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MSI Summit E16 Flip review: A solid laptop for content creators

Thursday June 23, 2022. 12:45 PM , from PC World
At a glanceExpert’s Rating
ProsLarge screen in compact chassisStrong application and multimedia performance1080p IR webcamConsToo big and heavy for general tablet useCompeting models feature OLED displaysGet noisy under heavy loadsOur VerdictThe MSI Summit E16 Flip is a roomy 16-inch 2-in-1 geared toward content creators with the latest Intel silicon and RTX graphics.

MSI made its name with gaming laptops and desktops but has expanded to where it now offers a variety of business laptops. The Summit series sits at the top of its three business laptop lines and offers high-end features not available on the Prestige and Modern models. The Summit E16 Flip is the latest addition to the Summit series. It’s a 2-in-1 convertible laptop with a roomy 16-inch display powered by a 12th-gen Intel Core i7 processor and GeForce RTX 3050 Ti graphics.

As a laptop, the large, high-resolution display gives content creators room to work and its 165Hz refresh rate lets you dabble in some gaming after hours. As a tablet, the Summit E16 provides a huge canvas on which digital artists can jot, draw, and sketch with the included active pen. It’s less of a fit as a general-use tablet, however, because it’s a bit too big and heavy to hold one-handed. With its high-end hardware, huge display, and high price, the E16 Flip is a specialized 2-in-1 for creative professionals rather than business executives looking for a versatile system that can be used equally as a laptop and tablet.

MSI Summit E16 Flip specifications and features

Our MSI Summit E16 Flip (model A12UDT-006) is selling for $1,999 at Amazon and Newegg and features the following specs: 

CPU: Intel Core i7-1260PMemory: 32GBGraphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti @ 40 Watt TGPStorage: 1TB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSDDisplay: 16.0 inch,16:10, 2560 x 1600 resolution with 165Hz refresh rateWebcam: 1080p with kill switchConnectivity: Left side: 2 x USB-C (with Thunderbolt 4), HDMI 2.1. Right side: 2 x USB-A 3.2 Gen 2, microSD card reader, combo audio jack.Networking: Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2Biometrics: IR facial recognition, fingerprint readerBattery capacity: 82 Watt-hoursDimensions: 14.12 x 10.15 x 0.70 inchesMeasured weight: 4.35 pounds (laptop), 0.79 pounds (AC adapter)Price: $1,999The baseline MSI Summit E16 Flip model is currently selling for $1,699 and features the same Core i7 CPU as our test system, but drops you down to 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, and RTX 3050 graphics. The middle configuration costs $1,899 for the Core i7 part, 16GB of RAM, a 1TB SSD and RTX 3050 Ti graphics. All three models are based on the 16-inch, 2560×1600 touch display and come with Windows 11 Pro.

Better laptop than tablet

A 16-inch 16:10 display is a popular pick among laptops geared toward content creation and for good reason: it provides ample screen real estate without getting too unwieldy. It’s easier to carry on your commute or down to your local coffee shop than a burdensome 17.3-inch 16:9 laptop. A 16-inch 16:10 laptop can be more compact and lighter, in fact, than a 15.6-inch 16:9 laptop. The Summit E16 Flip is one of a number of recent examples of a 16-inch content creation laptop with a squarer 16:10 aspect ratio. It follows the Asus VivoBook Pro 16X OLED and the HP Spectre x360 16, and the Dell XPS 17 can be included in this group but is an inch larger with a 17-inch 16:10 display.

The Flip’s display is not only big, but it’s also bright. It’s rated for 500 nits of brightness, and we measured it to be slightly brighter than that. Its 2560 x 1600 resolution creates a crisp image and one that we found produced accurate colors. It covers 100% of the DCI-P3 color gamut. The Asus VivoBook Pro 16X OLED and the HP Spectre x360 16 each feature a 4K display, but the 2560 x 1600 resolution provides ample pixel density on a 16-inch display that we aren’t yearning for a higher resolution on the Flip.

