MSI Katana GF66 Review
You can be sure that a game laptop named after a famous sword will be at the cutting edge of cheap gear. The MSI Katana GF66, which starts at $799 and was tested at Micro Centre for $1,199, is a great deal for a 15.6-inch budget gaming laptop. It comes with an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 GPU for the price of an RTX 3050 Ti, an eight-core Intel Core i7 CPU, and a large 1TB solid-state drive.
Even though its battery life is shorter than we’d like and its screen isn’t as bright as we’d like, the Katana has no major flaws when it comes to gaming. This is especially true now that the prices of core components are going up and the meaning of a “budget” gaming laptop is changing. It takes the place of MSI’s Bravo 15 as our Editors’ Choice winner among 15-inch game systems that don’t cost too much.
MSI Katana Overview
|Processor||Intel Core i7-11800H|
|Boost Drive Type||SSD|
|Screen Size||15.6 inches|
|Native Display Resolution||1920 by 1080|
|Graphics Memory||6 GB|
|OS||Windows 10 Home|
The Katana GF66 is an improvement over its predecessor, with the main difference being the inclusion of a brand new 12th-Generation Intel processor. Even in graphically demanding games like Borderlands 3, you can easily get frame rates of over 60, and in Ghost Recon: Breakpoint, you can achieve frame rates of over 100 on Ultra settings and 1080p.
During testing, the average frame rate for Apex Legends was roughly 110 fps with all settings at their defaults. To get the most out of your 240 Hz monitor, set the graphics to Medium and drop the resolution to 720p. Medium settings at 1080p should be able to achieve the maximum frame rate on the 144-Hz model sold in the United States. The results show a 10–25% improvement over last year’s cheap gaming laptop favorite, the Acer Nitro 5, which also has an RTX 3060. The change is most noticeable in games that prioritize frame rate, with Apex providing the same number of frames per second at 1080p Ultra as it did at 1080p Low on the previous generation’s console.
When not playing games, use the keyboard and mouse, not the battery. Since the device’s performance is hampered when unplugged, gamers won’t want to use its portability. Battery life is a problem even when working on a device that can do everything. Your busy schedule will limit your time to four to six hours. MSI’s gaming machine faces fierce competition and an increasingly unaffordable price as laptop prices rise.
The 12th-Gen model came out swiftly, so we haven’t had an opportunity to try competitors like the Acer Nitro 5 and Lenovo Legion 5. Non-RTX cards like the GTX 1660 Ti, 1650 Ti, and 1650 are unavailable at the lower Katana GF66 price range. The cheapest model costs $1,100 and includes a Core i5 CPU and 3050 Ti, which isn’t much for a $1,000 notebook.
This doesn’t conclude the story. A Core i7 and RTX 3050 Ti cost £899 ($1,107) in the UK. A pricing comparison shows little difference, but this isn’t always true. In 2022, value-conscious gamers will likely prefer gaming computers without RTX cards. This is the best method to play higher-refresh-rate PC games on the move without spending a lot on a gaming PC and monitor. You may have to sacrifice performance. However, the MSI Katana GF66’s $1,000 price and low battery life make the trade-offs difficult.
Inputs and Outputs
The MSI Katana GF66’s only real nod to gamer bling is the red lights on the keyboard. Both the tops and sides of the keys are lit up, and I like how the keycaps have a futuristic style. Unfortunately, pressing the keys doesn’t feel right; there should be more up-and-down movement. The number pad also looks like a mistake, with small keys and a layout that isn’t the usual three columns. The touchscreen, which is not in the same line as the keyboard, has the same mix of pros and cons: It is the right size and has a smooth, jerk-free surface, but its stiff click-down action makes you work.
To review, our Katana GF66 test unit has an Intel Core i7-11800H processor with eight cores, a GeForce RTX 3060 graphics processing unit with 6GB of memory, 16GB of RAM, and a 1TB solid-state drive. Our tests will show that this recipe works well for 1080p games. As it is here, the RTX 3060 GPU is rated at 85 watts. As for cooling, the Katana isn’t quiet by any means, but its fans aren’t too loud, and there aren’t any hot spots where your fingers would usually go. Most of the game laptops I used to compare the Katana GF66 to are better than it. I’ve mentioned them below. Some of them are the Alienware x15, the Delta 15 from MSI, and the XPG Xenia 15 KC.
Tests of Graphics and Games
We do both fake and real-world game tests on Windows PCs. The former includes two DirectX 12 game models from UL’s 3DMark test suite: Night Raid (which is less demanding and good for systems with integrated graphics) and Time Spy (which is more demanding and good for gaming rigs with discrete GPUs). The cross-platform GPU test GFXBench 5, which we use to measure OpenGL speed, is also part of this group. Next, our real-world gaming testing comes from the in-game standards of F1 2021, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, and Rainbow Six Siege, which are simulation, open-world action-adventure, and competitive/esports shooting games, respectively.