What has changed over two years – we compare a gaming laptop from the 2020 lineup with an analogue from 2018

Is the new generation Intel, RTX graphics card and 300 Hz screen worth it to upgrade?

The MSI GE66 Raider 10SE laptop came to our test – a model from the new line, which will go on sale in the spring of 2020. The manufacturer did not say exactly when and how much the device will cost, so we will test in isolation from the price (the version with RTX 2070 costs in the USA from $ 1800, but we had an option with RTX 2060 on our test. We did not find such a modification in any foreign or Russian store).

Therefore, we will evaluate the new product and compare it not with analogues, but with the gaming laptop of the beginning of 2018 – let’s see how far the technology has taken during this time.

Features GE66 Raider

  • Processor: Intel Core i7-10750H
  • Video card: GeForce RTX 2060
  • Memory: 16 GB DDR4
  • Screen: 15.6 “, 1920×1080, IPS, 300 Hz, 6 ms
  • Storage: 2x NVMe 512 GB SSD
  • Network: Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0
  • Battery: 99.9 W * h
  • Ports: USB-C 10 Gb / s, USB-C 5 Gb / s, 3x USB 3.2, HDMI 2.0, mini-DP, RJ45, SD card reader
  • Keyboard: without a numeric keypad, membrane-controlled RGB-controlled backlight for each key

 

For comparison, we used the MSI GS63 Stealth, which belongs to one of the DTF editors – at the time, this model had a similar positioning.

  • Processor: Intel Core i7-8750H
  • Video Card: GeForce GTX 1060
  • Memory: 16 GB DDR4
  • Screen: 15.6 “, 1920×1080, TN, 120 Hz, 3 ms
  • Storage: NVMe SSD 128 GB + 1 TB HDD
  • Network: Wi-Fi 5, Bluetooth 4.2
  • Battery: 65 W * h
  • Ports: Thunderbolt 3, 3x USB 3.0, USB 2.0, HDMI 2.0, mini-DP, RJ45, SD card reader
  • Keyboard: with numeric keypad, membrane, RGB-controlled backlight for each key

In fact, not much has changed – in addition to the current processor and video card, the 2020 model uses a faster screen, and inside the place under the 2.5 “hard drive was used to accommodate a larger battery. The memory remained at the same level, but the set ports is almost identical.Wi-Fi 6 support looks tempting, but the corresponding routers have not yet received sufficient distribution.

What has changed in the 10th generation Intel Core i7

Both laptops are based on the Intel Core i7 processor with 6 cores and 12 threads. Only frequencies differ – in the 10th generation Intel promises up to 5.1 GHz, but with a stable load, the frequency is kept at 4.3 GHz. In the 8th generation model, the operating frequency is lower – under a load of the order of 3.6 GHz.

The table below compares the Intel Core i7-10750H with the Intel Core i7-8750H and the desktop AMD Ryzen 5 2600, overclocked to 4.15 GHz. This is one of the most popular processors in gaming computers – it also has six cores, 12 threads and, with overclocking, it runs at about the same frequency.

The performance of the Intel Core i7-10750H we measured in two modes. “Out of the box” under load, it quickly reaches a limit of 95 degrees and begins to reset frequencies, which leads to a drop in performance. In this mode, the gap from the model two years ago is from 10 to almost 30%, depending on the test.

The processor is served by one wide heat pipe, and one smaller, while the graphics card has 4 pieces. Two large turbines in normal operation work with an even rustle, but they make a lot of noise under load

If you use the Intel Extreme Tuning Utility and underwrite at -0.80 V, the temperatures under constant 100% load stabilize at 88-90 degrees, throttling does not occur and the gap in the results in some tests reaches 40%. But only in some – in the 3DMark gaming benchmark, changes fit into the statistical error, and the difference between generations does not reach 10%.

We do not recommend users to conduct their own undervolting – even when using Intel XTU, an error can be fatal for the system, and it will be possible to save the laptop only by desoldering and manually flashing CMOS through the programmer in the service center.

Such errors happen infrequently – usually the alarm system manages to roll back the settings to the factory settings. But with a sudden shutdown of the system, anything can go wrong, and turning the laptop into a “brick” is quite possible.

