MSI X600 notebook

The MSI X600 is the latest addition to the company’s ultra-slim X-series, following on from the affordable X300. With a larger 15.6-inch screen, the X600 isn’t as small, but it’s still impressively portable for such a large machine.

The most striking aspect is just how thin and light it is – measuring 25mm at its thickest, and weighing in at 2.1kg. The 15.6-inch screen offers impressive brightness levels, but contrast could be better, with colours appearing over-exposed. With a resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels, it’s a sharp panel, and it’s great for watching films on.

With a similar design to the X300, it looks like a scaled up MacBook Air, with curved edges and getting thinner at the front and sides. Despite this, it feels robust in the hand, with no sign of flex from the chassis itself. The screen doesn’t offer quite the same level of strength, bending slightly in the centre, but overall it feels like a quality piece of kit.

After the X300’s disappointingly bendy keyboard, we were sceptical about this machine’s build quality, but needn’t have worried. The keyboard is a vast leap in terms of quality, offering a solid base on which to type. The flat keys are large and responsive, and offer a comfortable typing action.

The left-hand of the chassis houses a USB/eSATA combo port, HDMI, Ethernet and VGA ports. They’re all located quite close together though – which could prevent you plugging in an HDMI cable if you’re using a bulky USB device. On the right-hand side, you’ll find a further two USB ports – which are also situated infuriatingly close together – headphone and microphone sockets, and a memory card reader.

Features-wise, you’ll find a capacious 500GB hard drive in place, and connectivity includes 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Gigabit Ethernet. A webcam in the top of the screen surround rounds off the specification.

Processing power comes from an ultra-low voltage Intel Core 2 Duo U9600 chip, running at 1.6GHz. With 4GB of memory, we found performance to be impressive, and much better than most low voltage systems. At around 4 hours, battery life is slightly more average, but at least this is a portable machine that is actually capable of multi-tasking.

Things get even better when it comes to multimedia use, as MSI has somehow crammed in a dedicated graphics card. With ATi’s Mobility Radeon HD 4330 chip in place, HD movies play back smoothly, you’ll be able to carry out video editing tasks, and even play the odd game in your spare time.

Verdict

MSI’s X600 is an impressive laptop, packing a lot into its svelte lines. It may not offer the aluminium finish of Apple’s MacBook Pro, for instance, but it’s still robust and comfortable, and one of the most portable 16-inch machines we’ve seen. Add impressive performance to that, and it’s a difficult package to beat for the price.