The introduction of Intel’s new H45 CPUs triggered a fresh wave of enthusiasm among laptop fans. I’d been waiting for the new crop of laptops with these CPUs to appear on the Indian market since the announcement, and MSI was the first to pull the trigger, making it happen before the other manufacturers.
The MSI Pulse GL66 is powered by an Intel Core i7-11800H 11th Gen processor with 8 cores and 16 threads. Apart from the CPU, the MSI Pulse GL66 looks to be a well-rounded solution for gamers interested in 1080p gaming on a laptop. Does it come up to expectations in this regard? To learn more, read the complete review of the laptop.
Please keep in mind that the MSI Pulse GL66 device we received for this study is an engineering sample, so performance may vary somewhat. It might be somewhat better or slightly worse than the retail one you’d wind up purchasing on the market.
Specifications for the MSI Pulse GL66
The MSI Pulse GL66 gaming laptop has a respectable set of specifications. The 11th generation Intel Core i7-11800H is paired with the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 GPU with 6GB VRAM to give some promising gaming performance. Here’s a short rundown of the MSI Pulse GL66 gaming laptop’s specifications:
- Processor: Intel Core i7-11800H – 8 cores and 16 threads. Base clock – 3.1Ghz & boost clock of 4.2Ghz.
- Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 GPU with 6GB GDDR6 VRAM. Up to 1485MHz Boost Clock, 85W Maximum Graphics Power with Dynamic Boost.
- RAM: 16GB DDR4 3200Mhz
- Storage: 2x M.2 SSD slot (NVMe PCIe Gen3)
- Display: 15.6″ FHD (1920×1080), 144Hz, IPS-Level
As previously stated, the MSI Pulse GL66 is powered by one of Intel’s latest H45 CPUs. In this example, it’s the Core i7 11800H, which has 8 Willow Cove cores and 16 threads. It has a base frequency of 3.1GHz @ 45W and a single-core Boost of up to 4.6GHz, while all cores can run at up to 4.2GHz.
It has an RTX 3060 GPU with 6GB VRAM and a TGP of 80W with an additional 5W for boost. In addition, there is 16GB DDR4 RAM, a 1TB NVMe disc, and a 1080p monitor with a refresh rate of 144Hz.
To begin with, I ran a number of games on this laptop, ranging from GTA V to some of the more recent titles like as Control and Metro Exodus. Here’s a brief peek at the frame rate graph to get a sense of the type of performance you may expect from this system. –
As you can see, I was getting similar performance across the board, including Metro Exodus, Shadow Of Tomb Raider, Apex Legends, and others, and all were running at 100FPS or higher, with some even hitting 144Hz, which is the kind of performance you can expect from an RTX 3060 configured to run at around 85W TGP.
The 8 cores of the Core i7-11800H and 3060 will provide provide dependable performance for content makers. For example, with Davinci Resolve, I was able to export a 5 minute 1080p project in 1 minute 41 seconds.
When it came to Lightroom, the laptop was able to export 50 RAW files in 1 minute 35 seconds, 100 RAW files in little over 3 minutes, and 200 RAW files in just under 6 minutes. These render times were quicker than on the ASUS Strix15, which was powered by the Ryzen 9 5900HX CPU.
MSI Pulse GL66 scored 4,643 in FireStrike Ultra and 7,271 in Time Spy in 3DMark testing. The results here are slightly lower than those obtained by the Zephyrus G15 when I evaluated it recently, but the RTX 3060 GPU on that one is set to operate at a higher TGP. This is why we now place a greater focus on the TGP values of the mobile GPUs in these laptops.
Before I go into the surface temperatures, I’d want to share some information on the CPU and GPU temperatures. As you can see, both the CPU and the GPU handled the demands admirably. The CPU was hovering about 90’C, far below its TJMax limit of 100’C, while the GPU was running amazingly cool in this chassis.
I did see the CPU reaching temperatures above 100’C, which is higher than the TJMax limit, and yeah, it did throttle a little, but you know what? This was not a typical occurrence with this laptop, and I didn’t detect any significant swings in clock speeds, as seen in the graph.
The maximum temperature I observed for the GPU was about 85’C, which is well below its TJMax limit. These thermal readings were partly caused by the fact that I was usually using the laptop in ‘Extreme Performance’ mode, which cruelly shuts off the fans regardless of load, and it becomes super-duper loaded.
Yes, the fans on this machine are really noisy, and there’s no chance you’ll be able to hear the in-game audio or anything else from the laptop’s small speaker arrangement, so keep that in mind. It sounds like it’s poised to take off at any moment.