In a desktop PC, CMOS can be reset either with a special button on the motherboard, or by closing the jumper, or pulling out the battery, but in laptops this method may not work. In modern models, BIOS and CMOS settings are often stored in non-volatile flash-memory, which will not reset the settings when the battery is disconnected from the motherboard.

We can not objectively compare the gaming performance of processors – in laptops too different video cards are installed.

Gaming performance

The GeForce GTX 1060 is still the most common gaming graphics card according to Steam statistics, but the RTX 2060 is gradually closing the gap. How much more powerful is it?

As a small bonus, we added the benchmarks of the desktop GeForce RTX 2060 paired with the same Ryzen 5 2600 in the table below. In Metro and Control, the difference in processor performance plays practically no role, since both games can use a lot of threads, but they don’t load the processor completely.

But the frame rate in CS: GO largely depends on the frequency – therefore, in this game the desktop with a more powerful graphics card, but a relatively slow processor, was in last place.

If we compare the performance of the RTX 2060 in the desktop and mobile versions, the difference varies from 5 to 16% depending on the game and the operating mode.

The difference between the two generations of video cards is much greater than between the processors. In Control at maximum graphics settings without RTX, the difference reaches 74%, in Metro – about 50%.

In addition, the RTX 2060 supports real-time ray tracing. With tracing enabled, a modern graphics card in Control gives the same (barely playable) performance as the GTX 1060 in standard mode. And if you enable DLSS 2.0, then the frame rate rises above 60 fps.

Minecraft RTX uses path-tracing, that is, ray tracing is performed not to the objects specified by the developers, but to all the rays. On RTX 2060, you can play Minecraft comfortably only with DLSS 2.0 enabled, otherwise the frame rate drops to 24 frames per second.

Screen is a major improvement

The screens of most gaming laptops that came out two or three years ago can not be compared with what the market offers today. In 2019, most manufacturers even transferred entry-level devices to IPS panels, and displays with a frequency of 144 and even 240 Hz were spread in the middle and upper echelons.

 

In 2020, the industry advanced one step further – most of the flagship and sub-flagship models of MSI, ASUS, Acer and others received IPS-level screens (which type of matrix no one specifies, but most likely it is AHVA) with a frequency of 300 Hz – desktop monitors such panels are not produced.

The MSI GE66 screen is one of the best among all gaming laptops I’ve tested. There is enough brightness to work at the window on a sunny day, viewing angles are almost perfect, and the frequency and speed of the response provide a smooth and clear picture in games. But he has a place to grow.

The response speed of the panel is 6 ms – formally for a frequency of 300 Hz this is not enough. For a perfect match, the speed should be no higher than 3 ms (GtG), otherwise there will be a hosting effect, in which the moving objects appear “tail” from the afterimage, and the edges become fuzzy. In practice, a small “shadow” is indeed observed, but this effect cannot be called critical.

Among semi-professional devices (for example, the ASUS ZenBook, Acer Concept-D, MSI Creator or Apple MacBook series) there are matrices with better color reproduction and contrast.

The MSI GE66 screen is bright, with rich colors, which is good for movies, video games, web browsing and office tasks, but it will not work for working with color or graphics.

Viewing angles and uniformity of illumination are at a good level for unprofessional IPS-matrix. Serious glare on black is not observed, and gradations of gray are perceived quite uniformly.

But the lack of G-Sync is a serious drawback at such a high frequency. Previously, laptops did not use adaptive refresh rate (VRR) due to NVIDIA Optimus power saving technology. She is responsible for automatically switching from the integrated graphics to a discrete graphics card, but is incompatible with VRR. In 2020, NVIDIA updated the standard and solved this problem, but MSI did not take this opportunity.

The RTX 2060 is capable of delivering close to 300 Hz values ​​only in the most undemanding competitive games. The rest of the time, due to the difference between the matrix update rate and the frame rate of the video card, a statter may appear – short image delays. The screen is updated 300 times per second, regardless of which image is displayed on it, so it will repeat the same frame several times until the video card sends the next one.

If the frame rate is stable, and 300 is divided by this value without a remainder, the effect will not be noticeable, since each frame will be displayed for an equal amount of time (for example, when playing at 60 fps, each frame will be repeated 5 times for 3 ms). But if the frequency is unstable and not a multiple of 30, the display time of individual frames will skip, which is perceived as small, but annoying freezes.

