The MSI Modern 14 (2023) is a budget ultraportable Windows laptop. It replaces the MSI Modern 14 from 2022 (model C12M). It's nearly identical to its predecessor, as the only change is the CPU from Intel 12th Gen to 13th Gen, up to a Core i7-1355U. It's only available with an FHD display, 16GB of DDR4 3200MHz of RAM, and up to 1TB of storage. It has Wi-Fi 6 wireless connectivity, a 720p webcam, and a 39Wh battery. Ports include three USB-As, a USB-C, an HDMI, a MicroSD card reader, and a headphone jack. The USB-C supports charging and DisplayPort. You can get this laptop in three colors: Beige Rose, Urban Silver, and Classic Black.
You can see our unit's specifications and the available configuration options in the Differences Between Variants section.
The MSI Modern 14 is okay for school use. It's very compact, so it's easy to carry around. It has a sharp display, a spacious keyboard, and a reasonably large touchpad. Its Intel 13th Gen CPU and integrated graphics can handle general productivity tasks like text processing and web browsing; however, don't expect to do anything intensive like 3D modeling or physics simulations. Unfortunately, the battery lasts less than five hours of light use, and the display doesn't get bright enough to combat glare.
The MSI Modern 14 is mediocre for gaming. Its low-power CPU and integrated graphics can't handle demanding games. You can play some lighter or older titles, but you'll likely have to play at 720p or with low graphics settings to get playable frame rates. Also, you can only get this laptop with a 60Hz display, which has a slow response time and lacks VRR support.
The MSI Modern 14 is mediocre for media consumption. It's very easy to carry around, thanks to its thin and light design. Its 14-inch display looks sharp but doesn't get very bright, meaning you'll likely have visibility issues in well-lit rooms. Also, the display has a narrow color gamut that makes most content look washed out, and its low contrast ratio makes blacks look gray in dim settings. The speakers get decently loud but sound tinny and unnatural, with no bass whatsoever. Battery life is terrible at less than four hours of video playback.
The MSI Modern 14 is good for use as a workstation. Its Intel 13th Gen CPU performs relatively well for a low-power processor, so you can do some moderately CPU-intensive tasks; however, its slow integrated graphics aren't ideal for demanding workloads. Also, its low-quality display isn't suitable for color-critical work. On the upside, the laptop doesn't get overly hot or loud under load. Its port selection is excellent, but sadly, there's no Thunderbolt 4 support.
The MSI Modern 14 is decent for business use. It has a thin and light design that makes it easy to carry around, and its Intel 13th CPU can easily handle productivity tasks like text processing, spreadsheets, presentations, and video calls. The display looks sharp and provides just enough room for split-screen multitasking; however, it doesn't get very bright, so visibility may be an issue in well-lit rooms. It has a spacious keyboard, a reasonably large touchpad, and a wide port selection. Its 720p webcam isn't very good, though, and its battery lasts less than five hours of light use.
We tested the MSI Modern 14 (model C13M-606US) with an Intel Core i5-1335U CPU, 16GB of RAM, and 512GB of storage. The CPU and storage are configurable; the available options are in the table below.
You can see our unit's label here.
The MSI Modern 14 C13M is a decent general productivity laptop. It performs well for an ultraportable with a U-series CPU; however, its short battery life and dim display make it hard to recommend over other laptops in its class, like the Dell Inspiron 14 (2023).
The MSI Prestige 14 Evo (2023) is better than the MSI Modern 14 (2023) for most uses. The Prestige is a more premium model with a sturdier build, a brighter, more colorful display, a more comfortable keyboard, and longer battery life. It's also available with faster Intel H-series CPUs, so it can handle significantly more demanding workloads.
The HP Pavilion Plus 14 (2023) is better than the MSI Modern 14 (2023) for most uses. The HP has a brighter and sharper display, a more comfortable keyboard, a higher resolution webcam, and a fingerprint sensor. Additionally, it's available with faster Intel P- and H-series CPUs and NVIDIA discrete GPUs for more demanding tasks.
