Midrange Marvel: An MSI Modern 14 Laptop Review

Key Points

  • MSI's Modern 14 laptop weighs a little more than three Ibs., but it's sturdy and remains portable.

  • Its CPU performance keeps up with other more popular processors and scores fairly high in its benchmark test.

  • The spacebar is this laptop's least responsive feature and the only real mark against it.

  • For $500, MSI's Modern 14 is a steal and worth anyone's consideration looking for a day-to-day laptop for school or work.

The MSI Modern 14 is a middle-of-the-road laptop that isn't expected to do anything special. And, well, it doesn't. Despite MSI manufacturing graphics cards, don't mistake this machine for a gaming laptop. While ideal for students in high school or college and office workers, this laptop only manages some basic gaming.

up close image of the MSI modern 14 laptop

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The Modern 14 comes with typical features of other laptops at its price point, but the best thing about it is the amount of memory it holds. 16GB is more than a lot of non-gaming laptops come with and is a major selling point.


I don't enjoy the look of most MSI laptops. In fact, I don't enjoy the look of most gaming laptops. I'm a fan of an understated look that doesn't bring too much attention to itself. Something simple yet highly functional. Most MSI laptops try to portray that futuristic, flashy appearance that attracts many younger gamers.

Maybe it's because I'm getting old, but that's not a look I want from my computer, laptop, or otherwise. The MSI Modern 14 fits exactly what I prefer. It's a sleek, understated design that has an edge to it, telling you there's more to it than meets the eye.

My model comes in a classic black finish around the aluminum chassis. It only weighs a whopping 3.75 lbs., making it easy to transport without weighing me down. Having to carry it in a backpack or laptop bag isn't an issue. There are definitely lighter laptops on the market, but under four Ibs. is pretty good.

It feels sturdy too when I carry it from one place to another. It's not flimsy and despite its sleek, smooth surfaces, it holds up to normal wear and tear pretty well.


Nailing down the exact clock speed for the installed AMD Ryzen 5 7530U is difficult. Using the information in the computer's "About" section states its clock speed at 2GHz. However, using the program CPUID, it clocks the processor at 3GHz. Either way, it's good enough for the type of work and light gaming I use it for.

Cinebench benchmark for the MSI Modern 14 laptop

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Running a benchmark test for the CPU in Cinebench shows a score of 8,535, ranking it 6th in the rankings. That puts it right below an AMD Ryzen 7 1700X with eight cores and a clock speed of 3.4GHz. That's also right above an Intel Xeon CPU with a clock speed of 2.7GHz.

Ignore the listed operating system as Windows 10 because it's most definitely Windows 11.

The biggest selling point for this laptop was the 16GB of DDR4 RAM it comes with. I was simultaneously eyeing an Asus VivoBook with a 15.6" display for $400. It only came with 4GB of RAM in it, quickly pushing me in the direction of the slightly more expensive MSI Modern 14.

16GB of RAM is a larger number than I ever expected to find in a relatively affordable laptop. Especially one without a dedicated graphics card. Sure, it's not DDR5 RAM, but I'm not going to nitpick.

I commonly run multiple programs and keep numerous tabs open while working and there is never a moment of lag. This is a complete upgrade from my Samsung Chromebook 4 which doesn't do well with multiple tabs open in Chrome.

It doesn't come with a dedicated graphics card, so don't make the mistake of thinking it's a gaming laptop. Instead, it utilizes AMD Radeon integrated graphics. I am a bit of a gamer, meaning I naturally need to test out its capabilities in Steam. It does just fine for the light gaming I need it for.

I tested several easy-going games on it such as Minecraft, Cities: Skylines, Stardew Valley, and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. Yes, they're low-resource-demanding games. That's because I don't want to watch my new laptop freeze. If I wager a bet, it's probably capable of running some faster-paced games like Valorant and Counter-Strike.

Furthermore, the 512GB NVMe SSD is a good starting point. I prefer something more like 1TB, but that's why they make external hard drives.


It's a nice-looking keyboard, and it feels good, too. It comes with four brightness settings for its backlight, that you easily adjust with a simple press of the F8 key. It's not too compact, making for a pleasant typing experience save for one aspect.

The spacebar isn't as responsive as it needs to be. There are times when I'm certain I press it down and it doesn't register, forcing me to repeatedly edit text. The arrow keys are also rather small than I'm used to, making for some silly misclicks.

Luckily I use an external keyboard when I'm home.

There isn't much to say about the touchpad other than it's a generously-sized trackpad that's just as responsive as its keyboard. It's smooth and feels better than some other laptops under my care.


There's nothing to write home about in terms of the MSI Modern 14's 14" IPS screen. It comes with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 at 60Hz and that's what you expect from a laptop at this price point.

There's very little degradation or distortion when viewing the display at an off-angle, something that I appreciate. I'm also a fan of the matte anti-glare finish. I sometimes enjoy working out of my local bakery and a glare makes that difficult.

Tech expert and HighPerformanceLaptops writer Nick Ross says, "However, viewing multimedia confirmed that colours aren’t very vibrant. Colour gradients and transitions frequently suffer a light banding while monochromatic equivalents are similar (which is good for monochromatic equivalents)."

Longevity and Connectivity

up close image of the side of the MSI modern 14 laptop

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While there's not much in the way of upgradeability for MSI's Modern 14, it's possible to swap out the RAM sticks if you desire more than the 16GB. Honestly, that's more than enough for anyone that's buying a midrange laptop like this.

In terms of its battery life, it lasts a good amount of time without needing its charger. I clocked it at eight and a half hours with constant use and brightness at max. That's not too shabby if a college student chooses to buy this laptop and brings it with them from class to class. I'm never too far from an outlet, so I primarily keep it plugged in.

However, if you're a frequent flier or often on the road, it holds out pretty well.

Then there are the different connective ports. The left side holds the charging port (a missed opportunity not to charge via USB-C), an HDMI port, a USB 3.0 port, a USB-C port, and a headphone jack. The right side contains two more USB 3.0 ports and a microSD slot.

up close image of the side of the MSI modern 14 laptop

Bradley Hill for Smart Screens

The number of USB ports is ideal as it means plenty of slots for peripherals before you need a USB hub.

It also comes with Bluetooth connectivity and that allows me to use my wireless earbuds with it. If you have your own Bluetooth-capable headphones, those work without issue. Pairing them is simple, requiring only a few mouse clicks.


$500 might not sound like the price of an affordable laptop. Trust me, it is. When that's the going rate for a graphics card, getting a whole computer for that price is a steal. NewEgg offers this and so many other laptops at a reasonable price, but this one is in a league of its own.

When an Asus VivoBook costs $100 less with worse specs, it's not hard to see the right choice.

Final Verdict on the MSI Modern 14 Laptop

Despite the MSI Modern 14 not being anything too special and a simple midrange laptop, I give it a 9.4. It's a wonderful budget laptop that avoids any major compromises. There are other more affordable laptops out there, but you definitely need to make compromises with those.

If you're looking for a gaming laptop, this isn't the computer for you. While it runs a few easy-going games like Magic: The Gathering Arena, it doesn't run anything like Halo or Rainbow Six: Siege with any measure of success.

However, this is the perfect laptop for professional writers, data entry specialists, and even those who dabble with photo editing. It's easy to keep up with the SAG and WGA strike happening in July of 2023 with this laptop.

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