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MSI CR610-013 16in laptop review

Barry de la Rosa
16 Mar 2010
MSI CR610-013 16in laptop
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
500
inc VAT

While MSI's CR610 Blu-ray drive makes it look like an exciting laptop, we'd prefer a faster processor and better screen.

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Specifications

16 in 1,366x768 display, 2.5kg, 2GHz AMD Athlon II X2 M300, 4.00GB RAM, 500GB disk, Windows 7 Home Premium 32-bit

MSI's CR610 is one of the few recently-released laptops to forgo Intel's new Core processors for an AMD chip, a 2GHz Athlon II X2 M300. Predictably, this laptop didn't do as well as Core i3-based laptops in our tests, scoring just 51 overall. As a comparison, the Core i3 laptops we've seen usually score around 70.

Even so, the CR610-013 is powerful enough for day-to-day jobs, such as image editing. Performance isn't everything, and this laptop makes up for being a bit slow by including a Blu-ray drive, which is incredible to see in a laptop at this price.

The dedicated Radeon HD 4200 graphics chip can't handle games, managing just 4fps in our Call of Duty 4 benchmark, but it will decode HD content from the Blu-ray drive. The 16in widescreen display has a 720p HD resolution of 1,366x768. It produces a bright, colour picture, although we found that it looked slightly cold producing slightly dull reds and flesh tones. Lights reflections make it hard to see the glossy screen.

We found the speakers to a bit tinny and under-powered, so not ideal for use when watching a movie. Thankfully, the CR610 has an HDMI output, so you connect to a larger screen, or better still to an AV amplifier that can drive a more powerful sound system and a larger screen. There's also a 34mm ExpressCard slot that you can use to add a TV tuner, for example, turning the CR610 into a more capable media centre.

As well as a Bu-ray drive, the CR610 also includes some features you might not expect on a £500 laptop. The 500GB hard disk is generous, and there's a shared eSATA/USB port which is useful for attaching external storage. It also has Bluetooth and 802.11n wireless networking. Weighing 2.5kg, it's quite portable, but a battery life of two hours and 40 minutes means that you won't be able to stray far from a mains socket.

It's not the most attractive of laptops either, and although the glossy lid ad thin screen bezel might turn some heads, the plastic strip around the edge of the keyboard panel looks really cheap, and on our review sample it was starting to come away from the case. Thankfully, MSI provides a two year collect and return warranty, so any major faults are covered.

The keyboard uses standard moulded keys, but MSI has packed in a numberpad as well and the result looks rather cramped. However we found the key action to be light and crisp, with a definite bite for feedback. The layout isn't standard. For a start, the Function key is on the bottom left corner where the Control key should be, and although the keys are nice and big on the left side, over on the right where the arrow keys are squeezed in, we find a half-height Enter key and a half-width right Shift key.Below the keyboard is a large touchpad, with a responsive pad and two large buttons.

There's no doubt MSI has cut corners to fit a Blu-ray drive into a £500 laptop, but if you're not into heavy image or video editing and don't need a lot of processing power, the CR610 is a decent entertainment laptop. That said, if you don't want the Blu-ray drive Dell's 1564 is more powerful and has much better build quality.

Basic Specifications

Rating****
ProcessorAMD Athlon II X2 M300
Processor clock speed2GHz
Memory4.00GB
Memory slots2
Memory slots free0
Maximum memory4GB
Size40x374x247mm
Weight2.5kg
SoundRealtek High Definition Audio
Pointing devicetouchpad

Display

Viewable size16 in
Native resolution1,366x768
Graphics ProcessorATI Mobility Radeon HD 4200
Graphics/video portsVGA, HDMI
Graphics Memory256MB

Storage

Total storage capacity500GB
Optical drive modelHL-DT-ST CT10N
Optical drive typeDVD+/-RW +/-DL BD-ROM

Ports and Expansion

USB ports3
Bluetoothyes
Wired network ports1x 10/100/1000
Wireless networking support802.11n
PC Card slots1x ExpressCard/34
ModemNo
Supported memory cardsSD, MMC, Memory Stick Pro, xD
Other portsminijack audio output, minijack microphone input

Miscellaneous

Carrying caseNo
Operating systemWindows 7 Home Premium 32-bit
Operating system restore optionrestore partition
Software includedInterVideo WinDVD 8, Microsoft Works 9
Optional extrasnone

Buying Information

Warrantytwo years collect and return
Price£500
Detailswww.msi.com
Supplierhttp://www.argos.co.uk

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