The Dell Inspiron 14 (2023) is much better than the MSI Modern 14 (2023). The Dell has a better keyboard, Thunderbolt 4 support, and significantly longer battery life. Also, you can get the Dell with a faster Intel P-series CPU and a discrete NVIDIA GPU if you need more processing power.
The Lenovo Yoga 7i 16 (2023) is much better than the MSI Modern 14 (2023) for most uses. The Lenovo has a sturdier all-aluminum build, a better keyboard and webcam, Thunderbolt 4 support, and significantly longer battery life. Also, it's available with a sharper, brighter QHD+ display and faster Intel P-series CPUs. The Lenovo is a 2-in-1, so you can use it as a tablet, whereas the MSI is a more traditional clamshell model. The Lenovo supports pen input and comes with a stylus in the box, and it has both a fingerprint sensor and a facial recognition camera. On the other hand, the MSI is more portable since it's a smaller device.
The Acer Aspire 3 Spin 14 (2023) and the MSI Modern 14 (2023) are both 14-inch Windows laptops. The Aspire is a 2-in-1 convertible, while the Modern is a more traditional clamshell laptop with no touch input support. The Modern has a more tactile keyboard, a larger and more responsive touchpad, and a wider port selection. Also, it's available with much faster Intel 13th Gen U-series CPUs and more RAM, so it can handle more demanding workloads with fewer slowdowns. The Aspire has longer battery life, though neither laptop can last through a typical 8-hour workday.
The MSI Modern 14 2023 has a simple design that doesn't stand out in any way. It has a relatively thin, wedge-shaped chassis, thick top and bottom bezels, an island-style keyboard, and a centered plastic touchpad. On the bottom, you'll find the speakers near the front and air vents near the back. There are also air vents on the back of the laptop. The bottom of the display lifts the laptop slightly when opened, allowing for better airflow. You can get this laptop in three colors: Beige Rose, Urban Silver, and Classic Black.
The build quality is decent. Its plastic and aluminum construction feels relatively sturdy overall, though the lid, display, and keyboard deck flex a fair amount. The finish doesn't easily scratch or pick up fingerprints. The feet feel a tad loose but not enough to be of concern, and the weight feels a little uneven.
The hinges are great. They feel smooth when opening and closing the lid. They have a fair amount of resistance, but you can still open the laptop with one hand. In terms of stability, there's a bit of wobble when the laptop is only partially open; however, it's much more stable once you pass a certain angle. If you prefer a 2-in-1 laptop with a 360-degree hinge, check out the Acer Aspire 3 Spin 14 (2023).
The MSI Modern 14 and its power adapter are compact and lightweight.
Serviceability is okay. Accessing the internals is easy; you need to remove nine Philips screws and undo the clips holding the bottom panel with a prying tool. Be careful with the clips, as they feel fragile and could break easily. Unfortunately, the RAM isn't user-replaceable. The SSD slot supports M.2 2280 SSDs.
You can see the user manual here.
The MSI Modern 14 is only available with an FHD display. Its 1080p resolution looks pretty sharp on a 14-inch screen. Split-screen multitasking is possible at this screen size and resolution, but it can feel cramped. The 16:9 aspect ratio is great for media consumption since most videos are in that format; however, a taller 16:10 or 3:2 would have been better for productivity, as it allows you to see more information at once, reducing the need to scroll.
This laptop is only available with a 60Hz display. Its slow response time causes noticeable ghosting, which isn't ideal for viewing fast-moving content or gaming.
The display's contrast ratio is good for an IPS panel but relatively low compared to other display technologies like VA and OLED. This level of contrast makes blacks look gray in dim settings.
