Side by side, the MSI Sword 15 and the MSI Katana GF66 would be hard to tell apart if it weren’t for their different colors. After all, the two are pretty much the same gaming laptop across the board, and the only thing that makes them distinct from each other are their designs.
In this quick MSI Sword 15 review, which might as well be an MSI Katana GF66 review, we’ll be going over the main differences, shortcomings and standout features of these gaming laptops.
MSI Sword vs Katana Comparison Chart
|Model||MSI Sword 15||MSI Katana GF66|
|Price||Check Price at MSI.com||Check Price at MSI.com|
|Display||15.6-inch FHD 1920 x 1080 IPS, 144Hz|
15.6-inch FHD 1920 x 1080 IPS
|15.6-inch FHD 1920 x 1080 IPS, 144Hz|
15.6-inch FHD 1920 x 1080 IPS
|Processor||Intel Core i5-11400H, Core i7-11800H||Intel Core i5-11400H1, Core i7-11800H|
|Graphics Card||NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 (4GB, 60W), GeForce RTX 3050Ti (4GB, 60W), GeForce RTX 3060 (6GB, 85W), GeForce RTX 3070 (8GB, 85W)||NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 (4GB, 60W), GeForce RTX 3050Ti (4GB, 60W), GeForce RTX 3060 (6GB, 85W), GeForce RTX 3070 (8GB, 85W)|
|Memory||Up to 64GB DDR4-3200 (2 slots)||Up to 64GB DDR4-3200 (2 slots)|
|Storage||M.2 SSD (PCIe Gen 3 nVME) (1 or 2 slots)||M.2 SSD (PCIe Gen 3 nVME) (1 or 2 slots)|
|Keyboard||Blue backlighting||Red backlighting|
|Camera||720p, 30fps||720p, 30fps|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2||Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2|
|Ports||1 x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-C, 2 x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A, 1 x USB 2.0 Type-A, 1 x RJ45 Ethernet port, 1 x HDMI (4K, 60Hz), 1 x 3.5mm audio jack||1 x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-C, 2 x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A, 1 x USB 2.0 Type-A, 1 x RJ45 Ethernet port, 1 x HDMI (4K, 60Hz), 1 x 3.5mm audio jack|
|Battery||3-cell 53.5Whr with 150W or 180W adapter, 4-cell 90Whr with 180W adapter||3-cell 53.5Whr with 150W or 180W adapter, 4-cell 90Whr with 180W adapter|
|Dimensions||14.13″ x 10.19″ x 0.98″||14.13″ x 10.19″ x 0.98″|
|Weight||4.96 lbs||4.96 lbs|
Design and Build
The MSI Sword 15 is white, and the MSI Katana GF66 is black—that’s about all there is to it.
Right off the bat, the main differences between these gaming laptops are their color and keyboard lighting. Whereas the Sword 15 sports an all-white design with blue backlighting, the Katana GF66 is all-black with red backlighting. Elsewhere, they’re more or less the same.
The two have a plastic build, but that’s expected since they’re entry-level models. Thing is, they can get pretty warm, especially in the middle area. That’s despite their so-called Cooler Boost 5 system that consists of two fans and six heat pipes with two vents on the back and another on the left. It does have a feature that lets you max out the fans, and if nothing else, it keeps the wrist rest cool to the touch.
Regarding their keyboards, it’s a full-size affair, complete with a numpad. That layout comes at a price, though. The spacing is a bit cramped, particularly in the num keys section where the enter key is awkwardly placed beside the right key and below the zero key. Each key has a travel of 1.7mm, which is decently responsive but won’t win any awards. Along a similar vein, the touchpad is a little loose with an unreliable click mechanism. It gives the impression that MSI cheaped out on this part, but it’s a non-issue for most folks since it’s nothing a mouse can’t fix.
For the record, both measure 14.13″ x 10.19″ x 0.98″ and weigh 4.96 lbs.
Display and Camera
The MSI Sword 15 and the MSI Katana GF66 have FHD screens with a high refresh rate.
