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MSI Modern AM271P 11M review: An underwhelming everyday workhorse

A capable all-in-one for everyday workloads, but it's neither fast nor packed with features

Price
£786 exc VAT
  • Sleek, sturdy chassis
  • Good mainstream screen quality
  • Reasonable Core i7 CPU
  • Slow
  • Occasional fan noise
  • Short on features

An all-in-one PC makes plenty of sense for people who want a productivity system that doesn't take up lots of space, and the MSI Modern AM271P is one of the sleekest examples we've seen for a long time.

This rig includes an Intel Core i7 processor, for instance, but it only weighs 7.4kg and it's no larger than a desktop monitor. It's an impressive array of hardware considering that this system only costs £786 exc VAT, but the MSI also faces plenty of competition from small systems, and from MSI's own more compact AM241.

MSI Modern AM271P 11M review: Design

Indeed, the MSI AM271P is so slim that you wouldn't think it was a PC at all - it's only 170mm from front to back. MSI has done a great job to cram the components inside this machine without expanding its footprint, and the entire package is no larger than a conventional 27in display.

The components sit inside a thicker band across the bottom of the rear, and the design is straightforward and unassuming. The base is simple, the panel has slim bezels, and the plastic rear features glossy and brushed metal finishes. It won't draw attention or take up much space in the office, and we don't have any build quality concerns either, as this is a sturdy, robust system.

It's easy enough to assemble the MSI once you get it out of the box - although you will need a screwdriver - and a rudimentary on-screen display can alter basic settings, like the brightness and contrast levels. 

Like most displays, the MSI also has movement options. It's got a decent 130mm of height adjustment, and it's got 24 degrees of tilt action alongside 75mm VESA mounting support. Sadly, there's no swivel ability and the MSI doesn't support portrait mode usage.

MSI Modern AM271P 11M review: Display

The MSI looks like an office monitor, so it's no surprise that the 27in IPS panel has a 1920 x 1080 resolution with a 60Hz refresh rate. That's a normal specification for a work display, and it's fine for everyday tasks - you've got plenty of room for Office apps and web browsers. That said, it's a bit tight if you want to use a couple of windows simultaneously, and a higher resolution will give you more space alongside sharper imagery.

The resolution sits alongside run-of-the-mill mainstream quality. The MSI's peak brightness level of 266cd/m2 is fine for office use, but the black point of 0.34cd/m2 is a bit high and creates a mediocre contrast ratio of 782:1. That means the MSI delivers bright, breezy output without much depth.

The panel's delta E of 2.23 is good, the screen renders an acceptable 92.8% of the sRGB colour gamut, and the colour temperature of 5,788K is warm. Those figures are fine, and supply decent accuracy in mundane tasks, but the MSI can't handle anything trickier.

Indeed, this panel doesn't have the pixels, colour ability or contrast to tackle creative roles and colour-sensitive workloads, but it's enough to make web pages and Office apps look bright and vibrant.

MSI Modern AM271P 11M review: Hardware and performance

Around the back of the screen you'll find the MSI's components - and, given that the hardware is crammed behind the display, it's no surprise that MSI has essentially transplanted modest laptop hardware into the back of the panel.

The Intel Core i7-1165G7 is a low-power laptop chip with four Hyper-Threaded cores and a Turbo speed of 4.7GHz. MSI pairs the CPU with 16GB of dual-channel DDR4 memory and Intel's integrated Iris Xe graphics core. 

When tested with the IT Pro in-house 4K media benchmarks the MSI returned an overall score of 134 points. That's better than any laptop we've tested with the same 11th Gen Core i7 hardware, and it's enough power to run mainstream tasks easily -- this chip never struggled with multi-tasking, handling loads of browser tabs, or doing some light media work.

That result is twelve points behind the same CPU in the smaller MSI Modern AM241, and it falls further back when stacked up with proper desktop hardware: the aging Core i5-10400 in the Dell Inspiron 3881 scored 140, and MSI's tiny Pro DP21 11M used an i5-11400 to score 158. AMD's mid-range APUs, like the Ryzen 5 5600G inside the MSI Pro DP20Z 5M, are even faster.

