MSI GS77 Stealth Review: Don’t be fooled by the name

Don’t let the name fool you – there is nothing hidden in this device.

The MSI GS77 Stealth has long been the portable option among MSI’s gaming elite, and while this fact remained dubiously true with last year’s 5.4-pound GS76 Stealth, the 0.79-liter GS77 inches thick and 6.17 pounds this year actually launched that idea into the sun. This laptop is big, thick, and bulky, and while it lacks the light strips and LED grids that other flashy gaming laptops boast about, its RGB keyboard still makes it very clear that it’s mostly for gaming.

This isn’t necessarily a big blow against the device – the GS76 was light enough for what it was and the GS77 brought the Stealth series back in line with the rest of the 17-inch market. It now weighs a little more than the Razer’s Blade 17 and Asus’ Zephyrus S17. And it’s almost the same weight as MSI’s more powerful GE76 Raider.

You can see why MSI may have wanted to get bigger because the chips inside have fried almost every chassis they have touched this year. The model sent to us includes a 12th generation Core i7-12900H, one of the most powerful mobile chips in Intel’s history, paired with Nvidia’s RTX 3070 Ti, 32GB of RAM and 1TB of storage, the all powered by a 240Hz QHD screen.

But the new girth takes away a big advantage the GS77 had over these models: the GS77 Stealth seems to have lost some of what made it desirable as a “portable” purchase. The keyboard is flat, the touchpad is uncomfortably rigid, battery life isn’t good, and the device is too big and too heavy to take anywhere reliably. What we are left with is a computer that requires many of the same compromises as the most powerful gaming laptops on the market without bringing the same great frame rates.

For more information on our score, see as we rate.

The main advantage of the Stealth now is its price. My test unit is currently listed for $ 2,899. Getting this GPU in the GE76 Raider (which has an even more robust Core i9 and more elaborate design) would cost $ 100 more, while a Razer Blade 17 QHD with the 3070 Ti would cost $ 3,399.99. I’ve also been able to find GS77 models starting at $ 1,799 (for a 144Hz 1080p screen, an RTX 3060, and 16GB of RAM), while the cheapest Blade on Razer’s website costs $ 2,799 and the 12a Raider. generation starts at $ 2,299. However, $ 2,899 is hardly a cheap price, and it’s worth knowing what trade-offs you’re making for that lower cost.

The MSI GS77 Stealth viewed from above half open on a green fabric bench.

The lid is fairly free of fingerprints.

The rear left corner of the MSI GS77 Stealth.

So is much of the keyboard deck.

First, the aspect of the GS77 which is an indisputable improvement over last year: the build quality. I’ve had complaints about MSI’s chassis in the past, but the GS77’s base and lid are both sturdy and inflexible. The trackpad picked up some fingerprints quite easily, but the rest of the chassis wasn’t a magnet for them. It’s a good-looking computer and hasn’t picked up any scratches or dings after being mistreated in a suitcase for a few days.

Other advantages of the previous models remain. There’s a good range of ports including two USB-C, two USB-A, a headphone jack, HDMI, Ethernet, and an SD card reader. (The SD player is oddly slower than last year, however, as other reviewers noted.) The QHD display makes for great games. There are a whopping six speakers inside, and while they don’t offer the best 17-inch audio on the market, my games still sounded pretty good. I had no issues with the microphones, which support AI noise cancellation, and the webcam has a physical shutter switch on the side for some peace of mind.

The MSI GS77 Stealth keyboard seen from above on a yellow fabric bench.  The screen shows The Verge home page.

But the touchpad is another story.

That said, I just can’t see myself using this device as a daily driver for two important reasons: the keyboard and the touchpad. The keyboard has nice lighting, but is rather thin to type on, with a more spongy feel than clickable. And while there is a number pad, the keys are all a bit cramped as a result. The arrow keys, in particular, look small.

And the touchpad is where I really had trouble. It’s big but it was a hard click like I’ve never experienced on a touchpad. (And it’s pretty loud too.) I felt like I really had to press my finger down to get a recorded click. I was close to plugging in a mouse (which I don’t do when I’m testing productivity use cases, as a general policy) due to how much I hated navigating with it. These aren’t unheard of trade-offs when it comes to 17-inch gaming laptops, but they underscore how little I’d recommend it for doubling as a daily driver.

