This year, several companies, especially known for gaming laptops, have moved into the portable business and productivity sectors. It’s already a busy field, but Razer has made quite a splash with its excellent Razer Book 13, which has an elegant chassis, a 16:10 screen and just a touch of the RGB lighting of its business .
In this review, I look at the Summit Series, which is MSI’s attempt to enter the same space. The range includes the Summit E line – which includes separate GPU options and is priced to compete with top dogs like Dell’s XPS 15 – and the Summit B line, which starts at $ 999 and sits squarely in the midfield market.
I’m discussing the Summit B15 here – I looked at the Summit E15 from last fall. The base B15 contains a Core i5-1135G7, 8 GB RAM and a 512 GB SSD. I tested the more expensive configuration, which costs $ 1,249 and a Core i7-1165G7 (one of Intel’s 11th generation processors), 16GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD. The system puts solid specifications in a nice chassis, but there are a few flaws that make it a bit expensive for what it offers.
The most attractive facets of the Summit range of laptops are their appearance and appearance. They have a sleek black finish, an aluminum mold, a sleek keyboard with a backlight and a shiny new MSI logo on the lid and bottom (no dragon can be found, a first for MSI). MSI claims that the B15 has ‘military durability’, and although it is difficult to test, there is very little bending in the B15’s lid and keyboard. And with a thickness of 3.53 pounds and 0.67 inches, it is light for its size.
All in all, the B15 has a slightly utilitarian look, especially compared to the E15. The latter has a few small blossoms that have a stylish atmosphere – there are golden accents around the interface and the edges of the hinge, where the B15 is straight black. Another thing about the chassis of the B15 – it’s one of the worst fingerprint magnets I’ve ever seen. Touch the lid once, and there will be a visible stain. I used the sides of my fists to reposition the laptop while taking pictures, and still had to wipe it between shots.
Do not get me wrong, this is a nice and nice feeling chassis. But there is nothing exciting about it, and you will wipe it off a lot if you want to maintain a clean appearance.
The useful port selection is a highlight, given the thin chassis. It includes a USB-C (supports Thunderbolt 4, power supply, DP 1.4a and USB 4.0), two USB-A 3.2 Gen 2, one USB 3.2 Gen 1, one combination audio connector, one microSD reader and one HDMI connector , in addition to the power port of the plug. You also get an RJ45 Ethernet dongle in the box, which is handy. I also appreciate that I have USB-A ports on both sides.
I also like the backlight of the keyboard, which looks very classy and will not be awkward in an office environment. The keys have a nice texture and 1.5 mm movement. Three remarks to note: First, the Fn key is half-sized, and I found it a pain to hit. Secondly, there was sometimes an internal rumble in the deck, which was annoying. Third, the keys are paper than they click, and they are a little shallower than the best keyboard tests. Subjectively, I made more mistakes on this keyboard than I normally do.
The screen is also functional with reservations. It covers 98 percent of the sRGB spectrum and 76 percent of AdobeRGB, and it maximizes at 258 nets. It’s an acceptable range of color coverage and is functional enough for office use, but it’s too dull to easily use in bright settings. I would expect more from a $ 1,249 laptop. In addition, it uses a 16: 9 aspect ratio, which for some reason is falling out of fashion with premium business laptops – it’s cramped for multitasking purposes.
The one component I really do not like is the touchpad. It’s a bit small for a 15-inch laptop, and I sometimes hit the fingerprint sensor (built into the top left corner) and the top plastic while browsing. It’s also not the smoothest I’ve ever used, and my fingers would slip it pretty much. Both the material and the click feel a bit plastic compared to what you might find in a nicer model.
The Summit’s performance is good. I did not experience any problems during my regular office work. The integrated Iris Xe graphics version is not suitable for serious games, but if it’s your thing, it may cost less. I sometimes felt the system under the keyboard while doing more intense tasks, but it never got too loud or too hot. You can switch to the ‘Silent’ cooling profile in MSI’s control panel if fan noise bothers you.
With that said, two disappointments came out of my test period. Firstly, the sound from the two speakers of the B15 is not terrible and it only works well for video calls, but it delivers thin percussion and virtually no bass. I also occasionally heard distortion at the maximum volume, although I was able to eliminate it by bumping the sound a bit. The microphone of my test unit also did not work on Zoom calls, although it did work in other applications. I asked MSI about this and will update this article if they notice.
Second disappointment: the battery life. When I was driving the B15 as my daily driver at 200 just brightness, I was only five hours and 13 minutes on average. This is not entirely unexpected, as it only has a 52Wh battery with three cells – similar to what some 13-inch laptops carry at this point. On this 15-inch laptop, it’s not enough to drive you a full day if your workload is similar to mine (about a dozen Chrome tabs, slack, occasional Zoom call, something like that). One thing to note is that the B15 is loaded with Norton, which I have seen seriously in the past. I went through a battery life before I removed the software and only got four and a half hours. After knocking on the bloatware, the B15 came closer to six.
All in all, the Summit series is an excellent first step for MSI. In a market where business-focused laptops usually cost thousands of dollars, there is absolutely an audience for something like the B15, which is light, attractive and functional for just over the $ 1,000 mark. It looks and feels like a laptop that will take you to a business meeting, and it has a top Intel processor with cooling that can handle it. Professionals with a budget can definitely do worse.
But given the inconspicuous sound, battery life, and other parts of the chassis, I still think people who are willing to spend a little more will benefit from it, especially people who can live with less memory and storage. A better screen, better speakers and a better battery life can make a big difference in the daily experience, and while the B15’s beautiful chassis, large storage and business-specific features are worth a premium for some people, it’s not all s a not. highest priority.
Photography by Monica Chin / The Verge