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MSI Prestige 15 review

Portability, power and endurance for content creators

MSI Prestige 15
(Image: © Future)

Our Verdict

The MSI Prestige offers portability, power and endurance in an attractive chassis targeting content creators.

For

  • Lightweight, attractive chassis
  • Vivid, luminous 4K display
  • Solid performance
  • Good battery life

Against

  • Grainy webcam
  • Mediocre speakers

Calling all creatives! MSI is yearning to win the affections of photographers, video editors, and other artsy professionals with the new Prestige 15 A10SC. The company hopes to seduce on-the-go creative professionals  with its ultraportable, lightweight laptop, which is powered by a six-core, 10th-Gen Core i7 U-series processor and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q GPU.

The grainy webcam, though, is less-than-impressive and the sound quality of the laptop’s speakers is mediocre. I wouldn't suggest this laptop for webcam-heavy users or audio creatives.

MSI Prestige 15 price and configuration options

Over the weekend, I channeled my inner mad scientist and tested the priciest configuration: the $1,799 15.6-inch MSI Prestige 15 A10SC. This unit is jam-packed with a 1.1-GHz 10th-Gen Intel Core i7-10710u hexa-core processor, 32GB of RAM, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q GPU with 4GB of VRAM, and a 1 TB NVMe PCIe SSD. It also features a 4K UHD display with a 3840 x 2160 panel.

If you'd like to save a few smackaroos, you can nab the $1,499 iteration or the $1,399 base model; both are equipped with 16GB of RAM and a 512GB NVMe SSD, but you'll have to sacrifice the 4K display if you'd like to purchase the latter. Unlike the $1,799 and $1,499 versions, which have a 3840 x 2160 display, the base model has a 1920 x 1080 panel. All three versions are equipped with Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.

MSI Prestige 15 design

This bad boy is dapper and debonair! The MSI Prestige 15's aluminum, elegant design mimics the aesthetic of a suave, color-shy businessman who often says, "Wealth is quiet." The laptop's sandblasted texture and rich charcoal motif is understated and austere, but its sleek, urbane character gives off an air of sophistication.

MSI Prestige 15

(Image credit: Future)

Superimposed on the hood is the faint yet fierce MSI dragon logo. The inner lid is framed with super-slim bezels, save for the bottom bezel, which is a thicker anomaly. The bottom bezel features a black, barely-there MSI logo that you'd have to squint to notice. Below the bottom bezel lies a quasi-hidden vent that is nestled between the laptop's hinges. The top bezel houses a webcam; this is where it’s meant to be. And yes, that was a dig at other laptops – ahem, the MSI Modern 14, for example – that have an awkwardly placed, unflattering, look-up-your-nose webcam on the bottom bezel.

MSI Prestige 15

(Image credit: Future)

The large island-style, backlit keyboard is easy on the eyes. The jumbo-sized white letters and characters on the stone-colored keycaps provide a soothing visual experience, especially for users who don't have the best visual acuity. Squinting will be a thing of the past with this perfectly scaled keyboard. Outlined with a lustrous, blueish-purple trim, the super-wide touchpad features a quick-response fingerprint sensor on the top-left corner.

At 3.6 pounds and 14.4 x 9.2 x 0.6 inches, this lightweight, ultraportable laptop fit snugly into my everyday bag while leaving plenty of space for my huge accordion folder and other riff-raff (like my delicious Chipotle burrito leftovers). Weight-wise, the MSI Prestige 15 bests the HP Spectre x360 (4.6 pounds, 14.2 x 9.8 x 0.8 inches), Dell XPS 15 (4.5 pounds and 14.1 x 9.3 x 0.5-0.7 inches), and the 16-inch MacBook Pro (4.3 pounds, 14.1 x 9.7 x 0.6 inches).

I noticed some flex on the lid of the MSI Prestige 15, but the overall build quality of this laptop is very solid and sturdy.

The coolest part of the MSI Prestige 15's design is the 180-degree lay-flat hinge that allows users to convert the laptop into collaboration mode. In other words, you can push the display all the way down to the surface, and press F12 to digitally flip the screen upside down to face someone sitting across from you. This is an excellent feature for collaborative creatives.

