The MSI Raider GE77 is the kind of laptop that would find a happy home in the last decade, when gaming laptops were huge, bulky beasts with bold shapes and desktop-style components.
MSI’s latest laptop certainly harks back to those days, but under the hood it’s much more modern. It features a premium GeForce RTX 3080 Ti laptop GPU and Core i9-12900HX, one of the fastest mobile processors Intel has ever designed, and the 17.3-inch display offers high resolution and fast refresh rate. On paper, there’s a lot to like about this laptop, but you also need a lot of paper to pay for it. The device we tested (model GE77HX 12UHS-082) costs a whopping $ 3,699.
However, MSI is by no means the only company producing 17.3-inch laptops at rock bottom prices. It specifies the Alienware x17 R2 with specs that closely match MSI’s and costs $ 3,999. The sleek Razer Blade 17’s RTX 3080 Ti – equipment costs at least $ 4,000.
Features and design
The MSI Raider GE77 is a great buy for anyone who wants the glory days of big and bold gaming platforms. The front of the chassis is dominated by a large RGB LED strip that uses 30 zones to produce a smooth color change and the lid features huge MSI lettering and a glowing logo.
Flip the Raider over and you’ll find aggressive angles and huge vents, and the bottom also has the MSI Raider logo and an MSI-branded stylized rubber pad.
The GE77 is bolder than both of its competitors. But while some may prefer it, the striking aesthetics aren’t for everyone. The Alienware x17 R2 is striking, but the black and white design is more mature. The all-black aluminum body of the Razer Blade is also thinner than the MSI.
Getting in is easy enough on the GE77 – the mount is secured with a couple of screws, but they’re standard large Philips screws, so no additional tools are needed. Once inside, there’s plenty of room to work with – both SO-DIMM slots are accessible, and there’s an additional NVMe slot next to the existing SSD. The wireless chip is easily accessible for connectivity upgrades, and the cooling hardware and battery are equally accessible.
Alienware’s bottom panel is just as easy to remove, but Razer takes a step back. You need a T5 screwdriver. And while the memory and SSD slots are easily accessible, the cooling hardware isn’t as easily accessible.
There’s one big design department where the MSI Raider falls short of the competition: size. The MSI weighs 6.6 kilograms and its power block adds 2.6 kilograms more. At its thinnest point, the Raider is still 25mm thick – at its widest point, the number reaches 40mm.
Raider rivals are more manageable. The Alienware also weighs 6.6kg, but the mighty stone weighs 1.9kg and is only 21mm thick. The Razer and its powerful stone weigh 7.6kg and are 20mm thick.
Either way, you get a decent spec screen in this great laptop. The 17.3-inch panel combines a resolution of 2,560 x 1,440 with a refresh rate of 240 Hz – balanced numbers that allow for crisp single-player gameplay and decent speed in esports games. A 3ms response time is another good number for competitive gaming.
It’s a solid mainstream spec, and MSI has beefed up the design with decent performance. A contrast ratio of 1,197: 1 is a good IPS value and ensures that the display’s vibrancy is stable, and the Delta E of 1.32 means colors are accurate. The color temperature of 6,608 K is also great.
MSI’s screen displays 99.7% sRGB at 138.6% volume, a great result that guarantees an impressive amount of punch in all the colors required by games. These numbers are almost identical to Alienware.
The maximum brightness level of 359 cd / m2 is sufficient for indoor use, but not high enough to handle the light outdoors. The mid-range of 1.93 isn’t a disaster, but it should be closer to 2.2, and dark areas lack depth and hue.
Despite the gamut result, the games look good – there’s enough sRGB contrast and volume to display normal titles, and the screen accurately reproduces all the necessary tones. Combine that with the size, resolution and refresh rate and you have an immersive and immersive time. There’s little to choose from between MSI and competing monitors, although Razer’s monitor is much better.
However, get on with the game and the GE77’s display is more ordinary. The DCI-P3 coverage level of 96.6% is good, but its relatively low peak brightness means it is not suitable for gaming and HDR media. Adobe RGB coverage of 81.4% isn’t high enough to work in a more demanding area, and both competitors are better.
Alienware and Razer laptops also offer greater versatility in terms of alternative choices. Combine Alienware’s specs with MSI’s and you get a 4K / 120Hz panel or 1080p 480Hz display for $ 3,999, the former clearest for single player and the latter great for esports.
And at the time of writing, the top-of-the-line eSports panel with a 360Hz refresh rate and 1ms response time was only $ 3,099, although we expect the price to go up. Alienware’s monitors also feature G-Sync, which MSI and Razer devices don’t have.
The Razer RTX 3080 Ti laptop isn’t available with a 2,560 x 1,440 screen, but the $ 3,999 model has a 1080p 360Hz panel and $ 4,299 gives you a 4K 144Hz display. The first option improves MSI for esports , while the latter also offers greater single-player sharpness.
If you want precise control, even with color-sensitive workloads, look elsewhere. The MSI Center tool is decent and offers plenty of options for customizing the GE77, including overclocking, but the MSI True Color module suffers from bugs that hinder color profiles. The errors are caused by conflicts between the software and Intel’s integrated graphics cards, and the current solutions are complex and inconsistent, so hopefully MSI will provide a better solution soon.
Input and connectivity
MSI’s machine is compliant in many practical areas. Build quality is exceptional – there are no aluminum panels or seams to let you down and we’d put this laptop in a bag with the confidence that it won’t get damaged.
Thanks to the wide chassis, MSI also offers many connections. On the left are separate USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A and Type-C ports, the latter of which also handles DisplayPort, but without power.
There are two more USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports and an SD card reader on the right. The rear edge features a Thunderbolt 4 connector that provides DisplayPort compatibility and 5V / 3A device charging. It has a 2.5Gbps Ethernet output and an HDMI 2.1 port that allows for 4K / 120Hz and 8K / 60Hz playback.
That’s an impressive number of ports. Internally, there is pre-certified dual-band 802.11ax wireless for Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2. The webcam is a 1080p model that delivers crisp, bold images. Unfortunately, the webcam does not support Windows Hello login and there is no fingerprint reader – biometric login is the only important feature this laptop lacks.
The Alienware is similar in terms of connectivity and functionality – it adds Windows Hello to its webcam, but only has a microSD card slot. Still, Razer’s device is a winner – it includes an SD slot, biometric access, and more Thunderbolt and USB connections than MSI and Alienware laptops.
MSI has had SteelSeries keyboards in its gaming laptops for some time, and MSI trusts the experts for a reason. The buttons are fast, crisp and springy, which makes it easy to increase speed during hectic gaming sessions, and their reliable movement means you can rest assured that the buttons won’t fool you in a busy time.
The keyboard also has key-specific RGB LED backlighting and a numeric keypad. The action bar has buttons to change the fan speed and open the MSI Center control app, and users can also upload shortcuts for the SteelSeries GG viewfinder or tool used to adjust lighting and record macros. A smart press of the function key on the keyboard turns off most lights, leaving the function row highlighted.