MSI PE60 2QE Prestige review
+ 97% sRGB color gamut Samsung display
+ Great audio quality via speakers
+ Nahimic for MSI is really useful and adds to the experience
+ Cool silver trim
+ Tactile back-lit keyboard with sufficient travel
+ Great performance
+ Acceptable temperatures even under load
- Just a silver GE62; needs more to differentiate from gaming line-up
- Blue keyboard backlighting
- Short battery life
Sometimes you want a gaming notebook’s performance, but find the aggressive design language a little off-putting. Perhaps you would prefer to look a little more professional in the meeting room, without sacrificing performance and going for an ultrabook with an ultra-weak CPU and GPU. The display’s color accuracy may also be an important factor if you work with photos and videos a lot. If that applies to you, have a look at one of the members of MSI’s Prestige series, the MSI PE60 2QE which is a premium notebook with a gaming notebook’s innards and an excellent display.
The MSI PE60 2QE looks exactly like the MSI GE60 notebooks from their gaming line-up, except that it’s silver now instead of the gaming series’ trademark black color with red accents. MSI is clearly holding on the mantra: don’t fix what isn’t broken.
Taking a look at the lid and rear end of the PE60 2QE, the Gaming Series emblem is understandably dropped from the PE60. A small Prestige print is also on the rear between the dual vents. I do wish that the stylized P logo that signifies the Prestige series was emblazoned on the lid.
Upon lifting the lid, you will feast your eyes on the full-sized keyboard with black keys and 15.6″ IPS display, which we will discuss in further detail later. Once again, instead of black aluminium, you now get silver aluminium.
Taking a closer look at the keyboard area, it is clear that the keyboard is carried over from the GE62, and actually sports the “gaming optimized arrangement”. Even the font was not changed. The PE60 2QE’s keyboard comes with blue backlighting, a rather peculiar choice for a “premium” offering. White color keyboard backlighting would have been preferable here.
The underside of the PE60 2QE is the exact same one as the GE62. It’s all plastic with huge vents in the middle which give you a peek at the RAM modules and heatpipes, with smaller fan intake vents at the upper corners.
|CPU||Intel Core i7-4720HQ @ 2.6 GHz (up to 3.6 GHz)|
|RAM||8GB 1600 MHz DDR3 (1 unoccupied slot available)|
|GPU||NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M 2GB GDDR5|
|Storage||1 x 1TB HGST Travelstar 7K1000 HDD (7200 rpm)|
|Software||Microsoft Windows 8.1 Pro|
362.00 WHQL NVIDIA Game Ready Driver
Nahimic for MSI
Killer Network Manager
|Connectivity||Intel Wireless-AC 3160 and Killer™ E2200 LAN|
3 x USB 3.0
1 x USB 2.0
SD card reader
|Display||15.6″ FHD PLS (1920 x 1080), SAMSUNG 156HL01-102 panel|
1 x Mini-DisplayPort v1.2
1 x HDMI 1.4
|Audio||4 + 1 Dynaudio speakers (2 speakers per channel, 1 subwoofer)|
1 x 3.5mm microphone input
1 x 3.5mm audio output (doubles as SPDIF output)
|Power||120W AC adapter, 6 cell battery (non-removable)|
|Dimensions||38.3 x 26.0 x 2.7 cm|
Running CrystalDiskMark to test the performance of the 7200 rpm HDD, the results are as expected. The numbers are in line with the other 7200 rpm drives I have tested, after accounting for the fact that it is the only drive in the system, meaning that the drive is actually in use by other tasks during the benchmark. The PE60 2QE does come with the option to add a M.2 SSD though, which we truly recommend as having a traditional hard disk holds everything back.
The CPU performance of the Haswell i7 4720HQ mated to 8GB of DDR3 1600 MHz RAM is acceptable but not as great as the Broadwell i7 5700HQ that was in the MSI GP62 2QE Leopard Pro that I previously reviewed.
The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M is a mid-range gaming GPU, which means that it should be set for some casual gaming, including some of the recent titles with lowered graphic settings. 2GB of DDR5 may limit the performance in certain games, but given that this isn’t even targeted at gamers, it may just be enough.
Since the PE60 2QE is targeted at people who need a great display to work with visual media, I tried running PCMark 8 on it. The results are acceptable as it actually sits in the middle of all the results Futuremark has received, befitting its status as a mid-range notebook. Click here for a more detailed look at the results obtained.
It suffices to say that the MSI PE60 2QE features sufficient performance for the general workloads. Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom are easily handled, although you may want to add more RAM and an SSD if you use Photoshop a lot. Cooling wise, the CPU and GPU is prevented from throttling but the left palm rest and WASD area may warm up slightly during heavier workloads.
Battery life is a little on the poor side, clocking only 1 hour 26 minutes before hitting the 20% mark. I was using the Balanced power profile and browsing around using Chrome. According to Windows’ estimate, I still have around 21 minutes of battery life at 20%. Not sure how accurate it is but this is one notebook that you must never forget to pack the charger with if you are going out.
