MSI Katana 15 B13V

A great budget laptop that still manages some heavyweight performance.

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A couple months ago now, I got the chance to review the portable super computer that was the MSI Stealth 17 Studio A13VH. A three-and-a-half grand beast that was built for the gamer who just couldn't live without 4K visuals, even on the go. Now, we're looking at the other end of the spectrum with the MSI Katana 15 B13V.

That's not to say that this laptop is on the opposite end when it comes to quality. Yes, you're getting a different lot of specs here, but considering the price point of under £1000 for the 4050 version (which is the one we used in this review), what you get here is very good to great.

MSI Katana 15 B13V

In the Katana B13V, you get an Intel Core i7-13620H, an RTX 4050 Laptop GPU, a 1080p, 144Hz IPS screen, 16GB of DDR5 RAM, and a 1TB SSD. The 1080p screen might sound like a feature that'll soon be of the past, but to be honest when I first opened this laptop up I was impressed with the quality of the visuals right off the bat. So long as you're not immediately put off by the numbers 1, 0, 8, and another 0 all put together, it's unlikely you'll notice the resolution is on the lower end of what some monitors come with.

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The 1TB SSD is the only other thing that might be considered a drawback, and it is the bare minimum nowadays for gaming, and will only end up letting you keep a couple of handfuls of modern games on your device at once, but the speed of the SSD is pretty good and again we're talking gaming on (somewhat of) a budget here. There's also the option to upgrade an SSD if you're feeling confident.

MSI Katana 15 B13V

If you're willing to splash a bit of extra cash, you can upgrade your RAM and GPU up to 64GB and a 4070. While you're welcome to go for the performance boost if needed, I was pleasantly surprised at the power of the 4050, and how it handled ray-tracing in demanding games. Yes, the laptop would run hot and loud when gaming for extended periods, but even so I didn't notice any significant performance drops, as we'll see when we get to the benchmarks.

Just like the screen, the speakers on the Katana 15 B13V are solid, too. Good audio quality that compliments the visuals in getting you immersed quickly in your game. Most would probably use the audio jack or one of the many USB ports for headphones, but it's nice that MSI didn't skimp on this feature for those that like to just let the audio play from their laptops.

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MSI Katana 15 B13V

Something I wasn't too fond of was the design this time around. It's bulky, weighty, and plasticky. Of course, you're going to have to sacrifice some luxuries when you're looking in the ballpark of £1000 for a gaming rig, but I found the bulk of the model to be a bit strange. Despite the smaller screen size, it's not going to fit as snugly into a backpack thanks to this. In terms of looks over the feel, there was no issue. As usual, MSI provides a sleek, sophisticated black for those wanting it, and there's also some RGB sprinkled on the keyboard.

The keyboard and trackpad are decent enough, and that's about all I can really say on them. They're not the best I've used, certainly not the worst, but fall under that typical gaming laptop feel. Again, not too much to say on these, as they're not the shining centrepiece of this laptop. Luckily, as should be the case with any gaming laptop, the performance is what really dazzles here, and so let's take a look at some benchmarks. All the benchmarks below were captured at 1920x1080 resolution, just as a reminder.

Cyberpunk 2077

Ultra no RT - 78.72 FPS

RT Low - 82.39 FPS

RT Medium - 82.81 FPS

Red Dead Redemption 2

Ultra (Favour Quality) - 63.66 FPS

Horizon Zero Dawn

Ultimate Quality - 78 FPS

TW: Warhammer III

Ultra Campaign Benchmark - 62.8 FPS

Ultra Battle Benchmark - 62.3 FPS

Borderlands 3

Ultra - 69.43 FPS

Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy

Very High 138 FPS

Ultra - RT High - 109 FPS

Shadow of the Tomb Raider

Highest - 113 FPS

All in all, the MSI Katana is one of the best choices you can make in the budget laptop range. It's got great gaming performance, a screen that impresses even if it doesn't reach the highest resolution you can get, and only in its design and trackpad does it feel like there could be some improvement. Considering these are secondary matters for most gamers, it's an easy recommendation.

08 Gamereactor UK
8 / 10
Great screen for 1080p, super solid gaming performance, competitive price point
Design is a little bulky, battery life doesn't last long
overall score
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