The last time I got an 11th Gen MSI GE76 Raider in for review, it kept crashing to blue screen forcing me to return it prematurely which was frustrating since I’d heard good things about their performance. Clearly, second times the charm now that I’ve got my hands on the new MSI GE76 Raider -12U. It’s been updated with 12th Gen Intel processors, RTX 30-series graphics and uses MSI’s Overboost tech that can feed it a whopping 175W for maximum performance. Oh and it let’s not forget the in-your-face, signature RGB light bar on the front.
My review unit with an i7-12700H, RTX 3070Ti and a FHD 360Hz display retails for about $4,399. And if you want the best of the best, the i9-12900K with RTX 3080 Ti and a 4K display costs a wallet incinerating $7,499. Yeah, that’s very stupid money and immediately begs the question “But why though?”
I put the GE76 through the ringer over two weeks and there’s no denying this is phenomenally capable 1080p gaming machine. That massive boost in power helps it easily run games, even with ray-tracing, at well over 100fps. It runs relatively cool, is built to last and can drive four external monitors at the same time. But is all that really enough to justify the high price? Uhmmm, no.
MSI GE76 Raider -12U Review
Amongst gaming laptops, the GE76 is one of the most easily identifiable gaming laptops thanks to the etched dragon logo on the titanium blue lid and the ‘panoramic aurora lighting design’ that stretches across the front of the chassis. This used to be a one-of-a-kind thing but other laptops like the Asus Strix Scar have since adopted(even bettered) MSI’s design. You can fiddle around with lighting profiles to your hearts content and even sync it with the per key backlighting on the keyboard for some really cool effects thanks to integration with SteelSeries Engine.
MSI employs a book-hinge design for the display which is great for stability and durability. The GE76 has plenty of ports including an two USB3.2 Gen1 and an SD Card Reader on the right. This is highly uncommon on a gaming laptop and is quite handy for content creators needing to transfer files from their cameras with ease. On the left is a audio combo jack, USB 3.2 Gen 2 and Type-C USB 3.2 Gen2 with DisplayPort 1.4.
At the back are mini Display 1.4, ThunderBolt 4, HDMI 2.1, RJ45 Ethernet and DC power port. You can tell that this thing is more than equipped to be the centrepiece of a serious battlestation that can drive up to four external monitors which is kinda crazy.
Opening the lid reveals a full size keyboard complete with numpad that you spreadsheet wizards will be happy to see. The keys are all backlit and have good travel with a nice bounce to them that makes typing feel good. It’s not as good as a mechanical keyboard from the Alienware X17 though and I wonder why MSI doesn’t offer the option. There’s room for customisation in the software for things like macros and lighting.
The touchpad remains absurdly small especially for a chassis this capacious. I really dislike it and it’s also not centred which makes using it somewhat finicky. It’s still a solid touchpad though with smooth responsiveness and gestures but it really needs to be bigger. Razer are still leading in this regard and I wish more manufacturers copied them.
On either side of the keyboard are two Duo-wave speakers/ woofers designed by Dynaudio. They sound…okay? They have enough stereo separation and loudness to get you through a pinch if you don’t have headsets but nothing to write about really. Above the the display is a FHD 1080p Webcam which is good for those quick Zoom calls or hotel room streaming setups. It does require good lighting for a decent image but at least its there.(I’m looking at you Asus)
Turning to the display itself, our review unit comes with a tried-n-true, 17.3-inch, 1080p 360hz IPS-level panel. It won’t win any awards for color accuracy or contrast but for most things, games especially, it looks good. MSI offers a 4K 120Hz option too but strangely, no QHD 1440p 240Hz which would be perfect for this size of laptop.
I can’t complain about the performance of this display. Outside of eSports titles like Valorant or CS:GO, you aren’t likely to ever come close to the 360Hz refresh so everything runs smoothly. My UFO Tests revealed such a clean and sharp image with no ghosting at all which means, your games will look super clean at all times.
At 1080p, the NVIDIA Geforce RTX 3070Ti has no problem driving games at ultra settings with absolute ease. Even with ray-tracing turned on in games like Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Metro Exodus Enhanced Edition were still running above 100fps. There’s definitely plenty of headroom here and even at 4K on an external monitor, I was able to hit averages of 50-70fps in most titles which is awesome. Couch gamers who have a capable TV like the LG G2 OLED Evo can enjoy 4K 120Hz gaming via the GE76’s HDMI 2.1 output and have a helluva time.
Helping that performance along is that 12-core i7-12700H mated to 32GB of DDR5 memory and a wicked fast NVMe SSD. No bottlenecks here. The combo helped the GE76 score some impressive numbers across our synthetic benchmarks. All this is to say, even outside of gaming, the GE76 has plenty of grunt for video and photo editing, animation and rendering tasks. The SDD has impressive R/W speeds of 6686 MBs/ 4257 MBs which makes apps loading and running quick and snappy.
And with all this performance, MSI has managed to keep heat at bay without turning the laptop into an F-14 Tomcat from Top Gun Maverick. CPU and GPU Temperatures averaged about 75-80C after extended sessions which isn’t bad at all for a laptop barely an inch thick. It’s still a bit too whiny for my tastes, unlike the Asus Strix Scar 17 which is much quieter under load.
As usual, battery life is not great. I measured about 3 hours and 15 min of casual web browsing, writing, YouTube and Spotify before the laptop tapped out. I expected more given the massive 99.9wHr battery which is the biggest possible size allowed on a plane. And that’s even with the Nvidia GPU turned off thanks to a built-in MUX switch. I’d have expected at least 5-6 hours of light use. Ultimately, it’s fine since most people will use the GE76 as a desktop replacement rather than portable gaming setup.
The MSI GE76 Raider – 12U is a mighty powerful package that honestly didn’t win me over. Sure it can run Metro Exodus in 4K 60 with RTX On and it’s solidly built with a ton of ports. But at such a high price, I’d rather buy a $2500 gaming PC and a cheaper gaming laptop like the MSI Katana GF66 for on the road. Like I said at the start, unless you are an eSports pro who needs this kind of gaming prowess on the road, I don’t see why any normal gamer would buy this. The GE76 is undeniably a great gaming laptop but equally undeniable is that the price is just too high.