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MSI Wind Top AE2020-031UK review

David Ludlow
12 Feb 2010
MSI Wind Top AE2020-031UK
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
572
inc VAT

The MSI Wind Top AE2020-031UK is a decent all-in-one PC for those on a budget, but if you can stretch, there are more powerful alternatives.

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Specifications

2.1GHz Intel Pentium Dual-Core T4300, 3.000000 RAM, 20in 1,600x900 display, Windows 7 Home Premium 32-bit

Although the branding says it’s a Wind Top, this PC doesn’t use that line’s usual Atom processor. Instead, you get a 2.1GHz Pentium Dual-Core T4300 chip. Combined with the 3GB of built-in memory, this PC did better than an Atom-based nettop would have, with an overall score of 58 in our 2D benchmarks. While hard-core video editing might be a bit of a struggle, this score shows that the AE2020 is more than capable of every other task.

Nvidia’s ION chipset is used, which means that you get a dedicated graphics chip: a 256MB GeForce 9300. It refused to run our Crysis test, while the 6.5fps it achieved in Call of Duty 4 means that games are out. However, it’s capable of decoding HD video, although you’ll need to upgrade the built-in notebook-sized DVD writer to be able to watch Blu-ray movies.

Surprisingly, for an all-in-one PC, upgrading isn’t out of the question. Although you’ll have to remove the entire back to get at the components, MSI’s manual shows you where all of the components are. You can upgrade the 3.5in hard disk, replace the 3GB of memory with up to 8GB (you’ll need to upgrade to 64-bit Windows to use more than 4GB) and replace the optical drive.

Upgrading the hard disk is one thing that you may need to think about, as the 320GB model, while adequate for most people’s storage needs, is a little stingy at this price. If you’re not happy delving around the inside of computers, the six USB ports means that external upgrades are simple.

One of the most important parts of an all-in-one PC is the quality of its monitor, as it can be replaced. Fortunately, MSI has provided a decent model. It's bright, has excellent viewing angles and natural-looking colours, while the glossy coating helps improve contrast. Its high resolution of 1,600x900 provides plenty of desktop space. With HDMI and VGA inputs, you can use the screen for other devices, too, such as a laptop and Blu-ray player.

It’s a multi-touch screen, which means that you can use Windows 7 support for gestures, such as pinching your fingers together to zoom in. It's easy enough to use, but the screen's coating creates plenty of friction, preventing us from moving our fingers smoothly across its surface. This shouldn't be a problem, as on a daily basis it's more comfortable to use the keyboard and mouse.

Built-in stereo speakers mean you don’t need to resort to an external pair. They’re not bad, either. Bass is a little lacking, but they sound clear and are reasonably loud. While finer details in songs can get lost, for basic use they’re perfect. If you do want an external set, there’s a stereo line out; the only way to get surround sound is to use the optical S/PDIF output.

MSI provides a basic wired keyboard and mouse. The keyboard’s fairly comfortable to use. Although its keys are a little spongy, there’s enough feedback and travel for touch typists. The mouse is small, but not uncomfortably so.

Overall, the Wind Top AE2020-031UK is a decent budget all-in-one, but if your budget can stretch a bit further you'll find more powerful alternatives.

Basic Specifications

Rating****
ProcessorIntel Pentium Dual-Core T4300
Processor external bus200MHz (800MHz quad-pumped FSB)
Processor multiplierx10.5
Processor clock speed2.1GHz
Processor socketLGA775
Level 1 cache128KB
Level 2 cache1,024KB
Memory3.000000
Memory typeDDR2
Maximum memory8GB
MotherboardMSI nForce 730i
Motherboard chipsetNvidia nForce 730i

Ports

USB2 ports (front/rear)2/4
Firewire ports (front/rear)0/0
eSATA ports (front/rear)0/1
Wired network ports1x 10/100/1000
Wireless networking support802.11n

Internal Expansion

Caseall-in-one
PCI-E x1 slots (free)none
PCI-E x16 slots (free)none
Free Serial ATA ports0
Free memory slots0
Free 3.5in drive bays0

Hard Disk

Hard disk model(s)WD Caviar Blue 320GB
InterfaceSATA 300
Total storage capacity320GB
Spindle speed7200rpm

Graphics

Graphics card(s)Nvidia GeForce 9300
Graphics/video portsnone

Sound

SoundRealtec ALC888
Sound outputsstereo line out, mic in, optical S/PDIF out
Speakersintegrated

Removable Drives

3.5in floppy driveno
Supported memory cardsSD, MMC, Memory Stick
Optical drive modelHL-DT-STDVDRAM GT10N
Optical drive type(s)DVD+/-RW +/-DL

Display

Viewable size20 in
Screen modelN/A
Native resolution1,600x900
Response time5ms
Screen inputsVGA, HDMI

Other Hardware

ModemNo
KeyboardMSI StarType ES500(Black)
MouseMSI StarMouse ES130(Black)

Software

Software includednone
Operating systemWindows 7 Home Premium 32-bit
Operating system restore optionrestore partition

Buying Information

Warrantyone year RTB
Price£572
Supplierhttp://www.laptopsdirect.co.uk
Detailswww.msi.com

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