MSI Prestige 15 ports

No need for an array of dongles because the creator-friendly MSI Prestige 15 is equipped with seven ports. On the left side, there are a pair of Thunderbolt 3 ports; both can be used to charge the laptop with its 90-watt power adapter. 

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MSI Prestige 15

(Image credit: Future)
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MSI Prestige 15

(Image credit: Future)

On that same side, there's also an HDMI 2.0 output, plus a 3.5mm combo audio jack. On the right side, there are two USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A ports and a microSD card reader.

MSI Prestige 15 display

This laptop's 4K display will make you drool with awe, particularly with videos that feature vibrant, rich hues, such as the picturesque 4K YouTube nature content I watched with psychedelic rainbow-colored fish dancing underwater and stunning, slithering serpents that seemed so tangible, I could almost feel their scaly skin through the screen. . 

I watched the 4K version of Tears of Steel, and I could spot all the beautiful imperfections on the characters' faces, from skin bumps underneath a man's eyebrow to blonde strands of vellus hair on a woman's cheek.

MSI Prestige 15

(Image credit: Future)

Though my eyes widened with awe while watching color-rich 4K video, my wonderment trickled down to disappointment during visuals of earthier tones such as dark greens, rusty browns, off-blacks, and opaque grays. In duskier scenes, I spotted a tiny bit of noise that was not visible during colorful visuals, but it would take super-close inspection to recognize it.

It's not surprising that the display reproduced 159% of the sRGB gamut, which is higher than the category average (147%). However, the Dell XPS 15's 4K non-OLED and OLED displays blew the Prestige 15 out of the water at 210% and 239%, respectively. The Prestige 15 fell within the same range of the HP Spectre x360's non-OLED 4K display (157%). On the plus side, the Prestige 15 outdid the 16-inch Apple MacBook Pro display (114%), but to be fair, the latter's non-4K display specs makes it an unsuitable opponent.

At 428 nits of brightness, the MSI Prestige 15 skyrocketed above the category average (319 nits), and slightly skated by the Dell XPS 15 4K non-OLED version (418 nits). But the OLED 4K XPS 15 smoked the Prestige 15 at a whopping 626 nits. The 16-inch Apple Macbook Pro outdid the Prestige 15 in brightness, but not by much at 429 nits. The non-OLED HP Spectre x360 is no competition at 247 nits.

MSI Prestige 15 audio

Listening to Jhené Aiko's “None of My Concern,” I was neither blown away nor disappointed by the MSI Prestige 15's speakers. Aiko's vocals are typically ethereal, but on the Prestige 15's speakers, the songstress' voice lacked that studio-quality fullness. I've heard better, but the audio isn't tragically awful either. It's worth noting that the speaker grills are located on the bottom of the laptop, which may contribute to the off-kilter vocal sounds.

You can optimize the laptop's audio to suit your personal harmonious tastes by experimenting with Nahimic, a built-in audio enhancer app, which features sound presets for music, movies, communication (e.g. listening to podcasts), and gaming. You can change the decibel levels for bass, treble, and voices. You can also switch on Surround Sound, which, in my opinion, provides more of an immersive audio experience, and I'd recommend it for watching your favorite films, TV shows, and streaming content.

There's also a Volume Stabilizer, and when it's on, your eardrums will thank you because it helps to maintain a steady, constant volume – even during sudden jumps in your audio's amplifications.

However, I should note that Nahimic didn't significantly improve sound quality. Even after experimenting with the audio enhancer app, I was still unmoved by the Prestige 15's speaker quality. It's simply OK. As the old saying goes, "it does the job.”

MSI Prestige 15 keyboard & touchpad

I breezed through typing this review on Google Docs while tapping away on the MSI Prestige 15's visually-pleasing keyboard. You can control the keyboard's white backlight by pressing F8, which offers three levels of brightness. The illumination is perfect for typing away in poorly lit areas, such as a dark cabin on a nighttime flight or a dim studio. The large keys and characters, as if augmented by a magnifying glass, add an extra level of visual assistance and optic ease. 