The display doesn't get very bright. It's fine for most indoor environments but isn't ideal for well-lit rooms or outdoors in broad daylight. It's great for dark room viewing, though, as it gets very dim at the lowest brightness setting, which helps reduce eye strain. Check out the MSI Prestige 14 Evo (2023) if you need a laptop with a brighter display.
The display's reflection handling is decent. Its matte coating does a fairly good job of diffusing and reducing the intensity of bright light sources. You'll mostly have trouble with reflections when viewing dark-color content. You can see some reflections when viewing bright-color content with the screen at maximum brightness, but they aren't overly distracting.
The display's black uniformity is excellent. There's only a tiny amount of backlight bleed at the bottom edge of the screen; the rest is very uniform.
The display's horizontal viewing angle is decent. The image looks dimmer and washed out from the side. You can still share the screen with someone else for text documents and other casual content; however, it's best to be directly in front of the screen if you need perfect accuracy for color-critical work.
The vertical viewing angle is okay. You can look at the screen from slightly above or below without losing too much accuracy, which comes in handy in tight spaces that force you to look at the screen at an angle, like on a bus or airplane. That said, it's best to look at the screen straight on if you need perfect image accuracy.
The display's out-of-the-box accuracy is sub-par. The white balance inaccuracies are relatively minor and hard to spot. Colors aren't as accurate, mainly because the display has a narrow color gamut and can't reproduce bright, saturated greens, blues, and reds. The color temperature is a tad cooler than the standard 6500K target, giving the image a slight blueish tint. The gamma doesn't follow the curve; most scenes look too bright, while dark scenes look too dark.
The display's color gamut is bad. It doesn't even have full coverage of the commonly used sRGB color space, meaning most content will look slightly washed out, with colors like pure green and red looking darker and less saturated. This panel isn't ideal for color-critical work like photo and video editing.
The display's backlight is entirely flicker-free, which helps reduce eye strain.
The MSI Modern 14 has a decent keyboard. The layout feels spacious and is easy to get used to. Key stability is a little inconsistent, as some keys feel noticeably more stable than others. The keys have a fair amount of travel distance and provide good tactile feedback. The operating force is on the higher side, which helps prevent typos because you need to press more purposefully to actuate the keys; however, it can also cause some fatigue over time. While typing noise is very low and isn't bothersome in quiet settings, it may not be to your liking if you often rely on audio feedback when typing. You can adjust between three backlight brightness levels or turn it off completely. The backlighting is white, leaning on the cooler side.
The touchpad is good. It feels pretty smooth, even though it's plastic. The size is good, though it could have been larger, considering the amount of space available on the deck. Tracking works well for the most part; it doesn't always work properly around the edges, so things like dragging and dropping items over a long distance can be challenging at times. There's no problem with palm rejection, though. The buttons feel satisfyingly clicky, but you can only click in the bottom half of the touchpad.
The speakers get decently loud with minimal compression artifacts at max volume. However, they sound tinny and unnatural, with almost no bass whatsoever.
The webcam's video quality is mediocre. The image looks soft and slightly overexposed. The colors look vibrant but aren't true to life. Voices sound clear over the microphone, albeit a tad too loud and with some static background noise.
The port selection is excellent. The two USB-A ports on the right side of the laptop support USB 2.0 data transfer speed (up to 480Mbps), while the one on the left supports USB 3.2 Gen 2 data transfer speed (up to 10Gbps). The USB-C also supports USB 3.2 Gen 2 data transfer speed, as well as DisplayPort and Power Delivery. The latter allows for fast charging of the laptop and other PD-compatible devices connected to the port. The HDMI port's maximum output resolution is 4k @ 30Hz.
The wireless adapter is an Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX201.
The MSI Modern 14 is available with the following CPUs:
Both are processors designed for ultraportable laptops and have a hybrid architecture with a mix of two performance and eight efficiency cores. The only difference is that the i7-1355U has faster clock speeds, giving you slightly better performance. These CPUs can handle general productivity tasks and some moderately intensive tasks like photo editing, but they aren't ideal for demanding workloads like video editing or gaming.
