A 2-in-1 laptop may seem like the ultimate device for people who want portability and versatility without giving up too much power. You get the ultraportability of an ultraportable from lightweight builds measuring under 1 inch thick. When you don’t need an old-school physical keyboard, you can switch to tablet mode, and with touchscreen and stylus options, creative work seems more attainable, too.
But problems with battery life, heat management, durability, and audio quality often come with that oh-so-versatile approach. The MSI E13 Flip Evo isn’t completely immune to all these issues, but it evolves the story around convertibles that insist on being under an inch thick.
Hailing from MSI’s business- and productivity-focused Summit series of machines, the E13 (there’s also a 16-inch E16 with Nvidia RTX options) starts at a $1,300 MSRP and goes up to $1,900. (We’ve spotted it for $1,800.) With its lightweight, trim aluminum build, shiny accents, and dedicated pen, the machine is a clear rival for premium ultraportables like Dell’s XPS line and Microsoft’s Surface offerings.
|Specs at a glance: MSI Summit E13 Flip Evo|
|Screen||13.4-inch 1920 x 1200 60Hz IPS-level touchscreen|
|OS||Windows 10||Windows 10 Pro|
|CPU||Intel Core i7-1195G7||Intel Core i7-1185G7|
|RAM||16GB LPDDR4X-4267||32GB LPDDR4X-4267|
|Storage||512GB NVMe PCIe SSD||1TB NVMe PCIe SSD|
|GPU||Intel Iris Xe (integrated)|
|Networking||Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2|
|Ports||2x Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C), 1x USB 3.2 Gen 2 (USB-C), 1x USB 3.2 Gen 1 (USB-A), 1x microSD card reader, 1x 3.5 mm headphone/mic jack|
|Size||11.82 x 8.75 x 0.59 inches (300.23 x 222.25 x 14.99 mm)|
|Weight||2.98 lbs (1.35 kg)|
|Other perks||USB-C to USB-A adapter, MSI Pen, sleeve, black or white finish|
MSI’s 13-incher still has its flaws, like an uncomfortable keyboard that fails to keep up and limitations in audio quality. But its ability to get the most from its 11th Gen Intel CPU as well as its integrated Iris Xe graphics (without becoming unbearably hot) makes it a worthy rival among 2-in-1 devices. And a good-looking build with a taller and brighter-than-average screen make the competition even more intense.
Great looks, great port selection
MSI’s E13 Flip Evo proves that a black laptop doesn’t have to look boring. In the Ink Black hue, it carries a matte black finish accented by what MSI describes as “rose gold” (in person, the accents appear more like copper). The copper-ish shade is a subtle difference for the aging rose-gold trend, but it makes the machine look slightly more unusual. These accents are reflective (but less so than the slanted MSI logo on the lid) for that prim and proper feel.
The 2-in-1’s entire body is made from a block of CNC-milled aluminum. Mildly chamfered sides on the upper left and right corners approach HP Spectre territory without crossing the line. I carried this ultraportable around a lot during my time with it, and it picked up fingerprints, but I’ve seen much worse, especially with black laptops. You can opt to get the machine in Pure White, too.
Weighing just 2.98 pounds (1.35 kg) and measuring 0.59-inch (1.5 cm) thick, the machine easily fit into various tasks with tablet and tented modes, and the latter withstood my most aggressive uses of the touchscreen. For comparison, Dell’s XPS 13 2-in-1 is similarly light and thin (2.9 pounds, 0.56-inch thick, or 1.32 kg and 1.4 cm), while Microsoft’s Surface Laptop Studio convertible is notably heavier and slightly thicker and (4 pounds [1.81 kg] with an i7 CPU, like the E13 I’m reviewing has, 0.75-inch [1.91 cm] thick).
Still, the E13 Flip Evo feels surprisingly dense and durable. The thin lid does have some flex when forced but is far from flimsy. The all-important (and rose-gold-accented) hinges are hearty and reliable. When you flip the screen backward, the two hinge pieces rotate back slightly. I could also feel some movement internally in the deck portion. Most importantly, the laptop was reliable when flipped into a tablet or arched up like a tent.
The deck’s frosted finish seems harder to scratch than cheaper, plastic alternatives, and it feels good on the wrist (if a bit sharp near the edge). MSI claims military-grade durability from its MIL-STD-810G certification (PDF), which calls for testing under extreme temperatures, humidity, shock, low- and high-pressure altitude, and other parameters. Topping off the deck is a FIDO 2-backed fingerprint reader. Its deck location isn’t as snazzy or intuitive as those on the power button, but it doesn’t take up space on the touchpad, either.