MSI Optix MAG161V Monitor Review

Tested using Methodology v1.1
Reviewed Jul 08, 2021 at 10:04 am
MSI Optix MAG161V Picture
5.8
Mixed Usage
6.2
Office
5.6
Gaming
5.9
Multimedia
5.9
Media Creation
4.3
HDR Gaming
Size 15"
Resolution 1920x1080
Max Refresh Rate
60 Hz
Pixel Type
IPS
Variable Refresh Rate
No VRR

The MSI Optix MAG161V is a 15.6 inch portable monitor with an IPS panel. The very high pixel density results in great text clarity and a sharp image, great if you need a bit of extra screen space to work with if you're on the go. It has excellent gray uniformity and great gradient handling, but avoid it for anything that requires accurate colors, as it has a disappointing color gamut and poor color volume. Unfortunately, although it has low input lag, it doesn't support any advanced gaming features, and it has a terrible response time, so gaming should be avoided. Like all IPS panels, it also has a low contrast ratio, and the unit we bought has mediocre black uniformity, so it's not a great choice in a dark room. It's not a great choice for a bright environment, either, as it can't get very bright and has just okay reflection handling.

Our Verdict

5.8 Mixed Usage

The MSI Optix MAG161V is a disappointing monitor overall. The small size and high pixel density make it a passable choice for a bit of extra screen space when working on the go, but you should avoid it for most other uses. Although it has low input lag, the terrible response time and lack of gaming features make it a sub-par choice for gaming. It has excellent gray uniformity and great gradient handling, but the disappointing color gamut isn't ideal for work that requires accurate colors or for watching media.

Pros
  • Excellent gray uniformity.
  • Low input lag.
  • Great text clarity.
Cons
  • Low contrast.
  • Terrible response time.
  • Not very bright.
  • Limited 60Hz refresh rate and no advanced gaming features like VRR.
  • Terrible ergonomics, although this is expected with a portable monitor.
6.2 Office

The MSI Optix MAG161V is a mediocre office monitor. The small screen is best-suited as a secondary display when working on the go. It has excellent gray uniformity, great text clarity, and outstanding low input lag. Surprisingly, the viewing angles are mediocre, which is a bit worse than usual for an IPS panel, and unfortunately, the stand has terrible ergonomics. Finally, it's not a great choice if your work requires accurate colors, as it has a disappointing SDR color gamut and poor color volume.

Pros
  • Excellent gray uniformity.
  • Low input lag.
  • Great text clarity.
Cons
  • Low contrast.
  • Not very bright.
  • Terrible ergonomics, although this is expected with a portable monitor.
5.6 Gaming

The MSI MAG161V is a sub-par gaming monitor. The size is decent for gaming on the go, and the high pixel density results in a sharp image. It has low input lag for a responsive gaming experience. Unfortunately, the response time is terrible, causing fast-moving objects to appear blurry, and it doesn't support any advanced gaming features, like a variable refresh rate. Overall, although you can use it for slower-paced games with no action, most people should avoid this monitor for gaming.

Pros
  • Excellent gray uniformity.
  • Low input lag.
Cons
  • Low contrast.
  • Terrible response time.
  • Not very bright.
  • Limited 60Hz refresh rate and no advanced gaming features like VRR.
  • Terrible ergonomics, although this is expected with a portable monitor.
5.9 Multimedia

The MSI Optix MAG161V is a disappointing monitor for watching videos. The screen size is a bit better than watching videos on your phone, but not by much. It has mediocre viewing angles, so it's not a great choice for sharing with other people. It also doesn't look very good in a dark room, as it has low contrast and mediocre black uniformity. It's not much better in a bright room, as it can't get very bright and has just okay reflection handling.

