- Pleasing light design, with aluminum construction
- Backlit keyboard
- Solid port and slot selection, including USB Type-C and microSD
- Eight-hour battery life
Though common at this price, 128GB SSD is limiting
MSI MODERN 14 SPECS
|Processor||Intel Core i3-10110U|
|Processor Speed||2.1 GHz|
|RAM (as Tested)||8 GB|
|Boot Drive Type||SSD|
|Boot Drive Capacity (as Tested)||128 GB|
|Screen Size||14 inches|
|Native Display Resolution||1920 by 1080|
|Variable Refresh Support||None|
|Screen Refresh Rate||60 Hz|
|Graphics Processor||Intel UHD Graphics|
|Wireless Networking||802.11ac, Bluetooth|
|Dimensions (HWD)||0.7 by 12.55 by 8.6 inches|
|Operating System||Windows 10|
|Tested Battery Life (Hours)||8:42 Hours|
You can’t expect a slimline magnesium bodied laptop with all the newest gadgets when you’re shopping for a cheap laptop we define these as products under $500. Instead, the goal is to make as few settlements as feasible. In our $449.99 test design, MSI’s Modern 14 threads the needle and offers a decent balance of price and markers.
It has a modest Intel Core i3 engine and just 128GB of storage, but those specs are standard for a device in this price category, and the 8GB of memory, aesthetically pleasing screen, and attractive, compact design more than makeup for them. With its elegance, solid port variety, and eight hours of battery life, we found little downside for the money given the component selections.
It’s difficult to find anything better between $400 and $500 unless you desire a considerably larger screen (for this, we recommend the Asus VivoBook 17 M712). For this price range, it wins an Editors’ Choice award.
In the Modern World, Keeping Up Appearances
The Modern 14 looks quite stylish for a very inexpensive laptop. It’s nothing extraordinary, but the overall look is great even though it’s straightforward. The entire chassis is painted in a charcoal-metallic finish that shimmers slightly in the light. Although the paint job on our sample hides it, the body is made of aluminum; this is a welcome difference from the plastic chassis standard in this price bracket. White illumination and a white rim around the keys themselves give them even more personality. (Keyboard backlighting is also unusual on laptops in this category.)
The tiny, condensed design further enhances the appearance. The Modern 14 weighs 2.8 pounds and has dimensions of 0.7 by 12.6 by 8.6 inches (HWD). That is around the same thickness as the Asus VivoBook 15 (F512JA), which we recently evaluated, although it weighs less by about a pound, in part because of the smaller screen. That is comparable to ultraportables that cost substantially more money. (For example, it weighs the same as the Dell XPS 13.)
The screen size of this 14-inch device is 14 inches, and it has a full HD resolution (1,920 by 1,080 pixels). Although the screen is not particularly remarkable, it is bright and clear, so there is no cause for criticism. The IPS screen has outstanding viewing angles off-axis as well, with little distortion or darkening when viewed at an angle. This screen is perhaps a little better than what you might anticipate for a laptop at this price point.
Consider the aforementioned VivoBook 15 as an example. It has a poor-quality display. Basic clarity is lacking, and color and picture quality quickly deteriorate if seen from even a slight off-center angle. At this price, a good screen is by no means a given, so the Modern 14 deserves praise for that.
MSI Modern 14 – Design
then comes the keyboard. The experience of typing is adequate. Although there is some tactile input when you press a key, it doesn’t seem completely mushy. Furthermore, I like the layout. Some small computers have keyboards with keys that feel small or look squished together. Even with the 14-inch frame, everything is spacious here. There isn’t much to say about the touchpad, but it is sturdy and the material feels better than that of many inexpensive laptop touchpads, which have a rough finish.
It’s a really enjoyable laptop to use and transport overall. It is simple to slip under your arm, fits in a purse, and is light enough to not make you feel heavy. At the risk of stating the obvious, these benefits are especially simple to appreciate considering the price, even if a large portion of the cost savings is due to low-power components rather than necessarily the physical design. However, a decent or even adequate build is far from assured in this price range, therefore we commend its capable, transportable design.
The ports are the last. There is a microSD card slot, an HDMI port, and a USB Type-C port on the left side. Only two additional USB 3.0 ports are located on the right side, but the overall number of connections is still more than adequate for most demands, and ports like USB-C are not always present on laptops in this price range.
Productivity, Storage, and Media Tests
The PC benchmark experts at UL created the comprehensive performance suites known as PCMark 10 and 8. We mimic many real-world productivity and content production routines in the PCMark 10 test. We utilize it to evaluate the overall performance of the system when performing office-related operations including word processing, spreadsheet manipulation, web surfing, and videoconferencing. Unfortunately, as is commonly the case with inexpensive computers, the test would not finish on this laptop. The fact that this system conflicts with this benchmark does not imply that it is incapable of performing these tasks.
In the meantime, PCMark 8 contains a storage subtest that we utilize to evaluate the system’s boot drive’s speed. Higher scores are preferable for both tests, which each produce a unique numeric score. The table below allows us to at least compare these findings, and you can see how the other systems performed in PCMark 10.
As previously indicated, this system’s PCMark 10 results are not available, but you can see how the SSD compares to the competition. They all offer speedy boot and load times and are in line with one another. Due to its slower eMMC flash storage, the Asus Laptop L410 failed this test. In laptops in this price range, there is a crucial difference; below $400, you’ll see a mix of “real” SSDs and clumsier eMMC (often at 32GB or 64GB capacities). The earlier is preferable.
While the MSI Modern 14 may not provide anything particularly unique, it does stand out for less than $500 by offering several strong points and avoiding any significant trade-offs. If keeping it within a basic budget is your primary criterion, you can locate more economical choices, but you can anticipate numerous compromises. In comparison, it’s difficult to discover many issues with the Modern 14 that are worth the price.
In terms of mainstream laptops priced between $600 and $1,000, it is not the fastest computer, but it performs the tasks required of it and delivers the goods in its price range. The MSI Modern 14 strikes a better balance between portability, adequate connection, and general comfort than other low cost laptops we’ve encountered if you’re seeking a cheap everyday laptop.
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