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MSI X400 review

Barry de la Rosa
24 Aug 2010
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
340
inc VAT

The 14in screen makes this a great alternative to a netbook for movie and photo fans, but performance isn't much better than a netbook and battery life isn't astounding

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Specifications

14 in 1,366x768 display, 1.5kg, 1.3GHz Intel Pentium SU2700, 2.00GB RAM, 320GB disk, Windows 7 Home Premium 32-bit

The MSI X400 is a 14in laptop, yet it's barely more expensive than a netbook. Weighing 1.5kg, it's almost as light as a netbook too and, although the screen makes it much wider and deeper, it's incredibly thin, with curved edges that make it quite attractive. The 1,366x768 resolution display is far larger than the 1,024x600 on smaller 10.1in netbooks, which lead to problems with dialog boxes disappearing off the edge of the desktop.

Our first concern was that build quality might have taken a back seat to design, but while the lid flexes, it's not worryingly fragile. Similarly, there's some flex in the base and keyboard, but not enough to cause concern. It does affect typing, especially on the right side: while the keys are large and have a light action, the flex takes the bite out of the key resistance, so you get less feedback.

MSI X400 three quarter

Some keys have been moved, too. The Enter key is single-height, and the Backslash key has been moved to the left of the Space bar, but other than that the layout is fairly standard. The touchpad is large and responsive, with a single see-saw button that has a light action. It's too recessed however, which means that your thumb often hits the casing around the button rather than the button itself.

An 1.3GHz Pentium SU2700 processor powers the X400. It's a single-core chip, much like the Atom processor found in most netbooks, and it's also designed to use less voltage than a standard mobile chip, so it's no surprise that it didn't fare too well in our tests. It's far more powerful than an Atom in single-threaded applications, scoring 42 in our image-editing test, but it slowed to a crawl in our multi-tasking test, which plays a video while compressing some files.

This means it will be fine for simple applications such as web browsing, email or word processing, which don't tax the processor while they're in the background. As you'd expect, the X400 doesn't have the power to play games but the integrated graphics chip can decode Full HD video content, so the only games you'll be able to play will be casual or browser-based titles.

MSI X400 ports right

Movies look great on the 14in screen. Its glossy finish makes colours more vibrant, but you'll have to be careful that overhead lights aren't reflected. You'll also have to adjust the lid carefully to get the best vertical viewing angle, but once you get the sweet spot, you'll be rewarded with accurate colours and decent contrast.

Sound through the internal speakers is compressed, tinny and not loud enough to fill a small room, but you can output digital audio and video through the HDMI output, for example to a big-screen HD TV. There are only two USB ports, which limits your choice of peripherals.

MSI X400 ports left

Sadly, while the X400 may have similar performance to a netbook, it doesn't have the battery life we've come to expect. It lasted only three hours and 15 minutes in our light usage tests, so despite its weight and slim profile, it's not ideal for days away from mains power. However, it comes with a carry case and a two-year warranty and, along with the low price, it's enough to earn it a Budget Buy award.

Basic Specifications

Rating****
ProcessorIntel Pentium SU2700
Processor clock speed1.3GHz
Memory2.00GB
Memory slots1
Memory slots free0
Maximum memory4GB
Size27x349x233mm
Weight1.5kg
SoundRealtek HD Audio
Pointing devicetouchpad

Display

Viewable size14 in
Native resolution1,366x768
Graphics ProcessorIntel GMA 4500M HD
Graphics/video portsVGA, HDMI
Graphics Memory64MB

Storage

Total storage capacity320GB
Optical drive modelN/A
Optical drive typeN/A

Ports and Expansion

USB ports2
Bluetoothyes
Wired network ports1x 10/100/1000
Wireless networking support802.11a/b/g/n
PC Card slotsnone
ModemNo
Supported memory cardsSD
Other portsminijack audio output, minijack microphone input

Miscellaneous

Carrying caseYes
Operating systemWindows 7 Home Premium 32-bit
Operating system restore optionbackup and recovery software
Software includedMicrosoft Works 9
Optional extrasnone

Buying Information

Warrantytwo years RTB
Price£340
Detailsuk.msi.com
Supplierhttp://www.laptopsdirect.co.uk