Pros
  • Excellent gray uniformity.
  • Low input lag.
  • Great gradient handling.
Cons
  • Low contrast.
  • Disappointing color gamut and poor color volume.
  • Not very bright.
  • Terrible ergonomics, although this is expected with a portable monitor.
5.9 Media Creation

The MSI Optix MAG161V is an inadequate display for media creation. It has excellent gray uniformity and great gradient handling; however, it's not very bright and has just okay reflection handling, meaning that glare can be an issue in a brighter environment. Unfortunately, it has a disappointing SDR color gamut and poor color volume, so it's not a good choice if you require accurate colors. Despite the IPS panel, it doesn't have very wide viewing angles either, so it's not great for sharing the screen with others.

Pros
  • Excellent gray uniformity.
  • Low input lag.
  • Great gradient handling.
Cons
  • Low contrast.
  • Disappointing color gamut and poor color volume.
  • Not very bright.
  • Terrible ergonomics, although this is expected with a portable monitor.
4.3 HDR Gaming

The MSI Optix MAG161V doesn't support HDR.

  • 5.8 Mixed Usage
  • 6.2 Office
  • 5.6 Gaming
  • 5.9 Multimedia
  • 5.9 Media Creation
  • 4.3 HDR Gaming
  1. Updated Jul 08, 2021: Review published.
  2. Updated Jul 06, 2021: Early access published.

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style
Curved No
Curve Radius Not Curved
Weight (without stand)
2.2 lbs (1.0 kg)
Weight (with stand)
3.0 lbs (1.4 kg)

The MSI MAG161V is a portable monitor with a folio case that doubles as a stand. The design is simple, with slim bezels, and it appears to be really well-built.

Design
Stand
Width
14.0" (35.5 cm)
Depth
7.4" (18.9 cm)

The folio case doubles as a stand that can be folded origami-style to support the display in a few different configurations. The stand takes some time to get used to, as the folds aren't the most intuitive.

0.9
Design
Ergonomics
Height Adjustment
0.0" (0.0 cm)
Switch Portrait/Landscape No
Swivel Range No swivel
Tilt Range -20°, -35°, -90°

As expected for a portable monitor like this, the stand has terrible ergonomics. There are two notches in the stand that let you adjust the tilt, or it can be laid flat. Unfortunately, unlike the ASUS ZenScreen Go MB16AHP, this monitor can't be placed in a portrait orientation, as the inputs are on one side and the controls are on the other.

Design
Back
Wall Mount No Mount

The back is plain, with just a simple white MSI logo on the back of the display. Obviously, there's no cable management.

Design
Borders
Borders
0.2" (0.6 cm)
Design
Thickness
Thickness (with stand)
4.6" (11.7 cm)
Thickness (without stand)
0.5" (1.2 cm)

When folded to the travel position, the display is only 0.6" (1.6cm) thick.

8.0
Design
Build Quality

The MSI Optix MAG161V has great build quality. The materials used feel premium, with a metal frame and glass screen. There's very little flex to the frame.

Picture Quality
5.3
Picture Quality
Contrast
Native Contrast
676 : 1
Contrast With Local Dimming
N/A

The MSI Optix MAG161V has disappointing contrast, so blacks tend to look gray in a dark room. These results are a bit worse than usual for an IPS panel but close to MSI's advertised contrast ratio of 700:1. Note that contrast can vary a bit between units due to manufacturing tolerances.

0
Picture Quality
Local Dimming
Local Dimming
No
Backlight
Edge

The MSI Optix MAG161V doesn't have a local dimming feature. The video is for reference only, so you can see how the local dimming feature on other displays compares to one without local dimming.

6.1
Picture Quality
SDR Peak Brightness
SDR Real Scene
190 cd/m²
SDR Peak 2% Window
216 cd/m²
SDR Peak 10% Window
223 cd/m²
SDR Peak 25% Window
224 cd/m²
SDR Peak 50% Window
224 cd/m²
SDR Peak 100% Window
223 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 2% Window
216 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 10% Window
223 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 25% Window
224 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 50% Window
224 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 100% Window
223 cd/m²
SDR ABL
0.002

This monitor has mediocre peak brightness. It's not bright enough to overcome glare in bright settings. There's no noticeable variation in peak brightness with different content, though, which is great.

