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MSI CX420 Laptop

Jayesh Shinde 2010-04-16
80 Very Good
Price: Rs 40,300

Full Review

The MSI CX420 is a 14-inch laptop part of MSI's Classic series of laptops. The CX420 comes with a dedicated graphics card and is primarily aimed at home multimedia usage.

Design
The MSI CX420 has a deep shade of blue on its glossy screen lid, sporting a cross hatch design. Surprisingly, it doesn't attract too many fingerprints. The CX420 is very well-built, unlike our experience on past MSI laptops - the MSI X600 and MSI X430 which had modest build at best. The screen and chassis are well constituted and the central hinge brings them together nice and strong. Despite its better-than-average build quality, the MSI CX420 weighs just 2.1-kg--pretty good compared to some of our best mainstream, all-purpose laptop recommendations. Apart from a black screen bezel and keyboard, the CX420 has a nice textured palmrest which overflows onto the touchpad. The touchpad has a shallow dip, residing below the palmrest's level, and it's quite responsive. The MSI CX420's two toned black-on-silver look is pretty decent.

Of all the past MSI laptops, the audio-visual experience was undoubtedly best on the CX420.


Usability
The MSI CX420 laptop's 14-inch glossy LED-backlit screen has a 16:9 aspect ratio and a 1366x768 pixel resolution. Being a typical TN (twisted nematic) panel, it has decent horizontal viewing angles but poor vertical viewing angles. The screen is good for viewing both text and cinematic visuals for long hours without straining the eye overmuch. There's a 1.3-megapixel webcam recessed on the MSI CX420's top screen bezel, with a microphone groove next to it, which is pretty good for video chats--Skype, for example. The keyboard sports chiclet-styled isolated keys that are very good to type on--the keys are well laid out and provide encouraging feedback. The CX420's touchpad is pretty wide and finely textured, and it makes maneuvering the mouse on screen a joy. Ports placement is well thought out on the MSI CX420 laptop, all around the chassis' edge--including the back.

Hardware Features
The MSI CX420 is based on Intel's Core i3-330M 2.13-GHz processor. Along with it, MSI bundles in 2GB of DDR3 RAM, a 320GB hard drive, and ATI Radeon HD 5470 dedicated graphics -- decent set of basic hardware building blocks. Apart from three USB ports and standard input-output connectivity ports, not to mention a DVD writer, the CX420 also has HDMI-out port, ExpressCard slot and multicard reader. Gigabit Ethernet, Wi-Fi 802.11n, and Bluetooth 2.1 wireless connectivity featured on the MSI CX420 is also nice to see.

MSI also features its exclusive GPU Boost Technology on the CX420 laptop. With a click of a button (located above the keyboard), it empowers the user to switch between the laptop's discrete graphics card and onboard graphics, depending upon the usage. This way the user can decide, depending on his priority, if he desires better performance or better battery life. The CX420 ships with a six-cell battery, 32-bit Windows 7 Home Premium operating system and a carry case.

Performance
The MSI CX420 did pretty well in our slew of benchmarks. With a WorldBench 6 score of 91 (similar to the Dell Studio 15 Artist Edition and Samsung R470), PC Mark 05 score of 3401, and Cinebench score of 5557, it is among our top performance laptops under Rs. 50,000. It had no trouble multitasking with day-to-day software and apps, watching a movie, and listening to music--all at the same time. With a 3D Mark 06 score of 3771, we reckon the CX420's ATI Radeon HD 5470's good enough for casual gaming -- Far Cry 2 was playable at 1024x768 and medium settings. The CX420 had no trouble handling both 720p and 1080p HD files, offering smooth, stutter-free playback. Of all the past MSI laptops, the audio-visual experience was undoubtedly best on the CX420. The onboard audio on the CX420 was surprisingly good by laptop standards.

The MSI CX420's six-cell battery lasted 1 hour 32 minutes in our battery drain test at high performance preset -- better time compared to the Lenovo Ideapad Y550 laptop. We managed just under three hours (2 hours 51 minutes) of browsing the Web over Wi-Fi on power save mode. But, we managed to extract over 3 hours of run-time on the CX420 by switching to the 'Office' mode of MSI's bundled ECO Engine Power Management System -- that's pretty good.

Bottom Line

The MSI CX420 is the best laptop we've seen from MSI, in terms of looks, build, and design. For Rs. 44,990, it offers a nice balance between price, mainstream performance and battery life. And it comes with proprietary technology (GPU Boost, ECO Power) that actually works. We recommend it to anyone who desires a relatively lightweight 14-inch laptop for home usage or a decent laptop on the go.

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