MSI WS66 Laptop Review - The GS66 of Workstations!

JT JT 28 July 2020
MSI WS66 Laptop Review - The GS66 of Workstations!

The MSI WS66 is basically the workstation version of the popular GS66 gaming laptop, so it’s got some nice extra features for professionals and creators, let’s check out what the differences are in this detailed review. These are the specs my config hasMSI WS66 Laptop Review - The GS66 of Workstations! we’ll take a look at how it holds up in various tests throughout this review, but there are other configurations available.

he finish is called carbon grey, and it almost has a little blue tint to it. The exterior is mostly metal, this includes the lid, interior, and bottom panel. MSI WS66 Laptop Review - The GS66 of Workstations!The front is plastic though just like the GS66, and while all edges were smooth, the front corners could feel a bit sharp depending on the angle you touch them on, overall though great build quality here. MSI WS66 Laptop Review - The GS66 of Workstations!MSI lists the weight as 2.1kg, and mine was close to this. With the 180w power brick and cables for charging included the total rises to around 2.7kg or 5.9lb. MSI WS66 Laptop Review - The GS66 of Workstations!The dimensions were on the slimmer for a 15 inch laptop and it was just under 2cm thick. This allows for 8mm thin screen bezels. I was a bit surprised to find that the 1080p panel has a 144Hz refresh rate, we’ll check out some gaming performance later.

For that reason I’ve tested screen response time, which was around 8ms.MSI WS66 Laptop Review - The GS66 of Workstations! As for colour gamut, we’re looking at 96% of sRGB, 66% of NTSC, 71% of AdobeRGB, and 71% of DCI-P3.

At 100% brightness I measured the center of the panel at 366 nits and with a 710:1 contrast ratio, so overall decent results though a little lower on the contrast. MSI WS66 Laptop Review - The GS66 of Workstations!The 4K option appears to have better colour gamut based on the specs though, so even if you don’t care about the resolution and just run at 1080p that may be preferable for serious content creators.

Backlight bleed was good in my unit, but this will vary between laptop and panel. MSI WS66 Laptop Review - The GS66 of Workstations!There was a little screen flex when intentionally trying to move the metal lid as it’s on the thinner side, but overall it felt quite sturdy, and like the GS66 the WS66 uses MSI’s new hinge design which should be stronger than previous models.

The laptop could be opened up with one finger, so some nice even weight distribution, and the screen goes the full 180 degrees back allowing you to share it with the F12 shortcut which flips the image upside down.

Despite the thinner bezels, MSI still fit the 720p camera above the display in the center, and it has IR for Windows Hello support which I found to work well. MSI WS66 Laptop Review - The GS66 of Workstations!The keyboard is a bit different to the GS66, the layout shares a lot of similarities but the font is less gamery and there’s no RGB lighting, just white here which illuminates all keys and secondary key functions, and brightness can be adjusted between 3 levels or turned off with the F8 shortcut. Typing was fine, no issues there though the edges of the space bar felt like they didn’t push in very far.

The precision touchpad is quite large like some of the others from MSI, it clicks down anywhere and works quite well. MSI WS66 Laptop Review - The GS66 of Workstations!Despite being large, I never had any issues with palm rejection if I did accidentally touch it while typing. There’s a fingerprint scanner in the top left corner of the touchpad, and I found it to work accurately and fast.

There are two front facing speakers below the keyboard, like the GS66, they don’t sound that great, a bit tinny with no bass however they do get very loud at maximum volume, and the latencymon results weren’t looking great.

Fingerprints occur easily on both the lid and interior, but I don’t think they’re that easy to notice, either way as a smooth surface it was easy to clean with a microfiber cloth.

On the left from the back there’s an air exhaust vent, the power input, USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-C port with Thunderbolt 3 and DisplayPort support, HDMI 2.0 output, USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-A port and battery LED. 

MSI WS66 Laptop Review - The GS66 of Workstations!

On the right from the front there’s a 3.5mm audio combo jack, USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-C port, no Thunderbolt on this side, SD card slot, 2.5 gigabit ethernet port facing the preferred direction, and another air exhaust vent. The Type-C port on the right doesn’t have displayport output, however the one on the left does and it connects directly to the quadro graphics, same with the HDMI port.

