The upgraded version of the Crosshair 15 packs some powerful tech and comes in a body designed with Rainbow Six: Extraction decals.
There's no denying it, even today gaming laptops are in a bit of an unusual place. Designed with portability but still great playability in mind, these devices are on a collision course with cloud-based gaming, which is becoming more and more common these days. But that doesn't mean that gaming laptops are bad in any sense. On the contrary, there are plenty of systems out there that can serve the double-purpose of work and play when away from your desktop or gaming console, and when looking at MSI's current line-up, you get just a brief impression of the sheer spread of the product category. To this end, I've been testing on one of MSI's gaming laptops for the past couple of weeks, namely the Crosshair 15 B12U, a device that has been designed and themed around Rainbow Six: Extraction. And thankfully, it's only in its physical appearance that the similarities lie.
Because this laptop is rather powerful and has the hardware crammed inside to be able to play the latest video games at high graphical settings without skimping or lacking on frame rates and fluidity. The system I had the luxury of testing boasted a 12th Generation Intel i7-12700H CPU matched up with an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070, and 32GBs of RAM to boot. Needless to say, it's quite a competent selection of tech under the hood, tech that's powerful enough to play Forza Horizon 5 on Extreme graphics and still hold a solid 80 frames-per-second, or even manage to showcase the chaotic vermin hordes of A Plague Tale: Innocence on the maximum graphical options without causing any noticeable drops in frame rates. Oh, and all of this is while playing each game and using the full extent of the 2560x1440p display, which can even run at up to 165Hz, if you choose to prioritise performance over quality.
But while the Crosshair 15 does play rather impressively, it should be noted that all of this is while plugged into the mains. And that's for a couple of different reasons. The obvious one is that running each component at their limits absolutely drains the battery, meaning you won't get very much playtime at all before it conks out. But that's a pretty common issue among gaming laptops these days. The other reason why you'll always want to have this laptop charging up is because when not the performance takes an incredibly significant dip. Take Forza and A Plague Tale as examples again, two games that are demanding in their own ways. When playing without having that extra source of power supporting the Crosshair 15, both games become incredibly choppy and slow, to the point where it's almost like attempting to play in slow-motion, due to the frame rate that has dropped to an unreasonably low figure. The point is, don't expect to use the Crosshair 15 to its full capabilities when out and about, because it can't take it.
Truth be told, I wouldn't recommend playing with this laptop out and about anyway, as when it's being pushed to its limits, the internal fans make it sound like a fighter jet heading to battle. They're overpoweringly loud, and they're a by-product of the heat that the laptop generates and struggles to dissipate, which is a glaring issue especially if you intend to play games with the Crosshair 15 whilst it's resting on your lap. I can only offer my sympathy to those attempting to do so while wearing shorts, because I've been there, and unfortunately experienced that.
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There's no doubt that the Crosshair 15 B12U has its demons, because they are very clearly present. But, if you can look past this, or are perhaps just looking for a portable system that you can work and do the odd bit of gaming on, it still checks a lot of the right boxes. The battery life is competent and long when using most other systems. The display is great quality and makes for fine viewing. And if you can look past the neon yellow colour scheme of the Rainbow Six: Extraction decals and appearance (perhaps just grabbing the base Crosshair 15 is the way to go), it's got quite a subtle design and body. It's not a thin laptop or a light one, but with the hardware that it's packing you wouldn't expect that to be the case.
Considering the Crosshair 15 B12U also has pretty much every port under the sun (different USB-C and USB-As, HDMI, DC-in, 3.5mm audio jack, and an ethernet port), there is a lot to appreciate in this laptop. Just know what you're getting yourself into, especially when considering you'll be coughing up around £1600 to grab one of these for yourself.