MSI GS77 Stealth review: Don’t let the name fool you

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

The MSI GS77 Stealth has long been the portable choice among MSI’s gaming elite, and although that fact held questionable with its 5.4lbs last year GS76 stealthThis year’s 0.79-inch-thick and 6.17-pound GS77 effectively launched that idea into the sun. This laptop is big, thick and bulky, and while it lacks light strips And the LED grids Which other flashy gaming laptops boast, its RGB keyboard still makes it clear that it’s for gaming above all else.

That’s not necessarily a huge blow to the device—the GS76 was too light 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 Razer Blade 17 And the Asus Zephyr S17. It is about the same weight as the more powerful MSI GE76 Rider.

One can see why MSI wanted to increase it because the chips inside have been frying nearly every chassis it touches this year. The model we sent includes a 12th-generation Core i7-12900H processor — one of the most powerful mobile chipsets in Intel’s history — paired with Nvidia’s RTX 3070 Ti, 32GB of RAM, 1TB of storage, and it’s all working With a QHD screen of 240 Hz.

But the new fit removes a big advantage the GS77 used to have on these models: the GS77 Stealth appears to have lost some of what made it so desirable as a “portable” purchase. The keyboard is on the flat side, the touchpad is uncomfortably stiff, the battery life isn’t good, and the device is just too big and heavy to bring anywhere reliably. What we’re left with is a PC that demands many of the same compromises as the most powerful gaming laptops on the market without offering the same exceptional frame rates.

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The main advantage Stealth now has is its price. My test unit is currently listed for $2,899. For this GPU in a GE76 Raider (which has a better Core i9 processor plus fancier design) it would be $100 morewhile a QHD Razer Blade 17 with 3070 Ti The total will be $3,399.99. I have also been able to find GS77 models for As low as $1,799 (for a 144Hz 1080p display, an RTX 3060, and 16GB of RAM), while the The cheapest blade on Razer It’s $2,799 and starts the 12th generation rider Priced at $2,299. However, $2,899 is hardly a budget price, and it’s worth knowing the compromises you make for that low cost.

The MSI GS77 Stealth is seen from the top half open on a green fabric seat.

The cover is somewhat fingerprint-free.

Rear left corner of the MSI GS77 Stealth.

This is a large part of the keyboard deck.

First, the aspect of the GS77 that is an unquestionable improvement over last year: build quality. It’s grabbed the MSI chassis in the past, but the GS77’s base and cover are sturdy and stable. The trackpad collected some fingerprints fairly easily, but the rest of the chassis was not very attractive to them. It’s a nice looking computer, and it didn’t pick up any dents or dents after hitting it in a bag for a few days.

Other perks remain from previous models. There is a good selection of ports including two USB-C ports, two USB-A ports, a headphone jack, HDMI, ethernet, and an SD card reader. (SD Reader is oddly slower than it was last year, however, As noted by other reviewers.) QHD screen makes games look great. There are six huge speakers inside, and while they don’t deliver the best 17-inch sound on the market, my games still sound pretty good. I haven’t had any issues with the microphones, which support AI noise cancellation, and the webcam has a physical kill switch on the side for peace of mind.

The surface of the MSI GS77 Stealth keyboard is seen from above on a yellow fabric seat.  The screen displays The Verge home page.

But the touchpad is another story.

However, I can’t really see myself using this device as a daily driver for two important reasons: the keyboard and the touchpad. The keyboard is nicely lit, but very thin to type on, with a more squishy than clicking feel. 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 really where I’m having trouble. It’s big but it was a tough one tap as I tried it on my touchpad. (And it’s pretty loud too.) I felt like I really had to slide my finger down to get a tap taped. I was about to plug in a mouse (something I don’t do when I’m testing productivity use cases, as a general policy) because I hate navigating with it. These aren’t unheard of compromises when it comes to 17-inch gaming laptops, but they underscore how little I’d recommend doubling this up as a daily driver.

The MSI GS77 Stealth is closed to a yellow fabric seat seen from above.

The dragon is still there, but it is defeated.

When it comes to frame rates, how do these specs stack up? With all the sliders reaching their limit, Red Dead Redemption 2 It ran at 60 fps at native resolution (technically 59.3, but we can call it 60). That jumped to 65 at 1080p. on me Shadow of the Tomb Raider At 1080p we saw an average of 83fps with ray tracing on Ultra (its maximum setting) and 121 with the feature turned off. At native resolution, it’s translated to 58 fps (another number we can loosely call 60) and 86, respectively. All in all, more than playing.

The GS77 400 FPS put absurdity on a heavy CPU CS: GO 1080p and still very high 286 at 1440p. The only title that caused any trouble to the game is Cyberpunk 2077, Which — at native resolution, at maximum settings, with ray tracing up to “Psycho” — ran at 19 fps (but it hit 33 at those settings at 1080p).

Overall, this is definitely an improvement over the results from last year’s model, and shows you shouldn’t have a problem running most modern games at QHD resolution, although it’s lower than what you can get from the price tag of Core i9 and RTX 3080 machines. A disappointing omission. For the hopes, though, that the GS77 doesn’t support MUX. This component (which both Raider and Blade have) allows laptops to support adaptive features like G-Sync and can also make a huge difference in performance. It’s kind of weird to be left out at this price point, and something that I imagine many people willing to pay $2900 wouldn’t be eager to give up.

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

See this little shift? This is for the webcam.

When it came to other workloads, Stealth was more competitive. I completed the Adobe Premiere Pro 4K video export test of five minutes and 33 seconds in 2 minutes and 15 seconds. Ryder beat this time, clocking in at 1 minute 56 seconds, but he’s one of very few laptops to ever do so. Last year’s 3070 GS76 was 12 seconds slower. (These comparisons are not meant to be apples-to-apples comparisons, as different versions of Premiere can change over time; they should give you an idea of ​​how long the export might take.)

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

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

Two USB-C and SD are on the right.

The keyboard deck of the MSI GS77 Stealth is seen from above.

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

MSI’s software certainly isn’t as complex as it has been in the past few years, which is an encouraging sign. I had no problem setting fan profiles with the pre-installed software. I had one glitch where the screen started turning off when I tried to play games (a problem with a gaming laptop). MSI sent me a replacement unit, which did not show this problem. However, it’s not the kind we like to see on $2,900 worth of products.

Then we get to what I see as the biggest compromise here: battery life. I only averaged 2 hours and 16 minutes of continuous use of this thing, with some trials lasting even less than 2 hours. This has to be close to the worst battery run I’ve ever gotten from a gaming laptop. While it’s generally understood that cheaper laptops will have less powerful chipsets in them, having to give up battery life as well as that power (the Raider took me two hours longer with the same workload) is a hard pill to swallow.

If you are exactly looking for frame rates on paper, this laptop is a good buy. It can play all kinds of games in QHD without burning the basement.

But the Stealth title, and the way the streak has historically been laid out, might suggest to some people that this device is a good choice for more than just gaming. it’s not; MSI’s changes to the Stealth line made this Stealth more powerful at the expense of other features that made it well disguised. It’s too big and heavy to carry around in a bag or backpack, the battery life is unusable for everyday work away from an outlet, and the keyboard and touchpad wouldn’t be my choice for every day use. This is no longer really a portable alternative to Raider. It’s just an affordable version of Raider.

Which is a good thing, 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 few hundred extra dollars, I think it provides a better overall experience that’s well worth the money for people shopping in that range.