MSI X460DX: A Well-Rounded Laptop for Mobile Power Users
By Sarah Jacobsson Purewal
At a Glance
Slim and light
Two USB 3.0 ports, HDMI out
Speakers are quiet, produce thin sound
Touchpad is laggy
The MSI X460DX is a slim yet powerful all-purpose notebook available at a decent price.
The MSI X460DX is a slim yet powerful laptop, and it carries a decent price tag. With two USB 3.0 ports, a second-generation Intel Core i5 processor, and a discrete graphics card under its hood, the X460DX will no doubt tempt any mobile power user.
Our review model, priced at $830 (as of September 27, 2011), came packed with a Core i5-2410M processor, 6GB of RAM, a 500GB Seagate hard drive (spinning at 7200 rpm), and an Nvidia GeForce GT 540M discrete graphics card with Optimus auto-switching technology. The X460DX also features built-in 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, stereo speakers, and a webcam. Our review model ran the 64-bit version of Windows 7 Home Premium.
The MSI X460DX managed a decent WorldBench 6 benchmark score of 120. Although that isn’t the best WorldBench 6 score we’ve seen, especially in the X460DX’s category of all-purpose laptops, it is a fairly high mark considering the price and weight of the machine. The Dell Latitude E6420 ATG, for instance, earned a WorldBench 6 score of 136, but it also costs about $3000. And the $1500 Dell XPS 15z reached a mark of 134–but at 5.6 pounds, it’s more than a pound heavier than the 4.3-pound X460DX.
Using its discrete GeForce GT 540M graphics card, the X460DX achieved okay scores in our graphics tests. In our Dirt 2 tests, the X460DX managed a respectable but not impressive frame rate of 40.1 frames per second (high quality settings, 1024-by-768-pixel resolution). Yes, it isn’t even close to a gamer’s dream portable (for that, check out the $2400 Maingear EX-L 15 gaming laptop, which ran at 121 fps in the same test), but the X460DX is fine for high-def video streaming and nongaming graphical tasks. In addition, the X460DX’s battery lasts for a reasonable amount of time, about 6 hours–unlike the EX-L 15, which lasts less than 3 hours.
The X460DX’s black, brushed-aluminum cover is appealing, but unfortunately it attracts lots of fingerprints. The brushed-aluminum look carries over to the wristrest, though the remainder of the interior sports shiny plastic with faux-chrome accents. Aside from the power button, two buttons–one for quickly switching between battery settings, and one for configuring the Function keys–sit above the keyboard. The chassis feels pretty sturdy overall, despite the fact that the laptop is slim and light at just 1 inch thick and 4.3 pounds.
On the X460DX you’ll find a nice selection of ports, including two USB 3.0 ports on the left edge. Alongside are HDMI- and VGA-out, an ethernet port, one USB 2.0 port, and headphone/microphone jacks. Multimedia ports include a two-in-one card reader, as well as a DVD burner. The ports are entirely located on the left and right sides of the computer–the X460DX has nothing in the front except for several blue status lights.
The input devices are fairly basic: usable, but nothing special. The matte-black Chiclet-style keyboard offers good feedback, though the keys are sometimes a little stiff. The nonbacklit keyboard also has some navigation keys, such as Page Up/Down, Home, and End. The touchpad, which is black and features a circular texture, is ever-so-slightly laggy–the pointer takes a moment to move after you’ve slid your finger–and cursor movement is not smooth. However, the touchpad does support multitouch gestures, such as two-finger scrolling and pinch-to-zoom. The large, faux-chrome rocker bar below the touchpad offers good feedback.
The X460DX’s glossy, 14-inch LCD screen is big and bright, and it has a native resolution of 1366 by 768 pixels. The display is attractive, with bold colors, crisp details, and few reflections, even in bright sunlight.
Multimedia playback is what you’d expect on a laptop with a discrete graphics card. HD video streaming is smooth, though artifacting, such as blocky patterns, occasionally appears in darker scenes. The speakers are also as expected for a notebook of this size–not loud enough, a little thin, and prone to tinny voices. This is definitely a laptop for headphones.
The MSI X460DX may not hold the title of “lightest” or “most powerful” or “longest battery life,” but it is certainly well rounded. It’s light enough to carry around daily, powerful enough to finish everything but the most resource-intensive tasks, and long-lived enough to last through a flight across the country. Plus, its design is forward-thinking with two USB 3.0 ports, and it costs well under $1000.