MSI GE76 Raider (2021) Review: Speed Demon

MSI GE76 Raider (2021)
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MSI has finally refreshed their range of notebooks with NVIDIA’s Ampere-based RTX 30 series GPUs. In this review, we will be taking a look at at the the MSI GE76 Raider (2021). Packing an Intel Core i7-10870H, an RTX 3080, and a 300Hz display, this is definitely a fast laptop.

MSI GE76 Raider (2021)

MSI GE76 Raider (2021)

CPU Intel Core i7-10870H
GPU NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080
OS Windows 10
RAM Up to 64GB DDR4 3200MHz, 2 Slots
Display 17.3-inch IPS-Level, 1920 x 1080, 300Hz
Storage Up to 2x NVMe SSD Gen3
I/O Ports 1x USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-C (DP), 1x USB 3.2 Gen2x2 Type-C, 1x USB 3.2 Gen2, 2x USB 3.2 Gen1, 1x RJ-45, 1x SD Card Reader, 1x HDMI, 1x Mini-DisplayPort
Connectivity Killer Gb LAN (2.5G), Dual-Band WiFi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2
Battery 4-cell Li-Polymer, 99.9Whr, 280W Power Adapter
Audio Duo Wave Woofers + Speakers by Dynaudio, Nahimic 3 Audio Enhance
Others Per-Key RGB Keyboard by SteelSeries
Dimensions 397 x 284 x 25.9mm
Weight 2.9kg

Display and Design

MSI GE76 Raider (2021)

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The MSI GE76 Raider (2021) can be decked out with a blazing-fast 17.3-inch 1920 x 1080 IPS-Level display running at 300Hz. Its resolution is rather mainstream and less crisp compared to 1440p displays but the fast 300Hz refresh rate more than makes up for it by increasing the fluidity of games and even general usage.

The display can get pretty bright at max settings allowing for usage either outside or bright lights at the back. Picture quality is fairly decent with deep blacks and well-saturated colors but it is not near the color accuracy of a calibrated screen.

MSI GE76 Raider (2021)

Fortunately, the screen has minimal color shifting at the sides although it does tend to shift to blue when looked at an extreme upper angle. Those who want to adjust the display settings can do so via the MSI True Color app, which we will further elaborate later on in this review.

MSI GE76 Raider (2021)

The 2021 refresh of the GE76 Raider does not veer too much away from its predecessors in terms of design. It still has angled edges for an aggressive design, which is pretty much expected from a gaming notebook.

Most of the notebook’s chassis is made out of aluminum and hard plastic. This makes it rather heavy at around 3kg but gives it a robust and tough feel. Even the hinges of its display provides just the right level of resistance for light yet firm operation. Overall, the notebook gives off a sense of a solid device made for a premium market.

MSI GE76 Raider (2021)

The notebook’s rear mimics the look of a fighter jet engine with the same angled edges as most of the chassis. At both sides are exhausts for its Cooling Boost 5 cooling system. They do get pretty hot while on full blast but since they blow out the back, you will not be able to feel any hot air near your hands.

MSI GE76 Raider (2021)

At the front of the bottom chassis is an RGB bar that runs through the width of the notebook. It is fully customizable via the SteelSeries Engine 3 app with 30 distinct zones so you can design the best RGB setup for you.

Keyboard and Touchpad

MSI GE76 Raider (2021)

The MSI GE76 Raider comes with a 90% keyboard with chiclet keys. The alphanumeric keys are just the right size to avoid mistyping but they are nearly completely flat offering little distinction from each key. Those with larger hands might find the number pad a bit small and the keys squished with each other to allow it to fit in its 17.3-inch frame.

MSI GE76 Raider (2021)

Fortunately, all the keys offer a pretty good feel with proper actuation with a slight mushiness at the bottom which is expected from most chiclet-style keyboards on notebooks. RGB aficionados will also be happy to know that the keyboard supports per-key RGB instead of being limited to zones.

MSI GE76 Raider (2021)

Its touchpad does the job well but lack any other fancy features. The surface is smooth but the area is quite small given the larger footprint of the notebook. Regardless, both the left and right clicks offer good resistance without any worry of accidental actuation.

Input and Output Ports

A complete suite of wired connectivity options are available on the MSI GE76 Raider. They are scattered across the body of the notebook. At the left-hand side are two USB 3.2 Gen2 ports (Type-A and Type-C) and a 3.5mm combo jack. Meanwhile, the right-hand side houses two USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-A ports and a SD Card Reader.

MSI GE76 Raider (2021)

Display connections are moved to the rear in order to stay out of the way while playing. Here we get a USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-C with DP support, a mini-DisplayPort, an HDMI, and its charging port. We would have liked to have seen perhaps another two USB ports here so external mice and keyboard can also be routed through the back.

Software

The GE76 Raider comes pre-installed with a couple of apps to let you fully customize its performance, lighting, and functionality. Its not a lot of apps to juggle around with but we would have preferred if MSI has unified everything into just one app for convenience.

MSI Dragon Center

The MSI Dragon Center is the “main app” for the GE76 Raider. This lets the notebook access adjustable performance presets, toggle Gaming Mode, adjust quality of life options like Windows Key, Webcam, and hardware crosshair, and even AI-powered noise cancellation.

Display partitioning for external monitors can be handled through MSI Dragon Center. Those who have compatible peripherals can also synchronize RGB lighting with the notebook via the app.

