MSI GP66 Leopard Review

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In this article, I give you my MSI GP66 Leopard review with specs included. This is the first laptop I get to review that has Nvidia’s new RTX 3070 GPU inside. So, a whole new generation, and this is Max-P, not Max-Q.

It’s also available as a GP76 for those of you who want a bigger chassis, a 17-inch chassis, but GP66 is 15.6 inches. We’re still looking at intel 10th generation CPUs here and they are great. But, how are the graphics performance, the cooling, and all that sort of thing? We’re going to look at that in this review.

The GP66 is an interesting place in the MSI lineup. It’s not one of the super high ends like the Titan, big desktop replacement, or the Stealth, which is the thin and light, all metal-clad, fancy one. But it’s not a budget laptop too. It’s somewhere in between.

In terms of pricing, MSI GP66 Leopard is not cheap but it’s not ungodly expensive for a high-end gaming laptop performance. It starts at around sixteen hundred dollars. It goes up to twenty two hundred dollars. I have the twenty two hundred dollars one.

In that price range ($1600-$2200) all models have RTX 3070 GPU. Now, there is an RTX 3080 option as well, and that one’s 24 to 26 hundred dollars.

So, what do you get for that price? Mostly performance not looks. This is pretty much a plastic chassis kind of thing going on here but it’s not bad looking. They’ve done a redesign. It’s more modern, a bit more angular, maybe a bit more like the Lenovo Legion and Acer’s gaming laptops in that respect. But, I think it’s a nice update from the older generation from MSI.

With that redesign, we lost a little bit in the way of ports and things. There’s no SD card slot at all and the Mini DisplayPort is gone. But, we do have USB-C that handles Displayport 1.4 so you can still drive two monitors. There’s also an HDMI 2.0 port so that I can run a 4K monitor at 60 hertz as well.

For the rest of the ports, we have three USB-A ports, the 3.5-millimeter audio, Ethernet built-in, and that’s Intel Ethernet. So, a decent selection of ports for this model.

The keyboard is also a new generation of steel series. Uh we’ve seen updates from msi before for this sort of chassis styling. It has shorter key travel i kind of like the older one better. But that’s really up to personal preference. It still has a nice crisp feel and it’s perky rgb backlighting so you can do whatever you want with it.

Chassis lighting not so much on this model. But in the price range that’s fine. You’re paying more for the performance which again is that rtx card. The trackpad is microsoft precision and it’s buttonless uh it’s up to you how you feel about that.

I do like buttons but only if there are nice soft buttons and all that sort of thing. So msi went buttonless with their precision trackpad. But still you know thank god you can tap instead of push down because this is just as stiff as their buttons used to be. It really takes a lot of thumb joint dislocating effort to push on the track bit.

All right i’m exaggerating a little bit but why it’s just sniff dips do. Intel 10th generation cpus you can get a six core i7 or two eight core i7 options on board too. And it’s 10th gen so that means heat is still going to be an issue because you know until that’s how they go.

The 11th gen intel cpus will be coming out in the middle of february just starting to but those are going to be 35 watt instead of this 45 watt part. And they’ll get to the 45 watts later so for now probably 10 gen is just fine. It has two ram slots which is not surprising.

Ddr4 3200 megahertz ram you can get with 16 or 32 gigs. It has two m.2 ssd slots one comes populated and you can get with either a 512 or one terabyte ssd. We have intel wi-fi six it’s it’s the ax-201 card in addition to intel ethernet and that’s bluetooth 5.1 on board with that as well.

So let’s talk about the displays and some of the price differences between the cheapest and the most expensive models. Will come down to that. All of these are full hd which is almost surprising because nvidia was making a big deal about how these could drive qhd displays 2560 by 1440 right.

So we’re still at full hd maybe that’s to keep the price down i don’t know. There are 244 hertz panel options and 240 hertz panel which is what we have. Which is a nice panel in terms of color accuracy and nearly full srgb coverage it’s a ma ips display the usual thing.

And you can see the metrics on screen for that one. For the 144 hertz panels uh and there is one that you probably shouldn’t get. The cheaper one is only 45 of ntsc which probably means 65 to 70 percent of srgb. That’s not really very good.

And the more expensive 144 hertz pounds the usual near complete coverage of srgb and that’s probably going to be the one that you want there. And so that 1600 base price comes with that not so great display. It’s going to be 100 or 200 more to get the better display options on it.

Speaking of gaming and wqhd resolution hey sometimes even 4k. Yes the rtx 3070 is certainly up to very high frame rates at full hd and could do 2k display no problem for 60 frames per second gaming or maybe even a little bit better in some titles. It depends if you’re doing apex then yeah for sure.

If you’re doing cyberpunk no not so much. So every game that we tested you see footage of is playing at ultra settings with retracing on if available. Not available in far cry new dawn but in the other tiles it is and with dlss on.

And finally with the 3000 series it seems like nvidia is getting into the group where dlss may actually really help frame rates like they said it would make graphics run more smoothly. So the gpu in here i know it’s really confusing with nvidia is doing with different tierings for the mobile gpu in terms of how many watts and the performance and all that sort of thing.

So in gaming i saw anywhere from 130 watts of power consumption all the way up to peaking at 165 watts in cyberpunk 2077. So this is a good gpu here. This is not some watered-down version of it. So that’s what you’re getting for the price tag here when i say it’s more about performance than it is about pretty good looks and all that sort of thing.

