MSI Stealth 16 Studio review

MSI Stealth 16 Studio review (A13V)

Only yesterday we reviewed the hugely desirable MSI Mercedes laptop. However, the MSI Stealth 16 Studio A13V is essentially the same laptop without the race trim. As such, while it might not have the aggressive, eyebrow-raising looks, it’s got a few extra home comforts and doesn’t cost nearly as much. It’s also got a (very) fast screen which opens the door to gaming. Could this be an even better buy? Let’s find out…

Update: Check out our rare, high-quality, Mercedes-AMG Motorsport model car giveaway below!

Specs

Screen16-inch, matte, 240Hz, 2,560 x 1,600, IPS display
Processor3.7-5.0GHz Intel Core i7-13700H CPU
Memory32GB DDR5-5600 RAM
Graphics8GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 GPU
Hard drive2TB
ConnectivityWi-Fi 6E
Bluetooth 5.3
1 x Thunderbolt 4
1 x USB-C 3.2 Gen 2
1 x USB-A 3.2 Gen 2
3.5mm audio jack
HDMI 2.1
2.5Gbps Ethernet
MicroSD slot
Speakers2 x 2-Watt Speaker
4 x 2-Watt Woofer
MicrophonesDual array
Extra SecurityFingerprint reader
Windows Hello (fingerprint & webcam)
Webcam shutter
TPM 2.0
WebcamFull HD
Battery99.9Wh
Dimensions359 x 260 x 20mm
Weight2KG
SKUA13VG
Full specs here.

Features, Ergonomics and Design

In car terms, the MSI Stealth 16 Studio is like a Porsche 911 GT3 while the Mercedes-AMG Motorsport variant is like the souped-up Porsche 911 GT3 RS. We’re sure there’s a better Mercedes-orientated analogy than that, but we’re not car nuts.

MSI Stealth 16 Studio review oblique
It’s not quite as impressive as its sibling, but the Stealth 16 Studio will still turn a few heads.

Still, the straight Stealth looks cool with its ‘Pure White’ livery and quasi-bronze, printed dragon logo on the lid. Most of the Mercedes-AMG design flourishes are missing but it retains its illuminated ‘Stealth’ moniker at the rear. It looks very cool in the big wide world of laptops. MSI also sells a dark-blue ‘Star Blue’ variant.

Opening it up reveals the 16-inch, UHD, 2,560 x 1,600 resolution IPS screen. While this isn’t as high a resolution, or as colour-saturated, as the Merc’s OLED display, it does have a 240Hz refresh rate which opens the door to fast-and frantic gaming – something that’s tricky on the Mercedes-AMG’s 60Hz screen.

MSI Stealth 16 Studio review front
The MSI Stealth 16 Studio’s screen doesn’t quite have the resolution or the OLED colour performance of the Mercedes-AMG model, but it’s arguably better, for a few reasons.

It displays a crisp and clear Windows desktop with decent colour reproduction. When it comes to multimedia, colours might not be the most vibrant on the market but they’re still very good. Contrast is also impressive with detail remaining present in dark and bright areas, although true blacks can’t touch OLED or mini-LED screens.

Chromatic transitions are good with only fine banding present in colourful and monochromatic gradients. The matte screen means that reflections don’t blight dark content. It’s not Windows HDR compatible, but it’s still a good all round multimedia performer.

MSI Stealth 16 Studio review backlight bleed
Those who care about backlight-bleed might well have issues with the MSI Stealth 16 Studio. We’re not fussed, though.

Where it soars ahead of the Merc, is with fast-moving content. The 240Hz refresh rate and fast pixel response time render fast-moving objects silky smooth which is great for fast-and-frantic gaming. Impressive!

We were pleased to see that the MSI Stealth 16 Studio had the same six (count’em) speakers that the Mercedes did. The two, standard, 2-Watt speakers are augmented by four(!) 2-Watt subwoofers to produce punchy audio that offers very good bass, volume and all-round fidelity.

The Stealth also has the same Full HD webcam and microphone array which captures high-quality-low grain footage in low light and clear audio in noisy environments. The bright orange webcam shutter is also present so you can easily tell when it’s covered. Its infra-red component means that it’s Windows Hello-compatible with facial-recognition. There’s also a fingerprint reader (with TPM 2.0 security chip) for Hello-compatible fingerprint signing-in too.

