To say we’re fans of the MSI Prestige range is an understatement. Never has a laptop provoked such a visceral reaction for both its looks and performance except, perhaps, for that time when Steve Jobs unveiled the MacBook Air. But that was back when we had a hot pink review model with discreet graphics for gaming. The last Prestige we saw was blue, but it still impressed us.
We’ve been told that we can see something similar early next year but in the meantime, here’s a not-pink variant with integrated graphics. It’s launching into very crowded market, so should the MSI Prestige still be near the top of your list?
Table of Contents
- MSI Prestige 14 specs
- Design and handling
- Alternatives to the MSI Prestige 14
- Should I buy the MSI Prestige 14?
MSI Prestige 14 specs
|Screen||14-inch, matte, 60Hz, 1,920 x 1,200, IPS display|
|Processor||3.6 – 4.8GHz Intel Core i7-1280P CPU|
|Memory||16GB LPDDR4x RAM|
|Graphics||Intel Iris Xe GPU|
|Hard drive||1TB NVMe|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi 6E Bluetooth 5.2|
2 x Thunderbolt 4
1 x USB-A 3.2 Gen 1
3.5mm audio jack
|Speakers||2 × 2W|
|Security||TPM 2.0 chip|
|Dimensions||319 x 219 x 16mm|
Design and handling
Look, it’s difficult to get past the fact that this MSI Prestige 14 isn’t hot pink or even “Blue Stone” in colour – it’s “Carbon Gray.” Consequently, one of our favourite all-round laptops is become a bit of a corporate schmuck in terms of appearance. To make matters worse, the subtle Dragon logo on the lid has been replaced by the MSI moniker. We’d come up with a witty analogy, but it is what it is.
Nonetheless, the metal chassis weighs little and remains robust – the screen twists only a little when a force is applied. Opening it up reveals a 14-inch, 1,920 x 1,200 IPS screen and a large-key’ed, white-back-lit, Scrabble-tile keyboard. We’re a big fan of the latter: it looks good and is particularly comfortable and accurate to type upon for extended periods. The MSI Prestige 14 is also one of very few ultraportable laptops to have full-sized arrow keys – Hooray!
Opening up the lid produces a slight incline for the keyboard. This adds an extra degree of comfort when typing while simultaneously raising the rear to increase airflow. It also folds down ‘flat’ – assuming you ignore the hinges in the middle. Laying it down and pressing F12 rotates the Prestige’s screen to show the person opposite what you’re working on.
The MSI Prestige 14’s large, ultra-wide trackpad is smooth and comfortable and the two buttons have a nice, high-quality, quiet action. There’s also a fingerprint reader built in that’s secured by a TPM 2.0 chip. It is Windows Hello compatible and so is the webcam above the screen. However, despite recent siblings using Full HD cameras, this sports a 720p resolution. It still offers decent quality and good low-light performance though.
The MSI Prestige 14’s screen is bright and sharp and displays a crisp and clear Windows Desktop. Colours aren’t the most vibrant but they’re far from the dullest too. This all extends into multimedia performance where we noticed that contrast was above average although details could get lost in particularly bright and dark areas.
Our main issue was with the ‘speed’ of the screen. While we were a little disappointed that it only had a 60Hz refresh rate, it also has a particularly slow pixel response time. With these factors combined, fast-moving objects have a proclivity for smearing across the screen meaning it’s poor for fast and frantic gaming. The ability to enable that is what made us like the MSI Prestige 14’s predecessors so much.
The MSI Prestige 14’s twin, 2-Watt speakers are a little disappointing considering impressive, ultraportable variants we’ve seen lately. They’re not without punch but there’s no bass to speak of and the top-end is rather tinny. They also don’t get very loud.
Inside this MSI Prestige 14 is a potent 3.6 – 4.8GHz Intel Core i7-1280P processor with its six Performance cores and eight Efficiency cores. The CPU is supported by 16GB of LPDDR4x RAM and a 1TB NVMe hard drive. These combined to score an exceptional 6,012 in the general PCMark 10 general computing test. For ultraportables, this is second only to the slightly faster, AMD-based Lenovo ThinkPad Z13.
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However, in the Cinebench CPU rendering tests it scored 2,184 and 11,445 in R15 and R23 (respectively). These scored push it to the very front of the ultraportable pack – the MSI Prestige 14 is the most powerful portable laptop we’ve tested in terms of 2D performance!
Once again, considering its heritage, we were disappointed with the lack of discreet graphics. The integrated Intel Xe GPU couldn’t run the difficult, 3DMark Port Royal ray-tracing test. Meanwhile, its scores of 2,097 (average 11.4 fps) in Time Spy and 2,648 (average 12 fps) in Fire Strike Extreme, underline that it can’t play the latest and greatest AAA titles. However, a score of 17,597 (average 108 fps) in 3DMark Night Raid shows it is capable of playing casual and competitive games.
Just remember that fast moving games won’t look great on the MSI Prestige 14’s slow screen. Also note that, under load, it can get a little hot and whooshy. While the noise isn’t terrible, rival ultraportables are certainly quieter. Fortunately, the MSI Center management application can tailor noise to your preferences – there’s even a new, Beta setting that matches fan noise with environmental sound measurements! This would be great if the noise equated to serious power.
Inside there’s the latest Wi-Fi 6E connectivity and Bluetooth 5.2. So, most of the latest ports are there but there aren’t too many of them.
The thin, 16mm, metal chassis is robust despite its thinness. It also weighs just 1.23KG. It feels very easy to carry around and robust enough to survive life on the road.
It ran the PCMark 10 Modern Office test for a very impressive 10 hours 46 minutes. As such the combination of 2D power, low-weight, build quality and battery life make the MSI Prestige 14 extremely desirable for those seeking the upper echelons of portable power.
This SKU of the MSI Prestige 14 comes in at a reasonable $2,199. However, if you buy it quickly, you can make use of a whopping $600 discount and get it for $1,599. This is part of MSI’s Secret Halloween Sale and Limited Edition Halloween redemption offer.
Alternatives to the MSI Prestige 14
Alternatives to the portable-but-powerful MSI Prestige 14 include the Asus Vivobook 14X OLED which costs the same and eschews performance and portability for an improved ergonomics score. Also worth checking out is the Lenovo Thinkpad Z13 which offers some general improvements but almost double the price.
The recent Acer Swift 5 offers some better ergonomics (and looks) than the MSI Prestige 14, but falls down in other areas while costing significantly more. Other attractive ultraportables can’t come close to matching the power on offer here. That’s except for the amazing Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 which has stolen the Prestige’s mantle as most epic ultraportable gaming laptop. It costs more but does everything… but, it’s not so practical for office work
Should I buy the MSI Prestige 14?
We’d love to give you an unequivocal yes, but that’s not possible with this mixed-bag, latest version. There’s much to like: the portability is excellent, it’s a joy to type on, the screen is great for office work and it’s got a very powerful processor (for an ultraportable). However, our review unit of the MSI Prestige 14 is not pretty, the screen is slow, the speakers mediocre and it can get rather hot and a bit noisy.
Ultimately, if the pros outweigh the cons for you, it could be the laptop you’ve been looking for. However, its predecessors were world-beating so we’re left with a sense of disappointment. We also know that an updated ‘exciting’ SKU should be coming in the new year.
MSI Prestige 14 results
A fabulous range has sadly become stuffy and corporate. Still, if the pros outweigh the cons for you, the powerful-processor’d MSI Prestige 14 could be the ultraportable laptop you’ve been looking for.