Key travel is short, but I still felt comfortable and at home while typing on this keyboard as if I've had this laptop for years. On the 10FastFingers.com writing test, I climbed up to 89 WPM, which is slightly higher than my usual 85 WPM.

MSI Prestige 15

(Image credit: Future)

The space-hungry, elongated 5.5 x 2.5-inch touchpad was beautifully responsive in terms fingertip sensitivity. The touchpad is also supported with Microsoft's Precision drivers for Windows 10 gestures; pinch-to-zoom and two-finger scrolling worked perfectly. I could easily open the Action Center with a three-finger taps.

One gripe I have with this touchpad is the undefined left-and-right buttons. If I wanted to use the right-click button, for example, there are times my finger wouldn't fall within the invisible right-click boundary and I'd either get no response or receive a left-click reaction. However, once you get accustomed to it, figuring out the confines of the left-and-right buttons become second nature, and actions such as dragging and highlighting work like a charm. 

Due to its length, the touchpad got in the way of my right hand's palm-resting position, so I did have to keep my hands slightly hovered over the keyboard to avoid grazing the touchpad with my right palm.

On the top-left corner of the spacious touchpad, there's a Windows Hello-compatible fingerprint sensor.

MSI Prestige 15 performance

Fired up with a 1.1-GHz Intel Core i7-10710U s Comet Lake processor with 32GB of RAM, the MSI Prestige 15's multitasking capabilities were impressive. I opened up 37 tabs in Google Chrome; five were playing 1080p YouTube videos simultaneously. While that was going on, I watched the second episode of The Mandalorian on Disney Plus. Keeping everything playing without pausing, I navigated to Google Docs and started plugging away. Despite all the tab juggling, the laptop didn't slow down. 

Let's zoom in on the Geekbench 4.3 test results, which examines the laptop's overall performance. The MSI Prestige 15 gave us a score of 19,022, which dangled behind the category average of 25,370. The Prestige 15 also paled in comparison to the scores of the 15-inch HP Spectre x360 (Core i7-8750H), the Dell XPS 15 (Core i9-9980HK), and the 16-inch Apple MacBook Pro (Core i9 CPU), which produced scores of 21,889, 28,882, and 31,178, respectively.

MSI Prestige 15

(Image credit: Future)

After conducting a hard drive speed test, we discovered that the MSI Prestige 15's 1TB NVMe PCle SSD took 7.7 seconds to duplicate 4.97GB of multimedia files, which translates to a transfer speed of 660.9 megabytes per second. This trailed behind the category average of 787.3 MBps, but the Prestige 15 surpassed the Dell XPS 15 (1TB PCle SSD) and the 15-inch HP Spectre x360 (1TB SSD), which scored at 508 MBps and 565.5 MBps, respectively. When it comes to the 16-inch MacBook Pro (2TB M.2 PCle NVMe SSD), the Prestige 15 didn't stand a chance - the beastly Apple laptop smoked the competition at a whopping 1,017.9 MBps.

The MSI Prestige 15 proved to be a slacker in our HandBrake Video Editing Test; it took 14 minutes and 46 seconds to transcode a 4K video to 1080p, which fell behind our category average of 9 minutes and 19 seconds. The Prestige 15 also trudged behind the HP Spectre x360 (10 minutes and 45 seconds). The Dell XPS 15 and the 16-inch Apple MacBook Pro shamed the Prestige 15; they’re both tied at 8 minutes.

The MSI Prestige 15 is touted as a content creator's fantasy laptop, not a gaming rig. But after working all day, creatives need a break to enjoy some play, right? Outfitted with the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q GPU, you can enjoy some light gaming on low-to-medium settings.

On the Dirt 3 benchmark, the Prestige 15 hit 181 frames per second, beating the 54 mainstream laptop average. The XPS 15, which has a GTX 1650 GPU reached 80 fps while the Spectre x360 (GTX 1050 GPU) obtained 61 fps. 

After you've had your fill of immersing yourself in the shoes of an elite assassin, the Prestige 15 will swap over to its integrated Intel UHD Graphics.

