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REVIEW: MSI Mid-Range Creator Laptop Packs A Punch

Taiwanese PC manufacturer, MSI, has expanded its ‘creator laptop’ line-up aimed at creative professionals, with its mid-range Modern 14 pledging a whole lot of grunt for just over A$1,500.

Powered by an AMD Ryzen 5 4500U processor, the MSI Modern 14 (A$1,597) is a sleek laptop, with its slim, lightweight build (1.3kg) offering minimal bulk to cart along to client meetings, co-working spaces, or cafes.

Despite being immensely portable and light, the Modern 14 does not compromise screen space. ‘Ultra thin’ bezels and a minimalistic frame complement the 14-inch screen for an immersive 90% screen-to-body ratio.

If I may nitpick, the lightweight build of the laptop does render it ‘feeling’ a touch more flimsy, and less sturdy than others. That being said, MSI claims the Modern 14 has ‘military-grade durability’. Overall, it comes down to personal preference and quality perception.

Illustration and design is made pleasurable courtesy of a 1080p display screen (1920 x 1080) with NVIDIA GeoForce MX250 graphics, further enhanced for industry use with a matte finish.

MSI claims every Modern 14 display panel has undergone an ‘extensive factory calibration process’ for colour accuracy, guaranteeing colour fidelity of close to 100% sRGB. I can sense the ears of my design director friends tingling, with this claim further increasing the Modern 14’s market proposition within its target market. Even for a less refined eye, the results are striking visuals across graphic design, web development and social media curation. 

MSI’s ‘True Colour technology’ also presents preset display options to suit a range of creative uses (e.g. photo editing, video watching). 

Under the hood is an AMD’s Ryzen 7 4000 U-series processor with 8-core architecture, pledging ‘better than ever’ multi-threading processing. The laptop claims to deliver up to 70% better CPU computing than the 3000 series processor.  The result is a robust device which has little trouble trouble multitasking, and performs well across a series of synonymous applications especially whilst editing in Photoshop. 

There’s little to complain about regarding processing power especially at this price point.

I appreciate that professionals gain access to the revamped MSI Creator Center, presenting customisation options for optimal performance across many usage scenarios. Modes include ‘high-performance’, which lifts capabilities for multitasking, thereby reducing lag. Also available is a ‘silent’ mode, which is perfect for Zoom meetings in today’s COVID-19 affected climate. Each mode is easily accessible via shortcut keys.

Claims of battery life is a notable 10 hours, with my usage coming in around 8 – 10 hours based on performance required. I appreciate that I could go an entire workday with general processing and not have to charge – perfect for those days when I’m meeting different clients on-location.

Further catering to remote workers or employees on-the-go, the adapter is a compact light size – around 19% smaller and 38% lighter than ‘normal’ chargers. It’s easy to throw in my work bag without feeling too much bulk.

The MSI Moderm 14 pledges high-resolution audio, however, I found the volume levels to be comparatively lacking versus other models. A positive is its ‘Nahimic Sound Sharing’ feature which allows users to share their laptop sound with others using Bluetooth headphones – extremely convenient for workers in frequent virtual meetings amongst the coronavirus pandemic.

The Modern 14’s keyboard is comfortable, easy to type, and enjoyable especially for frequent typers like myself. Thankfully, MSI got rid of its previous font choice, now opting for a more readable option. I appreciate that backlit keys are vivid, and great for night time usage.

Remote working is enhanced via a plethora of in-built ports – a microSD card reader, full HDMI port, plus several USB-C ports – making for a great combination when working remotely from a cafe or co-working space.

Unfortunately, photo transferring via the microSD port was comparatively slower than other models.

Overall, the MSI Modern 14 is a robust laptop that has taken its mandate to appease creative professionals seriously. The mid-range price presents a compelling market proposition, and even though it’s aimed at creators, I can see the laptop being suitable for students and general business professionals.

The MSI Modern 14 is a versatile mid-range laptop that offers plenty of grunt, and is likely to appeal a range of business professionals: accountants and creatives alike.

RATING: 7.8/10

The MSI Modern 14 is available to purchase in Australia from authorised local retailers including JB Hi-Fi for A$1597.

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