“The MSI GS66 Stealth offers excellent gaming performance and a slim profile at an affordable price.”
Great gaming performance
Ultra-fast refresh rate of 300 Hz
Good keyboard and touchpad
Pleasant surface temperatures
The screen is a little dark
Questionable build quality
The Razer Blade has always had a serious competitor. It’s not Alienware, Predator, or ROG. These brands all make great gaming laptops themselves, but none that want to do exactly what the Blade does.
Razer’s most direct rival comes from a smaller company (at least here in the United States). I’m talking about the MSI GS66 Stealth. It has a similar size, almost identical specifications, and most importantly, the same minimalist design principles. There are no protruding angles or stereotypical clichés here.
MSI has further developed its approach to overcoming the Razer Blade, and its latest model, the GS66 Stealth, appears to meet all the criteria. Did it hit the Razer Blade in its own game?
There is a fine line between simple and boring. Brands like Razer or Apple can spice up their look with a little elegance. The MSI GS66 Stealth tries to do the same subtle trick. It avoids the bombastic style of other gaming laptops, but isn’t quite as sophisticated as laptops like the Razer Blade. Even some ROG Zephyrus laptops look more uniform.
It is not a bad looking laptop. It’s just a little bit boring.
MSI even took the design back from last year’s GS65 Stealth and removed the golden highlights that played the subject of racing stripes. Outside the RGB keyboard, it is now colorless and corresponds to the black aluminum standard housing. Unfortunately, there are still vents on the sides and top of the keyboard deck, stickers on the palm rests, and large hinges. It is not a bad looking laptop. It’s just a little bit boring.
Fortunately, MSI has fixed some build quality issues. Earlier models were equally thin and light, but felt flexible and cheap. It’s no longer a flexible piece of plastic, although the lid still feels a bit shaky. Even when closed, the lid of my device can close flat due to its curvature.
For a laptop that’s only 4.6 pounds and 0.71 inches thick, that’s important. It’s still not as well built as the similarly sized Razer Blade that remains the king in this department.
Keyboard and touchpad
The keyboard and touchpad fit this topic. It is a large, comfortable keyboard with a set of springy keys that are suitable for both typing and playing.
However, there are quirks in the keyboard layout. The function key is only on the right side, probably in close proximity to the full-size arrow keys, which also serve as controls for volume and screen brightness. Oddly enough, however, it’s only half the size of a normal key. This is a bad decision for a commonly used key.
I was really surprised by the quality of the touchpad.
The keyboard has RGB backlighting, which is required for gaming laptops these days. You can customize the keys, resulting in fun designs that are all provided by Steelseries. However, the backlight is not as bright and even as with the Razer Blade.
The touchpad is wider than in previous models. In contrast to the larger MSI GS75 Stealth, this does not disturb your palms when typing. However, due to the large vents above the keyboard, it is shorter than I know it. The good news is that the touchpad is well tracked and the click mechanism is quiet and precise. The quality surprised me.
The MSI GS66 Stealth contains a 720p webcam above the display and an IR camera for Windows Hello face recognition.
The MSI GS66 Stealth offers numerous options for port connections. On the left side you get USB-A, HDMI, Thunderbolt 3 and a power connector.
On the right side, the GS66 Stealth offers two additional USB-A ports, an additional USB-C port, an Ethernet socket and a headphone socket. That’s all you need to connect multiple accessories, output to an external monitor and even hard-wire your internet connection.
The lack of a full-size SD card slot is a failure for creatives who may want to use this laptop as a photo or video editing device. The slot has made a comeback on the new Razer Blade and Dell XPS 15. With the MSI GS66 Stealth you have to use a dongle.
The positioning of these ports is a bit annoying. Due to the side ventilation slots, the openings were pressed down towards the palm rests. As it turns out, your mouse is usually right there.
The MSI GS66 Stealth supports the latest Wi-Fi 6 connectivity via Intel and Bluetooth 5.1
Like the Predator Triton 500 or the Razer Blade, the MSI GS66 Stealth not only has an Nvidia RTX 2080 Super Max-Q graphics card, but also a screen with a refresh rate of 300 Hz. The combination of the two means a strong GPU Performance and a screen that never limits the number of visible frames per second. The MSI model also offers screens with refresh rates of 240 Hz or 144 Hz when combined with slower GPUs like the RTX 2070 Super or the RTX 2060.
However, my decorated test device was a top performer. Take Battlefield V for example. The MSI GS66 Stealth processes the game at 97 frames per second (FPS) with settings at Ultra and 133 frames per second at medium. It’s neck and neck with the Razer Blade here, surpassing it by 11 fps even in the medium settings.
The GS66 Stealth plays Fortnite wonderfully smoothly and makes optimal use of its 300 Hz screen.
The Razer Blade, Predator Triton 500 and MSI GS66 Stealth were also in a dead heat in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. The MSI GS66 Stealth played at 56 fps, just a few frames behind its two competitors.
The GS66 Stealth plays blows again and plays Fortnite wonderfully smoothly, making better use of its 300 Hz screen. It reached a whopping 121 fps with Epic settings, again 11 fps ahead of the Razer Blade.
