MSI PS42 Laptop Cyber Monday Deals 2020

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With the PS42 8RB, MSI is going for a bold step from its gaming roots and diving right into a competitive segment dominated by giants like Apple and Microsoft. Its new thin and lightweight ultrabook is made for creators, a wide group every notebook computer manufacturer is wanting to win over.

The PS42 8RB can be an interesting, and mostly successful, debut. Looking beyond its polarizing design, this 14-inch machine is probably the most compact devices you can buy with a dedicated GPU. It has an outstanding selection of ports for business professionals, and the display is both sharp and vivid.

But also for $1,300, that can be done better. Short battery life, poor speakers and a dismal webcam make it problematic for us to recommend the PS42 before other ultrabooks as of this price.

MSI PS42 8RB Price and Configuration Options?

Our $1,299 review unit packs an Intel Core i7-8550U CPU, 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD plus a dedicated GeForce MX150 GPU for gaming.

If you want to save lots of money, you can choose the $899 base model. Nonetheless it has lower specs over the board, including a Core i5-8250U CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD and integrated graphics. A $1,099 midtier model doubles the storage of the bottom model and bumps the graphics back up to GeForce MX150 GPU.

Design

The PS42 may be the DeLorean of laptops: sleek, brash and not at all for everybody. The ultraportable’s design includes a sleek aluminum exterior, but opening the lid reveals an inside filled up with unique design cues, a few of that will transport you back again to the future.

Between your centered circular power button and the LED indicators on the deck, this thin and lightweight notebook is the type of device you’d find within an ’80s sci-fi film where the director predicted what future gizmos would look like predicated on the products of that time period.

I’m a fan of the appearance, however, not everyone will be. The laptop’s silver lid includes a swanky brushed- aluminum finish topped with MSI’s Lamborghini-like dragon logo. A keyboard with white backlighting and Tron-like font spans the width of the compact deck next to three white LED indicators for power, charging and Wi-Fi status.

The PS42 may be the DeLorean of laptops: sleek, brash and not at all for everyone.

A faint white Prestige logo sits below the keyboard above an oddly shaped, chrome-trimmed touchpad. Addititionally there is an eye-catching rectangular vent that surrounds the circular power button at the top of the deck.

The strength of the PS42 is a mixed bag. The aggressively shaped hinges execute a good job keeping the lid from wobbling, but I pointed out that the deck flexed considerably when I pressed down on the keyboard. Also, the laptop’s aluminum surfaces don’t feel as premium as those on other metal laptops we’ve tested.

The edge-to-edge display keeps the entire footprint of the PS42 to the very least, but competing ultrabooks are smaller. At 12.6 x 8.7 x 0.6 inches and 2.6 pounds, the PS42 includes a bigger footprint compared to the 14-inch MateBook X Pro (12 x 8.5 x 0.6 inches, 2.9 pounds), nonetheless it doesn’t weigh as much.

The same applies to the Asus ZenBook 13 UX331UN (12.2 x 8.5 x 0.5 inches, 2.7 pounds). However, the razor-thin HP Spectre 13 is both smaller sized (12 x 8.8 x 0.4 inches) and lighter (2.4 pounds) compared to the PS42.

Ports

The PS42 8RB includes a surprisingly broad range of ports for a notebook computer this thin, though it lacks Thunderbolt 3.

On the proper side of the chassis are two USB 3.1 ports, a USB Type-C input, an Sdcard slot and a lock slot.

Next to the LED indicators on the left side of the chassis certainly are a headphone/mic jack, another USB Type-C port and an HDMI. The PS42 charges with a standard power jack.

Display

The PS42’s 14-inch, non-touch 1080p display is detailed and vivid, but those qualities are constrained by a minimal maximum brightness.

When I watched a trailer teasing the upcoming live-action film Aladdin, the ornate gilding on the magic oil lamp which has the whimsical blue Genie shimmered in a candlight cave. And the bright and rich red vest worn by Alladin stood out at night setting.

The PS42’s 14-inch, non-touch 1080p display is detailed and vivid, but those qualities are constrained by a minimal maximum brightness.

A trailer for the indie sci-fi film Prospect also looked great upon this IPS panel. Seeing the knobs, switches and dials in the backdrop of a lab scene made me appreciate the film’s focus on detail. The turquoise-and-red suit worn by actress Sophie Thatcher provided a pop of color on the muted, ominous planet where the film is set.

