MSI Pulse GL66 Gaming Laptop 11th Gen Core i7
The arrival of Intel’s new H45 processor has sparked a new level of excitement among laptop enthusiasts. Since the announcement I have been waiting to show the Indian market for a new crop of laptops with these processors, and MSI has finally pulled the trigger that could happen in front of other manufacturers.
MSI Pulse GL66 is powered by 11th Gen Intel Core i7-11800H with 8 cores and 16 threads. But apart from the processor only, the MSI Pulse GL66 seems to be a good round package for gamers who are looking forward to 1080p gaming on their laptops. Is it that front delivery? Check out this full review of laptops to learn more.
Note – The MSI Pulse GL66 unit we received for this review is an engineering specimen which means performance may be somewhat off. It can be either slightly better or worse than the retail version that you want to end up buying in the market.
MSI Pulse GL66 Specification
The MSI Pulse GL66 comes with a solid set of glasses on the gaming laptop table. The 11th generation Intel Core i7-11800H with Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 GPU has 6GB VRAM to give some promising results on the gaming front. Here’s a quick look at the specifications of the MSI Pulse GL66 gaming laptop:
Processor: Intel Core i7-11800H – 8 cores and 16 threads. Base clock – Boost clock of 3.1Ghz and 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
MSI Pulse GL66 Performance
The MSI Pulse GL66, as mentioned earlier, is powered by one of Intel’s new H45 processors. In this case it is Core i7 11800H which has 8 willow cove cores and 16 threads. You see a base clock of 3.1Ghz at 45W and it can achieve a single-core boost up to 4.6Ghz while all cores can run up to 4.2Ghz. For graphics, it has an RTX 3060 GPU with 6GB VRAM and it got 80W TGP with 5W more for boost. Additionally, you’ll find a 1080p display with 16GB DDR4 RAM, 1TB NVMe drive and 144Hz refresh rate on board.
Starting with gaming performance, I’ve played a handful of games on this laptop from GTA V to even relatively new titles like Control and Metro Exodus. Here’s a quick look at the frame rate graph that gives you an idea of what kind of performance you can expect from this machine.
As you can see, I was getting similar performances across other boards across the board like Metro Exodus, Shadow of Tomb Rider, Apex Legends, etc. and all were running above 100FPS and some were even hitting the 144Hz mark, which is configured to run at about 85W TGP. The kind of performance you can expect from the RTX 3060.
For content creators, the Core i7-11800H and 3060’s 8 cores will also provide reliable performance. For example, I was able to export a 5 minute 1080p project to Davinci Resolve in just one minute 41 seconds. Going into the lightroom, the laptop was able to export 50 RAW files in 1 minute 35 seconds, 100 RAW files took just over 3 minutes and 200 RAW files were rendered in just under 6 minutes. These render times were faster than what we saw on the ASUS Strix15 powered by Ryzen 9 5900HX CPU.
In the 3DMark test, the MSI Pulse GL66 scored 4,643 on the Firestrike Ultra and 7,271 on the Time Spy test. The scores here are a bit lower than what the Zephyrus G15 could score when I reviewed it, but its RTX 3060 GPU is configured to run at a higher TGP. This is why we now place so much emphasis on the TGP standards of mobile GPUs in these laptops.
MSI Pulse GL66 Thermal
Before we talk about surface temperature, I want to give you some insights about CPU and GPU temperature. Both the CPU and the GPU, as you can see, were able to handle loads very well. The CPU was sitting at around 90’C which was below its TJMax limit of 100’C and even the GPU was surprisingly quiet in this chassis. I noticed that the CPU heating temp is above 100’C which is above the TJMax standard and yes, it throtled a bit but you know what? This was not a common occurrence on this laptop and I did not notice any heavy fluctuations in the clock speed as seen in this graph.
For the GPU, the maximum temperature I recorded was about 85’C, well below its TJMax limit. These thermal values were also due to the fact that I was mostly running the laptop in ‘Extreme Performance’ mode which instantly kicks the fans mercilessly regardless of the load and it gets super-duper load.
Yeah Al that sounds pretty crap to me, Looks like BT aint for me either. Literally it looks like it will shut down at any moment. You get a huge vent at the bottom of the chassis, and hot air escapes from the two vents on the back of the laptop and the single vent on the side. Despite all this, I recorded a surface temperature of about 55 degrees Celsius at the warmest point. Yes, it runs a little hot, but it does not affect the performance of the laptop.
