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MSI Prestige 14 Evo review: speedy with some slip-ups

The MSI Prestige 14 Evo is ideal for mid-level photo and video editors

MSI Prestige 14 EVO
(Image: © Future)

Our Verdict

The MSI Prestige 14 Evo is an ideal choice for mid-level photo and video editing work, but the odd keyboard layout is a weak spot.

For

  • Military-tested durability
  • Color-accurate display
  • Decent battery life
  • Zippy performance
  • Ultra-fast video transcoding

Against

  • Weird keyboard layout
  • Dim display
  • So-so speaker quality
MSI Prestige 14 Evo specs

Price: $1,119
CPU:  Intel Core i7-1185G7
GPU: Intel Iris X
RAM: 16GB
Storage: 1TB
Display: 14-inch, 1080p
Battery: 10:59
Size: 12.5 x 8.5 x 0.6 inches
Weight: 2.7 pounds

The MSI Prestige 14 Evo got its funky name from its collaboration with the Intel Evo platform. You may be wondering, “What’s the Intel Evo platform?” To answer this question, I often describe Intel Evo as the FDA of the laptop industry. Like an FDA-approved badge on a food product, an Intel Evo sticker gives consumers peace of mind that a laptop has been vetted to meet or exceed high standards for battery life, connectivity, internal hardware and more.

We’ve tested the Prestige 14 Evo ourselves — and well — its Intel Evo badge is well-earned. The Prestige 14 Evo is stuffed with a beefy 11th-Gen Intel Core i7 processor and offers an impressive battery runtime of nearly 11 hours. It’s also sleek, polished and damn-near weightless; slip this device into your bag and you won’t even notice it’s there. Content creators will also appreciate the Prestige 14 Evo’s useful preinstalled software for photo and video editing. 

The Prestige 14 Evo does have some flaws, though, including an awfully dim display and a slithery touchpad. However, with test results that blew many of its rivals out of the water,  those blemishes could be overlooked.

MSI Prestige 14 Evo pricing and configuration 

The Prestige 14 Evo starts at $1,099, and comes with an Intel Core i5-1135G7 processor, Intel Iris Xe graphics, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD and a 1920 x 1080-pixel display. For $1,149, you’ll get the same specs as the entry-level Prestige 14 Evo, but you’ll get an Intel Core i7-1185G7 CPU.

My review unit kicks it up a notch with a 1TB SSD and it will set you back $1,199. The Prestige 14 Evo I reviewed has a Carbon Gray finish. The Prestige Evo 14 also comes in Rose Pink and Pure White, but only the models with 512GB SSDs.

MSI Prestige 14 Evo design 

The Prestige 14 Evo is wrapped in a “Carbon Gray'' finish that appears more like a dark navy blue to my eyes, but I’m not here to debate MSI’s off-kilter perception of color. The MSI ultraslim notebook is spiced up with a reflective, electric-blue trim that wraps around the lid, saving the device from being another boring, dark-hued laptop on the market. The Prestige 14 Evo has enough subtle sophistication to blend into professional environments, but it has a splash of pizzazz to give it character. It’s like a well-dressed gentleman at a networking event wearing a bedazzled tie.

MSI Prestige 14 EVO

MSI Prestige 14 EVO (Image credit: Future)

The lid sports a barely-there, center-positioned black MSI logo MSI that’s difficult to see unless you hold it under a light source. I appreciate the low-key logo — not everyone wants to be a walking billboard for a laptop brand. When you open the lid, you’ll find a display with two ultraslim bezels on the left and right, however, the top and bottom frames are thicker. The top bezel houses a 720p webcam and the bottom bezel sports another subtle MSI logo.

It’s also worth noting that opening the lid impels the laptop to lift off from the surface at a five-degree angle, making cooling and typing a lot more efficient. The laptop also sports a 180-degree hinge, which supports the Prestige 14 Evo’s flip-and-share mode.

The deck is a tinge lighter than the dusky lid, giving off stone-like hues. It contrasts beautifully with the dark gray keys that have light gray letters and characters superimposed on them. The keys are larger than those on most laptops I’ve typed on, but this comes with a minor setback that I will address in the keyboard section. The touchpad — decorated with reflective blue trim — is massive and elongated.

