The MSI GX610-008UK is a rare example of an AMD-powered laptop in an Intel world.

Browse through some of the top buys in a high-street store such as PC World, and you'll probably see a fair few desktop machines running AMD processors. Switch to the laptops section, however, and the picture looks remarkably different - almost every notebook sports an Intel chip.

While AMD has managed to get some success (even if it is fading) in the desktop PC scene, it's still largely left out by laptop makers.

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The Better By Design program launched over a year ago set out to change all that - and the MSI GX610-008UK is one such example that AMD is hoping will tempt you away from Centrino. With Centrino, manufactures are limited to Intel chipsets and wireless cards, Better By Design, however, offers greater choice, featuring wireless chips from different vendors, for example.

According to AMD this results in better performance, although the MSI GX610-008UK largely failed to showcase any great advances over Centrino.

The MSI GX610-008UK's 1.9GHz Turion 64X2 TL-58 chip and 2GB of RAM manages a respectable WorldBench 6 real-world speed score of 62, but it's certainly nothing to get excited about.

Graphics performance from the ATI HD2600 chip with 256MB of DDR3 RAM is pretty impressive, though, managing to achieve 27 frames per second (fps) in our FEAR test. The MSI GX610-008UK's battery performance was also decent at 146 minutes, but not exactly earth shattering.

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The MSI GX610-008UK is a rare example of an AMD-powered laptop in an Intel world.

The MSI GX610-008UK's 15.4in 1,280x800 screen is almost standard issue for a laptop these days and, although you'll find an HDMI (high definition multimedia interface) port so you can hook it up to an HD telly, there's no HD optical drive to match.

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Despite it being only a 15.4in model, MSI has tried to squeeze in a numeric keypad to the right of the MSI GX610-008UK's keyboard - which would be fine except it makes the main typing area too cramped. The > and ? keys, for example, are half the width of normal letters.

The MSI GX610-008UK's also unlikely to win any beauty pageants with its lacklustre looks.

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MSI GX610-008UK: Specs

  • AMD Turion 64 X2 TL56 1.8GHz 1M L2 Cache
  • ATI RX690 +SB 600
  • 2GB DDR2 533/667 RAM
  • Windows Vista Home Premium
  • 120GB SATA 5,400rpm hard drive
  • ATi HD2600 graphics processor, 256MB DDR3 VRAM
  • built-in Gigabit Ethernet LAN and Modem Module, built-in 802.11b/g WLAN Card/optional Bluetooth
  • 15.4 WSXGA+/WXGA ACV display
  • DVD Super Multi/HD DVD drive
  • Li-Ion battery
  • 4x USB 2.0
  • PCI Express Card
  • HDMI
  • S-Video
  • 1.3Mp webcam
  • 5-in-1 Card Reader, XD/SD/MMC/MS/MS Pro
  • 358x259x27mm
  • 2.6kg
  • AMD Turion 64 X2 TL56 1.8GHz 1M L2 Cache
  • ATI RX690 +SB 600
  • 2GB DDR2 533/667 RAM
  • Windows Vista Home Premium
  • 120GB SATA 5,400rpm hard drive
  • ATi HD2600 graphics processor, 256MB DDR3 VRAM
  • built-in Gigabit Ethernet LAN and Modem Module, built-in 802.11b/g WLAN Card/optional Bluetooth
  • 15.4 WSXGA+/WXGA ACV display
  • DVD Super Multi/HD DVD drive
  • Li-Ion battery
  • 4x USB 2.0
  • PCI Express Card
  • HDMI
  • S-Video
  • 1.3Mp webcam
  • 5-in-1 Card Reader, XD/SD/MMC/MS/MS Pro
  • 358x259x27mm
  • 2.6kg

OUR VERDICT

The MSI GX610-008UK's asking price of £679 is pretty low, so if you're a gamer on a budget then it may just suffice, but in most other areas its performance is adequate rather than exemplary. The keyboard is also very cramped to use and it would be much better if the space dedicated to the numeric keypad was redistributed to the main keyboard.

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