What we are left wanting is an OLED panel that both the Asus VivoBook Pro 16X OLED and the HP Spectre x360 16 have. An OLED panel boasts unparalleled contrast with true black. The Flip’s contrast ratio is decent, but it can’t match that of an OLED display.

IDG / Matthew Elliott

MSI includes an active pen with the Summit E16 Flip but offers no place on the system where you can stow it. The pen affixes magnetically to the left side of the laptop, which helps keep things organized on your desk but is less useful than a garaged pen would be during transit. The large display makes the system awkward to handle in tablet mode; the system is too big and heavy to handle one-handed. Digital artists, however, will appreciate the large canvas. While it’s too big for simple note-taking, it’s a great fit for content creation.

The Flip may not be the best fit for all tablet-related endeavors, but it will serve you well as a laptop. The roomy display gives you the needed space for multitasking and juggling multiple windows, and the laptop remains impressively thin and fairly light. It’s only 0.7 inches thick and weighs a reasonable 4.35 pounds. That’s light enough to take on a daily commute and on par with other 16-inch 16:10 laptops we’ve reviewed recently. By comparison the Asus VivoBook Pro 16X OLED weighs 4.30 pounds, and the HP Spectre x360 16 weighs 4.45 pounds.  

While it’s not as bulky as a gaming laptop, it can certainly sound like one when its cooling fans rev up. During general Windows use, the Flip operates in near silence, but it can get quite loud when its fans are spinning at maximum speed during intensive graphics tasks.

IDG / Matthew Elliott

The Summit E16 Flip is light enough to take to the office each day and also looks the part. The laptop features an all-metal, corporate-black chassis with minimal adornment. There is an MSI logo on the lid and another on the bottom bezel below the display, but both are black and blend in with the rest of the monochrome look. The keyboard and touchpad are both black, and the only bit of chrome to be found is the narrow border framing the touchpad.

Webcam goes to 1080p

A 16-inch 16:10 laptop is a tweener in terms of including a numpad; some models like the Asus VivoBook Pro 16X OLED include it and others like the HP Spectre x360 16 do not. The Flip fits in a numpad and does so without putting the squeeze on the keyboard itself. The keyboard feels comfortable with the right Ctrl, Fn and Shift keys the only keys shortened as a result of the inclusion of the numpad. You do get four, full-sized arrow keys, which often get the half-height treatment with the presence of a numpad. 

IDG / Matthew Elliott

The keys themselves feel soft with shallow travel. I would have preferred a snappier response when typing but enjoyed the firm keyboard deck that had no hint of flex. I also liked the three-level keyboard backlighting; it let me keep the lighting at the right level in a variety of darkened environments.

The touchpad is spacious and responsive. It accurately recorded my swipes and mousing gestures, and its click response is neither too mushy nor too firm.

Secure logins are important for any laptop and particularly so on a business machine, and the Summit E16 Flip doesn’t disappoint by providing an IR webcam and a fingerprint reader. The IR cam lets you use your face to log in via Windows Hello. And the webcam boasts a 1080p resolution that will make you look clearer on video calls than a 720p cam. There’s no physical shutter for the webcam, but there is a switch on the system’s left edge that kills the power to the camera to protect your privacy.

The laptop’s speakers are underwhelming. They don’t get very loud and sound tinny with nothing in the way of bass response. They’ll suffice for video calls and YouTube, but you’ll want headphones for music playback. 

IDG / Matthew Elliott

IDG / Matthew Elliott

A pair of USB-C ports with Thunderbolt 4 support highlight the Summit E16 Flip’s connectivity. It also features two USB Type A ports on the right side for connecting a mouse and older USB devices without needing a dongle. The inclusion of a microSD card slot is also an appreciated inclusion.