MSI Prestige 14 EVO

MSI Prestige 14 EVO (Image credit: Future)

On the underside, you’ll spot attractively designed vents on the Prestige 14 Evo — they remind me of an audio visualizer dancing to the beat of the music.

One of the best features of the Prestige 14 Evo is its weight (2.8 pounds) and slim profile (0.6 inches of thickness). The Prestige 14 Evo shares the same thickness as its rivals: The Dell XPS 13, the M1-equipped 13-inch Apple MacBook Pro and the Lenovo Yoga 9i. The Prestige 14 Evo also shares the same weight as its competitors, save for the Yoga 9i, which is heavier by a hair (3 pounds). 

MSI Prestige 14 Evo durability and security 

If you’re a bit of a klutz like me, don’t worry — the Prestige 14 Evo passed several MIL-SPEC 810G tests. That means it can withstand drops, shock, vibration and extreme altitudes. A couple of accidental mishaps won’t render it useless.

The Prestige 14 Evo also has a biometric-authentication feature via the fingerprint scanner (located on the top-left corner of the touchpad), so you don’t have to worry about any busybodies logging into your laptop behind your back. You can also sign in with your face via the IR camera. 

MSI Prestige 14 Evo ports 

The Prestige 14 Evo’s I/O offerings are much better than its port-stingy competitors (e.g. XPS 13 and MacBook Pro).

MSI Prestige 14 EVO

MSI Prestige 14 EVO (Image credit: Future)

On the left side, you’ll find two Thunderbolt 4 ports. The right side houses a microSD card slot, a headset jack and a USB 2.0 Type-A port. USB 2.0 is a bit too passé for my tastes, but I appreciated the inclusion of the legacy port nonetheless.

If you still need more ports, check out our best USB Type-C hubs and best laptop docking stations pages. 

MSI Prestige 14 Evo display 

The MSI Prestige 14 Evo is equipped with a 14-inch, 1920 x 1080-pixel anti-glare display

MSI Prestige 14 EVO

MSI Prestige 14 EVO (Image credit: Future)

I watched the Jumanji: Level One trailer on the Prestige 14 Evo and gawked at the display as I spotted the intricate handiwork of handmade jewelry around an actor’s neck. The emerald stones on the necklace emanated a stunning shade of green. An antique, magical board game appeared on the screen and I could make out every paint stroke on the word “Jumanji.” I could practically feel the ridges from its wooden material. As a raging fire consumed an African village, rich hues of orange, red and yellow emanated from the display.

Unfortunately, my giddiness over the display came to a screeching halt when I noticed the screen’s brightness — or lack thereof. The Prestige 14 Evo’s screen is as dim as a cloudy sky, only offering 245 nits of brightness. The average premium laptop (394 nits), the Yoga 9i (334 nits), MacBook Pro (435 nits) and XPS 13 (469 nits) are all brighter than the Prestige 14 Evo. 

MSI Prestige 14 EVO

MSI Prestige 14 EVO (Image credit: Future)

On the plus side, the Prestige 14 Evo covers 82% of the DCI-P3 color gamut, which doesn’t beat the average premium laptop (85%), but it bests the Yoga 9i (76%), the MacBook Pro (78%) and the XPS 13 (69%).

Its color accuracy isn’t half bad, either. The Prestige 14 Evo has a Delta-E score of 0.2 (closer to zero is better), which matches the XPS 13’s score, but defeats the average premium laptop (0.27), the Yoga 9i (0.29) and the MacBook Pro (0.21).

MSI Prestige 14 Evo audio 

If you work with music and sound professionally, you may want to steer clear of the Prestige 14 Evo (or use proper wireless headphones). The laptop’s bottom-firing speakers made Dua Lipa’s “Levitating” sound like it was emanating from an old, cheap phone. Even at max volume, the jam couldn’t fill my medium-sized testing room.

MSI Prestige 14 EVO

MSI Prestige 14 EVO (Image credit: Future)

Hoping to find a pre-installed tuning app, I scrolled through the Prestige 14 Evo’s Apps and Features, but unfortunately, I couldn’t find anything to tweak the gritty, tinny sound. If spectacular audio quality isn’t a priority for you, the Prestige 14 Evo’s so-so speakers can be overlooked, but if you’re an audiophile, a music producer or a sound editor, this MSI ultrabook may not be for you.

