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MSI GE76 Raider review: Alder Lake and RTX 3080 Ti dominate

MSI Raider GE76 laptop with Fortnite.
MSI GE76 Raider
MSRP $3,999.00
“The MSI GE76 Raider is an old school gaming laptop with new-school PC parts inside.”
Pros
  • Fantastic gaming performance
  • Super-fast video editing
  • Lots of ports
  • 1080p webcam
  • MUX switch included
  • Good thermals
Cons
  • Thick and heavy
  • Poor touchpad
  • Low battery life

The MSI GE76 Raider is a very conventional gaming laptop. It’s bulky. It’s thick. It’s not something you’d take to work.

But under the surface, this gaming laptop provides a sneak peek at the next generation of gaming components, including the new Intel Core i9-12900HK and the Nvidia RTX 3080 Ti. These top-of-the-line PC parts show just how good PC gaming can be in 2022 — despite some hurdles that this specific gaming laptop throws in their way.

Design

This gaming laptop has some high-end components inside, but you wouldn’t know it from the outside. The latest version of the MSI GE76 Raider doesn’t feature anything new externally. It’s still a massive 17-inch laptop, weighing in at 6.4 pounds and over an inch thick.

It’s an old-school gaming laptop, even down to the aggressive vents and gamery design language. If you want something more modern and sleek, you’ll need to opt for the MSI GS66 Stealth, Razer Blade, or a number of other options.

My unit comes in a toned-down “Titanium Blue” color that’s just barely not black. The screen is accented by angled edges on the lid, and a hefty chin that sits below the 16:9 aspect ratio screen.

The gentle glow of the light bar splashes some color onto your desk.

But being fit and stylish isn’t this laptop’s motto. Instead, it’s all about practicality. Convenient ports, a large screen, and of course, unbridled performance.

The one bit of interest, though, is the light bar along the front. Wrapping onto the keyboard deck and along the front, the gentle glow of the light bar splashes some color onto your desk in a neat way. It’s fully customizable within the SteelSeries GG app, as is the per-key RGB keyboard. None of that is new in this year’s model, but still, it’s a nice touch.

Performance

The MSI GE76 Raider features two brand new components inside: The Core i9-12900HK and the RTX 3080 Ti. Intel’s latest flagship processor, in particular, comes with a lot of expectations. With AMD’s recent rise to power, especially on the laptop front, even premium gaming laptops have started offering the Ryzen 9 5900HX as an option.

We have a separate Alder Lake mobile review, detailing processor performance and even a breakdown of its new video editing improvements. Suffice to say, Intel’s new 14-core chip is looking extremely impressive. As seen in the chart below, we’re seeing massive gains in both single-core and multi-core performance compared to last generation’s Ryzen 9 5900HX and the Core i9-11950H. These are far better than a standard generational leap.

MSI GE76 Raider (Core i9-12900HK) Asus Vivobook Pro 16X (Ryzen 9 5900HX) HP ZBook Studio G8 (Core i9-11950H) MacBook Pro 16 (M1 Pro)
Cinebench R23 (single / multi) 1872 / 16388 1486 / 11478 1594 / 11788 1531/ 12343
Geekbench 5 (single / multi) 1855 / 13428 1544 / 8299 1637 / 9139 1773 / 12605
PCMark 10 7691 6287 6432 n/a
Handbrake (lower is better) 72 seconds 90 seconds 89 seconds 95 seconds

Beyond just synthetic benchmarks, the MSI GE76 Raider is a powerhouse video editing machine. It’s the highest-scoring Windows laptop in Pugetbench’s Adobe Premiere Pro benchmark and even gets remarkably close to taking on the M1 Max MacBook Pro. Performance alone doesn’t make the MSI GE76 Raider necessarily a great video editing machine, though — more on the display later. In terms of raw performance, it’s well ahead of the competition.

Of course, gaming performance is what this laptop is designed for. The fantastic single-core performance aids in gaming as well, which is fantastic. These are easily the best frame rates we’ve seen on laptops across our suite of game tests. Of course, the new RTX 3080 Ti is where most of that improvement can be credited, but CPU-heavy games like Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and Civilization VI are certainly benefitted by the Core i9-12900HK too.

