The MSI Modern 14 offers good build quality for its price (around S$1,000). It's a well-made, affordable notebook for the masses. Perfect for students, and office workers with a plain design that blends into the classroom or office. It's also available in more lively colours such as my beige rose review set.
- 14-inch 1,920 x 1,080-pixel IPS screen
- Intel Core i5-1155G7 processor with 16GB system memory and 512GB SSD
- 39 watt-hour battery
I was pleasantly surprised at the Modern 14's build quality. For a mainstream notebook, I wasn't expecting a sturdy, aluminium chassis that had little flex. The hinge, for example, feels stiff, and doesn't wobble. I also liked how I could open the laptop with just one hand. And the lid actually opens flat to 180 degrees. This is handy for work, especially during discussions or presentations when used together with a keyboard shortcut that flips the screen upside down. I also find the 180-degree hinge useful for watching videos in bed with my knees up. The notebook, though, isn't quite as sleek as premium models. And at around 1.4kg, it's also not as lightweight as more expensive ultrabooks like the LG gram Style.
The Modern's 14-inch IPS display has a matte anti-glare finish that's great for bright, well-lit offices. For a mainstream notebook, the colours and viewing angles are decent, while the screen's 1080p resolution is adequate. The bezels are thin and narrow. The 720p webcam gets the job done, but it's far from the best. And as you'd expect, it's not an infrared camera that supports face recognition. While facial recognition is probably out of the question for a cheap notebook, MSI could have included a fingerprint sensor. The backlit keyboard has decent key travel, but the directional arrow keys are really small. I do like the generous size of the touchpad, though it doesn't feel as smooth as the ones in higher-end notebooks.
With an Intel Core i5 processor, 16GB of memory, and a 512GB solid-state drive, the Modern 14 has fairly typical hardware for a mainstream laptop. The ports (three USB-A, USB-C, HDMI, and microSD card reader) should also suffice for the average user. My review set (Modern 14 C11M) has an older 11th-gen Intel Core chip — it's probably one reason for the laptop's affordable price. But I doubt you can tell the difference between this chip and the latest 13th-gen version when it comes to office apps. Its PCMark 10 score of 4,771, for example, is in the same ballpark as a recent business notebook like the Dell Latitude 7430 2-in-1 (4,950). If you're the more hands-on type, the preloaded MSI Center Pro app lets you do some tweaking. You can prioritise specific apps, run tests on the hardware, and disable the webcam, among other tasks.
Battery life, though, could be better. The MSI Modern 14 lasted around 6 hours in a video playback test at maximum brightness. That's barely enough to last a typical work day, and falls short of most ultrabooks. On the other hand, the smaller battery in this MSI notebook probably helps to keep the weight down. But perhaps the most important detail here is the Modern 14's price. At just under S$1,000, it's relatively affordable for a well-made mainstream notebook with its features and performance. Get it now from MSI, Lazada, Shopee, and Amazon SG.
Note: Review unit provided by MSI.
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