MSI’s Prestige 14 Evo Is a Delightful Laptop for Getting Work Done

MSI’s Prestige 14 Evo Is a Delightful Laptop for Getting Work Done
Photo: Joanna Nelius/Gizmodo

If I was a college student or a professor shopping around for a new Windows laptop, MSI’s Prestige 14 Evo would be at the top of my list. It’s small, it’s light, the battery lasts for hours and hours, and it will save lengthy dissertations in a snap. It’s a well-rounded productivity laptop that isn’t loud or flashy, but understands some of the more nuanced needs of a student or professional who can’t find a seat near an electricity outlet. (Those days were brutal!) It’s up there in price compared to other laptops with discrete graphics cards, but many of those laptops can’t do what the Prestige 14 can due to Intel’s Evo certification. It’s a welcome newcomer to a space that’s generally dominated by brands like Dell and HP.

The Prestige 14 Evo is one of the first laptops to house an Intel 11th-gen processor and is certified to Intel’s Project Athena standards, which require laptops to include long battery life, fast charging time, and split second wake time. The fully-loaded model reviewed here packs in an Intel Core i7-1185G7 processor with Iris Xe graphics, 16GB memory, 1TB NVMe SSD, 14-inch FHD IPS 1080p display, two USB-C Thunderbolt 4 ports, one USB 2.0, mic-in/headphone-out combo jack, and a micro SD card reader. You can connect the compact 65W power adaptor to either of the USB-C ports to charge the battery, and the laptop will fully charge in around 30 minutes.

A fast charging time on systems with FHD displays was one of the many promises of Intel’s Evo certification process, along with a 1-second wake-up time, at least nine hours of battery life, Wi-Fi 6, and Thunderbolt 4 universal cable connectivity. Intel and MSI’s Prestige 14 Evo deliver on all those promises.

The Prestige 14 Evo doesn’t have the longest battery life compared to other laptops in the same class — the newest MacBook Air has a 14-hour battery life, and the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7‘s battery lasts for 17.5 hours — but the Prestige’s 10.5 hours is still very respectable. That’s a direct flight from Los Angeles to London. That’s longer than a round-trip drive from Orange County, Calif. to Las Vegas. With battery life that long, it’s safe to leave your charging cable at home.

MSI Prestige 14 Evo

WHAT IS IT?

MSI's flagship Intel Evo-certified productivity laptop

PRICE

$US1,200 ($1,579), although you might be able to find it on sale for less

LIKE

Battery life, charging speed, USB-C Thunderbolt 4 ports, design — almost everything

NO LIKE

Touchpad size and placement

All that puts this laptop at $US1,200 ($1,579) (although I’ve seen it on sale for around $US950 ($1,250)), which is a little pricey compared to some other models designed for work productivity or gaming with dedicated graphics cards. Stepping down to the model with a 512GB NVMe SSD drops the price by $US50 ($66), and going down again to the model with an Intel Core i5-1135G7 and a 512GB NVMe SSD brings the price to around $US1,100 ($1,448). The fact that the Prestige 14 is Evo-certified might make the price more palatable to anyone who prioritises quick wake-up and charging times. Those were things I didn’t necessarily prioritise in the past, but the Evo platform is starting to change my mind now.

The webcam quality is pleasantly surprising, too. It’s a standard 720p HD cam, but the lens appears have a wider angle than usual (or at least than what I’m used to), capturing more than just your face and a bit of your upper body. It creates the physical effect of sitting across the table from a classmate or colleague in a virtual space. It can’t replace an in-person experience, but it makes you appear more personable on the other side of the internet.

There are many little details that make this laptop stand out from many tried-and-true brands that have cornered the business and education laptop market for decades. The Prestige 14 Evo is super lightweight and portable — just 1 kg with a thickness of 0.63 inches. Another little thing I appreciate is how it gently lifts up in the back when you open the lid. Not only does this increase airflow, but I find the slight incline more comfortable to type on. Speaking of typing, the keyboard layout practically matches with the muscle memory I’ve built up over the years of using my desktop keyboard. Anyone making a transition to this laptop should find they adapt quickly, not to mention the keys are so quiet they’d make a librarian proud.

Photo: Joanna Nelius/Gizmodo, In-House Art

Photo: Joanna Nelius/Gizmodo, In-House Art

Photo: Joanna Nelius/Gizmodo, In-House Art

Photo: Joanna Nelius/Gizmodo, In-House Art

Photo: Joanna Nelius/Gizmodo, In-House Art

Photo: Joanna Nelius/Gizmodo, In-House Art

Photo: Joanna Nelius/Gizmodo, In-House Art

Photo: Joanna Nelius/Gizmodo, In-House Art

Photo: Joanna Nelius/Gizmodo, In-House Art

Photo: Joanna Nelius/Gizmodo, In-House Art

My one issue with the keyboard area is the touchpad — but not because it doesn’t work or register my fingertip taps and presses correctly. It does its job beautifully, but it’s just so large. It takes up about half of the wrist-rest area, so part of my wrists/palm accidentally clicked the pad often while I was typing. A person with larger hands and a wider finger spread or reach might not have the same issue, but if I wanted to type comfortably, both of my wrists had to be over the touchpad. Otherwise, I’d have to hover my hands over the keyboard and type in a slight downward motion.

I’ve delved into the performance of this laptop and the Intel Core i7-1185G7 at the heart of it already. (Click through for lots of comparison tests to the newest MacBook Pro with Apple Silicon and AMD’s newest mobile processors.) A quick recap: For a 4-core/8-thread processor, there’s a lot of power in a seemingly tiny configuration. The Prestige 14 Evo’s strength is not necessarily in 3D rendering or video transcoding (although it exports a lot faster in Adobe Premiere Pro than Handbrake), but in everyday Microsoft Office tasks and batch photo tagging and colorizing. The Iris Xe graphics can handle games like Far Cry 5 surprisingly well compared to other integrated graphics — 55 frames per second at 720p on low. Instead of a one-trick pony, it’s a multi-trick pony, minus the adorable horse noises.

Touchpad aside, I can’t find much else to complain about. MSI’s Prestige 14 Evo is all about attention to detail and trying to balance all that with the best price possible. A Chromebook might be better for a high school student, or someone who doesn’t need all the processing power and full-fledged Windows 10 features, but for those of us who like our laptops more speedy and robust, this one hits the right notes. And boy does it sing!

READ ME

  • Compact and lightweight
  • Delivers on all the promises of the Intel Evo platform
  • Wonderful keyboard, but the touchpad gets in the way
  • Outstanding battery life
  • A smidge pricier than I would like, but willing to make an exception because this laptop is solid

Editor’s Note: Stay tuned for local Australian pricing and availability.