ROG Zephyrus G14 vs MSI GS66 (2020)

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Winner
ASUS ROG GU502GW-AH76 Zephyrus M Thin and Portable Gaming Laptop, 15.6” 240Hz FHD IPS, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070, Intel Core i7-9750H, 16GB DDR4 RAM, 1TB PCIe SSD, Per-Key RGB, Windows 10 Home
Best Price
MSI GS66 Stealth 10SE-039 15.6" 240Hz 3ms Ultra Thin and Light Gaming Laptop Intel Core i7-10750H RTX 2060 16GB 512GB NVMe SSD Win10PRO VR Ready
Model
ROG Zephyrus G14
GS65
Test Result
Test Result 9.7/10 Excellent June 2020
Test Result 9.5/10 Very Good June 2020
Manufacturer
Asus
MSI
RAM
16 GB
16 GB
CPU
AMD Ryzen 9 4900HS
Intel Core i7-10750H
Graphics Card
GeForce RTX 2060 mit Max-Q Design
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 6G GDDR6
Storage Capacity
1TB SSD
512 GB SSD
Battery Time
Value for money
Weight
3.52 lbs
4.63 lbs
Pros
  • Very good for gaming in 1080p
  • Extremely fast processor
  • Very long battery life
  • Good Gaming Performance
  • Better Price
  • Awesome Display
Cons
  • More expensive
  • CPU does not fit the notebook concept / cooling system
Winner
ASUS ROG GU502GW-AH76 Zephyrus M Thin and Portable Gaming Laptop, 15.6” 240Hz FHD IPS, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070, Intel Core i7-9750H, 16GB DDR4 RAM, 1TB PCIe SSD, Per-Key RGB, Windows 10 Home
Model
ROG Zephyrus G14
Test Result
Test Result 9.7/10 Excellent June 2020
Manufacturer
Asus
RAM
16 GB
CPU
AMD Ryzen 9 4900HS
Graphics Card
GeForce RTX 2060 mit Max-Q Design
Storage Capacity
1TB SSD
Battery Time
Value for money
Weight
3.52 lbs
Pros
  • Very good for gaming in 1080p
  • Extremely fast processor
  • Very long battery life
Cons
  • More expensive
Best Price
MSI GS66 Stealth 10SE-039 15.6" 240Hz 3ms Ultra Thin and Light Gaming Laptop Intel Core i7-10750H RTX 2060 16GB 512GB NVMe SSD Win10PRO VR Ready
Model
GS65
Test Result
Test Result 9.5/10 Very Good June 2020
Manufacturer
MSI
RAM
16 GB
CPU
Intel Core i7-10750H
Graphics Card
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 6G GDDR6
Storage Capacity
512 GB SSD
Battery Time
Value for money
Weight
4.63 lbs
Pros
  • Good Gaming Performance
  • Better Price
  • Awesome Display
Cons
  • CPU does not fit the notebook concept / cooling system

We reviewed and compared the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 versus the MSI GS66 in terms of Performance, Display Quality, Price, Portability, Battery Life and more.

Above you can see the Ranking with the results and below you will find the in-depth reports of each Laptop.

Ranking First: Asus ROG Zephyrus G14

Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 review

Pros

  • Very good for gaming in 1080p
  • Extremely fast processor
  • Very long battery life

Cons

  • More expensive

With the Zephyrus G14, ASUS launches a game changer: an affordable 14-inch laptop with a brand new AMD CPU and Nvidia GeForce GTX/RTX graphics card. Among other things, this interaction ensures outstanding battery life. Find out everything else in the test.

Package

Asus has come up with something for the packaging: It opens like a treasure chest and lifts the ASUS ROG Zephyrus slightly when opening it, so that it comes towards you. A nice detail that shows that ASUS has thought about the first impression.

Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 package

The second impression is also a very good one. The laptop is well and safely stowed away. Next to it is the power supply unit in the box. It is decorated with a ROG symbol and is considerably larger than most Ultrabook power supplies – logical, because the ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 is actually a gaming machine. Even though its exterior comes across as very compact. Let’s take a look at that next.

