mid-range gaming laptop with very fast screen

MSI is one of the top companies in the field of PC components and a major player in the gaming laptop market. Along with ASUS, Lenovo, Acer and Dell, MSI produces some of the most powerful laptops, with components chosen especially for gaming. The MSI Pulse GL66 model seems to be a mid-range model in the company’s offer, offering a balanced configuration, a fast screen and what is strictly necessary for a comfortable gaming experience. Here is how this model was presented in our tests.

The design of the MSI Pulse GL66 does not jump from the patterns of mid-range gaming laptops

MSI has not adopted a slim design, as we have seen lately on other gaming laptops in recent times. The company remains on the Pulse model with a more “classic” design, with a generously sized plastic and aluminum chassis. However, due to this fact, we are dealing with a very diverse selection of connectivity ports. We have three USB-A jacks (two 3.2 and one 2.0), a USB-C, HDMI and headphone jack, along with an RJ-45 jack for connecting to a wired network.

MSI Pulse GL66 back side

The exterior design clearly suggests that we are talking about a gaming laptop, with a metal cover on the back of the screen, with the MSI logo and a more “sporty” model, similar to a car hood.

Once you open the lid you can see a 15 ”screen with QHD resolution, with a thin frame on the sides, but a bit thick, especially at the bottom. Upstairs it houses a webcam and three microphones, so more space is justified, at least. However, the design is not much different from other gaming laptops in its category. Certainly, from an aesthetic point of view, the models with glass over the screen and thin edges on all sides are more attractive, but those are usually from the office range, with significantly slower screens.

MSI Pulse GL66 front

The keyboard was a pleasant surprise, especially since it includes an almost complete numpad. It is a bit cramped on the left side of the keyboard, but can be used to enter data in excel, which I did during the tests. The most pleasant surprise was the fact that there is a small “Enter” at the bottom, very useful for quick calculations, especially for those who use a numpad on the computer usually. This suggests that in addition to gaming, you can also have some productivity on this model.

The keyboard is illuminated with RGB lights, but the colors can only be changed once. We do not have RGB per key or by zones. The trackpad is also quite simple, but at least it doesn’t waste space with physical buttons. It is mechanically operated on its entire surface and supports multi-touch gestures. Unfortunately, it is a bit small to successfully replace a mouse, even in simple office activities. Space under the keyboard is enough to integrate a larger one. However, PC manufacturers do not seem to pay much attention to this aspect.

MSI Pulse GL66 keyboard

The bottom of the laptop is almost completely covered by a grille to draw cold air. It is then evacuated through the two rear slots, using the fans inside.

The MSI Pulse GL66 includes several modes of use, including quieter ones

I have to admit that I’m not a big fan of the font used for the MSI Pulse GL66 keyboard. We are talking about the same font used in the first Spider-Man movies, directed by Sam Raimi, and the font used as the logo of the original PlayStation 3 model, in 2006. Fortunately, I don’t look down too much when writing or I’m playing, so it’s a detail I went over quickly. However, slightly less “chic” letters could be used. The RGB lighting is strong, but I didn’t feel the need to change the color from the factory-configured blue.

MSI Pulse GL66 screen

MSI Pulse GL66 is not a lightweight or very portable laptop. It’s the kind of laptop you leave on a desk or carry with you from time to time, when you go on a longer trip. In fact, being a gaming laptop, you can’t rely on its autonomy. You will not be able to reach more than 2-3 hours of basic use, and in gaming you can expect it to stop in less than an hour. In fact, it is also normal, given the gaming configuration that it “hides” inside.

In use, the laptop does not make too much noise, the coolers being quite quiet in normal use. Even in gaming, they remain fairly quiet. However, only in “Maximum Performance” mode can you achieve the real performance of this laptop, and in that mode, the coolers receive a “boost” that makes the laptop significantly noisier. No noisier than other similar models, but in the same area. For this mode, I recommend using headphones.

MSI Pulse GL66 vents

The 15 ”screen is a model with QHD resolution at 165 Hz and offers quite pleasant colors from the factory (but not necessarily“ correct ”), as well as a fluidity that we rarely find on laptops, even gaming. At 165 Hz with high resolution, the configuration we tested is a bit modest to reach the full potential of the screen. Maybe a 1080p at 144 Hz is more of a resolution suitable for the Pulse GL66 with RTX 3060 in recent games. Of course, if all you play are eSports titles, this laptop will not disappoint.

I ran some stress tests on the laptop, such as Prime 95 for the processor and Unigine Heaven for the GPU, and the temperatures reached 94 degrees for the processor, with throttle at 2.85 GHz, while the GPU reached 77 degrees. These temperatures are good, given that we are talking about extreme tests, which use all the necessary resources at once. In regular gaming, however, they should be below 80 degrees in both cases. If you want a quieter gaming experience, the temperatures will rise a little more.

MSI Pulse GL66 top

In fact, you can set many aspects of your laptop using the MSI Center application, which provides access to performance profiles and various other settings such as game mode, prioritization of certain applications, etc. However, all of these are different modules of the MSI Center and can be installed or uninstalled as needed.

Gamers who prefer eSports titles will be able to take full advantage of the capabilities of this laptop

In terms of gaming performance, the MSI Pulse GL66 looks pretty good, within the limits of configuration expectations. We are talking about an Intel Core i7-11800H, with 16 GB of RAM and an RTX 3060 with 6 GB of memory. In fact, this amount of memory has given us a few hassles in some games. It seems that newer titles need more than 6 GB of memory to be able to set the textures to the highest values. Thus, we had to do the tests with the textures on a lower step. High instead of Very High / Ultra in some games.

I ran the rest of the tests on the highest profiles, both in 1080p and 1440p. I did not run ray-tracing tests or with DLSS enabled. Thus, in titles that support DLSS, we recommend using this option, as it could significantly improve performance. The above results show that AAA games run well, even on very high settings, especially in 1080p. However, in order to reach framerates close to the screen frequency, some compromises will be needed on the graphic fidelity side, especially in QHD resolution. However, eSports titles such as For Honor or Rainbow Six Siege show that this screen can be used at full capacity on this laptop. We don’t have a test methodology for CS: GO, LoL, DOTA2, Valorant or Rocket League, but you can definitely achieve 165 FPS in these titles with the right settings on MSI Pulse GL66.

Gaming

3DMark

PCMark

Benchmarks

  • Cinebench R23: Multi-Core 10.123 / Single-Core 1.453
  • CrystalDiskMark SEQ1M Q8T1 Read: 2.104 MB/s / Write: 1.694 MB/s

One more thing to note is that the SSD chosen by MSI is not very fast. After testing PCI-Express 4.0 SSDs with write speeds of up to 7 GB / s, the fact that the SSD on the Pusle GL66 writes at “only” 1.7 GB / s may seem slow. However, this speed is more than enough for a very fast gaming experience, including DirectDrive, a feature that will allow you to load games from Windows 10 and 11 very quickly. In fact, the tests were performed on Windows 11, this being the version of Windows that I found pre-installed on my laptop.

conclusions

MSI Pulse GL66 is an average high-performance laptop for its class, equipped with a very fast screen and a numpad, something we rarely see on laptops today. It does not stand out with anything in particular, but it does not seem to be wrong in any chapter. If you are looking for a gaming laptop like this, this model is a good option to consider.


Source: Go4IT by www.go4it.ro.

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