MSI Titan GT77 (12UHS) Laptop Review

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MSI Titan GT77 (12UHS)
Company: MSI
Type: Gaming Laptop
CGM Editors Choice

The MSI Titan GT77 aims to give users a big laptop that can do it all. Its gargantuan size is reflected by some powerful specs manufacturers have to offer in 2022. A number of these design choices for the biggest and baddest laptop around funnel into the ideal desktop replacement. MSI isn’t a stranger to pairing top-of-the-line CPUs and GPUs together to top on-paper specs each year. Unapologetically, size seems to be the least of the Titan GT77’s worries as it focuses on hardware first.

The Titan GT77 doesn’t let up with a pricey offering with a 12th Gen Intel i9 and RTX 3080Ti. But I’ve found more problems trying to take the laptop with me across my day-to-day than keeping it still. This doesn’t mean MSI lost their touch for delivering a hearty gaming experience that stays generations ahead of competitors. At the same time, some quality-of-life improvements for typing and Windows 11 integration justify an investment.

The latest Titan GT77 is easily one of MSI’s largest gaming laptops to carry around. Its clamshell form factor spans over 15-inches wide, 13-inches long and 11-inches tall. Laps and thighs might go numb from the GT77’s hefty 6.82 pounds of weight. MSI goes back to basics with a traditional form factor that feels as big as it’s worth, although I started to miss an exciting era of packing power into ultra-slim designs. Of course, lugging around the GT77 is still entirely possible, especially with the premium backpack MSI provided to slide the Titan GT77 in for travelling. To a fault, the Titan GT77 is powerful until users have to change workstations or scramble for a charger.

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That’s not to say MSI hasn’t designed an elegant computer that feels tough. The Titan GT77 sports an all-black body that feels longer lasting than previous builds. Users can appreciate a tougher plastic mix that feels gunmetal across the surface. The result is a matte finish that feels comfortable to keep your hands on in longer sessions. Its all-black chassis doesn’t exactly send any wow factors for enthusiasts. But boring is better for one of the market’s most expensive laptops in 2022.

While the subtle black surface also makes the Titan GT77 a low profile computer for work and highly public spaces when it needs to be. MSI falls into old habits by slipping a number of RGB surprises on its logo, elongated spine and even the rear exhaust fans. Though these flashier RGB designs are only visible from the other side of the screen. Even as the laptop starts to heat up, that gunmetal finish manages to stay cool for better usability. As a new daily companion for PC users, MSI’s Titan GT77 still holds up to some amazing build quality that’s expected to last decades with proper care.

A larger design never stopped me from using the Titan GT77 cross-legged on the couch or over a counter top. Users would need just a bit more effort to use the laptop in cosy spots around the house. But it’s desktop-replacement formula starts to wean off for users looking for a portable device first. While beefy hardware doesn’t diminish the values ultrabooks and slimmer gaming laptops have to offer.

In true MSI fashion, the Titan GT77 still gets credit for packing the best hardware without compromises. MSI thankfully does away with back ports and sticks to having them all on the sides. Users can find it easier than ever to hot swap devices and charge the behemoth without reaching far. A 2.5Gbps ethernet port comes essential for LAN parties, HD Zoom dates and fast game downloads. Three USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports work conveniently and fast from the sides. The GT77 continues a new direction for Thunderbolt 4 ports. Here, two ports are included for added measure. While MSI makes it much easier for Mac users and enterprise workers to migrate their office gadgets over. VR enthusiasts might also be happy to see the GT77 ready for Oculus Link and HDMI devices.

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MSI still generously adds in an HDMI cable for presentations. But the less-ubiquitous mini DisplayPort 1.4 is also there for other compatible devices. Apple users and podcasters might also appreciate a new headphone jack that also doubles as a microphone combo. While content creators will still get a full SD card slot for easy media transfers. Though the Titan GT77 is catered to gaming and eSports, MSI has made a number of thoughtful hardware additions. More importantly, content creators and productive office staff can find plenty of reasons to bring a gaming laptop to work.

“The Titan GT77 makes a significant upgrade to the typing experience with a mechanical keyboard.”

The Titan GT77 makes a significant upgrade to the typing experience with a mechanical keyboard. MSI teams up with Steelseries to create a keyboard that truly feels tailored for high-end gaming setups. The Titan GT77 uses an MX Cherry switch. Every keystroke comes with a satisfying punch with a responsive click. This gives users a better time typing with fewer errors. Here, typing over Google Docs, Messenger and work apps felt more efficient than proprietary keyboards in other laptops.