MSI GE76 Raider (RTX 3080 Ti) Lenovo Legion 5 Pro (RTX 3070) MSI GS66 Stealth (RTX 3080) Asus ROG Strix G15 (RX 6800M)
3DMark Time Spy 12421 9175 9097 10504
Fortnite 143 fps 101 fps 140 fps 108 fps
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla 93 fps 61 fps 70 fps 77 fps
Civilization VI 169 fps 114 fps 149 fps 150 fps
Battlefield V 152 fps 73 fps 117 fps 109 fps

MSI says it can deliver a total of 220 watts of power to the CPU and GPU, which is 25 watts ahead of other similar competitors.

As always, it’s hard to do apples-to-apples comparisons with laptops. Interestingly, in the more GPU-dependent games, the GE76 Raider with the RTX 3080 Ti doesn’t have quite as large an advantage over the RTX 3080 machine. The frame rates in Fortnite were quite close, as was true in Battlefield V. This could suggest that the CPU is doing some heavy lifting.

I also tested the MSI GE76 Raider in Rise of the Tomb Raider to compare it directly against the MacBook Pro. It averaged 142 fps in the game’s built-in benchmark at 1080p Highest settings. That compares quite well to the 84 fps (frames per second) I got while testing the M1 Max MacBook Pro.

I was even surprised by this laptop’s ray tracing capabilities. I cranked up every RTX setting in Fortnite, including global illumination, and the game was actually somewhat smooth. That’s a first for the gaming laptops I’ve tested. Add in the lowest “Quality” setting of DLSS, and I was getting a smooth 70 fps of ray tracing glory without too much of a detriment to image quality.

All these tests were in 1080p with max graphics settings and in the “Balanced” MSI performance settings. Confusingly, MSI defaults “Gaming Mode” to be turned on, which automatically changes to the very loud “Extreme Performance” setting when a game boots up. This maxes out the fan speed, but in the games I tested, switching between these performance profiles only affects frame rates by a percentage point or two.

MSI also offers a discrete-only mode. The laptop ships in its hybrid mode, otherwise known as Nvidia Optimus, which enables the MUX switch. The discrete-only mode provides even better frame rates in more GPU-bound games. In Battlefield V, for example, switching to discrete-only mode resulted in a 9% jump in frame rate. It does, however, drastically reduce battery life.

Throughout the tests, the game handles its thermals excellently. Both surface and internal temperatures remained cool throughout, and that’s thanks to its “Phase-Changing” Liquid Metal Pad, which prevents crystallization of the heat conductor. MSI says this delivers 10% better performance than its rivals. That’s not something I can prove until I test other 12th-gen Intel laptops with the RTX 3080 Ti.

Specs and price

The exact model I reviewed isn’t currently being sold. It’s valued at around $4,000, according to MSI, coming in with the highest-end GPU and CPU, 32GB of DDR5 RAM, and 2TB of storage.

The MSI GE76 Raider starts at just $1,599 for its base configuration, though. You’ll still get one of the new Intel 12th-gen processors, the Core i7-12700H, but just an RTX 3060 for graphics. It also features a 1080p 144Hz screen, 16GB of DDR4 RAM, and a TB SSD.

From there, the prices scale up dramatically, topped off with the $4,199 4K 120Hz model.

In some ways, that means the MSI GE76 chassis is built with midrange design sensibilities, despite its ability to be configured up to over $4,000.

Display

The MSI GE76 Raider uses a 1920 x 1080p resolution panel, matched with a 360Hz refresh rate. These have become the go-to option of late for super-fast 1080p gaming, but it’s still not a good choice for the average gamer. Only in the lightest of games will allow you to hit frame rates that breach 300 fps. If you aren’t a professional CS:GO or Rocket League player, you might not be able to tell the difference.

That’s why, if you’re going to spend thousands of dollars on a premium gaming laptop, I usually recommend a machine with a 1440p or QHD+ resolution, both of which are upgrade options for the MSI GE76 Raider. That’s especially true on larger displays, like this 17.3-inch panel. In fact, MSI charges the same $2,999 price for a 1440p 240Hz model as a 1080p 360Hz.

It remains one of the few gaming laptops to get the bump to a 1080p webcam.

