“The MSI GT77 Titan will make you think twice about choosing a gaming desktop over a laptop.”
- Exceptional 4K gaming performance
- Speedy multi-threaded performance
- Beautiful 4K mini-LED screen
- Generous port selection
- Very expensive
- Loud and hot
I never thought a laptop would be in the running for the list of best gaming desktops, but MSI’s updated 2023 GT77 Titan is making me rethink that position. Equipped with a mobile RTX 4090 and an Intel Core i9-13980HX, it’s not just faster than the best gaming laptops — it’s faster than most gaming desktops.
You can read my review of last year’s GT77 Titan to see the generational improvements in action, but that’s not the main story here. For the first time I’ve seen, a gaming laptop can handily beat even a flagship desktop — assuming you’re willing to pay MSI’s absurdly high price.
We’ve been here before
Before getting into all of the interesting parts of the MSI GT77 Titan, let’s talk about what’s the same. It’s the exact same body as the previous generation, weighing in at a backbreaking 7.28 pounds and measuring nearly an inch thick.
Your suite of ports is the same, too — dual Thunderbolt 4 with DisplayPort, three USB 3.2 ports, HDMI 2.1, Mini DisplayPort 1.4, and an SD card reader. Wi-Fi 6E is still standard as well, though MSI updated the machine with Bluetooth 5.3.
You also get a pair of 2-watt Dynaudio speakers that sound fantastic (the same as the previous model), along with a 720p webcam. MSI updated the webcam with a shutter that you can click into place, but the quality of the webcam itself is still abysmal.
Finally, MSI carried over the Cherry-branded mechanical keyboard from the previous generation. You can trick it out with per-key RGB via SteelSeries’ GG software, but I’ve never liked these keyboards. Just like the version of the Alienware x17 R2, the GT77 Titan has too much travel and is prone to stick, with forceful keystrokes.
|CPU||Intel Core i9-13980HX (24 cores, up to 5.6GHz)|
|GPU||Nvidia RTX 4090|
|Storage||2TB PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSD|
|Wireless||Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3|
|Screen||17-inch 4K mini-LED, 144Hz, DisplayHDR 1,000|
|Ports||2x Thunerbolt 4 w/ DP (1x with power delivery), 3x USB 3.2, 1x HDMI 2.1, 1x Mini DisplayPort 1.4, 1x SD, 1x 3.5mm headphone/microphone|
|Speakers||2x 2W Dynaudio speaker, 2W woofer|
|Webcam||720p w/ shutter|
|Dimensions (LxWxH)||15.63 x 12.99 x 0.91 inches|
|Operating system||Windows 11 Pro|
|Price (as configured at review)||$4,600|
The more exciting updates are under the hood. The machine is updated with 13th-gen Intel processors and Nvidia’s new RTX 40-series mobile graphics, but MSI revisited other areas, too. You can now pack in up to 128GB of DDR5 memory, along with up to 4TB of NVMe SSD storage.
You can see the exact configuration I reviewed above. It’s not quite the flagship, as it has a bit less memory and storage, but this model still clocks in at $4,600. If you jump up to 128GB of RAM and 4TB of storage, you’ll spend $5,300.
You can save a bit as well. MSI offers an RTX 4080 model that has the same specs as my review machine for $4,300. I imagine most folks will go for the configuration I reviewed, though. Is anyone really splitting hairs over $300 for a laptop that starts over $4,000?
Although the updated processor and graphics card inside the MSI GT77 Titan take point, you shouldn’t underestimate the improvements MSI made to the screen. The display was one of the weakest parts of last-gen’s model, and this year, it’s one of the strongest.
MSI touted the GT77 Titan as the first laptop with a 4K mini-LED screen capable of 144Hz, and for good reason. The sharpness is unmatched, colors pop off the screen, and DisplayHDR 1,000 certification ensures you’ll have a great HDR experience.
HDR performance is sublime considering this is a laptop display.
My results are a bit more tame than MSI’s claims, but they’re still impressive. I measured peak brightness just shy of 800 nits, with a contrast ratio of about 20,000:1. That’s far above even the best laptop screens, though not quite on the level of an OLED panel like the one in the Razer Blade 15.
What stands out more is local dimming. The GT77 Titan includes 1,008 local dimming zones, which is on the level of high-end monitors like the Samsung Odyssey Neo G8. HDR performance is sublime considering this is a laptop display, even if it’s still not perfect.
The dimming zones, which dynamically adjust brightness for better contrast, are slow to transition. Quick jumps between dark and bright areas show a noticeable wiping effect as the dimming zones adjust, and unfortunately, there’s no option to turn off local dimming.
On top of that, MSI boasted of 100% coverage of the professional DCI-P3 color space, but I measured only 82%. That’s solid coverage, but not quite what I was hoping for when it comes to professional color work like photo and video editing.
Gamers have it great, though. Considering the power of the GT77 Titan, you can easily run most games at 4K. That pixel density combined with great HDR made me want to play games on the GT77 Titan more than I did on my own gaming monitor.
