Forget the MacBook Air: This Windows alternative weighs less and does more

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MSI got my full attention at CES when it demoed a stylus that could write on both paper and screen. It was also around this time that the company gave me its lightest laptop yet: the MSI Prestige 13 Evo. It weighs a mere 2.2 pounds, so it’s impossible not to make comparisons between the no-load frame and Apple’s. macbook air. While the M2 variant of the Apple laptop remains my go-to for mobile computing, in many ways the lesser-known MSI makes the ultraportable better.

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The Prestige 13 Evo comes with a 13-inch matte, glare-free display, a Windows Hello-compatible privacy-protected webcam, up to 32GB of RAM, and all the ports you want, including HDMI and USB-A. MSI tells me that the $999 base model (13th Gen Intel Core i5 with 16GB of RAM) will be available later this month, so I’d wait until then if you’re looking to save money. For now, I would recommend going for the high-end Core i7, 32 GB of RAM and 1 TB model that costs the same as a MacBook Air with specifications but it has twice the storage size.

My last few weeks of testing the MSI laptop have been refreshing. As someone who needs a work machine that’s just as reliable on the go as it is when docked to an external monitor at home, I’ve leaned more towards Apple’s M1 and M2 laptops for their efficiency and straightforward performance. While benchmarks suggest the Prestige 13 Evo’s Intel system isn’t quite as efficient as Apple’s silicon-powered devices, the laptop’s overall user experience is enough to replace them.

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Flexibility is what the MSI laptop sells me, from the sheer number of ports to the dual biometric identification support (face scan and fingerprint sensor). Switching gears from the Samsung Galaxy Book 3 Ultra that I recently reviewed, it was a welcome surprise to see similar features on the less expensive MSI laptop, including HDMI support, a MicroSD card slot, and a USB-A port. It’s rare to find them in a 13-inch build, let alone one that’s built with agility in mind.

A closeup of the ports on the MSI Prestige 13 Evo

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More impressive still, MSI managed to cram a 75Wh battery into the Prestige 13 Evo, giving it an endurance rating of 15 hours per charge. I got around 12 hours of use before having to bust out the included 65W charger, but that’s still impressive compared to similarly sized laptops that score in the 8-10 hour range, sometimes lower. .

Plus: I tested the new MSI Stealth 14 Studio and it’s a portable powerhouse

The longer battery life can mostly be attributed to the 75Wh capacity, though I’d also give credit to the generous layout of the vents coming out of the back of the laptop, as well as the 1080p display from lower resolution. The latter of which isn’t a deal breaker by any means; Most of the content we consume today is in 1080p resolution, and you’ll barely notice the visual difference between it and a 2K panel on a 13-inch screen. But if you dabble in creative work that requires attention to detail, you’re better off catering outside of the compact laptop market, where 2K and even 4K displays are more prevalent.

MSI Prestige 13 Evo keyboard and trackpad.

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By now you can probably guess that while MSI specializes in gaming laptops, the Prestige 13 Evo is anything but. No ultra-click keyboard, RGB, or 144Hz display to be found here. Instead, the laptop is for those who want a compact, portable Windows PC that’s capable of running the latest professional-grade apps and services, can last up to two days per charge, has plenty of ports for creators, and doesn’t it will cost an arm and a leg, relatively speaking.

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James D. Brown
James D. Brown
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