These days, mid-range gaming laptops have many times more power than we expect; The 15.6-inch MSI Katana 15 B13VFK laptop is an example of this statement. In this article, we will review the MSI Katana 15 B13VFK laptop, which, while having powerful specifications such as RTX 4060 and Core i7-13620H, also has a reasonable price.
MSI has a long history in the laptop market, and this brand’s gaming products have always been gamers’ focus. Various categories and reasonable pricing in exchange for powerful specifications give MSI gaming laptops a unique appeal.
This company’s Katana series of laptops includes mid-range gaming products that, despite having high-end specifications, by removing some unnecessary parameters and reducing the added value, reach customers at a lower price.
In this regard, it is the turn of the new series of this collection, the Katana 15 gaming laptops. This article will review the 2023 version, the Katana 15 B13VFK, with an RTX 4060 graphics card, a Core i7-13620H processor, and 16 GB of DDR5 RAM. Attractive features that double the need for expert review.
Regarding the naming method of MSI on the new Katana laptops, their B12 and B13 prefixes indicate the generation of the central processor used, which includes Intel processors of the 12th and 13th generations.
For this Katana series, MSI has released three models in different graphics card configurations, which include B13VEK, B13VFK, and B13VGK with RTX 4050, 4060, and 4070 graphics processors. Except for the graphics card, the rest of the technical specifications of these three models of Katana 15 are similar to each other, according to MSI.
The Katana 15 B13VFK laptop is now a special bundle with an original MSI case inside a separate carton.
The laptop carton is inside the bundle carton, and inside the laptop box, you will find only the 240-watt charger and the manual.
Design and build quality
In general, in Katana series laptops (as well as other categories or brands), this is the only specification that changes every year due to new processors and components, and the chassis and external design of the device often remain intact. However, we will closely examine the creation of the Katana 15 laptop, which has seen changes despite the same design language as the previous generations.
The Katana 15 laptop has dimensions of 359 x 259 x 24.9 mm, which brings a 15.6-inch display for this product. Such measurements allow carrying a laptop in most backpacks. Also, the weight of about 2.25 kg of B13VFK makes it a good choice for professional portable use.
Of course, the weight distribution of the laptop could be done better, and unlike some current models in the market, it is impossible to open the laptop door with one hand. This is also related to the use of a more robust hinge, which can be a positive thing, But the problem with this part is the stiffness of the hinge in moving the monitor.
However, the hinge supports up to 180 degrees of rotation; Therefore, the laptop door can be opened to 180 degrees.
The relatively light dimensions of this product compared to the specifications are due to the device’s material. The Katana 15 laptop has an all-plastic body with a black cover. However, unlike the previous models, this time, textures have been used on the edge of the computer and in the keyboard area.
Also, prominent designs of screws and broken lines have been used on the body of the laptop, which may be MSI’s goal of providing a rougher and gaming look. However, this goal has yet to be adequately achieved. Our review and opinion regarding the design and use of such elements indicate the need for an attractive appearance of the Katana 15 B13VFK laptop.
The plastic material is also used to make the body of the device highly absorbent of fingerprints and fat. You will need a glass cleaner to clean this product.
Also, the label inserted on the upper part of the laptop, which indicates the technical specifications of this device, has a low print quality, which generally does not inspire an exciting feeling along with other external elements; However, a more attractive design could be used while maintaining simplicity.
As mentioned, MSI has used the same design language as before in this product. The gaming appearance with the dragon logo on the back and the all-black cover ultimately gives you the feeling of a gaming laptop; However, the void of MSI’s old design is felt with the famous red and white dragon logo on the back.
The lower part also has the image of a honeycomb, in some parts of which the air conditioning grooves and the cooling system are located behind it.
The chassis and the lower part of the device are designed in an integrated way, and the user will not usually be able to access any of the features without fully opening the back frame; we will talk more about the possibility of upgrading and accessibility of the parts.
Keyboard and touchpad
As a tool for better interaction between the user and the system hardware, the laptop keyboard and Trackpad can be essential in providing a high-quality experience. In this section, we will review the keyboard and touchpad of the Katana 15 B13VFK laptop and evaluate its performance in everyday use and gaming.
