MSI Summit E13 Flip Evo review: A solid laptop at a stiff price

MSI Summit E13 Flip Evo sitting on table top.

MSI Summit E13 Flip Evo

MSRP $1,900.00

“The MSI Summit E13 Flip Evo gets almost everything right — except the price.”

Pros

  • Modern and attractive aesthetic
  • Thin and light
  • Excellent keyboard and touchpad
  • Great battery life
  • Solid productivity performance

Cons

  • Lid is a little flexible
  • Display is poorly calibrated
  • Too expensive

If you’re looking for a convertible 2-in-1 laptop, MSI might not be the first brand that comes to mind. It’s best known for its gaming laptops, but the company produces several other laptop lines aimed at general consumers and business users. For the latter, MSI has the Summit line, including the new Summit E13 Flip Evo 2-in-1 that offers a 16:10 display and an extremely attractive design.

I reviewed the high-end configuration that costs $1,900 and includes an 11th-gen Intel Core i7-1185G7 and a 13.4-inch IPS display in the productivity-friendly 16:10 aspect ratio. It won me over immediately with its aesthetic, and I was left with a distinct impression of quality. But with a higher overall price and without a cheap base configuration, its appeal will remain more limited.

Design

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My first impression of the Summit E13 Flip Evo was that it bears a distinct resemblance to HP’s Spectre x360 14. At least, that’s the case with my Ink Black version; the impression isn’t as pronounced with the Pure White color scheme.

I say that because the Summit E13 Flip Evo has chassis and display corners that are clipped off at similar angles to the Spectre x360 14, and the laptop’s various edges (including around the touchpad) are a familiar rose gold color. You can easily tell the laptops apart, but it sure seems that MSI borrowed some aesthetic concepts from HP.

That doesn’t extend to functionality — unlike the HP, the MSI doesn’t have a USB-C port conveniently placed in one corner. Regardless of its inspiration, the Summit E13 Flip Evo is a lovely laptop with modern lines and attractive colors that blend into an overall elegant design. MSI makes a lot of the Golden Ratio (1.618) used to proportion the laptop, and I can’t fault its math.

What I can fault, though, are the large display bezels that distract from the otherwise modern look. They’re larger on top and on the bottom than they could be, and that makes the 13.4-inch laptop with its 16:10 display a bit deeper than necessary. It’s within fractions of an inch of the Spectre x360 14 with its larger and taller 13.5-inch 3:2 display, although it’s quite a bit thinner at 0.59 inches compared to the HP’s 0.67 inches.

The MSI is just slightly heavier at 2.98 pounds compared to 2.95 pounds for the HP. It’s larger in width and depth than the Dell XPS 13 that also uses a 13.4-inch 16:10 display, and the Dell is slightly thinner at 0.58 inches and lighter at 2.64 inches. Some of the Summit E13 Flip Evo’s extra depth is due to the convertible 2-in-1 hinge, but even so, MSI could have made this a more diminutive laptop with a little more attention to the bezels.

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The Summit E13 Flip Evo’s construction is certainly premium, as it uses CNC-machined aluminum to carve the lid and chassis out of single blocks of metal. The lid has just the slightest bit of a bend to it if you exert some pressure, and the LCD distorts when you do so. The bottom chassis and keyboard deck are firm, though, lending the laptop an overall sense of solidity. Thanks to the lid, it’s not as rigid as the HP Spectre x360 14 or Dell XPS 13, but it’s close. The hinge allows for opening the lid with one hand, but it also makes things a bit wobbly while you’re moving the laptop around.

About that pricing: The Summit E13 Flip Evo is expensive in its $1,900 configuration. Given the laptop’s quality design, it’s worth a premium but most users will likely be turned off by the high-end price. The $1,600 configuration with 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD is more reasonable and in line with the competition. The Spectre x360 14, for example, currently costs $1,460 for the same configuration as the $1,600 Summit E13 Flip Evo, albeit with a Core i7-1165G7 versus the MSI’s Core i7-1185G7. So it’s $140 cheaper but also has a lesser processor.

When identically configured, the Dell XPS 13 is $1,620, almost exactly the same price. MSI is charging too much for an upgrade to 32GB of RAM that most users in this class won’t need.

Connectivity is good for a very thin and light laptop, with a USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 port and two USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 ports with Thunderbolt 4 along the left-hand side, and a USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 port (no Thunderbolt 4) joining a 3.5mm audio jack and hidden microSD card reader on the right-hand side. Wi-Fi 6E — the Summit E13 Flip Evo is the first laptop to equip the latest Wi-Fi 6E standard that supports a 6Ghz exclusive band — and Bluetooth 5.2 provide for wireless connectivity.

Performance

Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

MSI enables the full 28 watts of the Intel 11th-gen Core i7-1185G7 in the Summit E13 Flip Evo, theoretically promising the best possible performance from the chip. According to our benchmarks, though, the 2-in-1 doesn’t necessarily jump into the lead among similarly configured laptops.

In Geekbench 5, the Summit E13 Flip Evo was in the middle of the pack. MSI includes a utility to tune performance versus fan noise, and it made a moderate difference in some tests. The Geekbench score jumped to 1,519 single-core and 5,310 in performance mode, for example. The utility also improved the laptop’s Handbrake score, which measures the time to encode a 420MB video as H.265, from 207 to 178 seconds. Both of those scores are more competitive. The utility made less of a difference in Cinebench R23 and PCMark 10. In the latter benchmark, the laptop was in the average range across all included tests, including the Essentials (web browsing, etc.), Productivity (Office apps, etc.), and Creation (video encoding and more).

Overall, the Summit E13 Flip Evo was a fast laptop for its configuration, which included 32GB of RAM and a fast 1TB SSD, but it wasn’t dominant among Intel machines. As noted above, the $1,600 base configuration comes with 16GB of RAM and a 512GB solid-state drive. A model with 8GB of RAM and less storage isn’t offered, which puts it behind its competitors.

Either way, the MSI Summit E13 Flip Evo will be fast enough to keep up with demanding productivity workflows, but it won’t please creative types who crave a laptop that can churn through CPU-intensive tasks. For that, you’ll want an AMD Ryzen 5000-series chip, an M1 MacBook, or a larger 45-watt Intel laptop.

Geekbench (single/multi) Handbrake
(seconds)
Cinebench R23 (single/multi) PCMark 10 3DMark Time Spy
MSI Summit E13 Flip Evo
(Core i7-1185G7)
1352/4891 207 1360/4392 4872 1751
Dell XPS 13 (Core i7-1185G7) 1549 / 5431 204 1399 / 4585 n/a 1380
HP Spectre x360 14 (Core i7-1165G7) 1214 / 4117 236 1389 / 3941 4728 1457
Lenovo Yoga 9i 14
(Core i7-1185G7)
1532/5415 207 1435/4409 4800 1648
Asus ZenBook 13 OLED
(Ryzen 7 5800U)
1423 / 6758 124 1171 / 7824 6034 1342
MacBook Pro 13 (M1) 1707 / 7337 n/a 1487 / 7547 n/a n/a

Like all laptops using Intel’s Iris Xe integrated graphics (and AMD machines with Radeon graphics), the Summit E13 Flip Evo doesn’t pretend to be a gaming laptop.

Its 3DMark Time Spy score is unimpressive, and it managed just 26 frames per second (fps) at 1080p High settings in Fortnite. That dropped to 19 fps with Epic graphics turned on.

Display

Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

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