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My take on the MSI Katana 17 Gaming Laptop (2023)

My thoughts on the MSI Katana 17: initial design, gaming performance, software glitches, and cost-effectiveness.
Sid Metcalfe

Cartesian Mathematics Foundation


December 15, 2023


I recently got my hands on the MSI Katana 17 gaming laptop, and I’m eager to share my experience with this device.


Property Value Property Value
Brand MSI Model Name Katana 17 B13VFK-835US
Screen Size 17.3 Inches Color Black
Hard Disk Size 1 TB CPU Model Core i7
Ram Memory Installed Size 32 GB Operating System Windows 11 Home
Graphics Card Description RTX 4060 Graphics Coprocessor NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4060



Click on photos to enlarge them:

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Initial Impressions and Design

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Diving right into my initial thoughts on the MSI Katana 17 gaming laptop, I’m met with a mix of appreciation and mild critiques. On the surface, MSI brings a simplistic design to the table, conveniently sidestepping the flashy gamer aesthetic, which I’m quite thankful for. The sleek black finish is definitely a plus in my book, although the casing is plastic, which some might say cheapens the feel a touch. For me, it’s a small trade-off for the portability factor compared to my old school chunkier laptops.

Here’s the rundown:

  • Weight: It’s lighter than other gaming rigs I’ve used, making it a solid choice for lugging around to LAN parties.

  • Keyboard: Sporting a 4-Zone RGB setup, it gives that neat customized vibe without going overboard. The tactile feel is comfortable for long gaming sessions yet responsive enough for work.

  • Display: The 17.3” 144Hz refresh rate screen is smooth, keeping the immersion intact during intense gameplay. However, the brightness could use a boost, especially in well-lit rooms.

  • Cooling: The Cooler Boost 5 tech is a godsend, effectively keeping the internals from frying, but be prepared for the sound of a mini jet taking off when it kicks in.

Straight out of the box, the performance is snappy; loading games fast thanks to the PCI-E Gen 4 SSD. The 32GB DDR5 RAM practically laughs at multitasking, though I’ve made a mental note to observe over time if the MSI Center’s tweaks will be necessary for optimization.

The downsides so far are somewhat tolerable. The battery life is on the lower end, which doesn’t shock me – gaming laptops are notoriously thirsty, and the MSI Katana 17 is no exception. Always having the charger on hand is a must. Another minor hiccup is that the second NVMe slot lacked the mounting hardware – a bit of a blunder on quality control, perhaps? Following a quick chat with their support, I’m awaiting the bracket to arrive. It’s a temporary inconvenience but worth mentioning.

While the pre-installed bloatware and Windows 11’s pop-up ads are a nuisance, it’s nothing some tweaking won’t fix. I do wish the touchpad felt less plasticky, but considering I’m often hooked up to my gaming mouse, it’s not a deal-breaker.

Factoring in the current ecosystem of gaming laptops, the MSI Katana 17 is shaping up to be a formidable companion. The NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4060 and the 13th Gen Intel Core i7 processor pair nicely to deliver impressive firepower where it counts. Sure, the fan noise could be a little less intrusive, and the battery could stick around longer, but these are compromises I’m willing to work with considering the specs and price point I pounced on during a sale.

Performance Under Pressure

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When it comes to putting hardware to the test, the MSI Katana 17 Gaming Laptop really stands out in the crowd. As someone who pays close attention to performance metrics, I’m always on the lookout for a machine that can handle heat and pressure without breaking a sweat.

  • Processing Prowess: The latest 13th Gen Intel Core i7 is a workhorse, churning through game loads and multi-threaded tasks without a hint of lag. The hybrid core architecture, which blends performance and efficiency cores, optimizes resource use like a champ.

  • Graphics Galore: With an RTX 4060, gaming visuals are simply a feast for the eyes. Ray tracing brings a level of realism I didn’t know I needed, until now.

  • Cool Under Pressure: Even during marathon sessions, the Cooler Boost 5 tech keeps things surprisingly chill. However, the fans do sound like a jet engine at times, so having a pair of noise-canceling headphones could be the move.

  • Upgrade Potential: You can take this to an even higher level. The laptop comes ready for RAM and storage upgrades, so you’re set for future expansions.

However, the Katana 17 is not without its kinks. For starters, the display brightness is just okay—it gets the job done but won’t dazzle you. And, as expected from a gaming laptop, battery life is far from impressive. If you’re away from a power outlet for more than a few hours, you might be in for a bit of a struggle.

Speaking directly to fellow enthusiasts, I have to say; I wasn’t shopping for a laptop that doubles as a work of art. I wanted a solid performer—something that wouldn’t stutter or freeze when the GPU is pushed to the limit. The Katana 17 ticks that box effortlessly. My gaming sessions on titles like Cyberpunk 2077 and GTA 5 are consistently smooth, and DLSS 3 is just icing on the cake. It’s kind of like having the muscle car of laptops—it’s not about the looks; it’s about what’s under the hood, and this machine has got serious power.

On the downside, MSI’s software suite can be a bit hit or miss, which can get frustrating. It almost feels like an afterthought compared to the exemplary hardware. Yet, when it boils down to hard-core use—whether gaming or handling resource-intensive tasks—this laptop keeps its cool and delivers performance that makes its case loud and clear.

