The MSI GS66 gaming laptop combines the latest Intel 10th gen processors with Nvidia RTX Super graphics in a thinner machine, but how well does it actually perform in games?
I’ve tested 21 different games at all setting levels and compared it with other laptops to help you decide if it’s worth it. My GS66 has the Intel i9-10980HK CPU, Nvidia RTX 2080 Super max-Q graphics, 32gb of memory in dual channel, interestingly MSI went with DDR4-2666 despite Intel 10th gen supporting 2933, and there’s a 15.6” 1080p 300Hz screen. There are different specs available though.
The MSI control panel software lets you select different performance modes, I’ve done all testing with extreme performance for best results. This applies the following overclock to the GPU, and I also tested with coolerboost enabled which maxes out the fans.
The GS66 also lets us disable optimus, which will provide a further speed boost in games, so I’ve used this too. We’ll only be covering gaming performance. Let’s start out by going through all games at all setting levels, then afterwards we’ll see how the GS66 compares with some other laptops. Red Dead Redemption 2 was tested using the game’s built in benchmark tool, and these are some of the best results I’ve seen so far with this game on a laptop. Ultra is still below 60 FPS, but this is just a resource heavy game. Battlefield 5 was tested in campaign mode, I’ve got the results with RTX enabled, shown by the green bars, and RTX off, shown by the purple bars. With RTX off, these are some of the best results I’ve ever seen from this game in a laptop, we’ll see the comparisons soon, meanwhile RTX was actually able to hit 60 FPS at high settings and it played pretty well, but you’d probably want to stick to RTX off for higher performance outside campaign mode. Control was also tested with and without RTX enabled, however as the game also supports DLSS 2.0 I’ve tested this in the red bars. DLSS runs it at 720p and upscales it, and it looked pretty decent while also still performing quite well at high settings, very similar to with RTX completely off while looking better. DOOM Eternal was tested with vulkan and regardless of the setting level used the average FPS was extremely high, low settings was still required if we wanted to take full advantage of the 300Hz screen, but 240 FPS at max settings is still impressive. Shadow of the Tomb Raider was tested with the built-in benchmark, and the results were some of the best I’ve ever seen from a gaming laptop, but we’ll compare the results in this game and others against other laptops soon. Apex Legends was tested with either all settings at maximum, or all settings on the lowest possible values, as it doesn’t have predefined setting presets. Even max settings was giving excellent performance, while minimum would better put the 300Hz panel to use. Call of Duty Modern Warfare was tested in campaign mode, and I’ve also tested it with the settings either maxed out or at minimum. Max settings was just under a 100 FPS average with not too much of a boost at minimum settings, it played well for me maxed out without any issues. Borderlands 3 was tested using the game’s built in benchmark, and it was still possible to surpass 60 FPS with the highest setting preset in this test. Ghost Recon Breakpoint was also tested with the benchmark tool, and despite being another resource heavy game hitting 70 FPS at ultimate settings is a pretty good result for it, while high settings was needed to maintain above 100 FPS. Fortnite was tested with the replay feature, and medium settings was enough to give us a 300 FPS average, a great match up for the 300Hz panel, while low settings would give us even 1% low performance above the refresh rate of the screen. Overwatch is another less demanding game and was tested in the practice range. Again, even with the epic setting preset the frame rates are very high, while the 300 FPS frame cap was consistently hit at low and medium settings, so another good one for the fast 300Hz screen. CS:GO was tested using the Ulletical FPS benchmark, and the results in this test are very good for a gaming laptop. I’ve found high FPS tests like this one greatly benefit from laptops that let you disable the Intel GPU and run directly on the Nvidia graphics, and that combined with the higher clock speeds of the i9 which can get hit in lighter threaded tasks is giving excellent results here. Dota 2 was tested playing in the middle lane, and although the results were a little above average here, realistically they aren’t too much different when compared to other lower specced and cheaper gaming laptops, it just really doesn’t take much to run this well. Rainbow Six Siege was tested with the built-in benchmark but using Vulkan, once more the frame rates were quite impressive for a gaming laptop, with low settings being not too far behind the 300Hz panel