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By published 8 May 22
The MSI Vector GP76 delivers outstanding performance, a solid display and a comfortable keyboard, but the weak battery life and thermal performance keep it from top tier status.
MSI’s Vector GP76 is the evolution of the former Leopard line, MSI’s more affordable (but still premium) gaming laptops.
Starting at $1,799, the Vector GP76 gives you a massive 17.3-inch, 1080p display with a 360Hz refresh rate, an Intel Core i7 CPU paired with an Nvidia RTX 3060 GPU and 16GB of RAM. It’s a tantalizing specs package for that price and for a bit more you can step up to our review model, which jumps to a Core i9 and RTX 3070 Ti with 32GB of RAM.
It’s an enticing price and collection of specs, but that’s not nearly enough to land you on the best gaming laptops page and while I enjoyed my time with the Vector GP76, there are some serious caveats to consider before you pick one up.
CPU: Intel Core i9-12800HK
GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 Ti
Storage: 1TB SSD
Display: 17.3-inch, 1080p, 360Hz
Size: 15.6 x 11.2 x 1 inches
Weight: 6.4 pounds
The MSI Vector GP76 is about as affordable as MSI’s premium gaming laptops get. With a base price of $1,799, it comes with an Intel Core i7-12700H CPU, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 GPU with 6GB of VRAM, 16GB of RAM, a 1TB SSD, and a 17.3-inch, 1080p, 360Hz display.
Our review model jumps up to $2,699 and for that, you get an Intel Core i9-12900HK CPU, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 Ti GPU with 8GB of VRAM, 32GB of RAM, a 1TB SSD, and a 17.3-inch, 1080p, 360Hz display.
Our review unit is just one step below the fully maxed-out model, which for $2,999 adds an Nvidia RTX 3080, but is otherwise identical. As is typically the case with MSI, there are no other color variants, so you just need to decide on performance and storage.
At nearly $2,000, even the most budget-friendly MSI Vector GP76 is pretty pricey, so if that feels a little spendy to you then check out our best cheap gaming laptops page.
If Batman were to take a hand at laptop design, the MSI Vector GP76 would likely be the result. While the MSI GS76 Stealth earns that name with its “discreet but stylish design,” that would be a fitting name for the Vector too as it gave me strong stealth bomber vibes from the moment I pulled it out of the box. After powering it on there were other ways that it reminded me of a jet, but I’ll get to that in later sections.
Returning to the design, from the prominent raised hinges to the angled vents on the back and sides of the laptop, it gives the otherwise minimalistic laptop an aggressive look. The matte black lid is only broken by MSI’s dragon logo, which is also in black, but it draws the eye thanks to its glossy finish. There’s no flashy exterior lighting to make the Vector scream, “I’m a gaming laptop!” so it could do double duty as a workstation or creator laptop without looking out of place in an office or coffee shop.
The underside of the Vector is dominated by venting, which gives you a glimpse at the fans and copper thermals that are straining to keep the powerful internals from overheating. MSI may have overdone it with the bottom vents as I noticed when I picked the laptop up to move it to my desk the fan started scraping the vent. I simply shifted how I picked it up in the future, but it seems like given the size of this laptop there should be enough space for that not to be an issue.
Popping open the Vector’s lid still doesn’t immediately give away its secrets with the interior retaining that all-black matte finish. Only the large white font on the keycaps in the recessed keyboard breaks things up. That’s until you power the laptop on, at that point the per-key RGB lighting blasts a kaleidoscopic rainbow at you. If you want to keep things subtle, you have full control over the lighting via the included Steelseries GG app.
At 6.4 pounds and 15.6 x 11.2 x 1 inches, the good news is that you’ll never be left wondering whether you really put the Vector GP76 in your laptop bag. Only the Alienware M17 R4 outweighs it (6.6 pounds / 15.7 x 11.6 x 0.7~0.9 inches), while the Asus ROG Strix Scar 17 (6.1 pounds / 15.6 x 11.1 x 0.92 inches) and Razer Blade 17 (6.1 pounds / 15.6 x 10.2 x 0.8 inches) seem positively totable by comparison.
The MSI Vector GP76 has a reasonable array of ports, although in 2022 I’m not sure that the three USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A ports are necessary. Particularly considering it has just a single USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C port. I would have preferred to swap one of those Type-A ports for a Thunderbolt 4 port.
I also don’t love the layout as there are no USB ports on the back, two of the USB Type-A ports are on the right and one is on the left with the USB Type-C port. It makes for much more pleasant cable management when you can run everything into the back of the laptop.
What you do get on the back is an AC-in, HDMI 2.1, Mini DisplayPort 1.4, and an RJ-45 2.5GbE Ethernet port. Last, but not least for wired audio fans a 1/8″ combo headphone/mic jack is found on the left side.
If you need more ports, check out our best laptop docking stations and best USB Type-C hubs pages.
The MSI Vector GP76’s display definitely prioritizes speed over resolution with its 17.3-inch, 1920 x 1080 display delivering a blistering fast 360Hz refresh rate that will win over gamers that favor fast-twitch FPS titles or racing games.
