MSI Launches X-Slim Series X460, X460DX Notebooks
PC makers have long since began to attempt to match, or even exceed, the Apple MacBook Air's incredibly thin profile (even thinner now, after that recent refresh), with varying degrees of success. One of the first companies to release one of these Air “clones” was MSI, and the company has officially launched a few new models into its X-Slim line – the X460 and X460DX, sporting 14” screens and new hardware, although they don't seem to be quite as thin as some of the earlier models, at least partly as a result of the built-in optical drive.
The chassis is just one inch thick at its thickest point, and the whole thing measures 13.35 x 9.43” (W x L inches) with a weight of 4.3lbs. The palmrests and the lid are both made of brushed aluminium with most of the other surfaces composed of either glossy or matte plastic. While not completely gone, it's good to see that the glossy plastic-on-every-square-millimeter-of-your-laptop trend is on its way out.
The base model X460DX-008US is priced at around $799.99 and includes an Intel Core i3-2310M processor, 4GB of DDR3 memory, a 500GB 7200rpm hard drive, an NVIDIA GeForce GT 540M graphics chip (with its own gig of DDR3 RAM), and Windows 7 Home Premium. An extra $100 gets you the X460DX-006US model, which brings a Core i5-2410M CPU in to replace the i3 and an extra 2GB of RAM for a grand total of 6GB.
Unfortunately, there does not seem to be an SSD option, which would make a lot of sense for these thin ultraportables. Regardless, MSI promises eight hours of battery life, which should be good enough for a lot of people, and of course, with an SSD in place, the price would be quite a bit higher.
Anyway, that aforementioned 14” display sports a 1366x768-pixel resolution and a glossy finish, while the keyboard is done up in that chiclet spaced-out style that a lot of people like. There is 802.11n WiFi, a Gigabit ethernet port, Intel WiDi 2.0 support (for wirelessly connecting your laptop to a supported TV), two USB 3.0 ports, and one USB 2.0 port rounding out the bulk of the connectivity options.
Oh, there's also a 1.3-megapixel webcam, a card reader capable of reading SDXC and MMC cards, and THX TruStudio Pro audio. I don't think I've seen any laptop (besides the Macs) with SDXC slots yet, so this is a pretty welcome addition.
Now we get to the “vanilla” X460-004US model, the specs of which may cause a few people to scratch their heads. $1199.99 gets you a very capable Intel Core i7-2630QM quad-core processor (compared to those dual-Core i3 and i5 models), but you'll have to say goodbye to the GeForce card for the privilege, and deal with the processor's integrated (read: much slower) Intel HD 3000 graphics. You also get a 750GB, 7200rpm hard disk, 6GB of RAM, and Windows 7 Professional. All of the other specifications are the same as the lesser models.
It seems like this particular model is aimed more toward business customers, and could be an alternative to the Dell Vostro V131, which while even thinner, has a smaller screen, no built-in optical drive, and no quad-core CPU option.
All three of the X460 variants are currently available at certain online retailers like Amazon here. A little something to add – it looks like hardware upgrades will be pretty easy to do, as there seems to be one massive upgrade panel on the bottom that can be removed to access the RAM, hard disk and a few other components. A lot of notebooks don't allow such easy upgrading possibilities (I'm looking at you, Dell) so it's good to see.