Gaming laptops are an ever-growing race, especially in 2022, where machines with powerful graphics cards go far beyond the traditional hefty devices with flashing RGB you might expect in this field. Oddly enough, the MSI Katana GF66 sits more solidly in the past, though not necessarily in a bad way.
It is a laptop made for PC gamers who do not want to spray out for the highest quality of materials and design as well as top level performance. As a result, there are a few compromises to accept. And perhaps the hardest part is swallowing that even though Katana presents itself as a value proposition, higher prices across the board and a lack of low-end GPU capabilities limit this laptop’s appeal.
The model of MSI Katana GF66 I tested is not the most wallet-friendly there is, with a 12th generation Intel Core i7-12700H chip, the medium to low Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060, 1 TB SSD and 16 GB RAM – all at a price of $ 1,399 (£ 1,399). There is a small but significant difference between the UK model I tested and its US equivalent, with the former having a faster 240-Hz display, and the latter, a 144-Hz panel. Both are 15.6-inches, with the Katana GF76 being the 17-inch version of this machine. You can venture as low as a $ 1,100 model and get an RTX 3050, 512 GB SSD and 8 GB RAM instead if you are looking for the cheapest solution from this series.
The Katana GF66 is definitely a step up from the previous model, with a new 12th generation Intel chip being the biggest change. You can easily break the 60 frames-per-second mark into graphically demanding titles such as Borderlands 3, and even get over 100 fps in Ghost Recon: Breakpoint– all on Ultra settings at 1080p. For fps fanatics, tested around 110 fps in Apex Legends on the same settings. To take full advantage of the 240-Hz screen, use lower Medium settings and reduce the resolution to 720p. The 144-Hz model, available in the United States, should allow around medium settings at 1080p to reach the maximum frame rate.
If you compare these results with our favorite budget gaming laptop from last year, the Acer Nitro 5 – also with an RTX 3060 – gives it a shock of between 10 and 25 percent. Frame rate-focused titles see the biggest difference, too Peak offers similar frames at 1080p Ultra as it offered at 1080p Low settings on the comparable model.
Performance does not give much to complain about, and the same goes for some important performance-related factors. The fans are not too intrusive, even when this laptop really gets started, and despite this, it never gets too hot to touch. The stable performance is matched by a strong display. OK, it does not bring remarkably vibrant colors, but the 1080p resolution provides appropriate details, it becomes reasonably bright for a gaming laptop – copes with most indoor conditions, but you do not want to use it outside – and the 240-Hz panel has pleasantly smooth games across all titles.