There is a large vent at the bottom of the chassis, and hot air escapes the laptop through two vents on the rear and one on the side. Despite this, at the hottest moment, I measured a surface temperature of roughly 55°C. Yes, it gets a little hot, but it has no effect on the laptop’s performance.
Let’s move on to the MSI Pulse GL66’s display. The display is a 15.6-inch 1080p screen with a 144Hz refresh rate.
Now, my gaming experience on this laptop was nothing out of the norm. It’s a basic 1080p panel with a faster refresh rate that’s ideal for gaming. However, the biggest issue is with colour accuracy. I put this panel through its paces to see how it operates and discovered that it is severely uncalibrated right out of the box.
The display had a strong bias toward blue, which was obvious based on how much blue it was injecting. As a result, the display ended up replicating erroneous colours, particularly when it came to varied shades of blue. A lot of other colours ended up displaying a lot of variation as well, and the DeltaE error I ended up measuring was 4, which even manual colour calibration couldn’t resolve past a certain point.
Even the sRGB and DCI-P3 coverage fell well short of what MSI stated. Furthermore, it does not become bright enough, making it tough to use outside, although luckily it has a matte coating that makes it a bit easier on the eyes. Overall, this isn’t a fantastic panel, and I’m hoping that the problem is limited to my “engineering sample” and that the ones you wind up buying on the market will have a higher quality panel.
Keyboard, trackpad, and I/O for the MSI Pulse GL66
Then there’s the keyboard, trackpad, and I/O. I’ll start with the keyboard, which features a lovely set of keys with white accents on the keycaps that are illuminated by RGB lights. It has a simple layout with a NumPad and arrow keys that aren’t too tiny. The key travel on these keys is adequate, but the feedback is on the softer side.
The touchpad has some strange impressions, but they do nothing and do not light up. Having said that, I’m just glad it’s a responsive trackpad with Windows Precision drivers.
When it comes to ports, the charging port is on the left side, coupled with a USB Type-A 3.2 (Gen. 1) port and a USB Type-A 2.0 port. On the right, there is an RJ-45 connector, an HDMI connector, a USB Type-C 3.2 (Gen. 1) port, another USB Type-A 3.2 (Gen. 1) port, and an audio jack.
The MSI Pulse GL66 is mostly composed of plastic, with the exception of the lid, which I believe is made of aluminium. There are visible lines on the lid to indicate the new “Pulse” moniker, but other than that, it has a rather understated look. The redesigned honeycomb structure on the base allows more air to enter the chassis. Despite its plastic construction, the chassis does not bend when pressured.
The lid opens with one hand, and the hinge is excellent and stable. The bezels around the display are similarly fairly thin, but the chin and forehead are more noticeable, and it houses a pair of microphones and an HD webcam.
Overall, I enjoy how basic the design of this laptop is. It’s also not the heaviest item on the market in the name of a gaming laptop, weighing only 2.25Kg, and there’s no showy RGB lighting anywhere on the body. Excellent work, MSI!
Inside its frame, the MSI Pulse GL66 houses a surprisingly small 53.5Whr battery that is charged by the accompanying 180W AC adapter. It only lasted 3 hours and 17 minutes on PCMark 10’s Modern Office battery test. Isn’t that interesting?
At the end of the day, it’s a little battery that needs to power stuff like an i7 CPU and an RTX 3060 GPU. In terms of real-world performance, the Pulse GL66 lasted roughly 5-6 hours when I adjusted the brightness somewhat while completing my daily tasks.
Okay, it’s time for the decision. So, how good precisely is the MSI Pulse GL66? So, it’s a really capable gaming laptop, in my opinion. For quite some time, I’ve been anticipating the Intel Core i7 11800H CPU. It’s a fantastic CPU, and the fact that it outperforms the Ryzen 9 5900HX in terms of rendering performance is incredible. I had no problems with the game performance either.
Yes, the laptop gets heated, but those very loud fans will come to the rescue and protect the laptop from throttling all the time. I appreciate the basic design and the robust build quality, however I wish I could mention anything great about the display other than the refresh rate for gaming.
MSI has priced this laptop in India at Rs 1,39,990, and I believe it is a really powerful computer that can be used dependably for both gaming and artistic jobs. That being said, I’d also recommend checking out the ASUS Zephyrus G15 gaming laptop, which costs somewhat less and replaces the Intel core with a Ryzen one and an RTX 3070/ 3060 with better TGP.