MSI WS66 Assessment | PCMag

With regards to laptop computer workstations, there are the massive three—Dell, HP, and Lenovo, in alphabetical order—and everybody else. The MSI WS66 (begins at $2,599; $4,199 as examined) is the newest 15.6-inch aspirant from an organization higher recognized for gaming rigs. (Certainly, this mannequin relies on the GS66 Stealth.) The WS66 has spectacular {hardware}, together with an eight-core Intel Core i9 processor and Nvidia’s prime skilled GPU, however our take a look at unit’s lackluster display screen spoiled its suitability for elite design and 3D rendering apps. HP’s ZBook Fury 15 G8 stays our Editors’ Selection winner amongst flagship cell workstations, and we fee the Lenovo ThinkPad P15 Gen 2 and the Dell Precision 7560 above the WS66 as effectively.

The Parts of a Contender

The $2,599 base mannequin of the MSI WS66 combines a Core i7-11800H CPU with Nvidia RTX A3000 graphics, 32GB of RAM, a 1TB solid-state drive, and a full HD (1,920-by-1,080-pixel) contact display screen. Stepping as much as a 2.5GHz (4.9GHz turbo) Core i9-11900H processor provides $400. For $4,199, our evaluate mannequin 11UMT-220US packed the identical show and SSD, the Core i9 chip, 64GB of reminiscence, and Nvidia’s RTX A5000 with 16GB of video reminiscence.

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MSI WS66 left angle

(Photograph: Molly Flores)

MSI’s web site promotes the WS66 with an older tenth Technology CPU as providing a 4K (3,840-by-2,160-pixel) show, however an organization rep instructed us that eleventh Gen 4K configurations should not out there at retail, although they are often special-ordered. That is a letdown since video modifying, structure, and lots of different workstation duties are extremely visible—and since others on this class supply superlative screens starting from high-res OLED panels to HP’s dazzling DreamColor shows. But it surely nonetheless leaves alternatives for scientific and engineering jobs that prioritize crunching massive datasets over presenting photographs. 

Clad in black aluminum with a subdued MSI dragon brand on the lid, the WS66 measures 0.71 by 14.2 by 9.7 inches, a bit slimmer however roughly the identical dimension because the Precision 7560 and ZBook Fury 15 G8. At 4.63 kilos, it is virtually a pound lighter than these methods, and far more svelte than the ThinkPad P15 Gen 2 (1.24 by 14.7 by 9.9 inches and 6.32 kilos). The Fury’s digital-content-creator sibling, the HP ZBook Studio G8, undercuts all of them at 3.96 kilos.

MSI WS66 rear view

(Photograph: Molly Flores)

The WS66 has handed MIL-STD 810G checks for journey hazards reminiscent of shock, vibration, and environmental extremes; there’s little flex should you grasp the display screen corners or press the keyboard deck. The display screen’s aspect bezels are skinny; the highest bezel makes room for a face recognition webcam, which together with a fingerprint reader in a nook of the touchpad offers you two methods to skip typing passwords with Home windows Hey. 

Networking is likely one of the MSI’s strengths, with Wi-Fi 6E and a couple of.5Gbps Ethernet as a substitute of Wi-Fi 6 and Gigabit respectively. Then again, whereas different premium workstations have two Thunderbolt 4 ports, the WS66 has only one. It is on the left edge together with HDMI and USB 3.2 Sort-A ports and the facility connector. Two extra USB-A ports be part of a USB-C 3.2 port, an audio jack, and Ethernet on the best aspect.

MSI WS66 left ports

(Photograph: Molly Flores)

MSI WS66 right ports

(Photograph: Molly Flores)

Not A lot to Look At 

Together with Disney+ and LinkedIn, the Home windows 10 Professional software program preload is bolstered by MSI Heart Professional software program that provides system stats, diagnostic routines, noise cancellation, useful resource optimization for chosen functions, and several other cooling or fan-noise modes. (We used the loudest or high-performance mode for our benchmark checks.) An MSI True Shade utility permits you to cycle by way of sRGB, film, workplace, anti-blue-light, and customized colour temperature settings. 

