Here are the specifications of the MSI GP66 Leopard I’ve been testing:
- Model: MSI GP66 Leopard (10UG-217US)
- Display: 15.6-inch FHD OLED 240Hz (1920 x 1080)
- Processor: 10th Gen Intel Core i7-10870H 2.2GHz (16M cache, 5.0GHz Max Turbo)
- Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 Laptop GPU with 8GB GDDR6
- Memory: 32GB DDR4 3200MHz
- OS: Windows 10 Home
- Storage: 1TB NVMe SSD
- Webcam: 720p
- Ports: 3 x USB 3.2 Gen 1, 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 with DisplayPort 1.4 USB Type-C, 1 x HDMI, 1 x Ethernet, 1 x 3.5mm headphone jack
- Connectivity: WiFi 6 802.11ax, Bluetooth 5.1
- Dimensions: 14.09 x 10.51 x 0.92-inches (W x D x H)
- Weight: 5.25-pounds
- Price: $1,899
MSI GP66 Leopard – Design and Features
There’s nothing special or noteworthy about the GP66’s design. It has a black housing with some geometric lines on the hinge and rear of the laptop – but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The bezels surrounding the 15.6-inch display are slim, with the top corners cut as if you were marking your place in a book. Along the top of the display is a 720p webcam.The GP66’s footprint measures 14.09 x 10.51 x 0.92-inches and weighs 5.25-pounds. It’s small enough that it’ll fit in most backpacks, but heavy enough that you’ll feel it after carrying it around for more than a short time.Perhaps my favorite aspect of the GP66’s design is the number of ports on the back of the laptop’s deck. Specifically, on the rear of the housing you’ll find the charging port, an HDMI port that supports 4K at 60Hz, an Ethernet port and a USB-C port that supports USB 3.2 Gen 2 and DisplayPort 1.4. My favorite part about hiding these types of connections on the back of the laptop is that when the lid is open and you’re focusing on the display, all of the extra cables are hidden from view.
MSI stuck three USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports on the sides of the deck so you can connect a gaming mouse, external hard drive, or any other accessories you need. One port is on the left side, along with a 3.5mm dual audio jack, while the other two ports are on the right.
Sitting between the ports is a chiclet-style keyboard with individually lit RGB keys that offer bright and vivid colors. The function row, just above the number keys, puts common shortcuts for routine tasks at your fingertips. For instance, there’s a button that disables the webcam, another to turn on airplane mode, and shortcuts for built-in apps like MSI’s Dragon Center.
I enjoy typing on this style of keyboard, so I felt right at home doing everyday tasks like typing emails or firing off quick messages. (I’ll touch on my gaming experience in a minute.)
Just beneath the keyboard is a rather tiny multi-touch trackpad. I imagine that most gaming laptop users have a dedicated mouse they use the majority of the time, so I understand why some gaming laptops don’t have robust trackpads. Not to say the GP66’s trackpad isn’t sufficient, as I found it to be responsive and smooth to use. However, it’s tiny for a laptop of this size.
MSI GP66 Leopard – Performance and Gaming
Inside the GP66 Leopard is a 10th generation Intel Core i7-10870H, a Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 Laptop GPU with 8GB GDDR6 memory, 32GB of 3200Mhz RAM, and 1TB NVMe SSD of storage. It’s all more than enough to power the 1080p display and its 240Hz refresh rate.
Curious about how MSI tuned the RTX 3070 for the GP66, I took a look at the core clock and boost speed in GPU-Z. The core speed is 1,215MHz, while the boost goes up to 1,620MHz according to the utility app. Interestingly, according to the Nvidia Control Panel’s system information section, the GPU’s maximum graphics power is 130W, which is at the high end of what Nvidia will allow its mobile GPUs to use. I don’t have any other 30 series Laptop GPUs to compare this number to, but it’s something I plan on keeping an eye on going forward.