Apple's M1 processor is far quicker, too: the MSI scored 1,577 and 5,251 in Geekbench 5's single- and multi-core benchmarks, while the latest Apple 24in iMac scored 1,748 and 7,681. Cupertino's all-in-one starts at £1,041 exc VAT, but the CPU chip also appears in the Mac Mini -- and that starts at £583 exc VAT.

In short, while it's entirely expected for all-in-one systems to rely on laptop internals, it's not difficult to find more computing power, and the 512GB SSD delivered only mediocre read and write speeds of 2,471MB/sec and 1,835MB/sec. And while there's no denying the convenience of having your hardware in the back of your monitor, those smaller, faster MSI machines both have VESA mounting systems, so they can be attached to the back of many displays. If you don't want to mess with VESA mounting, those systems and Apple's Mac Mini rigs are so small that they can be stashed almost anywhere.

The AM271P isn't always silent, either. In tough single- and multi-core workloads you'll notice modest but evident fan noise emerging from the MSI's rear. A typical office environment or even quiet music will mask it, but this is not a silent system.

MSI Modern AM271P 11M review: Ports and features

The middling performance gives way to predictably conventional connectivity. On the MSI's left-hand edge you'll find pairs of USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A and Type-C ports. There are two USB 2.0 ports around the back, and a third USB 2.0 connector that points upwards from the middle of the screen's rear. That latter port is clearly designed for the 1080p webcam that MSI includes in the box. MSI also packages a basic keyboard and wireless mouse with this PC, although those peripherals weren't included with our sample.

All of those USB ports are easy to reach - with the rear-mounted connectors facing outwards - and the MSI also has HDMI inputs and outputs. That's handy if you want to daisy-chain another monitor for additional desktop real estate, or if you'd like to attach a notebook or PC to the panel.

Connectivity comes from the usual trio of dual-band Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.1, and Gigabit Ethernet. The MSI has no card reader, and its speakers are quiet and tinny - even the cheapest external kit would be far better for background office ambience. The PC does have TPM 2.0 and a Kensington lock slot, but it's without Thunderbolt and DisplayPort.

The only easy upgrade path can be found beneath a flap on the rear - remove its cover with a single screw and you'll find a 2.5in drive bay that's ripe for a secondary hard disk or SSD.

MSI Modern AM271P 11M review: Verdict

The underwhelming feature set is symptomatic of the MSI Modern AM271P 11M as a whole, which is a capable but bland machine. Its mobile internals have enough power for everyday tasks but you'll easily find more elsewhere, and the screen offers fine quality without the finesse required for creative tasks. The MSI makes a bit too much noise and it doesn't have any surprising features.

If you want more computing power, small form factor rivals deliver more grunt inside tiny enclosures. You'll often be able to buy one of those machines and have enough cash left over for a comparable 27in display. Plenty of smaller devices have better connectivity, and you'd be better off with a dedicated screen for creative work. If you want to spend more, you can even get an iMac.

That said, if you want a slim, compact and decent-looking Windows-based all-in-one that's got the power and quality to handle ordinary tasks - alongside all the peripherals you need to get going -- the MSI does get the job done at a reasonable price.

MSI Modern AM271P 11M Specifications

Processor2.8GHz Intel Core i7-1165G7
RAM16GB DDR4
Graphics Intel Iris Xe
Storage512GB SSD
Display27in 1,920 x 1,280 IPS
Operating systemWindows 10 Home 64-bit
ConnectivityDual-band 802.11ax WiFi, Bluetooth 5, Gigabit Ethernet
Ports2 x USB 3.2 Gen 2, 2 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C, 3 x USB 2, 1 x HDMI in, 1 x HDMI out, 1 x audio
Dimensions612 x 170 x 554mm (WxDxH)
Weight7.4kg
Warranty1yr RTB
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