it’s another title that is going to offer an extremely smooth experience. Metro Exodus was tested using the built-in benchmark, most parts of the game perform a fair bit better than this, so don’t take these results as a good indication of what to expect throughout the entire game, it’s more of a worst case, but again like most other games tested, the results were notably higher due to the higher end specs in my GS66. The Division 2 was also tested with the built-in benchmark, and the results here are quite good. The 1% lows aren’t too different to many others, but the average FPS, especially at lower settings, was much increased which matches what we saw in many other titles, again possibly a result of the 10th gen i9. PUBG was tested using the replay feature, and ultra settings was still running well with above 100 FPS even for the 1% low, while very low settings was running smooth and easily passing 200 FPS for the average. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey was tested with the built-in benchmark, interestingly at max settings the performance was close to the Aero 17 I tested recently, it’s got the 8 core 10875H processor and 2070 Super Max-Q graphics, however at lower settings the GS66 offered a nice lead, let me know if you’d be interested in a comparison between the i7 and i9 in a dedicated video. Far Cry New Dawn was also tested with the games benchmark, and the results were also higher than what I usually see in this test due to the increased CPU power, granted the improvements aren’t by a huge margin. The Witcher 3 was playing great with max settings, it’s been a while since I’ve seen above 100 FPS from a laptop there, however it was easy to boost the performance just by stepping down to high, where even the 1% low was near the averages of ultra. F1 2019 was tested using the game’s benchmark tool, and although the average FPS was higher than the Aero 17 with slightly lower specs as expected, the 1% lows at higher settings were actually lower, perhaps an instance of the slower memory in the GS66 resulting in lower performance?
Let’s also take a look at how this config of the MSI GS66 gaming laptop compares with other laptops, use these results as a rough guide only as they were tested at different times with different drivers. In Battlefield 5 I’ve got the GS66 highlighted in red near similarly specced machines. In this test the 1% low is one of the best out of this selection of laptops, while the average FPS is second best here. It’s very close to the Triton 500 just below it though, and although that has the non-Super 2080 Max-Q graphics, it does gain a benefit by being the 90 watt variant, the GS66 runs the GPU at 80 watts.
These are the results from Far Cry 5 with ultra settings in the built-in benchmark. This time the average FPS is only a little behind the much more powerful 180 watt 2080 in the Triton 900 just above it, but interestingly also a little behind the 2080 Max-Q and i7 in the Triton 500. The 1% lows are still higher when compared to most other laptops tested, and either way this is still one of the best results out of the laptops I’ve covered.
These are the results from Shadow of the Tomb Raider with the built-in benchmark at highest settings. This time the GS66 was outperforming the higher wattage 2080 Max-Q in the Triton 500 once more, however it’s still about 10 FPS behind the 180 watt 2080 in the Triton 900 above it, either way though still one of the best results for a gaming laptop I’ve tested in this game.
Overall the gaming performance from the MSI GS66 is quite impressive, especially when we consider that it’s got a lower powered 80 watt RTX 2080 Super Max-Q rather than say the 90 watt limit that others will have. Keep in mind that I’ve got the highest CPU and GPU options available in my GS66, so expect lower results with lower specced models, this is kind of best case.
That said, MSI told me all versions of the GS66 should allow you to disable optimus, so there will be a nice speed boost in many games as a result of that. It may be possible that upgrading to DDR4-2933 memory from the default 2666 that MSI are shipping the GS66 with could offer further improvement, let me know if you’d be interested in seeing a comparison, if so I could look at redoing the testing with faster memory to see how much it matters.
Even with these killer specs, the GS66 is only really able to take full advantage of that 300Hz panel in esports titles, but when those high frame rates were being hit, it did look super smooth. I’ve seen a comparison of 240Hz and 300Hz side by side, and in games like CS:GO where you’re actually hitting high frame rates it does make a difference you can actually see. I’ll cover the thermals in depth in an upcoming video, and there’s still the full review yet to come, so if you’re new to the channel you’ll definitely want to get subscribed for those.