The latter’s alternative of sRGB, native, and Rec. 709 colour palettes pales subsequent to different premium cell workstations’ Adobe RGB, DCI-P3, and different gamuts, and the WS66’s 1080p contact display screen usually pales subsequent to different panels—it is a comparatively low-quality show with out wealthy, vivid colours or excessive distinction. Brightness is enough, however the display screen must be tilted fairly far again (up to now it will get floppy) to see white as a substitute of dingy backgrounds. Tremendous particulars are sharp and viewing angles are fairly broad, however the boring, washed-out colours are a drag.

MSI WS66 front view

(Photograph: Molly Flores)

The MSI’s keyboard is brightly backlit however has a shallow, wood typing really feel. The structure is barely awkward, as effectively—there is a stack of 4 keys at far proper that may be good for House, Finish, Web page Up, and Web page Down, however as a substitute they’re Delete, Insert, Web page Up, and Web page Down. The latter two pair with the Fn key for House and Finish, however the Fn secret’s shut by to the best as a substitute of left of the area bar, so it is a clumsy mixture. 

Prime-row perform keys embrace a microphone mute and webcam toggle in addition to quantity and brightness controls. The touchpad is buttonless, by no means a great factor for a workstation since many unbiased software program vendor (ISV) apps make intensive use of proper and center buttons; it glides and faucets easily however has a stiff, plasticky click on.

MSI WS66 keyboard

(Photograph: Molly Flores)

The webcam has the standard, minimal 720p decision; it captures pretty colourful, soft-focus photographs with lots of noise or static. Sound from the audio system above the keyboard is just too weak to fill a room even at prime quantity; you possibly can dimly make out overlapping tracks however it’s hole and muffled, as if a blanket had been thrown over the laptop computer.

Efficiency Testing the WS66: A 5-Method Workstation Melee 

The apparent machines to affix the MSI WS66 in our benchmark comparability charts are different high-end 15.6-inch cell workstations, the abovementioned Lenovo ThinkPad P15 Gen 2, the HP ZBook Fury 15 G8, and the Dell Precision 7560. The final spot went to HP’s ZBook Studio G8, a content material creation workstation with considered one of Nvidia’s GeForce gaming GPUs as a substitute of its A-series skilled silicon. You may see their primary specs within the desk beneath.

Productiveness Exams 

The principle benchmark of UL’s PCMark 10 simulates quite a lot of real-world productiveness and content-creation workflows to measure total efficiency for office-centric duties reminiscent of phrase processing, spreadsheeting, net shopping, and videoconferencing. We additionally run PCMark 10’s Full System Drive take a look at to evaluate the load time and throughput of a laptop computer’s storage.

Three benchmarks give attention to the CPU, utilizing all out there cores and threads, to fee a PC’s suitability for processor-intensive workloads. Maxon’s Cinebench R23 makes use of that firm’s Cinema 4D engine to render a posh scene, whereas Primate Labs’ Geekbench 5.4 Professional simulates fashionable apps starting from PDF rendering and speech recognition to machine studying. Lastly, we use the open-source video transcoder HandBrake 1.4 to transform a 12-minute video clip from 4K to 1080p decision (decrease instances are higher). 

Our last productiveness take a look at is Puget Techniques’ PugetBench for Photoshop, which makes use of the Artistic Cloud model 22 of Adobe’s well-known picture editor to fee a PC’s efficiency for content material creation and multimedia functions. It is an automatic extension that executes quite a lot of normal and GPU-accelerated Photoshop duties starting from opening, rotating, resizing, and saving a picture to making use of masks, gradient fills, and filters.

The WS66 did fantastic in PCMark 10 and Photoshop (all these methods are sheer overkill for on a regular basis apps like Phrase and Excel), however its Core i9 processor underwhelmed in HandBrake and Cinebench, crushed by others together with the Dell’s Core i7. 

