The new black and yellow color scheme do breathe some fresh life into a dated chassis design, and even if you’re not a fan of the new Rainbow Six Extraction game, it’s far more exciting than all black. A few sacrifices have been made to keep the price low, however. Keyboard flex is noticeable, and you won’t get the fancy RGB lighting effects that more expensive gaming laptops usually offer. This is also by no means the slimmest, lightest, or sleekest looking gaming laptop, but for the performance it offers, it’s one of the best choices at this sub-$1800 price point.
- 15.6″ QHD (2560×1440), 165Hz, IPS-Level
- Intel i7-12700H or i9-12900H
- Cooler Boost 5
- Rainbow Six Extraction Color and Bundle
- Brand: MSI
- Storage: 2x M.2 SSD slot (NVMe PCIe Gen4)
- CPU: i7-12700H
- Memory: Up to 64GB
- Operating System: Windows 11
- Battery: 90Wh
- Ports: 1x Type-C USB3.2 Gen1 2x Type-A USB3.2 Gen1 1x Type-A USB2.0 1x RJ45 1x (4K @ 60Hz) HDMI
- Camera: 720p Webcam
- Display (Size, Resolution): 15.6″, 2560×1440
- Weight: 5.45 lb
- GPU: Nvidia RTX3070
- Form: Laptop
- Dimension: 359 x 259 x 26.9 mm
- Network: Gigabit LAN; 802.11 ax Wi-Fi 6; Bluetooth v5.2
- Speakers: 2x2w
- Price: Starts at $1599
- Model: Crosshair 15
- New black & yellow color scheme
- One of the best value RTX3070 laptops available
- Fast & vibrant display
- Good selection of full size ports
- Keyboard has noticeable flex in middle
- Chassis design is dated
- Thick bezels
- Performance drops when unplugged
MSI Crosshair 15 Rainbow Six Extraction Edition
MSI’s gaming laptops are known for giving you excellent performance and value in a variety of configurations—albeit in a bland and somewhat forgettable design that has remained largely the same for the past few years. Whether it’s the MSI Stealth, Vector, or Katana, except for size and thickness, they all look very similar.
So if you’re tired of the same boring styling, you might want to check out the MSI Crosshair 15 Rainbow Six Extraction Edition. It’s certainly … unique.
What’s in The Box?
The Crosshair 15’s exciting color extends to its packaging, too:
In addition to the laptop, its charger, and its manuals, you’ll also get the following:
- Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Extraction Deluxe Edition (Code activated on Ubisoft Connect)
- Aim to Perform (Rainbow Six Extraction) Mousepad
- Rainbow Six Extraction Official MSI Gaming Mouse
The included deluxe version of the game, which currently retails for $49.99, is perhaps the best part of this bundle for most. The wired gaming mouse and trackpad are nothing to write home about. With their matching color scheme and game branding, they’re a nice touch, especially if you’re a big fan of the game, but otherwise unremarkable.
I personally found the mouse pad too small and the mouse is not comfortable in my hand. It’s lightweight and easy enough to flick around, but after a few minutes of gaming with it, I immediately went back to using my Logitech MX Master 3.
These added extras, while appreciated, obviously won’t be the deciding factor for buying the Crosshair 15 R6E. Even if you’re not a big fan of Tom Clancy Rainbow Six Extraction (of which I am guilty), and don’t plan on using the included mousepad or mouse, this laptop should still be on your short list. The Crosshair 15 is one of the best value gaming laptops available and one of the cheapest i7-12700H RTX 3070 models available.
The Crosshair 15 is not an entirely new laptop as it’s been around for a few years now. This year’s Rainbow Six Extraction model shares the same chassis as last year’s Crosshair 15 with the 11th Gen Intel processor, as well as the new 12th Gen MSI Pulse GL66. With MSI’s lineup having lots of overlap it can often be a little tricky to figure out their differences and which one to choose.
Let’s look at a few key details to help you decide which model and configuration works best for you.
