Live Science Verdict
The MSI Prestige 14 Evo deploys solid Core i7 processors, a good keyboard, an all-day battery, and impressive connectivity – so it’s well-positioned to tackle student life. That said, you’ll find better screens elsewhere, and we’d avoid the Core i5 model unless you’re on a tight budget.
Impressive Core i7 processor
Crisp keyboard and plenty of ports
Slim, light chassis
All-day battery life
Bright but limited display
Some build quality questions
Better battery life from Apple notebooks
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CPU: Intel Core i5-1240P or Core i7-1280P
GPU: Intel Iris Xe
RAM: 8 GB/16 GB
Storage: 512 GB
Screen size: 14 in 1920 x 1080 IPS
Weight: 2.84 lbs (1.29 kg)
Dimensions: 12.6 x 8.62 x 0.63 in (319 x 219 x 15.9 mm)
Great student laptops need to tick a daunting number of boxes, and the MSI Prestige 14 Evo approaches the task with gusto – and with some of Intel’s latest internals.
You shouldn’t be short of power thanks to Intel 12th Gen processors, and elsewhere the MSI Prestige 14 A12M claims to deliver the portability, battery life, and connectivity that students need to handle home life, time on campus, and everything in between.
With U.S. and U.K. prices starting from $579 and £699, the MSI Prestige 14 Evo won’t break the bank either. That’s important when this laptop competes against the Apple MacBook Air M1, HP Envy x360 13, and Acer Aspire Vero.
We’ve run the rule over the MSI Prestige 14 Evo to find out if it’s worthy of a spot on our best laptops for students guide– or if you should leave this laptop in the store.
MSI Prestige 14 Evo review: Design & features
- A good-looking, lightweight machine with impressive connectivity considering its size
- The keyboard is fast and satisfying, and ideal for long days of work
- Build quality remains an issue on MSI laptops – this machine feels a little flimsy
Just like its big brother, the MSI Prestige 15, this smaller MSI is a smart laptop. The Prestige 14 Evo is built from stylish magnesium and aluminum alloy and is available in gray and glacier blur colors.
The clean chassis is impressive in practical departments, too. Opening the rig drops the hinge, which angles the keyboard towards the user and makes typing more comfortable. It’s a good keyboard, with crisp buttons that easily handle long days of essay writing.
Despite this rig’s small size, it’s got two Thunderbolt 4 ports, a microSD card reader, and a full-size USB port. Connectivity concludes with a Windows Hello webcam and fingerprint reader, so you’ve got two biometric login options for extra security on campus. The only notable omission is the HDMI port.
The MSI’s rivals can’t compete. The MacBook Air only has two Thunderbolt ports and a headphone jack. The HP Envy has two full-size USB slots and a microSD reader, but only one Thunderbolt connector and no biometrics. The larger Acer Aspire Vero has no card reader or Thunderbolt.
We’d argue that the MSI provides the best balance of connectivity compared to its competitors, and its dimensions also impress. At 2.84 lbs (1.29 kg) in weight and 0.63 in (15.9 mm) thick it matches the MacBook and undercuts the HP and Acer notebooks – important when this laptop will travel with you around campus.
While we’re confident that the Prestige will handle daily life thanks to its MIL-STD-810G testing, this laptop doesn’t feel robust. If you want something that feels sturdier, the MacBook Air is better.
The touchpad isn’t that good, either. It’s usable, but its buttons are irritatingly inconsistent. If you’ll frequently use this laptop on flat surfaces – from lecture theatres to libraries – then a USB mouse will be a wise investment.
MSI Prestige 14 Evo review: Specs & performance
- The Core i7-1280P is a top choice for versatile power in slim, light laptops
- Don’t bother with the Core i5-1240P processor unless you only have modest demands
- There’s no discrete graphics core in this laptop – you’ll have to rely on Intel internals
The most capable Prestige models deploy the Intel Core i7-1280P. It’s the best Core i7 chip from a range designed for slim, light laptops, and it pairs six Performance cores with an impressive 4.8GHz top speed.