As a laptop targeted at the more professional crowd, the MSI PE60 2QE is also decidedly more portable than MSI’s top-of-the-line gaming notebooks. Weighing in at 2.3 kg, it is still much heavier and bigger than any ultrabook, but for those that need the vastly higher performance and great display of the PE60 2QE, I believe this is a sacrifice that they have to make.
The keyboard is not endorsed by SteelSeries but is the exact same keyboard as found on the GE62 variants, sans the multi-colored backlighting. The tactile feel and key travel are the same, which is great news. In terms of backlighting, it comes with a blue backlight with 4 levels of brightness including off. As I had mentioned above, I would have preferred a white backlighting if it wasn’t going to be multi-colored. The touchpad is accurate and the two tactile mouse buttons are separate from the touch-sensitive area. Gesture support is wonky as I find that I couldn’t use two-fingered scrolling most of the time. This issue is most probably related to the Synaptics driver though.
The PE60 2QE also sports the CoolerBoost feature which pushes the fan speeds to the max. One thing that I noticed with the implementation of CoolerBoost technology in the PE60 2QE is that the fan speeds ramp up much more gently than in the gaming series. I am not sure if this is unique to my review sample or it is an intentional feature, but the gradual rise in noise levels is much more comfortable. The middle button is to change between the color calibration modes via the MSI TrueColor software at a push of the button. There are a 6 modes to choose from including Gaming, Anti-Blue, sRGB, Designer, Office and Movie. We will talk more about the display later.
The PE60 2QE sports a rather light array of connectivity ports. On the left, we get the Killer E2200 LAN port, 3 USB 3.0 ports, a HDMI v1.4 port beside a Mini-DisplayPort v1.2 and the 3.5 mm microphone and headphone jacks. We can see that MSI’s close relationship with Killer Networking is benefiting more than just their gaming notebooks series.
Over on the right we get a single USB 2.0 port, a Realtek USB 2.0 integrated card reader and a DVD writer. The USB 2.0 card reader should suffice for most users with around 33MB/s read speeds, but professional photographers who want faster transfers of their shots might want to get an external USB 3.0 card reader.
Now let’s talk about the screen. It is a SAMSUNG 156HL01-102 PLS panel, which supports up to 97% of the sRGB color gamut and 63% of the Adobe RGB color gamut. TrueColor technology is also applied to tune the white balance of all Prestige series displays to be as close to 6500K as possible. The display also feature wide viewing angles with no color shifts unless you view it from extreme angles.
I am sorry as I am unable to really do the display justice as I haven’t figured out a way to capture the display doing its thing at giving me all the accurate colors I am actually seeing. If you have any tips, please leave it in the comments section below. Your help will be very appreciated.
Among the multiple modes in the TrueColor software, the sRGB mode is where the PE60 2QE shines. It is Technicolor Color Certified, meaning the colors viewed on this notebook will be the same when viewed on any other Technicolor Color Certified display, a bonus for photographers and videographers. While I am unable to really notice the improvements over the other IPS displays that MSI uses in their gaming notebooks, I do enjoy the accurate colors when editing photos in Lightroom.
Nahimic for MSI is also featured here to enhance the audio. In combination with the Dynaudio sound system, the MSI GE60 2QE makes for an acceptable listening experience. Plug in some good headphones and you will be in for a treat.
The dual speakers for each channel are loud and clear, and watching movies on it is a pretty enjoyable experience. They are located on the front edge of the PE60 2QE.
On the bottom edge, this little square of mesh hides a tiny subwoofer. While tiny, the bass quality of the PE60 2QE is better than many other notebooks thanks to it.
The MSI PE60 2QE is just a MSI GE62 with new silver trim, blue-backlit LED keyboard and a better display. Performance figures are also great thanks to the use of a true quad-core instead of using weak ultra low voltage parts. Battery life is lackluster but that is a compromise that you will just have to make if you want high performance computing on the go. The latest PE60 6QE which packs a Skylake i7 6700HQ and DDR4 RAM may help alleviate that issue though. Much of the notebooks key features like audio, cooling and even the feel of the keyboard are great. The screen is perfect for every usage scenario, with wide viewing angles and accurate colors, a boon for editing visual media. If I were to really complain, it will be about the build quality of the PE60 2QE. The mainly plastic chassis belies its Prestige moniker. The thickness, while necessary for the inclusion of the dual-fan cooling system, also decreases its appeal as a truly portable computer for working on the go. While a great notebook, it fails to truly differentiate itself from the gaming series aside from the better display. I will give it a Silver Pokdeward and I hope MSI pays attention to design and include more features that will really appeal to photographers and videomakers instead of just throwing a different coat of paint onto the GE62, installing a different screen and calling it a day.