MSI Summit E15 (A11x) review – the mountain is high but you have the equipment

If we have to be honest, we were surprised to see that the Summit series of MSI is dubbed as a business device. Nevertheless, it definitely has the visuals, and the manufacturer seems to be pretty confident about its abilities.

By that, we mean that it should provide high productivity, security, and reliability. MSI even goes as far as stating that it is the “best-in-class” in all of the aforementioned categories.

For the highest performance possible, they have gone for Intel’s Tiger Lake CPUs, maxing out with the Core i7-1186G7. Interestingly, you can get it with a dedicated graphics card. Your choice has been narrowed to the GeForce GTX 1650 and GTX 1650 Ti, both of which being Max-Q versions. And for security, you are covered on the hardware front by a TPM chip and biometrics authentication, and on the firmware front by software, which manages your data.

You can check the prices and configurations in our Specs System: https://laptopmedia.com/series/msi-summit-e15-a11x/

Contents

Specs Sheet

What’s in the box?

This device comes with premium packaging. The contents are separated into two boxes. One of them holds the 90W USB Type-C power brick, while the other features the laptop, and some paper manuals.

Design and construction

As we said, the Summit E15 (A11x) is definitely a laptop to talk about. Its matte black design is accented by gold details and a keyboard with a white backlight. The device is made out of aluminum, with some plastic trims here and there. It comes in two iterations – with, or without a touchscreen display. Unsurprisingly, the touch version weighs 140 grams more (1.79 kg vs 1.65 kg). Both of them, however, have a profile of 16.9mm, which is pretty slim for a 15-incher.

Generally, we are satisfied with the build quality, even though both the chassis and the lid offer some flex when you twist them. What is definitely good, is that the lid can be opened with a single hand. With us, we have the touchscreen model, which has a glossy display. It is surrounded by narrow bezels all around, with the top one housing an HD camera and an IR face recognition sensor.

When we move to the keyboard, we see almost no deck flex, which is impressive. Unfortunately, this can’t be said about the keyboard itself. Although it sports large keycaps and big Arrow keys, the feedback is a bit mushy, while the key travel is on the short side.

Here, the touchpad sports a golden trim all around it. Its surface is made from glass, which offers very smooth gliding, and accurate tracking. Unlike many other machines, where the fingerprint reader is embedded into the surface of the touchpad, this one works even when you slide your finger over the biometrics sensor.

If you look further up top, you will notice the carbon fiber-shaped plastic grill for the heat exhaust. And on the bottom panel, there are the speaker cutouts, as well as the huge vent.

Ports

On the left side, there are two Thunderbolt 4 connectors, an HDMI connector, and an audio jack. Then, on the right, there are two USB Type-A 3.2 (Gen. 2) ports and a MicroSD card slot.

Disassembly, upgrade options and maintenance

Only 7 Phillips-head screws are holding this notebook’s bottom panel in place. After you undo them, you need to pry the panel with a plastic tool.

This device is equipped with an 82Wh battery pack.

In terms of upgrades, there are two RAM SODIMM slots. They work in dual-channel mode and can hold up to 64GB of DDR4 memory in total. As for the storage, you get one M.2 PCIe x4 Gen 3 slot, and another that can also hold Gen 4 drives.

The cooling solution comprises three heat pipes. Additionally, there are a couple of metal heat sinks meant for the graphics memory and the VRMs.

Display quality

MSI Summit E15 (A11x) has a touchscreen IPS panel, model number AUO B156HAB03.1 (AUO0291). Its diagonal is 15.6″ (39.62 cm), and the resolution 1920 х 1080 pixels. The screen ratio is 16:9, and we are looking at a pixel density of – 142 ppi, and a pitch of 0.18 х 0.18 mm. The screen turns into Retina when viewed at distance equal to or greater than 60cm (24″) (from this distance one’s eye stops differentiating the separate pixels, and it is normal for looking at a laptop).

It has excellent viewing angles. We offer images at 45° to evaluate image quality.

