MSI X600 review: MSI X600

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The glossy black lid is about as extravagant as the X600's design gets

The low-profile keyboard is large and has a full-size numeric keypad, but the keys are closely packed together and could do with more breathing room, particularly around the cursor cluster. There's none of the flex that plagued the X340's keyboard though, and it's otherwise very comfortable to use.

Despite its generous dimensions, the X600 lacks an internal optical drive (an external DVD writer is supplied), so the on-board HDMI port may not see that much use. The glossy screen does a reasonable job with high-definition video, but the 1,366x768-pixel resolution means you're stuck at 720p. The screen is slightly less successful with other kinds of content, and text isn't as sharp as it could be. A limited vertical viewing angle also means that objects along the bottom of the desktop become indistinct unless you're in exactly the right position. That problem's at least mitigated by the lid's wide range of motion.

No laggard
Slim it may be, but the X600 is no slouch. Laptops that pack ultra-low-voltage Pentium or Core Solo processors tend to be slightly underwhelming when it comes to performance, but the low-voltage 1.6GHz Core 2 Duo SU9600 chip inside this model packs plenty of punch. It helps move the X600 into the mid-range ranks of what we'd expect from any Core 2 Duo laptop, with a PCMark05 score of 4,503.

The X600's 3D graphics performance is less impressive, but still worthy of note -- you might ordinarily expect to find something integrated and insipid from Intel in a laptop like this. Instead, you get an ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4330 graphics chipset and a 3DMark06 score of 2,743. That's hardly mind-blowing, but it's enough for all but the latest 3D games if high resolutions and detail settings aren't hugely important to you.

A major factor in the weight of most laptops is the battery, but the wafer-thin 5400mAh cell that clips into the X600's underside is surprisingly light. Nonetheless, it lasted for 2.5 hours in Battery Eater's intensive Classic test and just over 4.5 hours in the less-demanding Reader's test. That's not bad for a laptop of this size and performance level.

We're not quite sure if an ultra-low-voltage processor makes much sense in a laptop of this size, but, since it doesn't compromise performance and keeps bulk to a minimum, we can't really complain about MSI slipping one into a machine as sexy as the X600.

Edited by Charles Kloet

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