My review model comes in one of the most popular configurations with the i7-12700H, RTX 3070, 16GB RAM, and a 1TB SSD. Opting for the RTX 3070 over the 3060 is a must-have upgrade in my opinion.
|CPU||Intel i7-12700H; Intel i9-12900H|
|DISPLAY||15.6″ QHD (2560×1440, 16:9), 165Hz, 2.5ms, IPS|
|GPU||NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 8GB 1610MHz Boost Clock, 140W; NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 6GB 1752MHz Boost Clock, 140W|
|MEMORY||2x Slots; Up to 64GB DDR4-3200|
|STORAGE||2x M.2 (NVMe SSD Gen4x4)|
|WEBCAM||720p @ 30FPS|
|COMMUNICATION||Killer Gb LAN (Up to 2.5G), Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX201, Bluetooth 5.2|
|AUDIO||2x 2W Speaker|
|AUDIO JACK||1x Mic-in/Headphone-out Combo|
|I/O||1x Type-C USB3.2 Gen1, 2x Type-A USB3.2 Gen1, 1x Type-A USB2.0, 1x RJ45, 1x (4K @ 60Hz) HDMI|
|BATTERY||Four cell 90 Wh (GTX 3070); Three cell 53.5 Wh (GTX 3060)|
|AC ADAPTER||240W adapter|
|DIMENSION||14.3″W x 10.2″D x 0.94″H|
|WEIGHT (W BATTERY)||5.45 lb, 2.47 kg (GTX 3070); 5.1 lb, 2.3 kg (GTX 3060)|
While the chassis remains unchanged from last year’s model, MSI’s partnership with Rainbow Six brings a unique color scheme and plenty of game references to the keyboard deck and top lid, which features a smooth plastic patch with an aerial grid map and the game’s logo. When the laptop is closed shut, the yellow from the top of the keyboard deck can be seen on the back of the laptop where the cutouts for its hinge are.
On the bottom right of the deck, below your arrow and enter keys, there is a large triangular patch that has the Rainbow Six Extraction logo.
Viewing it from the back, the yellow that peaks out from the bottom hinge area and the logo on its lid certainly give the laptop a unique look without being too gimmicky. I would have loved to see them lean more strongly into the yellow theme.
If you’re planning on using this laptop in a more professional setting, the color scheme might not be the most suitable, but aside from that, it’s great to see laptops move away from their all-black designs to something a little more exciting.
The graduated yellow and green travels the height of the keyboard deck where it fades to black to match the rest of the bottom 1/3 of the deck. When closed, this gradient is slightly noticeable on the sides of the laptop above its ports. It is complemented by all yellow WASD keys that are semi-transparent.
The keys offer 1.7mm of travel which makes them good to type on, however, a large portion of the middle keys experience flex when applying pressure. The G to K keys have some of the most flex I’ve noticed on a gaming laptop in a very long time. It’s not enough to ruin the gaming experience, but it does remind you that this is a more budget laptop.
You also have a number pad on the right, but along with the enter key at the bottom feel rather cramped. MSI does a good job with its FN options including volume control, play/pause, screen brightness, enabling an aim overlay, enabling cooler boost, and more.
The keyboard is backlit with three levels of brightness, but there are no cusomtizable RGB effects or per-key lighting. The keyboard’s lighting is divided into four horizontal zones, yellow, blue, green, and white/blue. It’s a little more exciting than an all-white backlit keyboard, especially for matching the rest of this laptop’s theme, but this highlights another area where the Crosshair 15 has to make sacrifices to keep its price low.
The trackpad is decent and remains unchanged from previous MSI gaming laptops. You have the two clicks zones which can be activated almost up to the top of the trackpad. You’ll find a “REACT” motif in the top left, Crosshair 15 Rainbow Six Extraction Edition in a smaller font in the bottom left, and to its right, a barcode.
The MSI Crosshair 15 uses a 15.6″ 2560×1440 IPS 165Hz display. This is a nice upgrade over the previous generation 1920×1080 144Hz displays seen on the 11th Gen models.
The display itself is nice, but it has rather a thick top and bottom plastic bezel which make the laptop look more dated and bulkier than some competing gaming models. Unlike the MSI Creator 15 which I previously reviewed, MSI hasn’t adopted the 16:10 aspect ratio that more laptops are switching over to. The available real estate is there, and I wouldn’t be surprised if MSI makes this 16:10 upgrade in next year’s model.
For professional content creation, the 100% DCI-P3 rating is great. The anti-glare coating helps minimize reflections under direct lighting but it comes at the expense of vibrancy in my opinion. 15.6″ is a good screen size for portability and using for gaming and work on the go.