One thing I can say for certain – those numbers equate to an impressive performance, both in benchmarking and real world use.
|Benchmarks||MSI GP66 Leopard||Gigabyte Aorus 15G XC||Acer Predator Triton 300 SE||MSI GS66 Stealth|
|Price as tested||$1,799||$1,799||$1,399||TBA|
|CPU||Intel Core i7-10870H||Intel Core i7-10870H||Intel Core i7-11375H||Intel Core i7-10870H|
|GPU||Nvidia RTX 3070 Laptop||Nvidia RTX 3070 w/Max-Q||Nvidia RTX 3060||Nvidia RTX 3080|
|3DMark Time Spy||10266||8851||6377||9623|
|3DMark Fire Strike||21626||19229||14416||19725|
|3DMark Night Raid||47377||44820||30238||40996|
|Total War: Three Kingdoms||128||113||54||83|
|Unigine Heaven 4.0||126||116||84.6||124|
|PCMark 10 Battery Test||2:20||4:41||6:30||5:44|
Check out the chart above to see how it performed against the MSI GS66 Stealth with an RTX 3080 and the Gigabyte Aorus 15G XC with its RTX 3070 with Max-Q. It nearly blows them out of the water across the board.
The real story here is how it handled gaming and everyday tasks. For common tasks like browsing, multi-tasking, streaming music and the like, it’s just fine. I never noticed any hiccups or any slowdowns, even with multiple tabs open and apps running. It’s a champ. I particularly enjoyed listening to music while working, as the speakers sound good enough to my ears. The keyboard, as I already mentioned, is great to type on, though I took a few days to fully adjust to the keys for gaming. I often lost my place on the keys and would end up pressing the wrong button at the wrong time until muscle memory learned everything it needed to stay home.
When it comes to gaming, though, the GP66 truly shines. I spent a lot of time in Warzone, where I saw an average of 156 frames per second with MSI’s extreme performance and gaming mode enabled. With both options turned on, the fans naturally kick on at full bore to keep the system cool. I also monitored frame rates with extreme performance turned off but gaming mode on, and still saw 133 FPS on average. With both options turned off, the 3070 came back down to earth and averaged 111 FPS. I’d be happy with any of those results, let alone the top two.
What’s puzzling to me, however, is that extreme performance didn’t have as big of an impact when it came to benchmarks. For example, I ran all the benchmarks noted above in balanced mode. I then went back and ran some of them in performance mode and the scores were practically identical. Hitman 3 scored 158 in balanced mode, and 159 with extreme performance turned on. That’s not really a difference at all, since benchmarks often vary a few points either way each time they’re run.
1TB of storage is more than enough to get you started with a selection of games and personal documents, and there’s another M.2 slot if you want to add more storage yourself. You can also bump up the total ram to 64GB on your own, just by removing a few screws from the bottom of the housing.
MSI GP66 Leopard – Battery Life
I couldn’t find MSI’s estimated battery life for the GP66 anywhere, and it’s probably for good reason. After running the GP66 through our benchmark, it clocked in at 2 hours and 20 minutes in balanced mode.
That’s not great, especially when you have the likes of the Gigabyte Aorus 15G XC with 4 hours and 41 minutes in the same test. Or the MSI GS66 Stealth and its RTX 3080 clocking 5 hours and 44 minutes.
To be fair, there is a super battery mode in MSI Dragon Center that decreases energy use and extends battery life. But the results in balanced mode aren’t noteworthy at all.
MSI GP66 Leopard – Software
I can’t recall the number of times that I was interrupted by a Norton Security prompt while using the GP66. Whether the pop up letting me know my computer is not “adequately protected” (whatever that means) while I was opening a 3DMark, or another prompt letting me know my coverage had expired and I urgently needed to renew – Norton always seemed to get in the way of the task at hand.
Thankfully, it never interrupted a gaming session, but at $1,800, this isn’t something anyone should have to deal with. You can delete Norton, sure, but the fact that it’s there and passive aggressively shames you into taking some form of actions is too much. I’ll end my rant there.
As for the rest of the software experience on the GP66, it’s fairly basic. To control keyboard lighting, SteelSeries Engine 3 comes preinstalled and even has its own shortcut key on the keyboard. MSI’s Dragon Center also has its own key, and it’s where you’ll find options to control the laptop’s performance modes, monitor system stats and register your purchase.
All the preloaded apps are useful, but each one comes with its own learning curve. For example, SteelSeries Engine 3 is straight-forward when it comes to customizing your keyboard’s backlight and different effects, but you’ll need to spend some time to get the gist of what’s possible.
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