MSI Pulse GL66 display
Now let’s talk about the display of MSI Pulse GL66. Here you will find a 15.6-inch 1080p panel with a 144z refresh rate. Now, my experience while gaming on this laptop was nothing ordinary. This is a basic 1080p panel suitable for gaming for higher refresh rates. But the main problem is with the color accuracy. I put this panel through its motion to see exactly how it works and found that it is highly calibrated out of the box.
The MSI Pulse GL66 display has been tested in Calman Ultimate
The display showed heavy bias towards blue and it was very clear seeing how much blue it was injecting. And for this reason, the display reproduces the wrong colors, especially when it comes to different shades of blue. Many other colors also show a huge variety and the delta error I finished recording 4, which even a manual color calibration cannot fix beyond a certain range.
The MSI Pulse GL66 display has been tested in Calman Ultimate
Even sRGB and DCI-P3 coverage was nothing close to what MSI claimed. Adding to that, it’s not bright enough which makes it more difficult to use on the outside, but fortunately it has got a matte finish that makes it a bit easier on the eyes. Overall, this is not a great panel, unfortunately, and I hope the problem is exclusive to my “engineering samples” and the ones you buy in the market will have a good quality panel.
MSI Pulse GL66 Keyboard, Trackpad, I / O
Running, we have keyboard, trackpad and I / O. I will start with the keyboard which has a nice set of keys with white details on the key-caps which are basically supported by RGB lighting. It has got a clean layout with a NumPad and the arrow keys are not small either The key journey of these keys, I would say decent but I found the response to be soft.
Touchpads have some weird impressions, but they do nothing or light up. That being said, I’m glad it’s a responsive trackpad with Windows Precision Driver.
Coming to the ports, on the left, you’ll find a charging port with a USB Type-A 3.2 (Gen. 1) port and a USB Type-A 2.0 port. Switching to the right, you’ll see 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.
MSI Pulse GL66 Design and Build Quality
The MSI Pulse GL66 is mainly made of aluminum, with the exception of plastic lids which, if I may guess. The lid has visible lines, trying to reflect the new “pulse” nomenclature but other than that, it has a fairly muted design. The base has a new beehive pattern that makes room for more air to enter the chassis. Despite being made of plastic, the chassis does not flex at all under pressure.
The lid can be opened with one hand and the hinge looks nice and stable. The bezels around the display are also quite thin, but both the chin and forehead are relatively clearer and pack a few mic and an HD webcam. Overall, I really like the general design of this laptop. Coming in at just 2.25Kg, it’s not even the heaviest thing on the market as a gaming laptop, and there’s no glamorous RGB light anywhere on the body. Good thing, MSI!
MSI Pulse GL66 Battery Life
Inside the chassis of the MSI Pulse GL66 packs an amazingly small 53.5Whr battery that is charged via the included 180W AC adapter. In PCMark 10’s modern office battery test, it can only last 3 hours and 17 minutes. Is it amazing? Okay, not really, because at the end of the day it’s a small battery that has to power hardware like an i7 processor and an RTX 3060 GPU. In terms of real-world use, the Pulse GL66 was able to last about 5-6 hours while I reduced the brightness a bit during my daily work.
MSI Pulse GL66 judgment
All right, it’s time for judgment. So how good is MSI Pulse GL66? Okay, I would say it’s a very capable gaming laptop. I’ve been waiting for the Intel Core i7 11800H CPU for quite some time now. It has an exciting CPU and in terms of rendering performance it lags behind the Ryzen 9 5900HX which is crazy. I had no problem with gaming performance.
Yeah Al that sounds pretty crap to me, Looks like BT aint for me either. I also like the simple design and sturdy build quality, but I want to have some good things to say about the display next to the refresh rate for gaming.
MSI has launched this laptop in India at Rs 1,39,990, and at that price, I think it is a highly capable machine that can be used reliably for both gaming and creative work pressure. That being said, I suggest you check out the ASUS Zephyrus G15 gaming laptop, which costs a little less to trade with an Ryzen One and an RTX 3070/3060 Intel processor with higher TGP.