REVIEW: MSI GS76 Stealth – There’s No Hiding This Dragon

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Rating
9

A great option for portable gaming, which easily outperforms other lightweight MSI gaming notebooks – though doesn't quite reach the heights of MSI's flagship machines.

• Portable and stylish design
• Large battery
• Array of good display options
• Latest Intel Core processor and Nvidia GeForce 3080 graphics
• Effective cooling system

• Prominent vent at the top of the keyboard
• Underperforms in some games
• Sound is only decent

I’ve long been waiting for a notebook with the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 graphics card to cross my desk, and now, thanks to MSI, I’ve finally been able to play with one: the svelte GS76 Stealth. From the moment it arrived I was itching to test it out – but would it live up to my expectations?

Design and Features

The GS76 Stealth has a classy, minimalist external design in a lightweight and portable chassis. The lid is brushed aluminium, similar to other MSI offerings like the GF65 Thin, with the dragon logo embossed on it in darker black, giving it a lovely look and feel.

Open it up and you’ll find a Steelseries keyboard with per-key RGB, plus a vent at the top of the keyboard that’s so big I initially mistook it for a speaker grille (the actual speakers are on either side of the trackpad).

MSI NB GS76 Stealth photo24 e1631851623283 1024x489 REVIEW: MSI GS76 Stealth – There’s No Hiding This Dragon

In terms of connectivity, you have a wide selection of ports: Thunderbolt, Ethernet, USB-C, USB-A, HDMI (8K@60Hz or 4K@120Hz, which is very nice), SD card reader, and 3.5mm audio combo jack. It also comes with Wi-Fi 6e capability for future-proofed wireless internet.

For maximum portability, the Stealth also includes a 99.9Wh battery, the largest you’re legally allowed to take on a plane, and has a thin and light frame making it easy to carry, weighing in at 2.45kg with a thickness of 20.5mm – this is thinner even than the GF65 Thin, though a bit heavier.

MSI says the battery will give you up to 11 hours of life; while I wasn’t able to test that, it’s an impressive number for a gaming notebook, though would of course come with a few sacrifices in terms of performance.

msi stealth app player 1024x505 REVIEW: MSI GS76 Stealth – There’s No Hiding This Dragon

Display and Sound

You have a variety of options to choose from when it comes to your panel, with options for both QHD and 4K UHD displays. The one we reviewed was only 1080p – but traded pixels for speed, with a blistering 360Hz refresh rate. This made it fast and responsive, and while I’m a sucker for 1440p (and glad it’s an option), I came away more than satisfied with the FHD IPS panel. It was crisp, vibrant, and fast.

The Dynaudio speakers were fine – better than most laptop speakers, especially bottom-firing ones, but I’ve heard better; the GE76 Raider Dragon Edition Tiamat has yet to be surpassed in terms of sound quality from MSI, as far as I’m concerned.

Performance

The GS76 Stealth is packing some serious silicon. An 11th-generation Intel Core i9-11900H processor came in the model we reviewed, alongside Nvidia’s top-end RTX 3080 laptop GPU. Because of this, for the most part, even the newest games played exceptionally: arena shooter Splitgate never dropped a frame, running at a silky smooth 120 fps, while Bethesda’s latest and greatest AAA title Deathloop sat comfortably in the 90-100 range the whole time.

When it came to 2019’s Control, however – the title I always turn to when I really want to put a graphics card through its paces – there was a surprising letdown. At native 1080p resolution with visuals and ray tracing turned to maximum, the game averaged around 40-50 fps, usually settling around the 45 mark – it never breached 60 even once, which is not what I was expecting.

This was by no means unplayable, but I was baffled by how the 3080 in the Stealth was underperforming some notebooks I’ve used that came with the 3070 and averaged around 50-60fps under the same settings. Now, of course, turning on DLSS does bump that up to a much better 80-90fps, but I was disappointed that I had to turn it on at all to get above 60, especially when paired with that 11th-gen Core i9 processor.

gpu RAY 1024x655 REVIEW: MSI GS76 Stealth – There’s No Hiding This Dragon

On a positive note, while that vent at the top of the keyboard is massive, the Cooler Boost Trinity+ cooling system does a great job at keeping the laptop from burning my fingers off after extended play, even if – like most laptop fans – it can get a touch on the loud side.

Verdict

In terms of raw specs, the GS76 Stealth comes close to dethroning the GE76 Raider Dragon Edition Tiamat as MSI’s best gaming notebook – but in real world performance, it falls short; I have little doubt that the Tiamat configurations with 11th-gen Intel Core processors and Nvidia RTX 3080 GPUs surpass it.

Still, leave that aside and what you have is probably MSI’s best portable gaming notebook, certainly beating the GF65 Thin in a lot of important respects (including, funnily enough, thinness). I’d easily recommend it to anyone looking for a high-performance laptop to game on the go.

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Rating
9

A great option for portable gaming, which easily outperforms other lightweight MSI gaming notebooks – though doesn't quite reach the heights of MSI's flagship machines.

• Portable and stylish design
• Large battery
• Array of good display options
• Latest Intel Core processor and Nvidia GeForce 3080 graphics
• Effective cooling system

• Prominent vent at the top of the keyboard
• Underperforms in some games
• Sound is only decent