MSI Katana GF66 11UD review: a practical weapon for a virtual samurai

By: Alex Chub | 02.09.2022, 13:40
MSI Katana GF66 11UD review: a practical weapon for a virtual samurai

The MSI Katana GF66 11UD is an inexpensive gaming laptop for its category, with a good, balanced hardware configuration that is enough for all modern games. The cooling system copes with any load without much difficulty. And the internal layout allows you to easily replace and expand the internal storage, as well as increase the amount of RAM thanks to the presence of two SO-DIMM slots. The keyboard is full-sized, has backlit keys and is generally pleasant to use. There is only one significant claim, to the display used. It is good with a refresh rate of 144Hz, but not very happy with narrow color gamuts, which makes the picture look dull. 

MSI Katana GF66 11UD MSI Katana GF66 11UD
Gaming laptop with 11th Gen Intel Core i5 hexa-core processor, 16GB RAM, 4GB nVidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti Laptop discrete graphics, 512GB SSD and 15.6" FullHD IPS screen with 144Hz refresh rate
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5 reasons to buy MSI Katana GF66 11UD:

  • Balanced configuration with decent performance
  • Efficient cooling system
  • The ability to upgrade drives and RAM
  • A good set of full-size ports
  • Nice backlit keyboard

2 reasons not to buy MSI Katana GF66 11UD:

  • Narrow color gamut of the screen, as a result - a dim picture
  • You want a brighter laptop with RGB lighting and other bells and whistles

Fast passage:

  1. What is in the box?
  2. What about the appearance and design of the MSI Katana GF66 11UD?
  3. How user-friendly is the MSI Katana GF66 11UD?
  4. How good is the screen?
  5. What about performance and autonomy?
  6. In the dry matter

What's included?

The packaging of the MSI Katana GF66 11UD is absolutely typical for notebooks, as are its contents. Mustard-colored cardboard box with a minimum of polygraphy and all basic technical information. Inside - a laptop, a 180 W power supply, a removable power cable and documentation.

What about the appearance and design of the MSI Katana GF66 11UD?

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As reported on the official website, Japanese illustrator Tsuyoshi Nagano took part in the design of the MSI Katana GF66 11UD. The laptop looks very restrained and strict, unlike a bunch of gaming models with backlight from all the cracks. In this case, there is only a keyboard backlight. The case is completely made of practical matte black plastic. It practically does not collect fingerprints. Of the decorative elements, it is fashionable to note only the embossed MSI logo on the top cover.

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On the left side of the laptop are air vents, a socket for connecting a power supply, as well as full-size USB 3.2 Gen1 ports and USB 2.0:

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There are no ventilation holes on the right side, so there will be no hot air blowing over the hand with the mouse. Connectors: 3.5mm combo headset audio, HDMI (4K/60Hz), USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-C, full size USB 3.2 Gen1 and RJ-45:

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At the rear end there are two zones for blowing out hot air by the cooling system, there are no connectors. There are no functional elements on the front end.

The side bezels of the display are quite thin (about 6 mm), the top one is a little wider. On it, in addition to a 720p webcam and microphones, there are three protective rubberized inserts. The "chin" is wider, it has the MSI logo on it.

On the bottom of the laptop there are stereo speakers, four wide rubberized feet for stability and a large number of ventilation holes through which cold air enters. They are made in the form of a kind of asymmetric honeycombs.

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The laptop may not be the most compact: 359x259x25 cm, 2.1 kg. But for an affordable model, the performance is quite adequate. There will be no problems with transportation. The build quality is very pleasant. Despite the use of plastic, the work surface and the top cover hardly flex. The appearance turned out to be concise and, one might say, universal, without any eye-catching elements.

How user-friendly is the MSI Katana GF66 11UD?

The MSI Katana GF66 11UD hinge allows you to open your notebook with one hand. At the same time, the maximum angle is almost 180 °. The display is well fixed in the right positions. But the display unit itself turned out to be very light and shakes a little if you hook it with your hand.

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The MSI Katana GF66 11UD has a full-sized keyboard with an additional numeric keypad, which is not so common in 15.6-inch models. The keyboard has its own characteristics, but all the most used keys are in their places, so it won't take long to get used to. The top row of function buttons is slightly reduced in height. The left Shift and Ctrl are slightly longer than the standard ones, Enter is one-story. Due to the presence of a digital block, it was necessary to slightly move the block of arrows to the left, as a result of which the right Shift is slightly shortened. The number block itself has three, not four columns. Additional Enter was placed under the block, and "+" and "-" - above it.

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The buttons have a rather soft and pleasant stroke and a comfortable matte surface, they work quietly. The full stroke is 1.7 mm. There is a red backlight with three levels of brightness. All characters are illuminated evenly, it is convenient to use in a dark room.

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The laptop has a relatively small touchpad 105x65 mm. But, thanks to good sensitivity, it is quite enough for web surfing and other simple operations. The buttons are not separated from the main part.

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How good is the screen?

The MSI Katana GF66 11UD has a 15.6-inch IPS display with a resolution of 1920x1080 pixels and a screen refresh rate of 144 Hz, the pixel response time is not specified. The viewing angles of the display are maximum, although, of course, the contrast drops slightly at angles. The brightness is not sky-high, but sufficient for comfortable work indoors. But the colors seem a bit dull.

