MSI Prestige 14 Evo Review: An ultra-portable laptop that’s neither a master nor a jack

MSI Prestige 14 Evo Review: An ultra-portable laptop that’s neither a master nor a jack

With working from home (WFH) being default and schools soon moving to home-based learning due to tightened Covid-19 measures, you or your kid might be needing an ultra-portable laptop to fulfil work or school obligations. Something like the MSI Prestige 14 Evo.

SPECS
PRICE: $2,049 (available in Lazada and Shopee)
PROCESSOR: Intel Core i7-1185G7
GRAPHICS: Intel Iris Xe Graphics G7 96EU
DISPLAY: 14-inch (1,920 x 1,080 pixels)
RAM: 16GB
STORAGE: 512GB
BATTERY: 52 watt-hour
WEIGHT: 1.29kg

DESIGN
The Prestige 14 Evo has an all-aluminium “carbon grey” chassis that is only 15.9mm thick and weighs a mere 1.29kg. Thus, you (or your kid) can easily tug it inside your bag and bring it around without feeling the weight.

On top of the lid, you will find a subtle MSI logo. So, it will not make you a walking advertisement when you are carrying it around or using it at a cafe (when the chance comes). A shiny thin blue strip along the perimeter of the lid adds to its sleekness.

A shiny thin blue strip along the perimeter of the lid adds to its sleekness. (Photo: MSI)

When you lift up the lid, you will find a 14-inch full high-definition (1,920 x 1,080 pixels) display, a backlit (white only) keyboard and a large touchpad welcoming you.

FOR
+ Two convenient Thunderbolt 4 ports
+ Backlit keyboard offers great typing experience
+ Large touchpad
+ Superb battery life

AGAINST
– Not the fastest performance
– Suspect build
– Dim display

The laptop’s hinge can be turned 180 degrees. Thus, the display can literally lay flat for you to share presentations with your co-workers.

The hinge can be turned 180 degrees to lay the display flat. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

On the laptop’s left side, there are two Thunderbolt 4 ports. Both ports can be used to charge the laptop as well as data transfer and peripheral connectivity.

Two Thunderbolt 4 ports at the left side. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

The right side houses a USB 2.0 port, a microSD card slot and a headphone jack. So, apart from a missing HDMI port, it has all the ports that you will need.

You will find a USB 2.0 port, a microSD card and a headphone jack on the right side of the laptop. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

On the downside, the chassis feels less solid and sturdy than the likes of Apple MacBook Pro. Both the lid and bottom can be easily flexed and do not inspire much confidence. This is despite the laptop passing US military MIL-STD 810G durability tests.

Thankfully, the bottom does not flex that much when your hands are resting on laptop and typing away on the keyboard.

Furthermore, the keyboard offers great tactile response and nice key travel. In addition, its close-to-standard key layout means I have very few mistakes when typing out this review.

Not to mention, the laptop’s large touchpad also offers great runway for me to drag files across the screen from folder to folder.

The large touchpad is a big plus. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

Sited on the top left hand corner of the touchpad, there is a fingerprint sensor for biometric authentication to unlock the laptop. However, it does not get in the way when you are using the touchpad.

PERFORMANCE
The Prestige 14 Evo is built on the Intel Evo platform, as its name implies. This means it is supposed to have increased performance and better battery life than those “normal” Intel variants.

In the PCMark 10 benchmark test, the Prestige 14 Evo scored 4,252. This score is only better than 37 per cent of all results submitted. And it is below the average score of 4,611 for office laptops.

In fact, I will not recommend this laptop if you want to play games on it. Playing the graphics-intensive game Cyberpunk 2077, the laptop can only manage a paltry average of 10 frames per second (fps) on full high-definition resolution. At times, it cannot even start the game.

So, I was hoping things might be better when playing less graphics-intensive games like Football Manager 2020. But it can only managed an average of 30 fps. Even then, the laptop looks to be struggling at times.

Playing Football Manager 2020 is probably the best game this laptop can manage. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

Fortunately, for everyday use, the laptop is able to perform most of your productivity tasks without any major issues. For instance, I was able to open 5 tabs on Google Chrome browser and two other applications running without much issues.

BATTERY LIFE
If there is a definitive plus for the Prestige 14 Evo, it is superb in terms of battery performance. In our usual video-loop battery test whereby we loop a video with the display on full brightness, this laptop lasted 9 hours 5 minutes. To compare, the more-affordable Huawei MateBook 14 lasted 7 hours 15 minutes in the same battery test.

The display is quite dim, even at its maximum brightness. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

However, I think its long battery life might be due to its display being not very bright even at its maximum brightness. If you use this laptop under bright sunlight, it becomes really hard to see anything on the display.

VERDICT
At $2,049, the MSI Prestige 14 Evo is neither expensive nor cheap. Its price is perhaps symptomatic with the laptop itself.

It is neither too powerful nor too slow, neither too flashy nor too boring and neither a master nor a jack. It is just somewhere in the middle.

RATINGS
FEATURES: 8/10
DESIGN: 8/10
PERFORMANCE: 8/10
BATTERY LIFE: 7/10
VALUE FOR MONEY: 8/10
OVERALL: 7.5/10