I watched the latest trailer for House of the Dragon, HBO’s upcoming Game of Thrones prequel series to see how the Vector GP76 performs. I could see that the full HD resolution stretched onto a 17.3-inch display at close distance lacks sharpness, but moving back slightly, which is doable with a screen this size made those qualms go away. The colors are excellent with a burst of flame in the final scene showing off the display’s brightness and HDR capabilities with the dark background and the nearly white-hot flames.
Firing up Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, the varied fall colors across the landscape and the gorgeously vibrant sunset as I sailed down the river were beautifully rendered. The 360Hz refresh rate meant that I got to watch every inch of my arrows trail through the air as it went whistling into an enemy soldier from my perch atop a nearby building. The smooth movement of my Raven Clan Cloak as I ran to rejoin my boat was thoroughly satisfying to watch.
According to our colorimeter, the Vector GP76 reproduced 82.3% of the DCI-P3 color gamut, just missing the 83.3% average premium gaming laptop. That was enough to outperform the M17 R4 (80.6%), but the Strix Scar 17 (82.5%) notched a narrow win and the Blade 17 (84%) came out on top.
The 318 nits of brightness for the Vector GP76 once again didn’t meet the category average (334 nits). But this time around it was good enough to beat its nearest competitors with the m17 R4 (316 nits) coming the closest, and the Blade 17 (276 nits) and Strix Scar 17 (263 nits) taking a back seat.
Typing on the Vector GP76 is a pleasure with the RGB-backlit keys offering solid key travel and a springy response that was both comfortable and quick to type on.
I hit 88 words per minute with 96% accuracy on the 10FastFingers.com typing test, slightly above my 86-wpm average and matching my typical accuracy. The keys are generally well-spaced, with the exception of the cursor keys on the right. I wish MSI had created a little separation for the number pad, which should have been achievable on this 17.3-inch laptop.
You have complete control over the per-key RGB lighting from the aforementioned Steelseries GG app and it allows sample light to get through the keys without excessive light bleed at the edges.
The 4.2 x 2.5-inch touchpad is expansive enough for Windows 11 gestures like two-finger scrolling and three-finger tabbing and gamers are going to have a dedicated gaming mouse, but right and left clicks with the trackpad did feel a little mushy to me, lacking a defined click.
The Asus ROG Zephyrus G15’s top-firing speakers are clear and loud enough for most environments, but there’s little to no bass present and while it isn’t the fault of the speakers, they are given the Herculean task of overpowering the near-constant sound coming from its fans.
I listened to the live performance of “No Time To Die” by Billie Eilish and Finneas at the 2022 Oscars and it served as a solid showcase for the best you will get from these speakers. Eilish’s crisp vocals were clear, but ultimately lacked the depth that you can hear when listening on a good pair of earbuds or headphones.
From a gamer’s perspective, it’s much worse. While streaming audio along with a couple of Chrome tabs open won’t immediately trigger the fans’ launch protocol, I can guarantee that any game audio will be accompanied by the steady whine of the fans and rushing air exiting the scorching interior of the Vector. In Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, the crunch of the snow beneath my feet as I walked near a cliff’s edge was satisfying enough, but the convincing sound of the whipping wind was spoiled by the whipping wind exiting the vents of the Vector. As I’m about to address, the performance of this laptop is otherwise excellent, so maybe just pick up one of the best gaming headsets and block out the fan noise.
While the Vector GP76 is one of MSI’s more affordable laptops, it didn’t shortchange gamers with the internals. Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3070 Ti GPU with 8GB of VRAM is more than equal to just about any gaming task you can hurl at it, particularly on a 1080p display.
We ran it through our typical array of game benchmarks to see how it fared against the competition. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla on Ultra, 1080p settings it hit 86 frames per second, well above the 77fps category average and behind only the Razer Blade 17 (Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti, 89 fps) in our test group, with the Alienware m17 R4 (Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080, 78 fps) and Strix Scar 17 (Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070Ti, 77 fps) coming in behind.
The Far Cry New Dawn benchmark (Ultra, 1080p), went similarly with the Vector delivering an impressive 113 fps, crushing the 93 fps premium gaming laptop average. Only the Strix Scar 17 came close at 112 fps, while the m17 R4 (105 fps) and Blade 17 (96 fps) slotted in last this time around.
The Vector finally slipped on the Borderlands 3 benchmark (Badass, 1080p), putting up 93 fps, ahead of the category average of 82 fps, but behind the m17 R4 (102 fps) and Blade 17 (100 fps). The Strix Scar 17 (85 fps) nearly missed the category average this time around.
On the Red Dead Redemption 2 benchmark (Medium, 1080p), the Vector GP 76 averaged 78 fps, once again eclipsing the premium gaming laptop average (67 fps). This was also good enough to overpower the Strix Scar 17 (85 fps) and the m17 R4 (39 fps), but the Blade 17 (84 fps) took the top spot.
The Vector GP76 is powered by an Intel Core i9-12900HK processor with 32GB of RAM, a beastly setup that is more than capable of tearing through any typical tasks you might find for it. I loaded up a typical array of 42 Google Chrome tabs that included a pair of 1080p YouTube videos and a 1080p Twitch stream and while the fans let me know it was working, there was no sign of it on screen.
