MSI Wind U160-007US review: MSI Wind U160-007US

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
  • Overall: 7.8
  • Design: 7.0
  • Features: 7.0
  • Performance: 8.0
  • Battery life: 9.0
  • Service and support: 6.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Excellent battery life; near the top of Netbook performers in some tests.

The Bad Too expensive for what you get; wonky touch pad.

The Bottom Line The basic-as-it-gets MSI Wind U160-007US is a leader in battery life, but shouldn't cost $80 more than comparable systems.

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Basic Netbooks are a fairly simple formula to pull off. Combine an Intel Atom 450 processor, 1GB of RAM, Windows 7 Starter, and a 250GB hard drive, and you've got any of an army of products from Asus, Acer, HP, and others. MSI was another early combatant in the Netbook wars, and its Wind models have typically followed the usual trends in components and pricing, making them perfectly acceptable alternatives.

The current version of the MSI Wind, called the U160, happens to stand out from the crowd in a couple of ways. It boasts some of the longest battery life we've seen, at 7-plus hours, and it ran some of our benchmark tests just a few seconds faster than other Netbooks. It's not enough of a performance difference to notice in real-world use, but if you're looking for the maximum possible battery life, the Wind is certainly up there.

This extralong life, however, comes at a price. First, the system's massive battery sticks out significantly from the bottom of the chassis, like some kind of awkward kickstand, and second, the Wind U160 costs $380 (although the official list price is even worse: $429), which is $80 more than largely comparable machines from other PC makers.

Price as reviewed $380
Processor 1.66GHz Intel Atom N450
Memory 1GB, 800MHz DDR2
Hard drive 250GB 5,400rpm
Chipset Intel NM10
Graphics Intel GMA 3150 (integrated)
Operating System Windows 7 Starter
Dimensions (WD) 10.2 x 6.5 inches
Height 0.75 inches
Screen size (diagonal) 15.4 inches
System weight / Weight with AC adapter 2.7/3.4 pounds
Category Netbook

Our MSI Wind U160 had a glossy dark brown finish that the company calls "Fancy Gold." It's at least a nice break from the usual glossy or matte black finishes we see (although a black version of the Wind is also available). The interior is a lighter, almost faded gold color, and there's an MSI logo cut into the back of the lid and backlit in white.

The keyboard is a standard flat island-style design, and works for most of our usual typing needs. There's a bit too much flex under the fingers around the middle, and there's a shrunken right Shift key--our biggest problem with Netbook keyboards--but we've also seem more egregious offenders. The touch pad is underwhelming, composed of tiny raised dots in the wrist rest (similar to most Asus Eee PC touch pads). We don't find that style to be particularly comfortable to use, although your mileage may vary.

One odd note, instead of the touch pad having a scroll bar section along the right side of the pad for vertical scrolling, it instead has scroll points in the top and bottom right corners of the pad. Just hold your finger on the corner and the page automatically scrolls up or down.

The 10.1-inch wide-screen display has a 1,024x600-pixel native resolution, which is standard for nonpremium Netbooks. The look and feel is beginning to seem a bit cramped, especially with more and more HD Netbooks available all the time, some for only $20 more than this system.

  MSI Wind U160 Average for category [Netbook]
Video VGA VGA
Audio Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks
Data 3 USB 2.0, SD card reader 3 USB 2.0, SD card reader
Expansion None None
Networking Ethernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth Ethernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Optical drive None None

With three USB ports, an SD card slot, and audio in/out jacks, the connections and ports on the Wind U160 are about as typical as it gets. On the plus side, you also get Bluetooth, which is sometimes left out of entry-level Netbooks.

The performance difference between Netbooks with Intel's 1.66GHz Atom N450 processors is going to minimal between brands and models. In this particular case, however, the Wind U160 came out a few seconds ahead of the pack (which includes recent Netbooks from Sony, HP, and Asus) in our Apple iTunes encoding test, and essentially tied for the top spot with the HP Mini 210 in our Jalbum photo conversion test. On the other hand, the system was slower, by an even larger margin, in our basic multitasking test.

Despite these differences, the real-world performance difference between N450 Netbooks is minimal, and you're unlikely to notice much differentiation between brands when sticking to Netbook-friendly tasks such as Web surfing, e-mail, or working with office documents.

Juice box
MSI Wind U160 Average watts per hour
Off (60%) 0.46
Sleep (10%) 0.5
Idle (25%) 7.37
Load (05%) 14.41
Raw kWh Number 25.31
Annual energy cost $2.87

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Where to Buy

MSI Wind U160-007US

Part Number: U160-007US Released: May 1, 2010

MSRP: $379.99

See manufacturer website for availability.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date May 1, 2010
  • Resolution 1024 x 600 ( WSVGA )
  • Installed Size 1 GB
  • Color gold
  • Weight 2.2 lbs
  • Graphics Processor Intel GMA 3150
  • CPU Intel Atom N450 / 1.66 GHz