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Although MSI is usually known for its gaming line of products including laptops like the Stealth (review) and GF63, it also makes business and productivity notebooks. Off the three series from this category viz. Summit, Prestige, and Modern, here we have got a recent model from the lattermost — The MSI Modern 14. It is a mid-range office laptop that’s a cut-down in configuration from the brand’s other offerings. Still, it vaunts to be modern in terms of its form and function. My review unit ships with a 14-inch FHD display, the latest 11th gen Intel CPU, M2 NVMe SSD, a 52WHr battery, and Thunderbolt 4, among other things. All of this is packed within a compact and comely chassis that should be easy to carry around too.
Well, I have been using it as my daily driver for the past couple of weeks in which its looks and lightness have left a good impression on me. But, for the asking price of ₹67,990, it begs the question, whether it measures up to modern ultrabook standards, for the price that is?
This is the Smartprix review of the MSI Modern 14 (B11MO-235IN). Let’s find an answer to that question.
But first, a glance at the contents and components —
On to the review now.
MSI offers the Modern 14 in three colors viz. Beige Mousse, Blue Stone, and Carbon Gray. The evaluation unit I’m having with me flaunts the first one. Beige Mousse, whatta fancy name, eh? Well, the rose-golden hue is striking for sure. But, whether that’s gucci or gaudy depends on your taste.
Color-preference aside, the design is rather congenial. The silky matte finish offers a chalky feel on touch. The logo prints on the lid and beneath the display are slightly reflective. At 1.3Kg and thanks to a small footprint, you wouldn’t feel it’s heft on your lap. This also means it should be easily portable and packable when you are finally back to office and are on the road.
As for connectivity, you are getting WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1 for wireless communications. And for physical connections, there are a DCIN power port, an HDMI (with support for 4K60 content throughput), a USB-C (with Thunderbolt 4, DisplayPort but no charging), and a microSD card slot on the left side. On the other hand, the right side houses two USB A ports, an audio combo jack, LED indicators. The notable omission is an ethernet port.
The top part of the clamshell extends and bends below the bottom board. The hinge (which is sturdy enough) allows a 180° relapse too. This should benefit during on-table office presentations. The aluminum shell offers good structural strength.
Down by the base, there are the ventilation pores, a Battery Reset Hole, and the Stereo Speakers (more on this in the next section).
This hinge and the well-distributed weight balance lets you raise the lid with one hand.
Once you open the lid, inside, you’ll see a 14-inch LCD panel with 1080p resolution, 60Hz refresh rate, and 47% NTSC color representation. This setup is sufficient for ordinary work and media consumption. Be it the beautifully horrific scenes of Castlevania (Netflix) or the bittersweet world of Dia (2020), the display is presentable. It is very bright, with an anti-glare finish and is usable outdoors too. The viewing angles aren’t broad.
Likewise, the color gamut must be basic for a creative professional. So, know what you wanna see.
As for the sound, even with all the Nahimic audio effects, the result from the 2 x 2W speaker duo is anemic. I had the FxSound equalizer to boost the volume. You may as well. Or else, stick to the 3.5mm output, which was quite pleasant, I should say. However, the wireless audio did lag a bit. The LatencyMon also tells the same.
The built-in mics are fine for video calls. The webcam is a run-of-the-mill 720p at 30FPS sensor without the IR projection. This means not only the video quality is sub-par but you don’t get Windows Hello Face unlocking option. There is no fingerprint reader as well.
Coming downwards, there is a TKL keyboard with 84 keys and 1.5mm key travel. The keycaps are large in size. There are handy shortcuts on the function keys. Even though I find the placement of certain keys like Delete and Function odd, once you get a hang of it, I was able to type at speed. The white backlight glows good and can be turned down to two more levels and completely off.
The touchpad below is okay for the part with multi-touch and decent responsiveness. On the either side of it, there’s ample palm-rest place too.
Unlocking the machine with a text password gets you into 64-bit Windows 10 Home with several pre-installed apps. This includes the CyberLink suite of audio-video editing apps, Norton antivirus, Music Maker Jam, Nahimic audio companion, Remote Desktop, and MSI Center. You can uninstall these if you don’t want to. I suggest keeping the MSI Center for it lets you tweak performance modes and presents some system utilities and info.
Modern 14 is up to date at the core with Intel 11th gen Core i5-1135G7 processor. This is a quad-core chip based on 10nm architecture with 8 threads, a base clock speed of 2.40GHz, and a boost frequency of 4.20GHz. This is married to an 8MB L3 cache, 8gigs of single-channel DDR4 RAM (3200MHz), and 512GB M.2 NVMe PCIe SSD storage. The RAM is only single-channel, but you can remove the pre-installed 8GB RAM chip and max the slot with up to 32GB. For more storage though, you may check out the higher variants of this lappy.
The configuration is suitable for most of the routine tasks across timelines. The system boots up in a jiff. I faced no lags or jitters during my usage. A typical workday entails dozens of Edge tabs, Spotify in the background, some YouTube vids, file transfer, photo imports, basic editing, file/windows opening-closing, etc.
Since my workflow lacks any creative chores or heavy loads, I took help of simulations and here are the results:
The synthetic test scores fall short of the values from AMD counterparts, which reveals how this machine isn’t cut for process-intensive tasks.
Now as for gaming, although this isn’t meant for that either, I did run GTA V’s built-in benchmark and the machine scored an average of 20FPS. I figure you may get slightly better gameplay from the Nvidia MX450 models of this machine (if they’re available in your region).
Anyway, be it casual gaming, entertainment, work, or studies, the 52WHr cell inside should fetch you decent battery life. I was getting about 3.5 hours while doing the regular office work (including tasks mentioned in a previous para). On this, I binged 4 hours of Family Man S02 too. In the PCMark 10 battery test, Modern 14 clocked 5 hours. All this is with Better Performance Power Mode and 50-percent brightness. Your mileage may vary if you are more conservative. Finally, replenishing the battery takes around 2 hours.
In this modern-day and age, it’s not just how one carries thyself but what they carry around also reflects their personality. If you think so, the Modern 14’s posh and plush design should move you. Speaking of moving, the form factor makes it very much ultraportable. The port selection and battery life are also fine. And then when you are stationary on a chair or couch, the typing experience should be comfortable too, thanks to both the key arrangement and the backlight. Placement of few keys might require practice, but mostly it is good.
Now, I share this “mostly it’s good” opinion for the FHD display and the day-to-day performance as well. For a regular user, whose work doesn’t demand color-accurate screens or lots of processing power, the Modern 14 should suffice. However, if it isn’t the case, you may eye for MSI’s Prestige 14 (at a higher price tag) or any other competing machines in this range.
Finally, as the father of modernism, Louis Sullivan popularly phrased, “form follows function”, and so make your buying decision based on whether this laptop functionally fits your bill or not.