Gaming has always been a great way to pass the time with family and friends. As games become more graphically demanding, laptop manufacturers need to find creative and cost effective ways to pack powerful hardware into the small body of a laptop. Here, I’ll be reviewing the MSI Pulse GL76 gaming laptop. I’ll be looking at this laptop’s design, connectivity options, gaming, productivity, and sharing my final thoughts. But first, check out my video review of the GL76 to see it in action.
MSI Pulse GL76 specs (as tested)
Unboxing the Pulse GL76
MSI’s packaging of the Pulse GL76 is straightforward without any bells and whistles. When you open the brown cardboard box you’re immediately greeted by the laptop and its power brick.
Upon unboxing the Pulse GL76 I was surprised at how large it was. The laptop sports a massive 17.3” screen and an equally large body to house the powerful hardware inside. Most of the Pulse’s body is made up of hard plastic with the lid being partially covered in aluminum. MSI likely used plastic in order to reduce the laptop’s weight. Although the body is plastic there is no flex and the Pulse feels sturdy and durable.
When it comes to weight, the Pulse GL76 is a hefty 5.73 lbs. While this is on the heavier side the laptop can still be carried in a laptop case or backpack. Commuters will definitely notice the laptop’s size and weight during their commute especially if they also carry the laptop’s charging brick.
Display, audio, and connectivity on the MSI GL76
A large and satisfying monitor
The MSI Pulse GL76 sports a 17.3” 1080p IPS screen with a 144Hz refresh rate. In my testing I found the IPS panel had great viewing angles, good colour reproduction, and a nice contrast ratio. In terms of brightness, I would’ve liked the Pulse GL76’s monitor to have a higher maximum brightness setting. During my testing I kept the screen brightness at 100%. I found that this was the ideal brightness setting for me when gaming and watching movies.
Loud and punchy speakers
Speakers on the Pulse GL76 are located on the front left and right sides of the laptop. The audio quality on the speakers is very good for their size. The mid and high tones are clear and there is a small punchy bass. At maximum volume the speakers remained clear without any noticeable distortion. The maximum volume is loud enough that I’m able to clearly hear music while I’m doing things in another room.
Diverse connectivity options
The Pulse GL76 comes with a good variety of connectivity options. Along the left hand side of the Pulse GL76 you’ll find 2x USB-A ports. Then, on the right side there is 1x USB-A, 1x USB-C, a 3.5 mm headphone jack, 1x HDMI, and an Ethernet port. In my day-to-day testing, I found this to be the ideal number of ports to support both gaming and productivity.
Gaming on the MSI Pulse GL76
The Pulse GL76 that I tested came with a 12th gen core i7 CPU and a NVIDIA RTX 3070 8gb GPU. This combination places the Pulse GL76 into the mid-tier gaming laptop category but I had no issues playing AAA games such as Halo Infinite. During my testing of Halo Infinite I was able to consistently get over 100fps while on low to medium graphic settings.
Playing games like Halo Infinite is graphically intensive and your laptop needs to work hard to keep up. This causes the laptop to heat up and at the same time the cooling fans kick in. On the Pulse GL76 the cooling fans were quiet and didn’t distract me while playing games. However, they are not completely silent. If you listen closely you’ll be able to hear the fans when they’re running at maximum speed. While the fans were doing their job of keeping the laptop cool I noticed that during long gaming sessions the keyboard would start to feel warm.
MSI decided to add extra flair to the Pulse GL76 by using RGB backlights on the keyboard. Using the MSI Center software you can customize the keyboard’s RGB behaviour. As someone who loves RGB I really like the look of the keyboard. Even when I’m not using the laptop I’ll keep the lid open just so that I can see the keyboard shift through different colours. However, while playing games I found the keyboard to feel somewhat cramped. On occasion I would accidentally press the Windows button causing the game to pause as the Windows menu appeared. On most gaming keyboards there is an option to lock the Window’s key to prevent any accidental presses. However, on the Pulse GL76 the option to lock the Windows key isn’t available. Gamers that are used to this function will find themselves missing this feature.
When it comes to battery life gamers will want to keep the Pulse GL76’s charger nearby. In my testing I got about 1.5 hours of battery life before the laptop needed to be charged. This testing was done playing Halo Infinite at medium settings, with 80% monitor brightness, and with the keyboard RGB on.
Productivity and battery life on the Pulse GL76
Because the MSI Pulse GL76 is designed for gaming it has powerful CPU and GPU hardware. This hardware in turn makes the Pulse GL76 equally capable of handling anything students and professionals can throw at it.
The keyboard of the Pulse GL76 is serviceable. While typing the keys feel responsive and easy to press. As I mentioned earlier, the keyboard of the Pulse GL76 feels small and squished. This is especially noticeable when using the number pad. Since the laptop does not have a fingerprint sensor I use a PIN when logging on. Using the number pad I have to pay particular attention to which numbers I’m pressing to ensure there are no errors. On a a regular keyboard, I’m able to use the number pad by feel alone. Surprisingly, there’s about 1.5 inches of space on the left and right hand side of the Pulse GL76’s keyboard that is unused. This is real estate that could’ve been used to create a larger and more spaced out keyboard.
When it comes to work two monitors are ideal for maximum productivity. The Pulse GL76 comes with one HDMI out port. This allows you to connect one external monitor to the laptop. But I would’ve liked if MSI could also make the USB C port double as a video out for external displays. This would allow you to connect two external monitors to the laptop instead of just one.
When it comes to the battery, the Pulse GL76 has a short battery life. On an average day with multiple browser tabs open, watching YouTube, and with the screen at 80% the Pulse GL76 lasted just under 2 hours before needing to be charged. Students and professionals on the go will need to keep the Pulse GL76’s charger nearby to get through a full day.
The MSI Pulse GL76 is a powerful gaming laptop with a few compromises
The MSI Pulse GL76 is a powerful gaming laptop with some impressive hardware that makes gaming sessions smooth and entertaining. I found myself enjoying the large 17.3” screen, the loud speakers, and the RGB keyboard. Users on the go will need to consider how the laptop’s weight and short battery life would impact their day-to-day activities. However, for students and professionals working at home or in the office the Pulse GL76 is a great productivity and gaming machine.
Explore more MSI gaming laptops and accessories available on bestbuy.ca.