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We are fortunate to have been able to test one of the first laptops equipped with a GeForce RTX 3080 on the market: the MSI GS66 Stealth. 2 cm thick and less than 2 kg, for raw power that makes you dream. After launching Cyberpunk 2077, Control, Watch Dogs Legion or Read Dead Redemption 2, what can we conclude from the performance of this new racing beast?

You did not miss it if you followed the tech news of the beginning of the year: Nvidia took advantage of CES to present a new generation of “gaming” laptops equipped with GeForce RTX 3000 (3060, 3070 and 3080) . A multitude of models have been announced (more than 70) from a wide variety of manufacturers, at prices ranging from 1300 to over 4000 euros. In short, there’s something for everyone. For our part, Nvidia lent us the GS66 Stealth model from MSI, which has all the “next-gen” refinements one expects. This model is thus equipped with an Intel Core i7-10870H processor, 16 GB of RAM, a 1 TB SSD and a GeForce RTX 3080 with 16 GB of GDDR6. On the screen side, we appreciate the presence of a 15.6-inch IPS panel displaying 1440p (2560×1440 pixels) at 240 Hz.

The MSI GS66 is also one of the new generation notebook PC models to offer a whole host of new features directly related to the GeForce 3000 series for laptops: it is therefore equipped with Dynamic Boost 2.0, Advanced Optimus and Whisper Mode 2.0 technologies. Don’t panic, we’ll go into all of these terms later.

More than 40% performance gap with the previous generation

For now, let’s come back to the GeForce RTX 3080 for laptop and its specificities. First of all, you must be aware that this graphics card remains quite far from the RTX 3080 that we have known on stationary PCs for several months. The level of performance will not be the same and it should be compared more to a GeForce RTX 3070, the GPU being indeed similar (GA104, while the RTX 3080 for desktop PCs integrates a GA102 GPU). The TGP is therefore much lower (150W) and the clock frequency theoretically goes up to 1710 MHz. On the other hand, it is the same “Ampere” architecture and the same 8 nm engraving fineness by Samsung. In short, all this makes the MSI GS66 seems to be especially suited for the game in 1440p at 50 FPS and more, and will have a hard time keeping up with Ultra HD in demanding games. In this specific case, the presence of a 1440p screen is all the more welcome.

Because it is certainly in this definition that you will play the most with such a configuration. We tested 7 games, setting the level of graphic detail to the maximum and activating ray-tracing and DLSS when possible. As you can see from the graph below, all games run over 50 FPS at 1440p, with a nice peak at over 70 FPS on Control. Cyberpunk 2077 remains very slightly behind, but still ensures its 50 FPS full stack with ray-tracing set to “Ultra” and DLSS to “performance”. Above all, the performance gain compared to a laptop PC with an RTX 2080 (here the MSI GS65) is impressive, with an average deviation of 41%.

We also checked GPU frequency stability in games. Nothing to report on this point: after 30 minutes of benchmarking on Metro Exodus, the frequency remains between 1300 and 1400 MHz. On Cyberpunk 2077, we find a frequency that oscillates between 1400 and 1500 MHz. Added to this is a GPU temperature that does not exceed 73 ° C under load. The chassis remains at an “acceptable” level of heat, as you can see in the photos below, taken with a thermal camera.

On the other hand, you have to put up with a fairly noisy ventilation with the default user profile in the MSI options and with whisper mode disabled. The breath emitted is thus quite high-pitched and is approximately at 47-48 dB (A) when positioned 40 cm from the keyboard. By comparison, a quiet room emits around 38 dB (A). This observation is obviously damaging, but it is difficult to do otherwise when we want to reconcile such a GPU with a chassis 2 cm thick. And it must be recognized that the noise is not necessarily louder than on the previous generation of laptops running GeForce RTX 2000.

Optimus, Dynamic Boost, Whisper Mode… Késako ?

Mentioned above, the MSI GS66 also comes with a whole bunch of technologies specific to Nvidia, which allow better optimization of performance and image. Dynamic Boost 2.0 allows for example a better management of the power supply of the CPU and GPU, according to the needs of the game. Certain moments in games can thus be more dependent on the graphics card and / or the processor. The role of Dynamic Boost 2.0 is therefore to distribute the energy required for one or the other in real time and thus gain performance.. On the tested MSI model, Dynamic Boost 2.0 is enabled by default and cannot be changed. Be careful, however, not all laptop models with a GeForce RTX 3000 card are necessarily equipped with Dynamic Boost 2.0. It is indeed up to the constructor to implement it.

Below is the performance gain offered by Dynamic Boost, according to Nvidia

Another interesting function: Advanced Optimus, which automatically switches from the PC’s dedicated graphics card (the RTX 3080, therefore) to the iGPU Intel. The latter is thus more than sufficient in the context of “out-of-game” use and consumes much less energy, which inevitably increases battery life. In this specific case, the presence of Advanced Optimus (which is activated in the Nvidia control panel) also makes it possible to connect an external G-Sync compatible screen and to take full advantage of better display fluidity. Nvidia has indeed added a hardware switch that allows you to correctly use the resolutions and frequencies of external screens. The HDMI 2.1 port of the GS66 thus connects directly, via this switch, to the GeForce RTX 3080, then switches back to the iGPU. Basically: you can for example go up to 4K at 120Hz, with G-Sync, on a suitable monitor or TV. If your laptop also has 3 graphics outputs (HDMI and USB-C,), you can also enjoy a display on 3 external screens. As with Dynamic Boost, Not all RTX 3000 laptops are equipped with this Advances Optimus function and it is up to the manufacturer to choose whether or not to integrate it. It will therefore be necessary to pay attention to the technical sheet at the time of purchase.

Finally, Whisper Mode 2.0 is an improvement on the previous Whisper Mode and allows a better balance between performance and noise released by ventilation. Via the settings of GeForce Experience, you can thus define the minimum level of FPS that you want in the game and adjust the balance between noise and performance. Whisper Mode 2.0 uses artificial intelligence algorithms to more subtly manage in-game noise and adapt fan speed. We haven’t had time to thoroughly test this technology yet, but we’ll definitely come back to it in a future article.

To conclude, we must admit that this first contact with a laptop PC equipped with an RTX 3080 is very encouraging. Yes, it’s not as powerful as a desktop PC and it never will be. But the performance gap with the previous generation of laptops with GeForce RTX 2000 is very impressive. The addition of several features specific to Nvidia (Dynamic Boost, Advanced Optimus, Whisper Mode) also demonstrates once again the ability of Nvidia to offer the right tools to support the right hardware. That being said, the MSI GS66 that we are testing here is a top-of-the-range model, which incorporates all the novelties touted by the brand. We are therefore all the more curious to test less high-end models, such as a Acer Nitro 5 with RTX 3060, and inevitably less expensive. In the meantime, we must admit that this new generation of laptop PC dedicated to gaming is already very heavy.

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