The MSI X430 is a shrinked down version of the MSI X600 we reviewed earlier. The X430 has a glossy white screen lid with the MSI logo emblazoned at its centre; prop it open to see the all-white colour scheme continue on to the keyboard, palmrest, touchpad, et al.
There's a nice textured finish along the palmrest of the MSI X430, and on the screen bezel, that tries very hard to elevate it to the billing of a stylish, premium laptop - but can't with its all-plastic exterior and dull white colour. The MSI X430's build quality is acceptable, despite being slim. In terms of build and design, the only thing going for the X430 is its slim form factor and light weight - it weighs about 1.6kg.
The MSI X430 comes with a 14-inch LED backlit screen which supports a 1366x768 pixel resolution and a 16:9 aspect ratio - which is good for watching high-defintion multimedia content. Its innards are slightly better than most average netbooks found in the market these days.
It comes with an AMD Athlon Neo MV-40 1.6GHz processor, 1GB DDR2 RAM, and a 320GB hard drive. However, compared to the Wind12 U210 netbook, the X430 bundles in a better graphics card - the ATI Radeon HD 3200. It comes with only two USB ports, no DVD writer or Gigabit Ethernet, but bundles in Wi-Fi 802.11n and Bluetooth connectivity.
Apart from the standard connectivity ports, the MSI X430 also integrates an HDMI-out port which comes in handy to connect the laptop to an LCD TV or projector. MSI also bundles in an elegant carry case for the X430. MSI bundles in Windows 7 Starter with the X430 laptop. To be honest, the MSI X430 doesn't have a lot going for it in terms of hardware - it is predominantly indicative of a netbook with a better graphics adaptor.
Its performance was largely similar to the recently reviewed Dell Vostro V13 ultraportable. In our synthetic benchmarks, the MSI X430's WorldBench 6, PC Mark 05, and 3D Mark 06 scores were way better than any netbook we've reviewed - but still lower than the Intel Core 2 Solo-based Acer Aspire Timeline 3810T slim laptop.
We were able to multitask on the MSI X430 with up to three programs - any more and the laptop struggled to cope with the demand. Working on the de-stress, tightly-knit keyboard was comfortable, and we liked the ample palmrest and sufficiently large touchpad of the X430. One little gripe - the touchpad's mouse button comprises of a single strip, and it isn't the best to work with. Watching movies on the 14-inch glossy screen was good, however the audio (from speakers placed under the MSI X430's front lip) was tinny - you'll need to plug in either a pair of headphones or external speakers to bring it up to par.
The MSI X430 couldn't quite play 720p HD videos: our test files had audio and video in tandem but at a slower pace than normal - indicative of a hardware bottleneck. However, ordinary DVD video played just fine. Its 4-cell battery lasted under 2 hours in our battery tests, at full screen brightness and high performance preset. Expect between 3 to 4 hours on a single charge while browsing the net over Wi-Fi.
At a similar price point, the MSI X430 neither has the premium build and looks of the Dell Vostro V13, nor the feature set or performance of the Acer Aspire 3810T.
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