These measurements were taken after calibration, in the 'Standard' Picture Mode, with brightness at max. The peak brightness can change depending on which mode you're using.

0
Picture Quality
HDR Peak Brightness
HDR Real Scene
N/A
HDR Peak 2% Window
N/A
HDR Peak 10% Window
N/A
HDR Peak 25% Window
N/A
HDR Peak 50% Window
N/A
HDR Peak 100% Window
N/A
HDR Sustained 2% Window
N/A
HDR Sustained 10% Window
N/A
HDR Sustained 25% Window
N/A
HDR Sustained 50% Window
N/A
HDR Sustained 100% Window
N/A
HDR ABL
N/A

This monitor doesn't support HDR.

6.3
Picture Quality
Horizontal Viewing Angle
Color Washout From Left
22°
Color Washout From Right
22°
Color Shift From Left
44°
Color Shift From Right
22°
Brightness Loss From Left
25°
Brightness Loss From Right
26°
Black Level Raise From Left
70°
Black Level Raise From Right
70°
Gamma Shift From Left
25°
Gamma Shift From Right
26°

This monitor has mediocre horizontal viewing angles, worse than expected for an IPS monitor. Colors washout at a narrow angle, and brightness drops rapidly, causing the image to appear washed out.

6.4
Picture Quality
Vertical Viewing Angle
Color Washout From Below
24°
Color Washout From Above
23°
Color Shift From Below
28°
Color Shift From Above
33°
Brightness Loss From Below
25°
Brightness Loss From Above
25°
Black Level Raise From Below
70°
Black Level Raise From Above
70°
Gamma Shift From Below
30°
Gamma Shift From Above
28°

The MSI MAG161V has mediocre vertical viewing angles. Colors washout at a narrow angle, and the brightness decreases rapidly but levels out at a wider angle.

8.7
Picture Quality
Gray Uniformity
50% Std. Dev.
3.021%
50% DSE
0.108%
5% Std. Dev.
0.330%
5% DSE
0.054%

This monitor has excellent gray uniformity, but this can vary between units. There's very little dirty screen effect in the center, but the sides of the screen and the corners are darker. It isn't very noticeable with regular content.

6.1
Picture Quality
Black Uniformity
Native Std. Dev.
1.942%
Std. Dev. w/ L.D.
N/A

This monitor has passable black uniformity, but this can vary between units. The entire screen is cloudy, and the backlight is bleeding through in a few spots around the edges.

2.2
Picture Quality
Pre Calibration
Picture Mode
Movie
Luminance
218 cd/m²
Luminance Settings
100
Contrast Setting
35
RGB Controls
Default
Gamma Setting
2.2
Color Temperature
6,934 K
White Balance dE
7.09
Color dE
8.10
Gamma
1.91

Out of the box, the MSI MAG161V has terrible accuracy. Almost every color is extremely inaccurate, and even non-enthusiasts are likely to notice. White balance is also off, and most shades of gray have noticeable issues. Gamma starts off following the sRGB target curve but quickly drops, so almost all scenes are brighter than they should be. The 'Movie' Picture Mode is the most accurate; unfortunately, the other settings are even worse. If you want a similar portable monitor with better accuracy out of the box, check out the Mobile Pixels DUEX Plus.

8.7
Picture Quality
Post Calibration
Picture Mode
Standard
Luminance
99 cd/m²
Luminance Settings
42
Contrast Setting
35
RGB Controls
50-43-45
Gamma Setting
2.2
Color Temperature
6,489 K
White Balance dE
0.43
Color dE
2.76
Gamma
2.17

After calibration, this monitor is much more accurate. Highly saturated colors aren't very accurate due to the limited color gamut, but everything else is fine. Gamma follows the target curve well, and there are no issues with the white balance.