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According to the results of measurements, we can say that a rather modest matrix is ​​used with a color gamut less than the sRGB color space. At the same time, it is quite accurately calibrated, the color error ΔE does not exceed 4, which is very good for a gaming model. The maximum brightness is 240.803 cd/m2, black field brightness - 0.306 cd/m2, and the static contrast ratio is 787:1:

What about performance and autonomy?

The MSI Katana GF66 notebooks use the current 11th generation Intel processors. Our version has an Intel Core i5-11400H. This is a six-core Tiger Lake processor based on the Willow Cove architecture. Supports 12 Hyper Threading and is manufactured using the 10nm SuperFin process. The base clock speed is 2.7 GHz, the maximum frequency is up to 4.5 GHz, the third level cache is 12 MB, and the TDP is 45W. There is an integrated UHD Intel graphics accelerator with a base frequency of 350 MHz and a maximum of 1.45 GHz for undemanding tasks. As discrete graphics, an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 Ti Laptop is installed with a base frequency of 1222 MHz and a boost up to 1485 MHz. The amount of video memory is 4 GB GDDR6. The video adapter, of course, supports real-time ray tracing and Resizable BAR (direct CPU access to all video memory over PCI Express) in an advanced MSI design. The amount of RAM in our configuration is 16 GB DDR4-3200, it works in dual-channel mode. The memory is not soldered on the board, the laptop has two RAM slots, they have two 8 GB sticks. So over time, you can replace it with two 16 GB sticks, for example.

The laptop uses albeit not a top-end configuration, but the performance is at a fairly high level. This applies to both processor and graphics tests.

Cooler Boost 5 is responsible for cooling the laptop. includes 2 fans, 6 heatpipes and an independent thermal module for the CPU and GPU. At the same time, heat pipes with thinner walls are used, thanks to which it was possible to expand the channel inside. The cooling system copes with its task: even with prolonged peak loads, the temperature of the components inside does not rise above 80-83 °. Accordingly, throttling is not observed. The area above the keyboard heats up a little, while the rest of the work surface remains cold. In terms of noise level, the MSI Katana GF66 11UD is a typical gaming laptop. Yes, under load, CO work is audible, but within reasonable limits.

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Our sample uses a Kingston M.2 NVMe PCIe Gen3 x4 SSD for storage. In our configuration, it is possible to install another 2.5-inch SATA drive. But there are laptop options with two M.2 PCIe Gen3 x4 slots.

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The maximum read speed was about 2000 MB / s, writes - just under 1000 MB / s. Not top-end, but quite impressive performance, as for an inexpensive model.

The configuration of the laptop allows you to quite comfortably play any modern games in native FullHD resolution at medium settings and get decent FPS. The main thing is not to overclock. For example, Control on low / medium settings, but with ray tracing, works at a frame rate of 40-50 FPS. God of War at medium settings and DLSS in quality mode - from 60 to 80 FPS. Metro Exodus on high settings with Ray Tracing, DLSS in quality mode without tessellation and Hairworks is kept at 60 FPS. The Ascent at maximum settings, but without rays - 90-110 FPS. Tracing immediately drops the frame rate to around 20 FPS. Screenshots with FPS and graphics settings used:

Usually only high-end laptops can boast of high-quality audio systems, so you should not expect miracles from the MSI Katana GF66 11UD. The power and quality of the laptop's stereo system is enough to watch movies and YouTube videos. But for listening to music for your pleasure, and for games, it’s better to connect headphones after all.

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The laptop has a relatively small three-cell battery at 53.5 Wh. But in gaming models, autonomy has never been a top priority. MSI Katana GF66 11UD lasted about 3.5 hours in "office" mode when working with documents and browser and low brightness, which is typical for such laptops. In game mode - about an hour.

Of the proprietary software, it is worth noting MSI Center. The application allows you to monitor the current state of the system, download driver updates, switch operating modes: gaming, quiet, energy efficient, balanced, custom and ultra-productive. In the latter, you can forcibly turn on the CO operation mode at maximum speed. Although, as practice has shown, in automatic mode, it copes with heating without problems.

MSI Katana GF66 11UD MSI Katana GF66 11UD
  • Balanced configuration with decent performance;
  • Efficient cooling system;
  • The ability to upgrade drives and RAM;
  • A good selection of full-size ports;
  • Beautiful backlit keyboard.
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In dry residue. Three things to know about the MSI Katana GF66 11UD.

  • The MSI Katana GF66 11UD has a configuration that is not top-end, but sufficient for modern games, with an 11th generation Intel processor, an nVidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti Laptop and 16 GB of RAM.
  • The laptop is equipped with a Full HD-screen with a refresh rate of 144 Hz.
  • It is possible to upgrade the RAM and drives.
Specifications MSI Katana GF66 11UD
Display 15.6 inches, 1920x1080 16:9, IPS, 144Hz
Dimensions 359x259x25 mm
Weight 2.1 kg
Operating system Not
CPU Intel Core i5-11400H (2.7-4.5 GHz), 6 cores, 12 threads, (Tiger Lake, 10nm SuperFin)
RAM 16 GB DDR4 3200 MHz
Graphics nVidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti Laptop, 4 GB GDDR6, Intel UHD Graphics
Storage device 512 GB SSD M.2 NVMe PCIe Gen3 x4
Communications Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac/ax 2x2, Bluetooth 5.1
Connectors HDMI, 2xUSB 3.2 Gen1, 1x USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-C, USB 2.0, RJ-45, 3.5 mm audio jack
optical drive Not
Battery 53.5 Wh

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MSI Katana GF66 11UD
A practical weapon for a virtual samurai