Need a 15-inch PC that’s good for gaming and productivity? Installed in a simple 15-inch case, this MSI GF66 11UC-098FR Katana contains a GeForce RTX 3050 Ampere, a graphics card presented in May 2021 allowing all AAA titles to be launched, but also an 11th gen Core i7 Octo Core supported by a good amount of RAM (16 GB) and by a fast SSD storage of 512 GB. Robust and presenting a sober design, the metal frame updates a Full HD 144Hz IPS mat borderless screen to be one step ahead in games . On the other hand, the connection is correct, the keyboard backlit in red and the battery life is not ridiculous. On the other hand, the ventilation is heard and the surfaces of the chassis could be more robust.
Features of the MSI GF66 11UC-098FR
|Screen (s)||15.6 “Full HD LED IPS 144Hz thin edges (1920×1080, anti-glare / matte)|
|Processor||Intel Core i7-11800H Tiger Lake (2.3 GHz, 8 cores)|
|RAM installed||16 GB (2 x 8 GB) DDR4 3200 MHz, 2 slots|
|Graphic card||NVIDIA Ampere GeForce RTX 3050 (60W) 4 GB GDDR6 dedicated, Intel Iris Xe and NVIDIA Optimus|
|Storage||512 GB M.2 NVMe PCIe SSD 1 M.2 1 2.5 “SATA port|
|Connectivity||1 USB 2.0 2 USB 3.2 (Gen1) 1 USB 3.2 Type-C (Gen1), HDMI 2.0|
|Network||Wi-Fi ax, Bluetooth 5.1, Gigabit Ethernet (RJ45)|
|Backlit Keyboard||Yes, red|
|Audio system||2 speakers (2 x 2W) Nahimic 3 Audio Boost|
|battery life announced / Battery||7 hours / Li-Polymer 3 cells 53.5Whr|
|Dimensions (mm) / Weight||359 x 259 x 24.9 / 2.1 Kg|
Chassis, connectors, screen of the MSI GF66 11UC-098FR Katana
For 2021, MSI wanted to shake up its range of entry-level / mid-range gaming laptops a little with new series, including the MSI Katana which includes this MSI GF66 11UC-098FR. Visually, the MSI GF66 has a lot in common with the MSI GF65 Thin it replaces. Indeed, the Katana series has chosen a minimalist design with smooth and flat and matte surfaces, in particular on the back of the cover covered with black brushed aluminum and with the discreet logo. The interior is of the same ilk although we can observe a wood-like finish on the edges. The finishes are neat and the design remains sober enough for those who want to take the PC in a professional environment.
The keyboard is backlit in a red area . It’s set back from the GF65 and a bit limited for 2021. A numeric keypad is present.
Good point, the MSI GF66 11UC-098FR slips into a well optimized format with 2.1 kg on the scale and 25 mm thick. It’s not as compact as the GF65 but it’s still around the laptop for its class.
Upon opening, we discover a screen enhanced by a refined and immersive edge-to-edge design thanks to the quality of the IPS panel and its wide viewing angles. Its 144 Hz refresh rate ensures perfect responsiveness in games so you never miss the boat during an action. Its Full HD definition (1920 x 1080 px) is the most suitable for gamers and allows you to get the most out of your High Definition content while the anti- reflective coating prevents ambient light from being reflected on the screen, improving comfort (especially in dark scenes). Note that it is installed on “Drop Down” hinges the principle of which is to tilt the base when the screen opens to provide a more comfortable typing angle and to allow air to circulate under the base.
The connection is distributed on each side of the base and brings together everything a modern user needs, even if the card reader has been abandoned and we rediscover the USB 2.0 port that we thought forgotten in 2021. To its sides, there is an HDMI 2.0 output, two USB 3.2 ports, a USB 3.2 Type-C Gen1 port, a Gigabit Ethernet port, a headphone jack, a mic jack and a power jack. The wireless modules are entrusted to Wifi AX and Bluetooth 5.2 of the latest generation. No Thunderbolt 4 here.
Performance, battery life of the MSI GF66 11UC-098FR Katana
The MSI GF66 11UC-098FR gains momentum with the discovery of its graphics card entrusted to the new NVIDIA Ampère GeForce RTX 3050 (2021). It is a mid-range solution recently released in the Ampere range which is intended to supplant the GTX 1650 and GTX 1660 Ti in entry-level gaming PCs. This RTX 3050 has the particularity of having Ray Tracing technology for a more realistic and fluid rendering in games. A step below the RTX 3060 of course, this new card should roughly equal a GTX 1660 Ti to benefit fairly demanding gamers and creatives in compatible applications.
Now let’s see what the PC has in the belly. Based on the Core i7-11800H Octo Core processor (2021), the PC offers substantially the same performance or a little more than a previous generation Core i9-10875H (10th). Overall, this results in a complete and easy management of the versatile use composed of video editing, 3D animation, programming or parallelization, with complex calculations. The 16 GB RAM in front is comfortable and offers the right amount of flexibility in multitasking, enough to ensure the next few years.
Opposite, the storage is entrusted to a 512 GB M.2 NVMe PCIe SSD which will bring a welcome dose of responsiveness to the system. Compared to a standard mechanical hard drive, it is quieter, more robust and energy efficient, and allows Windows to achieve remarkable fluidity with short load times and zero latency execution. What’s more, its capacity is nothing short of ridiculous and can accommodate a good chunk of your game library although some may not find it sufficient.
A final word about the fairly good capacity battery (53 Whr). This should allow an battery life of about 7 hours in Internet browsing via Wifi. It is about the right average for a 17 inch.