The Bottom Line
Sep 28 2011 - Ultrathin laptops have gotten very small but they also carry a fairly high price. The MSI X-Slim X370 is a very compact and thin laptop for those that don't mind a little extra bulk and weight but at a much lower cost. Performance is good thanks to the AMD Fusion processor and fast hard drive but this still isn't going to be as quick as traditional 13-inch laptops. Battery life is extremely good with eight hours of running time. It would have been nice to see MSI update the chassis to include newer high speed peripheral ports as the two USB 2.0 ports is very limiting for external peripherals.
- Long Battery Life
- Improved Graphics Engine Over Most Integrated Options
- Larger And Heavier Than Newer Ultrathin Laptops
- Lacks USB 3.0 Port
- AMD Fusion E-450 Dual Core Mobile Processor
- 4GB PC3-10600 DDR3 Memory
- 500GB 7200rpm SATA Hard Drive
- 13.4" WXGA (1366x768) LED Backlit Display With 1.3 Megapixel Webcam
- AMD Radeon HD 6320 Integrated Graphics
- Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n Wireless
- Two USB 2.0, HDMI, VGA, 3-in-1 Card Reader
- 12.8" x 8.9" x .9" @ 3.9 lbs.
- Windows 7 Home Premium, Office Starter
Review - MSI X-Slim X370-205US
Sep 28 2011 - Previous incarnations of the MSI X-Slim ultrathin laptop platform have relied on the super low voltage processors from Intel. For the latest X-Slim X370, they have moved away from Intel to the newer AMD Fusion processors. In the X370-205US, this is the latest E-450 dual core processor. Now, this isn't a powerhouse processor but it provides sufficient performance for those looking to do some basic computing tasks such as productivity, internet and multimedia applications. The 4GB of DDR3 memory help this complete most tasks smoothly although it will be bogged down in demanding tasks such as desktop video which are better suited towards traditional laptops. Just don't expect to install any more memory as the 4GB is all it can support.
One of the biggest advantage to the AMD Fusion processors is the integrated graphics engine. AMD has put traditional Radeon graphics cores into the central processor. This offers improved graphics performance over traditional integrated graphics. This also offers full Direct X 11 graphics support unlike the Intel HD Graphics in the second generation Core i processors. Now, the Radeon HD 6320 is not going to provide huge 3D graphics performance but it does provide sufficient performance for some casual PC gaming at lower resolutions and detail levels.
The display of the MSI X-Slim X370 remains unchanged from the previous X350. It uses the same 13.4-inch display panel that is slightly larger than the traditional 13.3-inch but has the same 1366x768 resolution. Color and brightness are good but it does use a glossy coating that can cause issues when being used outdoors or in certain light due to glare and reflections. Viewing angles are also quite good for such a low cost system.
Like previous X-Slim laptops and most ultrathin laptop designs, the X370 does not come equipped with an optical drive. With the rise of digital media distribution, this isn't as much of an issue as it has been in the past. In terms of storage, MSI provides a fairly typical 500GB capacity hard drive for storing applications, data and media files. Rather than using a standard laptop spin rate drive, it uses a faster 7200rpm desktop rate that gives it improved performance. It still isn't going to be as snappy as a laptop based on solid state drives such as the MacBook Air but it does the job well and provides a fair amount of space. One disappointing aspect with the X370-205US is the lack of newer USB 3.0 ports. It would have been nice to see them include this for use with high speed external storage devices.
As with many previous X-Slim designs, MSI continues to use an isolated keyboard layout that provides an accurate and firm feel. The one real problem with the layout is the right hand side of the keyboard that is used for the home key block and arrow keys. This results in smaller enter and right shift keys that can be problematic for some and takes time to get used to. The trackpad is a nice large size and is fairly accurate. Rather than using discrete left and right buttons, it uses a single rocker bar design that lacks a good tactile feedback.
MSI offers two different battery types with their X-Slim X370 laptops. For this model, it comes with the larger eight cell pack. This has the disadvantage of increasing the overall thickness of the laptop as the battery extends below the standard four cell battery pack. Of course, it will give a longer running time. In video playback testing, the laptop was able to run for five and three quarter hours before going into standby mode. This is a very long running time and is likely the result of a lower power AMD processor compared to more powerful Intel processors found in many competing laptops. It still won't likely reach the ten hours that MSI claims even with a lot of power saving routines but eight hours should be achievable.
Now, the MSI X-Slim is certainly not the slimmest laptop on the market. It is downright chunky with the eight cell battery pack compared to a MacBook Air 13 and many of the upcoming Ultrabooks. The main advantage that the X370 offers is price. At just over $600 list, this is much more affordable than the current base MacBook Air 11 and is going to be hundred less than the projected cost of the ultrabooks. It does lack a bit in th performance, but it still is a suitable alternative for those looking at a compact travel laptop.