The MSI GP66 Leopard owns a new design, borrowed from the GE66 Raider series, which is thinner and more beautiful than the GP65 generation. The configuration of the GP66 Leopard series has also been upgraded with the GeForce RTX 3000 mobile GPU with Ampere architecture for enhanced gaming performance. So let’s know about it in detail in this MSI GP66 Leopard review below.
This MSI Leopard gaming notebook has been completely rebuilt by MSI compared to the GP65 Leopard and it is not difficult to identify elements borrowed from the GE66 Raider series. The aluminum used for the lid and interior, the game laptop is now a few millimeters thinner than the previous generation but weighs 2.38 kg versus 2.30 kg.
Since MSI adopted a new design language known by the company called MSIOlogy, its top gaming laptops have reduced the elements of gaming. The lid design of GP66 Leopard is no longer the familiar red lines of MSI and no logo with lights, it is merely a black side, engraved logo.
The hinge part is upgraded with a rear hinge, pushing the screen forward and when open, the screen is suspended at the front. With this design, the hinge will be more resistant, we can open the notebook with one hand because the base is heavier than the lid, the hinge is also smoother and it gives an opening angle of about 130 degrees.
The bottom has thick rubber feet to lift the laptop to create air space for two radiator fans. The bottom cover design is still a piece of plastic, so it is not very difficult to remove for upgrade and maintenance. We can also change the RAM and add M.2 SSDs.
The rear edge of the GP66 Leopard is quite beautiful with two large heat sinks, similar to the design of the GE66 Raider but smaller. Wired ports such as output and Ethernet are located between these two heat sinks, these include power ports, HDMI, RJ-45, and USB-C. This USB-C port supports USB 3.2 Gen2 Standard (10 Gbps) and DisplayPort output.
The remaining ports are located on the two sides include USB-A (USB 3.2 Gen1 5Gbps) and 3.5 mm audio jack; the right side has 2 more USB-A ports. More heat sink slots on both sides of the laptop.
Keyboard and trackpad
The GP66 Leopard’s keyboard has a new smaller layout that has been used by the company in recent times on 15.6″ laptops. Standard gauge and customizable per-key RGB backlit lighting with SteelSeries technology.
However, this keyboard has significantly less travel, although the bounce of the key is still very high. So the feeling of typing on this keyboard was nothing special, we still prefer the 1.7 mm long travel on the previous generation MSI laptop keyboard.
Some quick activation features are integrated into the FN key row, you can quickly open the SteelSeries Engine or activate the Cooler Boost, open MSI Dragon Center with a very convenient combination.
Coming to the trackpad, there is also nothing special, it measures 10.5 x 6.5 cm, the surface is coated with low friction roughness to enhance the user experience, a multi-point operation also more convenient and Lower latency with the Microsoft Precision Touchpad driver. The 2 mouse keys are located under the trackpad, the feel of pressing these 2 keys is very good with high bounce and does not require much pressure.
Our MSI GP66 Leopard review unit has a 15.6-inch screen, IPS panel from LG, equipped with FHD resolution (1920 x 1080 px) with a refresh rate of 144 Hz. 320 nits brightness is good, close to 1000: 1 high contrast and 97% sRGB, 61% AdobeRGB, and 100% NTSC color gamut coverage. This panel has been used by MSI on the GP65 Leopard series and we are completely satisfied with its performance when used for entertainment and work.
The screen border design is quite thin, making the 15.6-inch laptop quite compact. The need to drop 1 cm down on gaming laptops is already very good. Now some brands have started designing 4-bezel thin screens to make changes to the best laptop for gaming will also happen soon. 720p, a picture is not clear but needs meeting or online learning.
In terms of sound, the MSI Leopard gaming notebook is equipped with 2 speakers, and the position of the 2 speakers is now set on the sides, meaning that the sound will exit from the 2 sides downward as before. Therefore, sound quality also improves in terms of loudness and tonal range.
