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

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.

Jump to: Design | Performance | Display | Keyboard and touchpad | Battery life | Our take

Design

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Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

View of the bottom of the Closeup on the MSI Summit E13 Flip Evo.Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

Closeup on Closeup on the MSI Summit E13 Flip Evo's webcam and bezels.Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

MSI Summit E13 Flip Evo tent hinges.Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

MSI Summit E13 Flip Evo sitting on table in tablet fold.Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

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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MSI Summit E13 Flip Evo left side ports: Webcam on-off switch, Micro USB port, Micro SD slot, and headphone jack.Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

msi summit e13 flip evo review headphone jackMark Coppock/Digital Trends

MSI Summit E13 Flip Evo tent hinges.Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

Photo of the MSI Summit E13 Flip Evo's hinges while closed.Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

MSI Summit E13 Flip Evo right side ports and plugins: One USB port and two micro-USB ports.Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

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

MSI Summit E13 Flip Evo easel fold sitting on table top.

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 103DMark Time Spy
MSI Summit E13 Flip Evo(Core i7-1185G7)1352/48912071360/439248721751
Dell XPS 13 (Core i7-1185G7)1549 / 54312041399 / 4585n/a1380
HP Spectre x360 14 (Core i7-1165G7)1214 / 41172361389 / 394147281457
Lenovo Yoga 9i 14(Core i7-1185G7)1532/54152071435/440948001648
Asus ZenBook 13 OLED
(Ryzen 7 5800U)
1423 / 67581241171 / 782460341342
MacBook Pro 13 (M1)1707 / 7337n/a1487 / 7547n/an/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

Closeup in the MSI Summit E13 Flip Evo laptop screen.

I love seeing so many new machines with taller displays, especially across varied sizes and form factors. The Summit E13 Flip Evo is one such laptop, with a 13.4-inch 16:10 display in a Full HD+ (1,920 x 1,200) resolution. That’s the only choice, which is unfortunate — I’d love to see a higher-resolution display option.

Subjectively, the display seemed fine to me for productivity tasks, being plenty bright and with good contrast that made black text jump out from white backgrounds (as a writer, that’s one of my most important display attributes). Colors seemed fine when viewing the display by itself, although I noticed that things were a little off-color compared to some other laptops I have lying around.

That’s where my colorimeter came in. According to it, the display has some good qualities and some not-so-good ones. As I said, the panel seemed bright, and it was, at 471 nits (well above our 300-nit threshold), and the contrast ratio was 950:1 — just under our preferred 1,000:1 ratio. Colors matched the premium (non-creative) laptop average at 73% of AdobeRGB and 97% of sRGB. All of that’s good enough for a machine of the Summit E13 Flip Evo’s class.

Not so great was the color accuracy, which came in at a disappointing DeltaE of 3.94. That accounts for my subjective impression. Also, gamma (how bright or dark an image or video is displayed compared to the original) was extremely poor at 1.4. I don’t normally mention gamma because most laptop displays measure at the standard 2.2. The MSI’s display, though, is way too bright, which, again, was something I noticed when using the laptop.

Closeup on Closeup on the MSI Summit E13 Flip Evo's screen and bezels.

It’s possible that my machine was poorly calibrated and could be fixed by anyone with the right tools — not that many people have access to a colorimeter to perform their own calibration. But it detracts from the experience of using the laptop, including watching videos, where the poor gamma has an impact. Creators will also find it too inaccurate for their needs.

The audio was fine, with enough volume from the two downward-firing speakers to enjoy a YouTube video without distortion when turned all the way up. Mids and highs were clear, but bass was nonexistent. You’ll want a pair of headphones for bingeing Netflix and listening to music, but otherwise, the sound quality is about average for the class.

Keyboard and touchpad

Closeup on the MSI Summit E13 Flip Evo's trackpad and keyboard.

The Summit E13 Flip Evo’s keyboard enjoys excellent spacing and large keycaps with legible lettering and three useful levels of consistent backlighting. The layout is mostly standard, and I was up to speed in no time. I enjoyed the 1.5mm of travel, especially considering the light switches that didn’t cause fatigue. The bottoming action was a little soft, and I prefer the snappier keyboard on the HP Spectre line, but overall, I found MSI’s keyboard to be comfortable for longer typing sessions (like writing this review).

