MSI Katana GF76 gaming laptop review: Budget-friendly

msi gf76Dexerto

The MSI Katana GF76 is not going to stun or wow, but it certainly will play your games just about right and won’t break the bank doing so.

With its RTX 3050 Ti, 12th generation i7 CPU, and a fairly average outer shell to house it all, the MSI Katana GF76 is the definition of “okay”. The main issues that stem from the laptop aren’t performance or even things like battery life. It’s MSI’s insistence on its off-putting design.

Key specs

  • GPU: RTX 3050 Ti
  • CPU: Intel i7-12700H
  • RAM: 16GB, DDR4 RAM
  • Storage: 512GB NVMe SSD
  • Panel: IPS, 1920×1080, 144Hz

Design and features

MSI GF76 keyboardDexerto

From the outset, the MSI Katana GF76 isn’t the pretties laptop. All of MSI’s gaming output in the Katana line has always been an attempt at trying to chase an aesthetic that clearly isn’t working.

Article continues after ad

The red lights from underneath the fairly uncomfortable, squishy keyboard and its tight numpad haunted us late at night. During the day, its plastic shell caused us some mild concern about its actual portability. While it might be a bit of a chunky device, the plastic continuously felt as if it would crack the moment you’d set the bag down just a little harder than a soft placement.

Then the trackpad, which never felt big enough. Between it and the cramped keyboard, we had a better time using external devices than the actual machine itself.

White noise

To top this all off, the laptop, even while idle or downloading a game, would spin up its fans. Having a cool, well-ventilated gaming laptop is always appreciated, but while just browsing Game Pass or Steam? It’s irritating.

Article continues after ad

The screen is passable, nothing to write home about. It’s rated at 144Hz, meaning that those looking for a budget option to play some esports or more intense titles on will be right at home here.

Every port you’d need

GF76 portsDexerto

Where the slight chunkiness comes into play is that MSI has handily included just about every connection you’d want to see on a laptop. It’s not flush with USB ports, but having everything – including Ethernet – is greatly appreciated. Plus, bringing games over from an external SSD is super quick, thanks to them being rated at 3.2 Gen 1.

What frustrated us is that once again, this is another laptop that requires a power brick and there are no options for you to charge over USB-C. While understandable due to the power needed to bring the battery up to 100%, it still frustrates that a mode of charging that can do up to 100W isn’t an option.

Article continues after ad

MSI Katana GF76 benchmarks

In terms of performance, however, the MSI Katana GF76 is more than adequate in providing a smooth experience. During our testing, we saw a fairly similar performance to the Acer Swift X, but with a little extra bump thanks to the 12th gen Intel chip.

3DMarkTimespyGraphicsCPU
Score5907543910321
BenchmarkSingle-coreMulti-core
Geekbench16817807
Cinebench16628514

Is the MSI Katana GF76 good for gaming?

The 3050 Ti is no slouch in esports titles like Counter-Strike or Valorant. In fact, we often say that this is probably the performance point that you want from your laptop or desktop to play these types of games.

During a few matches of these games, the 3050 Ti didn’t even break a sweat, backed up by Intel’s i7 chip. Even when using the full 144Hz refresh rate, we never really saw a drop in performance that was worth noting.

Article continues after ad

However, during our time with the Katana, we found it worked best with games that use Nvidia’s DLSS. Games like Forza Horizon 5, for instance, benefitted massively from having the Quality preset enabled, while other titles like Gungrave G.O.R.E. ran exceptionally well.

Where we found the Katana to falter was just that hard limit that the 3050 Ti can manage to output. For the best performance in the other games, we tested, like Destiny 2, the medium preset at 1080p was about as much as it could muster before it became too much. Older games and less graphically-intensive titles will do just fine here. Things like Civilisation VI, which is mostly CPU bound, will work a treat with the i7-12700H onboard.

Article continues after ad

Verdict

While it’s outer casing, and everything to do with it as a laptop might be divisive, at the end of the day, the performance is well worth the money. We regularly see the Katana line go on deep discounts, with UK store eBuyer currently selling it at a sub-£1000 price point, and in the US, Best Buy has it for $1,099.

For this price, yes, it’s well worth the investment. With Nvidia’s DLSS on your side, you should be able to squeeze just enough performance out of the machine for almost any title you like.