The measured maximum brightness of 292 nits in the middle of the screen and 281 nits as an average for the whole area, with a maximum deviation of 8%. The Correlated Color Temperature on a white screen is 7260K – slightly colder than the optimal for the sRGB standard of 6500K.
In the illustration below you can see how the display performs from a uniformity perspective. In other words, the leakage of light from the light source.

Values of dE2000 over 4.0 should not occur, and this parameter is one of the first you should check if you intend to use the laptop for color-sensitive work. The contrast ratio is good – 1270:1.

To make sure we are on the same page, we would like to give you a little introduction to the sRGB color gamut and the Adobe RGB. To start, there’s the CIE 1976 Uniform Chromaticity Diagram that represents the visible specter of colors by the human eye, giving you a better perception of the color gamut coverage and the color accuracy.

Inside the black triangle, you will see the standard color gamut (sRGB) that is being used by millions of people on HDTV and on the web. As for the Adobe RGB, this is used in professional cameras, monitors, etc for printing. Basically, colors inside the black triangle are used by everyone and this is the essential part of the color quality and color accuracy of a mainstream notebook.

Still, we’ve included other color spaces like the famous DCI-P3 standard used by movie studios, as well as the digital UHD Rec.2020 standard. Rec.2020, however, is still a thing of the future and it’s difficult for today’s displays to cover that well. We’ve also included the so-called Michael Pointer gamut, or Pointer’s gamut, which represents the colors that naturally occur around us every day.

The yellow dotted line shows MSI Summit E15 (A11x)’s color gamut coverage.

Its display covers 92% of the sRGB/ITU-R BT.709 (web/HDTV standard) in CIE1976.

Our “Design and Gaming” profile delivers optimal color temperature (6500K) at 140 cd/m2 luminance and sRGB gamma mode.

We tested the accuracy of the display with 24 commonly used colors like light and dark human skin, blue sky, green grass, orange, etc. You can check out the results at factory condition and also, with the “Design and Gaming” profile.

Below you can compare the scores of MSI Summit E15 (A11x) with the default settings (left), and with the “Gaming and Web design” profile (right).

The next figure shows how well the display is able to reproduce really dark parts of an image, which is essential when watching movies or playing games in low ambient light.

The left side of the image represents the display with stock settings, while the right one is with the “Gaming and Web Design” profile activated. On the horizontal axis, you will find the grayscale, and on the vertical axis – the luminance of the display. On the two graphs below you can easily check for yourself how your display handles the darkest nuances but keep in mind that this also depends on the settings of your current display, the calibration, the viewing angle, and the surrounding light conditions.

Response time (Gaming capabilities)

We test the reaction time of the pixels with the usual “black-to-white” and “white-to-black” method from 10% to 90% and vice versa.

We recorded Fall Time + Rise Time = 25 ms

After that, we test the reaction time of the pixels with the usual “Gray-to-Gray” method from 50% White to 80% White and vice versa between 10% and 90% of the amplitude.

PWM (Screen flickering)

Pulse-width modulation (PWM) is an easy way to control monitor brightness. When you lower the brightness, the light intensity of the backlight is not lowered, but instead turned off and on by the electronics with a frequency indistinguishable to the human eye. In these light impulses, the light/no-light time ratio varies, while brightness remains unchanged, which is harmful to your eyes. You can read more about that in our dedicated article on PWM.

MSI Summit E15 (A11x)’s panel doesn’t use PWM to adjust brightness levels. This makes it comfortable for long work periods, without presenting eye strain in this aspect.

Blue light emissions

Installing our Health-Guard profile not only eliminates PWM but also reduces the harmful Blue Light emissions while keeping the colors of the screen perceptually accurate. If you’re not familiar with the Blue light, the TL;DR version is – emissions that negatively affect your eyes, skin, and your whole body. You can find more information about that in our dedicated article on Blue Light.