Design

Once you have freed the ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 from its treasure chest, you can be happy about the very successful haptics of the gaming notebook. The Zephyrus is encased in a magnesium alloy, which has a high-quality and torsion-resistant effect.

The color is kept matt and is called Moonlight White. It looks even more chic in reality than on the pictures. For those for whom white is nothing, ASUS also has a dark grey colour in stock. This is called Eclipse Gray.

The holes on the screen cover are normally intended for the AniMe matrix. This is a multitude of individual LEDs that can display various patterns. However, this feature is not built into our test device. I don’t find this too bad, as the CNC milled holes in combination with the “moonlight white” of the Zephyrus G14 make a chic impression.

What makes it even more difficult for the AniMe matrix is that with this feature the weight of the G14 increases by 0.22 lbs to 3.74 lbs. The height also increases by 2mm to 1.99cm. If you really want it, it’s available in all Zephyrus G14 features. The rest of the design language leaves no doubt about the gaming ambitions of the ASUS notebook.

Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 design

It is very angular, but doesn’t look as classy as “normal sized” gaming laptops due to the compactness of the device. Moreover, the design vocabulary remains relatively clear. This means that – apart from the ventilation openings – you don’t have any large bulges or indentations.

Very good, because these often make gaming laptops look like UFOs. Instead, there are many small accents. For example, the discreet “Zephyrus” lettering between the rear air vents.

When you open the Zephyrus G14, the first thing you notice is how the 14-inch notebook rises slightly. Thus, the underside only stands flat on the table at the front.

This serves the cooling, among other things, because the ASUS laptop has accommodated quite a bit of power in its compact form factor. Eight cores and 16 threads in such a slim device simply haven’t existed until now.

The gaming notebook’s workmanship is excellent all around. Even premium devices, such as those with a bitten apple on them, are not better processed. The Zephyrus G14 leaves other gamers, like the Acer Nitro 5, miles behind.

The lid of the laptop closes tightly and accurately and is also held in place by magnets. When opened, the matt black bordered display of the ASUS also looks very chic to you. The keyboard and the lower part of the notebook are kept in an aluminium-like colour and are alloyed with magnesium.

Overall, the Zephyrus G14’s exterior makes a very good impression. It makes no secret of its gaming ambitions without being too thick.

Ports

Almost everything that is currently possible is available at ports – and finally USB 2.0 is passé. Instead, the ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 has two USB 3.2 ports of the second generation and with form factor Type-C. One of them can even be used as DisplayPort™ 1.4. A power supply with 65W is also possible via it. Only Thunderbolt 3 is unfortunately missing.

Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 design

The normal USB Type-A port is also available twice in the standard 3.2, the first generation. So if you want to connect something to the Zephyrus G14, you can rely on the fastest standards of the respective connectors.

Even if you want to connect your TV without a USB-C or DisplayPort connection, you still have a full HDMI 2.0b connection available. The only downer for creative people is the lack of an SD card reader. In this case, you will need an adapter to quickly transfer photos and videos from your camera to the Zepyhrus G14.

To protect against thieves at LAN parties, there’s also a Kensington lock for security.

After all the praise, a bit of criticism regarding the position of the ports: Because of the lateral air vents, they – together with the power supply – have moved between the middle and front part of the Zephyrus. Especially if you want to connect a wired mouse, the cable will get in your way sooner or later.

For zoom meetings, Skype conferences and other video telephony, a webcam would have been desirable. However, due to the very narrow edges of the display, this is not necessary.

Instead, ASUS has placed a fingerprint reader in the on/off button of the Zephyrus G14. Unfortunately, this is not very accurate and only recognizes – at least my fingers – in about two out of five attempts.

All in all, the ROG notebook offers excellent features, the most modern connections currently available and all this in a very compact form factor.

Display

The display of the Zephyrus G14 has a screen diagonal of 35.56 cm and uses the proven IPS level technology. This promises high viewing angle fidelity with good response times.