In terms of configuration, our MSI GP66 Leopard review unit has a very good configuration in the price range of nearly $1,899. We will have an 8-core processor, graphics with GeForce RTX 3060, 16 GB RAM, and 1 TB SSD, details are as follows:
- CPU: Intel Core i7-10870H (Comet Lake-H) 8-core 16-thread, 2.2 GHz – 4.8 GHz (Turbo Boost 3.0) – 5 GHz (Thermal Velocity Boost), 4.2 GHz all-core, 16 MB cache, TDP 45 W;
- GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 GA106 (Ampere), 30 SM, 3840 CUDA cores, 30 RT cores, 120 Tensor cores, 900 – 1703 MHz (Boost) + 6 GB GDDR6 14 Gbps;
- RAM: 16 GB (2 x 8 GB Samsung DDR4-3200)
- SSD: 1 TB Samsung PM991 M.2 2280 PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe;
- Wi-Fi: Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX201 (Gig +) + Bluetooth 5.1;
- LAN: Intel I225-V Ehternet;
- Battery: 4 cell 65 Whr;
- OS: Windows 10 Home SL 64-bit.
The Core i7-10870H is a high-end 16-thread octa-core CPU clocked up to 5 GHz (TVB) single-core but not easy to reach as it will require CPU temperature when loaded at 70 Celsius – very difficult for a laptop with a limited cooling solution like the GP66 Leopard, only possible with a laptop with a large, lean heatsink such as the MSI GT series. On GP66 Leopard, we see the single-core clock of Core i7-10870H can reach 4.8 GHz at Turbo Boost 3.0 level and multi-core at 4.2 GHz by design.
The GeForce RTX 3060 gives a very strong performance, which can be said to be equivalent to the RTX 2070 Super on a laptop. It still uses the GA106 GPU, but the laptop version has some differences compared to the GA106 on the discrete RTX 3060, for example, the CUDA multiplier with 3840 cores (compared to the 3584 cores on the RT4 3060 desktop), multiplier. Tensor 120 multiplier, 8 multipliers, but the Ray Tracing multiplier is less with only 30 cores instead of 48 cores. The clock speed of the RTX 3060 will depend on the power setting (TGP), with the GP66 Leopard it has a TGP of up to 130 W and so the power of the GA106 is maximized, the clock can be up to 2000 MHz. With what GA106 has shown on the desktop, we also expect it to bring a very good gaming experience on laptops with FHD resolution, maximum graphics with Ray Tracing.
The rest of the configuration is 16 GB RAM, the laptop has 2 SO-DIMM slots and we can mount up to 64 GB.
The built-in SSD is a Samsung PM991 1 TB PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe, with a read speed of 2300 MB/s and 1500 MB/s writing speed, quite good random access speed with 425 MB/s read and 358 MB/s write. The laptop also has 1 more M.2 slot to expand storage capacity with PCIe SSD or SATA.
In the process of MSI GP66 Leopard review and using this device, we discovered many interesting things. The first step is to update the laptop because this machine was not very special just before the new update, but after the update, it has become a super-powerful machine. We used this MSI gaming laptop for about a week and before we wrote this MSI GP66 Leopard review, MSI and Nvidia released 2 updates, MSI updated the Dragon Center application to adjust the display settings for Balanced and Extreme Performance modes. And Nvidia updated the new driver to open the resizable BAR feature, making the RTX 3060’s graphics performance significantly improved on this laptop.
We found out that the update corrects the power mode or opens the CPU power limit, enabling the Core i7-10870H to run in PL1 and PL2 power modes with higher clock rates. For example, in the Balanced mode, before the update, in the Cinebench R20 test, its Vcore is always below 1 V, a maximum of 0.974 V, and thus its maximum clock speed when running this test is only at 3.7 max and maintained at 3.5 GHz. After the update, in Balanced mode, the Vcore rises to 1,235 V, and in PL1, the CPU runs from a multi-core clock to 4.2 GHz, power consumption is 85 W, then cuts to below 80 W because of thermal limitation and maintained at 4 GHz. The difference in multi-core pulse before and after the Dragon Center update is significant in the Cinebench score, which you can see in the table above.
Similar to Blender Render and V-Ray 5 tests, the difference between before and after the update is obvious. The time to complete the two tests of Blender’s BMW and Classroom is shorter, ie faster, with V-RAY, the ratio of vsamples is significantly higher than before the update. We test in both performance modes commonly used on the device are Balanced and Extreme Performance.
This table compares the CPU performance of the GP66 Leopard’s Core i7-10870H CPU with the best laptop for gaming using the 6-core Core i7-10750H CPU. The kernel differential for GP66 Leopard completely wins overall multi-core tests.