On the Geekbench 5.4 overall performance test, the Vector GP76 scored 12,434, a nearly 65% increase over the premium gaming laptop average (7,548). The Strix Scar 17 (Intel Core i9-12900H, 13,209) is the only one to surpass it, with the Alienware m17 R4 (Intel Core i9-10980HK, 8,082) and Razer Blade 17 (Intel Core i7-12800H, 9,875) well behind.
The Vector transcoded a 4K video to 1080p on our HandBrake test in an impressive 4 minutes and 40 seconds, easily outpacing the category average (6:14). The Strix Scar 17 (4:42) narrowly lost, but the Alienware m17 R4 (6:44) and Razer Blade 17 (7:19) didn’t stand a chance.
MSI’s 1TB SSD let it down with a 720-megabyte-per-second transfer rate, missing the category average (1,178 MBps) by a considerable amount. The Asus ROG Strix Scar 17 (1,523MBps) more than doubled the Vector’s result and the Razer Blade 17 (1,240 MBps) easily surpassed it as well. Only the Alienware m17 R4 (449MBps) fell behind them all.
If you want a gaming laptop that you can take on the go with you the Vector GP76 isn’t going to be the best option, unless wherever your going has plentiful outlets. In our Laptop Mag battery test, which involves surfing the web while set to 150 nits of brightness, the Vector managed just 2 hours and 45 minutes, almost a full 2 hours shy of the gaming laptop average (4:32). Only the m17 R4 (2:05) put up a worse result, while the Blade 17 (6:05) and Strix Scar 17 (6:20) more than doubled the Vector’s battery life. Gaming battery life is naturally far worse, it only ticked one minute past an hour before dying while gaming.
It may deserve points for having a webcam at all, but when you look at the results of the 720p camera on board, it’s hard to feel that way.
In my test shot taken in my office, where I have complete control of the overhead lighting and a pair of lights in front of me for video conferencing, the Vector was still unable to adjust. Everything is either blown out or just a muddy mess without any real detail. If you are ever going to be video chatting with anyone other than close relatives, pick up one of the best webcams and forget that the Vector has one built-in.
Here’s where we return to my Vector GP76 as a jet metaphor, while the temperatures are slightly lower than what you would experience near a jet engine, the blast of air and whine of the fans feel close to simulating the experience (this could be a selling point for flight sim fans).
After playing a game for 15 minutes, the Vector GP76 hit 124 degrees Fahrenheit on the underside, setting our 95-degree comfort threshold on fire. The center of the keyboard and touchpad measured 117 and 105 degrees, respectively. The toasties spot on the bottom of the laptop near the vents got up to 145 degrees, needless to say, don’t game with this gaming laptop in your lap.
To be fair, things are better when you aren’t gaming, in our typical test which involves playing a video for 15 minutes before taking temperature readings it hit 76 degrees at the touchpad, 89 degrees at the center of the keyboard and only eclipsed our comfort threshold on the bottom at 102 degrees.
The heat feels excessive, but as I mentioned in the audio section, I find the fan noise to be the more unacceptable result of the weak thermal performance of the Vector.
MSI Center is your one-stop shop to monitor the majority of the features on your Vector GP76. It can show you current temps and hardware usage and gives you control over your laptop’s performance profile. Keep tabs on any updates available and install a variety of MSI exclusive features on your laptop like Smart Priority (optimization for creative apps) or Game Highlights (capture in-game video).
The only feature you won’t find here is the RGB keyboard controls, as previously mentioned that is in the Steelseries GG app, although you can install Mystic Light to control lighting on your other MSI devices.
The Vector GP76 comes installed with Windows 11 Home and of course, that means you also get a smattering of bloatware, like Disney+, LinkedIn, Spotify and Solitaire Collection.
The Vector GP76 comes with a one-year limited warranty. See how MSI performed on our Tech Support Showdown and Best and Worst Brands rankings.
The MSI Vector GP76 gives gamers a lot of what they want with outstanding performance, a great keyboard and a solid 360Hz refresh rate display, but the painfully bad battery life and overall poor thermal performance make it tough to recommend over some of the competition.
Now if you never, or at least rarely, use your laptop away from a charger and you do all of your gaming with a headset on, that changes the equation significantly for you. I’d still recommend you at least peruse our best gaming laptops before you pull the trigger on the Vector GP76, but acknowledging its few drawbacks, the rest of the package offered is solid and unquestionably delivers an excellent gaming experience.
Sean Riley has been covering tech professionally for over a decade now. Most of that time was as a freelancer covering varied topics including phones, wearables, tablets, smart home devices, laptops, AR, VR, mobile payments, fintech, and more. Sean is the resident mobile expert at Laptop Mag, specializing in phones and wearables, you’ll find plenty of news, reviews, how-to, and opinion pieces on these subjects from him here. But Laptop Mag has also proven a perfect fit for that broad range of interests with reviews and news on the latest laptops, VR games, and computer accessories along with coverage on everything from NFTs to cybersecurity and more.
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LaptopMag is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more