MSI Katana 17 B12V review: cut like a samurai

By: Alex Chub | 11.08.2023, 14:59

The MSI Katana 17 B12V is a very nice gaming laptop with a modern, balanced configuration and high performance that allows you to play all modern games comfortably. It is possible to upgrade SSD drives, RAM and replace the wireless adapter. Thanks to an efficient cooling system, the laptop operates stably even under long periods of high load. The laptop's display has both pros and cons: it has a 144Hz refresh rate and very good calibration out of the box. But the brightness level is rather modest, as is the colour gamut. The keyboard has very nice buttons and 4-zone RGB backlighting. But the layout will take some getting used to.

MSI Katana 17 B12V MSI Katana 17 B12V
Gaming laptop with a 17.3-inch IPS display with a resolution of 1920x1080 and a refresh rate of 144 Hz. Inside, a 12th generation Intel Core i7 processor, 16 GB of RAM, a discrete NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4060 video card and a fast PCIe 4.0 x4 SSD drive
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5 reasons to buy MSI Katana 17 B12V:

  • High performance
  • A screen with a refresh rate of 144 Hz and good calibration
  • Efficient cooling system
  • Upgrade options for drives and RAM
  • Comfortable RGB-backlit keyboard buttons

2 reasons not to buy MSI Katana 17 B12V:

  • Narrow colour gamut and low screen brightness
  • A slightly unusual keyboard layout

A quick transition:

  1. What's in the box?
  2. What about the appearance and construction of the MSI Katana 17 B12V?
  3. How comfortable is the MSI Katana 17 B12V to use?
  4. How good is the screen?
  5. What about performance and battery life?
  6. In the dry balance

What's in the box?

MSI Katana 17 B12V is packaged in two relatively small boxes made of the usual mustard-coloured cardboard. The contents are also quite familiar. The laptop itself, a 200W power supply, a power cable and documentation.

What about the appearance and construction of the MSI Katana 17 B12V?

The MSI Katana 17 B12V looks quite restrained for a gaming model. It is made entirely of matte black plastic, and only the keyboard has RGB backlighting. For a 17-inch gaming model, the laptop turned out to be quite thin: 25.2 mm. And the use of plastic allowed it to be not heavy either: 2.6 kg. Again, taking into account the display diagonal and powerful components. The working surface is pleasant to the touch and hardly bends. But traces of work and prints remain on it quite actively. The material of the top cover looks similar. But it seems that a slightly different coating is used: it hardly leaves any prints. The lid is decorated with the MSI logo and several lines.

The decorative elements include a geometric pattern of small dots around the perimeter of the case. The company calls it Digital Bricks Texture. On the left side of the laptop there are ventilation holes, a power supply jack, and full-size USB 3.2 Gen1 and USB 2.0 ports:

On theright side is a combined 3.5mm audio jack for connecting a headset, full-size USB 3.2 Gen1, USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-C (with DisplayPort support), HDMI 2.1 and RJ-45 network. There are no ventilation holes, so you won't get hot air blowing on your hand and mouse.

The front edge of the laptop has no functional elements. The back has two zones for blowing hot air out by the cooling system and hinges.

The bezels on the sides of the screen are thin. It is significantly wider at the top and bottom. There are wide rubber inserts around the perimeter for additional protection of the display unit. The webcam (720p) with two microphones and an indicator is in its usual place.

The bottom of the laptop is made of a different, rough plastic. There are massive rubber feet and many honeycomb-shaped ventilation holes on the bottom. Copper heat pipes of the cooling system are visible under them. The laptop has upgrade capabilities, but the information on the official website (and the presence of a seal) suggests that this should be done at an official service centre. However, by removing the lid, you can access two SO-DIMM slots (up to 64 GB of RAM is supported), a wireless adapter, and an SSD. The laptop has two M.2 connectors for drives.

The laptop has dimensions of 398x273x25.2 mm and weighs 2.6 kg. The build quality and materials are very good. Nothing squeaks or wobbles, the parts fit very well. The lids hardly bend.

