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MSI CX640 Laptop Review (Core i5/Nvidia)

We do admire MSI products, and consistently over the last year they have been producing quality graphics cards, motherboards and computer systems. We have to honest and say that the CX640 isn’t one of the most memorable laptops we have tested in the last year.

The choice of processor is a good foundation for the system – the Intel Core i5 2410M is powerful and it delivered great results with our synthetic and real world testing over the last week.

The system on paper seems well balanced, the processor is strong, there is a useful 4GB of DDR3 installed, full USB 3.0 support and a generous 500GB hard drive. In this case however, the ‘on paper’ specifications are more impressive than the end result.

Firstly, the build quality gives a little cause for concern. We wouldn’t say it will fall apart in a couple of months, but the lid creaks and groans and there is some flex on the movement. The keyboard is spongy and the trackpad while responsive, feels very uncomfortable to use for any period of time.

On a technical level, the Nvidia GT520M is quite weak and only suitable for very casual gamers who don’t mind dialing down the image quality settings and resolution. The biggest issue we have with the system however is the sluggish, low performing ECO 5,400 rpm hard drive. Boot up is slow, application response is appalling, and the overall operating system is bogged down by sub 70MB/s transfer rates. Before wrapping up the review we installed an entry level SSD and the whole system was utterly transformed into something we could use daily.

We are aware that computers in this price bracket are built to tight margins and that compromises have to be made, however we would have preferred a smaller, yet faster hard drive. Something like the Western Digital Scorpio 320GB can be picked up for £35 inc vat, so it wouldn’t add much cost to the overall system build.

Battery life is respectable, averaging well over three and half hours when used modestly on the move. The screen quality is distinctly average, and when weighing in the overall product it is really not going to stand out in such a crowded marketplace.

To end on a positive note, the speaker system is rather impressive and we were surprised with the quality of the overall sound, especially in the lower mid range registers.

After some recent price deductions, you can buy it from Amazon for £576 inc vat.

Pros:

  • good speaker system
  • competitive pricing
  • good processor
  • decent battery life

Cons:

  • weak Nvidia GPU
  • hard drive is very slow, dragging overall performance down significantly
  • build quality is average at best
  • keyboard is not great
  • trackpad is uncomfortable to use

Kitguru says: Not one of MSI’s finer moments, but for the price it is worth a look, especially with recent price cuts.

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Rating: 7.0.

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