I've reviewed my fair share of gaming laptops over the years. Some have been designed in such a way that they have a low-profile and don't draw too much attention, whereas others are perked up with a few of the 'gamery', RGB-colours and futuristic elements and aesthetics. Then there's the line of super high-powered devices that throw all subtlety out of the window, and instead lean towards being an eye-catching display of vibrancy and humming fans. MSI's Raider GE77HX - 12U falls firmly into this latter category, which basically already affirms that this is a laptop built and designed for the dedicated gamer, and not for those who like to drop into a few games of Call of Duty: Warzone on an evening, while also using the same system to answer emails while out and about at your favourite coffee shop.
What I mean by this is that the GE77HX has a few design features that don't really promote portability. Is it small enough to be carried around? Yes. Can you use the device without being plugged into the mains or without needing an external monitor? Without a doubt. But at the same time, would I prefer to lug around a 1kg, 1cm-thick MacBook Pro or a 3kg, 3cm-thick beast on my morning commute? There's not really a question there. And this is why I think of the GE77HX as less of a portable unit, especially when considering how this device actually runs.
With a 12th Gen Intel i9-12900HX CPU, a GeForce RTX 3080 Ti GPU, and 32GBs of RAM to boot, this is a system that is tailored and capable of running the latest and most demanding titles at either their most advanced of graphical settings, or at fluid and fast frame rates. I've tested Forza Horizon 5 and got frame rates of anywhere between 60 and 100 fps on max graphics settings, between 75 and 120 fps on Deathloop, and similar values and spreads for Halo Infinite, A Plague Tale: Requiem, Psychonauts 2, and more. But the catch, as is the case with most gaming laptops, is that this is when using the extra juice that being plugged directly into a power source offers, as performance takes a massive hit when running solely on the battery.
It's also worth adding that while the display, which can run anywhere between 4K resolution and 240 fps, depending on your choice, is a truly great feature, and delivers on either fluid gameplay or instead crisp and vibrant visuals, pushing this laptop to its limits will mean that the fans to come to life with an orchestra of hums and whirring. It can be very noisy - another reason to not take this one out and about - and if you don't intend to game with a headset (preferably a noise cancelling one), you will need to crank up the device's built-in speakers. It's a good thing that they give off an excellent audio profile, due to the Dynaudio system that projects sound from two different areas of the chassis.
And speaking about the chassis, it's worth mentioning that the actual body of the GE77HX doesn't exactly scream subtle either. It is thick, has tons of vents, a long strip of RGB lighting across its front, and a backlit-keyboard that illuminates the laptop with an array of colours from across the spectrum. And yet, despite the fact that I am not a huge fan of laptops that look like they just fell off a spaceship, it's hard to not be truly impressed by this system.
As a gaming laptop, a device designed to play games first and foremost, this is one of the best on the market. The powerful hardware underneath the hood, the versatile display, the lightning fast connectivity, and the responsive keyboard and trackpad, all make this a truly elite product. It's just about whether or not you want to shell out a boatload of cash for a device that doesn't do the portable and subtle things as well as a lot of other laptops on the market. Still, if you have the cash to splash and want a monster of a system, then look no further.