September 21, 2021

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MSI Prestige 14 Evo Review

MSI Prestige 14 Evo Review

sum up

The Prestige 14 A11MO has the fastest Tiger Lake U processor, the 1195G7, and it shows off its muscle, thanks to good cooling and a big TDP budget. The HD display is well calibrated and the laptop has a Wi-Fi 6E network card on board. There are some points for improvement in housing finishing. The flashing led to the webcam side is annoying and we were tempted to sign up. The wide touchpad is positioned so that we inadvertently register mouse clicks. Battery life is about twelve hours while browsing. Unfortunately, this specific model is not available in the Netherlands and Belgium at the time of writing.

Intel has a problem. For years, the company built the fastest laptop processors and never had to worry about the company’s only competitor: AMD. That slowly started to change with the first two generations of Ryzen processors for laptops, and with the Ryzen 4000 generation it became a real problem for Intel. Since then, AMD sells laptop processors with four, six, and eight cores, with a TDP of 15W, while Intel stays within 15W with a maximum of four cores.

So what do you do to outperform your competitors? The clock is running fast, of course! The result of this choice is the Core i7-1195G7 processor. It’s quad-core Tiger Lake, which should be able to hit 4.6GHz when all cores are loaded and up to 5GHz when single core is loaded. To test the new CPU, we received the MSI Prestige 14 Evo from Intel and in this review we take a look at this laptop, paying particular attention to the processor.

A little warning in advance: Intel has sent us a version that will be delivered in the US and is different from models for sale in the Netherlands and Belgium.

Housing, appearance and connections

MSI’s Prestige 14 Evo is, as the name suggests, a 14-inch laptop and Prestige line geared toward business users. This target group will be the designers in mind when they draw the clean lines of the case. The housing is made almost entirely of metal and only the cover B, around the screen is made of plastic. The color of our test model is “carbon grey”, or dark gray. The edges of the outside of the screen and around the touchpad are a glossy dark blue color that is clear and this gives a nice accent to the gray housing.

Although this residence looks nice at first glance, the finishing could have been better. Here and there, especially at the hinge, you see visible seams, for example, where parts of the structure fuse with each other. Competitors do it much better with this type of laptop worth a euro or a thousand. Also striking: if you close the screen, then this “domain” is on the keyboard part. This, in turn, means that you can press the back of the screen slightly, with the panel facing the keyboard. In short, MSI should have paid more attention to housing construction.

If you open the screen again, you’ll notice that the Prestige 14 has a large keyboard. It runs almost edge-to-edge and clicks nicely, with a clear attack. Not only the keyboard, but also the touchpad is large. It is placed in the center of the structure, but not in line with the space bar. As a result, you rest your wrist on the right part of the board while writing, and your left wrist simply rests on the cover. The touchpad recognizes this without any problems, and therefore you will not play with your mouse arrow, but you should not accidentally press it, as this leads to a mouse click, which sometimes occurs during our review.

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A fingerprint scanner is also included in the touchpad. This is not convenient, as you sacrifice part of your touchpad. In practice, it did not bother us too much, because the track is very wide and we barely got to the upper left corner. If you don’t want to sign in with a fingertip, you can also enable facial recognition and sign in this way with Windows Hello. We are not fans of the camera’s image quality of 1280 x 720 pixels. What is impressive is the amount of irritation caused by the flashing light next to the webcam. This blinks to indicate that the camera is active, but we tend to hide the LED, also because the light in the software hasn’t gone off. The speakers are integrated into the bottom of the casing and, in our opinion, should have produced a little more volume.

Connectivity options are specified in Prestige 14; Only two USB-C, or USB-A (5 Gb/s) ports are available. Fortunately, USB-C supports Thunderbolt 4 connections, so you can also use it to connect displays, as long as you use the appropriate docking or cable. There is also a microSD card reader, next to the socket connection.

Standards

Of course, this laptop is all about the processor. 1195G7 is Intel’s fastest processor in the 15W processor class. In fact, we have to put “15W” in quotes too thick, because no manufacturer is trying to keep their Intel processor any longer than that. Actually this is not the intention. The “turbo speed” of the processor grew from an “extra few hundred megahertz under the right conditions” to the most advertised specifications with the processor. With the 1195G7, the turbo clock is 5GHz, as mentioned, which is significantly more than the 2.9GHz that Intel advertises as a “normal” clock speed.

Incidentally, 2.9 GHz is the clock frequency that the processor can maintain under the Intel test scenario with a consumption of 28 watts; At 12 watts it is 1.3 GHz and Intel doesn’t give a value at 15 watts. However, it may be obvious. You can’t stand 5GHz for long with low consumption and MSI has configured the laptop in a way that allows the CPU to consume as much as you want. To do this, you have to put your laptop into “performance” mode in the software provided by MSI which produces the results below.