A 17.3″ version of the Crosshair 17 (the non-R6E) is available. As expected it is significantly heavier at 6.17 lbs but that’s not the only difference. According to MSI’s official page, the Crosshair 17 also has a 1920×1080 144Hz display and has not upgraded it to the higher and faster resolution panel technology we see in the Crosshair 15. MSI also lists its battery at 53Wh instead of the larger 90Wh you get with the RTX 3070 variants of the Crosshair 15. I have a feeling this could be a data entry error, however, if true, battery life certainly won’t be great with that larger 17.3″ display.
Being a thicker laptop, you’ll be treated with a decent selection of full size ports. On the left, starting from the rear, there is a DC charging port, a USB Type-A 3.2 and USB 2.0. I find it a bit odd to still find a USB 2.0 being added to a 2022 machine.
On the right, there is an Ethernet port, full-size HDMI that supports up to 4K@60Hz, USB Type-C 3.2, USB Type-A 3.2, and lastly a combo headphone/microphone jack.
The USB Type-C does not support charging. It’s also worth noting that despite its size, an SD card reader is absent. Even my 14″ MacBook Pro has one, despite being half its size.
Even when running games on Ultra settings, MSI’s Cooler Boost 5 which features two fans in the rear to exhaust its six heat pipes, manages to keep the laptop’s GPU at 75° C or below. That said, the fans are quick to turn on and when gaming, are extremely prominent.
For additional cooling performance you can use the Fn + Up Arrow to set the fans to max RPM. Needless to say, it is very loud. I would highly recommend using headphones while gaming with this laptop. I tried a few tests in Overwatch to see if using the max fan speed brought the temps down any lower compared to its standard speed, however, in those tests specifically, I did not notice a difference. You can probably leave the fan speed on Auto mode and MSI’s software will do the best job.
The exhausts are on the rear and left side of the laptop, while fresh air is sucked in from the underside. The slight elevated feet help allow air to flow smoothly into the system and helps prevent blockage. If you are right-handed, while gaming, you won’t feel the warmth as much. Your mouse hand remains cool as there are no vents on that side. Your left hand will feel warmer around the WASD keys, but it is significantly cooler compared to the center and top of the keyboard deck.
Touching these areas for a longer period of time can become a little uncomfortable, but for most gamers, shouldn’t be an issue. It’s quite a stark difference to the number pad area which is much cooler and the bottom of the keyboard deck which remains perfectly cool.
Configurations and Competition
RTX 3060 vs RTX 3070 Variants
The MSI Crosshair 15 R6E starts at $1599 for the 15.6″ RTX 3060. My 15.6″ review unit features the RTX 3070 which I would highly recommend choosing over the 3060. In addition to the performance boost and “future-proofing”, the RTX 3070 is only $200 more, however, it frequently receives rebates or price cuts that bring it down to just $100 more; but also upgrades the SSD to 1TB vs the standard 512GB. That upgrade alone justifies the price.
What’s more, the RTX 3070 variants also come with a beefier 90Wh battery vs the smaller 53.5Wh. These variants weigh about 0.3lb heavier, but when you’re not gaming or using the GPU as much, this should give you longer battery life. Not that I would ever go far without its charger, but you can at least stay unplugged a little longer.
Crosshair 15 R6E vs Crosshair 15 (Standard)
Interestingly, MSI also offers the Crosshair 15 B12U which looks identical to the Crosshair 15 R6E, except it lacks the yellow Rainbow Six Extraction logo. I’m not too sure why MSI has these two models separated as the color scheme on the keyboard deck is the exact same, and much of their marketing online still shares the same Rainbow Six assets, just without the official model name.
All three of these laptops, including the GL66, have the same core specs (IO, Memory/Storage Compatibility, Screen, Webcam, Speakers, etc…), are available with the same processor (i7-12700H or i9-12900H), and have the same GPU (RTX 3060 or RTX 3070). What’s odd, though, is that the Crosshair 15 B12U currently seems to be the only model of the three that also offers the RTX 3070 Ti as a GPU choice. You will have to sacrifice that additional bit of Rainbow Six branding in order to get that extra GPU performance.