The WS66 can also be charged over Type-C with the left port, and I did find the single Type-A port limiting at times. The back just has some air exhaust vents towards the corners, while the front is clean, though this part is a plastic finish. Underneath is pretty clean, there are just air intake vents towards the back. MSI WS66 Laptop Review - The GS66 of Workstations!There are 9 phillips head screws to remove to get inside, and the one in the middle down the front was smaller than the rest, I found the bottom panel a little tricky to remove. MSI WS66 Laptop Review - The GS66 of Workstations!Inside we’ve got the battery down the bottom, WiFi card above that on the left, two M.2 slots, two memory slots, and I’ll note that MSI is using DDR4-2666 memory here despite the 10th gen supporting faster 2933, otherwise there are a whole lot of heatpipes with 3 fans up the back, we’ll check thermals soon.

The 4-cell 99.9Wh battery is basically the largest you can legally take on a plane, and it’s giving some impressive battery life results when compared to other laptops that I’ve tested, with just under 8 hours in my YouTube playback test, and over 90 minutes while gaming.MSI WS66 Laptop Review - The GS66 of Workstations! The MSI Creator Center software lets you swap between three performance modes, which from lowest to highest are silent, balanced, and high performance mode. Unlike the GS66 though, there’s no fan control or option of disabling optimus through here.

By default undervolting was disabled, however it was possible to enable through the advanced BIOS as I’ve also found to be the case with other 10th gen MSI laptops. I’ve tested thermals in a 21 degree Celsius ambient room temperature, at idle it was cool enough.MSI WS66 Laptop Review - The GS66 of Workstations! The rest of the results aim to represent worst case scenarios where both the CPU and GPU are active, and were tested with the Aida64 CPU stress test with CPU only checked and the Heaven benchmark at max settings. The CPU was thermal throttling in all of these heavy stress tests, and the GPU was thermal throttling in silent mode too, which makes sense as it’s very quiet here, as you’ll hear soon.

Although the processor temperature didn’t really change, the GPU progressively got cooler as we made improvements. These are the clock speeds for the same tests just shown. MSI WS66 Laptop Review - The GS66 of Workstations!At silent the speeds were quite low, and although the CPU temperature was almost always throttling as per the last graph, the improvements we make such as high performance mode, undervolting, and using a cooling pad did boost performance, and being able to hit the full 4.3GHz all core turbo boost of the 10750H as a best case with some simple tweaks is a fair result for a thinner machine like this under worst case CPU plus GPU load.

These are the power levels being hit for each partMSI WS66 Laptop Review - The GS66 of Workstations! the CPU only has a 10 watt power limit in silent mode which is why the clock speeds were so low, otherwise outside of silent the Quadro RTX 3000 was able to hit its full 80 watt limit.

Here are the Cinebench scores during these different modes to give you an idea of CPU only performanceMSI WS66 Laptop Review - The GS66 of Workstations! the single core results were great, and the undervolt through XTU was able to boost performance nicely, while the cooling pad helped a little by relieving thermal limitations.

As for the external temperatures where you’ll actually be putting your hands, it was in the low to mid 30s in the center, pretty standard. MSI WS66 Laptop Review - The GS66 of Workstations!With the stress tests running in silent mode it’s actually quite warm in the center, and while performing better in balanced mode, it’s a bit cooler now too as the fan speed increases. The hot spot in the middle cools a little more in high performance mode while also performing better, but this is at the expense of additional fan noise.

At idle the fan was only just audible, and with the stress tests running in silent mode it’s extremely quiet owing to that 10 watt power limit on the processor, so although performance is lower when doing work, at least you have the option of ensuring quiet operation, but this explains the hotter surface temperatures in this mode when smashing it with load. The fans are louder stepping up to balanced mode, and then further with high performance.

The MSI workstation series are ISV certified, which apparently means apps from Adobe like photoshop and premiere, autocad and 3d studio max from autodesk, solidworks and more should work well.