Buy our profiles

Since our profiles are tailored for each individual display model, this article and its respective profile package are meant for MSI Summit E15 (A11x) configurations with 15.6″ FHD IPS AUO B156HAB03.1 (AUO0291).

*Should you have problems with downloading the purchased file, try using a different browser to open the link you’ll receive via e-mail. If the download target is a .php file instead of an archive, change the file extension to .zip or contact us at [email protected]

Read more about the profiles HERE.

In addition to receiving efficient and health-friendly profiles, by buying LaptopMedia’s products you also support the development of our labs, where we test devices in order to produce the most objective reviews possible.

Office Work - screen profile

Office Work

Office Work should be used mostly by users who spend most of the time looking at pieces of text, tables or just surfing. This profile aims to deliver better distinctness and clarity by keeping a flat gamma curve (2.20), native color temperature and perceptually accurate colors.

Design and Gaming - screen profile

Design and Gaming

This profile is aimed at designers who work with colors professionally, and for games and movies as well. Design and Gaming takes display panels to their limits, making them as accurate as possible in the sRGB IEC61966-2-1 standard for Web and HDTV, at white point D65.

Health-Guard - screen profile

Health-Guard

Health-Guard eliminates the harmful Pulse-Width Modulation (PWM) and reduces the negative Blue Light which affects our eyes and body. Since it’s custom tailored for every panel, it manages to keep the colors perceptually accurate. Health-Guard simulates paper so the pressure on the eyes is greatly reduced.

All

Sound

MSI Summit E15 (A11x)’s speakers produce a clear sound with good quality. Its low, mid, and high tones are all free of deviations.

Drivers

All of the drivers and utilities for this notebook can be found here: https://www.msi.com/Business-Productivity/support/Summit-E15-A11X

Battery

Now, we conduct the battery tests with Windows Better performance setting turned on, screen brightness adjusted to 120 nits, and all other programs turned off except for the one we are testing the notebook with. This device’s 82Wh battery pack delivers 11 hours and 30 minutes of Web browsing, 10 hours and 7 minutes of video playback, and one hour and 37 minutes of gameplay.

CPU options

Currently, this laptop can be found with Core i5-1135G7, Core i7-1165G7, and Core i7-1185G7 – the flagship of the range.

GPU options

In addition to the Iris Xe Graphics G7, you have an option of two dedicated GPUs. They are the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q, and the GTX 1650 Ti Max-Q.

MSI Summit E15 (A11x) GPU variants

Here you can see an approximate comparison between the GPUs that can be found in the MSI Summit E15 (A11x) models on the market. This way you can decide for yourself which MSI Summit E15 (A11x) model is the best bang for your buck.

Note: The chart shows the cheapest different GPU configurations so you should check what the other specifications of these laptops are by clicking on the laptop’s name / GPU.

Gaming tests

rise-of-the-tomb-raider

Temperatures and comfort

Max CPU load

In this test we use 100% on the CPU cores, monitoring their frequencies and chip temperature. The first column shows a computer’s reaction to a short load (2-10 seconds), the second column simulates a serious task (between 15 and 30 seconds), and the third column is a good indicator of how good the laptop is for long loads such as video rendering.

Average core frequency (base frequency + X); CPU temp.

Intel Core i7-1185G7(15W TDP) 0:02 – 0:10 sec 0:15 – 0:30 sec 10:00 – 15:00 min
MSI Summit E15 (A11x) 3.32 GHz @ 94°C @ 38W 3.19 GHz @ 95°C @ 36W 3.05 GHz @ 95°C @ 33W
Dell Latitude 14 7420 3.66 GHz @ 98°C @ 47W 3.04 GHz @ 97°C @ 30W 2.17 GHz @ 76°C @ 16W
MSI Prestige 14 (A11Sx) 3.80 GHz @ 94°C @ 53W 3.48 GHz @ 95°C @ 42W 3.22 GHz @ 91°C @ 35W
Lenovo Yoga 9i (14) 3.08 GHz @ 92°C @ 42W 3.14 GHz @ 96°C @ 34W 2.28 GHz @ 76°C @ 19W

MSI Summit E15 (A11x) is equipped with an MSI Business Center. It provides 4 performance presets. In this test, we’ve used the High-Performance one. This laptop manages to maintain a frequency above 3.00 GHz for the entirety of the test. Interestingly, it performs worse than smaller Prestige 14 (A11Sx) but a common feature for both of them is the high temperature it runs at.

