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MSI X-Slim X340-043UK - 13.4in Laptop - MSI X-Slim X340-043UK
Internally, MSI serves up its usual generous feature set - you get Gigabit Ethernet, Draft-N Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.0. A 320GB hard drive isn't too shabby either and though we'd always like a little more, 2GB of DD2 RAM isn't a real cause for complaint. It's only the processor that's the sticking point, since it's only a single-core Intel Core 2 Solo SU3500.
This runs at 1.4GHz, though it is noticeably quicker than Intel's own Atom CPU, so you needn't fret there. What's disappointing, however, is that Acer is offering the Aspire Timeline 3810T, the 13.4in variant of the excellent 4810T we reviewed recently, with the dual-core version of the same CPU for only £700 - £60 less than this MSI. Not only that, you also get 4GB DDR3 RAM and though the 3810T isn't as thin or light as the 1.3kg X340, at 1.6kg it's no porker. We'd also wager the battery life should be superior, since it sports a larger capacity six-cell pack as standard.
This brings us nicely onto that exact topic. In our benchmarks we found the X340 performed moderately, but not outstandingly given its ultra-portable status. In the Productivity segment of MobileMark 2007 it managed three hours and 17 minutes, extending to three hours and 41 minutes in the lower intensity Reader test. Compare this to the Acer 4810T, which managed an incredible seven hours in Productivity and over eight in the Reader segment.
This gulf in performance is repeated in PCMark Vantage, where the 4810T holds an overall advantage of just under 65 per cent. This might not show itself during basic operation - application launching and basic responsiveness (even in Vista) is reasonably good - but just a few programs running simultaneously should highlight the difference, while CPU intensive tasks (i.e. image editing or video encoding) will clearly benefit from the extra core.
From a distance the X340 looks like a tempting proposition, but closer inspection quickly reveals several serious flaws. Its build quality and feel are lacklustre and simply don't justify the premium MSI clearly hopes to demand for its svelte new baby. This leaves a slightly overpriced and underperforming laptop that, while competent, lacks the spit and polish necessary to recommend it.