The MSI GT77 Titan comes packed with up to an Intel Core i9-13980HX, which is a 24-core monster that tops Intel’s new lineup of mobile CPUs. With a base power of 55 watts and boost speeds up to 5.6GHz on two cores, it firmly puts last-gen components in their place.
|Cinebench R23 (single/multi)||PugetBench for Premiere Pro||Geekbench (single/multi)|
|MSI GT77 Titan 2023 (Core i9-13980HX / RTX 4090)||47||2,103 / 28,921||1,031||2,068 / 20,622|
|MSI GT77 Titan (Core i9-12900HX / RTX 3080 Ti)||56||1,833 / 20,007||883||1,838 / 15,655|
|Razer Blade 17 (Core i7-12800H / RTX 3080 Ti)||73||1,697 / 13,218||969||1,808 / 11,843|
|MSI GE76 Raider (Core i9-12900HK / RTX 3080 Ti)||72||1,872 / 16,388||876||1,855 / 13,428|
Intel described last-gen’s Core i9-12900HX as a bit of a runway for this new, higher-powered tier of mobile CPUs, and the Core i9-13980HX is proof of that. The extra cores help it achieve a 45% boost in Cinebench’s multi-core test, as well as a 21% jump in Geekbench.
The MSI GE76 Raider, which houses Intel’s most powerful processor prior to the HX series, shows even larger generational leaps in action. There’s a 24% jump in single-core speed, a 76% boost in multi-core speed, and a handy 35% reduction in transcoding times in apps like Handbrake.
And to lend some credibility to the idea that the GT77 Titan can dominate last-gen flagships, here’s the Core i9-13980HX stacked up against a desktop Core i9-12900K:
|MSI GT77 Titan 2023 (Core i9-13980HX)||Desktop Core i9-12900K|
|Cinebench R23 (Single / Multi)||2,103 / 28,921||1,989 / 27,344|
|Geekbench 5 (Single / Multi)||2,068 / 20,622||2,036 / 18,259|
|Handbrake (seconds, lower is better)||47||47|
None of this is free performance, though. For how impressive the Core i9-13980HX is, it’s a hot and power-hungry processor. It ramped up to 97 degrees Celsius under a full load, and for brief moments, drew upwards of 200 watts of power.
MSI’s machine is designed to handle this kind of load, so other machines may not dedicate as much power to Intel’s latest chip. The trade-off is noise. Just like the previous generation, the GT77 Titan 2023 gets uncomfortably loud under full load.
If you had any doubts about Nvidia delivering a generational leap worthy of the desktop RTX 4090, you can put them to rest now. Nvidia’s new flagship mobile GPU is a workhorse, easily breaking into 4K territory and putting last-gen desktop GPUs to shame. Seriously.
A comparison with other gaming laptops, which have traditionally been forced into 1080p, is hardly worth it. Compared to Nvidia’s last-gen flagship, the RTX 3080 Ti, the RTX 4090 delivers close to double the performance in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, as well as nearly a 45% uplift in Red Dead Redemption 2 and Cyberpunk 2077.
|MSI GT77 Titan 2023 (RTX 4090)||MSI GT77 Titan (RTX 3080 Ti)||Razer Blade 17 (RTX 3080 Ti)|
|3DMark Time Spy||20,836||13,361||12,6334|
|3DMark Fire Strike||35,827||29,419||26,661|
|Assassin’s Creed Valhalla||150.9 fps||87 fps||83 fps|
|Red Dead Redemption 2||137.4 fps||95 fps||90 fps|
|Cyberpunk 2077||132.7 fps||98 fps||91 fps|
That’s compared to the same laptop from the previous generation as well. The GT77 Titan still carries MSI’s Thermal Velocity Boost, allowing it to achieve higher performance than machines without as much thermal headroom. That’s evidenced by the Razer Blade 17 with an RTX 3080 Ti, which is clobbered by the power of the mobile RTX 4090.
Still, 1080p doesn’t show this laptop in the best light. It really shines at 4K, which is something that laptops haven’t been able to achieve for years. You can see my 4K results below.
|MSI GT77 Titan 2023 (RTX 4090)||Desktop RTX 3090 Ti|
|Red Dead Redemption 2||79.6 fps||84 fps|
|Assassin’s Creed Valhalla||85.2 fps||72 fps|
|Cyberpunk 2077||50.6 fps||49 fps|
|Cyberpunk 2077 (with ray tracing)||22.7 fps||24 fps|
|Cyberpunk 2077 (with ray tracing and DLSS)||91.5 fps||N/A|
Your eyes don’t deceive you; the mobile RTX 4090 can compete and sometimes flat-out beat a desktop RTX 3090 Ti. There aren’t any upscaling tricks at play here, either. This is raw performance, despite the fact that Nvidia’s new card can benefit from Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS) 3 in games like Cyberpunk 2077.
It’s a massive win for Nvidia, but a big question remains about the rest of the range. On desktop, the RTX 4090 was a smash success, while the subsequent RTX 4080 and RTX 4070 Ti barely made a splash. It’s not clear yet if the mobile chips will suffer a similar fate.
Landmark performance, at a price
MSI’s updated GT77 Titan is a fantastic showcase of what flagship performance looks like in 2023. It’s also a sobering reminder of the cost of that performance, with loud fans, high thermals, and an obscene price.
For the few that can afford and are willing to pay for the GT77 Titan, it’s a wonderful machine. For everyone else, my main hope is that the GT77 Titan is a sign that next-gen gaming laptops will bring massive leaps in performance, rather than a touchstone for how expensive gaming laptops have gotten.