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MSI: 2020 Brand Report Card

MSI: 2020 Brand Report Card
(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

MSI not only dug itself out of the double digits this year but it fully propelled itself into the top 5 best laptop brands. The company not only improved its gaming laptops, but also expanded its selection and reconfigured the design of its core flagship laptops.

MSI excelled with gaming laptops like the MSI GT76 Titan and the MSI GS66 Stealth, redesigning both, one looking as slick as a premium consumer laptop and the other packing the largest battery that the TSA would even allow. While MSI’s tech support could be better and its selection could use more variety, MSI pulled off an excellent showing.

MSI: 2020 Brand Report Card

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

MSI’s Key Strengths

  • Great gaming laptops: MSI revamped its score of reviews from a flat 30 to 34 out of 40, with a strong collection of not only gaming laptops but also consumer laptops and even a workstation.
  • Stepping up design: MSI earned itself a few extra points in design this year thanks to innovatively shoving a 99.9Whr battery in a thin gaming laptop and revamping one of its gaudy gaming tanks to look like an elegant piece of machinery.
  • Accidental-damage protection: Yet again, MSI is still the only company to offer free accidental-damage protection.

MSI’s Main Weaknesses

  • Tech support could be better: While MSI’s tech support significantly improved over last year’s showing, it still needs work. We were sent down multiple unnecessary paths for solutions that were incredibly simple.
  • Needs more variety in selection and price: MSI will always be a heavy hitter when it comes to gaming laptops, but we’ve seen some neat premium consumer products from the company, and to compete with the rest, it should dive into business and budget laptops.

Top-Rated MSI Laptops

Reviews (34/40)

Half of the MSI laptops we reviewed this year earned an Editor’s Choice award. Top marks went to the WS65 9TM and the GS66 Stealth, a beastly workstation and a portable gaming laptop, respectively. The scores take a slight dip as you get lower in price but even the more budget-friendly Alpha 15 (A3DDK) received a solid 3.5-star rating (the lowest of any MSI laptop). 

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

MSI is best known for its gaming laptops but it is coming on strong with its relatively new fleet of laptops meant for creators. While they aren’t quite in the same league as the MacBook Pro or XPS 15, the pretty-in-pink Prestige 14 and stealthy Prestige 15 both received a 4-star rating and proved that MSI is no one-trick pony.

Design (13/15)

Beefy desktop replacements, sleek, colorful workstations and everything in between. MSI was full of surprises this year. The first was the GT76 Titan, which ditched the usual black-and-red gamer motif for a stunning pewter silver chassis, making its 9.9-pound frame look like a futuristic tank. On the other side of the coin is the incredibly slim GS66 Stealth, which sports a sleek all-black aluminum chassis, and at 0.7-inches thick, manages to fit a 99.9-watt-hour battery –– the largest the TSA will allow on a plane. 

Alpha 15 (Image credit: Laptop Mag)

MSI’s Prestige line of laptops deftly bridges the gap between gamers and creative professionals. The Prestige 15 has that all-black presentation we’ve seen in the Stealth, but the Prestige 14 is a laptop of another color entirely with its rose-pink aluminum frame. Even better, when you open the lid, the hinge raises the laptop slightly to create a more comfortable typing position.

Although the Alpha 15 is one of the newer entries in MSI’s catalog, it resembles some of the company’s older designs with the aggressive lid fins and rather garish neon green thunderbird. We were disappointed to learn the emblem was a rather cheaply applied sticker. The WS65 9TM is a much better-looking laptop, incorporating the black and gold accents of last year’s beautiful GS65 Stealth Thin.

Support and Warranty (12/20)

We found MSI’s web services to be a bit difficult to manage, with their online customer service forum asking intrusive questions and ultimately being unable to provide us with any help. Even when we submitted a ticket, it took three days for us to receive a response. And when they did respond, they provided an exhaustingly long PDF guide that was not at all beginner friendly. 

MSI has a Twitter presence for tech support, and when we reached out, it took us three days to get a response. The response was helpful, though. As far as call support goes, we were sent down a roller coaster of an agent forcing us to reset our laptop to factory conditions and update windows for something with a very simple solution.

MSI laptops come with a one-year warranty which covers one-time accidental damage repair. However, this will not cover the cost of shipping.

Innovation (8/10)

MSI created a laptop, but made it fashion. The pretty-in-pink MSI Prestige 14 makes us feel like we’ve just been transported into Beyonce’s “Check On It” video. The striking, rose-colored laptop also comes equipped with a bubble-gum pink tote-like case.

Prestige 14 (Image credit: Laptop Mag)

You don’t see pink laptops often — it’s a polarizing color that many color-shy users cower away from. Thank you MSI for taking a small step toward innovation by freeing us from the never-ending flood of black, white and gray laptops.

With the GS66 Stealth, MSI has increased the battery capacity to 99.9 whr, which is the largest, TSA-approved battery allowed on flights. And this year, MSI beat Apple to the punch by launching the world’s first mini-LED display on the Creator 17 model. MSI was also offered 300Hz refresh-rate displays for its flagship models (i.e. GE66 Raider, GS66 Stealth and WS66). These panels also have a 3ms response time. We love these innovations because it shows MSI has its fingers on the pulse of gamer demands, providing customers with smoother gameplay on speedy displays.

Value and Selection (11/15)

MSI has a premium selection of laptops, but it lacks mainstream systems, Chromebooks, business laptops or even rugged notebooks.

However, MSI’s portfolio is packed with a bunch of badass gaming laptops, starting with the budget notebooks, like the MSI Alpha 15 ($999) and jumping to the MSI GE66 Raider ($1,899) and finally landing at the beastly MSI GT76 Titan ($4,599).

If you’re looking for a non-gaming laptop, there is MSI’s content creation line, which offers premium laptops like the MSI Prestige 15 ($1,799) and MSI Prestige 14 ($1,399). MSI also makes workstations as well, like the MSI WS65 9TM ($3,499), which happens to be one of the best in its class.

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(Image credit: Laptop Mag)