This year, multiple companies primarily known for gaming laptops have been branching out into the portable business and productivity sector. It’s a crowded field already, but Razer made quite a splash with its excellent Razer Book 13, which has an elegant chassis, a 16:10 screen, and just a touch of its company’s signature RGB lighting.

In this review I’m looking at the Summit Series, which is MSI’s attempt to enter the same space. The series includes the Summit E line — which includes discrete GPU options and is priced to compete with top dogs like Dell’s XPS 15 — and the Summit B line, which starts at $999 and sits squarely in the midrange market.

I’m discussing the Summit B15 here — I looked at the Summit E15 last fall. The base B15 includes a Core i5-1135G7, 8GB of RAM, and a 512GB SSD. I tested the more expensive configuration, which costs $1,249 and has a Core i7-1165G7 (one of Intel’s top 11th Gen processors), 16GB of RAM, and a 1TB SSD. The system puts solid specs in a nice chassis, but there are a few misses that make it a bit expensive for what it offers.

The 720p IR webcam does not support Windows Hello.

The touchpad of the MSI Summit B15 from above.

That’s the fingerprint sensor in the top left.

The most appealing facets of the Summit-Series laptops are their look and build. They have a smooth black finish, an aluminum build, a classy backlit keyboard, and a lustrous new MSI logo on the lid and bottom bezel (no dragon to be found, a first for MSI). MSI claims the B15 has “military-grade durability,” and while that’s a difficult claim to test, there’s very little flex in the B15’s lid and keyboard. And at 3.53 pounds and 0.67 inches thick, it’s light for its size.

All in all, though, the B15 has a bit of a utilitarian look, especially compared to the E15. The latter has some small flourishes that add up to a classier vibe — there are gold accents around the touchpad and edges of the hinge, for example, where the B15 is straight black. One other thing about the B15’s chassis — it’s one of the worst fingerprint magnets I’ve ever seen. Touch the lid one time, and a visible smudge will remain. I used the sides of my fists to reposition the laptop while taking photos and still had to wipe it down between shots.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a nice-looking and nice-feeling chassis. But there’s nothing exciting about it, and you’ll be wiping it down a lot if you want to maintain a clean look.

The MSI Summit B15 from the right side, half open.

Two USB-A and a microSD on the right.

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