The Core i7 laptops also include 16 GB of dual-channel memory, which is good for productivity and multitasking, and all include 512 GB SSDs. That’s fine storage for everyday use, especially as you won’t be installing many sizeable apps or games.
The i7-1280P scores around 1,600 and 10,000 points in the Geekbench single- and multi-core benchmarks, and that’s ample pace for running loads of browser tabs, everyday office tools, and any media player – alongside light photo-editing. It’s a top choice for almost every student task.
That Intel chip competes well with rivals, too. It’s faster than the low-power Core i7-1255U that’s used in the Acer, and it comfortably outpaces the AMD Ryzen 7 5800U and various Core i7 chips deployed inside the HP Envy. It’s faster than the Apple M1 chip when it comes to multitasking.
The i7-1280P is excellent, but the i5-1240P found inside cheaper MSI notebooks is not as impressive. In Geekbench the i5-1240P scores around 1,600 and 8,500 points. Those results outpace the low-power CPUs inside the HP and Acer rigs, but this is one area where the MacBook is better – so if you’ve got cash to spend, opt for a Core i7-1280P or the Apple notebook instead.
You’ll also notice the drop down to an i5-1240P in real-world use. You don’t get any photo-editing power, and the machine won’t be as adept with multitasking – especially because those cheaper rigs only have 8 GB of memory. The i5-1240P is only ideal for basic work.
The only other negative is the lack of a discrete graphics chip. The Prestige 14 Evo only includes Intel Iris Xe graphics, which is only good enough for basic photo-editing, watching media, and running casual or older games.
If you would like an Nvidia core, you’ll find the RTX 3050 inside the regular Prestige 14, albeit at the expense of the Core i7 processor. For student life we’d prefer to have the Core i7 CPU and extra memory – save up some cash for a games console instead.
MSI Prestige 14 Evo review: Screen & speakers
- A high-contrast IPS panel that’s ideal for everyday workloads and media viewing
- Other laptops have taller, brighter displays or convertible touchscreens for creative work
- The speakers are underwhelming – for background media duties only
The 14in IPS display has a 1080p resolution, which is exactly what we’d expect from this level of laptop.
The contrast ratio of 1,881:1 is stellar and means that everything looks vibrant. Colors are accurate, and the MSI’s screen produces the entirety of the sRGB color gamut, so it’ll churn out every shaded needed by web browsers, casual games, movies, and T.V. shows.
That’s a great start, but the Prestige’s screen isn’t good enough for Adobe RGB or DCI-P3 workloads, so look elsewhere if your degree requires a notebook for color-sensitive design workloads.
This is undoubtedly a fine screen, but rivals go further. The MacBook Air’s panel is more versatile thanks to a brighter backlight, higher resolution, and 16:10 aspect ratio, while the HP Envy has a convertible touchscreen for tablet-style usage. Those laptops have better audio, too – the MSI’s speakers are tinny and disappointing.
MSI Prestige 14 Evo review: Battery life
- You’ll get through a whole day of lectures with this laptop
- The only way to get a significant improvement is to spend more on the MacBook Air
The MSI’s battery will last for about 11 hours unless you really stress the hardware, so you’ve got enough juice here to manage a whole day of lectures, writing, and web browsing.
That’s a similar lifespan to the HP and Acer machines, and only the MacBook Air is significantly better here – expect 14 hours of use from Apple’s laptop.
MSI Prestige 14 Evo review: Price
- Prices start at $579
- Not available yet in the U.K., but can get a similar model for around £749
- Warranty policy differs by region, but generally 12 months
The cheapest MSI in the U.S. includes the Core i5-1240P processor, 8 GB of memory, and a 512 GB SSD and it’s available for just $579. Even better, though, is paying $599 to upgrade that laptop to 16 GB of memory – that’s better for multitasking.
The beefier Core i7-1280P model also includes 16 GB of memory, and it doubles the storage to 1 TB. It’ll set you back $879 in the U.S.
