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MSI Pulse GL66 Review: A Powerful Gaming Laptop with 12th Gen Intel Chip and RTX Graphics

Laptops are like the Swiss Army knives of the digital world compact, versatile, and ready for anything. And in this ever-evolving tech landscape, finding the right laptop can feel like a quest for the Holy Grail. Enter the MSI Pulse GL66, a powerhouse contender in the arena of gaming laptops. But does it live up to the hype? Let’s dive into a comprehensive review and find out if this sleek machine is worth your hard-earned coin.

TheTechBasic Verdict

The MSI Pulse GL66 stands out as a formidable gaming laptop, fueled by the advanced capabilities of Intel’s 12th Gen chip. Its Quad HD display enhances gaming visuals significantly. However, its uninspired plastic design might not appeal to everyone, making it worthwhile to explore other options if you’re willing to compromise slightly on performance.

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  • State-of-the-art gaming capabilities
  • Vibrant Quad HD screen
  • Excellent affordability
  • Decent battery longevity for a gaming laptop


  • Uninspiring and bulky aesthetics
  • Potentially bothersome fan noise
  • Limited to a single RGB backlight for the keyboard

Technical Specifications

Feature Specification
Processor Intel Core i7-12700H
Graphics Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070
Memory 16GB DDR4 RAM
Display 15.6-inch Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels), 144Hz refresh rate
Storage 512GB PCIe SSD
Ports Two USB-A 3.2, one USB-A 2.0, one USB-C, one HDMI 2.1, one RJ45 Ethernet, one 3.5mm audio jack
Connectivity Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2
Webcam 720p HD
Weight 4.96 pounds (2.25 kilograms)
Dimensions 14.13 x 10.20 x 0.94 inches (359 x 259 x 29 millimeters)
Battery 53WHr


Whether you’re up for the challenge of Elden Ring or ready to dive into the futuristic world of CyberPunk 2077, the MSI Pulse GL66 is up to the task. The version we reviewed came equipped with an Intel Core i7 from the 12th generation, but the latest GL66 variants boast the impressive processing prowess of the newest 12th-generation Core i9 CPU.

This laptop is outfitted with NVIDIA’s GeForce RTX 3000-series GPUs, which harness NVIDIA’s advanced 2nd generation RTX architecture for outstanding ray tracing capabilities and utilize NVIDIA’s DLSS resolution upscaling technology to deliver rapid frame rates, albeit not quite reaching the performance of top-tier gaming PCs with higher-powered graphics cards.

The Pulse GL66 offers a maximum resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. While it may not be the highest resolution possible, it remains the gaming standard across a wide range of laptops, from budget-friendly options to those in the higher midrange segment.

According to MSI, the Pulse GL66 boasts Hi-Res Audio reproduction capabilities alongside Nahimic’s “in-game 3D surround sound”. When using a headset or connecting to an external audio system, the Pulse GL66 delivers audio of exceptional quality. While the headset audio output is fantastic, the built-in speakers of the laptop are only average, suitable primarily for tasks like video conferencing.

The MSI Pulse GL66 (2022) presents excellent value for a gaming laptop. It offers robust processing power and seamlessly accommodates peripherals such as monitors, gaming mice, and audio speakers. During gaming sessions, the cooling fans may generate noticeable noise, and their weight may pose a challenge to portability. Nevertheless, given the current premium status of slim form factors in gaming laptops, this tradeoff is expected for a budget-friendly option. Despite the desire for improved battery life, the Pulse GL66 remains a dependable choice, especially for those with budget constraints.

Features of MSI Pulse GL66

Special mention should be made for the RGB lighting on the MSI Pulse GL66 as well. However, I was a little disappointed to find out that it isn’t customizable to each key, but rather only offers one zone of lighting control.

On the plus side, there’s also a mini number pad integrated into the right-hand side of the keyboard deck, which is a solid addition to your controls. There’s plenty of potential here for macro mapping, even though I was a bit frustrated by the smaller arrow keys located beneath it.

When it comes to the touchpad, it’s worth noting that it offers slightly increased resistance compared to other models, while also reducing travel distances. This may make it feel a bit shallow, but it still bounces back with a snap, providing a nicely responsive experience for everyday tasks.

