MSI’s CR650 suffers from one major drawback in the shape of an underpowered AMD processor. The dual-core 1.6GHz E350 just doesn’t have enough grunt to keep the MSI’s performance on a par with many of the other laptops in the group and looks particularly slow in comparison to the latest Intel Core i3 and i5 processors.

A WorldBench 6 score of 54 isn’t disastrous, but with the newer AMD processors scoring around 80 and the Packard Bell’s i5 chip hitting 118 – well over double that of the CR650 – the MSI is a bit of a slouch. Gaming performance isn’t much to speak of, with the integrated AMD Radeon HD 6310 chip unable to cope with the rigours of FEAR. To top it off the glossy screen is unimpressive, with the 1366 x 768 resolution seemingly not sharp enough for the 15.6in screen.

Sound quality is better than most, however, and the keyboard is mostly fine, though the Return key is an unusual shape, making it easy to hit the Hash key by mistake. A numeric keypad is present and we’re rather fond of the textured touchpad – though it feels odd at first, you soon get used to it and it makes it very easy to tell if you have your finger in the right place without having to take your eyes off the screen.

Other specifications are solid without being outstanding – there’s a 500GB hard drive, a dual-layer DVD writer, three USB 2.0 ports, a webcam and HDMI and VGA ports and an SD Card reader, but the MSI just doesn’t have the feature set or build quality to match up to the opposition in this category, unfortunately. This makes the price tag of £430 even more difficult to swallow, as there are several models offering more for less.

MSI CR650: Specs

  • 1.6GHz AMD E350 dual-core
  • 15.6in glossy LED backlit
  • 1366 x 768 screen
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
  • GBDDR3-1333MHz
  • 500GB HDD 5400rpm
  • Integrated AMD Radeon HD 6310M
  • VGA, HDMI
  • stereo speakers, headphone jack,mic input
  • 3 x USB 2.0
  • DVD±RW DL/RAM
  • 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1
  • SD/SDHC/MS
  • 48Wh, lithium-ion removable battery 342 minutes
  • 383 x 250 x 38mm, 2.3kg
  • 1.6GHz AMD E350 dual-core
  • 15.6in glossy LED backlit
  • 1366 x 768 screen
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
  • GBDDR3-1333MHz
  • 500GB HDD 5400rpm
  • Integrated AMD Radeon HD 6310M
  • VGA, HDMI
  • stereo speakers, headphone jack,mic input
  • 3 x USB 2.0
  • DVD±RW DL/RAM
  • 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1
  • SD/SDHC/MS
  • 48Wh, lithium-ion removable battery 342 minutes
  • 383 x 250 x 38mm, 2.3kg

OUR VERDICT

Outdated, underpowered processor aside, there is little to recommend the MSI CR650. It feels flimsy and the glossy finish is prone to picking up fingerprints, though we must admit that the lid does a very solid job of protecting the screen, with no marks showing no matter how hard you press. The audio quality, keyboard and touchpad are reasonable, but the other contenders simply have more to offer. The screen is a particular letdown, and considering that’s the component you’re going to spend most of your time staring at, we’d advise you to look elsewhere.

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