MSI Stealth 16 Studio review keyboard
The Stealth 16 Studio has a very impressive keyboard and it’s got some impressive shortcuts.

The white on-white, SteelSeries keyboard looks good but makes us nervous when it comes to usability, as sometimes the lighting can make the lettering blend-in to the key which makes it hard to see. However, the per-key, RGB is still here and it can be changed into different patterns with the SteelSeries app and we rarely experienced any hard-to-decipher colour clashes.

MSI Stealth 16 Studio review RGB keyboard
The RGB lighting behind the MSI Stealth 16 Studio’s keyboard doesn’t contrast as well as it does with dark keys.

It’s comfortable and accurate to both game and type upon for extended periods although we noted that the space bar didn’t work quite so well – we had to press it a bit harder to ensure actuation. However, we suspect that this is just limited to our review unit.

The reduced-size arrow keys didn’t take long to get used to (smaller is better than squished) and having the (reduced-size) number pad is useful. There are also plenty of useful shortcut key-combos that we made use of. The large trackpad is large, smooth and accurate. The buttons actuate well but they’re not quite as toned as the Merc’s – i.e. they require a bit more pressure and make a bit of a louder click.

It’s worth noting that while the Mercedes-AMG laptop got very warm at the top (especially the palm rest) and the bottom, the MSI Stealth 16 Studio doesn’t quite as much. It’s still warm to the touch under casual usage, but it’s not uncomfortably so.

All in all, the MSI Stealth 16 Studio is one of the best all-round laptops we’ve interacted with.

MSI Stealth 16 Studio Review: Photo Flourish

The photos in our MSI Stealth 16 Studio review are augmented by a weird dice thing from some game or other. We dunno, Lol!

Performance

While MSI says that there are versions of the Stealth 16 Studio available with the same Core i9-13900H processor of the Mercedes, our testing made us suspect that you might be better off with this 3.7 – 5.0GHz Intel Core i7-13700H processor instead. It also has six Performance cores and eight Efficiency cores which operate across 20 threads – just like the i9-13900H – but that operates at a higher frequency with a higher power draw.

2D Performance

The memory and the storage are the same – a generous 32GB of fast, DDR5-5600 RAM plus a large, speedy, 2TB NVMe hard drive – so we were keen to see how it compared.

In the general-computing-alike PCMark 10 benchmark, the MSI Stealth 16 Studio scored 8,058 which is well-above average and slightly higher than the Mercedes! We suspect this means that there might be some thermal throttling happening beneath the race-trim after all and that the bigger engine doesn’t equate to bigger performance.

This was backed-up by the Cinebench processor rendering test scores of 2,963 in the quick, R15 drag race and 17,611 in the longer R23 test. Both of these are a nose ahead of the the Mercedes-AMG score which really should have comfortably won with its Core i9 processor.

3D Performance

Our SKU of the MSI Stealth 16 Studio had the same 8GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 GPU as the Mercedes-AMG equivalent, so how would the ‘weaker-but-cooler’ processor affect the otherwise similar specs and subsequent scores?

In the tricky, 3DMark Speed Way and Port Royal tests, which focus on ray-tracing eye candy, the MSI Stealth 16 Studio scored 2,930 (average 29.3fps) and 7,238 (average 33.5fps) respectively. That’s effectively a dead heat with the Mercedes-AMG and illustrates that the straight Stealth 16 can play the latest-and-greatest games, but that you may need to drop the resolution and detail settings to keep them comfortably smooth.

In the 3DMark Time Spy and Fire Strike Extreme tests, which ape AAA-gaming titles, the MSI Stealth 16 Studio scored 12,570 (average 75fps) and 13,368 (average 63fps) which is essentially another tie. This will happily play the best, mainstream games.

In 3DMark Night Raid, which mimics simple, casual and competitive games, the MSI Stealth 16 Studio scored 63,011 which is an average framerate of 638.5fps. That too is essentially identical to the Mercedes-AMG.

Of course the main difference between the two laptops is that the MSI Stealth 16 Studio has that 240Hz screen which means gaming performance is dramatically smoother and superior to that of the Mercedes-AMG with its 60Hz screen. It also means that the MSI Stealth 16 Studio is a bona fide gaming laptop whereas the Mercedes-AMG is just for creators and those who want to show off their flashy laptop livery.

