MSI's X610 is an interesting concept. It uses a 15.6" LCD/chassis, and the fact that it's very thin and weighs just over 4.5 pounds is definitely a nod to the MacBook Air. Also like the MacBook Air, the X610 forgoes the inclusion of an optical drive. Or perhaps the lack of an optical drive is more like a netbook, and the X610 certainly has similarities to netbooks, at least when it comes to CPU performance. Unlike most netbooks, MSI chooses to use an AMD processor, and while that would normally mean substantially more performance than an Intel Atom CPU, the AMD Athlon Neo MV-40 isn't going to set any speed records. Using a 65nm process, the Neo MV-40 is a single-core 1.6 GHz part, rather like the original Athlon 64 only using updated process technology.

So what we have is a relatively large chassis that's very thin, no optical drive, and a CPU that aims to be "fast enough". If you couple that with a reasonable integrated graphics approach, you should be able to get good battery life without compromising on weight or size. Except, MSI decided not to use an IGP solution and instead includes ATI's Radeon Mobility HD 4330. The discrete graphics solution isn't super fast, but it's definitely a lot faster than any current IGP and it provides all the necessary features to support high definition video decoding.

When we said the MSI 610 was "interesting", then, what we really mean is that it's interesting in the same way that Frankenstein would be interesting. MSI has chosen to mix some very low power design element (AMD Neo, a thin chassis) with other elements that are diametrically opposed to such a design (15.6" LCD and a discrete graphics solution). The question we are here to answer today is whether the final creation is impressive, or if MSI added too much brawn and not enough brains. Here's a look at the system specifications.

MSI X610 Specifications
Processor AMD Athlon Neo MV-40
(1.60GHz, 512KB L2, 65nm, 1600MHz HyperTransport)
Chipset ATI RS690E + SB600
Memory 1x2048MB DDR2-800 CL6 (Max 1x4GB)
Transcend JM800QSU-2G @ DDR2-640 6-6-6-18 2T
Graphics ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4330 512MB (450/1000 Core/RAM)
Display 15.6" Glossy LED-Backlit 16:9 WXGA (1366x768)
Chunghwa Picture Tubes CLAA156WA11A
Hard Drive 2.5" 250GB 5400RPM 8MB
(Toshiba MK2555GSX)
Networking Realtek RTL8168/8111 Gigabit Ethernet
Ralink RT3090 802.11bgn WiFi
Bluetooth 2.0+EDR
Audio Realtek ALC888 HD Audio
(2x2 Stereo Speakers with headphone/microphone jacks + HDMI)
Battery 6-Cell 11.1V, 5400 mAhr, 60 Whr
Front Side None
Left Side Cooling Exhaust
1 x USB 2.0
Gigabit Ethernet
Right Side Cooling Vent (no fan)
SD/SDHC/MMC reader
Microphone/Headphone jacks
2 x USB 2.0
AC Power connection
Back Side None
Operating System Windows Vista Home Premium SP2 32-bit
Dimensions 15.43" x 10.04" x 0.98" (WxDxH)
Weight 4.6 lbs (with 6-cell battery)
Extras 1.3MP Webcam
Multi-Touch Touchpad
Warranty 2-year Global MSI warranty
Price MSRP: €499, Availability in Oct 2009

We should also note that the X610 is currently destined for release in the UK/Europe and it is unlikely we will see it in the USA. If after reading this review you are interested in purchasing such a laptop, let us know in the comments. Since MSI is already creating this system, they could easily sell it in the US if there's enough demand. Of course, pricing is also going to play a role in determining how successful the MSI X610 is. The X610 is essentially the AMD version of the MSI X600, a product already available in the USA. The X600 uses an Intel Core 2 Solo processor but otherwise has the same basic design as the X610 (15.6" chassis, ATI HD 4330, no optical drive). Battery life on the X600 is supposed to reach up to six hours, making it a viable alternative to netbooks if you don't mind the larger size, but with an MSRP of $800 it costs twice as much as most netbooks. Considering the competition, that's simply too much for the X600 and we think a price of around $500 for the X610 is the most people are likely to pay.

MSI X610 Overview


View All Comments

  • AnnonymousCoward - Wednesday, October 7, 2009 - link

    1366x768 sucks.

    You can get a Dell 15.6" 1600x900, dual core pentium T4200, 6-cell battery, with DVD drive for $514. Or with the HD4330 for $614. The X610 is $735. The Dell weighs 1.5 pounds more, though, so you'll need to hit the gym.
  • Mint - Wednesday, October 7, 2009 - link

    That's a pretty big "though". 4.5 lbs is just about the limit for fairly comfortable portability, and comparing it to a 6 lb notebook is ludicrous.

    1366x768 on a 15.6" is similar pixel size to most desktop monitors, and 1440x900 isn't that much better yet it's the highest resolution you get in a 4.5 lb notebook, AFAIK. Compare it with the top rated notebooks at this weight, like the Timeline 4810 (same res) and MacBook Pro 13" (1280x800).
  • AnnonymousCoward - Wednesday, October 7, 2009 - link

    Comparing 4.5 pounds to 6 pounds is ludicrous? If you're that picky about weight, you'd better go for a 2 pound netbook. I would gladly take the 1.5 pounds for the high res screen and fast CPU. Reply
  • gstrickler - Wednesday, October 7, 2009 - link

    Actually, Dell lists it at 5.54 pounds with 6 cell battery and DVD drive. It's under 6 pounds no matter how you configure it. Yes, the extra pound will make a difference, but anything under 6 pounds is very portable.

    Certainly, the Dell Studio 15 sounds more interesting than the MSI X610, and I would like to see how a Dell Studio 15 and/or 13" MacBook compare in performance and battery life. The Dell has the Intel X4500HD IGP standard, offers HD4570 discrete GPU as an option. The MacBooks uses the Nvidia 9400M G chipset. Both IGPs are slower than the HD4330, but they're not terrible and they use a lot less power. Both use C2D (the Dell base price has the dual core Pentium T4200, which is a C2D with less cache and slower FSB, but that's still a big step up from a single core 1.6GHz Athlon).
  • Mint - Thursday, October 8, 2009 - link

    The market has proven both of you wrong for many years now. Why do you think Vaios and Lifebooks cost so much? Or why Apple charges more for the Air than the Pro 13"? Why do you think the M1330 was such a hit, despite costing much more than 15" Dells? Why do you think the X60/X200/X300 Thinkpads sell for so much more than 15" Thinkpads?

    5 lbs really is where it starts getting uncomfortable for the majority of people. 4 lbs is nice, 3 lbs is desireable. Netbooks took off when they weren't any cheaper than much faster value notebooks.
  • sxr7171 - Friday, October 9, 2009 - link

    Ha Ha, that's what I was thinking the whole time reading this article. I'm sitting here with a 2.4lb Thinkpad X200s laughing in my head wondering about in what parallel universe would a 4.5lb laptop be considered light.

    This thing weighs 2.4lbs and packs a Core 2 Duo. There is no way they will allow these "netbooks" to cannibalize the sales of ultraportables hence the awkward netbook form factors as this machine. The only netbook that could even tempt me is the 1.4lb Vaio-P or actually now the Vaio-X. There could not possibly be a better machine made for surfing the internet while lying on the couch.

    Also that Dell E4200 - great specs, nice 2.2lb weight.
  • Mint - Saturday, October 10, 2009 - link

    If you're laughing at me, then what do you think about the guys that I replied to who are suggesting a 6lb notebook is light enough and comparable to this?

    Regardless of screen size, you can rarely get more than 1366x768 in a 4.5lb notebook for less than twice the price. No Apples, only two Dells (the 14z's), no IdeaPads (Thinkpads are way too expensive), etc.
  • AnnonymousCoward - Thursday, October 8, 2009 - link

    I don't really understand your last sentence. I think netbooks took off since they were dirt cheap and ultra portable.

    Weight-aside, at 15.6", 1600x900 is a must.
  • Bull Dog - Wednesday, October 7, 2009 - link

    I recently owned a MSI GT735 laptop and it too had the integrated GPU disabled. On the other hand, my family has a couple of old Asus laptops with 2.0GHz Turion 64 X2 CPUs and Mobility Radeon 2600 GPUs and x1250 integrated graphics and Asus gave users to option in the bios to switch between the two. And this was long before AMD was talking about doing this.

    Additionally the 1366x768 LCD screens are just fail. 800 vertical pixels is bad enough, now I'm supposed to step down to 768? No thank you. Why didn't MSI include AMD's dual core Athlon x2 Neo cpu instead? Probably cost reasons but it would have made the laptop far more convincing. Personally, I'm loving my HP dvz2.
  • dingetje - Wednesday, October 7, 2009 - link

    "If MSI could keep the price close to $500 (€500)"

    eh, 500 Euro is about 735 US Dollar ... oops?

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