Introduction and design
The MSI Prestige PE60 2QD ($1,099.00, £709.58, AU$1415.87) is a business laptop that has the build quality and firepower of a tank. Marketed as both a gaming unit and a workstation built for business, the PE60 really has no direct competition.
Best-in-class workstations, such as the supreme Lenovo ThinkPad W550s ($1,133, £765, AU$1,455) and the Dell Precision M6800 ($3,490, £2,075, AU$3,750) inspire productivity, but not necessarily the joys associated with gameplay.
On the other hand, gaming laptops, such as The MSI GT80 ($3,299, £2,573, AU$4,165), The Aorus X3 Plus V3 ($2,780, £1,800, AU$3,500), and The Origin EON15-X ($2,559, £1,698, AU$3,367) wouldn’t know a spreadsheet if it had to blow one up to get to level two.
What the MSI Prestige PE60 does it provide affordability and power to users who are just as serious about the work they do from 9-5 as they are about the games they play from 5-12. The consumer based price is appealing, and it is a laptop that will perform excellent Graphics and Design processes.
MSI’s newest laptop is built with a minimalist, silky, metallic silver sheen that absolutely dazzles. The laptop is big, which is usually true of gaming laptops and workstations, as the Prestige weighs 5.29 lbs (2.3995 kg) with dimensions of 15.07" x 10.23" x 1.06" (38.28 cm x 25.98 cm x 2.7 cm).
Although the Prestige’s bottom panel, which holds the battery, is thick, the upper panel is amazingly thin at 0.25-inches (6.35 mm). As you can see from its dimensions, this device is supposed to be portable. Unlike its gaming cousins, the MSI GT80, which weighs 8.33 pounds (3.78 kg), and The Origin EON15-X, which weighs 7.5 pounds, MSI wants you to be able to bring the Prestige to and from your office each day.
Carrying the MSI Prestige PE60 was like carrying a medium-sized textbook (not thick but big in width and length) to a college class. It doesn’t feel bulky or heavy and feels like a general 15-inch notebook would feel. But, when open, the PE60 is bulky enough that it is awkward to move around, say as opposed to a MacBook Pro.
The Prestige features a power button, a turbo button and a True Color Profile button that are situated on the top right corner of the base. Below these exists a beautifully laid out full keyboard with a number pad, which business users will enjoy.
Each key is identified with a big bold, back-lit silver letter that mimics the sleek aesthetic of the body. The keys are soft, yet responsive, with a nice moderate give. Playing games and entering data on the keyboard was smooth. However, the trackpad, which has two buttons for left and right clicks, is incredibly inelegant. The trackpad itself does not have any finesse and requires a bit too much finger pressure. The trackpad’s left and right click buttons are much too noisy and awkward for a laptop with such a pretty design.
The sides of the device are built with a black molding. The ports are simple, yet plentiful; on the left side: two copper cased mic and audio inputs, two USB 3.0, a Mini DisplayPort, an HDMI port, a third USB 3.0 port, and a Gigabit Ethernet port. On the right hand side: a DVD drive, a USB 2.0 port, an SD(XC/HC) card reader slot and the power input.
There are two MSI Prestige models, the PE60, which is what I tested, and the PE70 which has the same specs but has a 17.7" screen and 16GB RAM.
Here is the MSI Prestige PE60 2QD configuration sent to TechRadar for review:
- CPU: 2.6GHz Intel Core i7-4720HQ
- Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M 2GB
- RAM: 12GB DDR3L
- Screen: 15.6-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) anti-glare display
- Storage: 1TB 7200 RPM hard disk
- Optical drive: DVD Super Multi
- Ports: 3 x USB 3.0, USB 2.0, HDMI, Mini DisplayPort, Ethernet, SD Card reader
- Connectivity: 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0
- Camera: 720p webcam
- Weight: 5.29 lbs (2.3995 kg)
- Size: 5.07" x 10.23" x 1.06" (38.28 cm x 25.98 cm x 2.7 cm)
As you can see above, this beauty comes fully loaded. Installed is a top-of-the-line fifth-generation Intel Core i7 Processor that runs at 2.60GHz, 12GB Memory, a 1TB HDD, and a NVIDIA GeForce video card, all built in a beautiful 15.6" aluminum casing. Also, this laptop comes with Windows 8.1 64-Bit already installed.
The MSI Prestige laptop has a gorgeous True Color 1080p display that comes calibrated to ensure high color accuracy. The True Color Profile button enables you to switch between different preset profiles when using the laptop. The True Profile has six options, sRGB, Designer, Office, Movie, Gamer, and Anti-Blue, which each change the contrast ratio, the brightness, and hue to promote a more enjoyable experience.
The Prestige handles games and movies beautifully, with a definition that is crisp and clear. It also handles 4K output for videographers and hardcore film buffs. For those who might pursue the Prestige as an office product, to bring it in for a travelling creative team or CAD user, the Prestige PE60 will handle AutoCAD and Photoshop design. And, for the Designer who is very particular about colorization on the screen, the Prestige is perfect for you, as the LCD of the Prestige PE60 will be best suited for this specifically.