The MSI GS77 Stealth folded into a yellow fabric bench as seen from above.

The dragon is still there, but he is submissive.

When it comes to frame rates, how do these specs stack up? With all sliders to the max, Red Dead Redemption 2 it ran at an average of 60 frames per second at native resolution (technically 59.3, but we can call it 60). This rose to 65 at 1080p. ON The shadow of the Tomb Raider at 1080p, we saw an average of 83 frames per second with ray tracing on Ultra (the maximum setting) and 121 with the feature off. At native resolution, these were translated at 58 frames per second (another number we can loosely call 60) and 86, respectively. All in all, more than playable.

The GS77 achieved an absurd 400 frames per second on the heavy CPU CS: GO at 1080p and a still quite high 286 at native 1440p. The only title that gave the game problems was Cyberpunk 2077, which – at native resolution, at maximum settings, with ray tracing increased to “Psycho” – ran at 19 frames per second (but reached 33 at those settings at 1080p).

All in all, these are definitely an improvement over last year’s model results and show that you shouldn’t have a problem running most modern games in QHD resolution, even if they’re below what you can get with the more expensive Core i9 and RTX 3080 machines. There’s one disappointing omission, though: the GS77 doesn’t support MUX. This component (which both the Raider and the Blade have) allows laptops to support adaptive features like G-Sync and can also lead to a substantial performance difference. It’s a weird thing to rule out at this price point, and something I imagine many people who are willing to pay $ 2,900 won’t be eager to compromise on.

The ports on the left side of the MSI GS77 Stealth.

See that little switch? This is for the webcam.

When it comes to other workloads, Stealth was more competitive. It completed our five-minute 33-second Adobe Premiere Pro 4K video export test in two minutes and 15 seconds. The Raider beat this time, logging one minute and 56 seconds, but it’s one of the very few laptops that ever did. Last year’s 3070 GS76 was 12 seconds slower. (These are not apple-to-apple comparisons, as different versions of Premiere can change over time; they serve more to give you an idea of ​​how long an export might take.)

The GS77 also beat the GS76, as did the Blade and other creative workstations like the Gigabyte Aero 16, in the Puget Systems benchmark for Premiere Pro, which tests live playback and export performance at 4K and 8K. (He lost a lot to the Raider). This isn’t a laptop I’d recommend people use for office workloads, so the GS77’s good performance here isn’t the biggest point in its favor.

The ports on the right side of the MSI GS77 Stealth.

Two USB-Cs and one SD on the right.

The keyboard of the MSI GS77 Stealth seen from above.

The charging port, HDMI and Ethernet are on the back.

MSI’s software is definitely not as glitchy as it has been in recent years, which is an encouraging sign. I had no problem adjusting fan profiles and the like with the pre-installed programs. I ran into a glitch where the screen started to go blank when trying to run games (a problem on a gaming laptop). MSI sent me a replacement drive, which did not have that problem. However, that’s not the kind of thing we love to see on $ 2,900 products.

And then we come to what I see as the biggest compromise here: battery life. I was just averaging around two hours and 16 minutes of continuous use on this thing, with some trials lasting even less than two hours. It has to be close to the worst battery life I’ve ever gotten from a gaming laptop. While it’s generally understood that cheaper laptops will have less powerful chips, having to give up battery life in addition to that power (the Raider lasted me about two hours longer on the same workload) is a hard pill to swallow.

If you’re looking solely at frame rates on paper, this laptop is a great buy. It can run all kinds of QHD resolution games without burning the basement.

But the Stealth moniker, and how the line has historically been positioned, might imply for some people that this device is a good choice for more than just gaming. It is not; MSI’s changes to the Stealth line made it more powerful at the expense of other features that made it, well, Stealthy. It is too big and heavy to be constantly carried around in a briefcase or backpack, the battery life is not usable for daily work away from an electrical outlet and the keyboard and touchpad would not be my choice to use all days. This is no longer a portable alternative to the Raider. It’s just a cheaper version of the Raider.

Which is fine, if that’s what you’re looking for. But with the Raider offering more powerful specs, better battery life, more RGB, and a MUX switch for a couple of hundred dollars more, I think it offers a better all-around experience that will be worth the money for the people who buy in this range.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: