MSI's Latest Laptops

We've had MSI laptops we really liked and laptops that had an odd component combination. MSI has quite a few new laptops coming out, so hopefully they come closer to the designs we liked this time.

First up is the C series, the "Classic" MSI notebooks. These are "thin" designs that still have all the typical components you would expect, including an optical drive. MSI has three new models coming out, the CR420 (14"), CR520 (15.6"), and CR720 (17.3"), all featuring the new Core i5 processors and Windows 7. The press release states that all three models use 1366x768 LCDs, unfortunately, and we don't have details on what sort of discrete graphics are available (if any).

For mobile gamers, MSI is updating the G ("Gaming") series with the new Core i5/i7 CPUs. The 600 models are 16" LCDs while the 700 models are 17" chassis. The GT640 and GT750 both utilize Core i7 CPUs with GeForce GTS 250M graphics. The GTS 250M has 96 SPs clocked at 1250MHz, but with 128-bit RAM; GDDR5 is supported at up to 3.2GHz, but GDDR3 is also an option that would cut memory bandwidth in half, and we don't know the specifics of what MSI is using. The GX640 and GX740 in contrast use the new ATI Radeon HD 5000 series GPUs, with DX11 support, but we're not sure which specific GPUs are in use. (We'll update when we find out.) The GX models also appear to use 120Hz LCDs with "3D" support. All four GT/GX models have the traditional aluminum chassis with red trim that we've seen in previous MSI gaming notebooks. The two newcomers are the GE600 and GE700, which in contrast use "cutting-edge Color Film Print technology, touch panel keys that have undergone special color processing and a glossy decorative panel along the front edge to give them a futuristic and minimalist feel"… we're not even sure what that means. Other The GE series uses the same Radeon HD GPUs as the GX series.

Of course MSI also has some new netbooks to announce based on the Pine Trail platform. The MSI Wind U135 are 10.1" designs with 6-cell batteries, but MSI lists battery life at just 7.5 hours. We don't know how they're testing, but that's anywhere from 2.5 to 6.5 hours less than we measured with the ASUS 1005PE - hopefully MSI is using an Internet test or something similar rather than getting 7.5 hours of idle battery life. An alternative to the U135 is the new U160, which features a new chassis design and keyboard and weighs just 2.2 pounds. It comes with a gold Color Film Print finish.

Not shown is the (relatively new - it launched at the end of November 2009) 12.1" design, the Wind12 U230. The U230 builds on the design of the Wind12 U200, a CULV (Core 2 Solo in this case) offering that primarily targeted the European market. Honestly, it was too expensive, and the U230 drops CULV in favor of AMD's Athlon Neo X2 processor. Performance will be substantially higher than any Atom-based netbook, but battery life is listed as just 4 hours. The Wind12 U230 is available already, but the price is around €350, meaning this is another European laptop.

Finally, we wrap up MSI with their X-Slim series. We weren't sold on the X610 we reviewed, though the Core 2 based X600 would have tested better. MSI has several new models to announce, the 13 inch X350 and X360, 14 inch X420, 15.6" X600 Pro and X620. All five use Intel CULV processors. The X420 uses the Color Film Print technology while the rest are in more traditional X-Slim black (with some patterns to mix things up). We don't have detailed specs for most of the X series, but we know the X620 will include some form of ATI HD graphics, the X420 will include the new ATI HD 5430, and the X350 and X360 claim to deliver up to nine hours of battery life. The X360 is also the first laptop we've heard of that will use an Arrandale ULV processor. Yes, please, we want to test one ASAP!

HP Laptops and Netbooks Acer, Gateway, and Lenovo
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  • RMSistight - Sunday, January 10, 2010 - link

    That Alienware M11X was using I think a Core 2 Duo ULV 1.3GHz processor. I'm not sure whether or not it was a Core i3/i5. Also, the Dell rep told me that pricing starts at $700-$799 and could be configured to up to about $1000 and maxed out at $1500. This is what they told me yesterday.
  • JarredWalton - Sunday, January 10, 2010 - link

    That would put it up against the ASUS UL series, but then the question is whether or not they allow overclocking of the CULV processor. I know that the UL80Vt at 1.3GHz showed some CPU limitations even with a G210M in some games, so the GT335M would definitely want a faster CPU. If Alienware does the same thing as ASUS and allows you to overclock the bus to 133MHz (for a final CPU speed of 1733MHz), then the GT335M would work really well.

    Personally, I'd still be happier with a 13.3" chassis, but I know some people prefer 10" to 12" laptops.
  • golfbum - Saturday, January 9, 2010 - link

    Looks like Dell is going all discrete video so far rather than using the Arrandale graphics.

    Wonder what their angle is?

  • assemblage - Tuesday, January 12, 2010 - link

    Studio 17 with Intel i5-520m on Dell website only uses the Intel onboard graphics. No option for seperate video card
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, January 12, 2010 - link

    True... at least for now. This is particularly odd considering the Studio 15 comes with an HD 4570 (and no option not to have it). Dell tends to change up the configuration options on their laptops on a regular basis, though, so don't be surprised to see discrete GPUs show up on the Studio 17 in the future. (And don't be surprised if they don't show up either!)
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, January 9, 2010 - link

    Actually, they're doing hybrid AFAIK, so you can switch to IGP for power saving or discrete for performance. It's really the ideal solution right now.
  • Roland00 - Saturday, January 9, 2010 - link

    What are the turbo boost number for 2 cores active instead of 1 core active. I can't seem to find these numbers anywhere on the net.
  • ruetheday - Saturday, January 9, 2010 - link

    Not to nitpick but "Inspiron line will use the new X4500 Arrandale IGP" isn't accurate; the 4500 chipset goes with Core2 processors, not with then new Arrandales. The new one is signficantly better; don't want to confuse people.
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, January 9, 2010 - link

    You're right, sorry. I missed that the new name was just "Intel HD Graphics". Apparently there's no number (at least not right now).
  • Etern205 - Saturday, January 9, 2010 - link

    Looks like HP quickly yanked out their previous model the mini 110 off their site as both the 110 and 210 are the same besides the processor.

    The 110 also had the option to install a broadcom crystal hd accelerator.

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