One of the most attractive parts for gamers and laptop users is the keyboard lighting, Especially if the RGB device is used. The B13VFK Katana laptop keyboard has a large keyboard with 4-Zone RGB lighting.
This lighting includes four modes of brightness that can be changed through the combination keys Fn and F8. The four-zone RGB backlight allows you to change the color and perform different lighting effects.
Keyboard lighting at the beginning of the touchpad
Touchpad or Trackpad is usually an underused part of gaming laptops; Because many games cannot be played by touch. Therefore, users of gaming laptops often use a mouse.
However, if you will use the Katana 15 laptop trackpad for any reason, there is no need to worry. This touchpad performs well regarding touch sampling accuracy while supporting gestures such as two-finger scrolling, zooming, etc. Of course, the right and left keys are soft, but in the sample under review, they may be locked from time to time and disrupt the pointer’s performance; In fact, sometimes your touchpad gets locked on Double Click. To return to normal, press and move the right or left click slightly. It attracts attention, but you will notice the tastelessness of using external elements on closer inspection. As we said about the body’s design, the keyboard’s creation is accompanied by ideas that must be more balanced.
The WASD keys and the power button have a glass coating that allows more light to pass through them so they can be easily found on the keyboard. On the other hand, the cursor keys also support commands for changing the fan’s speed, turning off the screen, showing the crosshair, and playing or stopping the content.
Cursor arrows on the corresponding keys are illuminated. In our opinion and some gamers, this issue has disturbed the lighting and design of these keys compared to the WASD keys and other buttons.
The width of the keys is large, and the depth of their compression is suitable so that it can be easily used for gaming or typing. The arrangement of the keys is well done, and during the time we had the Katana 15 MSI for review, we were okay with pressing the wrong keys. On the right side are the Numpad keys, for which MSI had to consider small dimensions.
The dimensions of the Trackpad are also small compared to the dimensions of the body and models of the same category, which most users of gaming laptops have not used, and its accidental activation can cause wrong touches during the game.
Wired and wireless connections
These days, when peripherals have become an integral part of gamers’ lives and are sometimes even considered the key to excellence in online games, it is necessary to cover a wide range of ports and I/O connections to wireless communications.
There is no input/output on the back of the laptop, and all ports are located on the right and left edges. The left edge includes a USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-A port and a USB 2.0 Type-A port.
The right edge of the laptop also has an RJ45 network port, HDMI 2.1 output (with support for 8K/60Hz or 4K/120Hz imaging), Type-C port with dual backing for USB3.2 Gen1 and DisplayPort, a USB3.2 Gen1 port. It includes another Type-A and a 3.5mm audio jack.
This laptop covers all the necessary connections for gamers, similar to previous models. Of course, it should be kept in mind that competing models, which we will come to later in the hardware section, are now equipped with Type-C and even Type-A USB 3.2 Gen2 ports; A case where the Katana 15 is unlucky. Also, for professional uses outside of gaming, the lack of some ports such as SD Card or MiniDP may be seen, which of course, comes back to the user’s needs.
MSI has even removed the Kensington security port to make this laptop as economical as possible. This port prevents the device from being stolen with a unique lock connected to the chassis and the internal metal body.
The LAN port of this laptop is 10/100/1000 or gigabit, which brings the data transfer speed up to 1000 Mbps.
Wireless communication capabilities
Discussing networks in gaming laptops is a critical issue because of online and web games. For the Katana 15 2023 laptop, MSI has used the Intel AX201NGW wireless network card module, which is connected to the motherboard through the M.2 interface. As it is clear from the model of this card, it supports Wi-Fi 6th generation (802.11 axes) and has Bluetooth version 5.2.
6th generation Wi-Fi uses the same 802.11ac (Wi-Fi 5) frequency as 5 GHz, but the data transfer rate is much higher. MSI claimed this speed increase is up to 3 times faster than Wi-Fi 5, resulting in up to 75% less latency.