MSI Prestige 14 Evo keyboard  

The Prestige 14 Evo’s backlit, island-style keyboard has its ups and downs. I love that the keys are larger than those on the average laptop. However, MSI’s decision to enlarge the keys comes with some sacrifices, including relocating the FN key. The FN key is moved to the right side of the keyboard and shares a key with CTRL. Yes, you read right — MSI created a key that is halved with FN on the left and CTRL on the right. 

MSI Prestige 14 EVO

MSI Prestige 14 EVO (Image credit: Future)

MSI also committed the grave sin of placing the power button where the Delete key is typically located — an offense we’ve pleaded with laptop brands to stop doing.

The tilde key (~) is also tinier than usual, but I don’t care too much about that; I don’t use it anyway. The awkwardly redesigned CTRL and FN keys, however, require some acclimation, and I’m a bit miffed about it. On the 10fastfingers.com test, my typing speed dropped to 82 words per minute (my average is 87-wpm). However, if I had more time to get accustomed to the keyboard, I’m sure my typing speed would spike back up to my average score. The keys, which offer 1.5mm of travel, feel a bit soft, but they’re still tactile enough for users to dive into the flow of touch typing.

I don’t dislike touchpads often, but when I do, it’s because they’re not grippy enough. The Prestige 14 Evo’s touchpad is abnormally wide; its dimensions are 5.5 x 2.5 inches. I appreciate the touchpad’s spaciousness, but I don’t like the feel of it. The slithery touchpad has a smooth, luxurious texture — like you’re running your fingers through silk. Some people may prefer this, but personally, it's a little too smooth. It’s not a deal breaker, but I like my touchpads with grippier textures.

Despite the slick touchpad, multitouch Windows 10 gestures such as pinch-zoom, two-finger scroll and three-finger tap worked like a charm. 

MSI Prestige 14 Evo performance and graphics 

Content creators who need a machine with multitasking muscle will thrive with the Prestige 14 Evo's Intel Core i7-1185G7 CPU with 16GB of RAM. I fired up “Friends with Benefits” on Netflix, two YouTube movies and 30 additional Google Chrome tabs. The MSI showed no signs of lag. 

MSI Prestige 14 EVO

MSI Prestige 14 EVO (Image credit: Future)

The Prestige 14 Evo was up against some stiff competition (save for the M1-equipped MacBook Pro, all of its rivals share the same CPU), but it actually kicked some serious butt on our synthetic tests. On the Geekbench 5.3 overall performance test, the MSI ultrabook scored 5,727, which bests the average premium laptop (4,398), the Yoga 9i (5,312) and the XPS 13 (5,639). However, the Prestige 14 Evo could not surpass the MacBook Pro’s M1 chip, which reached a score of jaw-dropping 7,584. Whew!

On our HandBrake video-transcoding test, the Prestige 14 Evo took 12 minutes and 54 seconds to convert a 4K video to 1080p, which is faster than the average premium laptop (16:30). The MSI ultrabook also zoomed past the Yoga 9i (14:24) and the XPS 13 (18:22) like the Roadrunner. The M1-powered MacBook Pro offered two different results: 13 minutes and 38 seconds on Rosetta 2, and 7 minutes and 44 seconds on the Apple Silicon beta version of HandBrake. The Prestige 14 Evo is a winner compared to the former, but a loser when pitted against the latter.

The Prestige 14 Evo, equipped with a 1TB NVMe SSD, didn’t do so hot on the file-transfer test. It duplicated 25GB of multimedia files in 44 seconds for a transfer rate of 607.9 megabytes per second. This is slower than the category average (632.37 MBps), the Yoga 9i’s 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD (692.3 MBps), and the XPS 13’s 512GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD (806.2 MBps). We couldn’t snag results from the MacBook Pro because our file-copy test is not compatible with the M1 chip.

MSI Prestige 14 EVO

MSI Prestige 14 EVO (Image credit: Future)

The Prestige 14 Evo is equipped with Intel’s integrated Iris Xe graphics (the same GPU as its rivals, save for the MacBook Pro’s M1 GPU). Intel’s Iris Xe GPU isn’t ideal for intensive gaming, but if you’re curious about how the MSI fared on our Dirt 3 gaming benchmark, it achieved 25 frames per second, which fell short of the average premium laptop (29 fps) and the M1 MacBook Pro (29 fps). However, it shared the same score as the Yoga 9i (25 fps) and beat the XPS 13 (16 fps).

