Today we are going to take a deep dive on a new laptop from MSI, in this full review MSI Stealth 15M you will see a photographer’s perspective on this beautiful and sober machine!
One thing I love about technology is the possibility to be surprised with new releases, and to everyone who is up to date with the laptop market, you know how this sometimes can be a challenge. But when we start to look around we can find real gems hidden in the middle of all the noise.
That’s the case with the MSI Stealth 15M, a laptop that checks almost all my boxes when I’m out searching for a laptop. A beautiful design that can fit no just inside an office but also can deliver good power for some gaming.
Since the topic here is photography I will be reviewing this laptop from a photographer’s perspective. So buckle up and grab a coffee, or tea, and prepare your wallet if you need a new Windows laptop.
Review MSI Stealth 15M – Built to run
MSI Stealth 15M, first impressions
About the overall quality of this laptop, boy oh boy. It impresses me how technology is evolving fast and we are at a point where if you want something with the good build quality you don’t have to go that long.
And the MSI Stealth 15M (A11UEK-089CA), is a beautifully designed Windows machine. With a full aluminum body, great monitor hinges, and a good keyboard, this laptop ticks almost all the boxes for those looking for a good and reliable Windows machine. I would say for the punch that this boy packs it is reasonably light and slim being at the same time dense and substantial.
Things like a keyboard are always picked and an Achilles heel in some brands, and as a professional who types a lot, I feel that the MSI Stealth 15M keyboard is very responsive and doesn’t have a lot of give to it when you force the keyboard area down. But, for those used to touch typing, you will have to get used to it, because I think this keyboard has a long throw that I would like, you can feel that you are pressing a key taking away the joy of touch typing at first glance. I would say that once you get used to this keyboard you have nothing to fear regarding your typing experience.
The touchpad is good as very responsive with a good plan rejection, but I will have to get picky here, I would like to see a bigger touchpad. For those that will use this best of a machine for business, a larger touchpad would be a great improvement on the MSI Stealth 15M. I can say that a part of the area dedicated to the speaker could be redesigned and space could be used to move the keyboard a little bit up making more room for the touchpad, but I guess would present problems, more to this later on the sound section. Other than that nothing wrong with the input controls with this machine.
Even though we don’t have a numeric keyboard on this laptop, which will be a tendency on the next year for the laptops segment, you can get away pretty quickly with the numeric roll on top of the keyboard, and if you need a numeric keyboard on the side you can always get a USB one.
I don’t want to sound suspect here, but I am enjoying the way MSI is directing its line of laptops. They are striking the right balance of gamer/business hybrid design, which is very good because you can use the laptop for more than one job.
The MSI Stealth 15M is focused on the gamer market, but I can see myself bringing to meetings with any of my clients without any problems. The laptop I’ve been using for a month as my daily driver is the carbon grey version of the MSI Stealth 15M (A11UEK), and I have to say that the design is something that I enjoy looking at every day.
I would say that the design of the MSI Stealth 15M is similar to the Razer Blade 15, and this is good and bad at the same time. Good because you’re gonna get a beautiful laptop with a clean design and sober lines. Bad to some extent because we lost the chance to see a new leap in laptop design, but it’s a good design overall.
The backlit keyboard helps a lot in dimmed environments, AKA photo studios for me, and the blue tint on the LEDs are not an intrusive color. So kudos to the design front.
Even though the MSI Stealth has a good screen, with good brightness, contrast, and a fast refresh rate, 144hz, this is not a screen that I would say was built for photographers and videographers. Don’t get me wrong here, it can do the job but it won’t blow your socks off as the MSI Prestige 14 did with me the last time I’ve tried an MSI laptop.
I’m more than sure that most gamers looking for a portable war station will love the refresh rate on this screen’ but for me, it’s on the normal side of the spectrum from a photographer’s perspective. I’m sure that if you hook up this laptop on a professional level monitor you will get great results, monitors like the Viewsonic, Benq, or even the MSI Creator monitor series.
Nowadays we rely a lot on our computers to do everything, even getting together with friends thanks to the pandemic. So for some a good webcam is important and the MSI Stealth 15M has what I can say is a decent webcam, it definitely could be better but it does the trick, there aren’t too many laptops with great webcam in the market anyways.
I am not a huge fan of listening to music on laptops, they normally tend to sound quieter and less present than a good normal bookshelf speaker, and please don’t get me started on proper audio studio monitors. But the speakers on the MSI Stealth 15M are more than decent for a laptop, which impressed me a lot. The Nahimic speaker shows its value here, and the idea of having a larger touchpad can be put aside because of the sound quality. I am a guy who does almost everything in my life with some kind of music playing in the background and having this laptop taking care of day-to-day playlist while I worked on emails or images was super enjoyable.
My version of the MSI Stealth came packed with power. With a new 11th gen Intel I7 (11375-H) boosting to 5.16GHz and a super fresh Nvidia RTX 3060, 16GB DDR4 of ram, and 1TB storage (SSD NVMe) this machine chew everything I have thrown on it. Not a single problem or hiccup on this last month. Plenty of power for those looking for a machine that can double up as an entertainment/work unity.
