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MSI Prestige 15 review: A great value business workhorse

An affordable business laptop with excellent battery life, a discrete GPU and a very good keyboard

Price
£831 exc VAT
  • Good battery life
  • Excellent keyboard
  • Wide range of ports
  • Competitively priced
  • Subpar 720p webcam
  • Soldered RAM

The MSI Prestige 15 is essentially a larger screen version of the Prestige 14 we looked at earlier in the year. Not only do the two machines look similar they also share two important components; the Nvidia GeForce RTX3050 discrete GPU and Intel's latest Alder Lake GPUs. Like the 14inch model, the Prestige 15 is a wholly conventional business notebook that should appeal by virtue of familiarity and value. At the time of writing the most powerful i7 version that we are testing is available for just £831 exc VAT.

The Prestige 15 is also available with a Core i5 1240p processor and with the slightly more powerful RTX3050Ti GPU. Some markets also get a version with a 4K display but the UK seems to only be getting the FullHD models. The only other model currently available in the UK is the i5 / RTX3050 model which costs £665 exc VAT.

MSI Prestige 15 review: Design

If you had to show someone a stereotypical 15in business laptop the Prestige 15 would be an ideal candidate. It's an all-aluminium affair that's available in two low-key colours – Urban Silver and Carbon Grey – with very little that is either remarkable or noteworthy about the design. The display bezels are not unusually slender by modern standards (6mm at the sides, 10mm at the top, 18mm at the bottom) and there are no speaker or vent grilles in the deck to signify any sense of adventure by the designers. Put it side-by-side with a Dell XPS 15 and the word dowdy comes to mind.

That said, it's perfectly sturdy and at 1.69kg it's lighter than the XPS 15 and just a little larger at 356.8 x 233.7 x 18.9mm, but not by enough to make any real difference. Like the Prestige 14, the 15's display will fold back to 180 degrees and has a dedicated rotate button so you can spin the image around to share information with someone sitting across a desk from you.

Removing the bottom panel from the Prestige 15 is straightforward once you've undone the seven Philips screws holding it in place. Once inside you'll find a second, spare 2280 SSD slot though it is only PCIe 3 spec rather than the PCIe 4 standard of the occupied slot alongside. The wireless card is also removable but the memory chips are fixed in place.

MSI Prestige 15 review: Display

The Prestige 15 has a 60Hz non-touch IPS panel measuring 15.6in corner-to-corner with a traditional 1,920 x 1,080 resolution, a 16:9 aspect ratio and a pixel density of 141dpi. Maximum brightness is a relatively low 294cd/m2, which is acceptable for indoors but not much use out in the sun. It supports 91% of the sRGB colour gamut which is good, if not slightly lower than the 94.7% scored by the 14. The 1022:1 contrast ratio is similarly par for the course.

Only in terms of colour accuracy does the Prestige excel with a Delta E variance against sRGB of just 1.34. Usefully MSI has preloaded a control panel called True Colour that lets you adjust display properties and swap between sRGB and Rec. 709 which is a common colour space for video projects. Against REC 709, the Delta E was slightly higher, but still impressive, 1.53.

MSI Prestige 15 review: Keyboard & touchpad

The Prestige 15's keyboard is every bit as good as the Prestige 14's, though it also shares the same small drawbacks. It is spacious, and solid while the graphics are extremely clear. The 1.5mm key action is light, precise and responsive making it one of the better keyboards on any business laptop. The two-level white backlight shines through the translucent sides of the keys as well as the caps which is a great design touch and really helps with legibility in medium and low-light environments.  

There are two niggles with the layout though; the Function key is only a half-width affair and placed to the right of the spacebar, while the right return key is single rather than double height – they're typical MSI traits but neither is our preference. On the positive side, you do get four full-sized cursor keys and dedicated Page Up and Page Down keys. 
At 140 x 65mm, the glass trackpad is not especially spacious for a 15in laptop and you lose some space to the fingerprint scanner that sits in the upper left corner. The pad works reliably though and the click-action at the bottom is both deep and positive. 

MSI Prestige 15 review: Specs and performance

Running the ITPro in-house benchmark the Prestige scored 279 which is a good result for a productivity laptop. That compares well to the 247 scored by the Prestige 14 which runs on an Intel Core i5-1240P processor rather than the Core i7-1280p chip in the larger machine. However, both scores are a little on the low side for laptops with discrete RTX3050 GPUs because in both cases the GPU is limited to a TGP of 40W rather than the more common 60W or even 80W.

