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MSI PX600 notebook

MSI PX600 notebook

The MSI PX600 is a 15.4in laptop with a leather-bound lid and a good CPU

The MSI PX600 is an attractive leather-bound notebook that has a fast processor, plenty of RAM and a good price. However, this 15.4in laptop comes with a keyboard that is too spongy and it weighs a hefty 2.75kg (not including the power supply).

Laptops like the NEC Versa E6510-2505DR have plastic or 'pleather' cases that attempt to replicate the real deal, but to MSI’s credit, the PX600 laptop uses genuine cow-hide on the lid. Coupled with a piano-black palm rest and touch-sensitive buttons, the notebook looks good and isn't gaudy.

Under the hood are a 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P8600 CPU, 4GB of DDR2 RAM and a 500GB hard drive that spins at 5400rpm. MSI has partitioned the hard drive into a 50GB C: drive and a 450GB D: drive, but this can be a problem if you install a lot of programs (say four or five games and office applications). You might find yourself running out of space sooner rather than later, although you can still install programs on the second partition.

To test the speed of the hard drive we copied a 1.06GB folder from one location on the drive to another and recorded a speed of 28.89 megabytes per second. This is very fast when compared to the Sony VAIO VGN-Z17GN/B's speed of 19.74MBps. In general the laptop runs very smoothly, as shown by its WorldBench 6 score of 99. This means that hardware-intensive tasks like video editing and file compression can be conducted relatively swiftly (for a laptop).

The processor is excellent, as proven by our MP3 encoding and Blender 3D rendering benchmarks. In iTunes it took 1min 10sec to convert 53min of WAV into 192Kbps MP3 files; in Blender 3D it took 1min 14sec to render a 3D image.

The MSI PX600 has an NVIDIA GeForce 9300M GS, which is a dedicated graphics card but not a powerful one. Although it only got a score of 1525 in 3Dmark06, you’ll still be able play older games like Half Life 2; newer games like F.E.A.R. or Empire: Total War will not run smoothly if at all. If you’re looking for a gaming laptop, you’ll probably have to spend more than $2020.

We were disappointed by the MSI PX600 laptop's spongy full-sized keyboard and number pad. The lack of bounce-back makes it hard for touch-typists to be certain they’ve hit keys accurately. Because the touchpad is positioned so close to the left palm-rest, our left thumb often moved the cursor when we didn't intend it to. Fortunately the touchpad can be switched off, so this isn’t a major concern.

The MSI PX600 notebook weighs 2.75kg without its power supply and 3.3kg with it included, which is heavier than usual for a 15.4in laptop. Our DVD rundown test ran for 1hr 20min; this is a slightly lower than average battery life for a 15.4in laptop. If you’re planning to work on the road, it might be worth looking at a smaller laptop like the Toshiba Satellite U400 / H00 (PSU44A-00H00C).

For networking, the MSI PX600 laptop has an 802.11n wireless module and a Gigabit Ethernet port.

The MSI PX600 can connect to newer plasma and LCD TVs using the HDMI port located on the back. You can also connect it to external monitors using the D-Sub port. There are three USB 2.0 ports, and one of them doubles as an eSATA port. An ExpressCard/54 slot can be found on the right side of the unit, above the 4-in-1 card reader (SD, MMC, MS, xD).

Although the full-sized keyboard is a too spongy for touch-typing and the unit is slightly heavier than usual for a 15.4in notebook, the powerful components and attractive design make it worth checking out.

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