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MSI Prestige 14 Evo Review

A lot has been said about Intel over the last few months. Some of it good, some of it bad (especially after Apple Silicon launched). But the company has continued working on new products and platforms, like the new Tiger Lake 11th Generation processors that include the new Intel Iris Xe graphical platform. A platform that Intel promises will hit 60fps at 1080p – yes, as an integrated GPU.I wasn’t sure what to think about the sales pitch heading into my time with the MSI Prestige 14 Evo, the first “gaming laptop” I’ve used with Iris Xe inside. Actually, for that matter, it’s the first laptop I’ve used with Intel’s Tiger Lake processors.

After a week of use and testing, it’s clear to me that Intel is heading in the right direction with its latest kit, but there’s some work left to be done. The Prestige 14 Evo isn’t quite a gaming laptop, yet, but it’s a more than capable notebook for someone who wants to have a casual gaming machine nearby at all times.

MSI Prestige 14 Evo Review

Specs

Here are the specifications of the MSI Prestige 14 Evo I’ve been testing:

  • Model: MSI Prestige 14 Evo (A11K-056US) (RZ09-0327)
  • Display: 13.3-inch FHD OLED (1920 x 1080)
  • Processor: 11th Gen Intel Core i7-1185G7 3.0GHz (12M cache, 4.8GHz Max Turbo)
  • Graphics: Intel Iris Xe
  • Memory: 16GB LPDDR4x-4267
  • OS: Windows 10 Home
  • Storage: 512GB NVMe SSD
  • Webcam: 720p, Windows Hello compliant
  • Ports: 2 x Thunderbolt 4 USB-C, 2 x USB 2.0 Type-A, 1 x 3.5mm headphone jack, 1 x microSD card reader
  • Connectivity: WiFi 6 802.11ax, Bluetooth 5.1
  • Dimensions: 12.55 x 8.46 x 0.63-inches (WxDxH)
  • Weight: 3.26-pounds
  • Price: $1,149

Design

MSI is known more for powerful gaming laptops that aren’t always sleek and slim. But with the Prestige 14 Evo, that’s exactly what it is – sleek and slim. MSI calls it a notebook, and I can confirm it fits the mold. The total dimensions are close to the Razer Blade Stealth I recently reviewed, measuring 12.55 x 8.46 x 0.63 inches and weighing 2.84 pounds.

It doesn’t look like a gaming laptop at all, and, I guess, it’s technically not. But we’ll get to that in a minute.

When you open the display, the first thing you notice is that the hinge actually folds back and makes contact with your desk or table, lifting up the deck of the laptop and putting the keyboard at a 5-degree angle for easier typing. As you adjust the screen forward or back, that angle is slightly adjusted as well. I found the standard 5-degree angle to be comfortable for my typing, but when gaming felt awkward at first.The chiclet keys have some depth to them, but they feel squishy. Or maybe a better word for it is hollow? Either way they aren’t all that fun to type or game on – there’s not a lot of feedback that you’ve pressed the key.

You won’t find any fancy RGB lighting on the Prestige 14 Evo. Instead the solid black keys with white text are highlighted with a white backlight across the entire setup.

Perhaps my favorite part of the entire design is the trackpad that’s centered along the bottom of the deck. It’s fairly large, and even though there’s a fingerprint reader near the top-left corner of the trackpad, it doesn’t get in the way as it does on similar implementations. You have room to swipe and gesture across the entire pad.

The 14-inch display is surrounded by respectably thin bezels, with an IR camera/webcam setup above the screen. The combination of fingerprint reader and IR camera provide multiple options for Windows Hello, which makes it a breeze to log into your computer.

The screen’s resolution is 1920 x 1080, but the color and clarity makes it feel as if it’s 1440p, at least. The matte coating on the screen means you don’t have to worry about glare when working under bright dining room lights, or fluorescent bulbs in an office-like environment.

As for ports, the Prestige 14 has a healthy mix. On the right side of the deck is a 3.5mm headphone jack, a microSD card reader, and a full USB 2.0 port. On the opposite side is where you’ll find two Thunderbolt 4 ports, either of which provide what you’ll need to connect to Prestige 14 to an external monitor, charge the laptop with the included 65W adapter, or connect a wide range of accessories.

I do have a minor gripe about the large sticker on the right side of the trackpad, and the two stickers on the other side. I know this is pretty standard, but they make the Prestige 14 Evo look like it’s a lower-end laptop. It’s just not a good look.