The PS42’s panel covers 116 percent of the sRGB color gamut, so that it is less colorful compared to the MateBook X Pro (124 percent) and the ZenBook 13 (119 percent), but more vivid compared to the Spectre 13 (111 percent) and the premium category average (114 percent).

The PS42’s screen registered typically 243 nits of maximum brightness. That’s dim weighed against the premium notebook average (311 nits). The MateBook X Pro topped the brightness charts (458 nits) and ZenBook 13 was also more luminous (296 nits) compared to the PS42. The PS42, at least, got brighter compared to the HP Spectre 13 (247 nits). Since it includes a matte finish, the PS42’s display continues to be obvious under bright conditions.

Keyboard and Touchpad

The island-style keyboard on the MSI PS42 provided a comfortable typing experience despite having shallow keys.

Although the backlit keyboard’s 0.9 millimeters of key travel falls well short of our recommended 1.5mm, it creates up for this with an excellent actuation force of 72 grams. Clicky feedback and well-spaced, full-size keys make the MSI P42’s keyboard among the snappiest I’ve applied to a notebook computer this slim.

Low key travel aside, I really do have a few minor qualms with the PS42’s keyboard. For just one, there is not enough contrast between your translucent font and the silver key caps. Also, I noticed somewhat of flex in the chassis when I smashed down hard toward the guts of the keyboard.

I scored 111 words each and every minute on the 10fastfingers.com typing test, above my 109 wpm average. As a result of slick, shallow keys, I finished up making more errors than normal, with an accuracy rate of 91 percent weighed against my typical 95 percent.

Increasing the quirkiness of the laptop computer may be the touchpad, that includes a flat bottom and curved top corners, so that it is appear to be a slice of bread. Awkwardness aside, I had no issues using the tiny, 3.8 x 2.2-inch touchpad to navigate Windows 10 using gestures like pinch-to-zoom, three-finger swipe to open software and two-finger scrolling. An oblong fingerprint sensor is poorly situated in the top-left corner of the touchpad for faster, better login.

Audio

When cranked to max volume, the bottom-firing speakers on the PS42 8RB get loud enough to fill a medium-size room, but you will be performing a disservice to your ears. When I paid attention to Death Cab for Cutie’s “Northern Lights” at maximum volume, Ben Gibbard’s vocals sounded veiled and distorted. Lowering the quantity improved clarity, however the pop/alternative song remained hollow and lifeless.

When I switched tunes to Kanye West’s emotional ballad “Street Lights,” the thudding drum rhythm in the backdrop sounded similar to someone knocking on a wooden door when compared to a hammering rumble. West’s synthesized voice was clear, albeit, hollow.

You can modify the speaker’s surround-sound effect using the included Nahimic software, nonetheless it won’t increase the quality of the speakers.

Performance

The MSI PS42 was extremely fast and stable inside our rest-world performance test, which involved loading 20 Google Chrome tabs. Even though I played four 1080p videos — two on YouTube and another pair on Twitch — the notebook computer never stuttered. I typically notice lag when switching between tabs under such much workload, however the MSI was as smooth as silk.

Even though I played four 1080p videos — two on YouTube and another pair on Twitch — the notebook computer never stuttered.

However, our review unit, which came built with an Intel Core i7-8550U CPU, 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD, landed mixed results on our tests. The PS42 scored an 8,748 on the Geekbench 4 efficiency test. That result is substantially worse than what the MateBook X Pro (Core i7-8550U, 13,769), the ZenBook 13 (Core i5-8250U, 12,999) and the HP Spectre 13 (Core i7-8550U, 13,090) achieved. The premium notebook computer average (12,533) is a lot more than 30 percent greater than the PS42.

The 512GB M.2 SATA SSD in the PS42 didn’t succeed, either. It needed 31 seconds to duplicate 4.97GB of mixed-media files for an interest rate of 164 megabytes per second. Again, the MateBook X Pro (512GB NVMe PCIe SSD, 282.7 MBps), the ZenBook 13 (203.6 MBps, 256GB SSD) and the Spectre 13 (339.3 MBps, 256GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD) handily outpaced the MSI. The premium notebook computer average (484.1 MBps) is practically three times faster.

Having matched 65,000 names with their corresponding addresses in 1 minute and 38 seconds, the PS42 8RB topped the MateBook X Pro (1:49) on our Excel Macro Test, but fell short of the premium notebook average (1:28). The ZenBook 13 dominated your competition (1:10).

