REVIEW: MSI GE76 Raider Dragon Edition Tiamat – Hear Her Roar
In Babylonian mythology, the dragon-goddess Tiamat is the progenitor of deities and monsters alike, the embodiment of primordial chaos and the sea. So for MSI to name a high-end gaming notebook after her is a bold statement… one on which the Taiwanese tech giant absolutely delivers. The MSI GE76 Raider Dragon Edition Tiamat is a beast of a machine, and those who beseech her aid won’t find her wanting.
Just like last year’s GE66 Raider Dragonshield, the Dragon Edition Tiamat is simply stunning in its own way. While the Dragonshield looked like it fell off the side of a spaceship, the Tiamat seems to have been chiselled out of the wall of an ancient ruin – it’s covered in intricate Mesopotamian-inspired etched details, both on the lid and inside, with stylish gold accents in cuneiform script.
The keyboard has full RGB lighting with a light bar at the front, and while I’m not usually a fan, I actually liked the default lighting on this one – a gentle rolling wave of blue and gold that very nicely complements the overall aesthetic.
You’ll find ports aplenty on the Tiamat: two USB-C, three USB-A, an RJ45, an SD card reader, an HDMI output offering 4K at 60Hz, and a Mini-DisplayPort, as well as a 3.5mm audio jack. Connectivity options also include Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth v5.2.
Also in the box, like with the Dragonshield, you’ll get some extra goodies: a big mousepad fitting with the theme, a free gaming mouse that once again syncs with the RGB lighting, and a little metal emblem thing on a stand. I’m not sure what it is exactly, and it’s not as cool as the Dragonshield’s model spaceship, but it’s still a nice knick-knack to put on your desk.
DISPLAY AND SOUND
The screen on our model was a 17.3-inch 1080p IPS display with a blazing 300Hz refresh rate. If you’re looking for a bit more graphical kick, MSI also has a 4K version of the Tiamat, though there’s no 1440p model (and, speaking as a recent convert to 1440p, its exclusion strikes me as something of an oversight for those seeking a happy medium).
More importantly, though, at long last, MSI has fixed what has always been one of my biggest bugbears with its notebooks: the sound. The dual Dynaudio speakers with passive radiators, while they’ll never match a dedicated discrete audio system, have finally accomplished clear, decent, and loud sound, without the tinniness that has plagued other notebook sound systems (the fact that they face upwards is undoubtedly a big help here). Dreams really do come true if you just believe.
Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get our hands on the very top end configuration, which comes packed with the latest Intel 11th-generation silicon and the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 GPU. The 3080 model is available in Australia at the moment – the highest MSI is offering is the RTX 3070, which is a touch disappointing – but SmartHouse understands we won’t have long to wait, with the RTX 3080/11th generation Intel models set to arrive near the end of the month.
Still, the RTX 3070 – as seen in the GP76 Leopard – ain’t exactly chopped liver, especially paired with 32GB of RAM. Mass Effect Legendary Edition with all its visual upgrades runs without breaking a sweat, the graphics card chewing through it at upwards of 150 frames per second.
Control, meanwhile, legendary bane of GPUs the world over, runs about on par with the Leopard’s performance at 50-60 frames per second at native 1080p resolution; with DLSS enabled, that number bumps to a very comfortable 70-80 frames. If you’re looking for a notebook that can run the very latest AAA titles on maxed-out settings with ray tracing and not melt through your desk (or lap) in the process, this – or especially the RTX 3080 model when you can get one – is very much it.
On the subject of melting, though, one caveat: while the cooling system is certainly up to scratch, it accomplishes that by still being pretty loud. At one point I left it on another desk doing nothing much at all, and I could hear the fans from across the room. Not a deal-breaker by any means, but something to keep in mind.
The GE76 Raider Dragon Edition Tiamat is the closest thing to a perfect gaming notebook MSI has released: a gorgeous design with the power to match, and finally, finally some good sound. Without a doubt, it’s the best gaming laptop MSI has ever dropped on my desk, and I was sorry to see it go. Hail Tiamat!
• Beautiful design with RGB lighting
• Top-end ray-traced gaming performance
• Great 300Hz display with decent Dynaudio sound
• Wide array of connectivity options
• Free gaming mouse and other goodies
• RTX 3080 and 11th-gen Intel configuration not yet available in Australia
• Loud cooling system
For availability, visit http://msi.gm/MSIGE76TaimatCHN.