How convenient is it to use MSI Katana 17 B12V?

The hinges allow you to open the laptop 180°. At the same time, the display unit is securely fixed in the desired position. Yes, it may shake a little when you accidentally touch it. But this is quite normal, given the diagonal of the display.

The MSI Katana 17 B12V has a full-size keyboard with an additional number pad, but with some unusual features. Given the width of the laptop, it could have been made a little wider and more familiar. The top row is habitually reduced in height and ends with a transparent power button with a built-in LED. The WASD buttons are also transparent. The left Shift and Ctrl keys are a little longer than standard, but this made us abandon the Fn button. It is only on the right side of the main block, which is not very convenient when using function keys. Enter is a single-level long key. The navigation block is not separated from the main block and has buttons of standard size, which made the right Shift button a little smaller. The number padhas three, not four, columns. Additional Enter is located below the block, and "+" and "-" are above it, next to NumLock. In general, there is nothing critical and the additional number pad can be useful during work. But it takes some time to get used to.

The buttons have a full travel of 1.7 mm. They work very nicely, the stroke is elastic, soft and informative. There is RGB backlighting with several brightness levels and four zones, which can be adjusted in the MSI Center app.

The touchpad is small, 105x65 mm. Considering the diagonal and total area of the working surface, a slightly larger one would fit perfectly. But in general, thanks to the good surface and good sensitivity, it is enough for everyday tasks (web surfing, music, movies) and working with documents.

How good is the screen?

MSI Katana 17 B12V comes with only one display option. It's a 17.3-inch IPS display with a resolution of 1920x1080 pixels and a 144Hz refresh rate. Brightness, contrast and pixel response time are not specified. The brightness is quite enough for comfortable work indoors. It is doubtful that anyone will use this laptop outdoors. The viewing angles are maximum. But, of course, at the extremes, the contrast drops and the black colour turns a little grey. Visually, the colour reproduction is quite normal, but it doesn't impress.

Hardware measurements showed that a rather budget matrix is used. The maximum brightness is 252.085 cd/m2, the black field brightness is 0.275 cd/m2, and the static contrast is 917:1. The colour gamut is significantly narrower than the sRGB space. At the same time, it's worth noting that the display calibration is quite accurate: the colour temperature is about 7000K with a reference value of 6500K, and all other indicators are also close to the reference values.

What about performance and battery life?

Inside our MSI Katana 17 B12V configuration is a 12th generation Intel processor. Namely, the Intel Core i7-12650H Alder Lake. It is manufactured using the Intel 7 process and includes 10 cores. There are 6 productive and 4 energy-efficient cores, and up to 16 threads are supported. The base clock frequency is 2.3 GHz, the maximum frequency is up to 4.7 GHz, the third-level cache is 24 MB, and the TDP is 45 W. There is a built-in Intel UHD graphics accelerator with a base frequency of 350 MHz and a maximum frequency of 1.40 GHz for undemanding tasks and battery life. Thediscrete graphics card is an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4060 Laptop with 8 GB of GDDR6 video memory. In our case, the TGP level can reach 105W with Dynamic Boost. The base frequency is 1920 MHz, with a boost of up to 2250 MHz. The laptop is equipped with a MUX Switch multiplexer for direct connection of the video card to the display, bypassing the built-in graphics. In this mode, the built-in graphics are disabled, which increases performance and reduces latency. Switching is done in the MSI Centre (GPU Switch) app and requires a system reboot. The amount ofRAM in our configuration is 16 GB DDR5-4800, with access to both slots, and up to 64 GB is supported. Communication capabilities: 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth v5.2 and Gigabit Ethernet.

The laptop has a fairly balanced and productive configuration. The performance is no longer maximum at the moment, but at a high level, both in processor and graphics tests.