The refresh rate is a lot of fun, because it ensures that your games can be played smoothly and without tearing. Especially shooters like Fortnite, CS Go or Apex Legends benefit from this. The narrow display edges – upwards and towards the sides – are also pleasing.

Working in Windows mode is very easy because everything is more responsive. Once you’ve had a 120 Hz display in front of you, you don’t want to go back to the standard 60 Hz.

Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 display

If the very high pixel density of 157.35 PPI in the Full HD model isn’t enough for you, the top model of the ASUS laptop is also available with a 1440p screen. However, this only offers a refresh rate of 60Hz. The Full-HD model is also still available in an entry-level version with “normal” 60Hz.

But here I would recommend the 120Hz model. It is sufficiently sharp and simply offers a better working and playing feeling. The 120Hz and the 1440p model also have Adaptive Sync – so tearing in games is no longer a problem. Because the display adjusts its refresh rate to the calculated images of your graphics card.

A common feature of all display variants is the brightness, which is always 300 Nits. This means that all versions of the G14 are only moderately bright. In parts, however, this can make up for the matt display coating. Even out in the sunshine we could still see the screen contents of the ROG Zephyrus G14 clearly.

The color reproduction is also convincing, as the display is certified by the color specialist Pantone. It covers 100% of the much used sRGB color space and is therefore also ideally suited for image editing in Photoshop and Lightroom.

Most of the competitors in the price range of the ROG Zephyrus cannot keep up here. Only from $2000 upwards there are gaming notebooks with better screens than the ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14.

Keyboard and Touchpad

The keyboard makes an excellent first impression and offers a lot of tactile feedback while writing. The keys have a slightly longer stroke than in most other gaming notebooks. This turns out to be a blessing when typing, because contrary to some other gaming keyboards, you have the feeling of real resistance on the Zephyrus G14.

A nice feature when gaming is the space bar on the left that is a bit lower. It makes sure that you can relax your hand a bit while gaming.

Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 keyboard

Also on the “W” key is a small elevation to quickly find the WASD keys which are important in games. The keyboard illumination is kept in a cool white and fits perfectly to the “Moonlight White” of the ROG Zephyrus G14.

The touchpad is also convincing: It is very well manufactured, feels good to the touch and is very responsive thanks to Microsoft Precision drivers. Together with the 120Hz display, you maneuver wonderfully smooth through menus, games and applications.

But real gamers probably connect a mouse directly to one of the Zepyhrus’ USB ports anyway. Nevertheless, it’s good to know that it works without it.

Software

In our model Microsoft Windows 10 Home is pre-installed. Windows 10 Pro is also optionally available. The ASUS Armoury Crate Center is always included.

This is a useful tool for adjusting the cooling and performance of your ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14. Here you can monitor the temperature of CPU and GPU and select the performance level in the levels “Windows”, “Silent”, “Performance”, “Turbo” and “Manual”.

You can also manage your peripherals and game collection from the Armoury Crate Center.

A bit annoying is the 30-day trial version of McAfee Internet Security. It’s always trying to talk you into buying a full version. Apart from that there are some ASUS-own tools installed.

For example ROG-Game Visual: Here you can control the color temperature of your screen and choose from eight different color presets. Apart from that, the Windows 10 of the ASUS – with the exception of the mentioned software – is kept clean.

Gaming Performance

Let me make it short: Ryzen 4000 aka “Renoir” is a game changer for creative work in the mobile segment. With eight cores and 16 threads, you’ll be great in almost any application. And in contrast to eight-core processors from a certain other manufacturer, the consumption values remain within limits.

Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 setup

But first things first: The AMD Ryzen 7 4800HS is a special chip. Because the 35W CPU is exclusively installed in ASUS devices for a few months.

The HS chips are specially selected and consume a little less, at almost the same clock rates as the H models. The latter are specified with 45W and should be able to go one better in terms of performance. They are then more suitable for larger gaming notebooks.

