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MSI Prestige PS42 review: A performance to price champion

By Kenny Yeo - 15 Dec 2018

Performance & Conclusion

How does it perform?

Performance is class-leading because of its discrete graphics chip.

As you might expect, the Prestige PS42 was a strong performer thanks to its powerful Core i7 processor and discrete graphics chip. Amongst the other ultraportables, it was easily the fastest especially in graphics intensive workloads and in gaming. On 3DMark’s intensive Fire Strike workload, the Prestige PS42’s score over other ultraportables relying on Intel’s integrated GPUs can be as much as over 300% greater. On Far Cry 2 and Tomb Raider, its frame rates were easily double, making it the only ultraportable that we've tested that's capable of comfortably running these games at Full-HD resolution.

Test Notebooks Compared
  MSI Prestige PS42 Dell XPS 13 (2018) LG gram 14 (2018) Apple MacBook Air (2018) Apple 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar Apple 15-inch MacBook Pro (2018)
  MSI Prestige PS42 Dell XPS 13 (2018) LG gram 14 (2018) Apple MacBook Air (2018) Apple 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar Apple 15-inch MacBook Pro (2018)
Launch SRP
  • From S$
Processor and Chipset
  • Intel Core i7-8550U
  • Intel Core i7-8550U (1.8GHz, 8MB cache)
  • Intel Core i7-8550U
  • Intel Core i5-8210Y (1.6GHz, 4MB cache)
  • Intel Core i5-6267U (2.9GHz, 4MB L3 cache)
  • Intel Core i9-8950HK processor
Operating System
  • Windows 10
  • Windows 10 Home
  • Windows 10 Home
  • macOS Mojave
  • macOS Sierra
  • macOS High Sierra
System Memory
  • 16GB DDR2-2400
  • 16GB LPDDR3 2133MHz
  • 8GB DDR4 2400MHz
  • 8GB 2133MHz LPDDR3 RAM
  • 8GB LPDDR3 2133MHz
  • 32GB DDR4
Video & Display
  • 14-inch Full-HD IPS display
  • NVIDIA GeForce MX150
  • 13.3-inch 4K InfinityEdge touch display
  • Intel UHD Graphics 620
  • 14-inch Full-HD IPS
  • 1920 x 1080 pixels
  • 13.3-inch Retina display
  • 2560 x 1600 pixels
  • Intel UHD Graphics 617
  • 13.3-inch Retina display (2560 x 1600 pixels)
  • Intel Iris Graphics 550
  • 15-inch Retina display (2,880 x 1,800 pixels)
  • AMD Radeon Pro 560X 4GB GDDR5
  • Intel UHD Graphics 630
Storage
  • 256GB PCIe NVMe SSD
  • 256GB PCIe SSD
  • 512GB SATA 6Gbps SSD
  • 256GB PCIe SSD
  • 256GB PCIe SSD
  • 4TB PCIe SSD
Optical Drive
  • None
  • None
  • None
  • None
  • None
  • None
Connectivity
  • 802.11ac/b/g/n/a
  • Bluetooth 4.2
  • Killer 1435 (802.11ac, 2x2)
  • Bluetooth
  • 802.11ac/b/g/n/a (2x2)
  • Bluetooth 4.1
  • 802.11ac/b/g/n/a
  • Bluetooth 4.2
  • 802.11ac/b/g/n/a (Up to 1.3Gbps)
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • 802.11ac/b/g/n/a
Audio
  • 2 x 2W speakers
  • Stereo speakers tuned by Waves MaxxAudio, 1W x 2
  • 4 x digital array microphones
  • 1.5W x 2 built-in speakers
  • Internal mic
  • Stereo speakers
  • 3 microphones
  • Built-in stereo speakers
  • Stereo speakers with high dynamic range
I/O Ports
  • 2 x USB-C (USB 3.1 Gen 1)
  • 2 x USB-A (USB 3.1 Gen 1)
  • 1 x SD card reader
  • 1 x HDMI
  • 1 x headphone/microphone jack
  • 2 x Thunderbolt 3 USB-C
  • 1 x USB 3.1 USB-C
  • 1 x microSD card reader
  • 1 x headphone jack
  • 3 x USB 3.0 ports
  • 1 x HDMI port
  • 1 x USB-C (USB 3.1)
  • 2 x USB-C Thunderbolt 3
  • 4 x Thunderbolt 3 via USB Type-C
  • 4 x USB-C ports (Thunderbolt 3)
  • 3.5mm headphone jack
Battery Type
  • 50Wh lithium-ion battery
  • 52Wh
  • 72Wh
  • 50.3Wh lithium-ion battery
  • Lithium-ion, 49.2Wh
  • 83.6wH
Dimensions
  • 322 x 222 x 15.9mm
  • 302 x 199 x 11.6mm
  • 323 x 212 x 16.5mm
  • 304.1 x 212.4 x 15.6mm
  • 304.1 x 212.4 x 14.9mm
  • 349.3 x 240.7 x 15.5mm
Weight
  • 1.19kg
  • 1.21kg
  • 995g
  • 1.25kg
  • 1.37kg
  • 1.83kg
Miscellaneous
  • 720p FaceTime camera

