MSI Titan GT77 Laptop Review
Electronics,  Technology

MSI Titan GT77 Laptop Review Powerful Gaming Laptop Full Specification

Size and Weight

MSI Titan GT77 is the most powerful gaming laptop I’ve ever tested, but with great power comes great responsibility – I mean fan noise. This machine falls into the desktop replacement category, or DTR for short, but despite having so much power, it’s not as big compared to previous designs.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s still heavier compared to a lot of 17” laptops out there, especially with the choker 330-watt power brick and cables, and it’s larger compared to most 17” machines too. Especially in depth as its rear sticks out, but these compromises give us impressive performance and upgrade options that most of the laptops can only dream of.

MSI Titan GT77 has an all-black metal design with an aluminum lid, interior and bottom panel, and there aren’t any sharp corners or edges. Build quality feels pretty good. Despite the metal finish and thickness, the keyboard deck has a little flex, but it felt fine during regular use. The metal lid has some flex, and although the hinges felt smooth, they might need to be tighter because the screen wobbles a bit when typing on the mechanical keyboard.

MSI titan gt77 size

Laptop Specs

I’ve got the maxed-out MSI Titan GT77 with Intel’s Core i9-12900HX processor, Nvidia’s RTX 3080 Ti graphics, 64 gigs of DDR5 memory and a 17.3” screen.

MSI Titan GT77 full specification

Screen and mux switch

For some reason, the screen in mine is 1080p 360Hz, which I think only really makes sense for eSports players. Personally, I see it as a bit of a waste on a machine this powerful, but to be fair, there are also other options like 4K 120Hz. You can check out other configurations and current prices with the link below the video. I’m guessing 1080p could also be cheaper, and if you do plan on using this as a genuine desktop replacement and connecting screens to it, then I guess in that case, there’s no point spending more money to get a better laptop screen. So at least there are options.

The MSI Titan GT77 has a MUX switch, so we can disable the integrated graphics to get a speed boost in games, but at the expense of worse battery life. Unfortunately, there’s no Advanced Optimus or G-Sync, but Adaptive Sync is available when Optimus is on. The colour gamut was ok for a gaming machine, and contrast was good. It doesn’t get super bright, but I consider anything over 300 nits at full brightness to be good enough for indoor use. The MSI Center software, the control panel for the laptop, appears to let us enable or disable Display OverDrive.

However, I didn’t actually measure any response time difference with it on or off. Based on the excellent average grey-to-grey response time of 3.8ms, I’m assuming overdrive is on, as there was a slight overshoot. It’s a great result compared to other laptops, but not quite the 2.78ms needed for transitions to occur within the refresh window. Though, to be fair, none of the other 1080p 360Hz screens I’ve tested could pull that off either.

The total system latency is the amount of time between a mouse click and when a gunshot fire appears on the screen in CS: GO, and the MSI Titan GT77 was the second-fastest machine tested so far. It’s only slightly behind MSI’s GE76, but honestly, half a millisecond is within the margin of error. The backlight bleed wasn’t significant. My partner said she’s never noticed bleed during regular use on any other laptop, until the Titan, but this will vary between laptops and panels. The whole front of the lid sticks out a little, which makes it easy to open up. The screen goes back 135 degrees, which was plenty for normal viewing.

Camera and Microphone

There’s a 720p camera above the screen in the middle and it has IR for Windows Hello face unlock. I would have preferred to see 1080p in such an expensive machine. This is how the camera and microphone look and sound and how it sounds while typing on the mechanical keyboard, so you can hear it a bit and as you can see the screen wobble a little too.

Keyboard, Touchpad, Fingerprint sensor and RGB light

The mechanical keyboard has per-key RGB backlighting. All keys and secondary functions get lit up, and there are four levels of brightness which can be cycled through with the F8 shortcut key. There’s no shortcut for changing the lighting effect, so you’ll have to open up the SteelSeries software to change it. This is also used to manage the RGB lighting that spews out of the back, the two strips just above the rear air vents, and the MSI logo on the lid. These can be customized individually, or you can just use the built-in effects on the mechanical keyboard.

