If you are looking for a portable gaming laptop in the market that serves the dual purpose of running demanding games and making everyone around you jealous, the MSI GE66 Raider Dragonshield Edition is for you. This rig has an eye-catching design, a 300Hz screen, extensive port selection, exceptional build quality, and some of the best gaming performance you can get from a 15-inch laptop. It's not perfect, and $ 2,899 is more than anyone needs to spend on great gaming performance. But if you want to be the person with the coolest laptop in the room you're in, you won't be disappointed.
The regular MSI GE66 Raider has a pretty standard gaming laptop design with a gray aluminum lid and black deck. That's why I've been waiting to review the DragonShield edition, which literally looks like part of a spaceship. It was designed by veteran artist Colie Wertz, who worked on the upcoming Dune, The Mandalorian, and the most recent Star Wars films. You can see this influence all over this laptop; Both the lid and the keyboard deck are bright orange and black and decorated with a sci-fi representation of the MSI logo and a complicated grid of windows and components.
There is a story behind this raider. Wertz designed it to look like a plate that fell from a spaceship. (It actually comes with a ship model so you can see exactly where it came from.) It's clear that he put a lot of work into the art of the dragon shield – if you look carefully at the lid and deck, you can see the myriad of geometric shapes Elements recognize segments that could make up a spaceship's plate and the nuts and bolts that hold them all together. I like to see this type of creative design on a laptop, although clearly it won't work in every setting. It just shows how much is possible when companies and designers are willing to try.
7.5 from 10
- Unique and super cool design
- Powerful graphics performance
- 300Hz display
- Comes with a model spaceship!
- Strange keyboard layout
- Faulty software
- No flash
You can make the rest of the laptop your own. There is an RGB keyboard with customizable lighting per key. (My only gripe with the keyboard is that MSI glued the brightness and volume controls to the arrow keys and the Fn key you have to press to use it is half the size of the rest of the keys and between the backslash and the control buttons.) To top it off, there's a beautiful LED strip running along the front edge that offers 16.7 million customizable colors. Regular raiders have that too.
Obviously, having a crazy design doesn't affect your gaming performance or everyday use. The rest of this review gives you an accurate picture of what to expect from the regular GE66 Raider, and that's clearly the more pragmatic buy for most people (you can get one with a 2070 Super for just $ 2,199.99). However, if you are into an eye-catching design, the dragon shield is as unique as it gets.
When you open this up, you'll find a Core i9-10980HK, Nvidia's RTX 2070 Super, 32GB of RAM, 1TB of storage, and a 15.6-inch 300Hz 1080p screen. If you want the best frame rates the Raider can offer, consider switching to an RTX 2080 configuration (currently these are only listed on the MSI website in non-Dragonshield form). However, the test system can still process almost any game with the highest settings (although "Handle" is subjective and I use it a bit loosely here).
When I delved into the performance, I was impressed to see how well the Raider Horizon Zero Dawn ran – it averaged 80 fps in the Ultimate settings. The movement was silky smooth as I walked around Meridian, and the colors looked pleasantly bright. The laptop also held its own in the incredibly strenuous Red Dead Redemption 2, which averaged a constant 50 fps and never dropped below 45 in the built-in benchmark. These results surpass the RTX 2070 Razer Blade 15 and clearly beat Asus' smaller Zephyrus G14.
The RTX 2070 achieved at the highest settings of Shadow of the Tomb Raider with ray tracing on Ultra 70 fps. That's playable – it's a bit better than the RTX 2080 Super Max-Q GS66 and tends to score and much better than the G14. It's actually not too far from what we saw from the RTX 2080 Super Max-Q Blade 15.
You don't have to play less demanding titles if you want to see the full glory of the 300Hz screen. The Rocket League averaged 250 fps at the highest settings (the same result as the Blade 15 and about the best you can expect as the game ends at 250). The Raider also blew through Overwatch with epic takes, averaging 124 fps and never dipping below 112.
