Gaming laptops like MSI GE76 Raider appear to be on the decline. Thin and light gaming devices are increasingly replacing huge, fat gaming behemoths that are all about pushing the most exceptional performance possible at the expense of everything else – especially at the high end. And it makes perfect sense. Why would you choose a gaming laptop that you can barely carry about when the best gaming PCs are growing tiny enough for people who don’t have room for a tower?
There is something to be said, though, for a gaming device that is portable enough to bring over to a friend’s house without being so thin that it overheats and can’t be upgraded nearly as much over time. The real question is whether MSI GE76 Raider will be relevant in 2021.
This is a gaming laptop that costs $2,899 for the model reviewed here, which has an RTX 3080 graphics card and a 10th-generation Core i7 processor. That’s a lot to ask, especially since a Razer Blade 15 with the same features is available for the same price – albeit with a slightly slower 240Hz display.
However, because this laptop has more cooling capacity, you’ll get better performance for your money, and when you’re driving a 300 Hz display, you want as many frames as possible from your GPU.
MSI’s beast is a 6.39-pound metal and plastic monster. However, in terms of hulks, it’s very elegant. Raider hasn’t changed much since we last saw it, but it now has a 17-inch screen, making it more of a desktop replacement than a portable gaming gear.
The new Raider is “titanium blue” in principle, but it still seems gray to me. Only if you’re at the right angle will the blue appear. The lid includes MSI’s dragon shield insignia in a tone-on-tone design, but aside from a few angular parts that fade into the vents, it’s rather plain.
The rest of the laptop, though, screams gaming. Three sides of the 17.3-inch display have narrow bezels, with angles etched into the bezel to make it appear more imposing. That bottom bezel is thick, which is typical but unlucky. The keyboard, which includes a full number pad, and the light bar under the palm rest are both RGB backlit. The rest of the laptop, though, screams gaming. Three sides of the 17.3-inch display have narrow bezels, with angles etched into the bezel to make it appear more imposing. That bottom bezel is thick, which is typical but unlucky. The keyboard, which includes a full number pad, and the light bar under the palm rest are both RGB backlit.
The aluminum construction feels solid, albeit there is a small bend in the lid’s center. The laptop features connectors on three sides: on the left, there are USB Type-A and Type-C ports, as well as a 3.5 mm headphone jack and a lock slot. Two more Type-A connectors and a full-sized SD card slot may be found on the right side.
Raider’s other connections, including mini DisplayPort, Thunderbolt 4, an Ethernet jack, HDMI, and the power jack, are located on the back of the computer. Most of these rear ports are for stuff like chargers and monitor hookups, which you’ll plugin and leave there.
MSI’s laptop is 6.39 pounds and dimensions 15.63 x 10.57 x 1.08 inches. Most people, I assume, will keep this in one place for the majority of the time. Alienware m15 R4 from Dell measures 15.74 x 11.56 x 0.87 inches and weighs 6.6 pounds. Gigabyte Aorus 17 G and Asus ROG Strix Scar 17 G733 both weighs 5.95 pounds. The former is 15.55 x 11.11 x 1.08 inches, while the latter measures 15.9 x 10.8 x 1.
GE76 Raider features a 17.3-inch 1080p display with a 360 Hz refresh rate for fast-paced esports.
The MSI screen measured 319 nits of brightness on average, just a hair brighter than Alienware m17 R4 (316 nits) and brighter than Aorus 17G and Strix Scar 17.
Raider’s display reproduces 73.3 percent of the DCI-P3 color gamut, which is good but not quite as vibrant as the rest of the field.
Keyboard and Touchpad
MSI has been employing SteelSeries keyboards for its gaming notebooks for years, and Raider is no exception. These keys press down swiftly for gaming and then pop back up, ready for the next press.
This made the keys slightly bouncy when typing, which some users might find difficult to adjust to. The touchpad is virtually Lilliputian in comparison to the keyboard deck. Its dimensions are 4.1 x 2.5 inches. It’s just enough for the most complex four-finger movements in Windows 10.
Interestingly, neither the keyboard lighting nor the lightbar was visible in MSI Center. However, if you wanted to modify the brightness or turn off the patterns, SteelSeries’ lighting software worked wonderfully.
MSI GE76 has a powerful audio system. Realtek Audio Console is included in MSI’s Windows installation. It has few options, yet the majority of people will never use it.
Despite a 99.9 watt-hour battery, Raider didn’t survive very long on battery test, owing to its large screen and strong components. Raider lasted 2 hours and 40 minutes while streaming video, browsing the web, and doing OpenGL tests over Wi-Fi, all at 150 nits of brightness.
It takes 35 minutes longer than Alienware m15 R4 to complete the task. However, Gigabyte Aorus 17 G and Asus ROG Strix Scar 17 both outlasted the competition, with the former lasting over two hours long.
MSI GE76 Raider should be on the shortlist for professional laptop gamers looking to replace their desktop with something a little more portable. It has a quick, bright display and some of the most powerful mobile components, making it ideal for esports or as a big-screen choice for AAA games.
It gets a little warm, but that’s a problem with most computers in this class. The main question is whether you’ll be able to locate one. The more affordable the setup, the more likely it was to be in stock.
You might want to look into Alienware m17 R4, which has been a bit more reliable in terms of supply, at least for RTX 3060 and RTX 3070 variants. If you’re looking for the version with an RTX 3080 that competes with Raider, you could be out of luck: Dell’s website doesn’t show it as of this writing. It’s also a little heavier than Raider.
Right now, anything top-of-the-line is difficult to come by. However, if you want the most gaming performance from a laptop today, MSI GE76 Raider is the way to go.