Therefore, when playing AAA games in which the RTX 2060 still does not draw more than 70-80 fps, it makes sense to switch the panel to 60 Hz operation mode through the settings.

It will also positively affect battery life in office tasks and when watching movies.

Do I need a frequency of 300 Hz? In the tested configuration of iron – definitely not. The speed of the panel does not match the level of the video card, which causes mainly inconvenience. For RTX 2060, the best “partner” will be a 120-144 Hz screen, and preferably with G-Sync.

It is worth considering that we had the GE66 starting configuration on the test. On sale there will be modifications of this laptop with video cards up to RTX 2080 Super Max-Q and Intel Core i9 processors, which can “pump” a much larger number of games to stable 100 fps and higher – with these values, the statter is almost indistinguishable.

Autonomy

The second, after the screens, batteries have become a significant improvement in modern gaming laptops. Most manufacturers previously neglected the concern for the autonomy of game models, but recently the situation has been improving.

You can’t play away from the outlet anyway – in standalone mode, the processor and video card frequencies are reduced, since the compact battery cannot produce enough energy to operate powerful components at full speed.

But a modern gaming laptop is gradually turning from a “compact hospital” into a universal device that is comfortable to use for non-gaming tasks. Therefore, when manufacturers talk about battery life, they mean scenarios like watching movies, working with a browser or documents that do not use a voracious video card (it can consume three times more energy than a processor and empty any battery in an hour) two).

 

Many brands, including Lenovo, ASUS and Razer, have taken the course to increase the size and capacity of the battery, and now MSI has joined them. In a daily working scenario with a browser with 20+ tabs, a couple of instant messengers, Wi-Fi connection, a Bluetooth mouse, parallel display on an external Full HD monitor and a screen brightness of about 60%, the GE66 Raider laptop lasted about 7.5 hours. A Silent performance preset was set, and the screen refresh rate was fixed at 60 Hz.

What has not changed in two years

Ergonomics and appearance in gaming laptops have not changed much since 2018. MSI GE66 Raider was a tangible step forward in terms of industrial design, but only against the background of its predecessors – in many respects it repeats the successful decisions that Lenovo adopted a few years ago.

 

Marked black aluminum was replaced with stricter gray, broken lines and sharp corners almost disappeared from the design. The connectors for power and external monitors were moved to the rear panel so that the wires do not interfere on the table. DELL and ASUS ROG go the same way.

The quality of the speakers of gaming laptops in two years has not fundamentally improved. Some models sound louder, others are quieter, but it’s hard to call them really good. The exception is perhaps the Lenovo Legion Y740 and Razer Blade. In the segment of ultrabooks with sound quality, things are significantly better.

The trackpad of the MSI GE66 is the same as that of all more or less relevant models of this level. It is large enough and supports Windows Precision gestures, but is made of plastic, not glass, and does not differ in the accuracy inherent in the touchpads of business models. It is assumed that a large gaming laptop will be used at a table where you can comfortably sit with the mouse.

Gaming laptops have definitely become more powerful and are gradually moving towards providing the owner with a better quality of life. Autonomy is growing, the design is becoming stricter and more functional and the devices themselves are more compact. But much more important is the fact that laptops with frankly bad TN-screens have almost disappeared from the market, this is a big step forward for the entire portable computer industry.

At the same time, it is difficult to say that the 2017-2018 models are irrevocably outdated. With the exception of screen quality, in 2020 the laptop even with the GTX 1060 still copes with modern games, even if the graphics settings have to be reduced to medium (or slightly lower). For online disciplines like Overwatch, League of Legends, CS: GO or the new Valorant, the performance of powerful RTX cards can be called almost redundant. In order to wait out the crisis and the jump in prices, this will be enough.

The next generation of iron is already visible on the horizon, but it will reach laptops at best by the spring-summer of 2021. The 30 Series GeForce graphics cards should become even more powerful, and Radeon with RDNA 2 will finally get hardware ray tracing and improved energy efficiency. But the question of whether it is worth waiting for an upgrade for another year or whether it is possible to upgrade in this, having received a good offer for the current model, does not have a clear answer.

 

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