I had hoped that MSI’s GS66 Stealth for 2021 would look and feel a little different than last year’s model — not that the 2020 version was particularly busted in any major way. In fact, the previous model was a few nips and tucks shy of reaching Razer’s high bar for gaming laptop design. But while the outside shell of this year’s model is exactly the same as last year’s, I can live with that because what’s inside is mostly all-new.

The review unit we tested is the current pinnacle of mobile graphics tech: Nvidia’s new RTX 3080 Max-Q graphics chip, with 16GB of video memory (Nvidia also makes an 8GB variant). MSI also added a gorgeous canvas of a display: a 15.6-inch 1440p (QHD) IPS G-Sync screen with a fast 240Hz refresh rate. The price for this configuration will be $2,599 when it releases in June.

The other specs are good, too, but not necessarily cutting-edge. It has 16GB of RAM, a 1TB NVMe SSD, and the same big, four-cell 99.99Wh battery that was in the previous iteration. It is equipped with an Intel Core i7-10870H processor, which on paper is a slight step down compared to the Core i7-10875H in the previous model I tested, but I didn’t notice a difference in performance.

The original first-look at this laptop focused on how good it was at playing games at QHD resolution. Since then, our team has reviewed several other laptops that feature Nvidia’s latest generation of RTX 30-series graphics cards, as well as a few that have QHD screens, too. In that time, we’ve agreed that the RTX 3070, the next notch down on the totem pole of Nvidia’s latest graphics card lineup, is better at QHD gaming than we expected. The Razer Blade 15 Base and Asus’ ROG Zephyrus G15 are two key examples.

If it’s confusing to fathom how a lesser GPU could come close to outpacing what’s supposed to be a much better performer, it’s mostly about the thickness of a laptop. Those two examples are a little thicker than the GS66 Stealth and have a similar or higher amount of power level allotted to their GPUs set to a similar or higher boost clock speed. As we saw, that can result in comparable performance, despite costing hundreds of dollars less than this.

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