It uses Cherry MX ultra-low profile switches with 1.8mm of key travel. I thought it felt great to type with, nice and clicky, though as you’d expect, it does sound a little louder compared to most other laptops. There’s also this Cherry MX logo below the keyboard that lights up. Apparently, it’s critical that you don’t forget what switches you’re using. The smaller right shift key might annoy some people, but I don’t use it.

The power button is part of the keyboard, and accidentally pressed, it will put it to sleep unless you change this default behavior in Windows. Other MSI laptops require you to hold the power button down for a few seconds first, but that’s not the case with the MSI Titan GT77. The touchpad is smooth, fairly big, clicks anywhere, and works well. There’s a fingerprint scanner to the touchpad’s right, and I found it quite accurate. Black metallic finishes make fingerprints more obvious, but they’re easy enough to clean with a microfiber cloth.

Keyboard Temperature

Most laptops I test sit around 30 degrees Celsius when doing nothing at idle, and the GT77 was the same. With the stress tests going in silent mode, remember the GPU is thermal throttling, but it’s also still running games well. It’s pretty similar in balanced mode, the palm rest appears cold, but it feels a little warm as the metal finish conducts heat. The hot spot on the right is warmer but not hot. Extreme mode with the fans on automatic was a little cooler despite it now performing better with higher power limits, it’s warm, but it felt fine. With the fans maxed out, it’s much the same, but cooler compared to most other laptops. The fans are loud now, though. Let’s have a listen.

Speakers and Latencymon

There are front-facing speakers on either side of the keyboard and underneath down the front on the left and right sides. Generally, I don’t find MSI laptops to sound good, but I’d say the MSI Titan GT77 was at least above average compared to others, but still not impressive. There’s some bass, and it gets pretty loud, but there was palm rest vibration even at lower volume levels. The latencymon results weren’t looking perfect.

Ports

The left side from the back has the rectangular power input, two USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A ports, a UHS-III SD card slot and a 3.5mm audio combo jack. The right side from the front has a third USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A port, two Thunderbolt 4 Type-C ports, Mini DisplayPort and HDMI outputs, followed by 2.5 gigabit ethernet. Although ethernet is not facing the preferred way, I found it high enough that I could still get my finger under to press down on the tab of the ethernet cable.

Neither of those two Type-C ports could be used to charge the laptop; that was the case with MSI’s GE76. Maybe there’s just not as much point in delivering such a small amount of power to such a beast like this. I don’t know, but it would have been nice to have. Now with Optimus off, both of those two Type-C ports, the Mini DisplayPort and HDMI port all connect directly to the Nvidia graphics. But if we turn Optimus on, then both of those two Type-C ports don’t have any display output at all.

The HDMI port could run my LG B9 TV at 4K 120Hz 8-bit with G-Sync, so there is a variable refresh rate. There was also a strange problem when running games on an external screen connected to the HDMI port. With Optimus off, the performance was garbage, but with Optimus on, it worked perfectly fine. Now it shouldn’t matter if Optimus is on or off when we’re connecting an external screen to the HDMI port, because it’s going to the Nvidia graphics regardless. But for some reason, Optimus just had to be on for the frame rate to actually be any good. I don’t know if this is an Nvidia bug, but I have seen this exact same problem in other Alienware laptops – it’s not something unique to MSI.

ports

Getting Inside

There are 11 Phillips head screws to remove to get inside, and they’re all the same length. I found it relatively easy to access using my usual pry tools. I’ll leave a link to them below the video. Inside we’ve got the battery down the front, four memory slots just above that, as well as 4 M.2 slots. The one on the left with an SSD installed supports PCIe Gen 5 and connects to the CPU, while the second installed SSD supports Gen 4, but it also connects to the CPU. The two empty M.2 slots are also Gen 4, but they connect via the chipset, and the Wi-Fi 6E card is on the left.

