MSI Prestige 13 AI Evo Review: A Lightweight and Powerful Laptop

MSI has long been an under-the-radar producer of PCs and laptops, with as many hits as misses in its repertoire. As we enter the “AI laptop” age, MSI’s first volley in the new category lands squarely on the hit side, with its Prestige 13 AI Evo nailing an effective balance among price, performance, and portability.

As the name suggests, the Prestige 13 is an ultraportable 13.3-inch laptop, featuring a 2,880 X 1,800-pixel OLED display (no touchscreen). Inside is an entry-level Intel Core Ultra 5 125H CPU with 16 GB of RAM and a 512-GB SSD. Nothing fancy, but enough to get the job done. There’s also a version with the Core Ultra 7 with double the RAM and storage for not much more.

For those of you who haven’t been following the microchip world closely, Intel’s Core Ultra series features (among other innovations) a new neural processing unit designed specifically to improve artificial intelligence operations. The “Evo” designation is bestowed on devices by Intel for laptop designs that “pass rigorous testing around performance, battery life, connectivity, audio and visual quality, size, weight, and more.”

Photograph: MSI

With that preface, I’ll start where the laptop soars the highest: performance. The Prestige indeed lives up to its name on general apps and AI-related tests. MSI’s ultralight Windows machine ran rings around the performance of the more tricked-out Lenovo X1 Carbon, which features a faster Core Ultra processor. The MSI bested it on general app benchmarks by 3 to 47 percent, depending on the test, and the difference was noticeable in daily use, as the Prestige felt whip-crack fast to load apps, recalculate spreadsheets, and the like. The picture wasn’t as rosy in its graphics capabilities, as the lower-end CPU and lack of memory suppressed frame rates on video tasks considerably—although the Prestige did perform surprisingly well on photo rendering tests.

At 2.1 pounds and 18-mm thick, this laptop is about as portable as it gets in the 13.3-inch category, though more diminutive 13.0-inch units can be a few ounces lighter. Available in white or black, the magnesium-aluminum alloy chassis isn’t the sturdiest I’ve felt lately, but at the same time, it doesn’t come across as flimsy.

Photograph: MSI

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Christopher Null