MSI U270 review
11.6 in 1,366x768 display, 1.3kg, 1.6GHz AMD E-350, 2.00GB RAM, 320GB disk, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
MSI’s latest small laptop is a noticeable step up from a netbook and the U270 uses an AMD processor, rather than Intel, which has opened the floodgates to a wealth of changes and upgrades.
The U270 is by no means thin considering its compact size, but it at least doesn’t weigh a lot. At just 1.3kg you’ll barely feel the weight in a laptop bag when on the move. The incredibly small 11.6in chassis still has room inside for an AMD E-350 processor, 2GB of RAM and a 320GB hard disk, which is more than enough to handle most day-to-day desktop tasks such as web browsing and word processing.
We didn’t experience many slowdowns when running multiple browser tabs, although serious multitasking still made the operating system feel sluggish. Our multimedia benchmarks told a similar story: the single-threaded image editing test was reasonably fast for a low-power CPU, but the multi-tasking test brought the overall result down to just 12.
AMD builds an integrated graphics chip into the E series processor, which is powerful enough for high definition video. We could play 720p content smoothly on the laptop, and even 1080p video on an external display using the HDMI outout, but our gaming tests pushed it too far. Dirt 3 couldn’t post a playable frame rate at all, regardless of the detail and resolution settings we tried.
One benefit to an integrated graphics chip is that it lessens the impact on battery life over a dedicated card. Lasting five-and-a-half hours away from the mains in our light-use test, this laptop will last most of a working day without having to be charged. That said, other AMD-powered ultra-portables we’ve seen recently have managed over eight hours.
We appreciated the anti-glare coating MSI has applied to the 11.6in screen. Although it isn’t a matt finish, which would possibly be more adept at diffusing light reflections, it did a great job of keeping our harsh office lighting from becoming a distraction. The 1,366x768 resolution is also a welcome increase from what we’re used to seeing in 11.6in displays. Unfortunately, the screen doesn't tilt far and, viewing angles are average, it can be hard to see what's on screen. Colours still looked fairly vibrant.