MSI Summit E16 Flip performance

Our MSI Summit E16 Flip features an Intel Core i7-1260P processor, 32GB of RAM, RTX 3050 Ti graphics, and a 1TB SSD. The Core i7-1260P is a member of Intel’s Alder Lake-P series that is the chipmaker’s new mainstream offering that provides performance while still allowing thin-and-light designs. These are 28-watt chips with Intel’s new hybrid architecture with performance and efficiency cores. The Core i7-1260P has four performance cores, eight efficiency cores, and a total of 16 processing threads.

Because we review more gaming laptops than content-creation laptops, we have pulled in some gaming systems to use as comparisons for the Flip. All feature lower-end GeForce RTX graphics, either a RTX 3050, 3050 Ti or 3060 GPU. You’ll see a mix of 11th- and 12th-gen Intel chips along with two AMD-based systems. The MSI Katana GF66 and Katana GF76 are the other two laptops with 12th-gen Alder Lake chips with the Flip.

Our first benchmark is PCMark 10, which measures performance on everyday computing work including office productivity tasks, web browsing, and video chats. The two MSI Katana laptops led the pack, and the Dell XPS 17 snuck in ahead of the Summit E16 Flip even though it uses a previous-generation CPU. Still, a score above 6,000 is excellent and proves the Flip is overqualified as a productivity machine.

IDG / Matthew Elliott

Our HandBrake benchmark tests how a laptop is able to handle crushing CPU loads over a lengthy period—in this case, transcoding a 30GB MKV file to a format suitable for Android tablets using HandBrake, the free video encoding utility. The Flip crushed the competition on HandBrake and even edged the pair of MSI Kanata laptops that feature a higher-powered, less efficient 12th-gen Core i7 chip.

IDG / Matthew Elliott

Next up is Cinebench, another CPU-intensive test but one that renders a complex 2D scene over a short period of time. The Flip did well, but the two MSI Katanas were able to overtake it on the multi-threaded test.

IDG / Matthew Elliott

IDG / Matthew Elliott

Even though it’s geared more toward content creation and media editing than 3D gaming, the Flip did well on 3DMark’s Time Spy benchmark. It took third place behind the RTX 3060-based Dell XPS 17 and the higher-end of the two MSI Katana laptops.

IDG / Matthew Elliott

Although it’s not a gaming laptop, we wanted to see how the Flip might do as an after-hours gaming machine and ran two of our 3D gaming benchmarks, Rise of the Tomb Raider and Metro Exodus. It turned in a playable 64 fps when running the older Rise of the Tomb Raider game at 1080p on Very High presets. On the more demanding Metro Exodus, it managed only 21 fps, but the RTX 3060-based Dell XPS 17 didn’t fare much better.

IDG / Matthew Elliott

IDG / Matthew Elliott

To test the battery life, we loop a 4K video using Windows 11’s Movies & TV app, with the laptop set to Airplane mode and earbuds plugged in. We set the screen brightness at a relatively bright 250 nits to 260 nits, which is a good brightness for watching a movie in an office with the lights on. With its large, high-resolution display, the Flip lasted just over nine hours, which might get you through a workday on a single charge but not by enough that you could leave the charger at home.

IDG / Matthew Elliott

Alas, it’s OLED-less

As much as we love the expansive 16-inch 16:10 display in laptop mode, we caution you from lumping the MSI Summit E16 Flip in with the rest of the 2-in-1 business convertible crowd. We’ve seen smaller convertibles like the Lenovo Yoga 9i and the Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio that provide less screen real estate but greater versatility because they feel more natural in tablet mode. The Summit E16 Flip, in contrast, is a convertible that converts between a luxuriously large laptop and content-creation tablet for drawing or sketching or otherwise using a specific graphics program. You will not want to navigate Windows or browse the Web in tablet mode on the Flip with any great frequency.

As a laptop, the Flip is impressively thin and fairly portable, given the size of its display. The display is big and bright with a high resolution, but the HP Spectre x360 16 convertible and the Asus VivoBook Pro 16X laptop are similar 16-inch 16:10 models around the same price that serve up an OLED display, which is a feature we’d imagine is higher on any creative pro’s wish list for their next laptop. We hope MSI delivers OLED goodness with the next update to the Flip.

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