Outside of gaming, performance is okay. The i9 and 32GB of RAM are more than enough to run numerous browser tabs, apps, and streaming without slowing down or uncomfortable heat. The system's two fans (53 0.25mm blades) kept the CPU cool throughout the test, although the keyboard was almost (but not entirely) too hot to be comfortable in the more demanding games.
MSI's iconic kite symbol is getting a sci-fi makeover.
However, there are better options when you're doing photo and video work. For one, this screen is optimized for gaming rather than color accuracy (its maximum brightness is 269.6 nits and it only covers 86 percent of the sRGB color gamut and 64 percent of the AdobeRGB). But I couldn't run our traditional export test in Adobe Premiere Pro either – the export failed every time I tried. MSI insisted this was an issue for Adobe, but I've never had a problem running this test on a gaming laptop. I will update this review if the issue is resolved in the future. In the meantime, however, I would stay away from this product if you need to use Premiere Pro.
I've seen other glitches that I would rather not see on a $ 2,899 product. The Dragon Center app crashed a couple of times when I tried to change the settings. I had to reset the laptop once after an update caused the screen to flicker. Sometimes I would get notifications that my drivers were not up to date even after downloading all of the files available. and Dragon Center did not switch between energy profiles properly at first and only started after MSI remotely tapped the laptop and downloaded the software again.
The Raider contains a 99.9 Wh battery, the largest cell a laptop can have. The battery life (after the power profile issue was fixed) wasn't terrible, but not great. I had four hours for my daily office work (including multitasking around a dozen Chrome tabs and apps, as well as some downloading and file copying with a screen of around 200 nits brightness, battery saver enabled, and MSI's Super Battery profile selected). . Turning off the RGB keyboard and LED strip may result in more juice. But why buy this laptop when you're not taking advantage of its coolest features?
The light bar and RGB keyboard blend in very well with the Raider's color scheme – they weren't distracting at all.
The last thing I want to address here is the port selection which is one of the best I've seen. On the left there is a USB Type C 3.2 Gen 2×2, a USB Type A 3.2 Gen 2 and an audio jack. On the right side there are two more USB-A 3.2 Gen 2 ports and a full-size SD card reader. There is even more on the back: a USB Type C 3.2 Gen 2 that supports DP 1.4, a Mini DisplayPort 1.4, an HDMI 2.0 and an RJ45 Ethernet connection as well as a connection for the 280-watt charging stone from MSI. These can accommodate all types of gaming peripherals and should cover everything most people will need. They're also so far apart that you don't need to get creative with placing your accessories or feel like you are indented. The only notable absence is Thunderbolt, but I will forgive that given the myriad of alternatives here.
The GE66 Raider is an impressive gaming laptop that delivers roughly the frame rates we would expect from a system of these specs and sizes. Almost all games have 60 fps within reach, with only minor changes required for the heaviest titles. The Raider won't beat bigger rigs like the Razer's Blade Pro 17, but it's certainly one of the best 15-inch gaming laptops money can buy. But more importantly, where else can you find a bright, colorful laptop that looks like part of a spaceship?
The coolest (but not the coldest) laptop in the room.
With all that said, this is $ 2,899. It's a luxury product, and the stunning design won't have much of an impact on your daily experience – but the awkward keyboard and unfortunate software issues I've experienced certainly do. If you don't think the Dragon Shield flair is something you need, consider getting a regular GE66 Raider, GS66 Stealth, or Razer Blade 15, which should deliver comparable frame rates with better battery life and (in Razer's case) ) more reliable software.
However, if your top priority is having a cooler laptop than all of your friends, then go for the GE66 Raider because it will no doubt be the case. I hope more companies try such unique design products because it makes it more fun – and at the end of the day, most people buy gaming laptops for fun. And when I see you use this in a coffee shop, I'll be very, very jealous.