MSI X-Slim X600 review

19 Oct 2009

Impressively thin and light for such a big laptop, but the build quality is as low as the price suggests

Price when reviewed: 
795(£795 inc VAT)
4

Marketing a 2.1kg laptop as "so light that it flies" is a tad over the top, but there's no denying the MSI X-Slim X600 is svelte for a 15.6in desktop replacement. Its glossy finish and tapered edges give a deceptive feeling of slimness, so it's a surprise to measure it at 28mm including feet - that's 2mm thicker than a 15.4in MacBook Pro, but the MSI does manage to save nearly 300g on its rival.

This portability stems from the fact that the X600 isn't your traditional desktop replacement, and in many respects it doesn't fit into that category at all. For a start, it has no optical drive. A quick poll of the PC Pro office suggests many would be happy to trade this for the weight reduction, and you can add an optional external Blu-ray drive to the package if you so wish. Nonetheless, it's still an approach more associated with netbooks and ultraportables.

MSI X-Slim X600

The X600 mixes and matches to good effect in other ways too. A generous 4GB of RAM is paired with a low-voltage 1.6GHz Intel Core 2 Duo SU9600 processor, a choice that largely pays off. Far from the weakling it may appear, this combination powered the X600 to a respectable 0.85 in our 2D benchmarks. Admittedly that's far below most desktop replacements with their full-strength Core 2 Duos and Quads, but it's more than enough to run everyday tasks and the extra RAM eases multitasking.

Best of all, though, is the minimal impact on the battery. While it was never going to trouble the true ultraportable crowd for longevity, a light use time of 4hrs 41mins is impressive for such a large system. Thanks to the low-power CPU, that only fell to 2hrs 10mins when pushed to the limits, so you can be sure it will make it through a long commute without conking out mid-spreadsheet.

The low power, low budget approach doesn't always come off, however. The 15.4in LED-backlit TFT uses a slightly disappointing 1,366 x 768 resolution, high enough to slap a big HD Ready sticker on it but low enough to be an inefficient use of all that space. It's a glossy screen so reflections prove distracting, but more disconcerting is the red hue that pervades the picture at all times. It's not overly noticeable during movies, but with a white document on screen you can't miss it.

Details

Price ex VAT £691
Price inc VAT £795
Overall rating 4
Features & Design 4
Value for Money 5
Performance 4

Warranty

Warranty 2 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions 392 x 255 x 28mm (WDH)
Weight 2.120kg
Travelling weight 2.6kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core 2 Duo SU9600
Motherboard chipset Intel GS45
RAM capacity 4.00GB
Memory type DDR2

Screen and video

Screen size 15.6in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,266
Resolution screen vertical 768
Resolution 1266 x 768
Graphics chipset ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4330
Graphics card RAM 512MB
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 1
HDMI outputs 0
S-Video outputs 0
DVI-I outputs 0
DVI-D outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 0

Drives

Capacity 500GB
Hard disk usable capacity 458GB
Spindle speed 5,400RPM
Internal disk interface SATA/300
Hard disk Western Digital Scorpio Blue
Optical disc technology None
Optical drive None
Battery capacity 5,400mAh
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a support yes
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Integrated 3G adapter no
Bluetooth support yes

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switch no
Wireless key-combination switch yes
Modem no
ExpressCard34 slots 0
ExpressCard54 slots 0
PC Card slots 0
USB ports (downstream) 2
eSATA ports 1
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports 0
Parallel ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 0
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
3.5mm audio jacks 2
SD card reader yes
Memory Stick reader no
MMC (multimedia card) reader yes
Smart Media reader no
Compact Flash reader no
xD-card reader no
Pointing device type Touchpad
Audio chipset Realtek HD Audio
Speaker location Front edge
Hardware volume control? no
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 1.3mp
TPM no
Fingerprint reader no
Smartcard reader no
Carry case yes

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 4hr 41min
Battery life, heavy use 2hr 10min
Overall application benchmark score 0.85
Office application benchmark score 0.88
2D graphics application benchmark score 0.97
Encoding application benchmark score 0.77
Multitasking application benchmark score 0.76
3D performance (crysis) low settings 58fps
3D performance setting Low

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows Vista Home Premium 32-bit
OS family Windows Vista