MSI EX620 series

Built for entertainment but is it a class act?

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MSI EX620 series
By  Jason Saundalkar Published  January 3, 2009

Ratings Breakdown

Editor's Rating:
  • Performance:
  • Features:
  • Value for money:
  • Overall:
Key Specs

Card reader: Y
Display adapter: AMD Mobility Radeon HD 3470
Display screen: 16-inch
Internal storage: 500GB
Memory: 3GB

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A focused product always provides a better overall user experience than one that is designed to do it all and MSI clearly understands this. The firm's notebook range includes a number of different line-ups, which comprise models targeting value buyers, entertainment enthusiasts, gamers and more. Our EX620 test sample comes from the Taiwanese firm's entertainment line, which the company says is designed to ‘enrich your digital multimedia life'. As it is then, it competes directly with HP's dv5-1050ee (also reviewed on ITP.net).

In terms of specs, the MSI has more under the hood starting with processing power; whereas the HP features a 2.2GHz dual-core AMD Turion X2, MSI's offering packs a Core 2 Duo 2.4GHz processor. And, while both notebooks feature a GPU from AMD's Radeon HD 3000 series, the MSI pulls ahead again, as it features a slightly more powerful Radeon HD 3470 to the HP's 3450. In terms of screen real estate too, the MSI gives you a 16-inch LCD screen, which is 0.6-inches larger than the screen offered by the HP dv5. Beyond these differences however, the MSI and HP are remarkably similar; both offer 3Gbytes of main memory, both feature a Blu-ray optical drive that can write to DVD media and both also allow you to output content to a HD screen via a HDMI output port.

Thanks to the MSI's quicker brain and more muscular GPU, it produced great numbers when we ran it through our app and game benchmark tests. Needless to say, we weren't surprised to find the EX620 cleaned up in all the processing and visual tests, though it must be said that the differences between the two weren't earth shattering. In fact, in the real world, you'd be hard pressed to tell the difference on a day-to-day basis.

On the usability front, the EX620 and dv5 are closely matched again though, as before, there are differentiating factors. The most noticeable comes in the form of the MSI's trackpad. While it is almost the same size as the one offered by the HP, the EX620 feels better to use because it doesn't make your finger stick. As a result, you can effortlessly glide your fingers across the tracking area with ease. The keyboard on the MSI is as good as the HPs and, from a visual perspective, the MSI, like the HP does no wrong. The LCD's colours are right on, viewing angles are good and the screen is bright and offers great contrast, so bright light won't spoil your viewing experience. The LCD's native resolution is slightly higher than the HP's screen and while this means that 720p HD content can be viewed in full glory, the MSI's resolution isn't high enough to deal with 1080p Full HD content.

The EX620 packs a 2.1 audio system into its frame and whilst this is good on paper, the results in real life were not exactly inspiring. The speakers work well at mid-level volumes but going to maximum, quality does take a hit and, sadly, the subwoofer isn't really adept when it comes to giving depth to the audio or generating bass that you can actually feel.

Aesthetically, the MSI is a handsome machine so picking between the two will solely depend on a person's preferences. Having said that, the EX620's body is far more resistant to retaining fingerprints so even after using the notebook for a few days, it didn't need a wipe down to look great.

For: Great value-for-money, strong performer whether you’re running apps or games, HDMI output, LCD screen is great for HD content and photos.

Against: Speakers and woofer aren’t that great.

Verdict:Though you’ll need to pay slightly more to take the MSI EX620 home, you get your money’s worth in terms of features and slightly better specs and performance.

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