MSI titan GT77 inside

Upgradability

Just in case you missed that, that’s 4 DDR5 memory slots for up to 128 gigs of RAM and 4 M.2 slots for up to 32TB if you used 8TB drives, crazy stuff! As a result of all that extra upgradeability, it’s no surprise that the GT77 has the second-best score in this area. It’s only beaten by the Clevo X170 from last year, which gets extra points for a removable battery and upgradeable CPU and GPU.

SSD and SD card speed

Both 1TB PCIe Gen 4 NVMe M.2 SSDs that came in my GT77 were performing very nicely. There aren’t exactly a whole lot of Gen 5 SSDs on the market just yet, but once those are available, even higher speeds should be possible. The SD card slot was performing well enough, but I’ve seen more than double this on other laptops. The card sits most of the way into the machine, but it doesn’t click in, you can just pull it straight out without first pushing in.

Wi-Fi

The Wi-Fi performance is alright, but there are a number of other laptops with Killer Wi-Fi that are doing a bit better. It’s slightly ahead of the GE76, which had the same Wi-Fi card.

Battery life

The largest possible 4-Cell 99.9Wh battery powers the MSI Titan GT77. The MSI Center software has Display Power Saver enabled by default. This lowers the screen’s refresh rate down to 60Hz when you unplug the charger and then automatically reverses it when you plug back in. A lower screen refresh rate uses less power, and this is why the screen flashes black during this process. My testing was done with this enabled. With Optimus enabled, it lasted for just over 5 hours in my YouTube playback test.

I usually turn off RGB lighting effects here, but I forgot to do that the first time so I figured I’d include that result, too as it shows us we lose about half an hour of run time just having RGB enabled. The battery life surprised me. With other desktop replacements, I’ve seen worse battery life, but that wasn’t the case for the Titan. To be fair, those older DTR machines had desktop processors, probably more power-hungry. Five hours isn’t incredible compared to the AMD laptops at the top of the graph, but it’s decent when compared to other Intel 12th gen machines.

Thermals and software modes

Let’s check out thermals next. Multiple heat pipes are shared between the CPU and GPU, and unlike most other laptops, the MSI Titan GT77 has four fans. MSI confirmed to me that both the CPU and GPU are covered with their new phase-change thermal pad, which stays in a solid-state until it warms to 45 degrees Celsius. There are holes on the bottom panel above all the fans for air intake, and some more intake vents on the back section that stick out, and these also run below the screen on the front. Air gets exhausted out of the left and right sides as well as out of the back.

We can see the entire rear side is an exhaust and covered by heatsink fins. So better cooling has been prioritized rather than having ports here. The MSI Center software let’s us change between different performance modes, which from lowest to highest, are silent, balanced and extreme performance. By default, the extreme mode applies a little 70MHz overclock to the GPU core, but you can change that here. The extreme mode also lets you enable a cooler boost, which sets the fans to full speed, or you can also go to advanced mode to customize it.

You can hold the function key and press the up arrow key to enable cooler boost at any time to max the fan-out, regardless of the performance mode in use. This works in Linux too; no software is required. My MSI Titan GT77 came with a -0.05v under volt applied to the CPU by default. This can be changed through the BIOS as the HX processor is completely unlocked, just like Intel’s K series.

Temperatures clock speed and TDP

The temperatures were acceptable when just sitting there idle. The rest of the results are from combined CPU and GPU stress tests which aim to represent a worst-case full load scenario. Most applications don’t fully load both the CPU and GPU at the same time like this. It was the warmest in silent mode and then got cooler as we stepped up through the higher performance modes. Most other laptops get warmer in the higher performance modes because more power equals more heat, but not here.

The cooling pad I tested with, linked below the video, was able to reduce the CPU and GPU temps by 6 degrees Celsius. The CPU gets warmer if I manually boost its power limit with Intel XTU, but the GPU gets cooler. These are the clock speeds for the same tests just shown. We can see why the CPU gets warmer when I boost the power limit. It’s because the clock speeds in the blue bars are much higher now. 4.3GHz is close to the 4.4 all-core turbo boost speed for the 8 P cores, so that’s quite impressive given the GPU only lowers by 100MHz.

