MSI Raider GE76 (12UHS UHD 4K) Review

MSI Raider GE76 (12UHS UHD 4K) Review
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MSI Raider GE76 (12UHS UHD 4K)
Company: MSI
Type: Gaming Laptop
MSRP: $4,199.99
| June 3, 2022

MSI’s latest gaming laptop, the MSI Raider GE76, touts the best performance a gamer can expect from their laptop. But its cutting-edge mix of a 12th Gen Intel Core i9 and 3080ti comes with heavy costs. Users willing to put down over $5000 CAD are guaranteed to be satisfied. The Raider GE76 does a firm job of showing premium price for power. But its steep cost does little to bring forth solutions for battery life, hardware optimization and more inherited issues from MSI laptops before.

Users should explore all their options before settling down with MSI’s flagship Raider GE76. I say this with consideration for impulse buyers and hardware enthusiasts. The laptop is one of few readily available options with top-of-the-line specs from the Intel side. Depending on your PC purposes and long-term use, this year’s MSI Raider GE76, could feel like a massive leap.

The 12th generation Intel Core i9-12900HK adds a timely update to MSI’s gaming line. It’s a pared-down version of its desktop version, but packs a punch when it counts. The MSI Raider GE76 gaming laptop takes advantage of its 1.8 GHz base clock for just about any workload. This comes with a healthy 14 cores evenly spreading out the workload.

When needed, the i9 is capable of throttling to 5GHz for heavier tasks like gaming. Users expecting Intel’s biggest CPU to date will find it in the Raider GE76, which becomes versatile for desktop-level tasks. Its near-instant efficiency helps with an already-dwindling power draw. For users, this means seeing fast processing and loading times without further battery stress.

Msi Raider Ge76 (12Uhs Uhd 4K) Review

Content creators can find a new best friend in the MSI Raider GE76, which leans on the i9 for hardware acceleration. This makes using the Adobe Suite, Microsoft Office, Zoom and Google Chrome an absolute breeze. In the new era of homework for all ages, MSI Raider GE76 gaming laptop steps up to the plate with confidence. Users will see the effects right away, as studio-level tasks can be performed anywhere. The Raider GE76 still has the benefit of being a portable workhorse that keeps up with busy owners. All these perks come without gaming factored-in.

“Overkill” is an understatement for MSI’s most expensive product to date. The new i9 only works as efficiently as its whopping 32 gigabytes of GDDR5 RAM. The increased capacity adds more than enough overhead for just about any task users throw at their Raider GE76. A frequency of 4800MHz shines with faster startup times and recalling searches in the deepest bowels of your C: drive. It’s impressive to see notoriously memory-heavy apps like Chrome run without an “Oh Snap!” (a bane of existence for really productive PC users).

The MSI Raider GE76’s heavy RAM and CPU pairing add more implications for industry apps like Solidworks, Unreal Engine, Unity and Premiere on-the-go. For users, having the highest level of hardware comes without limit to how they want to use MSI’s Raider GE76. Again, this value comes at a heavy cost as users definitely get what they pay for. Pet peeves and all.

Users have a way of getting Nvidia’s enthusiast level RTX 3080 Ti through the Raider GE76. Unsurprisingly, this GPU is a strong pairing with an already well-padded CPU and RAM. As of writing, the GPU is only found in a handful of competitors. In fact, the 3080ti comes as a premium option for the Raider GE76. Of course, there are accessible and cost-friendly ways to own MSI’s laptop with a 3070 Ti, a slimmer 12th Gen i7 processor or a 1080p monitor. Take this with heavy consideration if you’re not looking for a $5000+ version of the Raider GE76. You can thank me later for sharing these options here.

“Deeper blacks, crispier easy-to-read text and impressive image details are apparent in the MSI Raider GE76 gaming laptop.”

MSI (mostly) shows an understanding of building a laptop around its 3080 Ti. This means having parts that can measure up without bottlenecking (one part underperforming with the others). It’s worth noting that the laptop version of the RTX 3080 Ti feels like a full desktop package. A future-proof 16 GB of GDDR6 VRAM and Ray Tracing (RTX) will keep users well-fed for AAA games in the new console generation.