The HS chip is perfect for smaller gaming machines – like the ROG Zephyrus G14. Even more intensive video editing is no problem with the powerful AMD Ryzen 7 4800HS. The chip also pulls miles ahead of all competitors in the field of computationally intensive image processing.

In our Lightroom benchmark, the Zephyrus G14 with its 4800HS was our fastest laptop to date. It only took 27 seconds to export 20 RAW files. In the Puget Systems Photoshop benchmark it also made it into our NBB Olympus with 824 points.

In Cinebench R15 and R20 the ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 also achieved outstanding values. So it could easily pass former desktop top models like the i7-7700K or the Ryzen 1700X. These consume four times the amount of power.

The 512GB PCI-e-3.0 SSD can’t quite keep up here, but is still more than sufficiently fast. The read speed is about 1800MB/S, while it writes with about 1000MB/S. These are not outstanding values, but in practice they still ensure fast loading and working.

The only point of criticism in terms of performance is the current interaction of the Ryzen 7 4800HS with the GTX 1650 Ti. This belongs rather to Nvidia’s lower middle class, but does very well in most cases. However, a driver optimization is still necessary for some games.

In Assassin’s Creed Odyssey on “High” the frame rate jumps continuously between a good 60 pictures and a meager 14. The GPU load also changes continuously between 100% and 50%.

In the new and graphically very demanding Ghost Recon Break Point, the capacities of the built-in Nvidia Geforce 1650 Ti are actually exceeded on high details in 1080p.

Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 overwatch

Especially the VRAM of 4GB limits the graphic experience here – according to the game. In practice, the small GeForce easily chases through the benchmark with 62 pictures. There are hardly any break-ins and only go back to 52 pictures for a short time.

While the GPU is working properly, the processor is bored. With an average of just 31% utilization in games, many developers still have a lot of work to do to take full advantage of the AMD Ryzen 7’s power.

The graphics interface also plays a big role here: With Vulkan you get an average of 62 frames in Ghost Recon Breakpoint with the ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 in 1080p and high details. With DirectX12, on the other hand, you only get 48 frames per second – a difference of more than 22%.

The Far Cry 5 benchmark also has problems. Because no matter on which settings you try to run the game, the pictures per second are always between 30 and 80.

The culprit here is probably once again the 1650 Ti or 1650 SUPER, because Nvidia adapted the name of the card again shortly before release. In almost all game benchmarks there were problems with the correct recording of the GPU performance.

Even a driver update didn’t change this. Here a comparison with the RTX 2060 in the top model of the ROG Zephyrus G14 would be interesting. For currently $100 more, you can get the 30% faster GTX 1660 Ti in the Zephyrus G14.

I would definitely recommend this surcharge – because you will be provided with it for a longer time. Only if you absolutely need raytracing abilities, the significantly more expensive Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Max-Q is recommendable.

All in all, the performance is still enormously strong and has never been seen before in this form factor. But if you need even more power, the ASUS ROG Zephyrus is also available with a Ryzen 9 processor – the 4900HS.

This offers the same core and thread count as the AMD Ryzen 7 4800HS, but has slightly higher clock speeds. In everyday use, this results in a performance increase of about one to four percent.

Battery Life

The Zephyrus’ battery is not the largest – but still the most enduring – that we have ever measured in a gaming notebook. In the quiet profile you can get by for over 9 hours in a relaxed way. Office programs were open, music ran in the background on YouTube and the diplay brightness was 75%.

Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 side view

So you would easily get through the workday or some lectures at the university. We have the Ryzen 4000 efficiency wonder to thank for that.

The 7nm production of the processor is much more energy efficient than the 14nm production of the competitor Intel. Most gaming laptops with comparable equipment usually run out of breath after four to five hours.

Heat and noise levels

If you use the ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 in battery mode when you are on the road, then the “Quiet” profile is really the way to go.

The laptop looks very distinguished and can only be heard at close range. Even the temperatures can be seen in this mode: A CPU temperature of 31 degrees in idle is very good for a laptop, 28 degrees GPU temperature is also excellent. The ROG Zephyrus also doesn’t get very warm under load with 60 degrees.