MSI True Color

MSI True Color focuses more on the display adjustments for the Raider though some of the simpler settings can be accessed through the MSI Dragon Center app. A total of five screen presets are available for use although you can individually adjust settings on each one.

The app can synchronize display profiles on apps.  It can also partition apps on the display, calibrate the display for those who have the right equipment, and show a display crosshair for those who need it.

SteelSeries Engine 3

MSI has partnered with SteelSeries for their keyboard and its RGB lighting. The SteelSeries Engine 3 allows you to control the RGB lighting for the keyboard and RGB bar. As mentioned, the RGB bar has a total of 30 lighting zones while the keyboard operates on a per-key arrangement so you can finely tune their lighting settings.

RGB lighting has several presets which you can use but you can also adjust them to your liking. The SteelSeries Engine 3 also allows remapping and the recording of custom macro shortcuts Of course, SteelSeries peripherals that you might have can also be customized from the app.

Performance and Benchmarks

MSI GE76 Raider (2021)

The MSI GE76 Raider (2021) is powered by an 8-core, 16-thread Intel Core i7-10870H processor with 32GB of DDR4 RAM running at 3200MHz and an Ampere-based NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080.

As far as storage goes, the notebook has a 2TB NVMe drive. Specifically a 2TB Samsung PM981 NVMe SSD with an OEM model number of MZVLB2T0HMLB-00000.  Its spec sheet put it at around 3500MB/s read and 3000MB/s write.

Running a quick CrystalDiskMark benchmark with a 4GiB load puts it at the same ballpark at its spec sheet. Sequential Reads are at 3420MB/s although Sequential Writes are slightly slower than advertised at 2433MB/s. 4KiB at 32 queues are fairly speedy as well at 475MB/s for reads and 395MB/s for writes.

With storage speeds out of the way, it’s time to for the meat of benchmarks for the GE76 Raider. Synthetic, rendering, and games were used to see what kind of performance can the notebook’s CPU and GPU can bring to the fore.

CPU Benchmarks

CPU-Z Benchmark 17.01.64

7-Zip 16.04

wPrime v2.10

Cinebench R15

Cinebench R20

Blender 2.82a

Intel is still at their best in the mobile platform and it shows in the MSI GE76 Raider 2021. The Comet Lake-based Intel Core i7-10870H absolutely demolishes nearly everything in our list. It does stumble a bit on other benchmarks like Cinebench R20 and wPrime against other devices, but overall, it is a processor worthy to be at the top.

GPU Benchmarks

3DMark Fire Strike

3DMark Time Spy

Red Dead Redemption 2

Rainbow Six Siege

Far Cry New Dawn

Shadow of the Tomb Raider

The Divison 2

Metro Exodus

The MSI GE76 Raider 2021 just breezes over our gaming benchmarks with flying colors thanks to its NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080. It can easily play most Triple A games above 60fps and some at 120fps. Frames only dip down below 60fps when more taxing options like Ray Tracing is enabled. You can boost performance, however, by enabling DLSS on games that support it.

Those who lean more on the competitive side of gaming will be happy to know that the GE76 Raider greatly takes advantage of its 300fps. Running Rainbow Six Siege can easily reach around 266fps. It cannot, however, reach the 300fps mark due to the CPU not able to feed more information to the GPU at least on our observation while testing.

Temperature and Battery Life

Cooling down all the flagship-class components in the GE76 Raider is MSI’s Cooler Boost 5 system. It has wider and dedicated heatpipes for both the CPU and GPU while sporting larger fans for better cooling performance.
The Raider’s cooling system does a great job on tempering down the components on most circumstances. Temperatures produced while gaming should not be too much of an issue but putting heavy load like rendering on the CPU will rocket temperatures to a steady 95°c which leads to throttling.

GPU temperature, on the other hand, remains great regardless of workload. At idle, it sits just below 50°c. It can still remain cool while under full load at 79°c in while gaming and around 67°c while rendering using Blender.

We won’t blame MSI too much for this since it has been proven that Intel’s Comet Lake can gulp tons of power and produce lots of heat especially on the higher end H series CPUs.

The notebook is powered with large 99.9Whr battery, which MSI says the maximum airlines will allow on planes. The battery can last fairly long on light work loads at around 4 to 5 hours depending on the usage and brightness levels. Under full load, however, the notebook will struggle to last more than 2 hours.

The notebook does come with a massive 280W power brick. Thankfully, it can fully charge the notebook in around 2 hours. Despite the inclusion of USB Type-C ports, however, the GE76 Raider does not support USB PD 3.0 charging.

Conclusion

Thanks to its Intel Core i7-10870H, RTX 3080, and with plenty of RAM and fast storage, the MSI GE76 Raider (2021) is definitely a heavyweight when it comes to performance. It does, however, come with a similarly heavy price of PhP 209,995 at least for this particular version.

It does have a few quirks like the unnecessary number of programs present just to customize the notebook. MSI should unify everything in one app instead of requiring users to shuffle to differing apps.

The notebook is rather heavy as well at around 2.9kg, which is expected from any gaming notebooks in the market. More creative types might also find the display a bit lacking but most people will be fine since it still delivers decent colors and fast refresh ratee.

Overall, the MSI GE76 Raider (2021) can definitely deliver a top-notch gaming experience. Hardcore gamers that move around a lot despite the situation will quickly find this notebook as their daily driver, which is why we are giving it our seal of approval.