The Sword 15 and Katana GF66 have a 15.6-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS display with a refresh rate of 144Hz. There’s also a cheaper configuration with a lower refresh rate, which isn’t specified.
Thanks to their 180-degree hinge, they can lay flat on a surface. However, their screen seems unstable, as it wobbles a lot when typing. Unfortunately, that can get a bit annoying when working or gaming.
At the top of the display sits a 720p webcam that can record at 30fps. It’s decent enough for video conferences and such, but it’s hardly a headline feature. There’s no Windows Hello facial recognition support here, but again, that doesn’t come as a surprise considering they’re budget gaming laptops.
Also, it should be mentioned that their microphone tends to pick up the whirring of the fans. In other words, they don’t do a good job in isolating voices. For the curious, their speakers are about as good as what you’d expect from your average laptop.
Performance and Storage
Going by their specs, the MSI Sword 15 and the MSI Katana GF66 are obviously built for gaming.
Power is what the Sword 15 and Katana GF66 are made for. Under the hood, they can either run on the 11th-generation Intel Core i5-11400H or the Core i7-11800H. That can be paired with either an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 or GeForce RTX 3050Ti with 4GB and 60W, GeForce RTX3060 with 6GB and 85W or GeForce RTX 3070 with 8GB and 85W.
As for their RAM, they can be configured with up to two DDR4-3200 sticks, supporting up to 64GB. And while the lower-end models only have one M.2 SSD slot for storage, those on the higher end have two.
On a similar note, they can be powered by a three-cell 53.5Whr battery with a 150W or 180W brick or a four-cell 90Whr battery with a 180W adapter. At any rate, you’d be better off keeping them plugged in when gaming, as battery life typically isn’t their strong suit.
Now if there’s anything to complain about it’s that neither one has an MUX switch. Sure, that might be a bit of a stretch, and for many, it likely isn’t a deal breaker. However, it would’ve been nice to see it included.
Connectivity and Ports
While the MSI Sword 15 and the MSI Katana GF66 don’t have Thunderbolt, they do have an RJ45 Ethernet port and HDMI with 4K and 60Hz support, among other things.
The Sword 15 and the Katana GF66 support Bluetooth 5.2 and Wi-Fi 6, which are welcome additions by all means. The best part is, they have an RJ45 Ethernet port for a fast and reliable wired connection for gaming. Interestingly, this port is designed to have the cable’s locking clip facing upward. That means you won’t have to pick up the laptop if you’re unplugging it.
As for the rest of the ports, they have a USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-C, two USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A, one USB 2.0 Type-A, a 3.5mm audio jack and an HDMI port that outputs 4K resolution with a 60Hz refresh rate.
Basically, the MSI Sword 15 and Katana GF66 are the same laptop but with different designs.
In summary, the MSI Sword 15 is the same as the MSI Katana GF66, except that it’s all-white with blue backlighting as opposed to all-black with red backlighting. Besides that, they have the same displays, build quality, performance, connectivity and number of ports. Long story short, neither one is better than the other, and choosing between them boils down to a matter of preference.
All in all, these are decent and affordable machines that can run most, if not all, titles nowadays. However, they do get hot, so a cooling pad is more or less a must-have. That said, their price-to-performance ratio makes the Sword 15 and the Katana GF66 some of the best budget gaming laptops money can buy.
The MSI Sword is all-white with blue backlighting, while the MSI Katana is all-black with red backlighting.
No, the MSI Sword—and the MSI Katana, for that matter—doesn’t have an MUX switch.
Yes, the MSI Sword 15 or the MSI Katana GF66 can be configured with up to an NVIDIA GeForce 3070 with 8GB and 85W, 64GB RAM and Intel Core i7-11800H. That, along with a 15.6-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS display with a 144Hz refresh rate, makes for a decent on-the-go gaming setup.
Yes, the MSI Katana GF66 or the MSI Sword 15 has two slots and supports up to 64GB of RAM.