You can download our ICC profile calibration here. This is provided for reference only and shouldn't be used, as the calibration values vary per individual unit due to manufacturing tolerances, even for the same model.

5.6
Picture Quality
SDR Color Gamut
sRGB xy
63.2%
Adobe RGB xy
48.2%
sRGB Picture Mode
Standard
Adobe RGB Picture Mode
Standard

Unfortunately, the MSI Optix MAG161V has a disappointing SDR color gamut, much worse than the ASUS ProArt PA148CTV. It can't display the entire sRGB color space used by most content, so most content looks muted. Its coverage of the wider Adobe RGB color space is even worse, and professional users should look elsewhere.

5.2
Picture Quality
SDR Color Volume
sRGB In ICtCp
58.5%
Adobe RGB In ICtCp
46.0%
sRGB Picture Mode
Standard
Adobe RGB Picture Mode
Standard

The MSI MAG161V has poor color volume, limited by the narrow color gamut. Due to the low contrast ratio, it can't display dark colors very well.

0
Picture Quality
HDR Color Gamut
Wide Color Gamut
N/A
DCI P3 xy
N/A
Rec. 2020 xy
N/A
DCI P3 Picture Mode
No HDR
Rec. 2020 Picture Mode
No HDR

This monitor doesn't support HDR.

0
Picture Quality
HDR Color Volume
DCI-P3 In ICtCp
N/A
Rec. 2020 In ICtCp
N/A
DCI P3 Picture Mode
No HDR
Rec. 2020 Picture Mode
No HDR

This monitor doesn't support HDR.

10
Picture Quality
Image Retention
IR After 0 Min Recovery
0.00%
IR After 2 Min Recovery
0.00%
IR After 4 Min Recovery
0.00%
IR After 6 Min Recovery
0.00%
IR After 8 Min Recovery
0.00%
IR After 10 Min Recovery
0.00%

There are no signs of temporary image retention on our unit.

8.0
Picture Quality
Gradient
Color Depth
8 Bit

The MSI MAG161V has surprisingly great gradient handling. MSI advertises this as a 6-bit display, but it accepts an 8-bit signal, and other than normal 8-bit banding, there are no significant issues with banding.

9.9
Picture Quality
Color Bleed
Pixel Row Error
0.009%
Pixel Column Error
0.001%

There are no noticeable signs of color bleed on our unit.

6.8
Picture Quality
Reflections
Screen Finish
Glossy
Total Reflections
4.9%
Indirect Reflections
0.3%
Calculated Direct Reflections
4.6%

This monitor has okay reflection handling. The glossy finish doesn't really diffuse direct reflections, so glare is distracting in a bright room. If you want a portable monitor with better reflection handling, check out the Mobile Pixels TRIO or the Mobile Pixels DUEX Plus.

8.0
Picture Quality
Text Clarity
Sub-Pixel Layout
RGB

The MSI MAG161V has great text clarity. We recommend running the Windows ClearType (top photo) wizard if you're on a PC. There are some font issues in apps that don't support ClearType, but it's not that noticeable.

Motion
2.2
Motion
Response Time @ Max Refresh Rate
Best Overdrive Setting
No Overdrive
Rise / Fall Time
18.9 ms
Total Response Time
34.6 ms
Overshoot Error
0.0%
Dark Rise / Fall Time
22.9 ms
Dark Total Response Time
41.8 ms
Dark Overshoot Error
0.0%

Response Time SettingResponse Time ChartResponse Time TablesMotion Blur Photo
DefaultChartTablePhoto

Unfortunately, the MSI Optix MAG161V has a terrible response time. Almost all transitions are slow, resulting in very blurry motion. There's no overshoot, though, which is great. Unlike most monitors, the pixel overdrive can't be adjusted. Although many portable monitors have a bad response time, there are better options, including the ASUS ProArt PA148CTV.