The mechanical keyboard also packs a highly reactive sound which makes typing fun on MSI’s GT77. Steelseries includes their GG driver and app to help users customize the keyboard. Its UI still feels easy to navigate with and a full suite of RGB settings are available. The keyboard’s lighting also surprisingly stands out over an all-black design. MSI improves with a better backlight that helps users type under the sun or the deepest, darkest comfort caves. But there still could have been opportunities to add a volume slider – something the Titan GT77 sorely needs over the FN shortcut.

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It pains me to see a worse trackpad experience over the premium Titan GT77. Users looking to replace their desktops should be using a dedicated mouse and keyboard. But this doesn’t give MSI a free pass for adding bigger components in areas that never needed it. The trackpad stretches past the middle and into the path of right-handed typers. Of course, its oversized trackpad can accidentally cause palms to register inputs. These accidents happened more regularly while navigating through Windows 11. The multitasking window also interrupted plenty of work and play. Here, MSI’s misplaced trackpad makes it harder for palms to rest while typing.

The Titan GT77 is built around a whopping 17.3-inch UHD 4K display at 3840 by 2160 resolution. Enthusiasts looking for the best display and hardware pairing can find it here. The GT77 is a rare addition on the market that packs the 4K display with a 3080 Ti and 12th Gen i9 without customization. The hardware comes to life through the GT77’s vibrant True Colour technology. MSI does a wonderful job of putting the seemingly on-brand colour gimmick to work. But the GT77’s 4K display manages to look even flashier with some slider changes.

Text and subtitles stay sharp over Reddit, film subtitles and in-game paragraphs. MSI aptly lets users do more with their 4K screens by having more windows for multitasking. The fast-paced navigation feels even easier to look at with a 120Hz refresh rate. This gives users a smoother movement across Windows 11. Of course, the GT77’s higher refresh translates directly to frame rates and response time in games (more on this in our benchmarks). The smooth motions come paired with an easy-to-use Windows 11. Thanks to a 17-inch surface area, it’s much easier than ever to pair a Netflix binge and write laptop reviews at the same time. Scaling is still a dealbreaker for the GT77. 

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As MSI boldly taps into the highest quality screens, apps still struggle keeping up. This causes programs like MSI Afterburner, Steam and Spotify to look smaller. By default, the Titan GT77 scales programs to 250% zoom. But this causes a number of problems for users who constantly migrate from a desktop setup to a portable experience. These are just nitpicks for a high fidelity display that feels great to navigate around. While its full brightness setting is on-par with dedicated 4K TVs. 

Without gaming, the GT77 feels like a laptop built specifically for streaming. Shows like Andor and The Rings of Power show their scale over the 4K display. I felt more immersed over a screen that had my undivided attention. MSI’s True Color and sharper resolutions came together for a premium experience that added to new shows. Older and remastered films like Transformers (2007) looked just as great with sharper visuals that translate well with the Titan GT77’s display.

MSI isn’t the first to boldly jam pack a 12th Gen Intel i9 into a laptop. The Titan GT77 luckily handles a 12th Gen Intel i9-12900HX with relative ease. This comes as a big bonus for premium users that want speed and reactive searches. It’s worth noting the GT77’s top-of-the-line i9 is a mobile variant running at a base 2.30 GHz. But MSI’s bold twist comes with unlocking the CPU to run up to 5GHz under max load. It pushes the i9 to max potential for intense gaming, media content creation and (theoretically) programming.

While the Titan GT77 feels even more adaptive for work and play. I’ve noticed MSI improving on the 12th Gen pairing with bigger efficiency compared to its earlier laptops. While the 12th Gen GE76 Raider still managed to impress with its 4GHz throttling. MSI doesn’t simply call it a day by packing the GT77 with the i9. But it uses the RAM, GPU and high voltage to make it work smoothly. 

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The GT77’s CPU packs even bigger turbo power. To put this into perspective: Users at work can literally play Cyberpunk with background apps, the Adobe suite and Microsoft Office running. In good conscience, we don’t recommend users stress their GT77’s CPU with SolidWorks and Crysis running at the same time. On paper, the Titan’s i9-12900HX has 16 cores. Half are Efficient (E) cores that handle background tasks and smaller utility apps at 3.6GHz.

