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Rating
9

Stylish, powerful, and suited for both business and pleasure, the MSI GP76 Leopard is a joy to game on, and in some cases improves upon the GE66 Raider Dragonshield - which was one of the highlights of 2020.

Powerful NVIDIA Ampere graphics
Excellent display
Solid connectivity options
Sleek and sophisticated design

Sound still disappointing
Loud cooling system
Not as much RAM as more dedicated gaming systems

Taiwanese manufacturer MSI has a well-earned reputation for making powerful, high-quality laptops for dedicated gaming. Even its laptops aimed less at gamers, though, can still give other machines a run for their money – for example, the new GP76 Leopard, which is pitched not just at the gaming market but at professional creatives.

Having reviewed and loved MSI’s GE66 Raider Dragonshield last year, I was eager to get my hands on the Leopard and take it for a spin… and let me tell you, it did not leave me wanting.

Design

Unlike the GE66 Raider Dragonshield, or the new GE76 Dragon Edition Tiamat, MSI hasn’t done anything fancy with the aesthetic here: sleek, black and understated are the words of the day. The finish is matte rather than glossy, as well, meaning it won’t retain fingerprints for years.

Connectivity options are good, with three USB-A 3.2 ports; a USB-C 3.2 port with DisplayPort 1.4; one HDMI output which supports 4K at 60Hz; Ethernet; and BlueTooth 5.1 and Wi-Fi 6 capability. The AC input is located at the back, next to the HDMI, Ethernet, and USB-C ports.

The keyboard is a fine entry by Steel Series, and features per-key RGB as well as anti-ghosting. I appreciate that it still lights up keys with alternative functions when the Fn button is pressed, even when the RGB is turned off. Like with most laptop keyboards, though – including the Dragonshield’s – it feels a bit cramped for gaming.

msi gp76 leopard REVIEW: MSI Leopard GP76 – King of the Jungle

Display and Sound

Once again, MSI has delivered a solid full-HD IPS display with a 3ms response time and a 240Hz refresh speed. It’s clear, it’s crisp, it’s colourful, and I have no complaints about it whatsoever – for the purposes of gaming, it does its job and does it well.

Sadly, once again, I can’t say the same for the speakers. The two 2W Nahimic 3 speakers are better than the ones on the Dragonshield, sure, but they still suffer the laptop speaker curse of tinniness, not helped by the fact that they fire down into your desk. Plug in dedicated speakers, or use headphones.

Performance

While in some ways it’s not as powerful as the GE66 – it only packs in 16GB RAM rather than 32GB, its screen is 240Hz rather than 300Hz – the GP76 Leopard does update the GPU from the last-generation RTX 2070 Super to the new RTX 3070.

This adds significant oomph to the graphics. For your plain old regular gaming, the Leopard barely even notices the game is there at all – the RTX 3070 GPU ate Hades for breakfast and came back for seconds, averaging 120fps. World of Warcraft: Shadowlands on maximum settings with ray-traced shadows? That earned an “aww, that’s cute” from the Leopard as it ran the game at a consistently buttery 100fps. Overwatch on ultra settings? 70fps the whole way through without breaking a sweat.

But you don’t buy a high-end laptop for plain old regular gaming, of course. No, if you’re dropping thousands on a machine like this, you want to push it to its limits. So that’s what I did, with 2019’s Control: a graphics-intensive ray-traced extravaganza somewhat notorious for grinding even the previous RTX 20 series cards to a fine powder on the highest settings.

In order to really flog seven hells out of the 3070, I kicked up the graphics and ray tracing as far as they’d go. The result? A pretty consistent 55-60fps throughout most of it – occasionally it dropped below that during intense fight scenes, but never to unplayable levels.

20210204 164827 scaled REVIEW: MSI Leopard GP76 – King of the Jungle
Pictured: probably nothing to worry about.

I did notice the fans kicking into high gear, though: like a lot of gaming laptops, the Leopard can run pretty warm, so that makes for loud cooling (though, I noticed, not as warm as the Dragonshield did – hats off to the new Cooler Boost system). Headphones recommended.

Verdict

Once again, MSI has knocked it out of the park with a stylish and powerful laptop suitable for work and gaming alike. Though it’s pitched slightly more towards the business market than the GE66 Raider Dragonshield was, the GP76 Leopard is still a mighty beast which equals – and in some areas, betters – last year’s space-age entry; in particular, the addition of the RTX 3070 gives the Leopard a lot of extra roar.

Even if a fair bit of that roar is still coming from the fans.

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Rating
9

Stylish, powerful, and suited for both business and pleasure, the MSI GP76 Leopard is a joy to game on, and in some cases improves upon the GE66 Raider Dragonshield - which was one of the highlights of 2020.

Powerful NVIDIA Ampere graphics
Excellent display
Solid connectivity options
Sleek and sophisticated design

Sound still disappointing
Loud cooling system
Not as much RAM as more dedicated gaming systems