Cooling Technology

The cooling tech of both laptops is also the same – MSI’s Cooler Boost 5 technology which has two fans and five heat pipes. There’s not much in it in terms of sound (both are quiet unless you force the fans to max where they emit a modest, constant whoosh) but the MSI Stealth 16 Studio exudes a little less heat than the Mercedes-AMG which has the beefier processor. Both run stably but we suspect that the Mercedes-AMG’s Core i9 CPU isn’t running at its maximum potential, which isn’t totally surprising (or uncommon) for a thin, MSI Stealth laptop.

Connectivity and Ports

Having the same chassis as the Mercedes-AMG laptop means that the MSI Stealth 16 Studio has the same impressive collection of ports (and the same annoyingly placed power connector).

MSI Stealth 16 Studio review left side
On the left is a 2.5Gbps LAN port, HDMI 2.1, a microSD card slot and a Thunderbolt 4 port.
MSI Stealth 16 Studio review right side
On the right is a 3.5mm audio jack, a USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 port and a USB-A 3.2 Gen 2 port. There’s also the power connector which sticks out where many people’s hands will be when using an external mouse.

Inside there’s Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3. It’s basically got the latest version of everything.

Portability and Battery Life

The MSI Stealth 16 Studio is just a smidge chonkier than the Mercedes-AMG, tipping the scales at 2KG dead. The power brick and cables are similar in weight at 741g. That’s not bad for a powerful laptop, but it’s not quite in ultraportable territory.

MSI Stealth 16 Studio review underneath view
While we’re not convinced that the MSI Stealth 16 Studio will remain pristine and white for too long, it does an excellent job of fending-off dirt and fingerprints.

Meanwhile, the 99.9Wh battery ran our PCMark 10 Modern Office test for a slightly superior 9 hours and 52 minutes which is very impressive and further demonstrates MSI’s good implementation of the Nvidia-Intel MUX switch which routes power to the integrated GPU when the discreet GPU isn’t needed. Other rivals can struggle with this.

The MSI Stealth 16 Studio has the same 2cm-thick, Magnesium-alloy chassis as the Mercedes and so it too is robust and rigid and should easily survive life on the road.

Price and Availability

The MSI Stealth 16 Studio is available now and has an RRP of $3,999 – that’s $1,100 cheaper than the Mercedes-AMG. However, it too is on sale and can be found for $3,198 which makes it very good value and a step-up from the Merc.

2 Alternatives to the MSI Stealth 16 Studio

We’re starting to get more cutting-edge Creator laptops into our labs but those that are current are all impressive. You’ll never guess what one of them is…

MSI Stealth 16 Mercedes-AMG The sporty twin-brother of this Studio has more drip and accessories which can be very attractive. But, it costs much more and performance isn’t better.

Asus Vivobook Pro 16X Asus’s rival offers less performance but it’s cheaper and has some attractive, alternative features.

Conclusion: Should you buy the MSI Stealth 16 Studio?

Looking at the two laptops side by side, few people wouldn’t want the sophisticated Mercedes-AMG version which looks better and has a cachet which will reflect positively on other users. However, in practical terms, the MSI Stealth 16 Studio is the better laptop. It’s mainly down to the screen which facilitates gaming and this opens up a whole, other market.

As such, despite the Mercedes-AMG only very recently being awarded our Best Creator Laptop crown, the MSI Stealth 16 Studio has quickly snatched it away – George VI style. It’s also won our Highly Recommended Gaming Laptop award too, meaning the MSI Stealth 16 Studio is easily one of the most-desirable, high performance laptops on the market and will suit most laptop buyers.

Awards

Pros

Great for gamers & creators
Relatively portable
Good value

Cons

Expensive
Low-contrast RGB keyboard
Runs warm

Giveaway

MSI Studio Mercedes-AMG giveaway
MSI Studio Mercedes-AMG giveaway.

MSI sent us a very high quality, super-rare model of a Mercedes-AMG Motorsport racing car to giveaway. See here for how to get it.

Results

MSI Stealth 16 Studio Scores
  • 2D Performance
  • 3D Performance
  • Features, Ergonomics & Design
  • Stability
  • Portability
  • Value
4.6

Summary

The MSI Stealth 16 Studio represents a judicious combination of hardware and features: it’s great for gamers and creators alike and has very few limitations.

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