The 2.6 GHz fourth-generation quad-core processor performs really well, especially when you use the MSI Shift feature, which allows you to get the most performance out of your machine. The Shift feature allowed me to change my system’s performance on-the-fly between three different modes. The three modes are Green, Blue, and Red. Green is the eco- and battery-friendly mode, with low power consumption for both CPU and GPU. Blue is the mid-range mode that allows enough GPU consumption but not too much. Red enables you to go full throttle on both GPU and CPU.
I put the MSI Prestige on all three modes, and the Green Mode, if you’re looking for performance, should just be ignored because everything is throttled down. I mean, everything, the whole machine just travels at a slug’s pace. Comfort Mode gets you moving a little bit faster, but it is still annoying. Sport mode, the highest mode, really gets things going and you can hear that the fan is on.
When on Green my wireless bandwidth (via speedtest.net) was 12Mbps Down to 3Mpbs Up, which was really frustrating as I have 200Mb Down with 20Mb Up in my home. My iPhone 6 was getting 184.47Mbps Down to 15.17Mbps Up. When I got the Prestige on Sport mode, I found that I could get the wireless download speeds to be at 128Mbps Down to 17.11Mbps Up. Also, when in Sport mode, the Prestige really flies. This feature can, unfortunately, only be enabled when the power adapter is plugged in..
The MSI Prestige PE60 comes with a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950M Graphics card that holds 2GB VRAM GDDR5. This is a pretty amazing card that produces really good graphics for a laptop. If you are using AutoCad or you want to play games, unless you are using VectorWorks or doing 3D imaging on a very, very high level, then the MSI Prestige PE60 will be good for you. The images on the screen are crisp and clear, but the gaming aspect and how it handles, is really good. I played Battlefield 4 and Serious Sam 3 on ultra and it was stunning. I have a GTX 770 SuperClocked in my home tower and I did not feel a difference in frame rate or quality of image swapping from my power tower to the MSI Prestige PE60.
The Prestige comes with 12 GB of DDR3L 1600 MHz RAM with one RAM being 8GB and the other 4GB. The Prestige has a max capacity of 16GB for an additional upgrade cost.
Performance, flaws and verdict
The benchmark results for the MSI Prestige PE60 were as follows:
- 3DMark: Cloud Gate: 6,282; Sky Diver: 10,577; Fire Strike: 3,294
- CineBench: CPU: 489 Points, GPU: 12.57 fps
- Battery Life: 1 hour 31 minutes
I ran all of the performance tests on the MSI SHIFT Blue setting. Once I set it to Red, the fast speed, I got a score of 3306 for 3DMark Fire Strike, so you’ll get not amazing but noticeable gains when pushing this device to its optimal performance. However, because the Red mode will drain your battery quicker, I decided to run all tests using the standard mode
Now, in comparison to other workstations and gaming laptops, I have to say that they all performed a lot better.
The MSI GT80 Titan, for example, scored dramatically better on all of our 3DMark performance tests (Cloud Gate: 22,854; Sky Diver: 27,220; Fire Strike: 11,770). The same can be said for the Cinebench CPU (653 points) and Graphics test (104 fps). These poor results were consistent with the Aorus X3 Plus v3 as well as the Origin EON15-X.
When compared to enterprise workstations, the PE60 faired much better. It dramatically beat the Lenovo W550s, which received the following scores: Fire Strike: 1,426; Cloud Gate: 5,246; Sky Diver: 4,830. It also held its own against the Dell Precision M6800, which whomped it on Cloud Gate (13,879), but barely edged it out on Fire Strike (5,208).
The image quality of the LCD is really nice and the True Profile presets are really awesome. While having preset image settings for different types of use (e.g. Gaming, Working, Editing, Watching a Movie, etc.) seems to be an industry trend, the way MSI implemented it is pretty well done. The pre-calibration on the LCD of the Prestige is really stellar and it shows. This is especially nice for photo and video editors who like to punch out and immediately fire up their favorite game on the train-ride home from work.
The battery is really a point of contention for me. When the Prestige PE60 is fully charged and you go ahead and use it, then the battery lasts about 90 mins. During my test I fully charged it, unplugged it, and watched a movie on Youtube (because Flash sucks battery life out of a system) to get an idea of how good it is. But, here is something I have noticed, if the Prestige PE60 is fully charged and you close the laptop to put it to sleep, and awake it in the morning, the battery indicator will say it has 90% but after 30 mins of use it will drop significantly. My real life experience when this happened was just internet browsing, no videos, just the Facebook look and some news articles.
I downloaded Battlefield 4 and played on Ultra. I found no real issues with playing the game outside of game load speed but I’m used to an SSD setup for my games at home. The one thing I was unable to play exclusively with the keyboard and trackpad. I really don’t like the Prestige’s trackpad. I think that was the worst part of my overall experience. Sometimes it wouldn’t click accurately, it’s loud, scrolling worked only half of the time. An additional USB mouse worked wonders and dramatically improved my gameplay.