However, if you connect it to its 180 watt power supply, the hurricane is unleashed. Although the standard “performance” mode is still very solid in idle, it gets stormy under load at the latest. The temperatures of the unleashed Ryzen then climb to about 40 degrees in idle – which is still very good.

Under load, however, the Ryzen then scratches the 90-degree mark. But that’s not too bad in the case of AMD Ryzen 4000 and only describes the “junction” temperature – the warmest point on the die of the CPU. Due to the new 7nm manufacturing process, the chip’s billions of transistors are concentrated in a much smaller area than their predecessor.

This also means that the heat is more concentrated and at the same time there is less efficient contact surface for coolers. Up to 105 degrees junction temperature, however, you don’t have to worry about Ryzen 4000.

Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 back LED

This also requires a much smaller amount of electricity to supply all the transistors with power – because they are closer together.

The “Turbo” mode puts an end to all the fun. Here you should have the maximum cooling power available. But in practice there is no reproducible, measurable difference, neither in games nor in intensive benchmarks like Cinebench.

In return, the Zephyrus gets extremely loud. After all, the noise level of the two fans isn’t high-frequency, but rather has hurricane-like sound quality.

Without shielding headphones, you can hardly play relaxed games with it. Accordingly, I would always recommend the normal “performance” mode in games and demanding application use.

All in all, a mixed result, but this must always be seen in view of the form factor of just 14 inches and 1.6 kilos. So much power in such a small space has to be cooled properly. And the ROG notebook definitely manages that. Many competitors in 15.6 and 17 inches are also significantly louder – without being faster.

Upgradeability

By loosening the 14 small cross screws on the bottom of the Zephyrus you can remove the bottom of the laptop relatively easily. You can upgrade the memory for example. 8GB of it are firmly soldered. Since our test device already comes with 16GB RAM, there is no reason to expand it in the foreseeable future.

Since there is only one slot available, you would have to do without the dual-channel capability of the mainboard and Ryzen chip if you want to replace it. Especially Ryzen processors benefit massively from faster memory, so I would advise against upgrading this one myself.

In the long run, however, it makes more sense to replace the PCI-e SSD. This sits easily accessible in an M.2 slot. Since the SSD installed here is neither one of the fastest nor one of the largest, a later replacement should at least bring a small performance plus.

Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 design

But it’s best to clone your existing SSD to the new model first, so you can continue to benefit from ASUS Armoury Crate and Co. With a laptop it can come fast to driver confusion. It should also be possible to change the battery later without any problems, as it is not glued but only screwed.

A very good decision by ASUS, which significantly extends the possible operating life of the ROG Zephyrus G14.

Upgradeability

The sound of the ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 is simply outstanding for a laptop of this size. Not only does it get amazingly loud, but it can even produce something like a light bass foundation on a table.

In Womack&Womack’s “Teardrops” you even almost have a small stage with proper instrument separation in front of you. This goes far beyond the usual blaring of most laptops. Set to “40”, the four speakers of the ROG Zephyrus are sufficient to fill a medium-sized room of about 25m2.

If you turn up the volume a little more, the sound will become increasingly overdriven from about level “70” on and will be too shrill for you to want to do it to people in good conscience.

At this volume level, however, the ASUS laptop is already louder than 99% of its competitors.

The Zephyrus’ speaker quartet is also convincing in movies and series. Voices stand out very well from sound effects and background music. Nothing flows into each other and even here, a light stage appears frontally in front of the G14, which can simulate a certain sound depth.

The only notebook that has been better for me so far is the MacBook Pro – but in a much larger 16 inch version. All in all, the sound of the ROG Zephyrus G14 is one of the best of all notebook classes.

The headphone output can also drive more “difficult” headphones with higher impedance and lower efficiency: My RHA CL750s have a resistance of 150 Ohm and sound a bit thin on the ASUS ROG Zephyrus, but get loud enough.