  • Cinebench 20 – Multi
  • Cinebench 20 – Single
  • 3DMark Night Raid
  • 3DMark Night Raid – Graphics
  • 3DMark Night Raid – CPU

What’s clear in these benchmarks is that the 1195G7 is the fastest Tiger Lake U processor, but it also remains the Tiger Lake U. To put it a little less ambiguously: all that Tiger Lake U was already good at, this laptop does better. Take Cinebench Single, for example, as the laptop is still faster than the ASUS Zenbook Duo, which does really well in this benchmark. In 3DMark Night Raid Graphics, the 1195G7 is on top as well, because the GPU can run up to 1400MHz, while the igp rate of the 1165G7 is only 1350MHz. Everything Tiger Lake U wasn’t good at, the 1195G7 does a little better, but it’s not good enough. If you need a lot of cores, it is still better to look at a laptop with an AMD processor. You see it in Cinebench Multi and in the 3DMark Night Raid CPU.

That’s not to say Intel’s high CPU speeds have no effect, because the four-core 1195G7 in Cinebench Multi is almost as fast as the six-core Ryzen 5 5500U. However, there is also a 5800U processor. They can be found in laptops that cost the same or less as MSI, and are much faster in a multi-core scenario. The latter will remain the Achilles heel of the Tiger Lake U generation, because for more cores we will have to wait until the next generation of the processor.

  • clock frequency
  • Energy consumption
  • Da Vinci Resolve

The reason the 1195G7 performed so well in benchmarks is the way MSI configured the CPU. The chip is allowed to use a lot of power, which results in high clock speeds and the CPU can also sustain them for a long time. Additionally, the CPU could briefly exploit 64W and while running Cinebench 23 we saw consumption rise to nearly 60W. In the graphs above, we recorded 223 seconds out of the 30 minutes we ran Cinebench. After the first peak, the clock speed drops to around 3.5GHz and power consumption remains at around 33W. That’s the case after about three minutes, but it stayed the same during the half hour we played Cinebench. The cooling is able to dissipate this heat and this, along with this high consumption, makes the Prestige 14 the fastest Tiger Lake laptop we’ve tested to date. We also see this in the DaVinci display benchmark, where MSI does an excellent job on the Intel quadcore.

Screen, battery life and upgrades

The Prestige 14 is available with a 4K screen, but the version we received came with a Full HD panel. This board came from the AU Optronics factory and turned out to be very good in almost all areas. The Prestige 14 is a matte panel, which we prefer anyway, as it produces fewer reflections than the glossy screen.

The screen appears, if we put it Measurement With the SpectraCal C6 colorimeter and Calman software, it can also be calibrated incredibly well. The deviation is 1.1ΔE in our grayscale test and even less than 1ΔE when primary and secondary colors are measured. Contrast is also high at 1840:1 so it’s a pity that maximum brightness is a bit delayed. For indoor use, 285cd/m² is fine, but competitors in this price range are around 400cd/m² and it’s nice to have the option to flip the screen more brightly.

  • white brightness
  • variance
  • Browse battery life

Finally, we look at the battery life and see that the laptop is able to provide a good working time from its 52Wh battery while browsing.

Finally, when we open the laptop, the large fan catches the eye. It’s also immediately obvious that there isn’t much to upgrade. The memory sticks are soldered inside and there is no second slot available for an additional SSD. The supplied Samsung PM9A1-ssd is placed on the right next to the battery. Next to it is the Killer AX1675x network card. This is still worth mentioning, because this wireless network card supports WiFi networks on the 6 GHz band.

conclusion

There’s a reason Intel sent us the MSI Prestige 14 specifically to showcase the new i7-1195G7 processor. The laptop knows how to get the bottom of the CPU out of the case, making MSI the fastest Tiger Lake U laptop we’ve tested so far. Was there a lot to extract from Tiger Lake silicon? This is not so bad. If you look at the ASUS Zenbook Duo, which, like MSI, has good cooling and allows the CPU to use a lot of power, the difference is not that big. You can see the really big differences between Tiger Lakes with four cores and AMD laptops with six or eight cores. AMD doesn’t always crash. In situations where single-core or GPU speed is of interest, Intel is the fastest and Prestige 14 is the fastest Intel, with the caveat that the difference isn’t huge.

So, if you’re looking for a fast laptop with a Tiger Lake processor, you don’t necessarily have to save up for an 1195G7 processor, but what about the laptop that comes with it? The Prestige 14 is a very good laptop on the most important points. We would have liked to see a somewhat higher brightness, but the panel scores excellent in terms of calibration and contrast. The battery life is also not disappointing and we have already talked about the speed of the processor. What we struggle with with this laptop are the little things, like the end of the chassis, the annoying blinking LED when the webcam is active and the placement of the touchpad under your right wrist.

If these things didn’t stop you from buying the MSI Prestige 14, we have some bad news for you; The version we tested is the A11MO model from the US. In the Netherlands you can get the A11M with a Core i7 1185G7 processor. CPU is something else registered than the 1195G7, but we wouldn’t expect you to notice the difference. What is different is the wireless network card, as it does not support 6GHz networks on the A11M and the USB-A connection works at USB 2.0 speed.