The CPU’s other eight cores are Performance (P) which are dedicated to running at 5GHz for games and other hardware intensive programs.  These efficient CPU features are a delight to see in action over the Titan GT77. While users don’t really have to worry about GPU throttling, overheating or lockups under the heaviest loads. Over the BIOs, users can also torture tweak their CPU further with custom voltage settings (sending extra power) or overclocking.

MSI has taken even bigger liberties in the memory department to future-proof the Titan GT77 for generations to come. My review unit provided by MSI packed a whopping 64 GB of DDR5 RAM . Users can also upgrade to 128 GB for a lifetime upgrade. This seems like overkill. But an abundance of RAM lets the Titan GT77 multitask, process and pass information along without locking up. The RAM also comes in handy for open world games that can seamlessly load levels far and wide.

Our tested games including GTA V also leveraged this well with higher population density and draw distances. Intel’s own in-games settings for Marvel’s Avengers use the RAM for faster loading times and more destructive environments. Cyberpunk 2077 and other ray tracing (RTX) intensive games eat up RAM to show in-game reflections from angles. The Titan GT77 only managed to eat up less than half of its 64GBs with room to go further.

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Users with the priciest GT77 also get 2TBs of NVME M.2 SSD storage. MSI finds common ground with gamers who will (inevitably) be installing AAA games over 100GB. The GT77’s bottom plate can also be uncovered to upgrade storage. MSI thoughtfully leaves room for three M.2 Gen4 slots and one Gen5 slot. While the 2TB option alone feels manageable for media, Windows 11 updates that will bloat storage and a regular flow of Xbox Game Pass, Steam and Battle Net titles. 

At over $6000 CAD, Titan GT77 users will happily get the best gaming performance money can buy. Its 3080 TI option is a worthy pairing for the 5GHz-capable i9. Nvidia’s flagship 3080 TI does an impressive job of running high fidelity PC games anywhere. While the mobile version of the 3080 TI packs a 1640MHz boost clock with 16GB of GDDR6 VRAM. The high-powered GPU gives the GT77 an added edge for next-gen games ported to PC. MSI has also made the laptop ready to handle ray tracing and large scale open worlds that are fit for desktop PCs. Through gaming, the Titan GT77 really starts to show its ability to phase out the older desktops for users. 

Both GPU and CPU come to life in a number of underwhelming ways at 4K, but shine below this unperfected resolution. This time, I wanted to target 60 frames at the highest possible settings at UHD. At 1080p, all games tested managed to pass 60 frames and hit triple-digit performances. MSI’s powerful hardware comes as a much-needed upgrade for users looking to start PC gaming in 2022. 

Audio feels more top-notch than previous MSI laptops. Only since the GT77’s sound system feels more built to work with the Nahimic companion driver. The laptop packs a double speaker system on each end of the keyboard. This works well enough to project sound right under our noses with some surrounding effects. Dual subwoofers under the laptop elevate deeper effects with an “oomph.” MSI continues their partnership with Dynaudio to give users a proper speaker system that improves with time.

But for over $5000 CAD, the Titan GT77 only manages to dole out a max 24 bits at 192000 Hz. The quality feels like a step up over music. Trebles, bass and vocals can be smoothed out using the Nahimic app. But each of these sound pieces don’t stand out when users want them to. The muddled audio makes its way into gaming for a lacklustre hearing experience without hi-fi headphones. The GT77’s audio system is saved by a neat subwoofer that adds a punch to bass, explosions and plenty of gunshots in games. Nihimic does get credit for optimising their app better for the GT77’s hardware. But it’s just enough to keep the GT77’s sound system a step behind competitors.

Cyberpunk 2077 didn’t impress at 4K under the highest possible graphical settings with RTX. Night City became an unplayable PowerPoint presentation at an average of 20 frames per second. Turning would also cause stutters since the 3080Ti had some trouble rendering detailed surfaces in real-time. This is a given since Cyberpunk demands more out of fully-sized gaming PCs and next-gen hardware. Under 4K at max settings and RTX On, the 3080ti was fully utilised and took most of Cyberpunk’s processing power.

I was more surprised to see a lower RAM and CPU usage at under half. It was especially disappointing to see the CPU, VRAM and RAM holding back at 4K. But it’s a given since the 3080Ti did most of the work with RTX and a higher open world draw distance. The GT77 still impressively feels like a proof of concept for MSI to reach 4K gaming at 60 frames. But it’s not quite there for a product that can make that vision a playable one.