By the way it’s not that heavy a laptop. You can see the weight on screen as your typical you know about under an inch thick sort of laptop so. In terms of portability this isn’t really that bad. When you think about what gaming laptops with this kind of horsepower look like just four years ago it’s kind of like wow portable.

So performance is great on this. Cpu temperatures as you might guess are it varies it really does. You can see from the graphs we have on screen captured while gaming that in some cases for some games you would see that yes it would spike into the low 90s centigrade for temperature but most of the time it was tooling along in the 70s and sometimes the 80s and that’s not bad.

In other titles we would be at the 90s and we would be thermal throttling. So yeah it’s still into our intel here. We do have the a core i7 going on so that does generate a little more heat. Did that really affect gameplay no. The benchmarks on this are quite good but the gameplay is where i was really more impressed to be honest.

On the benchmark numbers might not be exponentially higher than the previous generation. Say an rtx 2070 or 2070 super even. But in games i you know i really haven’t been able to play on ultra settings with all the nvidia bells and whistles turn on some of these titles.

And cyberpunk i was particularly impressed for interior gunplay kind of stuff i was around 65 frames per second. And for outdoor driving stuff which is a little bit more demanding we were still doing pretty well again 65 sometimes even 70 frames per second.

And that’s one of the more demanding games. Battlefield 5 played flawlessly and that one is still kind of a pig when you turn on all the bells and whistles. So as a laptop that can game at full hd maxed out frame rates excellent. Now switching to an external display and playing at 2k still a go definitely.

Playing apex again you know we have the 240 hertz display and for some of the those kind of games the battle royales you might actually be pushing the max refresh of the display which is kind of crazy. So that’s the good part.

In terms of heat and noise you know when i was playing far cry noodle and the noise from the fans wasn’t that bad. And we were playing on the extreme performance setting in msi’s dragon center software. When playing cyberpunk the temperatures weren’t that much worse than some other games but my god the fans really were drowning out the audio.

So it’s going to depend a bit on what games you play. Overall i would say the fans are very well tuned on this in terms of noise. They’re usually not offensive. Speaking of sound on this we have nahimic 3 software audio and good headphone out. The speakers themselves are two two watt stereo speakers.

They’re not very big they side fire from near the front edge and they don’t have much bass and they’re just okay. This does have nvidia optimus switchable graphics and you can also use msi dragon center to set it on dedicated graphics only if you want to squeeze a couple more frames out of games.

Often that does the trick so that’s mostly what i did for our gaming tests. You do have to reboot if you switch between those two modes between d gpu and nvidia optimus modes. So how about battery life. Alright it’s a gaming laptop but it’s on the portable side so you might have high hopes here.

It’s only a 65 watt hour battery which is would be generous if it was a 13 inch ultrabook but it’s not too impressive for a laptop of this size. So there’s that. We have a 230 watt power adapter which is reasonably portable by gaming laptop standards.

So battery life for me has been about three and a half to four hours and that’s with nvidia optimus enabled. So it’s not on the dedicated gpu all the time. So not super great there. Now if you really set the brightness down as low as you could and all that sort of thing well you might do better.

But it’s not something you’re going to take to class and run for eight hours without plugging it in. So here’s the bottom of the laptop with msi’s usual ample grille action here. You can even see the copper heat sinks below. So this is a new variety of msi plastic clip hell here.

First you unscrew the phillips head screws which is not too hard but remind be mindful that there’s always a screw under the factory still sticker. Then you’re going to work your way around to try to get these tenacious clips to let go. On starting on the side by the vent in the rear here.

And the back wraps around which isn’t that unusual. And you can see what i mean by that this is wraps around right. But when you’re getting to the front of the laptop don’t be fooled by what normal design would be because here you can see it’s just the thin cover.

And you think that you would continue working away and take it off over here but now. This front edge of the laptop has to come off as well. And this front edge wraps around to the top like so. So yeah that’s just you know well msi being msi.

Now that we are inside we can see perfectly normal gaming laptop architecture. Here is our battery right there. We have two ram slots. So theory you should be able to go up to 64 gigs of ram. Our socketed intel wi-fi card is right here. And we have two m.2 ssd slots.

This is the populated slot here which has our one terabyte nvme ssdnr model. And there’s a second slot available right here under our cover. There’s that in case you want to put a second drive in. And the cooling system right here. Now a little bit of a disappointment is that we have tripod he’s heat sinks.

Three screws not four so a bit less even pressure and a bit less pressure total i probably would be nice if they could have done four. The amount of heat pipes we have here and the size of the heat sink going on over there that’s pretty nice stuff right there.

And we have only one shared pipe going on. So reasonable and that design certainly nice metal fan cages and the exhausting in the front and the rear kind of thing all of that’s good. So there it is the MSI with the new nvidia RTX 3000 series graphics inside. 3070 3080 your choice there.

And i personally like a gaming laptop that puts performance first. I’m not so dying to spend an extra thousand dollars for better looks. So in that way i like this a lot. The cooling you know it’s pretty good the heat pipes and all that sort of thing the design are good i’m not so fond of those tripod heatsinks.

It’s adequate it’s not class leading in that respect. You do lose a few ports versus the last generation single audio output no sd card slot that sort of stuff. But still there’s enough connectivity here that it’s pretty darn good. And of course i got on like alienwares and the ram is not soldered on board you can still upgrade that stuff.

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MSI GP66 Leopard
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    Performance - 96%
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    Price - 94%
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    Value - 95%