So do we have to render this laptop or not? Multi-core processors always give us many excuses to use with this and for those of you who are working or studying graphics, we think you can fully exploit this CPU, but be careful that it can’t “crawl” like gaming desktops. When running a multi-core render, the CPU temperature is too high, which can be up to 95 ° C in the Balanced Mode, and at 93 ° C in the Extreme Performance Mode.
Apart from the difference in CPU and GPU performance, these two fans also work at different speeds to create a balance between noise, heat dissipation efficiency, and performance. If you want to use this laptop to render then you should turn on Cooler Boost.
In Balanced mode, the fan will rotate at a maximum speed of 4000 rpm, and at Extreme Performance, it is 5100 rpm and if the Cooler Boost is on, both fans will spin at 6000 rpm and thus the Core i7-10870HH will be able to keep the temperature at 90 ° C. However, we should not render frequently because in the long run, the cooling system will become less efficient and the CPU life will also be reduced.
In terms of graphics performance, the RTX 3060 on the GP66 Leopard before and after the new Nvidia driver update and MSI Dragon Center is also a significant change in performance during gaming. As you can see in the table above, FPS greatly improves during gaming in Extreme Performance mode before and after driver updates and it makes it easier to play AAA titles at peak configurations.
While the performance differential between Balanced and Extreme Performance modes is not great during gaming as both of these power modes affect CPU, the RTX 3060 GPU still runs at its highest clock speed. It can reach high clock rates of up to 2000 MHz, when playing games like Control with Ray Tracing max, DLSS on, the GPU clock is always above 1800 MHz, ranging from about 1815 MHz to 1950 MHz, TGP of the GPU is at 118 W, still below the 130 W limit.
The performance of the RTX 3060 is maximized on this gaming notebook and its performance can be said to be comparable to the RTX 2070 Super – a higher-end Turing-generation GPU.
There is a small discovery from us in the process of making MSI GP66 Leopard review that we can improve the heat dissipation efficiency of the GPU by simply placing the device higher if you do not want to turn on Cooler Boost. When we test the Fuermark 4K in Extreme Performance Mode, the maximum GPU temperature is 74 ° C, the GPU fan now rotates at 5100 rpm. When we pick up the laptop from the table and use a box on the shelf, the temperature of the GPU starts dropping to 72 ° C. If turn on the Cooler Boost, the temperature will drop to 69 ° C.
For CPU temperature, when playing the game, it will not be as hot when rendering because the cores will run at different clock levels instead of being constant at 1 pulse. We noticed that the CPU gaming temperature was no higher than 90 ° C, of which we noticed it was 86 ° C with the Extreme Performance mode. Most games we played are tied to the GPU so the CPU is quite independent, its clock speed is also pushed down to 2.3 – 2.5 GHz and therefore its temperature is around 70 ° C. Wolfenstein: Young Blood with Full Mein Leben Graphics Ray Tracing, CPU running at 2.7 GHz while GPU above 1900 MHz.
Talking about the battery, we do not appreciate the gaming laptop battery with 8 core CPU. In fact, using the Balanced mode, the CPU usually runs at very high speeds, even with normal office tasks above 4 GHz, so the battery life lasts only 2 hours. We used PCMark 8 to test the battery of this laptop in a 75% brightness setting, only 1 hour and 8 minutes of battery life were found in Balanced mode.
To prolong battery life, you are forced to switch to Silent or Super Battery mode, at which point the CPU will automatically cut the pulse down very low, even only 1 GHz, it is suitable when you watch movies or need batteries. Takes longer when most of it runs out. We tried again with the Super Battery mode, the brightness was reduced to 25% when used under office lighting, the battery life of the device reached 2 hours and 38 minutes with PCMark 8.
Overall, MSI GP66 Leopard is very interesting for us. In terms of design, we love its design because it is not as colorful as before, targeting more audiences. Speaking of performance, we have no complaints, both CPU and GPU are very strong, high graphics can handle most AAA games at FHD resolution. The heat issue is also handled well by the MSI on this gaming laptop, the CPU and GPU are not exposed to dangerous temperatures during gaming. At the price of around $1,899 on Amazon.com, we find the GP66 Leopard very reasonable.
How do you feel about this MSI GP66 Leopard review? You can leave your comments in the comment box below.
If you want to know more about the GeForce RTX 3060, then we have also reviewed the GIGABYTE GeForce RTX 3060 GPU, then you can also see it and do not forget to give your opinion.