And in case you are wondering, there are some titles that can actually take advantage of the extra headroom for frame rate that the 300 Hz screen offers. The Rocket League, for example, can easily play up to 250 fps.
All of these games were played with the system’s native 1080p resolution, although you will likely get adequate frame rates even when connected to an external 1440p gaming monitor.
Performance in content creation
As with the Razer Blade, many people will be tempted not to use the MSI GS66 Stealth just for gaming – thanks to its portability and its nondescript design.
MSI offers processor options up to the Intel Core i9-10980HK, but my device came with the Core i7-10875H. This is the first choice for high-end gaming laptops with eight cores and 16 threads. This also makes it a strong laptop for content creation, especially in applications that can use the powerful discrete GPU.
The GS66 Stealth scores better than the Razer Blade in Geekbench 5, but they’re equally good at real-life professors. For CPU-bound applications like Handbrake it binds the Razer Blade and loses to the Dell XPS 15. Of course laptops like the Dell G5 SE with AMD Ryzen 4000 or Dell XPS 17 blow it out of the water.
A better example is the popular video editing application Adobe Premiere Pro. The MSI GS66 Stealth rendered a 4K two-minute clip for ProRes 422 in just seven minutes and 20 seconds. This is almost the same performance as the Razer Blade. Thanks to their more powerful GPUs, both laptops beat the Dell XPS 15 by around 16%. However, none of them is comparable to the powerful Dell XPS 17.
MSI pumps up all RTX Super models with 32 GB RAM and at least 512 GB SSD. You can also choose a downgraded 16 GB RAM, RTX 2060 and a 6-core Core i7-10750H.
The system does a solid job and keeps the surface temperatures cool even when playing. That’s a problem I had with the Razer Blade, which stays warm even when surfing the web lightly. The cooling is better regulated here, which leads to more pleasant surface temperatures. The disadvantages are of course the additional ventilation slots and the fan noise. The fans always turn even when idle.
The matte 1080p screen is great for gaming thanks to its response time of 3 milliseconds and refresh rate of 300 Hz. Playing is fast and smooth.
It can only be serviced for other activities. The screen is initially a maximum of 262 nits. That’s 15% less than the Razer Blade and below the 300-nit level that I expect from premium laptops. The matte finish helps mitigate reflections, but I would have preferred a brighter screen here.
Fortunately, it’s a well-calibrated screen with accurate colors. The color gamut is not as large as many creatives would like it to be, but it corresponds to the 1080p Razer Blade in this regard. MSI offers a 4K panel, which can be more attractive for non-gaming tasks.
The speakers are disappointing. They are pointing up, although MSI has decided to put them on the palm rest again, which remains a strange choice. In any case, they are confused and have no bass.
The MSI GS66 Stealth is step by step in several areas, but not ahead of many of its competitors. An exception to this rule is the battery life, where it is preferred. However, I don’t think it can compete with non-gaming laptops.
It still only manages about five and 40 minutes on a single charge – and that with little stress when surfing the Internet. You can’t work away from the wall for too long without worrying about battery life. The Dell XPS 15 lasts a few hours longer in the same test despite its 4K display on a single charge.
Nevertheless, the MSI GS66 Stealth lasts 40 minutes longer than the Razer Blade and hours longer than G-Sync laptops like the Predator Triton 500th hour size.
The Razer Blade beat the MSI in our lightest battery test, in which a local video clip is repeated until the laptop dies. The blade lasted seven hours and 22 minutes, an hour longer than the MSI GS66 Stealth.
However, there is increasing competition in the battery life of gaming laptops, and this is the new crop of AMD Ryzen 4000 gaming laptops. The GPU is not as powerful, but the ROG Zephyrus G14 is only a few centimeters behind the MSI GS66 Stealth when surfing the Internet and has taken a whopping 10 hours in video looping.
The MSI GS66 Stealth faces a tough battle. The sophistication of the Razer Blade is lacking and it is not as affordable as the Acer Predator Triton 500. However, its advantages do not go unnoticed. The cooling is impressive and the gaming performance is fantastic.
It’s not twice as good as the Razer Blade for work, but as an ultra-portable gaming laptop, the MSI GS66 Stealth is an argument in itself.
Are there alternatives?
The Razer Blade offers excellent build quality, a better display and a classier look. However, it is a few hundred dollars more expensive.
The Predator Triton 500 isn’t as elegant as the MSI GS66 Stealth, but a little cheaper and even includes a G-Sync screen.
If you’re considering the cheaper Nvidia RTX 2060 version of the MSI GS66 Stealth, the ROG Zephyrus G14 is a great alternative.
How long it will take?
The MSI GS66 Stealth should last four to five years as long as you take care of it. The build quality can be somewhat sensitive in places. So be careful with the lid.
MSI provides a standard one-year warranty on all laptops.
Should you buy it
Yes. If the Razer Blade is a bit too expensive and you still want an elegant gaming laptop, the MSI GS66 Stealth is a great option.