The X600 is part of the MSI X-Slim series. This range puts the accent on having a nice, light, sexy line. MSI talks about allying "technology with design" and is promoting it as an indispensable accessory for the style conscious that you can take with you anywhere.Handling, design and build
The MSI X-Slim X600 is elegant. Very slim and pared down, it's well finished with good build quality, in spite of the 100% plastic casing. The top is shiny grey while the rest of the chassis is matte grey mock aluminium. The screen surround is unfortunately in shiny black plastic, a bit of a magnet for finger marks and dust.
The X600 is actually quite wide and won't slip into bags easily. The 22mm screen surround amplifies the already sizeable width (15.6 inch screen in 16:9 format).
The full, wide keyboard has flat responsive keys. The keys are firm and quiet on the whole, excepting the space bar (noisier than the other keys). We would have liked to see a backlit keyboard, though we imagine it was left out to keep costs down.
The multimedia buttons are noticeable by their absence, though there would have been plenty of space for them. Volume and brightness buttons would have been handy.
The touchpad is nicely built into the casing with the same grainy coating. The scroll is generally large enough and nice to use, though for multipoint you wouldn't want it to go any smaller.
The webcam is just about serviceable. It isn't as fluid as it could be, the colours are too saturated, the contrast is low and any overexposed areas burn. The microphone picks up sounds well but is to the right of the webcam, which means you don't hear typing sounds.
The X600 is fairly noisy. The fan noise is constant and becomes particularly noticeable when you put more demands on your machine.
Connectors are at the back of the sides. There's 1 VGA, 1 RJ45 (Ethernet Gigabit), 1 HDMI, 1 combo USB / e-SATA, 2 USB 2.0, 1 mic, 1 headphone socket and a 3-in-1 memory card reader. Of course it has Wi-Fi, supports the a/b/g/n standards and also has Bluetooth.
Under the machine, a large panel gives access to almost all components, although MSI does specify that the guarantee won't be honoured if you open it (a sticker covers the screw).
|Memory card reader
||VGA, RJ45, HDMI, e-SATA / USB
|Memory card reader, headphones, microphone, 2 USBs, power supply
||Extra flat and wide X600 battery
Vista index: 4,2. Details: CPU 4.7 - Memory 4.9 - Graphics 4.2 - Gaming graphics 4.8 - Main hard drive 5.5.
In contrast to many others in the range (including the X340 that we've tested), the MSI X-Slim X600 has a dual core processor: the Intel Core 2 Duo SU9600. It retains ultra low energy consumption (CULV platform) but gives an acceptable level of performance for documents, photos and video. You do however have to be patient with video encoding or photo work.
In comparison to our reference machine (100 index), the Fujitsu Siemens Amilo Xi3650 (equipped with an Intel Core 2 Duo T9400), the X600 gets a processor score of 56 and an overall 71 (not including 3D). Better than the Asus UX50V then, which is equipped with an SU9400 CPU.
No problem playing HD 1080p (Blu-Ray level) with the processor, though you won't be able to get much else out of it at the same time. We do however advise you to use the excellent graphics card decoding capacities, there to relieve the processor.
The graphics card used here is an ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4330. This is an entry-level model that'll allow gaming on older titles. Recent games will need to have graphics details pulled right down, which obviously has its impact. That said, it's already better than a built-in Intel solution and as long as you don't go overboard on the graphics options, you can play some games with undemanding 3D engines. Valve titles using Source Engine, such as Half-Life 2, TF2 or Left 4 Dead are fine with graphics options at medium.
The speakers give a trebly sound, with no bass. This is particularly disagreeable to listen to as you get spatialisation without depth. The headphones out is quite clean, in spite of the hiss that fades into the background as soon as you start listening to your music.
Battery life and portability
With 3hrs 30 video play, the MSI X-Slim X600 is currently the notebook with the best battery life, in front of the 15-inch MacBook Pro (3hrs 19). That said, performance is a good deal down on the Apple machine. But it should be enough for those not putting too many processing demands on it, and remember that it's not anything like as expensive.
At 2.1 Kg, it's light for its screen size. And it's only 25 mm thick!