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MSI katana GF66 11uc-453 15.6 Gaming Laptop: A Perfect low Budget Laptop

The MSI Katana GF66 is an OK low-cost gaming laptop, despite our wishes for a brighter display, somewhat higher processing power, and longer battery life.

It has a 144-hertz display and a GeForce RTX 3060 GPU for the price of an RTX 3050 Ti (or even a standard RTX 3050).

That’s impressive for a laptop in this price range, and so is the 1TB solid-state drive it comes with, which is more than adequate for the ever-increasing amounts of today’s game installs. Taken as a whole, the Katana GF66 is an excellent choice for gamers on a tight budget.

Laptop Type Gaming
Processor Intel Core i7-11800H
Processor Speed 2.3 GHz
RAM  16 GB
Boot Drive Type SSD
Boot Drive Capacity (as Tested) 1 TB
Screen Size 15.6 inches
Native Display Resolution 1920 by 1080
Touch Screen No
Panel Technology IPS
Support for Variable Refresh Support None
Screen Refresh Rate 144 Hz
 Graphics Processor Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Laptop GPU
Graphics Memory 6 GB
Wireless Networking 802.11ax, Bluetooth
Dimensions (HWD) 0.98 by 14.13 by 10.2 inches
Weight 4.96 lbs
Operating System Windows 10 Home

A gaming laptop worthy of its namesake blade will be at the forefront of affordable technology. The MSI Katana GF66 (starts at $799; $1,199 for the in-store Micro Center model tested here) is an impressive value among 15.6-inch budget gaming laptops, featuring an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 GPU for the price you’d normally expect to find an RTX 3050 Ti.

The MSI Katana GF66 (starts at $799; $1,199 for the in-store Micro Center model tested here) is an impressive value among 15.6-inch budget gaming laptops, featuring an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 GPU for the price you’d normally expect to find an RTX 3050 Ti. 

In light of escalating core-component pricing and a rethinking of what constitutes a “cheap” gaming laptop, the Katana’s coverage of the gaming necessities without glaring drawbacks is especially welcome. It has supplanted the MSI Bravo 15 as our top pick for the best cheap 15-inch gaming laptop.

Processor

Our Katana GF66 testbed features an eight-core Intel Core i7-11800H CPU, a six-gigabyte GeForce RTX 3060 GPU, sixteen gigabytes of random-access memory, and a one-terabyte solid-state drive. Our benchmarks will show that this recipe works quite well for 1080p gaming. The RTX 3060 GPU used here has an 85-watt thermal design power.

Cooling-wise, the Katana isn’t exactly silent, but its fans aren’t annoying, and there aren’t any particularly warm areas on the chassis where your fingers would ordinarily rest.

My comparisons show that the Katana GF66 has a tough time keeping up with the rest of the gaming laptops I tested. The Alienware x15, the MSI Delta 15, and the XPG Xenia 15 KC are all examples.

Among these, only the compact Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 has an RTX 3060 graphics processing unit (GPU). All of these models evaluated, however, are many hundred dollars more than the Katana.

Graphic Card

We do both artificial and real-world gaming tests on Windows PCs. Some examples of the former are two of 3DMark’s gaming simulations that use DirectX 12,

Both Night Raid (which is less demanding and works well on computers with integrated graphics) and Time Spy (more demanding, suitable for gaming rigs with discrete GPUs). Additionally included is the cross-platform GPU test GFXBench 5, which we employ to evaluate OpenGL performance.

Moving on, we put our gaming hardware through its paces with in-game benchmarks from simulation game F1 2021, open world action-adventure game Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, and competitive/esports shooting game Rainbow Six Siege.

We run F1 2021 once at Ultra settings and again with Nvidia’s performance-boosting DLSS anti-aliasing activated on for GeForce RTX laptops, while Valhalla and Siege are both tested twice (once at Medium and once at Ultra quality) on laptops.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Affordable component bundle at a competitive price
  • Powerful 1080p gaming on a 144Hz display¬†
  • ¬†generous 1TB SSD

Cons

  • Inadequate contrast and color saturation on the display
  • Weak battery endurance

Conclusion

MSI Katana GF66 starts at $799; $1,199 for the in-store Micro Center model. The 15.6-inch laptop has a 144-hertz display and a GeForce RTX 3060 GPU.

My comparisons show that the Katana GF66 has a tough time keeping up with the rest of the gaming laptops I tested. The Alienware x15, the MSI Delta 15, and the XPG Xenia 15 KC are all examples.

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