When we ran 3DMark Fire Strike, the Prestige 14 Evo achieved 5,162, smashing the 4,807 category average. It also outperformed the Yoga 9i (5,104) and the XPS 13 (3,598). We were unable to run 3DMark Fire Strike on the M1-powered MacBook Pro due to incompatibility issues.

MSI Prestige 14 Evo battery life 

The Prestige 14 Evo is, of course, certified through Intel’s Evo platform, which means this laptop is guaranteed to at least offer nine hours of battery life. In fact, according to our battery test (continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi), the Prestige 14 Evo surpassed the battery-life minimum by nearly two hours with a runtime of 10 hours and 59 minutes. The Prestige 14 Evo outlasted the average premium laptop (10:15), but its rivals had a little bit more steam in their engine. The Yoga 9i (11:15) and XPS 13 (11:07) bested the MSI ultrabook.

MSI Prestige 14 EVO

MSI Prestige 14 EVO (Image credit: Future)

The MSI, Lenovo and Dell laptops, however, were no match for the MacBook Pro — it lasted a whopping 16 hours and 32 minutes. This is why it’s on our laptops with the best battery life list.

MSI Prestige 14 Evo heat 

The Prestige 14 Evo remained cool under pressure on our heat test (15 minutes of fullscreen HD video); it did not surpass our 95-degree comfort threshold. 

MSI Prestige 14 EVO

MSI Prestige 14 EVO (Image credit: Future)

The touchpad reached 78 degrees Fahrenheit. The center and underside hovered at around 87 and 92 degrees, respectively. The hottest location was an area on the bottom of the Prestige 14 Evo — about two inches left from the center — which reached 94 degrees.

MSI Prestige 14 Evo webcam 

The 720p webcam on the Prestige 14 Evo is nothing to write home about. Like most laptop cameras on the market, the Prestige 14 Evo’s camera is rife with visual noise and it overexposes light sources. However, I’ve got to give it some kudos for capturing the exact color of my maroon sweater and lilac wall.   

MSI Prestige 14 Evo software and warranty 

The Prestige 14 Evo runs on Windows 10 Home and it comes with some bloatware, including LinkedIn, Skype, Microsoft Solitaire Collection, Sudoku and Ultimate Word Games.

MSI Prestige 14 EVO

MSI Prestige 14 EVO (Image credit: Future)

Content creators will love the Prestige 14 Evo’s useful suite of productivity software, including AudioDirector, ColorDirector, PhotoDirector 10 Essential, PowerDirector 17 Essential and Music Maker Jam. I personally had a lot of fun with Music Maker Jam — I got to make my own Dubstep beat, which was an engaging experience.

There’s also the MSI Center for Business and Productivity app, which lets users register their notebook, adjust the fan speed (e.g. High Performance, Balance and Silent), turn on battery-saving mode, implement AI-powered noise-cancellation during microphone usage, acquire system information, run a disk clean-up and more.

The Prestige 14 Evo ships with a one-year limited warranty. See how MSI fared on Tech Support Showdown and Best and Worst Brands, our annual special reports. 

Bottom line 

The MSI Prestige 14 Evo blew me away with its color-accurate display, speedy video transcoding and spectacular Geekbench performance. Analyzing the Prestige 14 Evo’s strengths, I’d recommend this laptop for video and photo editors who need a machine that can handle all of their mid-level content-creation work. You’ll get nearly 11 hours of battery life, competition-beating video conversion, a durable chassis and a slim, lightweight laptop. There’s also a useful suite of pre-installed software for video and photo editing. 

However, you’ll have to get accustomed to MSI’s odd keyboard layout. Also, if you’re someone who likes to sit outdoors or your office is next to a bright window, you may have trouble with the Prestige 14 Evo’s dim display. The Dell XPS 13 has a much brighter panel at 469 nits of brightness and its battery life is slightly longer. On the downside, it’s $200 pricier than the Prestige 14 Evo and its video-transcoding speed is much slower.

Overall, the Prestige 14 Evo is a decent content creator’s laptop. It isn’t flawless, but true artists know that perfection is boring anyway.