The include MSI Dragon Center app helps you to adjust some configurations to your needs depending on the use scenario. With a simple click, you can go from a quiet machine to a super-duper fast laptop.
My main use for this machine was working on Photoshop files, editing images in Lightroom and Capture One, and eventually editing some video work on Adobe Premiere. For the load of work I have put on the MSI Stealth I can say that the laptop behaved like a champ.
The only thing I have to say here is the fans can get a little loud when you are using this machine to its fullest, I accept the fact that the heat has to go somewhere outside the laptop, but you are that kind of person that does not like hearing spinning fans while your laptop does the heavy lifting maybe you are good searching for it somewhere else, which is going to be hard to find a Windows machine with these specs that make no noises when been full requested. The only thing that bugged me a little was the pitch of the fan noise, a little bit on the high side, even when doing simple tasks, but this bugged me maybe it will not be a problem for you.
Yeah, it is always good when you turn on a computer and jump right into the tasks you need to do without wasting time for the laptop to “do its thing” first. And the Stealth 15M provided me with that. To do my job this is almost a pre-requirement, I dislike finicky things.
Working on Photoshop was a walk in the park, layered files weren’t a problem, zooming in and out of the images was kids’ play for the graphics, rendering textures. And the list goes on. For my use and my necessities, this machine works like a charm, maybe if you are using it to do some 3D rendering or modeling you can hit a wall at some point, but as I said for my needs, more than enough.
On Lightroom was the same story, no problems or hiccups. After the smart previews in Lightroom were rendered the MSI Stealth plaid with my work catalog with more than 15000 images like it was nothing, scrolling through the image as we do on some websites. On the develop module same story, because of the Intel 11th gen processor and the top shelf Nvidia graphics card the MSI Stealth 15M simply goes to the work, now slower founds, no stutters, I couldn’t be more satisfied with the performance of this laptop on tasks like that.
In 2021 here is the topic where a lot of people take for granted because everything is migrating to a cloud/ online form. I get it. It is convenient, but we still need some resources at our disposal when we are talking inputs/outputs options on a computer. The MSI Stealth almost got the gold medal in this regard on my option. It has 4 main inputs and a mini SDcard reader.
2 USBs 3 (gen2), 1 USB-C (gen2) which means that those are reliable and fast, and most importantly most of the photography peripherals use this kind of interface. It also has a Thunderbolt 4, which is a well-welcomed addition to any laptop today because of its speed and options. But we don’t have a dedicated RJ-45 ethernet connector on this machine, this can piss off more die-hard gamers. Even though we can use a dongle to convert the Thunderbolt port to an ethernet port I think I will be better without too many adaptors. I would call this a major fail on this laptop, thanks to the Thunderbolt port, but I would like to see a full-size SD card reader and an ethernet port.
To solve most of these quirks, at least in my opinion, I used a thunderbolt dock station, so I could hook up almost everything, from my full-size SDcard reader to my monitor and display tablet among the main things while working at the office.
On the go and with WI-FI and never felt that I needed more ports or special hardware to work with this laptop and since a laptop is made to go you to place I guess the mission was accomplished by the MSI Stealth 15M.
1 x Thunderbolt 4 w/PD charge 1 x USB-C USB3.1 Gen2 w/D
USB 3.2 Gen1 *2
Steel Series single zone RGB keyboard with Anti-Ghost key (84 Key)
1 Audio Combo
Nahimic Hi-Res Audio Speakers 2W *2
720p HD Webcam
3 cell , 52Whr Li-Polymer
3.92 lbs / 1.77kg
14.10″x9.76″x0.63″ / 35.5×24.5×1.6cm
1 year Limited warranty (Include 1 Year Global)
Suffice to say that I liked the laptop. I spent about 4 weeks using it as my main laptop, going to work, using Lightroom, Photoshop, and using it for some online meetings. The MSI Stealth 15M behaved well in all the jobs I threw at it. As I stated before I guess only a minor problem was the colling high-pitched noise, even with light tasks. And even using the Dragon Centre app in silent mode did not help with this, but I am sure this is me just being very picky because my other laptop is dead silent when it is doing nothing and would be great a addition to the MSI Stealth 15M package overall.
The laptop has a decent screen, from a resolution and color accuracy perspective, that will not get between your work and the quality of the final product, but this is not a screen designed for photo and video work. If you are #teamgamer you will love the 144hz refresh rate of this screen on this portable, but since I only do light gaming occasionally I guess I am at #teamphoto for now.
What most impressed me was the combination of good design and power under the hood. It is good to see how some companies are evolving to a more mature position maintaining their DNA, MSI is among one of those companies.
I have to highlight here things like the power of the GPU and CPU combo all this in a small package which did not leave me hanging, and also the good sound coming from this laptop, which sometimes was able to give goosebumps. Good job on that MSI.
I would say that if you need a laptop that can do the work and also can provide you great moments of sun, I would give the MSI Stealth 15M a try, you can find more about it here, I think you will be impressed once you put it on your desk and power on!
Take every word here with a grain of salt, because this is a review and this is my opinion about the product. You are responsible for your own choices!
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