The rather stingy 8GB of DDR4 RAM doesn't help matters, even if it is in a quad-channel configuration, and keep in mind that RAM can't be upgraded as it's soldered to the motherboard.  

In all other ways, the Prestige 15 is a very solid performer, as you'd expect from any machine built around a 12th-generation 14-core i7 processor. The GeekBench 5 benchmark scored 1,754 on the single-core run and 11,509 on the multi-core run. You won't see scores much higher than that from any laptop regardless of price.The 512GB Samsung-made SSD proved impressively quick with sequential read and write speeds of 4,401MB/s and 3,043MB/s respectively.

MSI Prestige 15 review: Battery life

Battery life was a letdown of the Prestige 14 but the 15 is an improvement thanks to a much larger 4-cell, 82Wh unit. This kept the Prestige 15 running for 11hrs 55mins in our usual run-down test which consists of looping a standard definition video in VLC with the screen brightness at 170cd/m2 and Airplane mode engaged. For comparison, the Prestige 14 only managed 6hrs 25mins albeit from a 52Hw battery while the 2021 XPS 15 barely staggered over the 7-hour mark despite an 86Wh power pack.

In more general use we were regularly able to get through a full working day at the office with 30% of the charge remaining and that's amongst the best you'll get this side of a MacBook Pro

Battery drain - and performance - can be changed using the MSI Centre Pro app, which lets you swap between High Performance, Balanced, Silent and Super Battery. The F7 key lets you cycle through the settings without having to open the app. We conducted the performance tests in High Performance and the battery test in Balanced. There is also a 100W Type-C charger that can fully recharge the battery in 2hrs though the first 30mins of charge gives you 35%.

MSI Prestige 15 review: Ports and features

When it comes to connectivity, the MSI steals a major lead over the competition from Dell and Apple because the Prestige 15 is very well endowed with ports. On the left, you'll find two Thunderbolt 4-spec Type-C ports as well as an HMDI 2.1 connector and 3.5mm audio jack while on the right there are two Type-A USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10Gpbs) ports and a MicroSD card slot. For comparison when it comes to data/video ports the Dell XPS 15 only has two Thunderbolt 4 and one Type-C port while the MacBook Pro has three Thunderbolt 4 ports. MSI's offering is by far the more generous and versatile.

It's a shame MSI didn't take the opportunity to upgrade the webcam, however, because the 720p installation is a pretty dismal affair, looking dull, drab and noisy in anything other than perfect lighting conditions -- and it's not great even then. At least it supports Windows Hello IR facial recognition, which gives users two biometric security options. It also has an e-shutter activated by hitting the F6 key. Wireless communications are handled by an Intel AX211 card that supports the latest 6GHz Wi-Fi 6E specification and Bluetooth 5.2. 

MSI Prestige 15 review: Verdict

Anyone who uses a laptop for work is likely to prioritise battery life and keyboard quality and on both counts the Prestige 15 delivers in spades. It is good value considering the specification; the 40W TGP limit on the GPU is unlikely to cause any problems unless you really want to do some surreptitious gaming on the company hardware. 

MSI deserves plaudits for equipping its Prestige-line machines with a comprehensive selection of ports but we would have liked to see at least 16GB of RAM at the entry level and an improved quality webcam to better suit this new era of hybrid working. However, the MSI Prestige 15 is a great-value business workhorse.

MSI Prestige 15 Specifications

Processor

Intel Core i7-1280P

RAM

8GB 

Graphics adapter

Nvidia GeForce RTX3050

Storage

512GB

Screen size (in)

15.6

Screen resolution

1920 x 1080

Screen type

IPS

Touch screen

No

Memory card slot

Yes

3.5mm audio jack

Yes

Graphics outputs

1 x HDMI 2.0 / 2 x Thunderbolt 4

Other ports

2x Type-A USB3.2 Gen 2, 2 x USB Type-C

Webcam

720p

Speakers

Stereo

Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi 6E (802.11ax)

Bluetooth

5.2

Operating system

Windows 11 Home

Dimensions (WDH)

356.8 x 233.7 x 18.9

Weight (Kg)

1.69Kg

Battery capacity (Wh)

82Wh

 
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