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MSI Summit E16 Flip review: Stepping up to compete

MSI Summit E16 Flip sitting on a table.
MSI Summit E16 Flip
MSRP $2,299.00
“The MSI Summit E16 Flip is a decent laptop for content creators, if only it were a bit cheaper.”
Pros
  • Solid build quality
  • Attractive aesthetic
  • Strong productivity performance
  • Excellent IPS display with 120Hz refresh rate
  • Very good keyboard
Cons
  • Too expensive
  • Battery life is mediocre
  • Small touchpad

I liked the MSI Summit E13 Flip quite a bit, particularly the modern aesthetic, excellent battery life, and solid performance. It proved that MSI can make an excellent productivity-oriented convertible 2-in-1 to go with their popular gaming laptops, even if the price was a bit high.

MSI has a larger version of the machine, the Summit E16 Flip, that not only expands the 16:10 display from 13.4 inches to 16 inches but adds in a discrete GPU by way of Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3050. It has a similar look and feel, but is aimed more at creators who can use the extra power a GPU can provide to applications that can use it, like Adobe’s creative suite.

I reviewed the top-end Summit E16 Flip with a Core i7-1195G7 CPU and the RTX 3050 that has a retail price of $2,299. The three available models vary only in their RAM and storage, with the review unit being the top model with 32GB of RAM and a 2TB SSD. Like with the 13-inch model, the Summit E16 Flip is a bit expensive — but I found enough to like about the machine to justify the investment.

Design

Back view of the MSI Summit E16 Flip.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

The Summit E16 Flip, like its smaller sibling, has a sleek, all-black chassis with just a few rose gold accents in an MSI logo on the front and along the chamfered edges on the lid and touchpad. The larger model doesn’t have the 13-inch model’s clipped-off chassis and lid corners reminiscent of the HP Spectre line, including the Spectre x360 15, but the rose gold and black color scheme still hints at HP’s machines.

The 2-in-1’s lines are simpler, with a slightly angled edge along the rear of the chassis and a steeply angled keyboard deck. It’s an elegant overall look that’s not overstated, and it’s more striking than the HP Envy x360 15 that also comes in black but has a purposefully minimalistic design. Also, as with the smaller version, MSI notes its use of the Golden Ratio (1.68) in designing the laptop’s dimensions.

The 2-in-1’s display bezels aren’t tiny on the top and bottom, so the Summit E16 Flip’s overall dimensions are somewhat inflated. It’s almost exactly as wide as the Spectre x360 15, but over an inch deeper thanks due the taller display and larger bezels. It’s thinner, though, at 0.67 inches, and a little heavier at 4.4 pounds, compared to the Spectre x360 15 at 0.79 inches and 4.23 pounds. The Summit E16 Flip is also deeper than the Envy x360 15 with its 16:9 display, while again being thinner and slightly heavier compared to the Envy’s 0.72 inches and 4.11 pounds.

MSI Summit E16 Flip folded backwards.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

Overall, the Summit E16 Flip is a large convertible 2-in-1 but not unexpectedly so, given its large and tall display. You won’t want to hold it in one arm for inking, but that’s typical for larger 2-in-1s.

The Summit E16 Flip is made from CNC-machined aluminum, which fits with its premium nature. Accordingly, the entire chassis is rigid, with no bending in the lid (which the 13-inch model displayed) or flexing in the keyboard deck or chassis bottom. It’s easily the equal of the Spectre x360 15 and ahead of the Envy x360 15, which had some keyboard flex.

The Summit E16 Flip is a very well-built laptop. The hinge opens easily with one hand, which is unusual for convertible 2-in-1s, and it holds the display firmly in its four positions — clamshell, tent, media, and tablet. It also props up the keyboard deck at an angle for a more comfortable typing experience and improved airflow.

Connectivity is a strong suit. There’s a full-size HDMI port and two USB-C with Thunderbolt 4 ports (one of which is used for charging) along the left-hand side, and two USB-A 3.2 ports, a 3.5mm audio jack, and a microSD card reader along the right-hand side.

Given the usefulness of this 2-in-1 for creative types, a full-size SD card reader would have been welcome. The latest Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2 provide speedy wireless capabilities with the right router.