MSI Prestige 15 battery life

We tested how long the MSI Prestige 15 could stay alive with our Laptop Mag Battery Test, which involves continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness. The Prestige 15 lasted for 7 hours and 55 minutes, which isn't the best, but considering the Prestige 15's power-consuming, vibrant 4K display, it's actually not that bad. 

The Prestige 15 beat the 6:34 mainstream average. . The 4K Dell XPS 15 lasted longer, though, at 8:48 (the 4K OLED version lasted for 8:7). The 4K non-OLED HP Spectre x360 also outlasted the Prestige 15 by 14 minutes (8:09). The 16-inch Apple MacBook Pro had all the other laptops eating its dust with a time  of 10:55.

For a laptop cranking out a vibrant 4K display all day, the Prestige 15's battery life isn't awful, but there are competing laptops that fare better.

MSI Prestige 15 heat

I noticed that the MSI Prestige 15 became considerably toasty in the area above the function keys while I was testing the unit for its multitasking muscle. I have perpetually cold hands that turn into icicles during New York City's frosty weather, so I quite liked having a makeshift fireplace to warm up my fingers as I watched The Mandalorian on Disney Plus.

MSI Prestige 15

(Image credit: Future)

On our heat test, which involves streaming a 15-minute, FHD video in full screen, the touchpad on the MSI Prestige 15 measured 79 degrees Fahrenheit, which fell perfectly below our 95-degree comfort threshold. The middle of the keyboard (88 degrees) and the laptop's underside (89 degrees) were well tempered as well. The hottest location, the area between the bottom display bezel and the F11 key, sizzled up to 99 degrees.

MSI Prestige 15 webcam

When I opened MSI Prestige 15's 1080p webcam, all I could say was, "meh." The camera lacked that crisp-and-clear detailed image quality that we all crave. But here's the silver lining: if you're using this webcam to chat with your long-distance honey, your imperfections and flaws will be obscured by the fuzzy digital noise. So yay, I guess?

MSI Prestige 15

(Image credit: Future)

On the plus side, the webcam offers excellent color vibrancy and it is well-saturated; it captured the true hues of my peach-painted walls, rich burgundy curtains, and chestnut, wooden chairs. Still, I wouldn't rely on the Prestige 15's webcam for your active YouTube channel or other professional settings. I would recommend attaching an external webcam.

MSI Prestige 15 software & warranty

The MSI Prestige 15 offers an important piece of software: the MSI Creator Center. This application allows you to track your CPU, GPU, and RAM. You can also tune the colors of your display with presets for Gamer, Anti-Blue, sRGB, Adobe RGB, Office, and Movie. For everyday usage, I preferred the default Adobe RGB setting. The Creator Center also makes it easy to manage the health of your battery. You can also access the user manual and product registration through this app.

You also have the ability to manage your favorite creative programs here, such as Adobe Illustrator and After Effects.

The Prestige 15 has a handful of built-in apps that cater to creatives, such as CyberLink's AudioDirector 7, ColorDirector 5, PowerDirector 17, and PhotoDirector 10. The laptop does have with the usual bloatware that comes with the Windows 10 Pro OS, including Netflix, Solitaire, and Skype.

MSI ships the Prestige 15 A10SC with a one-year warranty. See how MSI fared in our Tech Support Showdown and our Best & Worst Gaming Laptop Brands ranking.

Bottom line

If you’re looking for featherweight, ultraportable laptop, the $1,799 MSI Prestige 15 is a fantastic option since it weighs considerably less than its competitors. It’s got solid performace with its 10th Gen Intel Core i7 CPU and Nvidia GTX 1650 Max-Q GPU. The 4K display offers rich color that’s plenty bright. And the Flip-and-Share mode is perfect for collaborative creativity.

However, if you’re looking for more multitasking power and longer battery life, I’d recommend the 16-inch MacBook Pro if you can afford it or the Dell XPS 15 if you’re on a bit of a budget. But if you’re looking for a sleek, powerful content creation laptop that is ripe for collaboration, the MSI Prestige 15 is the way to go.