While variations of the MSI Crosshair 15 are rather limited, they offer great value compared to similarly specced competing models. At the time of this review, it doesn’t appear the 3070 Ti configurations are commonly available in the United States. Newegg is one of the few stores selling them.
You can purchase the MSI Crosshair 15 R6E (B12UGZ-050) with the i7-12700H, 16GB RAM, 1TB NVMe SSD, and RTX 3070 8GB for $1799.
The only cheaper option I could find with a similar configuration is actually the MSI Pulse GL66. Amazon currently has a crazy deal for the same specs, but a smaller 512GB SSD, for just $1449! This is regularly priced at $1534, which is still far cheaper than anything else available. This model uses a FHD 144Hz display instead of the 2560×1440 165Hz of the Crosshair 15. This may be a deal-breaker for some, but if you’re on a tighter budget or plan on using an external display anyway, it’s hard to beat.
If you’re willing to forego the pop of color with the Rainbow Six branding and other free goodies, the MSI GL66 is one of the best value performance gaming laptops you can currently buy. At its current price, it’s not much more, and in some cases is actually cheaper than some 3060 models with other similar configurations.
Bumping up to the i9 12900H, 32GB RAM, and the RTX 3070 Ti brings the price to $2499. This is similar to the Asus ROG Strix Scar 15 (G533ZW-AS94) which has the same specs, but only 16GB of RAM. The Strix does have a faster 300Hz display, however, I think most users, myself included, would prefer the extra RAM instead.
Newegg doesn’t support further configuration: opting for a RAM upgrade automatically changes the CPU and GPU too. You can however opt to just upgrade the GPU to the RTX 3070 Ti which brings the price to $2000. If you don’t need the additional CPU performance and are either content with “just” 16GB of RAM or are comfortable adding the RAM yourself, this $200 upgrade might be well worth it. The Alienware m15 with the i7-12700H, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, RTX 3070TI, and a 240Hz 2ms display costs $2079. Similar to the Asus ROG Strix Scar 15, you’ll get a better display but at the cost of SSD capacity.
All games are run on their Ultra or Best graphics presets at full HD with uncapped frames and V-Sync off.
- Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Extraction: Minimum 104 / Maximum 179 / Average 155
- Batman Arkham Knight: 46 / 161 / 100
- Shadow of the Tomb Raider: 88 / 157 / 120
- Borderlands 3: Average 85.2
- Overwatch: Average145-195 (no built-in benchmark; average FPS depends on the map and the action happening on screen)
- Multi (plugged in): 14973
- Single (plugged in): 1711
- Multi (unplugged): 7088
You can see a significant performance drop when you unplug the Crosshair 15. I tried tweaking both the Windows power settings and MSI’s own battery and power modes with everything set to max performance, but I was unable to get the laptop to perform any better while unplugged.
For reference, I tested the MSI M16 (A12UD) which has the same processor but the weaker RTX 3050 Ti. Its scores when plugged in were about on par and it also scored lower unplugged as well at 8699, but that is still a good amount more than the Crosshair 15. My older Asus ROG G14 with the AMD Ryzen 9 4900HS is a good example of a laptop which is able to provide the same performance unplugged.
- 3DMark Timespy: Score – 10444; Graphics – 10535; CPU – 9958
- 3DMark Firestrike: Score – 22771; Graphics – 26771; Physics – 22570; Combined – 10807
- PCMark10: Essential – 6730; Productivity – 9400; Content – 9946
Your Next Budget Gaming Laptop with Style?
MSI remains one of the best choices for getting the best performance on a budget. The Crosshair 15 with its i7-12700H and RTX 3070 can play most modern AAA games on max settings at 1080p and achieve 120fps.
If you don’t mind lowering those settings a bit, you can hit 165 frames per second to fully take advantage of its fast display.
The new black and yellow color scheme do breathe some fresh life into a dated chassis design, and even if you’re not a fan of the new Rainbow Six Extraction game, it’s far more exciting than all black.
A few sacrifices have been made to keep the price low, however. Keyboard flex is noticeable, and you won’t get the fancy RGB lighting effects that more expensive gaming laptops usually offer. This is also by no means the slimmest, lightest, or sleekest looking gaming laptop, but for the performance it offers, it’s one of the best choices at this sub-$1800 price point.