Performance

MSI Summit E16 Flip folded backwards in a tent fold.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

The Summit E16 Flip uses a 28-watt, 4-core/8-thread Intel Core i7-1195G7, a fast chip but still one meant for thin and light laptops rather than portable powerhouses. That’s contrasted with the 45-watt, 6-core/12-thread Core i7-10750H in the HP Spectre x360 15 and the 8-core/16-thread AMD Ryzen 7 5700U in the HP Envy x360 15.

Then there are clamshell laptops like the Dell XPS 15 and MSI Creator Z16 that use the latest 8-core/16-thread Core i7-11800H CPUs that are significantly faster — although it’s not entirely fair to compare those portable workstations with a convertible 2-in-1. Given everything, my performance expectations for the Summit E16 Flip were tempered.

According to our benchmarks, the Summit E16 Flip’s performance was strong for productivity work but mixed for creative tasks. Note that MSI provides a utility to switch from “balanced” to “performance” modes, and that made a noticeable difference in some of these results but not enough to warrant analysis. Just know that if you need a little bit more power, you can kick the 2-in-1 into overdrive.

The MSI Summit E16 Flip balances CPU and GPU performance very well.

In Geekbench 5, the Summit E16 Flip did well, beating out the Spectre x360 15 in both single- and multi-core tests, but losing in the multi-core test to the blazingly fast AMD Ryzen 7 CPU in the Envy x360 15. In our Handbrake test that converts a 420MB video to H.265, the MSI couldn’t keep up with any of our comparison machines except for the LG Gram 16 that uses a slower Core i7, but it wasn’t much slower than the Spectre x360 15. The same held with Cinebench R23, another CPU-intensive benchmark. In the PCMark Complete test, the Summit E16 Flip did exceptionally well, and its Essentials, Productivity, and Content Creation scores were also good for the CPU class.

One surprising result was in Pugetbench, which uses Adobe Premiere Pro to run through a series of demanding video-editing tasks and can use both the CPU and the GPU to accelerate performance. Here, the Summit E16 Flip had an excellent score of 552, which was significantly higher than all but the Dell XPS 15 (which it beat) and the MSI Creator Z16 (which dominated this benchmark). MSI did an excellent job of balancing the CPU and GPU to perform well on this real-world test.

The Summit E16 Flip may not be the fastest laptop around in the 15- and 16-inch classes, but it’s speedy enough for a convertible 2-in-1. It’s faster overall than the HP Spectre x360 15, and while the HP Spectre x360 16 has been announced with a 35-watt H-series CPU, details are sparse — it might be another solid competitor, but we won’t know until we’ve benchmarked it. In any case, the Summit E16 Flip is a 2-in-1 that will rip through your demanding productivity tasks, but it won’t handle demanding creative workflows that are CPU-intensive.

Laptop Geekbench 5 Cinebench R23 Pudgetbench Handbrake
(seconds)
PCMark 10 3DMark Time Spy Fortnite
(1080p Epic)
Civilization VI (1080p Ultra)
MSI Summit E16 Flip (Core i7-1195G7)  1607 / 6096 1589 / 5344 552 175 5681 4138 52 fps 62 fps
HP Spectre x360 15 (Core i7-10750H) 1237 / 5013 1102 / 5492 339 160 4676 2325 54 fps 60 fps
HP Envy x360 15 (AMD Ryzen 7 5700U) 1198 / 6790 1258 / 8131 185 116 5419 902 20 fps N/A
Dell XPS 15 OLED 2021 (Core i7-11800H) 1544 / 7692 1513 / 9979 509 101 6024 4540 50 fps 73 fps
MSI Creator Z16 (Core i7-11800H) 1540 / 7625 1444 / 9615 738 103 6486 6322 59 fps (1200p) 92 fps
LG Gram 16 (Core i7-1165G7) 1573 / 5454 1394 / 4137 N/A 213 4827 1390 13 fps n/a

The Summit E16 Flip is equipped with the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 GPU, an entry-level graphics chip. It scored well in the 3DMark Time Spy test, not too far off the RTX 3050 Ti in the Dell XPS 15 and well ahead of the HP Spectre x360 15’s GTX 1650 Ti. Testing performance in a few popular games, I found the Summit E16 Flip a competent performer at 1080p or 1200p and moderate graphics settings.

Fortnite hit 52 frames per second (fps) at 1200p and epic settings, behind the Spectre x360 15 but ahead of the XPS 15 and competitive with the MSI Creator Z16 (with an RTX 3060). In Civilization VI, the Summit E16 Flip managed 62 fps at 1080p and ultra graphics, slightly ahead of the Spectre x360 15 and behind the XPS 15 and Creator Z16, but not by much. MSI’s 2-in-1 hit 43 fps at 1200p and high graphics, well behind the XPS 15 and Creator Z16, and it fell off from there as resolution and graphics settings increased.

