The Modern AM241P 11M all-in-one PC is MSI’s follow-on to the ho-hum Pro 24X 10M we reviewed last fall. Like the Pro 24X, the Modern AM241P (which starts at $849.99, as tested) is a compact, affordable 23.8-inch all-in-one (AIO) PC. In the intervening months, however, MSI has outfitted the Modern AM241P with an updated Intel Core i5 CPU and addressed the three biggest gripes we had about the Pro 24X 10M: too much fan noise, and the lack of both a webcam and USB Type-C connectivity. The Modern AM241P’s cooling fan still makes itself heard, but the system is much quieter when idle or under light loads. A pair of USB-C ports makes an appearance, and the system now includes a webcam—if not in the way you are probably thinking. (More on that in a moment.) The Modern AM241P is a clear improvement over the Pro 24X 10M, and a solid-enough AIO for small businesses, but the HP Pavilion 24 All-in-One remains our favorite budget Windows AIO.
A Webcam Via…USB?
Our MSI Modern AM241P 11M test system is the entry-level model in the line. It costs $849.99 and features an 11th Generation Core i5-1135G7, 8GB of RAM, integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics, and a 256GB SSD. The $1,099.99 step-up model bumps you up to a Core i7-1165G7 CPU and doubles the RAM to 16GB and the solid-state storage to 512GB.
The system is available in black or white; we received the former. All models are built around a 23.8-inch, full HD, non-touch display.
The design remains the same as the Pro 24X with the exception of the stand. The sleek, compact enclosure didn’t require an update; it’s space-saving, modern-looking, and impressively thin.
The top half of the system is only 0.2 inch thick, and the bottom half (where the PC components reside behind the display) is only 1.5 inches deep. The display measures 21.2 inches wide by 12.6 inches tall, which is about as compact as a 23.8-inch display can be. The top and side display bezels are a razor-thin 0.2 inch wide, and the bottom bezel is only 0.7 inch across. The Modern AM241P presents an attractive, polished visage.
The V-shaped stand of last year’s model has been swapped out in favor of a rectangular base. The 9.9-by-7.3-inch base is sturdy and takes up less space on your desk than the previous stand. The biggest benefit of the new stand, however, is the addition of height adjustment. Where previously you had no ability to change the height of the display without employing a monitor riser or a large book (I was going to say “telephone book,” but no one has those anymore), you now have nearly 5.5 inches of height adjustment. You do lose swivel adjustment with the new stand, but I’d rather have height adjustment if given the choice between the two.
The screen bezels are so thin that MSI still didn’t have room to add a webcam to the Modern AM241P’s chassis, but it did find a way to include a camera. MSI added a USB port at the top of the stand behind the display, and it bundles a USB webcam with the system.
While this is not remotely as elegant an arrangement as an integrated camera, it’s not without its benefits. The camera has a 1080p resolution, which creates a more detailed image with less noise than the tiny-sensor 720p cameras commonly found on laptops and all-in-one PCs. Videos looked well balanced, with vivid colors and accurate skin tones. And a USB camera does offer the ultimate camera-privacy option: Unplug it when not in use! The rival Pavilion 24, however, supplies a higher-res (5-megapixel) webcam.
Needs a More Modern A/V Boost
You’re stuck with the same uninspiring video and audio output with the Modern AM241P as with the Pro 24X. The 23.8-inch non-touch display features a 1,920-by-1,080-pixel resolution, and you won’t want to sit too close to it. Text starts to look blurry from a couple of feet away, though it looks crisper when you push back a bit. The display doesn’t get terribly bright, but it shows good contrast, with deep blacks and bright whites. It also has an effective matte finish that keeps glare and reflections at bay.
Ineffective, though: the Modern’s stereo speakers, which are wholly underwhelming. They sound tinny, with little to no bass response, and they don’t reach a very high level even at the peak volume setting. Music playback is not enjoyable, and you’ll need to sit close to hear dialogue in movies and TV shows, as well as from your fellow Zoom participants. You’ll want to keep headphones within reach.
The Modern AM241P offers acoustic improvement in one area, though: operating noise. As with the previous system, the Modern AM241P relies on a cooling fan that spins constantly, but it’s much quieter than the Pro 24X’s thermal solution, and it doesn’t ramp up, noisily, nearly as often.
MSI also improved the bundled peripherals, ditching the wired keyboard and mouse in favor of a wireless pair. Both are basic but functional, and their wireless nature cuts down on wire clutter. They also let you sit back a bit from the display if your desk space allows, so text and images on the display look crisper.
The Modern AM241P features a varied and useful selection of ports. On the left edge, you’ll find a pair of USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C ports, a pair of USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A ports, and a combo headphone/microphone jack. Having both types of USB ports means you don’t need to worry about finding a dongle to attach your USB devices.
Around the corner on the back panel is another collection of ports: both HDMI-in and -out ports, two retro USB 2.0 ports, and an Ethernet jack. The HDMI ports mean you can add a second display to the Modern AM241P or use it as a monitor (say, with a laptop or game console).
Behind the system’s right edge is a tiny joystick to control the display’s OSD for selecting video mode and source, and a small panel above it that you can use to expand the system’s internal storage. Remove a screw to quickly and easily add a 2.5-inch Serial ATA hard drive or SSD. That’s a bright spot, considering the 256GB SSD that comes standard in our $850 tester will fill quickly unless you rely mainly on the cloud.
Given the system’s tight dimensions, there’s no room for an internal power supply. Therefore, you’ll need to find a place for the power brick inline on the power cord, but it’s not too large or heavy.
Testing the MSI Modern: All the Mod Cons?
