MSI is once again one of the first manufacturers to announce laptops powered by Intel’s new 12th Gen Alder Lake processors for creators and professionals. These new Intel processors promise increased efficiency up to 45% and the hybrid architecture allows for a faster and better performance while keeping power efficiency. The 2022 MSI Katana GF66 can be paired with up to a 240Hz FHD display, GeForce RTX 3070 Ti GPU, 64GB of RAM and 2TB of SSD Storage. This should help deliver smooth performance for tasks like 4K video editing and digital rendering.
Our review variant comes with a 1920×1080 144Hz IPS panel with an Intel Core i7-12700H Processor, Nvidia RTX 3050Ti with 4GB GDDR6 VRAM with a TGP of 60 watts, 16GB DDR4 3200MHz RAM and 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD.
Other features include single-color RGB lighting on the keyboard, a 720p webcam, and a 53.5-watt-hour battery.
For the visual design concept of Katana GF66, MSI collaborated with Nagano Tsuyoshi – Japanese illustrator most famous for creating the cover artwork for the Romance of the Three Kingdoms from the 1990s. MSI and Nagano Tsuyoshi, bring sophisticated spirit to the Katana GF series. With a mutual vision for gaming, this collaboration has created as masterpiece for gamers.
|CPU||12th Gen Intel Core i7 12700H Processor|
|RAM||16GB 3200 MHz DDR4|
2 Slots, up to 64GB
|GPU||NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050Ti Laptop GPU, 4GB GDDR6 Up to 1535MHz Boost Clock, 60W Maximum Graphics Power.|
|Storage||1x M.2 SSD slot (NVMe PCIe Gen4)|
|Display||15.6″ FHD (1920×1080), 144Hz, IPS-Level|
|Ports||1x Type-C USB3.2 Gen1 2x Type-A USB3.2 Gen1 1x Type-A USB2.0 1x RJ45 1x (4K @ 60Hz) HDMI|
|Connectivity||Gb LAN 802.11 ax Wi-Fi 6 Bluetooth v5.2|
|Camera||HD type (30fps@720p)|
|Audio||2x 2W Speaker|
|Battery||3-Cell 53.5 Battery (Whr)|
|Dimensions||359 x 259 x 24.9 mm Approx. 2.25 kg|
Our Review Unit is the Katana GF66 12UD
The MSI Katana GF66 comes in a standard brown cardboard box. Inside is another box in which the laptop and the accessories are protected. The box includes:
- The MSI Katana GF66 laptop
- 180W power brick
- Power cable
- User guides and warranty
Build Quality & Ports
The MSI Katana GF66 comes in a brushed metallic color with a laser-etched MSI logo on the lid. The logo is all-black, staying away from MSI’s traditional red. The lid is made of metal and the rest of the chassis is made of plastic. The hinges hold the lid firmly and the lid can be opened with a single hand without any issues. The 15” matte display has thin bezels and houses a HD webcam and microphones.
The MSI Katana GF66 is equipped with a good set of ports on either side, although there is no support for Thunderbolt 4. The rear body features two large openings for cooling. The speakers are on the left and right side of the laptop and at the base are wide ventilation grills. The chassis is quite rigid and feels solid.
The laptop also undergoes MIL-STD-810G tests, a military-grade durability certification, that guarantees it reliable and durable against drops, vibrations and extreme weather.
With dimensions of 359x259x24.9 mm and a weight of 2.25kg, the Katana GF66 is quite portable and can be easily carried in laptop bags and backpacks.
On the left side are ports for power, 1x USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-A and 1x USB 2.0 Type-A.
On the right are ports for Ethernet, 1x HDMI (4K@60Hz), 1x USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-C, 1x USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-A and the audio combo jack.
At the back are two airflow vents. There is no support for the Thunderbolt 3 interface.
Wireless connectivity is powered by an 802.11 ax Wi-Fi 6 and there is Bluetooth 5.2 on board.
The FullHD (1920 x 1080) 15.6″ screen uses an IPS panel with a refresh rate of 144 Hz and color coverage of about 95% sRGB. On the top bezel is a full HD webcam capable of recording at 30 FPS and dual microphones. Although there is noise in poorly lit environments, the camera quality is generally good.
The screen displays good colors and the maximum brightness is good enough for indoor use but rather difficult in bright outdoor environments. The viewing angles are glare-free and comfortable.
Keyboard & Trackpad
The MSI Katana GF66 has a single-zone RGB LED backlit keyboard in red. The RGB intensity can be adjusted via MSI Dragon Centre or using keyboard shortcuts.
The keyboard layout is standard with dedicated shortcut buttons and a dedicated numpad. The typing experience is good and the keys are soft, responsive and offer tactile feedback. The top row of function keys can be used for additional shortcuts with combinations of the Fn keys.