Screen and webcam
Everything that happens in the system hardware is finally displayed on the screen. Therefore, it is essential to have a high-quality screen capable of providing a correct image of the content being processed by the system. Next to the screen, the webcam is also seen as an inseparable neighbor in laptops, used for content creation and online meetings.
The MSI B13VFK laptop is equipped with a 15.6-inch FHD (1920 x 1080 pixels) monitor with a standard aspect ratio of 16:9. The panel of this display is IPS LCD with a matte coating. It offers a refresh rate of 144 Hz, which makes it a suitable option, especially for online shooter games where speed is the priority.
Of course, the device’s hardware specifications may provide more than 144 frames per second in some scenarios and games. However, considering the heavier AAA games and the lower frame rate when running on High or Ultra modes, the same refresh rate of 144 Hz may be possible. It is enough.
There is no official information regarding the response rate of the monitor or Response Time of this laptop; However, given the fast and relatively smooth color change, it is 6ms or less. Also, information about the color coverage of this display with Adobe RGB standards, etc., has yet to be officially stated.
But after several days of use, the display seems adequate for gaming and multimedia use. Pro gamers may not be interested in it due to the lack of technologies such as G-Sync, but this display will satisfy you if you are a new and growing gamer.
Panel and viewing angle
As mentioned, the panel used in the Katana 15 MSI laptop display is of IPS type, and the arrangement of Red, Green, and Blue subpixels is linear. Such an account makes IPS panels have high readability at sharp angles.
Our review of the nine modes of the laptop screen also showed that the Katana 15 has good readability in different ways, and the colors show little quality loss and color change at sharp angles. Such features help you minimize your problems with visual content, such as movies.
Maximum/minimum intensity and brightness uniformity
One of the most critical features of any screen is its brightness. The value of the screen’s maximum brightness in displaying white color will be significant when working with your laptop in a bright environment (for example, near a window or outdoors). In such cases, when the brightness of your monitor is low, it will not be possible to see the images, or the images will be very dim.
The result of the maximum brightness test of the MSI Katana 15 laptop screen under the set value of 100% Brightness to display white color shows that this monitor can achieve an average maximum brightness of about 211 candelas per square meter (nits), which is suitable for use in The room space is enough.
According to this investigation and the results of the monitor’s brightness in 9 parts, the integrity of the brightness distribution on the screen is equal to 93.7%. Since the closer this value is to 100, it shows the uniformity of the light; achieving such a number is considered satisfactory for a mid-range laptop display.
Apart from the maximum brightness for an absolute white display, the minimum brightness for a completely black screen (Minimum Black Level) is also significant; Because this factor will usually (and not necessarily) affect the contrast of the image and the display of content in the dark. Before a screen can display very dark points next to very bright points of the net well (contrast), it must be able to communicate as dark a screen as possible to display an all-black screen.
Examining this case in B13VFK showed that this product can record 0.1 nits of brightness in the dark room with its lowest brightness to display black color, which will be very good in this work category; so that less fatigue enters the eyes.
Contrast is the difference between the lightest and darkest parts of each image. The contrast in monitors determines the brightness of the brightest parts of the picture. In addition, the contrast value of a monitor can indicate its image quality because the higher the contrast, the higher the image quality and the easier its components can be recognized.
As seen in the image above, Native and Dynamic contrast are calculated so that each one represents the maximum contrast in the state of full brightness of white color and the contrast close to the state of the content displayed on the screen.
The obtained values indicate that although it does not cross the critical border of contrast 3000, considering the price range and the target market, the Katana 15 B13VFK display performs well.
Operating system and proprietary software
This laptop initially puts both Home and Pro versions of Windows 11 in front of the user and sets up the device; however, installing the Pro version of Windows 11 is recommended for more professional uses such as gaming or editing.
A smart move by MSI recently is to dump all drivers and user applications onto a separate partition for quick and hassle-free access. Since optical drives are outdated, if DVD-containing software is provided, only the user will have a lot of trouble using them.
With this admirable work of MSI, the user will always have the drivers and programs he needs with him, and if he needs the 10 GB of space occupied by these programs, he can copy them to a flash disk and free up the desired partition.
In any case, if you are buying MSI laptops for the first time, be careful during installation so that you don’t accidentally delete or format the desired partition.
