The MSI Summit E16 Flip Evo is MSI's latest entry into the growing horde of 2-in-1 laptops, but while many others sacrifice either performance or screen size for the sake of portability and weight reduction, MSI has decided to completely disregard that and bring us a 2-in-1 without compromise. Well, almost.
I got sent a review unit, which I've tested and used for work and play for the last couple of weeks to see how it stacks up not just against its maker's claims, but also its rivals and see whether it commands a place on our list of the best 2-in-1 laptops for creatives, for example.
And what I've found is that it impresses with its reserved but sleek design, the large touchscreen and performance that's on par with more expensive rivals, while the weight might be a bit too much for mere mortals to use as a tablet, and the screen, while responsive and sporting up to 165Hz refresh rate, lags behind some close rivals when it comes to resolution and colour depth. Let's see what our full MSI Summit E16 Flip Evo review has revealed.
MSI Summit E16 Flip Evo review: Design and build
Like we've come to expect from MSI, the Summit E16 Flip Evo greets you with its imposing, sleek, black design, with the company logo etched onto it, also in black. With the large 16-inch screen and weighing nearly two kilos, it's not exactly compact either, picking it up and carrying it comes with a reassuring sense of sturdiness, if not a huge sense of portability.
The keyboard looks and feels good too, even for someone like me, who's not a fan of native laptop keyboards and prefers plugging their own massive mechanical clacker in at the first opportunity. The touchpad, however, is plastic and feels strangely cheap to the touch for a laptop in this price and performance bracket.
Perhaps the reason for that can be found in the fact that this is a 2-in-1 with a touchscreen, so MSI is expecting us to interact directly with the screen rather than a pad. The screen swings all the way round to the back to use as a tablet, or what I preferred, in 'tent' mode, with the screen facing me like an art-making canvas or small touchscreen TV.
MSI Summit E16 Flip Evo review: Features and screen
The touchscreen and 2-in-1 tablet functionality is obviously the headline feature on this MSI Summit model, with the MSI Pen included with the laptop.
The E16 screen follows one of the big trends of the last couple of years, in that it has a 16:10 screen ratio, so is taller than before. This move reflects a focus on usability for content creators and designers (as well as gamers) above the more cinema-centred 16:9 ratio.
I've now used a 16:10 screen on several laptops in the last few months, both 13, 14 and 16-inch ones, and having this extra real estate to work with, especially on the MSI's large 16-inch screen, is a real boon for both visual work (like photo-editing) and writing, including this very review.
However, while the screen is a Full HD proposition, it only offers up to 1200p resolution, which isn't as good as many rivals that offer QHD or higher-resolution screens. It means the pixel density here is not really high enough to work on 4K video editing, for example, which is a shame, because the powerful Intel Core i7-1280P processor seems more than up to the task. When working on high-detail images, you can see the pixelation, which is less than ideal.
Similarly, the brightness and contrast is pedestrian rather than stellar (and lags behind models like the Dell XPS 16), with 324 nits of brightness and a 900:1 contrast ratio. I struggled a little with seeing everything as clearly as I wished when working in very bright settings, such as outside (or more frequently as I was testing this in January, by the café window...).
Similarly, watching movies and TV felt a little underwhelming, thanks to the combination of the contrast ratio and resolution. The HDR mode does help there, though, but that's more power-intensive and does impact battery life.
One thing I absolutely love about this laptop, though, is that it has pretty much all the ports you need, with two Thunderbolt USB-C ports with PD charging, two USB3.2 Type-A ports, a direct HDMI port and even a Micro SD card reader, which will come in particularly handy for photographers and video creators.
MSI Summit E16 Flip Evo review: Performance and battery life
Score: 4,641 (Essentials: 9,352; Productivity: 6,425; Digital content creation: 4,517)
I've found the MSI Summit a very capable all-around performer. I've used Photoshop and other creative software without any issues, even when running apps concurrently, so it's a capable multitasker. The responsive touchscreen was also fun to use, and helped my workflow considerably when it came to some visual work like photo editing.
However, the laptop does run on integrated Intel Iris Xe Graphics rather than a dedicated graphics card, and that shows in the Cinebench R23 benchmark scoring, which is intended to show the laptop's ability to run and process Cinema 4D work. A multi-core score of 6,839 isn't spectacular for a 14-core processor like the one powering my review unit and lags behind some similarly priced laptops.
Geekbench 5 benchmarking was more positive. The multi-core score of 8,256 shows how strong an all-around performer it is, boosted primarily by efficient disk encryption, good HDR performance and image inpainting, speaking to the screen's fast refresh rate in particular.
PCMark 10 testing further confirmed that this laptop works very well as a general workhorse. App start-up, video-conferencing, productivity tasks and photo-editing all came out very well, while rendering and video-editing performance lagged a little behind.
The Windows Hello-enabled webcam is a Full HD one, and not only is the Windows Hello function easy to set up and work extremely well (I sit down and open the thing, and it logs me in by taking a look and making sure it's the right person starting it up), the webcam works really well too. In video meetings, my face looked sharp and bright, without looking washed out, and is definitely among the better built-in laptop webcams I've tested in recent months.
Speaker performance is unspectacular, though, regarding the depth of sound. Listening to Spotify or HD audio felt a little empty, while watching video content in tent mode was helped by the sound of the perfunctory 2W speakers travelling better and being amplified by the hard surfaces of the laptop itself. If you're working on audio production, you're going to want headphones for any serious editing work.
MSI claims a battery life of over 12 hours for light work, and my testing seemed to back that up. Obviously more power-intensive programs are going to run that down a little faster, but my video test, where I streamed TV shows off a streaming service, yielded just over 11 hours from a full charge before it finally conked out. That's pretty much a whole season of The Simpsons before you have to make a move to find a power outlet.
Again, due to the limited graphics card, you won't be getting this laptop as a gaming powerhouse, but it will run lighter games easily enough, an experience helped again by the 165Hz screen.
MSI Summit E16 Flip Evo review: Price
The MSI Summit in the configuration I tested, with the Intel i7-1280P processor, 16GB RAM and a 512GB SSD storage, retails for around £1,299 in the UK. You can get it with the similar i7-1260P processor in the States for $1,549, but discounted to sub $1,200 at the time of writing this.
It puts this laptop in the premium midrange category, which is precisely where it belongs. Add to that the earned trust in MSI's build quality, sturdiness and historical longevity of their machines, and you can consider this a reasonable price for this product.
Should you buy the MSI Summit E16 Flip Evo?
MSI is one of those makers who seems to have a very dedicated user base, where people tend to stick with MSI laptops once they've got one. This model will certainly not scare any of those users off, as it's solidly built, sturdy (if a little heavy), has a big screen that's ideal for content creation and a processor that can multitask with pretty much anything below 3D or moving images. If you don't come in with any illusions of running heavy 3D or video-editing software, or running a music studio on this in a professional setting, it will not disappoint you.