MSI’s latest creation isn’t a low-end netbook or a high-end gaming laptop, but a relatively standard portable notebook computer. The X400-225UK pulls very few punches, offering a laundry list of standard features and performance benefits, though it pulls them very well; the machine is one of our favourite portable laptops, despite its few small usability and power issues.
Despite housing a fourteen-inch display and a full-size laptop keyboard, the X400-225UK weighs in at just 1.7 kilograms. MSI have used a thick plastic material for the X400’s enclosure, deciding to forego the metal enclosures used by rival manufacturers Dell and Apple Inc. in order to save weight and increase portability.
The focus on portability is instantly apparent. While the MSI X400-225UK features a larger display and wider keyboard than other ultra-portable notebooks, its slim design and relative durability keep it from falling into the all-design-no-strength category, one that’s annoyingly familiar with portable computers.
Performance is delivered through a special low-voltage Intel Mobile processor, designed to keep the X400-225UK‘s power needs relatively low and its temperature in Arctic levels. While this is great for system stability and power usage, we found the X400-225UK‘s performance to be relatively poor. Most applications ran smoothly, although high-power activities require more processing time than on other mid-range portable notebooks.
Multimedia performance is reasonable, though the X400-225UK has a tendency to fall into frame-by-frame mode while playing HD videos and streaming online multimedia content. The processor limitations aren’t likely to interfere while preparing documents or browsing the internet, though they could have been eliminated quite cheaply through a quicker system processor.
However, the X400-225UK does win one multimedia prize. Its fourteen-inch display is one of the best we’ve found on a laptop designed for portability, giving users access to clear and bright data wherever they may need it. A HDMI port is included, allowing users to connect the X400-225UK with a high-definition television or external monitor.
No optical drive is installed in the X400-225UK, though users can attach a third-part optical drive via USB for remote movie watching. Given that the X400-225UK shares its measurements with Apple’s Macbook Air and Dell’s ultra-portable line, we’re far from surprised that the machine lacks an optical drive as standard.
While light, portable, and quite pretty, the X400-225UK is brought down by one major weakness: its severely limited battery power. When used as a workstation the X400-225UK is unlikely to last for more than three hours on a single charge. Multimedia usage sees the battery’s lifespan drop even further, with tests pinning its power reserves at under 120 minutes.
This limited endurance makes the X400-225UK an unusual notebook. It’s highly portable in design and construction, weighing in at under two kilos and compact enough to fit into a magazine envelope. Yet at the same time it’s utterly worthless for travel computing, barely able to survive the average blockbuster film or remote work session.
Our opinions are mixed. We love the X400-225UK‘s display and adore its design, but we can’t recommend it as a travel laptop or remote workstation. Priced at just £499 it’s a purchase that’s unlikely to cause major financial harm, though we still believe it’s best to look elsewhere.