In terms of connectivity, the Pulse GL66 doesn’t disappoint. With a variety of ports including a USB-C 3.2 Gen 1, two USB-A 3.2 Gen 1, a USB-A 2.0, and HDMI 2.0 along the sides, you’ll have more than enough options for all your accessories. However, considering the price point, it would have been a nice addition to have Thunderbolt support on the USB-C port for expanded display and charging capabilities.

As for the display, my review unit featured a 165Hz 1440p screen, delivering vibrant colors and crystal-clear detailing that enhanced the overall viewing experience.

Like many high-performance machines, the MSI Pulse GL66 doesn’t excel when running on battery power alone. During heavier workdays, I managed around 2-3 hours of use on a single charge, with gaming sessions lasting around 45 minutes before experiencing noticeable stuttering.

Availability and Price of MSI Pulse GL66

MSI Pulse GL66 Review; A Powerful Gaming Laptop with 12th Gen Intel Chip and RTX Graphics (2)

  • What’s the price? It starts at $1,599 (approximately £1,360 / AU$2,300).
  • When is it released? It’s already available.
  • Where can you purchase it? It’s currently available in the US, UK, and Australia.

The MSI Pulse GL66 offers good gaming performance for its price and achieved satisfactory results on our performance tests. However, it does have some drawbacks to consider. With a starting price of $1,599, it’s a solid gaming option, but there may be better alternatives available if you’re willing to spend more.

However, at its current price point, the Pulse GL66 delivers commendable value, addressing some of the concerns we raised in our review of the previous model last year. If you’re in the market for top-tier mobile workstations for content creation, you might consider waiting for prices to drop on the best 4K laptops. However, if gaming is your priority and you’re looking to dive into the latest titles, the Pulse GL66 deserves a spot on your shortlist.

Read Also: Review of the MSI Cyborg 15 A12V (Core i7 12th Gen, RTX 4060) Laptop

Design and keyboard of MSI Pulse GL66

  • The plastic design gives a cheap feel.
  • It’s heavy, weighing 2.25kg.
  • It has a single-color backlight.

The MSI Pulse GL66 boasts an impressive set of specifications, but its exterior design doesn’t quite live up to expectations. Unlike the premium feel of all-metal constructions like the Zephyrus G15 by Asus ROG and Blade 15 by Razer, the laptop’s chassis is constructed from plastic, which is a letdown.

MSI has incorporated metal only on the lid, featuring a ‘Titanium Gray’ color scheme and the brand’s distinctive dragon logo. While the GL66 proudly embraces its identity as a gaming laptop, it’s hard not to find its appearance somewhat dull and uninspiring.

MSI Pulse GL66 Review; A Powerful Gaming Laptop with 12th Gen Intel Chip and RTX Graphics (3)

This laptop is quite large, measuring a hefty 23.8mm thick and weighing 2.25kg, making it unsuitable for frequent commuting to the office. Despite its substantial size, given its impressive performance capabilities, it’s challenging to fault its bulkiness. However, there are numerous more portable 15-inch alternatives available, such as the ROG Zephyrus G15.

The plastic bezel encircling the screen appears somewhat bulky, particularly at the top where the webcam is positioned. Video and photo quality at 720p resolution is decent, albeit with noticeable graininess, yet still adequate for Zoom calls and other work-related tasks.

The MSI Pulse GL66 boasts an ample array of ports, including USB-C, three USB-A ports, HDMI, and LAN. Surprisingly, the two speakers deliver satisfactory sound quality, capable of drowning out the noise from the fan. However, at higher volumes, the audio may start to sound somewhat hollow.

MSI Pulse GL66 Review; A Powerful Gaming Laptop with 12th Gen Intel Chip and RTX Graphics (4)

My opinion on the keyboard is somewhat mixed. While it offers a pleasant typing experience and makes navigating through games like Total War: Warhammer 3 enjoyable, I wish the keys had a bit more travel. Additionally, it lacks the tactile feedback of a mechanical keyboard, a feature that is increasingly common in gaming laptops elsewhere, albeit at a higher cost.

Although the keyboard does support RGB lighting, it doesn’t allow for individual key customization. Instead, you’re limited to a single backlight color at a time. Furthermore, the MSI Center software, which provides access to performance metrics and keyboard color settings, feels somewhat basic compared to competitors like Razer Synapse.

The Screen Of MSI Pulse GL66

  • The Quad HD resolution guarantees a clear and crisp display.
  • The mainstream 165Hz refresh rate provides swift performance.
  • The display is dimmer compared to the average brightness level.