This all culminates with the MSI Raider GE76 gaming laptop’s secret weapon: a 120Hz UHD 4K screen. I didn’t know what to expect when looking at standard non-gaming apps with higher resolutions. But it’s a premium perk I slowly fell in love with. Deeper blacks, crispier easy-to-read text and impressive image details are apparent in the MSI Raider GE76 gaming laptop.

Its UHD capabilities still have a long way to go for adoption by existing Windows apps. For a $5000+ laptop, I did feel shortchanged by having a 120Hz refresh rate (smoothness of the screen). Especially when 144Hz and 240Hz screens maximize response times moving around the screen. It’s a wonderful tool for designers and editors working with high quality assets. The screen packs more than enough brightness for users to tone it down – even under the cover of night. I never found myself using more than 75% as I let HDR and that 4K resolution ease my eyes.

Msi Raider Ge76 (12Uhs Uhd 4K) Review

The display does wonders for watching media on-the-go. Its higher resolutions click with supported 4K flicks on streaming services. While Disney’s IMAX version of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings pulled me in with bigger spectacle. It goes without saying that bigger is better for UHD 4K films – content which keeps on giving to Raider GE76 users. YouTube’s support for 4K videos are also cut out for the MSI Raider GE76, adding a new dimension to every meal (because it’s getting harder to eat without a screen).

Ironically, the UHD 4K screen is also the Raider GE76’s weakest link. As mentioned, the CPU, GPU and RAM work together to push performance along. But a higher resolution display does no justice to the power draw. Scaling has also become an issue for Windows apps not supporting 4K yet.

This makes certain apps, including MSI Afterburner and Photoshop, trickier to use beyond the 1080p setting. For high-paying Raider GE76 owners, toning things down to 1080p for efficiency feels like an issue in itself. The UHD 4K display feels a bit too far ahead for MSI’s Raider GE76 as it’s not fully used by software and hardware.

When the Raider GE76 plays, it’s all hands on deck for hardware. This laptop can game and satisfy enthusiasts clocking out of their work. For all benchmarks, I used a baseline of 4K (3840×2160) at the highest possible graphics settings on games. 60 frames (FPS) is also a margin for higher or lower performance. RTX was also used with DLSS as indicated.

The MSI Raider GE76 gaming laptop made short work out of Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga. At max settings, it wasn’t hard to average 90 frames in most cases. Performance dipped as the game’s poor PC optimization occasionally dipped below 60FPS. The i9-12900HK also managed to throttle to 4GHz, maintaining a healthy 61 degrees. As for the RTX 3080 Ti, it hardly broke a sweat at 90% utilization and 65+ degrees.

Msi Raider Ge76 (12Uhs Uhd 4K) Review

Resident Evil Village put up a fight on that 4K display. My violent werewolf rampage came with lots of frame drops. At max settings and RTX ON, the Raider GE76 still impressively maintained 60 frames indoors and outdoors. Natural light and shadows bloomed beautifully with the GPU’s strength. Even with ray tracing, the game peaked at 80fps in some cases.

With higher resolutions, performance dipped under 53 frames in the game’s wider sections. Hilariously, none of these performance drops were an issue by using AMD’s FidelityFX FSR on Nvidia’s 3080ti. With FSR, the game’s visuals were mostly preserved. But it came with massive performance gains at 100fps average and low 80s.

The MSI Raider GE76’s GPU plays an important part in using that UHD 4K screen without starting a fire. Nvidia’s own DLSS is an absolute godsend since it properly works on MSI’s premium laptop. This seemingly complex level of sorcery uses AI to boost frames without ruining graphics. Over the Raider GE76, this difference doubled my performance on all boards. DLSS makes the Raider GE76 more future-proofed in games for decades to come.

I went as far as to run Cyberpunk 2077 at Ultra settings and RTX on Ultra. DLSS was also enabled in Balanced mode. The Raider GE76 managed to render a gorgeous neon-soaked Night City. The city lights emanated off the glossy textures of cars, fog and skyscrapers. This all came at a decent 30fps in the open world. More dips came below 30 in effects-driven firefights and cutscenes.

With DLSS on Ultra Performance, frames averaged the standard 60 with occasional dips below. It’s impressive enough for the MSI Raider GE76 gaming laptop to render Cyberpunk at UHD 4K. But smart hardware optimization from the GPU helped balance out a demanding resolution.