For starters, the MSI Prestige required the use of an AC Adapter upon first boot so be prepared to remove everything to get started. Now, the MSI Prestige took forever to start up after removing it from the box. First initial boot took about 8 minutes and 45 seconds and then another 5 minutes and and 22 seconds for apps to install and for Windows to update.
The MSI software preps the use of Windows 8.1. When you start up the machine for the first time, and you wait for it to boot, an application asks if you want to set up Windows 8 non-desktop mode or desktop mode, and then it asks if you want Windows 8 Preview or Apps View, and then it asks if you want to install IE or Chrome. Then you have to sign out.
I hate preloaded laptops that come with nonsense. I want the Operating System, some useful tools and drivers, and that is it. The MSI Prestige comes with Norton Security, its own MSI tools, and some other stuff that just slow down the experience. Totally, the Prestige comes with Norton Online Backup, Norton Internet Security, along with MSI-specific software to the Prestige that allows you to utilize different features like Shift, change the LCD True Profile, and a daemonized application that will act as soft-keys to turn on/off wifi, Bluetooth, the webcam, etc.
But, what is annoying is that for starters, the Prestige PE60 will not utilize the Shift feature unless the power cord is plugged in. I get it, the lower the power consumption then the longer the battery life. But, off the power cord, this machine is slow. I don’t know if it’s Windows 8, I don’t know if it’s Norton Internet Security pop-ups that happen all the time, but it is slow. Annoying slow.
The MSI Prestige comes with a 1TB 7200 RPM drive. I have switched to full SSD on my computer at home so going to a 1TB drive is noticeably slower.
The MSI Prestige has pretty awful speakers. They are okay on a lower level but if you turn the audio up then you hear a tingy sound that is treble washed with little to absolute no bass. A MacBook Pro outperforms in audio, comparatively, by leaps and bounds.
The MSI Prestige PE60 is a decent laptop when it comes to weight, portability, and basic function. I liked using this laptop, though I did yell at it a couple of times.
The keyboard on this laptop is wonderful. I’m not a keyboard nerd, but I really hate switching from different types of keyboards (e.g. switching from a Mac to a Desktop) as I find that my typing is negatively impacted, but with the keyboard in the MSI Prestige PE60 I had no problems whatsoever. Also, the backlit LEDs are a nice touch. I love Backlit LEDs, specifically on a laptop, and it is a nice color.
Gaming on this laptop was good, not great, but good. If you are a diehard gamer who needs to be at the top of the performance, then you might want to look at something else. But, if you are looking for a decent laptop that can handle games on mid-level settings, then the Prestige is something to consider. The Prestige PE60 could also handle more than just gaming, such as Photoshop, Illustrator, Video Editing, and some of the lower-tier AutoCad applications. I can’t imagine that the Prestige will be super fast rendering 3DS Max of full buildings, but it can do smaller simpler things.
I loved the LCD color as it was so vibrant and colorful. The ability to change the settings on the LCD, depending on applications and preference, on the fly are amazing. It is a nice touch, and is something that mirrors how my gaming monitors function. The sRGB True Profile setting is perfect for me but the Designer setting is perfect for applications requiring specific color palettes.
The trackpad, touchpad and mouse that are built into the MSI Prestige is just terrible. The buttons on the touchpad are clunky, they click loud and are not elegant. The trackpad is the most frustrating thing ever. I will be typing something and all of a sudden the cursor is selected elsewhere, thus adding frustration and time to what I have to do. As a systems programmer, that is really frustrating. The MSI Prestige PE60 tries to mimic the two-finger scrolling of the MacBook Pro and horribly fails. It’s spotty, at best, and does not generate a smooth scroll.
The battery life is questionable, as I have gotten good days out of it but also bad days out of it. The A/C Adapter that is packaged with the MSI Prestige is huge and annoying to carry. So, running for the power adapter is a nuisance. Now, if you are a business user and plan on this being plugged into a desktop configuration, with a monitor and external keyboard and mouse, then these things will be a minor nuisance only if/when you are traveling.
The only other thing I did not like is how bloated the install of the Operating System came, but that is pretty standard. If I were to keep this laptop, I would install Windows 7 (or Windows 10 when it comes out) as Windows 8.1 is terribly slow on this machine. I haven’t fully figured out if it’s a Windows 8 problem or an MSI Prestige problem. Updates take hours, and it is just unnecessarily long.
My recommendation is get a good gaming mouse (wireless or not) and wipe the machine clean as soon as you get it with a purchased version of Windows.
There is a lot to like about this laptop but if you are a stickler on the touchpads (I have friends who are) then you are really going to be upset about this.The keyboard though is so nice and pleasant to use. To be honest, I think the keyboard in the MSI Prestige is far better than an Apple MacBook Pro.
The MSI Prestige is no weakling as a gaming laptop or as a business workstation. It will be able to keep up with most games today, and it will let you conduct business without any issue (as long as you’re connected to a power source). Now, if you are looking for extreme power, you might want to look elsewhere.