I had planned to take this article down the road of a high-noon showdown, where the three gaming laptops from MSI would be shooting it out in a "this town ain't big enough for the three of us" kind of way. Fortunately for our readers, and MSI, there's plenty of room for all three of these gaming notebooks, as they are all priced extremely competitively against the likes of Gigabyte, ASUS and Lenovo. Not to mention the specifications. Every laptop that pitches to price conscious mobile gamers has had corners cut, for sure, but not in any noticeable way when it comes to MSI's hardware.
As usual, this is where MSI have found their lane - they offer pragmatic entry level, sensible mid-range and battle-ready high-end laptops without sacrificing any performance. It truly is a formula that has been working very well for MSI in the last five years; back in 2016 they held 19% of the market share, and in 2019 saw a 20% rise in shipments. 2020 and 2021 bolstered MSI gaming laptop sales further, with the increase in remote workers (who also happened to be gamers for the most part), and it is estimated that the company experienced a 30% - 40% rise in sales in Q1 2021 alone.
Gaming Laptop Specifications Compared
MSI Gaming Laptop Aesthetics
MSI have taken their lumps when it comes to aesthetics, and might not be the belle of the ball in some gamers' eyes, but they are sure getting the gaming job done. Of course, looks are subjective:
Profile & Cooling
One of the features that MSI continue to get right is their thin design. In the same way Gigabyte have realised that designing thin laptops means you really have to get cooling right, MSI developed dedicated thermal solutions for the processor and GPU. MSI gaming laptops come with up to 6 heat pipes, and by enlarging the internal diameter of the thermal pipe, as well as implementing the usage of proprietary thermal grease, gamers realise the benefit of 100% performance for extended gaming sessions.
This does come at a price, however, as it does with the majority of gaming laptops. Under the pressure of maximum performance comes acoustic noise from the fans. When you figuratively put your foot down, you can expect to hear some noise from the fans; the more energy used by the hardware, the louder the fans are when they spin up. That said, if we're talking about pedigree in making silent/quiet gaming laptops, MSI have a trump card to play. The MSI GL65 Leopard is one of the world's quietest gaming laptops, with 7 heat pipes for the CPU and GPU. With two fans and 6 heat pipes, the Katana and Stealth laptops are able to dissipate heat whilst remaining on the quiet end of the scale.
Full Gaming Laptop Comparison
On with the showdown!
We've compared all features against each other, and though there is nothing in the price difference for the Stealth 15M and Katana GF66, we can see that the features are very different.
|Details ||MSI Katana 15.6" RTX 3050 Core i7 Gaming Laptop ||MSI Stealth 15M 15.6" RTX 3060 Core i7 Laptop ||MSI Katana GF66 15.6" RTX 3070 Gaming Laptop |
|CPU Type ||Intel Core i7 ||Intel Core i7 ||Intel Core i7 |
|CPU Manufacturer ||Intel ||Intel ||Intel |
|CPU Family ||Intel© Core i7 ||Intel© Core i7 ||Intel Core i7 |
|Processor Number ||11800H ||11370H ||11800H |
|CPU Speed ||2.4 GHz ||3.3 GHz ||2.4 GHz |
|Turbo/Boost Speed ||4.60 Ghz ||5 GHz ||4.6 GHz |
|Chipset Manufacturer ||Intel ||Intel ||Intel |
|Memory Size ||8000 MB ||16000 MB ||16384 MB |
|Memory Bus Speed ||3200Mhz ||3200 MHz ||3200 MHz |
|Memory Type ||DDR4 ||DDR4 ||DDR4 |
|HDD Type ||SSD ||SSD ||SSD |
|Solid State Storage Type ||NVMe PCIe Gen3x4 SSD ||NVMe PCIe Gen3x4 SSD ||NVMe PCIe Gen3x4 SSD |
|Solid State Capacity ||512 GB ||1 TB ||512 GB |
|Screen Size ||15.6 in ||15.6 in ||15.6 in |
|Screen Type ||IPS-Level ||IPS ||IPS-Level |
|Refresh rate ||144Hz Refresh Rate ||144Hz Refresh Rate ||144Hz Refresh Rate |
|Screen Res. Type ||Full HD ||Full HD ||Full HD |
|Aspect Ratio ||16:9 ||16:9 ||16:9 |
|Screen Resolution ||1920 x 1080 pixels ||1920 x 1080 pixels ||1920 x 1080 pixels |
|Graphics Device ||GeForce RTX 3050 ||GeForce RTX 3060 ||GeForce RTX 3070 |
|Memory ||4GB ||6 GB ||8 GB |
|Graphics Memory ||GDDR6 ||GDDR6 ||GDDR6 |
|Number of Speakers ||2 speakers ||2 speakers ||2 speakers |
|Speaker Power Rating ||2 W ||2 W ||2 W |
|Integrated Microphone ||Yes ||Yes ||Yes |
|USB Support ||USB3.2 ||USB3.1 ||USB3.0 |
|HDMI Port ||1x HDMI 2.0 ||HDMI ||1x HDMI 2.0 |
|Thunderbolt ||No ||Yes ||No |
Prices & Features Compared
MSI Katana 15.6" RTX 3050 Core i7
Priced perfectly on the lower rungs of the gaming ladder (currently £799 - Feb 25th 2022), the MSI Katana has the multi-tasking power of the Core i7 11800H, FULL HD gaming at 1080p, and 144Hz display for fast framerates. Although the lowest memory of the three, with 8GB DDR4 RAM, this will be plenty when paired with the RTX 3050 in competitive gaming and E-Sports titles - but also fairing very well in AAA titles and open-world games.
The RTX 3050 mobile GPU is a perfect entry level card, having a boost speed of 1500 MHz, 2048 CUDA cores, 4GB VRAM and 128 Bit Memory Bus.
MSI Stealth 15M 15.6" RTX 3060 Core i7
The MSI Stealth benefits from a few features that might be useful for creators, such as Thunderbolt 4, and also has a sizeable 1TB SSD. The memory increase over the Katana RTX 3050 means you get 16GB DDR4 RAM instead of 8GB, too, so this will be beneficial for all tasks you throw at the 15M. The price is what you'd expect from MSI at this spec - £1099.97 (Feb 25th 2022), and there's pennies in the price between the 15M and the GF66,
The dedicated RTX 3060 mobile GPU is a superb card, with a boost speed of 1283 - 1703 MHz, 3840 CUDA cores, 6GB VRAM and 192 Bit Memory Bus.
CCL RECOMMENDS: MSI Katana GF66 15.6" RTX 3070 Core i7
The pick of the bunch for us at £1099 (Feb 25th 2022), the MSI Katana GF66 always shows up in our "best gaming laptop" comparisons due to the sheer amount of value you're getting in the low profile chassis. MSI have realised there is a place for looks and performance with the GF66, with the trademark black and red design, and high-performance RTX 3070 on board.
As with the other Katana in this comparison, you have the Core i7 11800H, a CPU that benchmarks at 120 FPS with Apex Legends, 220 FPS with Valorant, then all the way up to AAA titles like Assassin's Creed Valhalla with 51 FPS performance when paired with the 16GB RAM and RTX 3070.
Without doubt, MSI have got it nailed with mobile gaming right now, and at all price points. The best choice of the three above is the MSI Katana GF66 15.6" RTX 3070 Core i7 for value for money, with the RTX 3070 making it shine over the Stealth 15M. That said, creators should take a second look at the MSI Stealth 15M 15.6" RTX 3060 Core i7, which just has it in terms of connectivity, network speed and storage.