The higher resolution would also be useful outside of gaming, considering how fast at video and photo editing the MSI GE76 Raider is. But the low resolution and matte finish aren’t ideal outside of gaming, and neither is the color saturation. 100% sRGB and 79% AdobeRGB are good for a gaming laptop but won’t satisfy professional content creators.

As for the rest of the panel, the GE76 Raider gets the job done. Contrast is solid at 1,000:1, and the screen is calibrated well with a Delta-E of 1.09. It maxes out at just 273 nits, which is a bit under the 300 mark we like to see. It’s not a huge deal, as the matte finish prevents reflections and glares. Still, this is a laptop, and you might be moving it from place to place in your house.

Webcam

Above the display, you’ll also find a 1080p webcam. The GE76 Raider remains one of the few gaming laptops to get the bump from 720p to 1080p, and the quality is noticeably better.

Unfortunately, the GE76 Raider doesn’t include any biometric security. No IR camera or fingerprint reader.

Ports and connectivity

The MSI GS76 Raider has ports on both sides of the chassis and along the back — and the options include just about everything you could think of. On the left, you have USB-A 3.2 Gen 2, USB-C 3.2 / DisplayPort, and a headphone jack. On the right, you get two USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 for accessories and a full-size SD card slot.

On the rear, you’ll find USB-C Thunderbolt 4, mini-DisplayPort (haven’t seen one of those in a while), HDMI 2.1, Ethernet jack, and power plug.

It also comes with a Wi-Fi 6E card from Killer and a Bluetooth 5.2 for wireless connectivity.

Keyboard and touchpad

Both the keyboard and touchpad were a disappointment. Being a gaming laptop is no excuse for it feeling this cheap. Let’s not forget: This laptop costs well over $2,000 in most configurations.

The keyboard is full-size, meaning it includes a number pad and full-size arrow keys. The layout is comfortable, but I found the bottoming action on the keys to be a bit too soft. They’re squishy and feel imprecise, but it’s something I got familiar with over a couple of days.

The per-key RGB backlighting is decent though, and customization is handled through the SteelSeries GG app.

The touchpad is where I have a larger issue. It’s not as large as the one on the MSI GS66 Stealth, and it feels choppy. The click mechanism feels too loose also. You’ll want to use a mouse most of the time with this laptop. That’s an obvious statement while gaming, but it’s an annoyance while doing other work.

Battery life

This laptop struggles with battery life. But no one’s surprised by that. Between the 17-inch screen and the power-hungry RTX 3080 Ti, I hardly expected to get much out of it.

Despite my subdued expectations, the MSI GE76 Raider still managed to disappoint in this regard. But three hours and 40 minutes? That’s a shame. And that’s just while doing basic web browsing. You can’t safely spend much time away from the wall, and that limits this laptop’s ability to double as a work laptop.

It has a 99.9 watt-hour battery, which is the largest you can legally bring on an airplane. Unfortunately, even with Nvidia Optimus turned on, you won’t get more than a few hours. To be fair, other large gaming laptops, like the HP Victus 16. For a gaming laptop with better battery life, check out the Lenovo Legion 5 Pro, Razer Blade 15, or the MSI GS66 Stealth.

Our take

On the outside, the MSI GE76 Raider is a blast from the past. On the inside, it’s a glimpse of the future. These are some powerful components, and the result is incredibly good performance. While the MSI GE76 Raider isn’t my favorite gaming laptop that features this CPU and GPU duo, I can’t deny just how well it performs.

Are there any alternatives?

Many of the latest gaming laptops in 2022 will use this same combination of graphics cards and processors. However, I have not tested many of those. Laptops similar to the GE76 Raider include the Alienware m17, ROG Strix G17, Razer Blade 17, and many more.

How long will it last?

Gaming laptops usually last around four or five years. It can last longer if your usage isn’t as heavy. The MSI GE76 Raider should future-proof you for a few generations of processors and graphics cards. Even the heaviest games play well on this, and build quality is solid.

MSI offers a standard one-year limited warranty on its laptops, though it depends on the retailer you pick it up from.

Should you buy this?

Yes, but know what you are getting into. This is a laptop that puts performance first and doesn’t bother with niceties.

Editors' Recommendations