In the U.K., the MSI Prestige 14 Evo with the Core i5-1240P isn’t available at the time of writing, although the regular Prestige 14 with the Core i5 CPU and Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 graphics core costs £749 . That’s ideal if you’re willing to lose CPU power and gain graphical grunt for casual gaming.
If you want to stick with the MSI Prestige 14 Evo with its better CPU but without Nvidia graphics, U.K. buyers can currently buy the Core i7-1280P model, which costs £798.
These prices compare well to the Apple MacBook Air M1, which starts at $999 in the U.S. and £999 in the U.K.
The HP Envy x360 13 provides stiffer competition. In the U.S., the cheapest model costs just $699 and includes the slower Intel Core i5-1230U processor alongside the better convertible display. In the U.K., the £799 rig deploys the AMD Ryzen 5 5600U. AMD Ryzen 7 and Core i7 laptops head up towards $1,000 and £1,000.
The Acer Aspire Vero is competitive, too: its Core i5 rigs start at $629 and $599, and its Core i7 versions cost $899 and £849.
MSI Prestige 14 Evo: User reviews
On Amazon the MSI Prestige 14 Evo laptop (the one with the Intel Core i7) has 4.5 stars from 77 ratings. 74% of those ratings are 5 stars, whilst 2% are 1-star ratings.
Customers were very impressed with the fast speeds and also how lightweight and portable this laptop was, making it great for throwing in your backpack. Others warned that the laptop can get quite hot and has a tendency to overheat. Some also commented that the battery life wasn't as good as advertised, but your mileage will vary depending on how you use the machine.
Should you buy the MSI Prestige 14 Evo?
Student laptops need to be lightweight, long-lasting, and capable of handling loads of tasks, and that’s true of the MSI Prestige 14 Evo. It’s a svelte machine that will last all day, and in its Core i7 guise you’ve got the power for essays, browser tabs, and some light creative work.
The Prestige doesn’t cost much more than other Windows-based laptops with similar internals, and you get a good keyboard and impressive connectivity too.
We wouldn’t recommend the Core i5 version unless you only need a notebook for basic work though, and you should consider the HP if you want a touchscreen. The MacBook is longer-lasting and undoubtedly sturdier and more stylish, but it’s also more expensive too.
It might not be the only option for students, but the MSI Prestige 14 Evo is compact, fast, long-lasting, and affordable – so it should be right at the top of your list of contenders.
If the MSI Prestige 14 Evo isn’t for you?
The Apple MacBook Air M1 might be a bit more expensive than the MSI, but it looks better, is more robust, and has a better display than the Prestige. If you prize those attributes ahead of a faster processor, the MacBook is worth the extra cash – grab it from $999/£999. You can also pick up the MacBook Air M2 if you want the most modern version, but that'll set you back a bit more cash at $1199/£1249
The HP Envy x360 13 is a convertible with a touchscreen, so it’s a better choice if you want a laptop for creative work or a device you can use like a tablet. For the Intel Core i5 model, the HP Envy x360 13 starts at around $699/£730.
The Acer Aspire Vero is larger thanks to its 15.6 in display, and it’s an eco-friendly laptop filled with plenty of recycled components – so we recommend that notebook if you want to go green with your tech choices. Prices start from $699.99/£699.99.
Or, if you want something a bit more powerful, then check out this laptop's bigger brother, the MSI Prestige 15. As the specs as better it'll cost a bit more, with the Core i5-1240P model costing $1,099/£699. If you're in the U.S., we'd recommend going for the Core i7-1260P instead as it's better value at $1,299. Those in the U.K. should consider the Core i7-1280P rig, which costs just £999.
Mike is a freelance technology journalist and consultant who is fascinated with gaming, futuristic technology and motorsport. Previously, Mike has worked as a writer for PC Pro magazine writing and published articles on technology for many other media outlets, including TechRadar, Wired, PC Advisor, Stuff, The Inquirer and Red Bull Gaming.