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 1920x1080 panel, but for those that would prefer a higher resolution, MSI has both 165 Hz and 240 Hz 2560x1440 displays, and even a 120 Hz 3840x2160 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
Core-i7-11800H
8-Core 16-Thread
45W TDP 4.6 GHz Max Boost

Core i9-11980HK
8-Core 16-Thread
65W TDP 5.0 GHz Max Boost
Core i9-11980HK
8-Core 16-Thread
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
1920x1080 144Hz
1920x1080 360Hz
2560x1440 165Hz
2560x1440 240Hz
3840x2160 120Hz
17.3-inch 1920x1080 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 1920x1080 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 (8K@60Hz)
1 x Mini-DisplayPort
Networking Killer AX1675 Wireless
Wi-Fi 6E w/Bluetooth 5.2
Killer E3100G 2.5 Gbps Ethernet
Battery 99.9 Wh
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
$3399 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.

Design
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  • Vitor - Wednesday, September 8, 2021 - link

    360hz display is a really dumb, useless trend. Reply
  • YB1064 - Wednesday, September 8, 2021 - link

    Almost $4k and no 10GBe or AMD options. Who, besides a North Korean dictator's son would buy this? Reply
  • garblah - Wednesday, September 8, 2021 - link

    What are we imagining that the 300 MB/sec transfer rate that 2.5GB LAN affords you won't be good enough for over the life of this laptop? If you're buying a four thousand dollar laptop you're upgrading in the next three years for sure, anyway. Reply
  • shabby - Wednesday, September 8, 2021 - link

    4k "videos" take too long to transfer at that speed... Reply
  • abufrejoval - Wednesday, September 8, 2021 - link

    A Sabrent TB3 10Gbit Ethernet adapter (a plain Aquantia to all OS) is €100 and much smaller than the power supply. As 10Gbase-T can be a bit toasty it's good not to include in a chassis that already struggles with heat.

    You can also use TB3/4 networking (use 32-64k block size for throughput, latency is lnfiniband low!), which should be really interesting with the new TB4 hubs, but with its random MACs it can be a bit of trouble, when the notebook isn't stationary.

    As for the AMD options, I don't see that a design that modular vs. a separate product makes much sense for a notbook chassis.

    I prefer my 5800X over any Rocket Lake, but after comparing a Tiger Lake NUC with an 5800U based Lenovo Slim notebook, I'd actually tend to think that the 4 extra cores (vs. higher clocks on TL) on a -U power budget far to rarely gain me any noticeable advantage on my workloads, while the Xe iGPU does rather consistently trump the Vega9.

    Now with Tiger Lake and Ryzen 5000 8-cores in the 45 Watts class, I'd guess that Intel will lead at max power and thermals, while the energy efficiency advantages of AMD only get to play out in battery mode, which isn't the priority in this design.

    On a desktop the 5950X may not win every fight against Alder Lake, but most of my workloads and without throwing a fit of thermals, noise and heat.
    Reply
  • Spunjji - Friday, September 10, 2021 - link

    10GbE for what? This isn't a workstation. There's absolutely no call for the extra cost and heat of 10GbE on a gaming device. Reply
  • Slash3 - Wednesday, September 8, 2021 - link

    Lack of VRR/G-Sync makes it almost pointless outside of the desktop UI, if it's true. What a crazy decision. Reply
  • schizoide - Thursday, September 9, 2021 - link

    Coming here to say this. VRR is not optional for gaming in 2021. If your product doesn't include VRR it is simply not a reasonable option. Reply
  • Awful - Wednesday, September 8, 2021 - link

    360hz is neither dumb, nor a useless trend. It's specifically for e-sports games where 360FPS should be no issue and high refresh rates are absolutely beneficial.

    E-sports might be a niche requirement (albeit one worth billions of dollars a year now), but it's certainly a valid one. MSI is offering a bunch of different options for the screen anyway - no-one's being forced to choose that option if it doesn't meet their needs.
    Reply
  • Vitor - Wednesday, September 8, 2021 - link

    a desktop with a proper gaming keyboard will be better anyway. Reply

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