MSI’s VR630 is one of two laptops in the £500 category to have an AMD processor, but while Acer has spent the money it saved on the 6530G’s budget chip to cram in a host of features, including a Blu-ray drive, the VR630 has little to distinguish it.
The 250GB hard disk is a reasonable size, but the laptop has only three USB ports and no Draft-N WiFi adaptor.
The VR630 has a 16in, 16:9 widescreen display with a resolution of 1,366×768. It produces warm colours, but its backlight is uneven, with a darker patch along the top. Its glossy finish isn’t ideal for bright environments, as the screen is so reflective.
The VR630’s case is almost identical to that of MSI’s more expensive EX620 (see page 72), although it’s a little plainer. It has room for a full-width keyboard and number pad, and while these are cramped together, the keys are large and most of them are in the right places. Exceptions are the Backslash key, which isn’t next to the left Shift key, and the Function key, which is to the left of the Control key.
The keyboard flexes significantly on each side, which produces a see-saw effect. The light action and inadequate feedback from the keys make typing long documents uncomfortable. Thankfully, the touchpad is large and responsive and has large, well-placed buttons.
Performance from the 2GHz Athlon X2 QL-62 processor was slow, especially in the Memories test, which involves image editing and video transcoding. Unless you spend a lot of time editing photos or video, however, this won’t be an issue.
The battery life of just under two hours is short compared with those of other laptops in this group, and is only suitable for occasional use around the home or short journeys.
The VR630 doesn’t have any major flaws, and its two-year warranty is the best on offer. However Acer’s 6530G, with its Blu-ray drive and multiple expansion ports, represents such incredible value that it eclipses what would otherwise be a decent budget laptop.
|AMD Athlon X2 Dual-Core QL-62
|Processor clock speed
|Memory slots free
|Realtek High Definition Audio
|Power consumption standby
|Power consumption idle
|Power consumption active
|Nvidia Geforce 9100M G
|Total storage capacity
|Optical drive model
|Optical drive type
Ports and Expansion
|Total Firewire ports
|Wired network ports
|Wireless networking support
|PC Card slots
|Supported memory cards
|SD, MMC, Memory Stick Pro
|2x minijack audio output, minijack microphone input, minijack audio input
|Windows Vista Home Premium
|Operating system restore option
|two years collect and return