MSI Prestige 14 Evo: The good, the bad and the lovely
Let’s get this off my chest: the sound emanating from the MSI Prestige Evo 14, the latest iteration in this popular series, is poor. And that’s a big black mark for me because I play a lot of music and it needs to sound good. So if sound is important to you, listen to this model before buying; the lack of volume and depth is a problem to these ears. But that’s the only serious problem with this model so let’s move on.
The new Prestige 14 Evo comes from a company with a formidable track record when it comes to gaming laptops and a good history of business and home user laptops. When MSI get it right, the machine is startlingly brilliant. Some of its top end gaming machines are both stunning and faultless. What we have here is a solid entry in a competitive market most often dominated by Dell and Asus.
Intel Evo certified
The Prestige 14 Evo A11M is one of the first Intel Evo certified laptops in the world. That sounds good but what does it mean? To achieve Intel Evo certification, laptop producers need to reach a variety of performance benchmarks including instant wake, fast charging, and more than nine hours of real-world battery life. Intel Evo certified laptops must also feature an Intel Tiger Lake processor featuring Iris Xe graphics along with support for WiFi 6 and Thunderbolt 4.
The new model is powered by an 11th generation Intel Core i7-1185G7 processor and Intel Iris Xe graphics. What this means is the device delivers great performance and good vision. I’m a semi-pro photographer as well as a journalist and the Prestige 14 Evo waded through a 6TB photo library effortlessly, delivered good – but not great – images in Adobe Photoshop, although I was concerned by a little lack of depth and general tendency to slight darkness in colour.
However, it managed the heavyweight program – which I run with hundreds of plug ins – well. Video fans will be happy with its performance. There was no buffering and it played smoothly no matter what I threw at it, including a few very heavy home-made videos. I must admit I didn’t hammer it as gaming machine – not really my thing – but it handled a few relatively simple games with ease. However, the Prestige Evo 14 isn’t a real gamer’s machine and it isn’t meant to be. MSI has plenty of other better configured models for that pursuit.
It boasts a 14” full HD (1920x1080) low power IPS-level thin bezel display that can produce close to 100% sRGB – which is why the colour issue was unexpected.
Plenty of ports
The machine comes with dual Thunderbolt 4 ports that support 15-minute quick charging for 1.5 hours of use and data transfers of up to 40Gbps plus a USB 2.0 Type-A port, microSD card reader, and 3.5mm combination microphone/headphone jack.
One of its real pluses is its weight – a mere 1.29kg which is impressive for a laptop of its size. Makes it easier to carry around! Aesthetically, with its diamond cut edge and sand blasted texture, it’s a winner. It’s lovely, but that’s not unusual for MSI laptops – the company prides itself on its design work and has won multiple awards in that area with some of its gaming laptops literally being works of art. And it meets the MIL-STD-810G military standard for reliability and durability.
Ease of use
Unlike many of MSI’s models, such as the latest Summit Series, it isn’t flippable so it has to be judged as standalone laptop. I found it a little odd to use. There is large trackpad that is centrally located and this tends it stretch far enough to the right that your hand can inadvertently touch it from time to time causing a right click response. It just seems a little clunky.
The pad itself I found slightly unresponsive at times – although this doesn’t seem to be a common problem – and the keyboard is well-cushioned to the point some people may find it a little soft. However, the keys are a good size and typing at speed is relatively good. The Prestige Series is made with a special five-degree hinge design, which is able to automatically tilt the keyboard at the best typing angle.
The optimised 1.5mm key travel is supposed to make typing more comfortable and precise. I have fairly broad fingers – which on some keyboards with smaller keys can be a real problem – but I was quite happy with the Prestige 14 Evo keys and the keyboard position. Does it really enhance typing? Hard to say. It certainly doesn’t hamper it.
The operating system on the test machine was Microsoft Windows 10 Home 64 bit with 512GB of storage and 16GB of memory. I’m not the greatest fan of Windows OS and prefer a Mac but the Prestige 14 Evo handled it well. Screen response time was good, although it does take a few seconds to warm up on opening, and when you are surfing the Web the full power of the Intel platform ensured very quick page load times. It comes with face and fingerprint log in options and both worked smoothly.
Good battery life
The 52 WHr battery will get you through a whole work day without charging. The best result I got was 10.25 hours while a heavy day editing images in Adobe Photoshop saw it last 9.3 hours. Even hardcore video playing didn’t drain it under 9.5 hours. Very respectable figures indeed. And that’s the dichotomy with this model. It does a lot of things very well and leaves you thinking this could be a real market leader and then you run in to something that while not diabolically bad is just not quite right.
Sound and speakers aside, the MSI Prestige 14 Evo is a solid and quite compelling addition to the MSI general purpose laptop line-up. I would like to see MSI rethink the positioning of the trackpad and the softness of the keys but, that said, it is still very user friendly. Visit MSI’s Prestige 14 Evo page for details and costing.
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