Review: MSI X600 Notebook

Take MSI’s impressive MacBook Air knockoff, the X340, and gently stretch it out another couple of inches. Voila, you have the X600, a 15.6-inch version of the 13.4-inch X340.

Everything we love about the X340 carries over to this machine. It’s still got the blade-like slimness, acceptable general application performance, impossibly light weight (just 4.8 pounds, unheard of for a 15-inch laptop), and rock-bottom price (a mere $900). It’s even got some impressive upgrades: The inclusion of an ATI Radeon HS 4330 video card means you can actually play most games on the X600, a sheer impossibility on most other laptops under the $1,000 mark.

Other specs are an interesting mix of high-end and low-end parts. The 500-GB hard drive is a rarity on most machines, especially on a superslim design like the X600. The 4 GB of RAM is also good, but the ultralow-voltage 1.4-GHz Core 2 Solo CPU doesn’t do the machine any performance favors, nor does it do much for battery life, which clocks in at under three hours. The screen has average brightness, but the resolution (1,366 x 768 pixels) could be sharper.

The overall design of the X600 is outstanding, with one noteworthy problem: The inclusion of a numeric keypad is a tragic mistake, turning the keyboard layout into a real mess. The arrow keys are wedged into a space that overlaps both the keyboard and the numeric pad, which makes both data-entry areas suffer. The right shift key, for example, is tiny, and the zero on the keypad is too far to the right, making it impossible to hit properly without careful attention.

Overall, the X600 is a big winner, just like its kid brother the X340. If you don’t need heavy-duty performance but do desire looks (and a big screen) on a budget, it should be at the top of your list.

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