Verdict

The ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 can best be described as an all-rounder. It is a high-performance gaming laptop in an ultrabook form factor and with an impressive battery life.

This makes it suitable for both gamers and creative people. Its very good display with 120Hz refresh rate and 100%sRGB coverage also underlines this dual claim.

With its 16 threads and 4.3GHz boost clock, the built-in Ryzen 7 4800HS is enormously performant and is downright boring in most applications.

Even video rendering can be done very well with it. So you get the performance of a top desktop processor with very low power consumption, ultimately portable in the Zephyrus G14.

You hardly have to make any compromises: The only thing you have to do without is a webcam and a card reader, which is a bit painful, but otherwise there is a full set of ports.

The GPU also has to struggle with slight driver problems. Generally, I would always advise you to go for the only $100 more expensive version with Nvidia Geforce GTX 1660Ti. This offers you up to 30% more performance than the 1650 Ti in our test device.

Otherwise, the Zephyrus G14 is and remains a top device: Both workmanship and feel meet the highest demands. If I was personally looking for a laptop that could do everything, the ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 would probably be my first choice at the moment, which is why it is ranking First vs MSI GS66.

Ranking Second: MSI GS66 Stealth

MSI GS66 Stealth review

Pros

  • Good Gaming Performance
  • Better Price
  • Awesome Display

Cons

  • CPU does not fit the notebook concept / cooling system

While the GS65 had a tough time against the competition in many respects, MSI presents the GS66, a completely rebuilt successor. Read in our detailed test report what has changed for the better.

In order to appeal to the widest possible group of buyers, MSI offers the GS66 Stealth in several equipment variants. The processor is a six- or eight-core model made of Intel’s current Comet Lake generation. In opposition to the Core i9-10980HK, the Core i7-10750H has to manage without an open multiplier.

A high-end GPU is also on board, matching the high-end CPU. Besides the GeForce RTX 2060, the GeForce RTX 2070 Super Max-Q and the GeForce RTX 2080 Super Max-Q are also available. The package is rounded out by 16 to 32 GB DDR4 RAM (each in Dual Channel) and a 1 to 2 TB M.2 SSD. A matt Full-HD panel with 240 or 300 Hz takes care of the image reproduction.

For our test configuration with the product name 10SFS, which is based on the Core i9-10980HK, the GeForce RTX 2070 Super Max-Q, 16 GB RAM and a 1 TB SSD, around $2549 are required, which is quite expensive for a 2070 laptop.

Design

The fact that MSI has taken the criticism of the predecessor to heart can be seen especially well in the case. If we still complained about the GS65’s meager torsional stiffness, the GS66 now belongs to the most stable representatives of the thin & light category. The chassis only yields slightly under stronger pressure.

MSI GS66 Stealth design

The fact that due to the firmer material, the overall height climbs from 1.8 to 2.0 cm and the weight increases from 4.18 to 4,63 lbs is completely understandable in our eyes.

MSI could improve a bit on the workmanship, which is a bit weaker than most of its competitors. Thus, some elements don’t blend into each other quite so neatly.

There is no reason for complaint regarding the quality. The metal surfaces of the lid and base unit make a high-quality impression, even though they tend to get dirty quickly (keyword: fingerprints), not least because of the dark color.

A unique selling point of the case is the ample opening angle: We rarely see 180° in gaming notebooks. MSI also deserves praise for the simple design, which doesn’t necessarily make you think of a gaming platform at first and cuts a good figure in every situation.

Interfaces

The fact that due to the firmer material, the overall height climbs from 1.8 to 2.0 cm and the weight increases from 4.18 lbs to 4.63 lbs is completely understandable in our eyes. MSI could improve a bit on the workmanship, which is a bit weaker than most of its competitors. Thus, some elements don’t blend into each other quite so neatly.

There is no reason for complaint regarding the quality. The metal surfaces of the lid and base unit make a high-quality impression, even though they tend to get dirty quickly (keyword: fingerprints), not least because of the dark color.

