Introduction and Design
MSI’s Ultraportable is Put to the Test
When the Apple MacBook Air originally debuted, geeks took note, and Windows laptop manufacturers ramped up efforts to meet that super-thin laptop on its own turf. Surprisingly, one of the first to respond was MSI, a company that is still struggling to define itself among a mainstream American market dominated by the likes of HP, Toshiba, Dell, and others.
MSI managed to significantly undercut the Air with its X340, but the build quality was also nowhere near what Cupertino’s engineers had managed. Yet MSI is not one to give up, and they’ve made moves to refine the X series over the years. As the price has dropped further, and the processor selection changed, comparisons to the Air have become less obvious.
That’s particularly true with this latest MSI X370, which now makes use of the AMD E-350 Fusion APU. This processor is nothing new, and we’ve tested it before at PC Perspective. Yet this laptop is different from any previously we’ve reviewed product with this processor because of its size.
Of course, it’s not just the processor that makes a laptop unique. Let’s see what else MSI is packing in this small frame.
What we have here is a sleek 13.4” ultraportable, yet thanks to the relatively mundane hardware, it is offered at a price of just $569. That’s not a large chunk of change, and it means that this laptop could be a great choice – if the hardware is up to par.
MSI seems to love hexagons. Perhaps it is some incredibly sly marketing tag-team with Google for its tablet OS, but whatever the reason, this laptop’s gloss black lid is adorned with a gray honeycomb pattern, and the interior of the laptop has a raised honeycomb texture.
No one else is using this theme, so it appears a bit bizarre at first. It is also distinctive, however, and actually looks handsome once you’re accustomed to it. The matte interior is particularly nice, as it has a nice feel under the user’s hand and masks fingerprints.
Otherwise, there’s not much to say, but this is a slim laptop and because of that it looks excellent as a result of, rather than in spite of, the simple exterior. The chassis is solid, as well. Though mostly plastic, it doesn’t noticeably flex no matter how the laptop is handled. Display wobble is minimal and the laptop feels sturdy when closed. A bit too sturdy, in fact, as the tough hinges make the laptop hard to open with one hand.
Along the slim sides you’ll find plenty of connectivity. On the right there are two USB ports, separate headphone and microphone jacks, and the power connector. To the left there’s an HDMI port, Ethernet jack and VGA out. The lack of USB 3.0 is a little disappointing, but considering the price, its exclusion isn’t unexpected