Finally, in Battlefield V, the Summit E16 Flip ran at 49 fps at 1200p and medium graphics, again well behind the XPS 15 and the Creator Z16, but still quite playable. Even at 1600p and ultra graphics, the Summit E16 Flip hit 30 fps.

As long as you’re OK with limiting the graphics quality, you can play modern titles at 1080p or 1200p. It’s not made to be a gaming laptop, but it’s not a bad entry-level machine.

Display

Closeup on the MSI Summit E16 Flip display.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

I faulted the Summit E13 Flip for its poor calibration, with colors and gamma that were way off. I noticed that when I was performing my testing and before I pulled out my colorimeter. There were no such issues with the Summit E16 Flip’s display, which seemed very bright, with dynamic and natural colors and deep blacks. And the large, 16-inch display is in the productivity-friendly 16:10 aspect ratio, with a sharp enough QHD+ (2,560 x 1,600) resolution. I enjoyed using the display quite a bit as I ran through my tests.

I wasn’t wrong in my impressions. According to my colorimeter, MSI picked an outstanding IPS panel for the Summit E16 Flip and did a much better job of calibrating it. First, it was very bright at 482 nits, well above our 300-nit threshold. Colors were much wider than the average premium display at 89% of AdobeRGB (most displays are around 72%) and 100% of sRGB (with 95% being close to average).

I discovered quite by accident that the display supports a 120Hz refresh rate.

The colors were also accurate at a Delta E of 1.12 (1.0 or less is considered excellent). The contrast was 1,140:1, above our 1,000:1 threshold. That’s much better than the HP Envy x360 15’s IPS display that came in at 270 nits, 71% of Adobe RGB and 95% of sRGB with an accuracy of 1.06 (slightly better) and a contrast ratio of 900:1. Of course, the HP Spectre x360 15 with its OLED display had even wider colors at 99% of AdobeRGB and 100% of sRGB, with an accuracy of 1.21 and an inky-black contrast ratio of 426,180:1.

In an interesting twist, I discovered quite by accident that the display supports 120Hz, even though that’s noted nowhere in the literature I received with the review unit. I was trying to run Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, which wouldn’t run correctly, and in the settings I noticed that the game defaulted to the non-native 60Hz.

Lo and behold, I could switch to 120Hz if I wanted. I checked the display settings and there it was, defaulted to 120Hz. I didn’t notice anything before making this discovery, but as I switched back and forth between 60Hz and 120Hz, I noticed that things were a bit smoother. So, that’s another plus for the display that MSI should advertise more prominently.

Closeup on the MSI Summit E16 Flip's webcam.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

Overall, the Summit E16 Flip’s display is great for productivity work, with more than wide and accurate enough colors and contrast that made black text pop on white backgrounds. It’s also good enough for creators who might want a slightly wider AdobeRGB gamut, but who could certainly get their work done on this 2-in-1. It’s an excellent display that helps justify the Summit E16 Flip’s higher price.

The audio was surprisingly quiet, even at maximum volume. Mids and highs were clear and pleasant and there was even a touch of bass, but there just wasn’t very much loudness. It’s good audio for bingeing Netflix and such, but you’ll want to do so in a quiet environment. Headphones will be required if you need to drown out any background noise.

Keyboard and touchpad

MSI Summit E16 Flip keyboard and stylus.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

Like the smaller model, the Summit E16 Flip enjoys an excellent keyboard. It has plenty of spacing and large keycaps, even given the small numeric keyboard tucked in along the right-hand side. The switches offered plenty of travel at 1.5mm, with a light touch and snappy mechanism. My only complaint was that the bottoming action was a little softer than I like, but that’s picking nits. I’d rate this keyboard right up there with the best, including the versions on HP’s Spectre and Dell’s XPS lines.

But I have a bone to pick with MSI. There are acres of space on the palm rest for a huge touchpad — that’s one of the advantages of a taller display. And yet, it built in a tiny wide-format touchpad that leaves almost an inch of empty space above and below.

Dell used up that space with the XPS 15, equipping one of the largest touchpads you’ll find on a Windows machine. The E16 Flip touchpad is fine for what it is, with a smooth surface, reliable support for Windows multitouch gestures thanks to Microsoft Precision Touchpad support, and firm yet quiet buttons. But it’s so tiny.