For a user coming from a plethora of systems, including custom-built desktops and a range of laptops, stepping into the world of the MSI Katana 17 is like hitting the sweet spot of price and performance. Despite the shortcomings, it’s been a reliable sidekick, keeping framerate drops and performance woes at bay. And for that alone, it earns a solid nod of approval from me.

Software and Usability Concerns

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In the landscape of gaming laptops, the software experience is just as critical as the hardware packed inside. With my MSI Katana 17, it’s been quite a journey understanding the nuances of what makes it tick beyond the solid specs. Here’s a quick rundown of my experience dealing with the software and usability aspects of this machine:

  • The MSI Center Software: It’s supposed to be a one-stop hub for customizing my gaming experience. It offers a range of useful tools from system monitoring to user scenarios. However, I’ve found it to be hit or miss at times, which can be frustrating. Still, when it works, it’s a smooth sail.

  • Pre-installed Bloatware: Right out of the box, you might notice some unnecessary software pre-installed. It’s a bit of a chore to clean up, but once you get rid of the clutter, the system feels much snappier.

  • Windows 11 Experience: While preinstalled with Windows 11, which should mean cutting-edge features, it can be a hassle for those of us who like to tweak our system settings. Also, the mandatory Windows Updates can be intrusive, interrupting a refined gaming session.

From a personal standpoint, I appreciate the effort MSI has put into creating a customizable experience through their software. The MSI Center allows for a wide array of adjustments - from system performance optimization to gaming mode configurations that squeeze every last frame from the powerful RTX 4060. It’s not perfect, but it’s a far cry from generic settings that leave much to be desired.

However, the bundled bloatware is a mild annoyance, causing unwanted popups and taking up precious resources that should be reserved for gaming or productivity. The removal process is straightforward but an unnecessary hurdle right after unboxing.

Furthermore, dealing with Windows 11 has been like a double-edged sword. It’s modern, sleek, and theoretically offers the best yet from Microsoft. However, the loss of system control and autonomy can be irksome for advanced users who live and breathe custom settings.

Despite these drawbacks, the laptop’s usability in daily tasks has been impressive. Working on multiple virtual machines or juggling high-resolution video editing, the software suite keeps up, never feeling like it’s lagging behind the hardware’s capabilities.

Also noteworthy is the Hybrid Graphics Mode which demonstrates the seamless shift between integrated and dedicated GPUs, balancing power usage and optimal performance - indeed, a handy feature for the on-the-go sessions.

In summary, the software side of the MSI Katana 17 offers a mixed bag with the pros of in-depth customization options and the cons of excess bloat and the occasional hiccup. It’s not all sunshine, but it’s far from stormy weather in the realm of gaming laptops.

The Verdict on Value for Money

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In assessing the value for money of the MSI Katana 17 gaming laptop, it’s clear there’s a lot to unpack beyond raw specs. Everyone loves a beastly machine that can handle the latest AAA titles with finesse, and this laptop has that in spades with its 13th Gen Intel Core i7 and RTX 4060 combo. However, we’re all about getting the most bang for our buck, and I’m here to break down whether this Katana slices through the competition or if the edge is a bit duller than expected.

Let’s start with pros and cons:


  • Top-notch performance: The Intel and NVIDIA pairing means business, delivering silky smooth framerates even on demanding games.

  • 144Hz display: A smooth display is key for enjoyable gaming, and the Katana delivers wonderfully on that front.

  • Expandability: With options to add a second NVMe SSD and bump up the RAM, this laptop has room to grow.

  • Cooler Boost 5: Overheating can cripple performance, but the efficient cooling system keeps the laptop humming along nicely.


  • Subpar battery life: Gaming unplugged isn’t really in the cards for lengthy sessions.

  • Plastic casing: The build feels a bit cheap, which might put off some users looking for a more premium feel.

  • Extra effort for upgrades: The second SSD slot missing a bracket is annoying, but MSI customer service does provide help with this.

The first takeaway is that performance-wise, this machine delivers where it counts. It handles high-fidelity gaming without breaking a sweat, and the generous screen refresh rate keeps visuals crisp and responsive. Pricewise, especially when snagged during a sale, the price-to-performance ratio is hard to beat.

However, such power comes at the cost of battery life. If you’re planning to stay mobile, make sure to stay close to a power outlet or invest in a portable charger. On a more positive note, the expandability is a huge plus. The ability to easily add more RAM and a second SSD means this laptop can evolve with your needs, potentially extending its lifespan significantly.

In terms of build, while the plastic casing won’t win any style awards, it’s sturdy enough for everyday use and keeps the laptop lightweight. The unimpressive feel of the casing is minor compared to the solid internals, which really is where it counts.

The frustration with requiring extra parts for the second SSD upgrade is a bit of a letdown. It seems unnecessary, but thankfully, MSI’s support steps up to assist. It’s an extra hoop to jump through, which you shouldn’t really have to deal with at this price point.

For me, the MSI Katana 17 stands as a testament to practicality over style. It’s a workhorse that offers much more under the hood than its exterior might suggest. If you’re after unyielding performance for gaming and don’t mind its few shortcomings, I’d say the trade-off is acceptable. You’re getting a lot of machine for your money, and with careful usage and upgrades, it could easily become a trusty sidekick for both work and play.