The MSI Pulse GL66 boasts a 15.6-inch screen featuring a Quad HD resolution of 2560×1440 pixels. This pixel density is increasingly common among gaming laptops, striking a balance between Full HD and 4K resolutions.

MSI has opted for a 165Hz refresh rate, catering to the needs of mainstream gamers. However, for more competitive multiplayer gaming, some may desire a higher refresh rate, especially considering that other laptops have reached the 300Hz milestone in recent years.

I found the GL66’s performance quite impressive during gaming sessions and while streaming videos on YouTube. The colors appeared natural without any noticeable distortion, although I did find the panel slightly dim for my preferences.

MSI Pulse GL66 Review; A Powerful Gaming Laptop with 12th Gen Intel Chip and RTX Graphics (5)

My assessments were supported by benchmark results obtained using a colorimeter. The screen exhibited a peak brightness of only 283 nits, falling short of the industry-standard 305-nit target. In contrast, the screen of the ROG Zephyrus G15 appears much more vibrant.

Nonetheless, the MSI claims an impressive black level, indicating its ability to display dark colors effectively, resulting in a respectable contrast ratio of 1147:2. While viewing the trailer for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, I was impressed by the screen’s ability to render bold and vivid colors, particularly in dark scenes, with Strange’s red cape prominently standing out against the gloomy backdrop.

Additionally, the MSI Pulse GL66 achieved remarkable scores for color coverage, scoring 99.7% for sRGB and 94.8% for DCI-P3. This indicates that the laptop’s display is capable of reproducing a wide spectrum of colors, ensuring that videos and photos appear natural. As a result, the GL66 emerges as a compelling option for professional creators.

Performance Of MSI Pulse GL66

  • The 12th Gen Intel chip delivers exceptional speed.
  • Outstanding Quad HD gaming performance.
  • Fans have the potential to become excessively loud.

While the exterior of the MSI Pulse GL66 may appear unimpressive, the true magic lies within. It stands out as one of the pioneering gaming laptops equipped with the 12th-generation Intel Core processor.

Fueled via an i7-12700H chip by Intel Core, it attained remarkable standard scores of CPU, setting new standards for both single and multithreaded workloads in the gaming laptop realm. The only competitor to surpass its processing speeds was the MacBook Pro 2021. Moreover, the GL66 is also offered with an i9 processor, allowing users to further elevate performance levels if desired.

MSI Pulse GL66 Review; A Powerful Gaming Laptop with 12th Gen Intel Chip and RTX Graphics (6)

MSI provides the option for graphics performance with either an Nvidia RTX 3060 or RTX 3070, both boasting a maximum graphics power of 105W. In our testing, we received the latter configuration and subjected it to the 3DMark Time Spy benchmark. Surprisingly, it achieved an impressive score, even outperforming competing laptops equipped with the RTX 3080 (albeit with an 80W graphics power).

The GL66 maintained its impressive performance in in-game benchmarks, delivering higher frame rates than the ROG Zephyrus G15 in Dirt Rally and Horizon Zero Dawn at both Quad HD and Full HD resolutions. Running games at a 1440p resolution with maximum graphics settings, the MSI laptop achieved impressive results, hitting 68fps for Horizon Zero Dawn, 139fps for Dirt Rally, and 51fps for Borderlands 3 all remarkable outcomes for a gaming laptop in this price range.

MSI Pulse GL66 Review; A Powerful Gaming Laptop with 12th Gen Intel Chip and RTX Graphics (7)

However, there’s a downside to consider: the GL66 can be incredibly noisy when subjected to heavy loads. Colleagues have remarked on the loudness of the fans, which can be quite distracting unless you’re wearing headphones. On the bright side, the fans are effective, and I rarely experienced discomfort from the laptop’s deck becoming excessively hot to the touch.

In terms of storage performance, the GL66 delivered impressive benchmark results for its SSD, achieving read scores of 3627MB/s and write scores of 3472MB/s. These results position the MSI as one of the fastest gaming laptops on the market when it comes to game loading or saving, which will be greatly appreciated by gamers, especially those diving into games like Elden Ring where respawning is frequent.