MSI GS66 Stealth design

A unique selling point of the case is the ample opening angle: We rarely see 180° in gaming notebooks. MSI also deserves praise for the simple design, which doesn’t necessarily make you think of a gaming platform at first and cuts a good figure in every situation.

MSI makes no compromises when it comes to communication. While the 2.5 Gbit controller Killer E3100G takes care of cable connections, the WLAN adapter Killer Wi-Fi 6 AX1650i is responsible for wireless connections, which has all the features you can expect from a gaming notebook in 2020.

The results in our WLAN test, which all turned out first class with over 1,300 Mbps, are only comparable with the Schenker XMG Neo 15, which was also measured from a distance of 1m, due to the recently updated router (Netgear Nighthawk AX12 instead of Linksys EA8500).

MSI only includes a few information booklets (Quick Start Guide etc.) with the notebook as accessories. Size and power of the power supply unit depend on the installed graphics card. Starting with the RTX 2070 Super Max-Q a 230 Watt model is used (180 Watt @RTX 2060).

Upgradeability

In addition to the case stability, the maintainability has also improved significantly. While only the fans, the WiFi chip and the battery were accessible on the GS65, the GS66 also has access to the mass storage slots (2x M.2), the RAM banks (2x SO-DIMM) and the cooling system.

The latter consists of a fan for the CPU and two fans for the GPU, whereby some heatpipes run over both components and the cooling is accordingly not completely separated.

MSI GS66 Stealth display

However, a certain amount of craftsmanship and effort is required to remove the bottom of the chassis. After the bottom of the case has been freed from 9 cross screws, the bottom shell has to be levered out of its anchorage with a fine tool (e.g. a spatula), which should deter laymen.

Keyboard & Touchpad

The keyboard left the tester with mixed feelings. As you know it from MSI, the layout does not stick to the German standard, but was optimized for gamers. For example, the <>|-key is in an unfamiliar position. The fact that Ins and Del share a key is also suboptimal.

Also worthy of discussion: Compared to its predecessor, the spacebar has been moved a bit to the right, which leads to very narrow and contiguous Fn- and Ctrl keys (see photos). Due to the mentioned peculiarities, there is a lot of training time.

Meanwhile, we liked the typing feel and combined a pleasant pressure with sufficient feedback. Because the keyboard and touchpad aren’t exactly quiet when typing, the GS66 is only suitable for quiet environments like libraries to a limited extent.

MSI GS66 Stealth keyboard

One of the keyboard’s biggest highlights is the RGB illumination, which can be adjusted in several stages, but could be a bit stronger for our taste. If you don’t like a light show (there are several modes available), just choose a color.

MSI also stands out from the crowd with the touchpad. A width of 14 cm is extremely generous for a 15 inch device. Thus, even longer picture stretches are possible without having to reposition the finger.

In return, the mouse replacement measures only 6.5 cm in height, which is a bit meager. Because the touchpad has a decent stability and accepts input (except for the edge area) relatively precisely and cleanly, the renouncement of dedicated mouse keys doesn’t weigh too heavily.

There weren’t any major conspicuous features in the multi-touch support, either. 2-finger gestures, such as zooming and scrolling, were mostly reliably recognized in the test.

Display

After 144 Hz panels dominated in gaming notebooks in 2019, the year 2020 will be dominated by 240 and 300 Hz technology. Although you subjectively notice the recent Hz jumps less and less (the change from a 60 to a 144 Hz display has a much stronger effect) and the graphic cards only rarely provide suitable FPS numbers, the 300 Hz screen of the test configuration is a certain buying argument.

With the AU Optronics B156HAN12.0, MSI uses a non-glare panel (IPS level) with a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels. The latter often scores noticeably better in the measurements than the 240 Hz display of its predecessor (Sharp LQ156M1JW03).

