GHz (4.6GHz turbo) Core i7-11800H, GeForce RTX 3060 graphics with 6GB of show reminiscence, 16GB of RAM, and a 1TB SSD. The value solely applies in-store on the Micro Middle, however even if you happen to spend $200 extra on-line, it is nonetheless affordable: Asus’s comparably outfitted TUF Gaming F15 instructions $1,399 on Amazon. You could find an RTX 3060 for much less within the Gigabyte G5 KC (I noticed that mannequin for $1,049 after a reduction), however that laptop computer comes loaded with a previous-generation Core i5-10500H chip and half the storage (512GB) Is.

msi katana gf 66 left angle

(Picture: Molly Flores)

Visually, the Katana GF66 makes its gaming credentials clear. The black and pink coloration scheme is way from distinctive amongst gaming laptops (check out the Acer Nitro 5 for a seeming sibling), nevertheless it nonetheless delivers a way of id. The angled lid and enormous cooling vents full the look.

MSI Katana GF66 Rear View

(Picture: Molly Flores)

The inward-sloping edges assist the katana look sleeker than its precise measurement of 0.98 by 14.1 by 10.2 inches (HWD). It weighs 4.96 kilos, effectively inside price range gaming expectations. Ditto for its all-plastic building, which feels strong if not luxurious.

MSI Katana GF66 Front View

(Picture: Molly Flores)

The Katana GF66’s 1,920-by-1,080-pixel show might be higher. Its 144Hz refresh charge is its finest function, which allows a silky-smooth gaming expertise; The GeForce RTX 3060 GPU has no hassle pushing it to the boundaries in a number of video games, as our benchmark exams will present beneath. However its image high quality is ho-hum to the discriminating eye; Our Datacolor SpiderX Elite measured 62% protection of the sRGB coloration gamut and a modest 267 nits of peak brightness.

Common enter and output

The pink keyboard backlighting is the MSI Katana GF66’s solely actual nod to gamer-style bling. Each the highest and sides of the keys are illuminated, and I like the futuristic font on the keycaps.

MSI Katana GF66 Keyboard

(Picture: Molly Flores)

Keypresses, sadly, lack tactile engagement; The up and down journey needs to be extra. The quantity pad additionally seems like a squeezed-out concept, with undersized keys and a non-standard three-column format. The touchpad, offset according to the keyboard, has an identical mixture of execs and cons: It is the suitable measurement and has a {smooth}, stutter-free floor, nevertheless it works you up with its harsh bodily click-down motion. Counting on light, digital tap-to-click is a straightforward technique to get round that.

Bodily connectors mounted on the perimeters of the Katana embody three USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports (two Kind-A and one Kind-C), a legacy USB 2.0 port (appropriate for plugging in a mouse), headset and Ethernet jacks, and an HDMI port. 2.0b video output.

MSI Katana GF66 ports skipped

(Picture: Molly Flores)

msi katana gf 66 right port

(Picture: Molly Flores)

Thunderbolt 4 stays on the want checklist. There aren’t any built-in biometric options, and the 720p webcam above the show lacks a privateness shutter. Twin audio system underneath the Palm Relaxation mission sound tense however loud-enough.

Reminiscence and storage are user-upgradable, although the underside panel is tough to take away. After eradicating a number of screws, you will want a trim-removal instrument to prick gently round its edges earlier than breaking free. Inside, you will discover two M.2 2280 PCI Specific 3.0 SSD slots and two DDR4-3200 reminiscence sockets. The higher RAM restrict is 64GB (by way of two 32GB modules). Intel AX201 Wi-Fi 6 card and 53.5-watt-hour battery are additionally accessible. (See our function on how you can improve your laptop computer.)

Testing the Katana GF66: Strong efficiency for the cash

To refresh, our Katana GF66 check unit has an eight-core Intel Core i7-11800H CPU, a 6GB GeForce RTX 3060 GPU, 16GB of RAM, and a 1TB solid-state drive. This recipe is appropriate for 1080p gaming, as our benchmarks will present. The RTX 3060 GPU, as applied right here, is rated for 85 watts.

As for cooling, the Katana is not a silent runner by any means, however its followers aren’t distracting, and there is not any hotspot in its chassis the place you normally put your fingers.

MSI Katana GF66 Underside

(Picture: Molly Flores)

The Katana GF66 faces an uphill battle towards many of the gaming laptops I’ve used for comparability, that are listed beneath. These embody the Alienware x15, MSI’s personal Delta 15, and the XPG Xenia 15KC. The smaller Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 is the one one which additionally sports activities an RTX 3060 GPU. As examined, nevertheless, all of those fashions value no less than a number of hundred {dollars} greater than the Katana.

