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Saturday, 16 May 2020 16:44

MSI Prestige 14 A10SC Rose Pink laptop review Featured

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MSI's Prestige 14 has the chassis footprint of a 13-inch laptop MSI's Prestige 14 has the chassis footprint of a 13-inch laptop MSI

Is MSI’s latest laptop as fabulous on the inside as it is on the outside?

I still remember it from 15 years ago. I was a Tech Magazine editor in a meeting with an Australian channel distributor and our sales lady, who normally checked out of the conversation once we started talking about the technical intricacies of products, literally yelped out loud when a case for a BlueTooth speaker was put on the table. Why? Because it was bright pink. She said, “I want that.” She didn’t know what it was.

Fifteen years, two unicorn-obsessed daughters, a #metoo movement and a collapse in gender stereotypes later, MSI’s latest, high-end, Prestige laptop arrived on my doorstep. It’s metallic rose pink. With the wife and her best friend downstairs, I wondered whether attitudes might have changed, so I popped down holding it without saying a thing.

Let’s just say that they too wanted it at first glance. A lot. They didn’t care about the specs, power or portability.

Perhaps it says a great deal about where technology sales and marketing are – that technology is still presented as masculine and focuses on what’s inside? Perhaps it doesn’t? Either way, this is a striking-looking laptop whose appearance alone appeals to certain demographics. But is it any good?

Build Quality

Preamble aside, MSI’s Prestige 14 A10SC looks good to the point of being a ‘statement laptop’ – but one that is sophisticated enough to suit the C-Suite. It’s also very well built. The sandblasted aluminium chassis feels very robust and strong while the lid flexes very little. Even the air intake grille on the underside, with its urban outline, suggests a better-than-average attention to detail has been paid. Meanwhile the MSI Dragon motif is understated and sophisticated and a lifetime away from the garish MSI logos of yore. Despite the prettiness, it’s actually Military-grade MIL-STD-810G certified and despite the robustness it weighs just 1.29KG and is only 16mm thick which makes it incredibly portable.

The bright, 14-inch, Full HD screen (a UHD 3840 x 2160 resolution with 100 per cent Adobe RGB variant is available) is surrounded by a thin bezel. It’s part of MSI’s Creative range and so has a high pixel density (220 pixels per inch) has a ΔE<2 and every unit is manually calibrated in the factory and CalMAN verified. It supports almost 100 per cent of the sRGB colour gamut and the screen can be laid flat and flipped easily (with the F12 key) to show content to clients.

Meanwhile, the top-mounted HD (with infra-red) webcam ensures that the camera position is as flattering as possible. It’s also Windows Hello compatible, so you can sign-in just by looking at it. The full-sized, back-lit, Scrabble-tile, 1.5mm travel keyboard is very comfortable to type upon, stretches from edge to edge and includes full-sized arrow keys. The screen hinge also provides a 5o incline for comfort. The large touchpad is described as silky-smooth and accurate and we can’t disagree. It also sports an integrated fingerprint reader that is Windows Hello sign-in compatible.

Performance

Despite the size, there’s power packed in. It uses Intel’s 10th Gen. Intel Core i7-10710U Processor which idles at 1.1Ghz but whose hyperthreaded six cores Turbo Boost up to 4.7GHz. This is flanked by 16GB of LPDDR3-2133 RAM and a 1TB NVMe SSD. These combine to score an impressive 5,001 in PCMark 10 which sits above a typical office laptop and below a typical gaming laptop in terms of performance. Meanwhile the Nvidia GTX 1650 graphics chip scored 3,256 in Fire Strike Extreme. This means that while it will struggle with the latest AAA titles it can still manage to play competitive games like Fortnite, CSGO, Overwatch and League of Legends.

Performance can be tweaked and tuned to an impressive degree using MSI’s Creator Center app which is an expanded version of MSI’s Dragon Center overclocking stalwart. While you can still dial performance up and down to suit power consumption or silence, you can also prioritise apps and even choose the number of cores and threads they take up - which can be particularly useful for rendering graphics and compiling code.

Connectivity

On the left are two USB-C ports that are ThunderBolt 3 compatible. One is used for the power adapter. There’s also a MicroSD card reader with UHS II (300MB/s) transfer speeds. On the right are two Type-A USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports plus a 3.5mm audio jack. Wi-Fi 6 and BlueTooth 5 are also catered for.

Other features

The two two-Watt speakers don’t get particularly loud but they produce quite a well-rounded sound... if you don’t mind not having any bass.

MSI promises that the three-cell, 52Wh battery will last 10 hours in Eco mode and can absorb enough power for one-and-a-half hours' operation with just a 15-minute charge with the official adapter.

Beyond that, it’s worth noting that the Prestige 14 comes with a matching pink BlueTooth mouse and a pink neoprene carry case.

Conclusion

While the wife’s verdict of, “It’s pink. Who gives a s***, as long as it works?” will be enough for some, even our more-considered conclusion is that this is a fabulous laptop in every area. At $2,399 it’s not cheap but then a laptop this well put-together with ‘Prestige’ in the title is never going to be.

If the colour is too much for you, another, more-sober variant comes in dark grey with blue trim. Whatever you choose, it’s got top marks from us.

Verdict: 5/5 Simply Fabulous


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Nick Ross

Nick Ross is a veteran technology journalist who has contributed to many of Australia's top technology titles and edited several of them. He was the launch editor of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation online Technology section.

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