- Excellent display
- Good graphics performance
- Attractive backlit keyboard
- Affordable gaming laptop for students
- Thin chassis materials
- Weighs more than 5 lbs.
- Mediocre battery life
- Not really a “workstation”
There is no shortage of notebooks being marketed as “premium,” “elite” or even “luxury” items. The reason is simple: consumers will usually pay extra for a flagship device if that device delivers a higher perceived value. MSI hopes to attack that premium market from a fresh angle with the MSI PE60 Prestige. Instead of looking like every other MacBook clone in the $1000+ price range, this 15-inch laptop supposedly combines the best features of a high-performance mobile workstation and a mid-range gaming notebook. In truth, the PE60 competes more with gaming systems like the Alienware 15 and the Acer Aspire V15 Nitro than with a MacBook … but this MSI laptop doesn’t scream “I’m a gaming laptop!” In fact, the design of the MSI PE60 looks serious enough to belong in an office cubicle or a pharmaceutical lab.
The question is, will this notebook satisfy those consumers looking for a quality gaming laptop that still looks professional enough for serious work? Keep reading to find out.
Build and Design
The MSI PE60 Prestige stands in stark contrast to the black-and-red gaming notebooks that make up the majority of MSI’s line of notebooks. The screen lid and keyboard deck of PE60 are wrapped in thin aluminum cladding, but the unfortunate truth is that these brushed aluminum panels are extremely thin and the rest of the chassis is made of plastic.
If the Prestige series was designed exclusively for consumers then I wouldn’t give a second thought to the thin metal and plastics. However, I expected chassis materials to be a little more rugged since MSI also markets the Prestige series as “business-class” notebooks that can handle “workstation” duties as well as gaming. We’ve seen men weighing more than 170 lbs. stand on mobile workstations from other companies without causing any damage to those notebooks … but we aren’t brave enough to try that kind of stress test with the MSI PE60.
Of course, most people are smart enough to not use their laptop as a stepping stool, so if you can resist the urge to stand on your notebook then the PE60 should prove to be just as durable as most other consumer laptops.
The bottom half of the chassis consists of one giant plastic panel with no quick access panels for upgrades or service. There is also a “warranty void if tampered” sticker covering one of the screw holes that secures the bottom panel to the rest of the chassis. While the lack of user-friendly upgrade options might not bother some gamers, this clearly isn’t ideal for people who like to upgrade their storage or system RAM after they’ve purchased a laptop.
Ports and Features
The impressive port selection on the MSI PE60 is much more in line with gaming notebooks than with ultra-thin premium laptops like the Apple MacBook. Another item worth mentioning is that the PE60 is one of the few 15-inch gaming laptops that still offers a built-in DVD drive. Many of the other 15-inch gaming notebooks released in 2015 have sacrificed the DVD drive in an effort to be as thin and light as possible.
On the left side of the notebook you’ll find a cable lock slot, RJ45 Ethernet jack, three USB 3.0 ports, one full-size HDMI port, one mini DisplayPort, a dedicated microphone input and a headphone jack. On the right side of the PE60 is the DVD Super Multi drive, a single USB 2.0 port, a full-size SD card reader and the AC power jack.
The built-in 720p webcam is nothing special. In fact, the webcams on most flagship smartphones deliver better quality for Skype calls or Google Hangouts.
Screen and Speakers
The 15.6-inch display on the PE60 is an IPS-type screen with a matte, anti-glare surface. This screen features good viewing angles, excellent brightness and phenomenal color. MSI uses its proprietary “True Color Technology” to deliver a variety of pre-calibrated presets for color balance, gamma adjustment and gamut mapping. MSI claims that this display delivers more than 100% coverage of the sRGB color gamut and 72% coverage of the NTSC color space which is close to Adobe RGB. That makes this screen ideal for photographers or graphic artists who want to work in the Adobe RGB color space.
In fact, you can quickly switch between color profiles by simply pressing the True Color button next to the power button above the keyboard. Pressing this button launches the True Color application and switches so you can select from one of six predefined color profiles or assign specific profiles to specific applications so you never have to worry about manually adjusting your color profile.
We measured the average screen brightness from the LED backlighting behind this IPS display panel at 296 nits; this makes the display useable outdoors under direct sunlight even if the screen isn’t at the maximum brightness setting.
MSI includes four speakers and a subwoofer (located on the bottom panel) branded by Dynaudio that features “Nahimic Audio Enhancer” processing. As with the overwhelming majority of speakers found inside notebooks, the sound quality is fine for listening to a streaming movie, playing a game, or filling a small room with music.
The subwoofer is small but provides a distinct low range and bass that we greatly appreciated while playing games and watching movies. The Nahimic audio software features several presets that noticeably help improve the sound quality. That said, hardcore audiophiles shouldn’t expect these speakers to replace a large set of external surround sound speakers. While we’re on the topic of external audio components, the headphone and microphone jacks didn’t exhibit any static noise with our headphones or microphone.
The LED-backlit keyboard features transparent keys with a painted top. The three-level backlight is controlled via a FN key. The individual keys are appropriately sized but feature a flat surface with no curvature to help your fingertips locate the center or each key. The key movement itself is firm with a smooth action and no wobble to the keys and there is adequate space between the keys to avoid excessive typos.
As for the touchpad, MSI opted to provide a genuine touchpad experience rather than an annoying buttonless “ClickPad.” The touchpad surface is multi-touch capable and recognizes gestures across the entire surface.
Unfortunately, the dedicated left and right mouse buttons have a shallow press and produce a loud “click-clack” when pressed. You will attract unwanted attention if you need to use your touchpad buttons in a quiet office, classroom, or library. We suspect the loud touchpad buttons could have been addressed with either a thin rubber pad under the buttons or a rubberized paint coating over the buttons themselves. Of course, potential PE60 customers will probably use an external mouse regardless of whether they are a gamer at home or a graphic designer in an office.