Productiveness and Content material Creation Testing

Our first check is UL’s PCMark 10, which simulates a wide range of real-world productiveness and workplace workflows to measure total system efficiency and features a storage subtest for the first drive. The Katana GF66 scored effectively, reaching effectively above the 4,000 mark we contemplate an indication of sturdy productiveness efficiency. Whereas it did not excel in storage testing, its SSD offers sufficient enthusiasm for common use.

Our different three benchmarks centered on the CPU, utilizing all accessible cores and threads, to judge a PC’s suitability for processor-intensive workloads. Maxon’s Cinebench R23 makes use of that firm’s Cinema 4D engine to render a posh scene, whereas Primate Labs’ Geekbench 5.4 Professional emulates fashionable apps starting from PDF rendering and speech recognition to machine studying. Lastly, we use the open-source video transcoder Handbrake 1.4 to transform a 12-minute video clip from 4K to 1080p decision (the shorter the time the higher).

Our final productiveness check is Puget Techniques’ PugetBench (Opens in a brand new window)for photoshop(Opens in a brand new window), which makes use of Artistic Cloud model 22 of Adobe’s famend picture editor, to charge PC efficiency for content material creation and multimedia purposes. It is an automatic extension that performs a wide range of widespread and GPU-accelerated Photoshop duties, from opening, rotating, resizing, and saving a picture to making use of masks, gradient fills, and filters.

The Katana GF66’s reasonable CPU efficiency is disappointing; The XPG and Alienware particularly outperformed it utilizing the identical Core i7-11800H. This lack of efficiency means that its CPU is reaching energy or thermal limits. Bargaining MSI continues to be a strong performer, however not as highly effective accurately.

graphics and gaming check

For Home windows PCs, we run each artificial and real-world gaming exams. The previous contains two DirectX 12 gaming simulations from UL’s 3DMark check suite: Night time Raid (appropriate for programs with extra modest, built-in graphics) and Time Spy (appropriate for extra demanding, gaming rigs with discrete GPUs). Additionally in that group is the cross-platform GPU benchmark GFXBench 5, which we use to measure OpenGL efficiency.

Shifting on, our real-world gaming check attracts from F1 2021’s in-game benchmarks, Murderer’s Creed Valhalla, and Rainbow Six Siege, which characterize simulation, open-world action-adventure, and aggressive/esports shooter video games, respectively . On laptops, Valhalla and Siege are run twice (Valhalla on Medium and Extremely high quality, Siege on Low and Extremely high quality), whereas we run F1 2021 as soon as on Extremely high quality settings and, for GeForce RTX laptops, Nvidia a second time. With the performance-boosting DLSS anti-aliasing turned on.

Happily, the Katana did not appear to hold the GF66’s CPU efficiency difficulties in GPU-focused exams, the place it typically outperformed the RTX 3060-equipped Asus. Word: It achieved over 144fps in Rainbow Six Seasons, making full use of its 144Hz display screen. No RTX 3050 laptop computer has gone via our new benchmark suite not too long ago, however the RTX 3060 is a greater performer and has extra video reminiscence (6GB versus 4GB). If you can also make the leap, it is worthwhile.

Battery and efficiency testing

PCMag exams a laptop computer’s battery life by taking part in a regionally saved 720p video file (the open-source Blender film.) tears of metal) Display brightness at 50% and audio quantity at 100% till the system is turned off. Wi-Fi and keyboard backlighting are turned off throughout testing.

We additionally use the Datacolor SpiderX Elite Monitor Calibration Sensor and its software program to measure the colour saturation of a laptop computer display screen – the sRGB, Adobe RGB, and DCI-P3 coloration gamut or what proportion of the palette the show can show – and its brightness in nits (candelas per sq. meter) of fifty% of the display screen and at peak settings.

Neither battery life nor show high quality is a energy for the Katana GF66. We anticipate no less than six hours from a 15-inch gaming laptop computer, and on the show aspect, 100% sRGB and no less than 300 nits of brightness will likely be good. As I famous, what salvages the Katana’s display screen for gaming is its 144Hz refresh charge.

Essence of Laptop computer Funds Gaming

Though we want the MSI Katana GF66 had a extra vivid display screen, a bit extra CPU muscle, and longer battery life, none of those flaws cease it from being a good price range gaming laptop computer. It provides GeForce RTX 3060 graphics on the worth of an RTX 3050 Ti (and even the common RTX 3050), and that GPU helps benefit from its 144Hz show. That is a uncommon feat for a laptop computer on this worth bracket, and equally uncommon for the cash is its huge 1TB solid-state drive, which inserts the balloon measurement of immediately’s sport installs. All instructed, the Katana GF66 is an distinctive worth and earns an Editors’ Alternative award for consideration for cash-strapped avid gamers.


MSI’s Katana GF66 is a well-priced, well-rounded price range gaming laptop computer that beats competing fashions in measurement.

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