- Excellent and Attractive Design
- Reasonably Priced
- Dual USB-C Ports With Mini HDMI
- Limited Colors, Brightness, and Contrast
- Floppy Stand
- Slow Pixel Response Time
The MSI MAG161V is a reasonably-priced portable monitor that has great features and the ability to extend precious screen real estate while you are on the go. This segment of PC monitors has recently become very competitive, and we’re glad MSI, which has excellent value gaming displays, is joining in to make things more interesting. The MSI MAG161V is a promising portable monitor option, but can it outperform its already established counterparts?
MSI MAG161V Specifications
- Screen Size: 16 Inches
- Resolution:1920 x 1080 FHD
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Panel Technology: In-Plane Switching (IPS)
- Refresh Rate: 60Hz
- Contrast Ratio: 700:1
- Brightness: 180 cd/m²
- Built-in Speakers: Yes (2 x 1 Watt)
- Stand: Height – No
- Stand: Tilt – Yes
- Stand: Swivel – No
- Stand: Pivot – No
- VESA Compatibility: No
- Connectivity: USB-C x 1, Mini HDMI 1.4 x 1
- Dimensions With Stand (WxHxD): 14.05″ x 8.94″ x .43″
- Weight: 2lbs
Design and Features
The MSI MAG161V sports a sleek build that is both lightweight and slim which so it can put emphasis on its portability. The chassis has a gunmetal finish which makes the product look premium, but everything upfront is in black. The display isn’t bezel-free, but the frames on the three sides are thin enough to be unnoticeable.
It’s worth noting that the MSI MAG161V is slightly thicker than most counterparts, although the added millimeters won’t be noticeable. This also means that the gadget has added weight, but we imagine most won’t have any trouble lugging around an additional two pounds with their mobile workstations. However, that added heft seems pointless, since there is no internal battery, unlike the Asus MB16AMT which is even lighter by a few grams.
The MSI MAG161V has excellent build quality despite these minor complaints, so you can rest assured that it will survive your travels. The chassis feels robust and well-made, while the materials used don’t feel cheap or “low-end”. the sample unit did not have any cosmetic defects or uneven seams, so we’re expecting retail units to be the same.
The MSI MAG161V has a well-equipped OSD with the right amount of features and adjustments to let you make the most out of the product. We like that it’s governed by a scroll wheel that makes it easy to navigate the submenus, but the press which is used to enter your selection is a bit stiff. It still is an improvement over pesky buttons, but we’d love it if it was a bit more tactile.
The package for the MSI MAG161V already comes with a flip case that doubles as a tri-fold stand for the monitor. These add-ons are always nice to have since you don’t have to purchase anything additional, but folding it properly to prop the monitor up can sometimes be a struggle. The design also limits the adjustments solely to tilting, so there isn’t much you can do if you in terms of viewing angles.
The MSI MAG161V uses USB-C with DP Alt Mode the primary video input, but it also includes a Mini HDMI 1.4 slot for devices that do not support the newer standard. This means you can also use the monitor for devices like the Nintendo Switch, but you need to provide power to it since it doesn’t have an internal battery. The product also has a 3.5mm audio jack, but we don’t see it getting a lot of use since laptops have better speakers anyway.
The MSI MAG161V does have a pair of speakers, but they are positioned awkwardly and are too weak for any entertainment applications. The built-ins are down-firing, so the folding cover hinders their already limited output.
Display and Performance
The MSI MAG161V sports a 16-inch IPS panel with a 1920 x 1080 resolution, 60Hz refresh rate, and unspecified response time. The contrast sits at 700:1 while the backlight is limited to 180 cd/m2 which is common with most portable monitors. It’s interesting to note that the several portable monitor variants use more or less the same IPS module, so their color coverages and contrast are comparable.
The full HD resolution isn’t the sharpest by today’s standards, but packing it into a 16-inch screen means it can offer a cleaner appearance. The MSI MAG161V’s pixel density is only slightly looser than most laptops, so the clarity of text and other small objects do not get penalized. Games and movies, on the other hand, look considerably better since pixelation is reduced considerably.
The MSI MAG161V is capable of decent color quality with its 70% coverage of the sRGB gamut with a DeltaE average of around 2.5. The screen looks washed out or pale compared to typical desktop monitors, so this model isn’t advisable for editing purposes like the Lenovo ThinkVision M14. The screen’s color temperature slightly exceeds the 6500K standard, so it looks slightly cooler than regular sRGB monitors.
The contrast ratio from the MSI MAG161V’s panel reaches its 700:1 specification, but what’s most disappointing is the monitor’s maximum brightness. The device can only manage 120 cd/m2 at 100%, so it’s too dim to use in well-lit environments such as cafes or your patio. Using it in the dark, on the other hand, reveals the grayish look of black images which is a common characteristic of IPS panels.
The MSI MAG161V did have excellent panel uniformity since there was very little to no backlight bleeding. The screen’s quadrants looked even, and only a colorimeter can accurately tell the difference between each. However, not all IPS types are made equal, so some models might exhibit worse symptoms due to manufacturing tolerances.
The MSI MAG161V’s pixel response time isn’t agile enough for fast-paced gaming since blurring is common in quicker sequences. Casual games won’t present this issue as much, but some trailing can be seen with games like the Witcher 3 or The Legend of Zelda on the Nintendo Switch. However, this fault is forgivable since the monitor was not designed primarily for gaming.
FreeSync and naturally, G-Sync compatibility isn’t part of the MSI MAG161V’s specification list so you don’t get protection from tearing and stuttering. We couldn’t measure input lag accurately, but this model feels similar to other portable monitors we have handled in recent times.
Thoughts on the MSI MAG161V
The MSI MAG161V is a decently-priced option for professionals on the go who want a practical solution that will extend their view spaces. The product is well designed and attractive, plus it has the right amount of features that a typical use scenario will need. We like that the monitor is more flexible when it comes to connectivity, although the port’s positioning could be better than being all over the place.
We can work with the limited gamut coverage and contrast of the MSI MAG161V, but what breaks the deal is its low brightness maximum of only 120 cd/m2. It’s too dim for use in brightly-lit areas which can leave some users struggling to read or view content. Gaming performance isn’t particularly exciting, although this last characteristic is the most forgivable of all even if the dragon branding is included.
Paolo is a gaming veteran since the golden days of Doom and Warcraft and has been building gaming systems for family, friends, and colleagues since his junior high years. High-performance monitors are one of his fixations and he believes that it’s every citizen’s right to enjoy one. He has gone through several pieces of hardware in pursuit of every bit of performance gain, much to the dismay of his wallet. He now works with Monitornerds to scrutinize the latest gear to create reviews that accentuate the seldom explained aspects of a PC monitor.