For the previous week, I’ve been utilizing a preproduction unit of MSI’s Summit E15, slated for launch later this yr. It’s a part of the Summit collection, MSI’s first try to interrupt into the premium enterprise laptop computer area.
That’s not the best market to overcome. Staff and firms have a variety of moveable, sturdy, and extremely regarded choices to select from, from Dell Latitudes and Lenovo’s large heap of ThinkPads to stunning high-end units just like the MacBook Professional and HP’s Elite Dragonfly.
We don’t know actual pricing for the Summit E15 but, but it surely’ll be between $1,699 and $1,899. That places the product someplace within the center. It’s dearer than many common client laptops, but it surely’s nonetheless concentrating on the decrease finish of the premium enterprise pocket book area. Units just like the ThinkPad X1 Carbon, the HP Elite Dragonfly, and the Macbook Professional 16 can run over $2,000 of their highest-spec configurations.
Whereas MSI nonetheless has some kinks to work out, I can say the E15 isn’t fairly the Dragonfly on the subject of construct high quality. But it surely’s definitely a well-made and engaging gadget that’s simple to hold across the workplace.
There’s definitely no hazard of mistaking the Summit collection for MSI’s Trendy line — it has the modern and refined vibe of a premium enterprise pocket book, very similar to HP’s EliteBooks. The physique is aluminum, and the end (MSI calls it “India ink”) has a easy and comfy texture. I used to be initially skeptical when MSI marketed “military-grade sturdiness,” but it surely definitely feels sturdy. There’s no flex within the lid and little or no within the keyboard.
That’s signal for a tool this measurement — it’s 3.94 kilos (but it surely feels lighter) and .67 inches thick. It’s in no way an issue to hold round the home with a stack of papers or slide right into a stuffed briefcase for a commute.
There are some good touches to the design. On the lid, you’ll see MSI’s lustrous new brand. It’s minimalist and fashionable, and it’s positively extra appropriate for a boardroom than a dragon and defend (the corporate’s common branding). The backlit keyboard is refined however appears to be like good in opposition to the black deck.
The keyboard itself feels a bit flat, although MSI says there’s 1.5mm of key journey. It has an honest click on and isn’t too loud for an workplace surroundings. I additionally like the important thing font, which is pleasant and simple to learn. There are some useful hotkeys, together with one which cuts the webcam, one known as “Flip-N-Share” that turns the display the wrong way up if the laptop computer is laid out flat, and one which pulls up MSI’s Heart for Enterprise and Productiveness, the place you’ll be able to tweak numerous efficiency settings.
The touchpad is my least favourite a part of the chassis. It’s simple to press, however the materials and the clicking each really feel a bit plasticky. It was additionally frustratingly unresponsive and infrequently stopped working completely. That’s one other factor MSI assures me it’ll repair earlier than mass manufacturing.
And the opposite factor that’s a little bit of a bummer is the 2W audio system. They’re simply not very loud. I did a couple of Zoom conferences on the E15, and even with the amount all the way in which up, I had bother listening to the audio if there was actually any noise round me (say, an air conditioner or a barking canine). When you’re a distant employee, that’s price taking into consideration.
Contained in the E15, you’ll discover Intel’s new 11th Gen Tiger Lake processors. My configuration got here with a quad-core Core i7-1185G7, the highest finish of that line (in addition to 16GB of RAM, 1TB of storage, and a GTX 1650 Ti Max-Q GPU). You possibly can choose a UHD 4K show, which MSI says covers 100 % of the Adobe RGB gamut, an FHD touchscreen, or an FHD non-touch show (which my mannequin has). It comes with a four-cell 82Wh battery and a 90W USB-C charger. The port choice is superb, together with two Thunderbolt four USB-C ports that help energy supply and DP1.4a, two USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports, one HDMI, one microSD, and one mixture audio jack.
Safety is a crucial component of enterprise laptops, and MSI is touting a variety of options. The Summit collection is outfitted with TPM 2.zero safety chips in addition to Home windows Hey face and fingerprint authentication, and you’ll lock the USB ports and SD slot. There’s an LED subsequent to the webcam to point whether or not it’s on or off, which labored as marketed. (There are additionally LEDs on the keyboard to let you realize whether or not the ports are locked, the audio system are muted, and the microphone is on or off. These didn’t work on my unit, however MSI says that’ll be mounted for the ultimate launch.)
Software program-wise, you’ll be able to arrange a BIOS password, which shall be required at boot-up or when coming into BIOS settings. And the techniques will, sooner or later, help Intel’s vPro platform, which presents further safety and administration options — anticipate that mannequin someday after Q1 2021.
MSI’s drivers aren’t finalized but, and the corporate says efficiency on this unit isn’t akin to what you’ll see from the true factor. So I’ll be capable of replace you on how properly all these items works later this yr, when the ultimate unit is prepared.
Till then, assuming that MSI is ready to iron out the kinks I encountered, I’m optimistic concerning the Summit collection. It doesn’t fairly really feel like a MacBook Professional or an HP Elite Dragonfly, but it surely’s definitely properly constructed and appears prefer it’s on the way in which to being a aggressive choice within the business-laptop area. I’ll possible be reviewing the gadget sooner or later within the subsequent few months, so be at liberty to let me know within the feedback what questions you’ve gotten and what you’d like to listen to about.
Pictures by Monica Chin / The Verge