Graphics Exams 

We take a look at Home windows PCs’ graphics with two DirectX 12 gaming simulations from UL’s 3DMark, Evening Raid (extra modest, appropriate for laptops with built-in graphics) and Time Spy (extra demanding, appropriate for gaming rigs with discrete GPUs). 

We additionally run two checks from the cross-platform GPU benchmark GFXBench 5, which stresses each low-level routines like texturing and high-level, game-like picture rendering. The 1440p Aztec Ruins and 1080p Automobile Chase checks, rendered offscreen to accommodate completely different show resolutions, train graphics and compute shaders utilizing the OpenGL programming interface and {hardware} tessellation, respectively. The extra frames per second (fps), the higher.

These cell workstations are constructed for severe duties, not for shoot-’em-ups, however have greater than sufficient graphics muscle for our gaming simulations. The MSI took the silver medal behind the ThinkPad. 

Workstation-Particular Exams 

We run two further applications to simulate workstation functions. The primary, Blender, is an open-source 3D suite for modeling, animation, simulation, and compositing. We file the time it takes for its built-in Cycles path tracer to render two photo-realistic scenes of BMW vehicles, one utilizing the system’s CPU and one the GPU (decrease instances are higher). BMW artist Mike Pan has stated he considers the scenes too quick for rigorous testing, however they are a fashionable benchmark. 

Maybe our most essential workstation take a look at, SPECviewperf 2020, renders, rotates, and zooms out and in of stable and wireframe fashions utilizing viewsets from fashionable unbiased software program vendor (ISV) apps. We run the 1080p decision checks primarily based on PTC’s Creo CAD platform; Autodesk’s Maya modeling and simulation software program for movie, TV, and video games; and Dassault Systemes’ SolidWorks 3D rendering bundle. The extra frames per second, the higher.

Go determine: After frankly underperforming in a number of benchmarks together with Blender, the WS66 merely crushed SPECviewperf. It is a level in its favor, however we’ve to confess the renders and viewsets seemed significantly better on the opposite 4 methods’ superior screens. 

Battery and Show Exams 

We take a look at laptops’ battery life by enjoying a regionally saved 720p video file (the open-source Blender film Tears of Metal) with show brightness at 50% and audio quantity at 100%. We make certain the battery is totally charged earlier than the take a look at, with Wi-Fi and keyboard backlighting turned off. 

We additionally use a Datacolor SpyderX Elite monitor calibration sensor and its Home windows software program to measure a laptop computer display screen’s colour saturation—what share of the sRGB, Adobe RGB, and DCI-P3 colour gamuts or palettes the show can present—and its 50% and peak brightness in nits (candelas per sq. meter).

Workstations spend practically all of their time plugged into wall retailers or energy strips, not on airline tray tables, so battery life is much less essential for them than it’s for ultraportables, although the MSI confirmed good stamina. Against this, it carried out miserably in our show brightness and colour constancy checks—the display screen’s actually usable or satisfactory, however it’s extra what we might anticipate from a reasonable general-purpose laptop computer, not an elite workstation.

When You Strike at a King 

The 15.6-inch flagship workstations from HP, Lenovo, and Dell are costly, unique laptops that ship topmost efficiency for demanding professionals. The MSI WS66 is not of their league, partly due to a considerably subdued Core i9 CPU however principally due to an unimpressive display screen. If in case you have $4,000 to spend, you are able to do higher.


  • Swift efficiency for many duties

  • Comparatively skinny and light-weight

  • Quick graphics and networking {hardware}


  • Disappointing show

  • Just one Thunderbolt 4 port

  • Decrease reminiscence and storage ceilings than different cell workstations

  • Mediocre keyboard and audio

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The Backside Line

MSI’s WS66 challenges the best (and priciest) 15.6-inch cell workstations, however a subpar display screen makes it unfit for 3D design, CGI rendering, or video modifying.

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