Yes, you read that right. If you are looking at spending your money on a Dell XPS 15, hold on for just a second. We have an alternative which matches the Dell XPS 15 in almost every respect, and then betters it where it really matters. Yes, we are talking about the MSI Prestige 15, the latest generation iteration which runs the 10th generation Intel Core processor series. In fact, the MSI Prestige 15 matches the XPS 15 for build quality, a 4K display and a fantastic keyboard, while being lighter too. That’s it then, the big battle between the thin yet large screen laptops that we want as desktop replacements.
The MSI Prestige 15 variant that we are reviewing here (it’s the MSI Prestige 15 A10SC, to be specific) is priced at around Rs 1,49,990. The similarly spec-ed Dell XPS 15 has a price tag of Rs 1,40,090. You really must pay that little bit more, however. There is also the Full HD display version of the MSI Prestige 15 with the rest of the specs being the same and that’s priced at Rs 1,14,990—it undercuts the similarly spec-ed Full HD display version of the XPS 15 which is priced at Rs 1,24,090. There are reasons why I am saying what I am saying.
Let us start with the design. It is an aluminum chassis, which is perhaps what you would expect. But the way this comes together visually, had me sold the moment I pulled this out of the box. The sandblasted finish on the lid is gorgeous to look at, particularly because it gives off a very subtle hue of blue at certain angles as light reflects off it. The chamfered frame adds a bit of shine to the otherwise very understated personality. In a way, the MSI Prestige 15 seems to be a firm believer in minimalism. The MSI dragon logo doesn’t shout out like the way it would perhaps on a gaming laptop. If you are looking for something suave in the world of large screen laptops, it doesn’t really get much more on the point than the MSI Prestige 15. Even the cooling vents near the display hinge have been designed thoughtfully to look good. And they do!
Just a note of caution, it does catch fingerprints quite easily. But unlike a glossy colour, this sandblasted finish isn’t exactly difficult to wipe and keep clean either. Open the lid, and the good work on the aesthetics continues without a stumble. There are very slim bezels on three sides of the display, and on the bottom bezel is the barely-there logo. The webcam is above the display—as it should be—unlike the completely unnecessary experiment that Dell tried on some XPS laptops in the not too recent past. You’ll probably not notice it the first time, but there is a fingerprint sensor integrated on the top left of the touchpad (which itself is fairly large). I quite like this placement, to be honest, because even if you aren’t looking, the finger will find its way to this sensor by detecting the outer contours of the touchpad. All through, the MSI Prestige 15 gives off the blue hue which is a pleasant departure from the otherwise grey or black laptops.
That being said, it is a bit disappointing to see the keyboard deck flex a little if you press down a tad harder than usual, particularly towards the display hinge. The Apple MacBook is what laptops in the Windows ecosystem aspire to become, and these are the sort of things that need to be ironed out. It is not a deal breaker, however.
For a laptop with a 15.6-inch display, you’d perhaps expect it to be heavy. The Dell XPS 15 tips the scales at 2kg. So, what about the MSI Prestige 15? Its 1.6kg. Yes, its 1.6kg. Not too heavy now, is it? Initially, I did notice that it’s a tad heavier on the far side, that is towards the display hinge. Not exactly the best balanced, the first time you pick it up. But it is something you get used to. The Prestige 15 is also shaving off those few millimeters from the footprint, which makes it a tad more compact. The Prestige 15’s dimensions are 356.8mm x 233.7mm x 15.9mm while the Dell XPS 15 logs into the measurement stakes with 357mm x 235mm x 17mm. The MSI Prestige 15 is thinner, less wide and less deep. Great then, for your backpack and your back.
The Prestige 15 is meant for creators and pretty much anyone who want a laptop powerful enough to replace the big black box and that horrible looking monitor on your workstation. For that, ports are crucial because these users won’t really bother with dongles. You get two Type-A USB3.2 Gen2 ports, two USB Type-C ports which support the Power Delivery (PD) charging standard as well, a microSD card slot and one HDMI out in case a projector or secondary display beckon.
Speaking of displays, the 15.6-inch display—MSI calls this IPS-level. It doesn’t take long to notice what all this display does well. There are hardly any reflections that get in your way, which is good news if you have irritating ceiling lights in your office. Colours look vibrant, without any hint of unnatural oversaturation. It’s a bright display too. Perhaps the one area where I feel it could have done well is reproduce deeper blacks, but then again, how many times will you actually watch a 4K movie on this to notice it? I quite like the MSI True Colour utility (now True Colour 2.7 version) that is preinstalled on the MSI Prestige 15—you get a whole host of display modes including AdobeRGB. Anyone who is regularly editing photos and videos would probably want to check this out. But the one issue potentially caused by this app (deduction because the bug went away when the True Colour app was disabled) is that it randomly changes the display brightness level.
A comparison with the Dell XPS 15’s 4K display does suggest that while the XPS 15 is brighter, it does also have a more reflective display.
MSI has gone with the 10th generation Intel Core processors (Comet Lake, to be precise). This runs the Core i7-10710U processor paired with 16GB RAM. The integrated Intel UHD graphics are complemented by what would be good news for a lot of users—the GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q graphics. All said and done, this specification set will not slow down to pretty much any multi-tasking scenario you may throw at it. With 22 tabs open in Chrome (streaming 4K videos on YouTube on three of those without pausing), streaming a 4K movie on Netflix, five Microsoft Word documents active and loading a PowerPoint presentation at the same time, the MSI Prestige 15 didn’t even bother taking a deep breath. It just got on as if nothing has happened. Apart from the power, a lot of that also has to do with how fast the 1TB SSD is.
Keyboards are something that I am very finicky about. And every laptop that I review, ends up having the keyboard compared with the Apple MacBook Pro, which in my opinion sets the benchmark for the typing experience. The MSI Prestige 15 does have a well laid out keyboard, though placement of the ‘backspace’ and ‘delete’ keys takes a bit of getting used to. That being said, the key spacing and the individual key size is spot on. In fact, this keyboard is very similar to the ones on the premium HP laptops, and I’ve always appreciated those. It was quite quickly that I got used to the layout and the key travel on this MSI Prestige 15 keyboard. In fact, the key travel is a tad more than the Apple butterfly keyboard and a bit less than the new scissor keyboard. I’d say, MSI has done the balancing act well.
The touchpad, though large, follows the new design trend where the right and left click keys are unmarked. Perhaps to keep the design clean and simple. Over time, your fingers will better remember where they are.
Battery life is always a tad lower on laptops with the 4K displays compared to Full HD screens—the extra pixels require more power, after all. Still, for the MSI Prestige 15 in its highest spec trim to deliver a bit more than 14 hours of battery life when used on a typical workday thrashing out one document after another, browsing the depths of the world wide web and getting the soundtrack from Spotify or Apple Music, is quite creditable. This is with the brightness at 50%--reduce it further, and the battery runtime will increase.
In the end, the question really is—why would you want to spend your money on a Dell XPS 15 which runs an older gen processor (9th generation—and it’ll be two generations older when the 11th generation line-up lands on laptops, and that is till Dell updates the XPS 15 to the 10th generation or processors)? Particularly when the alternative is the brilliant MSI Prestige 15, which ticks off the boxes of style, performance and convenience, in a flourish. A very good 4K display and great battery life are just reinforcing the point.