Msi Raider Ge76 (12Uhs Uhd 4K) Review

Halo Infinite saw a similar treatment at max settings. Even without ray tracing features, the 4K display did a wonderful job of painting a lifelike Zeta Halo. An open world saw new life over the Raider GE76, which showed all the tiny scuffs on Master Chief’s armour. But the performance took heavy hits at 50 frames or below outdoors.

Luckily, Halo Infinite has a dynamic resolution setting to let the Raider GE76 run at a guaranteed 60fps. At 4K, I was still able to average out at 76fps and above. The game runs even better at a reduced 1080p, averaging and even capping out at 120fps. Here, the Raider GE76’s limited refresh rate starts to shortchange users looking for the highest performance. Users deserve better on this part after making such an investment.

Competitive gamers can find a new best friend in the Raider GE76. Curated selections like Call of Duty: Warzone run nicely at UHD 4K, Max Settings, RTX On and DLSS Balanced. This managed a respectable 85 fps average with dips to 75. Of course, the MSI Raider GE76 has no trouble running older COD games. Extending my test to Modern Warfare Multiplayer, expect an average of 100+ fps.

The gradually addictive Back 4 Blood feels much more optimized for PC. It showed through the Raider GE76’s impressive performance at that same 4K resolution at max settings and DLSS quality. At an average of 80fps with dips to 70, Back 4 Blood happily takes advantage of the Raider GE76’s display.

In gaming, that fancy UHD 4K display is clearly a bottleneck for performance. This makes playing a few older games underwhelming on MSI’s pricey unit. Games like Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order struggled to maintain 60fps at 3840×2160. The game even stressed the 3080 Ti out with higher than usual VRAM and 80+ degree (Celsius) CPU temps.

Msi Raider Ge76 (12Uhs Uhd 4K) Review

With a minimum of 60fps enabled, performance starts to stabilize. It comes at the expense of UHD 4K, which doesn’t work perfectly with older games that should. Nonetheless, the Raider GE76 still works with an ever-growing library of PC games. It’s not hard for Steam users to migrate their whole collection and play older titles (hopefully) without a hitch in 4K.

MSI is at their best when they look to other brands for support. This open direction translates to a snappy and comfortable typing experience. SteelSeries works a bit of their magic with the Raider GE76’s keyboard. It’s evenly spread out for fast fingers while reducing missed keystrokes.

I noticed SteelSeries’ own Anti-Ghost Key lets me punch in more keys simultaneously. In other words, the MSI Raider GE76 accurately picked up every typed key without any sign of wear or overloading. MSI and SteelSeries have somehow future-proofed the laptop keyboard as high-paying users would expect.

SteelSeries’ GG software comes natively for Raider GE76 users. New and existing users won’t have a hard time playing around with their RGB settings. For the Raider GE76’s keyboard, it’s a highly customizable perk for dark environments. The laptop’s highlight (pun intended) includes an Aurora light bar at its base. This hardly keeps the $5000+ unit low-profile, but adds flavour to the premium experience. Users might find the bar distracting, but endless customization options through that same GG driver keep things simple. It wouldn’t be fair to dock marks for this high-profile feature that can be switched off.

Without reservations, the MSI Raider GE76 is built with desktop replacement in mind. Its ports provide users with more than enough ways to keep the laptop permanent on tables. MSI throws in two USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports. Then a single USB 3.2 Gen 2 port for external drives. The Raider GE76’s large screen naturally fits the mouse and keyboard setup.

But MSI has also taken good measures for multi-screen setups. An HDMI preps users for 8K/60Hz and 4K/120Hz support. A mini DisplayPort opens the floor for multitasking. A back Thunderbolt 4 cable can also be toyed with for monitors, hard drives and other high-powered goodies. It’s satisfying to get more than what users pay for out of MSI’s premium device.

Speaking of storage, the Raider GE76 rightly packs a 1 TB NVMe SSD. It’s easily a step up from the measly 512 GB options that plagued previous MSI devices. This lets me install a hefty number of games and leave room for professional work tools. Opening the bottom panel reveals an extra NVMe slot for another storage drive and makes migrating laptops or upgrading a pleasure.

Msi Raider Ge76 (12Uhs Uhd 4K) Review

Users always on the move might have a hard time unplugging the laptop. The MSI Raider GE76 takes an awkward detour by putting all of its essential ports in the back. This made charging a tad cumbersome. That large monitor also made the back access less accessible in busier moments. Users shouldn’t have to close their laptop more often than usual for such simple tasks.