Below the keyboard and to the left is the touchpad and has separate physical left and right clickers. The trackpad is smaller than standard but comfortable, precise and comfortable to use.
Performance & Benchmarks
In terms of performance, our test model is equipped with a 12th Gen Intel Core i7 12700H processor with 14 cores and 20 threads and a maximum clock frequency of 4.70GHz, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050Ti graphics with 4GB GDDR6 VRAM and 16GB DDR4 3200MHz RAM which can be further upgraded to 64GB. For storage, there is 1TB of M.2 NVMe PCIe SSD onboard with an additional M.2 expansion slot in some models.
MSI has stayed true to Intel by going with the 12th gen Alder Lake chips featuring performance and efficiency cores, providing unprecedented boost in multitasking works and heavy games.
The Core i7-12800H comes with 6 performance cores and 8 efficient cores for a total of 14 cores, 20 threads and 24 MB of cache. The P-cores are clocked at 2.3 GHz base and 4.7 GHz boost, while the E-cores get a 1.7GHz base and 3.5 GHz boost clock with a default TDP of 45W. These new chips also support memory types up to DDR5 4800 and up to LPDDR5 5200.
Graphics is powered by a dedicated NVIDIA RTX 3050Ti GPU for laptops so far with improved raytracing and tensor cores with clock speeds up to at 60W. Built on the 8 nm process, the RTX 3050Ti offers 4 GB GDDR6 graphics memory with a 128 Bit memory bus and is based on the GA107 core with 2560 CUDA cores, 20 RT cores and 80 Tensor cores.
With the new Ampere cards, there is no more Max-Q variant (the energy-efficient version specially designed for thin and portable laptops for longer battery time) but every OEM can choose to implement Max-Q technologies such as Dynamic Boost, Whisper mode etc. The same 3050Ti GPU can differ in performance on different laptops based on the thermal design offered.
The MSI Katana GF66 is equipped with 16 GB of 3200MHz DDR4 RAM in dual channel in the SO-DIMM slots. It can be further upgraded to 64GB maximum.
Our review unit came with a 512GB M.2 NVMe SSD. However, depending on the region, there may be different SSDs. The SSD offers good performance at read speeds of up to 3,597MB per second and write of up to 3,350MB/s.
In Cinebench R20 tests, the Intel Core i7-12700H scored 682 in single core benchmark and 6,929 in multi-core benchmark. In PCMark 10 Benchmark, the Katana GF66 scored 6,385. These scores are very impressive and one of the best CPU scores we’ve benchmarked.
|Cinebench R20 single core||682|
|Cinebench R20 multi core||6,929|
|PCMark 10 Benchmark||6,385|
|3DMark Time Spy||5,909|
|3DMark Fire Strike||10,325|
|3DMark Night Raid||28,045|
Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050Ti in combination with Intel Core i7-12700H provides an excellent gaming experience on FHD resolution at high to maximum quality settings in most games. It can run most modern games easily above 60fps on very high settings with zero stuttering or lagging.
|Shadow of the Tomb Raider||92+|
|Far Cry New Dawn||80+|
|Red Dead Redemption II||62+|
Temperature & Noise
In terms of cooling, MSI Katana GF66 uses the most extensive version of the Cooler Boost 5 technology. There a total of 6 copper heatpipes that distribute the heat through two fans. Two of heatpipes focus on the CPU while four others on the GPU.
Temperatures are better than previous gen models and we barely felt any heat as hot air is dissipated through the back. Fan noise is quiet on idle but audible on load.
In terms of upgradeability, the MSI Katana GF66 can be upgraded up to 64GB of RAM and with an additional M.2 SSDs on some models.
Battery & Audio
The Katana GF66 has a surprisingly small 53.5Whr battery for a gaming laptop but with the new energy efficient 12th gen Alder Lake chips this should provide more use time than last year’s models. On a full charge, based on the usage and screen brightness, the laptop lasts about five hours. When gaming, you can expect around two hours of battery time.
In terms of audio, there are 2 x 2W stereo speakers coupled with Nahimic Sound 3 Technology, Hi-Res Audio, and MSI Audio Boost technology. The sound is of decent quality but as with most gaming laptops, we recommend using a headset.
Most of the performance and display settings can be controlled via the MSI Dragon Center. The app lets you monitor and optimize your system performance, change user profiles, switch between display color modes, adjust charging preferences and more.
The MSI Katana GF66 is an great mid-range gaming laptop featuring the latest 12th Gen Intel CPUs, GPU support up to Nvidia RTC 3070 Ti and room for additional RAM and SSD upgrades. On the base model, the Intel Core i7-12700H and the RTX 3050Ti combo works very well to deliver solid performance numbers when it comes to multitasking, creative editing and 1080p gaming. Some of the drawbacks are the lack of SD and Thunderbolt ports and the average battery life.