The MSI redeemed itself using one of our tougher tests, taking just 20 minutes to convert a 4K video into 1080p resolution using the HandBrake app. The MateBook X Pro (27:18) took substantially longer to complete the same task, and the ZenBook 13 (23:02) and the common premium notebook computer (20:06) also lagged behind.

Graphics

MSI did what it can best by blowing away your competition inside our gaming tests. The PS42 is probably the most lightweight laptops with a dedicated GPU, which permits it to play modern titles at low-to-medium settings.

The Nvidia GeForce MX150-equipped PS42 scored a 125,326 on the 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited graphics test, trouncing the Spectre 13 (UHD Graphics 620; 75,114) and narrowly topping the MateBook X Pro (GeForce MX150; 116,359) and the ZenBook 13 UX331UN (GeForce MX150; 115,880). The premium notebook computer average is 90,387.

The PS42 8RB also did well inside our real-world tests. The notebook computer played the racing game Dirt 3 at a smooth 132 fps. The Spectre 13 (57 fps) and premium notebook computer average (77 fps) were far behind, and even the other GeForce MX150-equipped laptops — the MateBook X Pro (117 fps) and the ZenBook 13 (114 fps) — couldn’t continue.

Battery Life

The largest shortcoming of the PS42 8RB is its battery life. Lasting only 6 hours and 22 minutes on our Laptop Mag Battery Test (Continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness), the PS42 powered down hours prior to the MateBook X Pro (9:55) and the ZenBook 13 (9:11). The MS42 had better endurance compared to the short-lived Spectre 13 (5:16), nonetheless it fell well short of the premium notebook average (8:13).

Webcam

The MSI PS42’s webcam is borderline useless. As Dell’s XPS laptops have proved, dropping the webcam below the display seriously isn’t practical. Alas, that is where the camera resides on the MSI PS42.

Due to the orientation, going for a selfie with the 720p snapper is a nuisance. With the lid in an all natural, 90-degree position, the camera aimed directly within my chest and take off almost all of my face. I had to push the display back another 45 degrees roughly to achieve the camera to research at me. At that time, the webcam got a good view of the within of my nose, at least, when the lens wasn’t blocked by my fingers.

Nonetheless, the image captured by the webcam is sharp, albeit not bright enough to accurately capture colors. The gray lines in my own black plaid shirt were nonexistent and my shadow-covered face looked menacing from the awkward angle.

Heat

As a gaming notebook computer brand, MSI knows something or two about heat management. Unfortunately, the dual-exhaust setup on the PS42 doesn’t quite cut it. The guts of the hinge reached a toasty 109 degrees after playing a 15-minute full-screen HD video. The lower, at 98 degrees, also topped our 95-degree comfort threshold.

The touchpad (78 degrees) and the guts of the keyboard (88 degrees), at least, remained at a manageable temperature beneath the heavy workload.

Software and Warranty

The MSI PS42 is teeming with preinstalled software, almost all of that you won’t need. MSI brings the real Color app, which enables you to adapt the display’s brightness and color temperature or pick from six presets, including Gamer, Anti-Blue, sRGB, Designer, Office and Movie. Addititionally there is the MSI Dragon Center, that is a more granular version of the Windows Task Manager. A Battery Calibration app, Nahimic music software and support tools also come thanks to MSI.

A dozen roughly third-party programs take up valuable space for storage. Included among the bloatware is Norton Security Scan, Candy Crush Saga, Evernote, Hidden City and Music Maker Jam, to mention a few.

The PS42 8RB ships with a one-year warranty. Observe how MSI performed on our Tech Support Showdown and Best and Worst Brands ranking.

Bottom Line

The PS42 8RB is a work happening, but a good first effort, nonetheless. The thin and lightweight notebook includes a stylish design, a vivid display and a variety of ports. The great thing it has choosing it’s the dedicated GeForce MX150 GPU. As the graphics card doesn’t supply the raw gaming power of other MSI machines, it still blows away the ultrabook competition.

However, competing laptops offer more your money can buy. The MateBook X Pro costs somewhat more, but you get yourself a GeForce MX150 GPU plus a 3K touchscreen display and almost 10 hours of battery life. The ZenBook 13 UX331UN is another great option, with a bright, vivid display and a lot more than 9 hours of battery life. Ultimately, these laptops offer you everything the PS42 provides, but with longer endurance.

Still, in the event that you were concerned about MSI straying from its gaming roots, avoid being. The PS42 is a reassuring mainstream debut for MSI, and hopefully the hallmark of a bright future.

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