The MSI Pulse GL66 12UGKV-464 is a powerful midrange gaming laptop with a lot going for it including a 12th CPU and RTX 3070 GPU, but its bulk build and mediocre battery life somewhat drag it down.
- Great gaming performance
- Premium 144Hz display
- Tactile keyboard and trackpad
- Bulky design
- Middling battery life
The MSI Pulse GL66 is one of the company’s entry-level gaming laptops, and the Pulse GL66 12UGKV-464 model we’re reviewing is a refreshed upgrade of our favorite MSI Pulse GL66 11UGK-001 from last year, that we liked for its impressive 1080p gaming performance thanks to an RTX 3070 GPU and Intel 11th generation Core i7-11800H CPU.
The new model we’re reviewing carries forward the same design and RTX 3070 chip as its predecessor but maxes out with a 12th-generation Intel Core i7-12700H processor.
The Pulse GL66 line of laptops packs configurations that come well below what you’d find in MSI’s Raider Line, offering a bulky, upgradeable, and more gamer-centric design than the likes of the super-slim MSI Stealth 15M. And, it’s not very expensive when compared to gaming laptops with the same features, and the fact that it gives you plenty of room to swap out components in the future makes it a worthwhile investment.
We’ve had our hands on the i7-12700H/RTX 3070 model, an entry-level configuration that’s in the same ballpark as the likes of the Alienware M15 R6 and Gigabyte A5 X1. Let’s see exactly how this bulk stacks against the RTX 3070 competition.
About the MSI Pulse GL66
With the new low-price Nvidia GPUs like the RTX 3070, it’s now possible for gamers to benefit from the unbounded joys of ray tracing and more affordable machines. It’s a fantastic approach since ray tracing brings a whole difference to reflections and all other lighting effects. But with time, a ray-tracing GPU will be more centerstage: the PC Enhanced version of Metro Exodus might not run on a PC without a ray-tracing-capable GPU, for instance, and we expect more games to follow suit.
Another noteworthy thing about the silicon inside the Pulse GL66 is the Intel processor. Generally, gaming machines in this price category use quad-core i7 processors such as the 1165G7 and the 11370H, but MSI has opted to use the more powerful 14-core 12700H (8 performance cores, 6 efficient cores). That should give the GL66 some serious grunt when it comes to productivity tasks.
- CPU: Intel Core i7-12700H
- Graphics: Nvidia RTX 3070 8GB DDR6
- RAM: 16GB DDR4
- Screen: 15.6-inch FHD (1080p), 144Hz, IPS display
- Storage: 512GB PCIe SSD
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.1
- Camera: 720p webcam
- Weight: 4.9 lbs
- Size (W x D x H): 18 x 13.4 x 4.15 inches
- Battery: 53WHr
The Pulse GL66 12UGKV-464 comes with a 15.6-inch display, FHD (1920 X 1080) at 144Hz, but there’s also a Pulse GL66 in a choice of QHD (2560 x 1440) at 165Hz. There’s also a choice of 8GB or 16GB of DDR4 RAM and 512GB NVMe PCI-E SSD.
Design and Features
With a gunmetal aluminum lid, the GL66 Pulse looks impressive, and we like MSI’s departure from the historical all-black gaming design. The laser-etched shield logo and the angles on the lid give the laptop some upscale, modern appearance. MSI has also updated the logo lettering as seen in the image below.
On the Pulse GL66, everything is plastic except for the lid. For the base model, that’s acceptable but for the model we’re reviewing, the price dictates that’s future-proof. Compared, the Acer Predator Helios 300 uses more metal and feels sturdier despite weighing just a few ounces more (4.9 versus 4.63 pounds). And measuring 18 x 13.4 x 4.15 inches (HWD), the MSI GL66 isn’t as trim as others in this price range, such as the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 (0.7 x 14.1 x 12.8 inches, HWD).
Port selection is good, but not excellent. On the sides, there are three traditional USB Type-A ports (two USB 3.2 Gen 1 and one legacy 2.0), one USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-C port, a headset jack, Gigabit Ethernet, and an HDMI 2.0b video output (handy for 4K at 60Hz). Wireless connectivity comes via Intel AX201 Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.
The 144Hz high-refresh-rate screen in our review unit (12UGKV-464 model) is an almost perfect combination with its 8GB GeForce RTX 3070, a dedicated GPU that produces triple-digit rates at the laptop’s native 1,920-by-1,080 resolution.
MSI uses IPS (In-Plane- Switching) technology for this panel, meaning you get reasonable brightness and contrast, that create a satisfactory picture, if not a perfectly colourful one. The screen is rated at 72% NTSC color coverage, which is more vibrant than the 45% on the base GL66 Pulse models, with 60Hz screens and 4GB GeForce RTX 3050 graphics card.
Keyboard & Touchpad
A metallic lid and an RGB are the most notable features in the MSI GL66 Pulse over the company’s ultra-budget MSI GF Katana line. The keyboard backlighting is configurable via the MSI Center app, though the customization is limited to one color or lighting zone. Competing gaming rigs at this price, like the MSI GE66 Raider offer up to four lighting zones.