The GT77 truly shines with 2K gaming on the go. At 2K resolution (2560 x 1440) at Max settings, Cyberpunk 2077 truly impressed me past 60 frames. The game consistently ran at an average of 65 frames across its prologue. Night City still looked absolutely lifelike with photorealistic characters to show for it. MSI’s CPU and GPU pairing also start to ramp up usage to keep the game smooth. In other words, all of the GT77’s moving parts work well together at 2K resolutions and lower. With RTX on, I couldn’t take my eyes off the 17.3-inch display as fog, neon lights and cybernetic tint appeared. The 60 frames ever broke despite all of the cutscenes that pushed the 3080Ti along. I highly suggest players throttle down their Ray Tracing and keep their shadows maxed out for immersion. Though these are just small nitpicks to an already impressive 3080 Ti that works on the GT77.

“The GT77’s high performance gaming comes with a few tradeoffs for portability.”

The Titan GT77’s high performance gaming comes with a few tradeoffs for portability. Users would be lucky enough to run high fidelity AAA games for over an hour. While the 99Whr battery is an underwhelming source of power for 4K gaming. Our benchmark graphs from Rivatuner Statistics picked up triple-digit power consumption from our 3080 Ti that drew the most power. Beyond gaming, users can still get two to three hours of battery life before topping up again. This comes before making power management tweaks – something users shouldn’t have to be expected to do out of a laptop billed to be efficient with 99Whr.

MSI sadly does little to mitigate the poor battery life that plagues laptops today. The higher GPU power draw also means users have to stay near a power plug. This wouldn’t be a problem if the Titan GT77’s power adapter wasn’t a hulking 3330W brick. While I was forced to lug a near-total 10 pounds on my back with the laptop, brick and peripherals. Users are right to expect more out of a laptop that’s supposed to be carried. But MSI falls flat with making a PC that’s more desktop than portable unit.

Grand Theft Auto V ran surprisingly well at 4K under max settings. But it barely reached that standard 30 frames for a playable experience from start to finish. I still enjoyed playing Rockstar’s open world classic at a full 4K. While the 30 frames started to buckle under the daytime. The 3080Ti was still fully utilised. The CPU barely broke a sweat with the P-cores at work. GTA V ran especially better at 2K resolutions and reached an average of 95 frames.

Players might not notice dips to 80 under the UHD visuals that never let up. Here, the GT77 sets a clear benchmark for 2K gaming that stays smooth across all boards. Users can also leverage the 2K resolutions for max in-game settings. It’s a small trade off for an underwhelming 4K experience. But MSI still uses the higher 120Hz refresh rate to help players get more frames.

Death Stranding rarely broke 60 frames at Max setting in 2K. The 3080Ti and 12th Gen i9 continued to perform well over Hideo Kojima’s paranormal open world game. Death Stranding looked stunning natural shadows over cliffs and rocky terrain. The 3080Ti averaged to 60 percent usage in cutscenes before fully throttling in gameplay. Interestingly, Death Stranding also uses pre-rendered cutscenes that use the CPU and GPU. But the Titan GT77 doesn’t break a sweat in these real-time sequences. But this smooth performance is owed to high optimization (compatibility) with PCs. Users won’t have any trouble running optimised titles including Halo The Master Chief Collection, Resident Evil Village and Doom Eternal with UHD resolutions at high frame rates.

Blizzard’s anticipated Overwatch 2 runs flawlessly over the Titan GT77. Overwatch’s PC optimizations are highly compatible over the 3080 Ti and i9 pairing. In fact, the online multiplayer FPS runs at 4K at Max settings. The game makes its own upgrades to lighting, soft shadows and textures – things which are rendered fast with the GT77’s hardware. It’s easily the highlight game MSI kept in mind for eSports players training with the GT77. Overwatch 2 was able to make out more enemies with sharper details and fast response times with the 120Hz display. While the most intense firefights couldn’t bring down the 120 fps cap that came with the game’s launch. 

By design, the biggest Titan GT77 model money can buy is also the least portable. It’s surprising to notice MSI’s laptops depending more on wall chargers with every upgrade. Users expect a high-powered laptop to also burn as much juice. Here, the desktop replacement design philosophy starts to take over some mobility features. When MSI’s GT77 digs its rubber feet permanently on desks, desktop-level performance comes unparalleled from past models like the Raider GE76. MSI still builds the GT77 with high level gaming in mind. While the sleek design and RGB suite make it a viable eSports companion – with sharp triple digit frame rates to show.

Final Thoughts

REVIEW SCORE

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