MSI includes a generous 1TB of storage, which is quite noteworthy considering that most gaming laptops typically start with a base configuration of 512GB. This should provide sufficient storage for most gamers, even those who tend to indulge in shopping sprees during Steam sales.

Battery life of MSI Pulse GL66

  • It can run for up to 6 hours on a single charge.
  • During gaming, expect it to last around an hour.

Gaming laptops are notorious for their poor battery life, as their power-hungry components tend to drain the battery quickly.

However, the MSI Pulse GL66 performed better than anticipated, lasting an impressive 6 hours in the PCMark 10 battery test, which simulates various productivity tasks. Its superior endurance compared to most gaming laptops I’ve tested indicates that the 12th Gen Intel Core chip is more efficient than its predecessors.


Certainly! It’s important to note that the MSI laptop won’t endure as long when tackling demanding tasks like gaming. I was able to play Total War: Warhammer 3 for approximately an hour before needing to quickly plug in the charger.

Report Card Of MSI Pulse GL66

MSI Pulse GL66 Review; A Powerful Gaming Laptop with 12th Gen Intel Chip and RTX Graphics (8)

  • Value: The MSI Pulse GL66 offers decent value for its specs, but there might be better options available, especially if you’re willing to invest a bit more. (Rating: 3.4/5)
  • Design: With its sleek design and vibrant RGB lighting, the Pulse GL66 boasts fantastic aesthetic appeal. (Rating: 3.9/5)
  • Performance: With its processing muscle, the GL66 manages to run the latest games smoothly, offering features like ray casting and quality audio. Despite the room for improvement in screen resolution, the visuals are still impressive. (Rating: 3.8/5)
  • Battery Life: The battery life of the GL66 is average for a gaming laptop, providing enough juice for moderate use but falling short for extended gaming sessions. (Rating: 3.2/5)
  • Total: Despite some compromises, the Pulse GL66 represents a solid value proposition, especially for gamers on a tighter budget. (Overall Rating: 3.6/5)

Is The MSI Pulse GL66 Worth Buying?

MSI Pulse GL66 Review; A Powerful Gaming Laptop with 12th Gen Intel Chip and RTX Graphics (9)

The MSI Pulse GL66 caters to those prioritizing performance over aesthetics. It’s a hefty machine with a sizeable footprint and a somewhat dated design that may not dazzle like sleeker models on the market. Nevertheless, its internal components pack a punch, delivering impressive processing power for smooth framerates and quick load times.

For $1,899 / £1,799 for this configuration, there are moments where it may feel a bit steep, especially considering the absence of certain USB-C features, the lack of portability, and the plastic chassis. However, it’s lighter than the similar Alienware M15 R6 and considerably more affordable than the luxurious Alienware x15, while offering comparable specifications.

For those seeking outstanding performance and who don’t mind limited mobility, the MSI Pulse GL66 is a solid investment, particularly with its latest-generation processors. However, if portability is a key factor for opting for a laptop over a desktop gaming setup, exploring thinner models that offer slightly lower performance may be worth considering.

Read Also: MSI Stealth 15M – Slim Gaming Laptop Review

Our Evaluation Of The MSI Pulse GL66

Over three weeks, I extensively utilized the MSI Pulse GL66 while concurrently comparing its performance with the Razer Blade 15 and Alienware x14. Throughout this period, I employed the Pulse for my daily work routine over three days and engaged in gaming sessions with titles such as Planet Coaster, Cities Skylines, and Doom Eternal. Subsequently, I subjected its components to rigorous stress testing using benchmarking tools including Shadow of the Mine Craft, Portal 2, Fortnite: Far Cry 4, Doom, and RuneScape, along with industry-standard tests such as Cinebench, PC Mark 10, 3DMark’s Fire Strike and Time Spy, and Crystal Disk Mark.


The MSI Pulse GL66 stands out as one of the most formidable gaming laptops I’ve tested. Its cutting-edge 12th Gen Intel chip delivers exceptional performance and improved battery life, complemented by Nvidia RTX GPU options that maximize the Quad HD screen experience.

However, the laptop’s bland plastic design, hefty size, and loud fans detract from its appeal for on-the-go gaming. Additionally, the limited RGB lighting may disappoint some users.

While alternatives like the ROG Zephyrus G15 and Razer Blade 15 offer better overall quality if you’re willing to sacrifice some performance, the GL66 remains a worthy consideration for those seeking top-tier performance.

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