2.2
Motion
Response Time @ 60Hz
Best Overdrive Setting
No Overdrive
Rise / Fall Time
18.9 ms
Total Response Time
34.6 ms
Overshoot Error
0%
Dark Rise / Fall Time
22.9 ms
Dark Total Response Time
41.8 ms
Dark Overshoot Error
0.0%

Response Time SettingResponse Time ChartResponse Time TablesMotion Blur Photo
DefaultChartTablePhoto

This monitor has a maximum refresh rate of 60Hz, so these results are the same as the max refresh rate section.

10
Motion
Image Flicker
Flicker-Free No
PWM Dimming Frequency
>1000 Hz

The backlight of the MSI MAG161V isn't technically flicker-free, but it flickers at about 2kHz at most brightness levels. At lower backlight levels, the flicker pattern starts to pulse at around 85Hz, which can be a bit more noticeable, but this is only at very low backlight settings that most people won't use.

0
Motion
Black Frame Insertion (BFI)
Black Frame Insertion (BFI)
No BFI
BFI Maximum Frequency
N/A
BFI Minimum Frequency
N/A

This monitor doesn't have an optional Black Frame Insertion (BFI) feature.

5.9
Motion
Refresh Rate
Native
60 Hz
Max Refresh Rate
60 Hz
Variable Refresh Rate
No
FreeSync
No
G-SYNC
No
VRR Maximum
N/A
VRR Minimum
No VRR
VRR Supported Connectors No VRR

Unfortunately, the MSI Optix MAG161V is limited to a 60Hz refresh rate, and it doesn't support any variable refresh rate technologies (VRR), like FreeSync or G-SYNC.

Inputs
9.0
Inputs
Input Lag
Native Resolution
8.8 ms
Native Resolution @ 60Hz
8.8 ms
Variable Refresh Rate
N/A
Variable Refresh Rate @ 60Hz
N/A
10 Bit HDR
N/A
Black Frame Insertion (BFI)
N/A

The MSI MAG161V has outstanding low input lag, resulting in a very responsive gaming experience.

6.9
Inputs
Resolution And Size
Native Resolution 1920 x 1080
Aspect Ratio 16:9
Megapixels 2.1 MP
Pixel Density
142 PPI
Screen Diagonal 15.6"
Screen Area 103 in²

The small size of this monitor doesn't deliver very much screen real estate to work with, but the high pixel density results in clear text and a sharp image. The pixel density is about the same as a 32 inch, 4k monitor.

Inputs
Inputs
Inputs
Total Inputs
DisplayPort No
Mini DisplayPort No
HDMI 1 (Mini HDMI)
DVI No
VGA No
DisplayPort Out No
USB No
USB C 2 (2x DP Alt Mode, PD)
Analog Audio Out 3.5mm 1
Microphone In 3.5mm No
Digital Optical Audio Out No
Analog Audio Out RCA No
Power Supply Internal

Both USB-C ports can be used as inputs, or to charge the monitor.

Features
Features
Additional Features
RGB Illumination
No
Speakers
Yes
HDR10 No
Multiple Input Display
No

The MSI Optix MAG161V doesn't have any gaming features found on higher-end MSI Optix gaming monitors.

Features
On-Screen Display (OSD)
Features
Controls

The controls are basic and not very intuitive.

Features
In The Box

  • User manuals
  • USB-A to USB-C cable
  • Mini HDMI cable
  • USB-C cable
  • Case

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

We tested the 15.6 inch MSI Optix MAG161V, which is part of MSI's MAG series of portable monitors. Despite the similar name, this model has nothing in common with the other Optix monitors in MSI's lineup.

Model Size Native Resolution Max Refresh rate Panel Type Notes
Optix MAG161V 15.6" 1080p 60Hz IPS Peak brightness: 180 cd/m²
Optix MAG162V 15.6"  1080p 60Hz IPS  Peak brightness: 250 cd/m²

If you come across a different type of panel or your MSI Optix MAG161V doesn't correspond to our review, let us know, and we'll update the review. Note that some tests, like gray uniformity, may vary between individual units.