It isn’t a SteelSeries keyboard and lacks the accompanying app found in MSI’s pricier GS66 Stealth, but it keeps the aggressive typeface on the keyboards. Still, you get the all-familiar keypress and the tactile feedback is pleasing.
The same can’t be said about the buttonless touchpad; it requires unusually high physical pressure to register a click. I suspect that was done intentionally to prevent accidental presses while gaming, but most gamers use an external mouse, and in that case, you can disable the touchpad with the Fn+F4 keyboard shortcut.
The MSI Pulse GL66’s performance is quite good, scoring well in benchmarks as well as performing well, in general, playing some demanding AAA games like Cyberpunk 2077, Metro Exodus, and Dirt 5. In a world where the GL66 12UGKV-464 stood alone, it would stand out.
The problem for the Pulse GL66 is that it doesn’t stand all alone; it’s facing off against some of the best gaming laptops out there like the Lenovo Legion 5 Pro, the Asus ROG Zephyrus G15, and the Razer Blade 14.
The best that can be said in several frontiers is that the Pulse GL66, as reviewed with a 12th generation chip, is a good bit cheaper than most of its competitors, and somewhat cheaper with the newer chip. The newest version of the GL66 is the model we’d suggest if you need a cheaper combination of i7-12700H/RTX 3070, but if you have a lot to splurge on a gaming laptop, then the Pulse GL66 starts to lose ground.
For a few hundred dollars more, you can get the Asus ROG Strix Scar 15 (2022), which comes with much better hardware (RTX 3070Ti and Intel Core i9-12900H) and a huge boost in gaming performance. If you can stretch even further to the Razer Blade 14 (RTX 3080 and AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX) is also worth doing, even if it means putting off buying a new gaming laptop for a month or two as you save up some extra money.
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Gaming and Graphics
In gaming benchmarks, the MSI Pulse GL66 remains consistently over 60fps in 1080p when. Running heavier titles like Metro Exodus and Total War: Three Kingdoms, though it slips a little in Red Dead Redemptions 2, averaging slightly under 57 fps. Still, Shadow of the Tomb Raider consistently performed well, even when boosted up to 1440p, and The Division 2 still reached 61fps in QHD resolution as well, and the price you’re paying for this machine begins to reap its rewards.
- Shadow of the Tomb Raider: High @ 1080p – 99fps; Highest @ 1080p – 83fps; High @ 1440p – 86fps; Highest @ 1440p – 74fps
- Metro Exodus: High @ 1080p – 68fps; Highest @ 1080p – 51fps; High @ 1440p – 58fps; [email protected] 1440p – 49fps
- Red Dead Redemption 2: High @ 1080p – 63fps; Highest @ 1080p – 57fps; High @ 1440p – 54fps; Highest @ 1440p – 47fps
- The Division 2: High @ 1080p – 86fps; Ultra @ 1080p – 74fps; High @ 1440p – 63fps; Highest @ 1440p – 58fps
The MSI Pulse GL66’s 1440p performance doesn’t drop as many frames as it tends to on most competing gaming laptops as well, which is great at this price point, meaning you can run this rig natively in less demanding titles.
Gaming laptops have historically had short battery life, but recently we’ve seen rigs like the Asus ROG Zephyrus last just over 8 hours on a single charge. That said, the MSI GL66 Pulse still fails to crack the mainstream gaming laptop average of 6:15, lasting a mere 3 hours 46 minutes.
Not a deal-breaker though, just carry around your brick if you’ll be using it for ling away from the mains. Again, that’s a little longer than the Razer Blade Pro 17’s 5:53 but almost double the Alienware M15’s 3:28.
MSI Pulse GL66 12UGKV-464 Review: Verdict
The MSI Pulse GL66 (2022) is created specifically for gamers who prioritize function over form. This is one heavy machine, coming in the backdrop of thinning gaming rigs, with an outdated aesthetic that will not wow in quite the same manner as some more streamlined gaming machines like the Asus Zephyrus G15 and Razer Blade 14.
However, its performance as both a gaming machine and productivity notebook speaks for itself. With the latest generation Intel Core i7 CPU and capable RTX 3070 GPU, there’s some serious grunt in all that space, and t works well to deliver some serious numbers when it comes to buttery smooth frame rates and fast load times.
If you’re looking for an impressive gaming laptop that you’ll not be moving too often at a great price, the MSI Pulse GL66 12UGKV-464 is a worthy investment considering the latest generation processors. However, if it’s portability that drove you to a laptop rather than raw gaming muscle, we’d recommend checking out thinner models that often pack a slightly weaker punch, cost too much, or both.
Should you buy the MSI GL66?
If you’re looking for an upgradeable desktop replacement for an older rig. YES. The MSI Pulse GL66 12UGKV-464 represents a good entry-level MSI if you’d rather have gaming aesthetics and upgradeability as opposed to the thin, svelte, and professional look of other low-spec MSI laptops like the MSI Stealth 15M.
Again, the Pulse GL66’s performance is powerful enough that it can replace lots of older rigs running GTX-era cards, especially since its battery life means it can rarely leave the desktop. The Asus ROG Strix Scar 15 (2022) remains our Editors’ Choice for midrange gaming laptops.
Last update on 2022-12-05 at 12:52 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
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