The MSI Katana GF66 gaming laptop is named after the famous samurai sword, and the name is appropriate – the device is at the very “edge of progress”. This is one of the best models among 15.6-inch budget gaming laptops.
The most powerful build uses an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 as the graphics card, although the RTX 3050 Ti is the most common in this segment. Although the processor is an octa-core Intel Core i7, the display lacks saturation and battery life could be longer. Overall, though, the Katana GF66 is a great budget option for gaming.
Specifications MSI Katana GF66
|CPU||Intel Core i5 11400H/Intel Core i7-11800H|
|Processor Speed||2.7/2.3 GHz|
|RAM (as tested)||8/16/32 GHz|
|Drive capacity||512 GB/1 TB|
|Screen size||15.6 inch|
|Native display resolution||1920×1080|
|Screen refresh rate||144 Hz|
|GPU||Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050/RTX 3060|
|Graphic memory||4/6 GB|
|Wireless network||Wi-Fi 6 802.11ax, Bluetooth 5.2|
|Operating system||Windows 10 Home|
Configurations MSI Katana GF66
The base model MSI Katana GF66 is suitable for most 1080p games and esports.
Inside, there is a six-core Intel Core i5-11400H processor and a GeForce RTX 3050 graphics card with 4 GB of memory, and the display has a refresh rate of 144 Hz. RAM 8/16 GB, and the capacity of the SSD is 512 GB.
More expensive builds run on an eight-core Intel Core i7-11800H and a GeForce RTX 3060 graphics card with 6 GB of video memory. The amount of RAM is 16/32 GB, the capacity of the solid state drive is 512 GB/1 TB.
Design and display
Externally, the MSI Katana GF66 differs little from other gaming laptops - many love the red and black colors.
The design is pleasant – large fans at the back and pointed corners on the top side of the lid give the device an unusual look. The dimensions of the Katana GF66 are 359×259×24.9 mm, and the weight is an impressive 2.25 kg. Although the body is made of plastic, it doesn’t feel cheap or flimsy.
The Katana GF66's screen is 1920x1080 pixels and it could be better quality. The only benefit of this display is its 144Hz refresh rate, so you can enjoy high frame rates in many games.
However, the image quality is below average. The sRGB color space coverage is only 62%, and the maximum brightness is a modest 267 nits.
Keyboard and touchpad
The red backlit keyboard is the only feature of the MSI Katana GF66 that indicates that this is a gaming laptop.
The buttons are illuminated from all sides, which gives the device a futuristic look in the evening. However, the keys lack feedback when pressed, and they don’t have much travel.
The numeric keypad on the right seems superfluous, because all the buttons seem to be squeezed into a small space, and their layout is unusual.
The Katana GF66 touchpad is located a little to the left of the center of the case – exactly under the space bar, and alas, it is far from ideal. The panel has large dimensions and a pleasant surface, but when pressed, you have to make some effort.
Connectors and ports of MSI Katana GF66 gaming laptop
The MSI Katana GF66 has enough connectors: three USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports (two Type-A and one Type-C), USB 2.0, headphone jack, Ethernet, and HDMI 2.0b video output.
It lacks Thunderbolt 4 and biometric security, and the 720p webcam lacks a privacy shutter. Two speakers are located in the area under the palms – their sound is not of the highest quality, but loud.
You can add RAM and an SSD to the laptop, although the back cover is difficult to remove. First you have to unscrew a few screws, but even after that it is not so easy to remove the cover.
Inside there are two M.2 2280 PCI Express 3.0 SSD slots and two DDR4-3200 sockets. The maximum amount of RAM is limited to 64 GB (if you put two 32 GB sticks). You can also replace the Intel AX201 Wi-Fi 6 wireless adapter and a 53 Wh battery.
The MSI Katana GF66 build I tested has an Intel Core i7-11800H processor, a GeForce RTX 3060 graphics card, 16GB of RAM, and a 1TB SSD.
The Katana GF66 hardware is sufficient for high performance in most 1080p games. Under heavy loads, the noise of the fans is heard, but they are not distracting, and the case does not heat up much.
In the GeekBench 5.4.1 Pro performance test, the MSI laptop scores 7038 points in multi-core mode. For example, Alienware x15 has 8262 points in the same test, but the model is much more expensive. Since the same Core i7-11800H is installed in the x15, the speed of the Katana GF66 could be higher.
But with the graphics of the MSI laptop, things are much better: in the GFXBench 5.0 test (Car Chase), it shows a result of 320 fps. The more expensive MSI Delta 15 has 273 fps here, while the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 (2021) has 323 fps.
Not surprisingly, even in modern games, MSI’s Katana GF66 delivers high frame rates. In Assassin’s Creed Valhalla at 1080p, the hardware produces 54 fps at maximum graphics settings and 81 fps at medium. In Rainbow Six Siege, I had 191 and 239 fps respectively, so a display refresh rate of 144 Hz will come in handy.
Autonomy MSI Katana GF66
Battery life is not the strong point of the MSI Katana GF66, as it is with most gaming laptops.
From a 15-inch model, I expected at least 6 hours of battery life, but the device’s energy reserve was only enough for 4 hours. The same Alienware x15 can work for almost 6.5 hours on a single charge, and MSI Delta 15 – more than 10 hours.
The MSI Katana GF66 has some shortcomings: the display is not very saturated, the battery drains quickly, and the processor’s potential is not realized to the maximum. But even with this in mind, MSI has managed to create one of the best gaming laptops for a reasonable price.
Is it worth buying MSI Katana GF66 gaming laptop ?
The GeForce RTX 3060 graphics card allows you to play the most demanding games at 1080p resolution, which cannot be said about most competitors in this price segment. And since the display refresh rate reaches 144 Hz, the laptop is suitable for e-sports disciplines.
The SSD capacity is 1 TB, which is enough for a huge number of games. In terms of price-quality ratio, the Katana GF66 has no equal in this category.