We don't know when our unit was manufactured, but you can see the label here.

Compared To Other Monitors

The MSI Optix MAG161V is a disappointing portable monitor that doesn't really stand out in any way. It's a mediocre portable office monitor if you need a bit more screen real estate when roaming, but we don't recommend it for much else.

For more options, check our picks for the best budget monitors, the best USB-C monitors, and the best office monitors.

Gigabyte M27Q

The Gigabyte M27Q and the MSI Optix MAG161V are designed for different uses, so they're not really directly comparable. The MSI is a portable monitor with a 16 inch 1080p screen. The MSI is designed for productivity on the go, giving a bit of extra screen space to work with when connected to a laptop or other portable device. The Gigabyte is a desktop gaming monitor with a 27 inch 1440p screen. The Gigabyte delivers a much better experience overall but isn't portable.

MSI Optix MAG274QRF-QD

The MSI Optix MAG274QRF-QD and the MSI Optix MAG161V are very different monitors that target different uses, so they're not really directly comparable. The MAG161V is a portable monitor with a 16 inch 1080p screen, designed for productivity on the go. The MAG274QRF-QD is a desktop gaming monitor with a 27 inch 1440p screen, and it delivers a much better experience overall, but it's not portable.

ASUS TUF Gaming VG259QM

The ASUS TUF Gaming VG259QM and the MSI Optix MAG161V are very different displays with different intended uses, so they're not really directly comparable. The MSI is a portable monitor with a 16 inch 1080p screen designed for better productivity on the go. The ASUS is a desktop gaming monitor with a 25 inch 1080p screen. The ASUS delivers a much better experience overall, especially when gaming, but isn't portable.

ASUS ROG Strix XG17AHPE

The ASUS ROG Strix XG17AHPE is significantly better than the MSI Optix MAG161V. The ASUS has a faster refresh rate, much faster response time, and lower input lag. The ASUS also delivers much better colors, with better accuracy out of the box and a much wider color gamut.

ASUS ZenScreen Go MB16AHP

The ASUS ZenScreen Go MB16AHP is much better than the MSI Optix MAG161V. The ASUS has a much faster response time, resulting in clearer motion, but it's still not great. The ASUS also has better contrast, higher peak brightness, and better accuracy out of the box.

ASUS ProArt PA148CTV

The ASUS ProART PA148CTV is much better than the MSI Optix MAG161V. The ASUS has a much faster response time, significantly better colors, and amazing accuracy out of the box. The ASUS is a bit smaller but significantly lighter, making it a slightly more portable option. The ASUS is also quite a bit brighter than the MSI, and it has slightly better reflection handling, meaning it can handle a bit more glare or a brighter environment.

Lepow Z1

The Lepow Z1 is better than the MSI Optix MAG161V. The Lepow has better gradient handling, with almost no noticeable banding, and it has better reflection handling. The Lepow supports HDR, but this doesn't add anything, as it can't display HDR content properly. On the other hand, the MSI has much better build quality and might last longer.

ASUS ZenScreen MB14AC

The ASUS ZenScreen MB14AC is better than the MSI Optix MAG161V. The ASUS has a much better response time, although it's still not great for gaming. Also, the ASUS is more accurate out of the box. On the other hand, the MSI has much better black uniformity but worse contrast.

Mobile Pixels DUEX Plus

The Mobile Pixels DUEX Plus is better than the MSI Optix MAG161V. The Mobile Pixels is more accurate out of the box, has better reflection handling, better contrast, and slightly better viewing angles. The MSI, on the other hand, has a larger screen, and it feels much better built.

Mobile Pixels TRIO

The Mobile Pixels TRIO is better than the MSI Optix MAG161V for most people. The TRIO has better reflection handling and it's brighter, so it can overcome more glare in a bright room. The TRIO also has better viewing angles. On the other hand, the MSI has much lower input lag, so it feels more responsive, even if you're just using it for office work.

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