Although our recommendation is to use these drivers and software for initial setup and get and update the latest versions as soon as possible.
There is no news of the famous Dragon Center program in MSI laptops anymore, and all applications related to system monitoring, lighting, updating, etc., have been integrated into the MSI Center software. Also, in this program, you can choose different scenarios to use the device and optimize your system for the relevant purpose.
As we said, MSI’s Katana series of gaming laptops offer powerful specs for an affordable price. The Katana 15 laptop comes in three models; among them, the B13VFK model was provided to Hardware City for review, which has RTX 4060 graphics; With this account, it is considered the middle version between RTX 4070 and RTX 4050 of this series.
A 13th-generation Intel processor and Nvidia RTX 40-generation graphics put this product among mid-to-higher gaming laptops. However, being equipped with the latest hardware is something you’ll find in only some sub- $ 1,500 laptops.
In this section, before presenting the results of specialized tests, it is good to have a detailed look at the hardware specifications of the MSI Katana 15 B13VFK laptop.
The Core i7-13620H processor used in this laptop is one of Intel’s powerful, low-power chips in the new generation, which is based on Intel 7 lithography, the same 10nm manufacturing technology (10ESF), and is 10-15% more efficient than before.
As the image below shows, this CPU has ten physical cores, including six powerful (P-cores) and four low-power (E-cores); This processor also has 16 virtual threads. The cores of this processor reach 1.8 GHz in primary mode and 4.9 GHz in turbo mode.
MSI has used RTX 4060 laptop graphics processor made with TSMC 5 nm technology based on Ada Lovelace architecture in this product.
This card has 8 GB of dedicated GDDR6 memory, a 128-bit interface width, and a maximum transfer of 256 GB/s. Compared to the previous generation RTX 3060 used in the Katana GF66, there has been a slight delay in data transfer between the GPU and its memory. will be
The minimum RAM required to run new games these days is 16GB. The MSI Katana 15 laptop is also equipped with 16 GB of DDR5 RAM with a frequency of 5200 MHz, provided to the user through two 8 GB SK Hynix modules.
Ventilation and temperature
As you know, unlike desktop computers, we are dealing with minimal space in laptops. Suppose a proper temperature distribution solution is not used. In that case, the heat generated by the hardware components can affect the overall performance of the device and even its depreciation rate over time. Have a significant impact.
To solve this problem, MSI uses the CoolerBoost 5 cooling system in its gaming laptops, equipped with six copper heat pipes. These pipes transfer the heat generated from the processor and graphics card to the two cooling fans on the back of the laptop.
For the Katana 15 B13VFK laptop, there are two ventilation holes on the back and one on the left side; Therefore, when using the mouse, no hot air hits the user’s hand, and it does not feel unpleasant.
The design of the cooler of this laptop is such that it draws cool air from under the chassis and directs it out through the outlets on the back and left side of the computer.
The exciting thing is that the CoolerBoost 5 system of the Katana 15 B13VFK laptop has changed compared to previous models, which MSI claims can improve its cooling performance and significantly impact CPU performance by reducing the overall temperature of the device.
MSI has introduced the new Shared-Pipe design in the CoolerBoost 5 system of the Katana 15 B13VFK laptop, where the CPU and GPU heat transfer pipes are connected.
Speaker sound test
For this gaming laptop, MSI has used two bottom-firing 2-watt speakers; we should not expect stunning performance from them like any other laptop.
Of course, MSI has collaborated with SteelSeries to use the Nahimic output sound correction application in its gaming laptop. This application uses various technologies to provide a 7.1 surround proper performance through standard equipment.
Power consumption and battery
The MSI Katana 15 B13VFK laptop is powered by a 3-cell 11.4V battery with a nominal capacity of 4700mAh (53.5Wh), While its practical and actual ability is 4562 mAh, equivalent to 52 Wh.
Due to the use of robust hardware in the Katana 15 B13VFK laptop, one should not expect high charging. However, this laptop can give the user about 2 hours of charging daily, depending on various parameters, including the screen’s brightness, the equipment connected to the device, the keyboard’s backlight, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, etc.