Real-life gaming

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Ti Max-Q GPU frequency/ Core temp (after 2 min) GPU frequency/ Core temp (after 30 min)
MSI Summit E15 (A11x) 1406 MHz @ 69°C @ 35W 1376 MHz @ 75°C @ 35W
ASUS ZenBook Pro 15 UX535 1350 MHz @ 63°C @ 35W 1345 MHz @ 64°C @ 35W
Lenovo ThinkBook 15p 1594 MHz @ 64°C @ 50W 1581 MHz @ 68°C @ 50W

The frequencies we monitored here were close to those of the ZenBook Pro 15 UX535. However, this is only natural due to the 35W TGP of both GPUs. However, MSI Summit E15 (A11x) was running considerably warmer.

Comfort during combined load

First off, the fans are not too loud, which is good. However, using the High-Performance preset results in a very warm (if not hot) keyboard area with temperatures in excess of 50°C. We recommend using this preset only if you really need to extract the maximum out of your laptop.

Verdict

MSI’s adventure into the business world has started a long ago. But recently, they have given the biggest importance to their gaming devices. Well… not anymore. The Summit E15 (A11x) is a well-thought-out laptop, which offers supreme performance, thus great productivity.

On its Web page, MSI states that its notebook will last for more than 16 hours on a single charge. Yeah… no. Its large 82Wh battery lasted for 11 hours and a half of Web browsing, and a bit over 10 hours of video playback. Also, we tried gaming on it, but then, it ran out of juice after one hour and 37 minutes.

Not that this is a bad result. In fact, it’s quite the opposite, as this should provide a comfortable full day of work on a single charge. However, it falls short of MSI’s claims by more than 4 hours and a half.

MSI Summit E15 (A11x)’s display has a touchscreen IPS panel (AUO B156HAB03.1 (AUO0291)) with a Full HD resolution. Its viewing angles are comfortable, while the contrast ratio is good. Thankfully, its backlight doesn’t flicker at any point. Additionally, it boasts 92% of sRGB coverage and reaches pretty high color accuracy thanks to our Gaming and Web design profile.

Additionally, you have two SODIMM slots for memory upgrades, and two M.2 slots for storage. Add to that the two Thunderbolt 4 connectors, and the MicroSD card slot, and you should be a pretty happy customer.

Until you start tormenting the laptop with heavy CPU load. Or GPU load… or combined load. If you want to get everything out of your machine, you should keep it away from your groins. The external temperatures we measured were in excess of 50°C in the middle of the keyboard. Its bottom panel was also pretty hot, as was the charger.

This is a common issue with most of MSI’s devices. The manufacturer gives you the opportunity to get the most out of the hardware, but the cooling solution just can’t handle it.

You can check the prices and configurations in our Specs System: https://laptopmedia.com/series/msi-summit-e15-a11x/

Pros

  • 2x Thunderbolt 4, Wi-Fi 6 connection, and a MicroSD card reader on board
  • 2 M.2 PCIe slots, 2 RAM-SODIMM slots (up to 64GB of RAM in total)(beware of the Factory Seal sticker)
  • Thin and light aluminum body
  • PWM-free display (AUO B156HAB03.1 (AUO0291))
  • Good battery life
  • 92% sRGB coverage and accurate colors with our Gaming and Web design profile (AUO B156HAB03.1 (AUO0291))
  • Decent battery life
  • IR and fingerprint Windows Hello login

Cons

  • Uncomfortable keyboard
  • Gets really warm under load

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *