This was the first laptop with a Tiger Lake H45 CPU that we managed to get for a review, so it is pretty special, at least in our eyes. It is also part of MSI’s revamped gaming lineup, which features new designs and new hardware, thanks to the aforementioned new CPUs and the Ampere GPUs from NVIDIA.
The combination of Tiger Lake and Ampere gives the laptops an ace up their sleeves, in the face of a resizable BAR, which allows the CPU to access the entirety of the GPU memory all at once, improving performance, in theory. Paired with that potent hardware combination are several high-refresh-rate display options, making this laptop a pretty good gaming beast.
Today we are presenting you with LaptopMedia’s top 5 picks about the MSI Pulse GL66.
MSI Pulse GL66: Full Specs / In-depth Review
3 reasons to BUY the MSI Pulse GL66
1. Design and build quality
The laptop is made mostly of plastic, except for the lid, which uses an aluminum lid. Despite the use of an inexpensive material, the base looks to be free of flexes and twists, which is dearly appreciated. The design reflects the Pulse namesake, with lines on the lid, along with a protrusion on it, which makes the laptop look more aggressive, reflecting the powerful hardware inside.
Opening the lid is easy with a single hand, and while it flexes a little, the hinges are very smooth and stable. With that said, the bezels are pretty thin on the sides, while the chin and forehead are a bit bigger, with the latter housing a pair of microphones as well as an HD Webcam. Finally, the weight and height are pretty manageable, for a gaming laptop at least, sitting at 2.25 kg and 23.9 mm, respectively.
The laptop offers a lot of upgradeability, with two SODIMM RAM slots, which can hold up to 64GB of DDR4 RAM in dual-channel mode. The laptop is also one of the few to still offer a 2.5-inch SATA drive bay, along with two M.2 PCIe x4 slots.
Here is our detailed teardown video, which shows exactly how to access both the SODIMM and SSD slots.
The laptop comes with two display options, both of which have a diagonal of 15.6 inches and use IPS panels. The first one has a Full HD resolution and a 144Hz refresh rate. The second display option ups the resolution to 1440p and the refresh rate to 165Hz. Our laptop came with the Full HD panel, as we were happy with its qualities. It had comfortable viewing angles, a max brightness of 335 nits in the middle of the screen, 351 nits as an average for the entire display area, and a maximum deviation of 14%. The contrast ratio is great, sitting at 1320:1. The laptop also covers 93% of the sRGB color gamut.
The color accuracy was pretty off with the factory display settings but got a lot better once we applied our Design and Gaming profile, reaching a dE value of 1.8, which is close to the standard.
Here are the results of the test with both the factory settings (left) and with our Design and Gaming profile applied (right).
Buy our profiles
Since our profiles are tailored for each display model, this article and its respective profile package are meant for MSI Pulse GL66 configurations with 15.6″ 144Hz FHD IPS AUO B156HAN08.0 (AUO80ED).
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Read more about the profiles HERE.
In addition to receiving efficient and health-friendly profiles, by buying LaptopMedia’s products you also support the development of our labs, where we test devices in order to produce the most objective reviews possible.
Office Work should be used mostly by users who spend most of the time looking at pieces of text, tables or just surfing. This profile aims to deliver better distinctness and clarity by keeping a flat gamma curve (2.20), native color temperature and perceptually accurate colors.
Design and Gaming
This profile is aimed at designers who work with colors professionally, and for games and movies as well. Design and Gaming takes display panels to their limits, making them as accurate as possible in the sRGB IEC61966-2-1 standard for Web and HDTV, at white point D65.
Health-Guard eliminates the harmful Pulse-Width Modulation (PWM) and reduces the negative Blue Light which affects our eyes and body. Since it’s custom tailored for every panel, it manages to keep the colors perceptually accurate. Health-Guard simulates paper so the pressure on the eyes is greatly reduced.
2 reasons NOT to buy the MSI Pulse GL66
1. Battery life
The laptop comes with a relatively small 53.3Wh battery pack. The unit didn’t set any records, the opposite, in fact, lasting for only 4 hours and 1 minute of Web browsing, and three hours and 14 minutes of video playback. Now, we conduct the battery tests with Windows Better performance setting turned on, screen brightness adjusted to 120 nits, and all other programs turned off except for the one we are testing the notebook with.
The cooling on the laptop was pretty lackluster. The solution doesn’t look that bad, as it consists of a total of six heat pipes, with two for the CPU, three for the GPU, and one for the graphics memory and the voltage control.
Max CPU load
In this test, we put the CPU through several high loads: a short load (2-10 seconds), a serious load (between 15 and 30 seconds), and a long load (10:00 – 15:00 min).
|Intel Core i7-11800H (45W TDP)||0:02 – 0:10 sec||0:15 – 0:30 sec||10:00 – 15:00 min|
|MSI Pulse GL66||2.94 GHz (B+28%) @ 94°C @ 58W||2.76 GHz (B+20%) @ 94°C @ 52W||2.77 GHz (B+20%) @ 94°C @ 52W|
The CPU didn’t go over 3.00 GHz at all during this test, which is strange as Intel advertises a boost clock speed of 4.60 GHz. Moreover, it maintained a temperature of 94°C during the entirety of our stress test.
|NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060||GPU frequency/ Core temp (after 2 min)||GPU frequency/ Core temp (after 30 min)||GPU frequency/ Core temp (Max Fan)|
|MSI Pulse GL66||1433 MHz @ 83°C @ 85W||1408 MHz @ 87°C @ 84W||1437 MHz @ 81°C @ 85W|
The GPU also didn’t fare well, sitting at a temperature of around 80°C, for most of the test. The frequency didn’t improve either, with the GPU card running at a speed of around 1400MHz.
The laptop was noticeably loud and got pretty hot during a gaming session, with the outside temperature reaching 54.4°C.