The Cooler Boost 5 cooling system includes 2 fans and 6 heatpipes with a Shared-Pipe design (common heatpipes for the CPU and GPU). Under high loads, the CO noise becomes typical for gaming models. Of course, it's not the hum of an aeroplane, but it's more comfortable to play with a headset. The keyboard remains cold, only the rim above it becomes warm.

In the AIDA64 stress test, the temperature of internal components did not exceed 85°. Therefore, the system operates stably and no trotting is observed.

The drive used is the current 1TB Micron 2400 SSD model with PCI-E 4.0 4x interface, which is quite common in modern laptops. It's not a top-of-the-line solution, but it's fast enough. The manufacturer promises read speeds of up to 4500 MB/s and write speeds of up to 3600 MB/s.

In tests, the drive demonstrates the declared speeds: about 4700 MB/s when reading and 3600 MB/s when writing.

The laptop's performance is enough to play games in native FullHD resolution with a pleasant FPS level without giving up ray tracing and high graphics settings.

  • Cyberpunk 2077. Maximum settings, including ray tracing. DLSS in auto mode: 47-63 FPS.
  • Gears 5. Ultra settings: 100-130 FPS
  • God of War. Maximum settings: 60-70 FPS
  • Callisto Protocol. Maximum settings, tracing at maximum: 37-63 FPS
  • The Ascent. Maximum settings, with ray tracing, DLSS in quality mode: about 60-70 FPS.
  • Witcher 3 (updated version). Maximum settings with ray tracing: 37-55 FPS.

The sound in MSI Katana 17 B12V is provided by a stereo system with 2W speakers. They are loud enough for videos and movies. But there are not enough low frequencies for comfortable listening to music.

To customise the sound, you can use the Nahimic app to select sound presets for different scenarios and adjust frequencies. Additional features include noise reduction and microphone echo cancellation, virtual surround sound settings, and more.

A three-cell 53.5 Wh battery is responsible for the battery life, which is quite modest for a gaming model. In "office" mode: Wi-Fi, working with documents and a browser with low brightness, the laptop lasts about three hours.

Almost all laptop settings are collected in the MSI Center application. These include switching video card modes (MUX Switch), performance scenarios, system monitoring and diagnostics, backlight settings, and much more. Among the interesting additional features is the MSI App Player. In fact, it is an emulator for playing Android games with enhanced performance, gamepad support and console mode.

MSI Katana 17 B12V MSI Katana 17 B12V
  • High performance
  • A screen with a refresh rate of 144 Hz and good calibration
  • Efficient cooling system
  • Upgrade options for drives and RAM
  • Comfortable RGB-backlit keyboard buttons
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That's all it is. Three things you need to know about MSI Katana 17 B12V.

  • The MSI Katana 17 B12V has a balanced and productive configuration that allows you to play all modern games at high graphics settings.
  • The laptop is equipped with a FullHD screen with a refresh rate of 144 Hz.
  • It is possible to upgrade SSDs, RAM and replace the wireless adapter.
Specifications of MSI Katana 17 B12V
Display. 17.3 inches, 1920x1080 16:9, IPS, 144 Hz
Dimensions. 398x273x25.2 mm
Weight 2.6 kg
Operating system None
Processor. Intel Core i7-12650H (2.3-4.7 GHz), 10 cores (6P+4E), 16 threads, (Alder Lake, Intel 7)
RAM 16 GB DDR5 4800 MHz
Graphics. nVidia GeForce RTX 4060 Laptop, 8 GB GDDR6, Intel UHD Graphics
Storage device 1 TB SSD M.2 NVMe PCIe Gen4 x4
Communications. Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac/ax 2x2, Bluetooth 5.2, Gigabit Ethernet
Connectors HDMI 2.1, 2xUSB3.2 Gen1, 1x USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-C (DisplayPort ),USB 2.0, RJ-45, 3.5 mm audio jack
optical drive No
Battery. 53.5 Wh

MSI Katana 17 B12V
Gaming laptop with a balanced configuration and high performance

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