Tablet mode and stylus on the MSI Summit E16 Flip.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

MSI includes its active pen in the box, and it can be magnetically attached to the Summit E16 Flip’s chassis or lid. It supports 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity with tilt, and its charges via USB-C. Although the 16-inch 2-in-1 is quite cumbersome in tablet mode, if you place it on a surface and use it for drawing or taking notes, then the pen performs admirably. The touch display was responsive as well.

A fingerprint reader provides windows Hello support on the palm rest. As with most fingerprint readers today, it was fast and reliable. MSI also implemented a couple of ways to shut off the webcam for privacy. You can either hit a button on the keyboard or flip a physical switch to turn off the webcam electronically, leaving nothing for hackers to exploit.

I prefer that to the physical sliders and such that other manufacturers use. HP originated the concept with its Spectre x360 13 and Spectre x360 15, but it has since moved over to physical covers controlled by keyboard buttons.

Battery life

MSI Summit E16 Flip sitting on a table.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

MSI packed in 82 watt-hours of battery into the Summit E16 Flip’s chassis, which is close to the HP Spectre x360 15’s 83 watt-hours and significantly more than the Envy x360 15’s 51 watt-hours. With a large, high-resolution display, I wasn’t expecting spectacular battery life.

What I got was longevity that may or may not make it through a working day, depending on your workload. In our web-browsing test, the Summit E16 Flip lasted for eight hours, which is under the 10 hours we like to see on this test. While the Spectre x360 15 lasted just 6.2 hours with its OLED display, the Envy x360 15 lasted for a more impressive 11 hours. That puts the Summit E16 Flip’s result in perspective.

In our video test that loops a local Full HD Avengers trailer, the Summit E16 Flip made it to 10.75 hours, an OK result, compared to the Spectre x360 15 at just 6.5 hours and the Envy x360 15 at 13.65 hours.

The MSI Summit E16 Flip’s battery life is only mediocre.

I also ran the Summit E16 Flip through the PCMark 10 Applications battery test, where it hit almost 8.5 hours. Again, that’s under the 10 hours we’ve been seeing in this benchmark that best approximates productivity battery life. The Spectre x360 15 was well under at 5.5 hours, and the Envy x360 15 was again much stronger at 12.5 hours. In the PCMark 10 Gaming battery test, the Summit E16 Flip managed 2.25 hours, which is about average. This test seems to measure how hard a laptop works while on battery life rather than reflecting its overall battery life.

Overall, the Summit E16 Flip’s battery life is only mediocre. As I said, it may or may not get you through an entire day’s work, and I suspect it won’t if your workflow is at all heavier than average. Keep your charger with you when you’re on the road.

Our take

The MSI Summit E16 Flip is a great-looking and well-built convertible 2-in-1 with an outstanding 16-inch 16:10 display. It’s large and uncomfortable as a tablet, but that’s to be expected with such an expansive display. It performs admirably as a workhorse productivity machine, and it can handle entry-level creative tasks as well. The keyboard is very good, but the touchpad is way too small given the available real estate.

MSI has made one of the better large-format convertible 2-in-1s you can buy. If you’re in the market for a flexible machine that can handle serious work, then the Summit E16 Flip should be on your list.

Are there any alternatives?

The Spectre x360 15, although it’s getting a little long in the tooth, is a solid alternative. Its 45-watt CPU and discrete GPU perform well, and its OLED display is outstanding. You’ll save some money as well.

The new Spectre x360 16 will likely be another good alternative, although its 35-watt CPU probably won’t provide significantly better performance. But you’ll have an OLED display option and a display that’s just as large and expansive. We don’t know much else about the machine, though, including its price.

Finally, if you don’t need a 2-in-1, the Dell XPS 15 is a solid choice. It has even better build quality, an even better display, and its performance is better for creators. You’ll pay similar prices for equal configurations.

How long will it last?

The Summit E16 Flip is solidly built and should last for years of productive service. Its components are modern and up to date, including the fastest Wi-Fi you can get, and it should keep up with Windows 10 — and Windows 11 — for as long as you’ll need it to. The one-year warranty remains disappointing at this price.

Should you buy it?

Yes. You’ll love the way the Summit E16 Flip looks and performs — just be prepared to keep it charged up.

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