Otherwise, the differences in speed between extreme mode with the fans on auto, maxed out, or with the cooling pad weren’t too different. This is because there wasn’t thermal throttling in these modes, so boosting the fan speed or adding the pad just lowered temperatures without giving a performance boost. The CPU is default limited to 75 watts in balanced and extreme modes. 75 is quite high when you consider that most other laptops limit the processor to 45 or 55 watts in a combined CPU and GPU stress test. We can also see that by manually increasing the CPU power limit, it needed 106 watts in order to hit the maximum turbo boost speed but to do this, the GPU had to lower it by about 30 watts.

It’s a tradeoff. The 3080 Ti in the MSI Titan GT77 can run up to 175 watts with dynamic boost, the highest allowed by Nvidia, but with the CPU also active, it would run at 170 watts, the same as MSI’s GE76. Check out silent mode, though, the CPU is limited to 30 watts, but the GPU is surpassing 100 watts. If you recall, the GPU was actually thermal throttling there, but as you’ll hear soon, it’s surprisingly quiet in this mode. Here’s how an actual game performs using the different performance modes. See what I mean? Over 100 FPS in the shadow of the tomb raider at 1440p in silent mode, that’s an excellent result. Just wait until you hear the fan noise in a bit. But spoiler, it is possible to play games with decent performance without the machine being too loud.

CPU Performance

Although the CPU gets limited to 75 watts with the GPU also active, it’s able to go higher when the GPU is idle. Take Cinebench, for example. The silent mode still limits the CPU to 30 watts as before, but now balanced mode runs at 100 watts. Extreme mode runs at 160 watts initially, but that much wattage is enough to overcome even the Titan’s cooling, so after a few minutes, it drops down to around 135 watts due to thermal constraints.

Intel’s spec sheet lists 157 watts as the maximum turbo power for the 12900HX, but as you can see here, with Cinebench running, Hardware Info was reporting up to 160. It’s the best result when compared to other laptops, which makes sense as this is the first time we’ve had this new 16-core, 24-thread CPU in for testing. The single-core score isn’t much different compared to other Intel 12th gen i9 processors, which was to be expected as they have the same 5.0GHz single-core boost speed.

This is the result of averaging three 10-minute tests, so this result accounts for thermal throttling. Just for a bit of fun, here’s how things look if we instead just do one run of Cinebench without a time limit on the MSI Titan GT77. This would be before thermal throttling kicks in, and it seems to be how most people out there run Cinebench. Given the amount of customization available in the BIOS, you could probably find a middle ground between this and the last long-term result with some tweaking.

Performance drops back when we unplug the charger and instead run purely off of battery power. A number of other Intel 12th gen laptops with fewer cores and threads are able to do better, both in terms of single and multicore results, so this isn’t super impressive, especially when we consider that a few eight-core 16 thread AMD machines were higher in both regards.

BIOS

MSI’s advanced BIOS can be unlocked by entering this epic cheat code. Like previous MSI laptops, you get a crazy level of options to control through here. Combined with the fact that the HX chip is unlocked, there’s quite a lot you can do here, from undervolting, overclocking, or adjusting power and thermal limits.

Is MSI Titan GT77 LINUX Supported?

Linux support was tested with an Ubuntu 22.04 live CD. By default, out of the box, keyboard, touchpad, speakers, and ethernet work. Wi-Fi wasn’t recognized without. It probably needs some drivers. Keyboard shortcuts to adjust volume, change screen brightness and keyboard brightness work, and so does the max fan shortcut key. I wasn’t given the option to use a fingerprint login when creating a new user account. Although you can’t change the RGB lighting effect in Linux, whatever you set in Windows through the SteelSeries software is remembered even without Windows loaded.

Price and availability

Let’s discuss pricing and availability next. This will, of course, change over time, so refer to the link below the video for current sales. At the time of recording, the GT77 has only just launched, so I can’t find a lot of information. The only place I’ve seen it listed is on Newegg through HID Evolution, starting at $4500 USD for the 4K 120Hz screen option, but I would expect more configurations and more available as time goes on.

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