I still remember it from 15 years ago. I was a Tech Magazine editor in a meeting with an Australian channel distributor and our female sales manager, 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 (both of whom have been technology sales managers), 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 this says something about technology sales and marketing: that technology is still commonly presented as masculine and that the performance-oriented components on the inside inside are often what's most important? Whatever your view, this is a striking laptop whose appearance alone will appeal to certain demographics. But is it any good?
Preamble aside, MSI’s Prestige 14 A10SC looks good to the point of being a fashion statement laptop – but it's one that is still 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 to it. Meanwhile the lid's MSI Dragon motif is understated, 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 this robustness it's just 16mm thick. It also weighs only 1.29KG which makes it very easy to carry.
The bright, 14-inch, Full HD screen (a UHD 3840 x 2160 resolution with 100 per cent Adobe RGB coverage 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) and a ΔE<2. Every unit is also manually calibrated in the factory and is 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's hinge also provides a 5o incline for typing comfort. The large touchpad is officially described as, "Silky-smooth and accurate" and we can’t disagree. It also sports an integrated fingerprint reader that is also Windows Hello compatible.
Despite the size, there’s power packed in. It uses Intel’s 10th Gen. Core i7-10710U Processor which idles at 1.1Ghz but whose hyperthreaded, six cores Turbo Boost to 4.7GHz. This is flanked by 16GB of LPDDR3-2133 RAM and a 1TB NVMe SSD. These combined to score an impressive 5,001 in PCMark 10 which sits above a typical, current-generation, office laptop and below a typical gaming laptop in terms of performance. Meanwhile the Nvidia GTX 1650 graphics chip scored 3,256 in 3DMark's 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, CS:GO, 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 gamer-oriented, Dragon Center overclocking counterpart. 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.
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.
The two, two-Watt speakers don’t get particularly loud but they produce 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 when using the official adapter. Our tests agreed.
Beyond that, it’s worth noting that the Prestige 14 comes with a matching, pink, BlueTooth mouse and a pink neoprene carry case.
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 respect. At $2,399 it’s not cheap but then a laptop this well put-together with ‘Prestige’ in the title was never going to be.
If the colour is too much for you, another, more-sober variant comes in dark grey livery with blue trim. Whichever you choose, it’s got top marks from us.
Verdict: 5/5 Simply Fabulous