MSI GS66 Stealth keyboard

While the black value has dropped from 0.32 to 0.21 cd/m², the luminosity has increased from approx. 282 to 311 cd/m², making the GS66 somewhat more suitable for outdoor use (over 400 cd/m² would be desirable). The contrast is now around 1500:1 instead of the former 900:1.

The color space is on a similar level with 100% sRGB and 65% AdobeRGB. On the other hand, the new panel is no longer quite as true to colour as our measurements with the Calman tool show, although the values are for the most part still within the target range (dE less than 3).

Like the GS65, the GS66 also scores with a low response time. 9.6 ms black-to-white and 14 ms grey-to-grey should satisfy most gamers. A screen flicker didn’t occur in the test.

Gaming Performance

The GeForce RTX 2070 Super Max-Q is a slightly tuned version of the old 2070 Max-Q (also Turing architecture). For example, Nvidia has increased the number of shaders from 2,304 to 2,560. The GDDR6 video memory is again 8 GB in size and connected via a 256-bit interface.

The manufacturer cites 930 MHz as the base clock, whereby significantly higher values can be achieved with the automatic GPU boost. How the clock rate behaves under load was tested with the Ungine Heaven 4.0 benchmark and the role playing game The Witcher 3. Around 1.300 to 1.400 MHz is a decent result.

MSI GS66 Stealth overwatch

Talking about The Witcher 3: In opposition to the processor performance, the graphics performance remains fairly constant. The 60 minute endurance test didn’t reveal any FPS breakdowns or the like.

You only have to be careful in battery mode. As in most laptops, the frame rate drops massively (-85 % @GS66) without a power supply, because CPU and GPU throttle down strongly.

The RTX 2070 Super Max-Q can really show its power on the mains, as our GPU benchmarks also prove. Although the performance in 3DMark 11 or 3DMark 13 is somewhat worse than the recently reviewed Aero 17 HDR XB, the GS66 still sprints past the competing laptops with “normal” RTX 2070 Max-Q by several percent.

As long as you don’t connect a QHD or UHD monitor, the RTX 2070 Super Max-Q displays all current games smoothly with maximum details. The 60 FPS mark is only undercut in very computationally intensive and/or moderately optimized games like Borderlands 3.

In return, well-optimized and/or less demanding titles (Fifa 20, Apex Legends, Doom Eternal, …) run on average with more than 100 FPS.

Sound

The GS66’s 2.0 system is located on the left and right edges of the wrist-rest and offers a high maximum volume (91 dB). According to our audio analysis and subjective impressions, the sound leaves something to be desired. Typical for notebooks, the bass is especially lacking.

design

The sound didn’t necessarily knock us off our feet (dull, slushy sound image). Ergo: the use of headphones is recommended for music, movies and games.

Battery life

While the GS65 had to make do with an 82 Wh battery, its successor offers a gigantic 99.99 Wh. Even the Gigabyte Aero 15 Classic, which is trimmed for mobility, can’t come close to this value (94 Wh). Most gamers are only provided with a maximum of 80 Wh.

MSI GS66 Stealth performance

However, the runtimes are a bit sobering in view of the ample capacity. Okay, up to 8.5 hours under ideal conditions (no load, minimum display brightness) and about 6 hours of internet surfing via WLAN with medium brightness can be impressive for a high-end notebook, but the competition achieves similar or even better rates with weaker batteries. Thus, the GS66’s energy management doesn’t seem to be quite optimal.

Verdict

MSI took care of the most important points of criticism and gave the compact case more stability and better maintenance possibilities. Applause is also given for the contemporary connectivity (Thunderbolt 3), the brisk and high-contrast 300 Hz panel, as well as the huge battery, which can’t quite show off its capabilities, though.

The choice of processor seems a bit incomprehensible to us. Yes, from a marketing point of view and in terms of profit, the Core i9-10980HK does of course have its charms, but if the customer is confronted with the disadvantages (very high temperature & noise development) rather than the advantages (potentially stronger performance) and the notebook is generally designed for mobility, we wouldn’t even offer this option, which is why the GS66 is ranking second versus Asus ROG Zephyrus G14.


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