The MSI Modern 14 is only available with Intel Iris Xe graphics. This integrated GPU is designed to handle light tasks like web browsing and video playback, not demanding workloads like video editing or 3D graphics. You can play some older or puzzle-like games, but you'll likely have to play at a lower resolution or with low graphical settings to get smooth gameplay.
You can only get this laptop with 16GB of RAM. The memory isn't user-replaceable as it's soldered to the motherboard.
You can configure this laptop with 512GB or 1TB of storage. The SSD is user-replaceable; the slot supports M.2 2280 SSDs.
The MSI Modern 14 has a great overall score in the Geekbench 5 benchmarks. The Core i5-1335U has strong single-thread performance, but its multi-thread performance is only decent compared to other current-generation CPUs. It can handle general productivity tasks like web browsing, text processing, and video playback; however, it'll struggle in more demanding, multi-threaded workloads like programming and video editing. The Core i7-1355U is only slightly faster. If you need to run heavily multi-threaded applications, getting a laptop with an H-series CPU is best. As for the GPU, the Intel Iris Xe integrated GPU performs poorly and isn't suitable for intensive workloads.
The Cinebench R23 score is pretty good for a low-power U-series CPU. That said, if you're a heavy multitasker or need to run intensive, multi-threaded applications, getting a laptop with an H-series CPU is best, like the Dell XPS 15 (2023).
The MSI Modern 14 performs decently well in Blender. However, getting a laptop with a discrete GPU is best if you need to render images professionally. Even an entry-level GPU, like an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650, can render images much faster than the CPU.
The MSI Modern 14 performs poorly in the Basemark GPU benchmark. Its Intel Iris Xe integrated GPU isn't fast enough to provide smooth gameplay in graphically demanding games. It can only handle simple, puzzle-like games or older titles at 1080p, and even then, you'll have to play at a lower resolution or with low graphics settings to get playable frame rates.
The 512GB SSD's performance is outstanding. Its fast read and write speeds allow the system to quickly boot up, launch apps, and transfer files. There are faster SSDs on the market, but these speeds are more than adequate for a general productivity laptop. The 1TB is likely faster, as larger-capacity drives usually perform better.
The MSI Modern 14 has poor battery life. It doesn't last a full day of light use, so you'll need to keep the charger close by. Thankfully, it charges relatively quickly.
Borderlands 3 isn't playable. The gameplay is extremely choppy, even with low graphical settings. The Intel Iris Xe integrated GPU can't handle such a graphically demanding game. You can expect the same performance in other similar titles.
Civilization VI is choppy at 1080p with high settings, but you can get much smoother gameplay if you lower a couple of graphical settings. The average turn time is okay and within the expected range for an Intel 13th Gen processor. Upgrading to the Core i7 won't significantly improve the turn time.
CS:GO runs poorly at 1080p with high settings. Although the average frame rate is good, the game stutters a lot due to frame drops. It runs more smoothly with low settings, but there are still noticeable stutters. The Core i7 will perform slightly better.
We've tested the performance in CS:GO 2 (version dated October 2, 2023). The overall performance is worse, with an average frame rate of 50 fps at 1080p with high settings and 76 fps with low settings. The game also stutters a lot.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider runs poorly at 1080p with high settings. The Intel Iris Xe integrated graphics can't maintain playable frame rates in this and other similarly demanding games.
The keyboard deck gets hot under load; however, it's only a small section of the keyboard above the number row. The fan noise is very low and isn't bothersome at all. The results are the same in the Extreme Performance mode. Switching to the Silent mode decreases the keyboard temperature to 44 °C (111.2 °F) and the fan noise to 38.5 dBA.
The MSI Modern laptop's performance over time is superb. Although the CPU and GPU throttle slightly in the first ten minutes of starting an intensive task, the performance loss over a longer period is very minimal.
The MSI Modern has a few pre-installed applications, including: