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MSI CR640 review

Tom Morgan
28 Nov 2011
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
463
inc VAT

A sleek-looking laptop, but Acer's Aspire 5749 is even better for considerably less money

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Specifications

15.6 in 1,366x768 display, 2.6kg, 2.1GHz Intel Core i3-2310M, 4.00GB RAM, 320GB disk, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

MSI’s CR640 looks surprisingly sleek for a budget laptop, thanks to its silver metal-effect case and glowing power button that’s reminiscent of a sports car’s engine-start button. On closer inspection it’s obviously made of plastic rather than metal, but everything feels well put together without any signs of loose panels or flimsy hinges.

MSI CR640

The same can’t be said of its QWERTY keyboard, which flexes noticeably under pressure, although only a small amount. We didn't notice too much bounce when typing normally, and appreciated its full-size keys and standard layout. Each key is well sprung, but this meant things started to sound a little noisy when typing at speed. There’s a separate keypad which felt a little squeezed, but you'd quickly get used to it. The textured plastic touchpad didn't impress us. There was slightly too much friction, preventing our fingers from gliding across its surface smoothly.

In spite of average viewing angles, we still liked the 15.6in screen. Its 1,366x768 resolution is standard and enough to work on two documents side-by-side or surf the web with no horizontal scrolling. Colours were mostly accurate and images looked sharp, but contrast was slightly lacking in darker pictures. The glossy screen finish is a problem when working with bright lights behind you, but there’s at least plenty of tilt to avoid as much glare as possible.

MSI CR640b left side

At this price, it's understandable that MSI has opted for integrated graphics chip. It can easily handle 720p video, or even 1080p content through an external display using the HDMI output. Modern games are too much, though. Our Dirt 3 test produced an unplayable 16.3fps, which means you’ll need to select the lowest detail settings to have any hope of running slightly older games.

Games aren't everyone's top priority, and the five-hour battery life is a highlight for those that don't want their laptop to be tethered to a mains socket. This efficiency is mainly thanks to Intel’s Sandy Bridge Core i3 processor. The i3-2310M used here runs at 2.1GHz, but doesn’t require a huge amount of battery power for less intensive tasks such as web browsing or word processing. When plugged in, however, it can still perform well in tougher applications such as our multimedia benchmarks. An overall score of 42 isn’t outstanding at this price, but the CR640 should feel quick in general use.

MSI CR640 right side

Connecting your peripherals to the CR640 should be no problem, thanks to four USB ports. The only caveat is the lack of USB3 support. A multiformat card reader is useful for transferring digital photos, and there's also a DVD re-writer. We wouldn’t recommend using the built-in speakers for watching films though, as they sound weak and tinny. Even at maximum volume, there was a definite lack of bass, so you’ll probably want a pair of headphones to enjoy music and video.

In isolation, the CR640 might appear good value at this price, but the Acer Aspire 5749 outstrips it in every area. For £63 less, it has more than twice the hard disk space, 90 minutes' extra battery life, a faster processor, a better screen and keyboard and - not to be belittled - a collect-and-return warranty. In this context, the CR640 looks overpriced.

Basic Specifications

Rating****
ProcessorIntel Core i3-2310M
Processor clock speed2.1GHz
Memory4.00GB
Memory slots2
Memory slots free0
Maximum memory8GB
Size27x380x260mm
Weight2.6kg
SoundConexant SmartAudio HD
Pointing devicetouchpad

Display

Viewable size15.6 in
Native resolution1,366x768
Graphics ProcessorIntel HD 3000 Graphics
Graphics/video portsHDMI, VGA
Graphics Memory64MB

Storage

Total storage capacity320GB
Optical drive typeDVD+/-RW +/-DL

Ports and Expansion

USB ports4
Bluetoothyes
Wired network ports1x 10/100/1000
Wireless networking support802.11n
PC Card slotsnone
Supported memory cardsSDXC, Memory stick Pro, MMC
Other portsminijack audio output, minijack microphone input

Miscellaneous

Carrying caseNo
Operating systemWindows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Operating system restore optionrestore partition
Software includedMicrosoft Office 2010 Starter Edition
Optional extrasnone

Buying Information

Warrantyone year RTB
Price£463
Detailswww.msi.com
Supplierhttp://www.amazon.co.uk

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