The touchpad was in a wide format and moderately sized, but there’s more room on the keyboard deck for a larger touchpad. It supports Microsoft’s Precision Touchpad drivers and responded well to Windows 10’s multitouch gestures. The buttons were clicky and quiet, which is a nice combination. Other than wishing it were slightly larger, I have no complaints.

The MSI active pen is included in the box, and it magnetically attaches to the laptop’s lid or chassis. It supports 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity and tilt, and it conveniently charges via USB-C. I found it to provide as good a Windows Ink experience as any other modern 2-in-1 I’ve used. The touch display was also responsive. An infrared camera and facial recognition, along with a fingerprint reader on the palm rest, provide Windows 10 Hello password-less support. Both were fast and reliable.

Closeup on the MSI Summit E13 Flip Evo's trackpad, keyboard, and finger print scanner.

Interestingly, MSI implemented a switch on the side of the laptop for electronically turning off the webcam. This is the same mechanism that HP used in some older Spectre 2-in-1s, such as the Spectre x360 13 and Spectre x360 15. HP has since switched to putting a button on the keyboard that closes a physical shutter over the webcam, but it’s interesting that this is something else that MSI seems to have borrowed.

I prefer the electronic version because it completely turns off the webcam and leaves nothing for hackers to exploit. There’s also a button on the keyboard to turn off the microphone, another welcome privacy feature.

Battery life

MSI Summit E13 Flip Evo sitting on table top.

MSI packed 70 watt-hours of battery into the Summit E13 Flip Evo, which is a lot for a 13-inch class laptop. Combined with the Full HD+ display, I was expecting good battery life.

That’s exactly what I saw, starting with our web-browsing test, where the 2-in-1 managed roughly 11 hours. That’s a strong score, beating out the HP Spectre x360 14’s seven hours (it used an OLED display in our review unit, so that’s not really a fair test) and the Dell XPS 13 Full HD+ that hit about 8.5 hours. In our video-looping test that uses a local Full HD Avengers trailer, the MSI achieved 16 hours, which is also a good score. The XPS 13 managed just 12 hours, and the Spectre x360 14 was way behind at 10 hours.

I also ran the PCMark 10 Applications battery test, where the Summit E13 Flip Evo hit 13.5 hours. The Spectre x360 14 ran for nine hours in this test and the XPS 13 for 10.75 hours, making the MSI’s score impressive. In the PCMark 10 Gaming battery test that stresses the CPU and GPU, the Summit E13 Flip Evo came in at 2.5 hours, better than many laptops — although this test seems to demonstrate how hard a laptop runs while on battery rather than testing battery life directly.

In the final analysis, battery life is a strength of the Summit E13 Flip Evo. It will run all day long and leave some time left over for evening work or some Netflix bingeing. You won’t have to worry about carrying your power adapter with you unless you’re really taxing the processors.

Our take

The MSI Summit E13 Flip Evo is a serviceable addition to the stable of 13-inch convertible 2-in-1s. It’s fast, has great battery life, and looks good. The lid is a bit flexible, and it’s a touch expensive in its high-end configuration, but I found it to be a pleasant laptop for real-life use.

The problem is that there are quite a few competitors. The MSI is as good as most of them, just make sure you choose the right configuration to avoid overspending.

Any alternatives?

The HP Spectre x360 14 is a great alternative. It’s not as fast (at least, without enabling its performance mode), but it offers a spectacular 13.5-inch OLED display in the 3:2 aspect ratio. It’s almost as expensive as the MSI when configured with the OLED display, but it only comes with a maximum of 16GB of RAM versus the Summit E13 Flip Evo’s 32GB.

The Dell XPS 13 is another great option if you don’t need a 2-in-1. It’s as fast, has good battery life, and is better built — there’s a reason it remains at the top of several best-of lists.

How long will it last?

The Summit E13 Flip Evo is built well enough that you won’t have to worry about its longevity. It’s also equipped with modern components, including the fast Wi-Fi 6E, making it future-proof. The one-year warranty will always be disappointing.

Should you buy it?

Yes. You’ll love using the Summit E13 Flip Evo; just be prepared to pay a few extra dollars if you go for the high-end version.