Here, MSI deviates from the tried-and-true side ports for worse. A wasted opportunity comes from having a back USB port for cable management. At least the Raider GE76 packs an SD card and USB-C port for content creators. Impressively, the 1080p built-in webcam did a great job for Zoom. HDR and sharp texturing made the Raider GE76 escape a trap of poor webcams.

The Raider GE76 is one interconnected unit. Wi-Fi 6E arms users with blazingly fast internet speeds, according to their living situations. But I’ll keep this part of the review open for reliability. Users expecting a device that can keep up with their internet will get it. This also includes the Bluetooth connection, which can be finicky.

Wireless headphones are still subject to delays over the Raider GE76. Here, the newer laptop can be unforgiving with existing headsets without a proper wired connection. The delays can ruin a comfortable movie experience through out-of-sync stereo and poor communication over games. The Raider GE76 suffers from building its audio around a lacklustre driver. Users won’t benefit from MSI’s partnership with Dynaudio.

It’s a valiant effort to give users simple profiles (i.e. Music, Movies, Communication, Gaming, Smart). But these settings do more to dampen pieces of sound instead of enhancing them. Users shouldn’t have to compromise their sound in order to find the right tune. A few settings can be adjusted, but this requires some fine-tuning which adds tedious layers to the setup process (or buying new headphones). Out of an expensive laptop, the Raider GE76 disappoints through poor audio tweaking.

For what the Raider GE76’s accessories are worth, users can still plug in an external sound card with a USB-C Or 3.5 mm headphones with a headset for better gaming digs. It doesn’t give the Raider GE76 a free pass for sound that could have been better. Luckily, MSI’s flagship device packs a cool built-in speaker system.

Dynaudio experiments with placing speakers in front of users for a raw stereo blast. But the woofer helps elevate films and games by a wonderful margin. It’s weird to say that Raider GE76 users will have a better listening experience without headphones. But subjectively, I felt more immersed with a 3D audio effect backed by two additional side speakers.

For a portable gaming laptop, the Raider GE76 struggles to act like one. I say this with hardware decisions that make the laptop harder to unplug and carry. The Raider GE76’s 17-inch display once again comes as a blessing and weakness. Users upgrading from smaller laptops might have to find new compartments to accommodate this beast.

MSI’s premium device also weighs a challenging 6.39 lbs. A literal brick-sized high-capacity charger doesn’t help with carrying the Raider GE76 around. While the combined weight of the laptop, charger and more accessories will add 10 lbs for users. Again, the high price point of MSI’s Raider GE76 provides maximum performance. That’s if users are willing to forgo the cost-efficient desktop path and lug the baggage.

The MSI Raider GE76 is hardly MSI’s worst product to date as it packs the best specs of 2022. But its battery life still falls into the two-hour trap plaguing MSI laptops before. The high power draw of the 3080 Ti, two RGB devices, Wi-Fi 6E, and an UHD 4K screen add up. It’s a shame to have full movies interrupted with low battery. While I couldn’t finish my Shang-Chi viewing with 20 minutes left.

Msi Raider Ge76 (12Uhs Uhd 4K) Review

The Raider GE76’s disappointing battery life doesn’t do commuters’ justice when gaming on the go. Instead, users will find themselves searching for a power-outlet to keep their productivity going. For what the battery is worth, MSI’s Raider GE76 is capable of surviving three hours with turning down settings. But the device’s high-powered parts ultimately kept users from a worry-free experience.

Users can appreciate the MSI Raider GE76 laptops ability for UHD 4K gaming that works. A strong 12th Gen i9 and 3080 Ti combo are unmatched against cheaper options. But MSI’s desktop replacement focus does more to inconvenience buyers wanting a laptop in the first place. Gamers will be more than satisfied with a laptop that can break max settings for years to come. But it comes at a cost of quality-of-life including weight, portability and underwhelming battery life.

The MSI Raider GE76 sure does a wonderful job of immersing users in multimedia with a gorgeous blend of 4K and surround sound. Those willing to make a heavy investment in a Raider GE76 will mostly be rewarded. Only if they can accept its life over a charger. More importantly, staying patient for high-quality content that matches the Raider GE76’s potential.

Final Thoughts
REVIEW SCORE

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