I’ve used Adobe Premiere to export video at 4K. MSI WS66 Laptop Review - The GS66 of Workstations!The WS66 with these specs was able to export the video second fastest out of all machines I’ve tested, only 4 seconds behind MSI’s GP75 with full blown 2070. MSI WS66 Laptop Review - The GS66 of Workstations!I’ve also tested Premiere but with the Puget Systems benchmark this time, it includes other factors like live playback rather than just export speed, and the WS66 was still doing quite well here too. MSI WS66 Laptop Review - The GS66 of Workstations!Adobe Photoshop was also tested with the Puget Systems benchmark, and interestingly the WS66 was scoring the best here. This tends to be a CPU bound workload, but it’s still a fair bit above the other 10750H system below it, so maybe the quadro graphics are helping there.MSI WS66 Laptop Review - The GS66 of Workstations!Davinci Resolve was also doing quite well, this tends to be a GPU heavy workload, so it would appear the quadro graphics are able to help it out. MSI WS66 Laptop Review - The GS66 of Workstations!SPECviewperf was used to test out a bunch of other professional 3D workloads, and these are the results that you can use to compare with other machines.

While not a gaming laptop, I thought it would be interesting to test a few titles just to get an idea of how the Quadro RTX 3000 stacks up compared to other options out there.

In Battlefield 5 I’ve got the WS66 highlighted in red.MSI WS66 Laptop Review - The GS66 of Workstations! It’s actually doing pretty well, in line with some of the GTX 1660 Ti machines which have the same power limit and 6gb of VRAM, though interestingly the 1% low performance from was one of the best I’ve recorded.

These are the results from Far Cry 5 with ultra settings in the built in benchmark. MSI WS66 Laptop Review - The GS66 of Workstations!Again the WS66 was holding up pretty well, and in line with many of the other 1660 Ti laptops that I’ve tested. MSI WS66 Laptop Review - The GS66 of Workstations!Again it’s a similar story in Shadow of the Tomb Raider, which was also tested with the games benchmark tool at max settings, so you can definitely play games on the quadro graphics without issue once you’re done with work.

I’ve used Crystal Disk Mark to test the storage, and the 1TB NVMe M.2 SSD that was installed was performing very well.MSI WS66 Laptop Review - The GS66 of Workstations! The UHS-III SD card slot was also pretty much maxing out my v90 card, and the card clicks in and sits most of the way into the machine.MSI WS66 Laptop Review - The GS66 of Workstations!I couldn’t find the same 10TK model with exact same specs, my config will probably be a bit less than 2000$, and if you want to max out the processor, graphics and memory then the price increase to $4000. So is the MSI WS66 laptop worth buying?

Honestly with the features on offer here I could see myself picking this to replace my current older personal laptop, the Aero 15x. I remember thinking that the GS66 was almost there for me when I reviewed it a few weeks back, but with the SD card slot and other extras like fingerprint scanner and higher tier screen, well these things get it over the line for me.

The build quality is decent, the screen in my unit was good in terms of bleed, brightness and colour gamut. I’d use it for content creation on the go, no problems, but the 144Hz option does also let you to kick back with some games at the end of the day if that’s your preference.

Personally I’d go for the 4K panel for even better colors and just run it at 1080p. You’ve got the option of Xeon processor and ECC memory too, should you require those. The I/O was pretty good, all USB 3.2 Gen2, no older Gen1 here, and while Thunderbolt, two Type-C ports and 2.5 gigabit ethernet is nice, I did find the single USB Type-A port limiting on at least one occasion when I had two things to connect.

The battery life was good, and internals were also fair with 2 M.2 slots, 2 memory slots and WiFi chip, no soldered parts preventing upgrades. Like the GS66, the front facing speakers were not great. Also like the GS66, MSI are using slightly slower DDR4-2666 memory despite the Intel 10th gen supporting 2933, so it would have been good to take advantage of that in this presumably more premium laptop.

The internals can run hot under heavy workloads, but you’ve got some control over how hot things run and having the option of running near silent is a good example. In any case the performance seemed pretty decent, and higher temps are a trade off with good performance in a thinner chassis. While I could see myself going for the WS66 personally, I think I’d still prefer the new Aero 15, purely due to the option of an OLED panel, if MSI start offering this I think it would be a great addition.

Anyway let me know what you thought about the MSI WS66 workstation laptop down in the comment.

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