BenchmarksMSI Prestige 14 EvoAcer Nitro 5Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i
Price as tested$1,200$670$969
CPUIntel Core i7-1185G7AMD Ryzen 5 4600HIntel Core i7-10750H
GPUIntel Iris XeNvidia GTX 1650Nvidia GTX 1650
3DMark Time Spy183737643631
3DMark Fire Strike520587988501
3DMark Night Raid175462600427345
Total War: Three Kingdoms233938
Borderlands 3333226.46
Metro Exodus1227.3425.64
Unigine Heaven 4.0223343.3
PCMark 10484946684909
PCMark 10 Battery Test9:419:405:22

Performance and gaming

Inside the Prestige 14 Evo is Intel’s Tiger Lake 11th Generation i7-1185G7 processor, 16GB of LPDDR4X-4267 memory, and 512GB of SSD NVMe storage. But the more interesting part of the internals is the fact that the Prestige 14 Evo is the first laptop I’ve tested with Intel’s Iris Xe graphics platform.

It’s a platform that, at least according to Intel, promises 1080p gaming at 60fps and longer battery life thanks to the integrated GPU. It’s not to be confused with Intel’s Xe Max platform, which is a discrete GPU.

But as if often the case with new launches and OEM promises, the performance of the Intel Iris Xe doesn’t quite live up to expectations after several hours of testing. Before we get into real world use, here’s a look at benchmarks, comparing the Prestige 14 Evo to the Acer Nitro 5 and the Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i. The latter two were equipped with Nvidia’s GTX 1650 GPU, so there shouldn’t be too many surprises when looking at these numbers.

As you can see, the Prestige 14 Evo falls behind both of the comparisons, almost everywhere. With the exception of the PCMark 10 test and Borderlands 3, it’s not even close.

During my time with the Prestige 14 Evo, I tried out a wide variety of games, opting to branch out from my typical Warzone gaming obsession. Although, I did try Call of Duty: Warzone and, well, it failed to run. I’d see the launch screen, but then a few seconds later the error message you see below would show up.

Ultimately, I spent some time in Minecraft Dungeons, Borderlands 3, Among Us and Fortnite. In Minecraft Dungeons and Among Us, performance was, expectedly, quite good. The 14 Evo was responsive, with no hiccups or lag at any time. It was an enjoyable gaming experience.

However, when playing Borderlands 3 and Fortnite, the experience was mixed. On Low or Very Low settings in Borderlands 3, the Prestige 14 Evo was consistently between 45 and 55 frames per second.

On Medium, that number dropped down to 30 fps. Walking around and interacting with the environment was smooth and issue free, but the moment any enemies showed up and I started shooting, dropped frames and lag were fairly common. One minute I’m shooting at someone, and the next they’re four steps to the right and my shot was nowhere near close to landing. And this wasn’t even during online gameplay.

This isn’t a gaming laptop meant for AAA gaming titles. It’s best suited for less resource intensive games.


I had a similar experience in Fortnite. I let the game pick the optimal settings, as I always do with review laptops, and it selected High graphics settings, but not at 1080p. Instead, it bumped the resolution down to 1600 x 900. I played a couple matches at that setting, but eventually went to 1080p with Medium graphics and wouldn’t you know, I was consistently hitting 60 fps. And the experience wasn’t terrible. Granted, I did have the same dropped frames and random lag during battles.

In other words, this isn’t a gaming laptop meant for AAA gaming titles. It’s best suited for less resource intensive games.

For the most part, the slightly more-than-casual games I played on the Prestige 14 Evo were an enjoyable experience. However, I have to say, this is one of the hottest running laptops I’ve tested.

It got so hot while playing Fortnite I grabbed my temperature gun and took a reading of the W key, which had gotten so hot that I couldn’t hold it in for longer than a second or two. How hot? 124-degrees Fahrenheit. The CPU’s temperature wasn’t much better, with it hovering between 95 and 100 degrees Celsius while gaming.

And that was with the fans running at full speed. Speaking of which, the fans at full speed are loud enough you’re going to need headphones if you want to play and have any idea of what’s going on in the game.

Battery life

Intel promises improved battery life with its 11th generation processors, and after putting the Prestige 14 through our battery life benchmark and in daily use, we can confirm battery life is exceptional.

More specifically, the Prestige 14 lasted 9 hours and 41 minutes with the display brightness set to 50%, all extraneous connections turned off, save for Wi-Fi, and the keyboard backlight turned off.

That’s just longer than the Acer Nitro 5, which powered through 9 hours and 40 minutes, with the Asus Zephyrus M15 coming in next, with 8 hours and 31 minutes of power during the same test.

In our daily use, the battery life matched the benchmark, with more than enough power to get through a full day of work that included far too many tabs open in Edge, streaming music from Spotify, random YouTube videos and the occasional Twitch stream.

Software

MSI didn’t go overboard and install a ton of additional software on the Prestige 14 Evo. In fact, it’s very minimal. The main app you’ll have to learn to navigate to control your system and its advanced settings is the MSI Center, which is labeled as made for “Business & Productivity.” That tells you a lot about what to expect from the Prestige 14, doesn’t it?

In the MSI Center, you can tweak fan settings, select different performance modes, use the support section to troubleshoot issues and other common maintenance tasks.

Outside of that, there isn’t any bloatware or antivirus programs. It’s the core Windows 10 apps and the usual stuff Microsoft includes, and nothing else.

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