As noted earlier, the $849 MSI Modern AM241P 11M features an 11th Generation Intel Core i5-1135G7 processor, 8GB of RAM, integrated Intel Iris Xe Graphics, and a 256GB solid-state drive. I compared its performance with that of four other Windows-based, 24-inch all-in-ones: the Asus M241, the Dell Inspiron 24 5000, the HP Pavilion 24 All-in-One mentioned earlier (2020 model k0220z), and the preceding MSI Pro 24X 10M.
It’s worth noting that all five systems feature mobile processors that vary from two to six cores. The Modern AM241P’s Core i5 chip and the previous-generation Core i5 chip in the MSI Pro 24X each feature four cores and eight threads. The Core i3 in the Dell Inspiron 24 5000 and the AMD Ryzen 3 in the Asus M241 are dual-core chips with four threads, while the Ryzen 5 in the HP Pavilion 24-k0220z rolls in with six cores and 12 threads. That will have a major bearing on the CPU-centric tests below. (See how we test desktops.)
Productivity, Storage, and Media Tests
PCMark 10 and 8 are holistic performance suites developed by the PC benchmark specialists at UL (formerly Futuremark). The PCMark 10 test we run simulates different real-world productivity and content-creation workflows. We use it to assess overall system performance for office-centric tasks such as word processing, spreadsheet work, web browsing, and videoconferencing. The test generates a proprietary numeric score; higher numbers are better.
PCMark 8, meanwhile, has a Storage subtest that we use to assess the speed of the system’s boot drive. This score is also a proprietary numeric score; again, higher numbers are better.
The Modern AM241P finished solidly in second on PCMark 10, with the Ryzen 5-based Pavilion 24 taking the top spot. The Core i3-based Dell Inspiron 24 5000 and the Ryzen 3-based Asus M241 finished well off the pace, with the Pro 24X and its previous-gen Core i5 CPU finishing between the Dell and Asus and the Modern AM241P. (The Dell’s platter hard drive really dragged it down relative to this pack.) During general Windows use, including multitasking with a handful of open apps (one of which was the Chrome browser, with a dozen open tabs), the Modern AM241P felt peppy and responsive.
Next is Maxon’s CPU-crunching Cinebench R15 test, which is fully threaded to make use of all available processor cores and threads. Cinebench stresses the CPU rather than the GPU to render a complex image. The result is a proprietary score indicating a PC’s suitability for processor-intensive workloads.
Cinebench is often a good predictor of our Handbrake video-editing trial, another tough, threaded workout that’s highly CPU-dependent and scales well with cores and threads. In it, we put a stopwatch on test systems as they transcode a standard 12-minute clip of 4K video (the open-source Blender demo movie Tears of SteelTears of Steel) to a 1080p MP4 file. It’s a timed test, and lower results are better.
The Modern AM241P finished behind the Pavilion 24 on our Cinebench and Handbrake tests (six versus four cores; predictable) but bested the others on the strength of its quad-core CPU.
We also run a custom Adobe Photoshop image-editing benchmark. Using an early 2018 release of the Creative Cloud version of Photoshop, we apply a series of 10 complex filters and effects to a standard JPEG test image. We time each operation and, at the end, add up the total execution time. As with Handbrake, lower times are better here. The Photoshop test stresses CPU, storage subsystem, and RAM, but it can also take advantage of most GPUs to speed up the process of applying filters, so systems with powerful graphics chips or cards may see a boost.
The Modern AM241P topped the Pavilion 24 and took top honors on the Photoshop trial, which shows the strength of Intel’s 11th Generation Core processors and Iris Xe graphics in bursty, fast-ramp tasks like this. The multimedia test results indicate the system is capable of some light media editing and creation.
3DMark measures relative graphics muscle by rendering sequences of highly detailed, gaming-style 3D graphics that emphasize particles and lighting. We run two different 3DMark subtests, Sky Diver and Fire Strike, which are suited to different types of systems. Both are DirectX 11 benchmarks, but Sky Diver is more suited to laptops and midrange PCs, while Fire Strike is more demanding and made for high-end PCs to strut their stuff. The results are proprietary scores.
The Modern AM241P’s results on our 3DMark tests show the improvement Intel has made to its integrated graphics. The system easily outpaced the Dell Inspiron 24 5000 and the MSI Pro 24X 10M, each of which uses Intel’s previous-gen UHD Graphics. Still, the integrated Radeon Graphics solution of the HP Pavilion 24-k0220z proved to be more powerful.
Next up is another synthetic graphics test, this time from Unigine Corp. Like 3DMark, the Superposition test renders and pans through a detailed 3D scene and measures how the system copes. In this case, it’s rendered in the company’s eponymous Unigine engine, offering a different 3D workload scenario than 3DMark, for a second opinion on the machine’s graphical prowess.
The Modern AM241P could not achieve a playable 30fps at its native 1080p resolution or even at 720p. It’s suitable for playing casual games but not close to having enough oomph to power AAA titles. It was again outpaced by the HP Pavilion, especially at the test’s 720p preset.
Verdict: A Moderate Update for Modern Times
The MSI Modern AM241P 11M shows improvement in a number of areas from last year’s model. The operating acoustics are better, with much less fan noise, and USB-C connectivity and a webcam are now included. The display is merely average, however, and the speakers remain underperformers, which prevents it from toppling the HP Pavilion 24 as our pick for a budget all-in-one.
The AMD Ryzen-based HP Pavilion 24 offers better performance and superior audio output, along with a touchscreen display, a higher-res webcam, and twin storage drives that offer high capacity and fast data access. MSI has closed the gap a bit on that model, but it still has a ways to go.