If there’s one thing I like about computer technology, it’s progress. Late 2010, the best you could get from the 14” sector would have been something like the discontinued Dell XPS L401x. That laptop came with GeForce GT 425M, 4GB RAM, and an i5-460M CPU for a base price of $900. In March, we looked at the ASUS U41JF, which boasted an overclockable i3-380M, 4GB RAM, and the same GT 425M graphics card. Both of those laptops leveraged NVIDIA’s Optimus Technology to give you a balanced platform, but even $800 seems steep compared to AMD’s Llano laptops, which is why we’re seeing upgrades and price cuts everywhere.

Into that market, MSI is launching their new X460 chassis, part of MSI’s X-series that focuses on providing a thin and light laptop without sacrificing performance. The top cover and palm rest are brushed aluminum, and the entire package measures just 13.35” x 9.43” and is 1” thick. Shared features include the 1366x768 glossy LCD, HM65 chipset, WiDi 2.0 support, Gigabit Ethernet and 802.11n wireless, two USB 3.0 ports and one USB 2.0 port, and a 1.3MP webcam. From there, the various models diverge.

Starting at the bottom, we have the MSI X460DX-008US, which butts up squarely against higher priced Llano notebooks. $749 ($799 MSRP) now gets you an i3-2310M CPU and GeForce GT 540M graphics, the latter of which should be a significant step up from the previous generation GT 420M/425M GPUs. Other features include a 500GB 7200RPM HDD, 4GB DDR3 memory, and Windows 7 Home Premium. The keyboard is a chiclet-style design, there’s a multi-touch trackpad, you get a DVDRW, and MSI quotes up to 8 hours of battery life.

The next step up is the similar MSI X460DX-006US, which bumps the CPU to an i5-2410M and upgrades the memory to 6GB. All other features remain the same, so the extra $100 is primarily going to the faster CPU. The lack of Turbo Boost on the i3-2310M means that the i5-2410M is anywhere from 10% to 38% faster based solely on clock speeds, though rarely will you get perfect performance scaling. We’d rather get an SSD-equipped alternative out of the $100 increase rather than a modest CPU upgrade, but perhaps doing the SSD upgrade on your own is a better idea.

The final model is a very different beast. Out goes the dual-core Sandy Bridge processors and in comes a quad-core i7-2630QM. Unfortunately, the GT 540M gets the boot as well, but the inclusion of Windows 7 Professional is a clear indication that the MSI X460-004US targets business users, so the lack of a dedicated GPU shouldn’t be a problem. Intel’s HD 3000 graphics may not be the fastest IGP on the block, but outside of gaming and HTPC enthusiasts we’ve rarely felt a need for anything faster. The hard drive capacity is bumped up to 750GB (7200RPM) and you get 6GB RAM, with the remaining features the same as the X460DX models. Given the $1100 price, this one is a bit difficult to recommend, but it does hold the title of cheapest 14” to 14.5” with Core i7 on Newegg. Then again, $1100 can grab you an HP Envy 14 with i7-2630QM and HD 6630M, which we’d take over the no-dGPU MSI model. And of course, you’re basically paying $350-$400 more than a 15.6” laptop with similar features, so you’d really have to be sold on the 14” quad-core idea.

Source: MSI Marketing

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  • Rasterman - Wednesday, August 17, 2011 - link

    I would love to replace my aging Eee with a notebook of this size and this hits all the bullets except for 2 things: remove the CD drive and increase the resolution please. Reply
  • Rasterman - Wednesday, August 17, 2011 - link

    oh yeah, I also really hate it when notebooks leave 2" of unused space on either side of the keyboard like this, USE THE WHOLE DAMN SPACE for the keyboard please! Reply

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