Show me the charts!

Here they are, pay attention to the Prestige PS42’s advantage over its rivals who are powered by Intel’s integrated GPU. The difference is startling and clearly demonstrates the NVIDIA GeForce MX150’s superiority over Intel’s integrated graphics solutions.

 

How's the battery life?

Despite boasting a discrete graphics chip, the Prestige PS42’s battery life is actually quite good. On our intensive battery which consists of productivity workloads, video conferencing, and light gaming, the Prestige PS42 managed to last 212 minutes or 3 hours and 32 minutes - that’s half an hour shorter than the XPS 13 but nearly an hour longer than the Spectre. Bearing in mind its performance, I would say its commendable.

Using our Portability Index which takes into account dimensions and weight, the Prestige PS42 recorded a ratio of 2.61. It's a decent outcome but behind rivals like the XPS 13 and Spectre which are thinner and more compact. Still, it's a good ratio when you factor in its class-leading performance.

 

So how does it compare to the competition?

Very well, actually. If you look at its performance and price, it is easily the class-leader. Because it is the only ultraportable that we've tested with discrete graphics, its performance - especially in graphics-intensive workloads - is untouchable. For anyone who is into gaming and wants an ultraportable, the Prestige PS42 is a very attractive proposition.

It is priced very competitively too. For well under two grand - S$1,799 if you haven't been paying attention - you get a Core i7 processor, 8GB of RAM, 512GB SSD, and discrete graphics. Few notebooks come close. The entry-level gram 14 from LG is S$1,999 but it has a Core i5 processor and no discrete graphics. The Swift 3 from Acer is probably the Prestige PS42’s keenest competitor on the performance/price front. For $1,698, you get specs that are identical to the Prestige PS42 including discrete graphics, but it is slightly heavier. Another close competitor is the ASUS UX430UN. For a dollar less, you get the same Core i7 processor but with 16GB of RAM instead of 8GB, a 512GB SSD and the same GeForce MX150 discrete graphics. But, the ASUS is slightly heavier and it uses a slower SATA-based SSD. The Prestige PS42, therefore, still has the upper hand when it comes to portability.

 

Final Thoughts?

Far from perfect, but the MSI Prestige PS42 does have a couple of redeeming qualities that can make you overlook its flaws.

While the MSI Prestige PS42 represents excellent value from a performance and price standpoint, there are some concerns worth highlighting. To begin, build quality is clearly not on the same level as some of its peers and that detracts from the overall user experience. For a company that has so much experience building notebooks, it's quite surprising that the Prestige PS42 feels the way it does. Additionally, the display also isn’t quite up to scratch in my opinion - a bit too dim and too grainy. The trackpad is also tiny by today's standards and makes me want to use a mouse. Finally, while the notebook does have USB-C ports, they don’t support Thunderbolt 3. Granted, Thunderbolt 3 devices are pricey and still pretty rare, but one always wants to know that his/her investment is ready for the future.

Still, when you take into account the performance it offers and its price, it’s easy to overlook the Prestige PS42’s shortcomings. In short, the Prestige PS42 isn't perfect but it does have redeeming qualities that can make you overlook its flaws.

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8.0
  • Design 7.5
  • Features 8.5
  • Performance 9
  • Value 8.5
  • Mobility 8
The Good
Excellent graphics performance
Discrete graphics chip
Full-size USB-A ports and SD card reader
Remarkably light
Decent battery life
Attractively priced
The Bad
Build quality can be better
No support for Thunderbolt 3
The display is below par
Tiny trackpad
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