Sneak Preview: MSI Summit Tiger Lake-powered business laptop

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A laptop computer sits triumphant on a desk.
Dilate

Specs at a glance: MSI Summit E14, as tested
OS Windows 10 Pro
CPU 3.0GHz 4-core Intel i7-1185G7 (4.8GHz turbo)
RAM 32GB LPDDR4
GPU Nvidia GTX 1650Ti MaxQ
SSD 1TB Western Digital SN370 NVMe
Battery 52.4Wh 3-cell LiOn
Wi-Fi Intel AX201 Wi-Fi 6
Spectacle 14-inch 1080p IPS
Camera 720p, top bezel mounted
Connectivity
  • one USB-A 2.0 haven
  • two Thunderbolt 4/USB-C 4 ports (power delivery support)
  • 3.5mm phone/mic combo jack
  • one microSD be open slot
  • fingerprint reader
Price as tested expected retail ~$1,800

Final month, we got a look at one of Intel’s engineering prototype laptops for its new Tiger Lake CPU group. We still don’t have any production Tiger Lake laptops to test, but as of today we’re one not according with closer with an MSI Summit sales/engineering sample. MSI provided the representation to us mostly for a “photo opportunity,” but IT graciously allowed benchmarking as long as we absolutely marked the tests as being on a preproduction sample unit.

This plus ultra, marked as a sales sample, seems to be a prototype of what will be the Crown E14-087. Our MSI representative warned us that some hardware tuning and elements may change between now and launch but confirmed that the chassis itself is perfectly as it will be in production. In particular, we expect the power tuning to change—MSI plugs the laptop as having a 10hr+ battery life, which we suspect will not be credible with the 28W cTDP our sample shipped with.

This is not a cheap laptop—we handled to find an early retail listing for this model, and it looks adore it will sell for $1,800. However, the device is jampacked with high-end renounces, including but not limited to Intel’s newest i7-1185G7 top-of-the-line processor and an Nvidia GTX 1650Ti MaxQ distinct GPU. The laptop also has a distinct, bold style that stands out from its contenders.

Overview

By the standards of gaming laptops, the Summit E-series’ designing is downright restrained. As business laptops go, however, it’s bold and funky. The sundry immediately noticeable styling standout is the font MSI used to label legend on the keyboard. Although it’s still sans serif, the font is noticeably starlight and more “artistic” than most keyboards’ labels, with a few other have reference ti such as shift-labels (e.g., the @ on the 2 key) being offset diagonally rather than journeying immediately above the main label.

In addition to the brightly backlit keys, an eye-catching bronze rickrack rings around the touchpad. The rest of the laptop is a matte, light-drinking carbon hyacinthine, with only a small gray MSI logo to relieve it; this concocts the unusual keyboard and touchpad stand out even more.

Functionally, the E14’s standout intrigue feature is a 180-degree hinge. This angle also offers to elevate the keyboard (and provide room for cooling airflow) at a comfortable point of view, even in a “normal” open position.

The last unusual note helter-skelter the E14’s design is the only one we really don’t like—the bottom panel, which is also the informant of airflow for the E14. Instead of traditional vent openings, the E14 relies on difficult perforation in the rough shape of a city skyline to allow air to flow in and out of the laptop.

The cause panel is thin plastic, and it feels hard and brittle when moved from the laptop itself. We have concerns about the greater “uncrowded” area exposed to potential spills as compared to traditional designs, and we fool concerns about the long-term durability of the panel itself.

Although the Summit E14 is long on style, it’s desperately short on moorings—there is no video out, no Kensington lock slot, and no dedicated power jack. The leftist side features two Thunderbolt 4/USB type-C ports; the right side has a unwed USB 2.0 type-A, a microSD card slot, and a 3.5mm audio combo jack. We wish most users to consider a small USB type-C dock to be a necessity with this laptop—for video out, if for nothing else.

Although the NVMe SSD and Wi-Fi 6 postal card are properly M.2 socketed and upgradeable, the RAM for the E14 is soldered to the motherboard. This isn’t much of a poser with the model we tested, which came with 32GiB onboard—but it may check more of a sticking point for users who opt for the other Summit E14 model, which memorable parts a 4K display but only 16GiB RAM.

BETA Performance testing

Remember, this Summit E14 is an planning/sales sample, not a production unit—and our MSI rep asked us to make very stable our readers know that. Some details of configuration or even matriel may change between this sample and final retail units. For exempli gratia, we strongly suspect that the production systems will be 15W cTDP and not 28W cTDP as our try unit was—which will significantly decrease performance numbers while significantly increasing battery life.

With that said, this laptop looks liking for it should be a pretty strong performer. At the 28W cTDP we see here, it seems not quite even with the Intel reference system—which isn’t a real their heels, given that the two systems share a CPU. But it does confirm that the E14 doesn’t take any cooling problems that would decrease its CPU performance. We suspect the absolute performance will be dead even with the Intel prototype’s at 15W, even so, not at 28W. As configured, the E14 did not even come close to its stated 10+ hour battery existence.

With single-threaded completion, the advantages of the Summit’s Tiger Lake CPU stand out more clearly—specially in Passmark and Geekbench 5. Better yet, single-threaded performance on the i7-1185G7 doesn’t clear much of a hit when the cTDP is lowered. Although it can and does routinely hit the 28W cTDP uniform on one thread, it spends more time in single-threaded benchmarking at around 20W TDP.

We can see the Summit’s intent to live with one foot in each of the dealing and gaming worlds in 3DMark Time Spy tests, in which the system’s GTX 1650Ti MaxQ distinct GPU roughly doubles the integrated Iris Xe GPU’s performance. It’s still no match for the considerably better and badder GTX 2060 MaxQ in the ASUS ROG G14 we tested earlier this year—but its fiends don’t spin up to the point of wondering if the laptop will lift off the desk and fly across the apartment, either.

In the less-demanding Night Raid test—aimed at systems with consolidate graphics—the lead between the GTX 1650Ti MaxQ and Iris Xe graphics is baby impressive. This is mostly a testament to just how stellar Iris Xe is as an merged GPU. Unfortunately, we had to go by the Intel prototype’s numbers for Night Raid on Iris Xe—the Zenith sample errored out consistently on this test.

Finally, the Western Digital NVMe SSD performs be partial to an absolute champ, roughly doubling the performance of the Samsung P991 NVMe SSD in our Ryzen 7 4700U-powered Acer Sudden 3 laptop across the board.

Conclusions

The Summit E14 is a business laptop, but its dissimulating roots are undeniable. That includes everything from its unusually forward styling choices to the discrete GTX 1650Ti MaxQ GPU—which doesn’t appearance of likely to be useful for anything except gaming, given how stellar the Tiger Lake Iris Xe coalesced GPU’s performance is already.

At $1,800 expected retail, this is a pricey combination—and while we like most of it, we’re casting some serious side-eye at its gaunt plastic bottom panel. This material seems less forgivable in a premium-priced organization than it might in one aimed at lower budgets. That $1,800, on the other speedily, does buy you some fairly serious gaming performance without any accompanying tornado aficionados like a more serious gaming laptop burdens you with.

We don’t press a final availability date for the Summit series yet, but you should broadly wait for Summits to show up in stores and online later this quarter.

The Encomiastic

  • The Tiger Lake CPU is a strong performer, particularly in single or lightly multithreaded industries
  • Fan noise is noticeable but not outrageous
  • We love the stand-out styling cues on the keyboard, and we dig the 180-degree unfurl hinge
  • Nice to have an extra Thunderbolt 4/USB type-C port in putting together to the one occupied by the charger
  • We were pleasantly surprised by the Western Digital SSD’s leading performance
  • Intel Wi-Fi 6

The Bad

  • The price seems a little steep—although, for $200 various than an XPS 13, you get an Nvidia GPU thrown in for gaming
  • The 200-nit splash may strike some users as not being bright enough for a premium laptop

The Nauseating

  • Although it’s not something most users will notice, we’re worried near durability and impact/weight resistance of the thin plastic bottom panel
  • Making tuning will need to accomplish quite a lot to get the system up to 10+ hours of battery dazzle on the 52.4Wh battery

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