This was the first gaming notebook in absolute ages that we were genuinely sad to have to return. And it had nothing to do with the performance (which it possesses) or the extras (which were cool to have). The MSI Crosshair 15 Rainbow Six Extraction Edition is just an attractive piece of machinery. We would have gladly spent the rest of 2022 doing our work on it. Okay, and also playing basically everything in sight.
Stuff has covered loads of MSI notebooks in the past. Until about nine months ago, they were all largely the same. Powerful, slabby black monoliths of gaming perfection. The brand’s red-and-black motif was recognisable, sure, but it was hard to tell machines apart without measuring the thickness with a calliper. The MSI Crosshair 15 Rainbow Six Extraction Edition is a welcome break from the monotony. It’s a gorgeous-looking gaming PC with enough spec inside to make you feel all internally warm. Externally too.
There’s no sedate colouring to be found here. When the MSI Crosshair 15’s lid is closed, it’s a muted grey-and-green tone. Pop it open and you’re almost assaulted by a Cyberpunk 2077 yellow gradient over the keyboard. Rainbow Six Extraction, Ubisoft’s new co-op alien survival title, has left iconography all over, including the lid and keyboard.
Beneath the lid lives a 15.6in 2,560 x 1,440 IPS display, which offers up a refresh rate of 165Hz. Everything looks smooth as Dwayne Johnson’s skull and about as exciting. Especially when you factor in the onboard audio, which is powerful enough without being overwhelming. Even so, grab some gaming headphones. Fan noise is a thing at higher graphics settings.
The chassis, under the fancy paint job, is the same as the standard Crosshair 15. The stock design looks to have a bit of Crysis in its DNA, but we won’t hammer the gaming comparisons too hard. It looks good. The backlit keyboard has the WASD keys coloured yellow. The trackpad is… fairly generous but has its issues. Both sides sport a collection of ports and vents. It’s a full-sized notebook, so there are USB-C, USB-A (3.2 and 2.0), HDMI (full-sized), and Ethernet ports to play with.
‘Play’ being the operative word here. It’s made by MSI, so it’s for gaming unless stated otherwise. That’s certainly the case there. At the heart of our test unit was an Intel Core i7-12700H, 16GB of RAM, a 6GB Nvidia RTX 3060 graphics card, and 1TB of NVMe M.2 SSD storage. It can be specced higher — the range offers up to a Core i9, with 64GB of RAM and with a second M.2 slot to play with. But then you’re venturing out of the realm of the R35,000 price tag, which is what this exact machine will set you back.
Which looks… about right to us. We set up for a few games and, barring the excessive hand-holding Windows 11 tries to offer, it was a painless process. Actually firing up this MSI Crosshair 15 showed a few things. First off, it’ll eat most games for breakfast unless you’re a ‘must play everything on Ultra at 60fps’ type. The GPU will strain a little if called upon to perform outside its capabilities. The RAM loadout could also be higher, but the CPU and SSD go some way towards making up for it.
And then there’s thermal dispersion. Most of the heat generated when MSI’s machine is under load comes flying out of the vents on the left-hand side. Which is fine… unless you happen to be left-handed. In that instance, you may be forced to choose between getting your frag in or suffering minor discomfort as scalding hot air blasts against your thumbs. Still… worth it.
And, in case you needed anything else to sweeten the deal, MSI and Ubisoft have teamed up to throw a few extras into the box. There’s a matching mouse, with the same yellow-hued branding as the keyboard, and a generous mousepad featuring visuals from Extraction packed into the box. Along with this is a code, redeemable on the Ubisoft Store, for Rainbow Six Extraction. It’s awesome that these extras are there, but it’s also just as well.
And that’s because there are a couple of complaints. To continue the left-handed theme, the right-hand side of the otherwise stunning chiclet keyboard feels a little cramped. And then there’s the trackpad. Movement around the desktop is fine, but we couldn’t escape a literal crunching sensation every time we attempted to left-click. It was only in the lower-left corner, and clicking a little higher up alleviates the issue, but old habits die hard. That’s where we go to left-click. And it went ‘ggrckk’ every time we did. At least there was a mouse and mousepad in the box, which made the problem entirely vanish.
At R35,000 a pop, the Crosshair 15 isn’t cheap. It’s not especially expensive either, as gaming notebooks go. The Core i7 sitting inside the machine pairs up well with the RTX 3060, even if it gets toastier than we’d like on the left-hand side. The inclusion of a set of matching bits doesn’t hurt, nor does access to Rainbow Six Extraction for no extra money. If you’re looking for distinctive but capable hardware and aren’t looking to buy anything more than (maybe) a monitor, this bundle takes care of everything bar the bag you’ll feel bad about stuffing your machine into.