While MSI has typically been a company associated with PC gaming components and gaming laptops, the brand now has an extensive lineup of laptops tailored for creators, enterprises, and small businesses. We'll be testing its latest refresh from the Modern series, which the company calls its ‘business and productivity' line of laptops.
The MSI Modern 14 should appeal to young professionals as well as students looking for a stylish yet practical and affordable laptop that's easy to carry around. The Modern 14 series consists of multiple models, and each one has variants with differing RAM, storage, and CPU specifications. The one I'm testing today is called B11MO. It has an 11th Gen Intel Core i5 CPU, and is priced at roughly Rs. 54,990 online. It's time to see how good it is and whether you should consider it.
MSI Modern 14 (B11MO) design
The MSI Modern 14 is available in pleasing pastel shades called Carbon Gray, Beige Mousse, and Bluestone. MSI sent me the second colour, which can also be described as rose gold. It looks nice and will definitely grab eyeballs whenever you use this laptop. I also like how light it is. The aluminium chassis weighs just 1.3kg and is 16.9mm thick at its thinnest point. There's also very little body flex in both the base and the lid.
There's a good selection of ports on this 14-inch laptop. You get two full-sized USB Type-A ports (USB 3.2 Gen1) and a headphone socket on the right side. The charging port, HDMI, USB Type-C port, and a microSD card slot are on the left side. The Type-C connector in higher-end models supports Thunderbolt.
The MSI Modern 14 (B11MO) looks stylish and is built well
The MSI Modern 14 features a 14-inch IPS display with a full-HD resolution and narrow borders on three sides. MSI has also managed to squeeze in a webcam in the correct position, above the screen. The chiclet style keyboard has a good layout except for the Ctrl button on the right, which is much smaller than usual and feels cramped. You get three levels of white backlighting, and there's a shortcut on the keyboard that lets you change the primary function of the Fn row of buttons, which is something I always appreciate. The trackpad is decently large and doesn't get in the way when typing.
One cool design feature of the MSI Modern 14 is that when you open it, the rear of the lid doubles up as the rear feet of the laptop and raises the base at an angle, for a more ergonomic typing position. The exhaust vents are hidden in the same line as the hinge, while on the bottom, there are multiple tiny holes for air intake. The speakers are also on the bottom, one on each side of the laptop. Finally, this laptop also has the MIL-STD-810G certification for better claimed durability.
MSI Modern 14 (B11MO) specifications
The MSI modern 14 (B11MO) can be configured with up to an Intel Core i7 CPU, but the variant I have has a Core i5-1135G7, which has four cores and a total of eight threads. There's a single 8GB DDR4 RAM stick inside, with a second free slot in case you wish to upgrade. There's no dedicated GPU in this variant, which means it uses the Intel Iris Xe GPU integrated in the CPU. Other variants are available with an optional Nvidia GeForce MX450 GPU. Last but not least, you get a 512GB M.2 PCIe SSD as standard across the Core i5 and Core i7 variants of the B11MO model.
You get a good selection of ports for such a slim laptop
The MSI Modern 14 also supports Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1. It has a 52WHr, 3-cell battery and comes with a compact 65W wall charger.
You'll get Windows 10 Home if you buy this laptop now, and MSI does advertise that the Modern 14 will get a free update to Windows 11 whenever it's out. The preloaded MSI Centre Pro app has a minimalist design and there's even a dedicated shortcut button for it on the keyboard. With it, you can set power and battery profiles, run a system check, and do lots more.
MSI Modern 14 (B11MO) performance and battery life
I spent a couple of weeks with the MSI Modern 14, using it for watching streaming shows and occasionally for my work too. During this time, I was quite satisfied with the performance it delivered. Booting and waking the system from hibernation was very quick thanks to the SSD. The base of the laptop runs a bit warm even with regular use but I never found it to be uncomfortable when using it on my lap. The keyboard has good tactile feedback and wasn't noisy when I typed. I found the trackpad to be equally responsive.
The Intel 11th Gen Core i5 CPU is a good performer too. It delivered decent benchmark numbers such as 4,455 points in PCMark 10, 515 and 2,208 points in Cinebench R20's single and multi-core tests respectively, and 2,078 in 3DMark FireStrike. The latter is not a great score, but considering that this variant relies on an onboard Intel GPU, it was expected.
The narrow bezels around the scerrn look modern but colours and viewing angles could have been better
The MSI Modern 14 isn't designed for gaming, and you'll only get somewhat better gaming performance with the variants that have the dedicated Nvidia GPU. Still, the Intel integrated GPU in the B11MO can handle simple titles such as Asphalt 9: Legends, etc. I did try some heavier titles such as Assassin's Creed: Odyssey, but the experience was far from ideal even after dropping the resolution and visual quality way down.
While the display gets quite bright, colours aren't very lively, which does take away a bit from the media watching experience. Vertical and horizontal viewing angles are a bit narrow too, but not terrible. On the positive side, reflections aren't really a problem thanks to the matte finish. The stereo speakers aren't all that great either as even at the highest volume, the sound is tinny.
The MSI Modern 14 is more than capable in terms of battery life. With light usage such as Web browsing and productivity in Chrome, or watching videos through the Netflix app, I was able to get close to eight hours on a single charge. That's very good for a laptop of this size and weight. With the Battery Eater Pro benchmark, the laptop ran for one and a half hours.
The MSI Modern 14 (B11MO) is a good choice if you're looking for a stylish workhorse that's easy on the wallet
The MSI Modern 14 (B11MO) hits a pretty sweet spot with the price versus performance on offer. For around Rs. 55,000, it delivers a current-gen Intel CPU, plenty of storage space, good performance for office-related tasks, and most importantly, good battery life. A few things that could have been better are the display and the stereo speakers.
If you're looking for a stylish, portable laptop with good battery life, plenty of physical ports, and solid performance, the MSI Modern 14 (B11MO) is definitely worth considering.
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