MSI A6200 15.6in laptop

MSI A6200 review: A basic laptop for users who are on a budget

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MSI A6200
  • MSI A6200
  • MSI A6200
  • MSI A6200

Pros

  • Decent performance and battery life
  • HDMI
  • Large hard drive

Cons

  • Chassis a little creaky
  • Touchpad could be better

Bottom Line

The MSI A6200 offers decent performance and battery life in a sub-$600 package. It's a good everyday laptop for a home user or student, but for a little more money you could get yourself a better-performing Core i3-based model.

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MSI's A6200 is a 2.4kg, 15.6in laptop with a simple configuration and run-of-the-mill features. It's a budget model that's aimed at users who want to spend less than $600 on a computer that can be used for office tasks, Web browsing and even for managing music and video files.

Specifications and performance

The A6200 runs an Intel Pentium P6100 CPU, which has two cores and a frequency of 2GHz. While it was released in 2010, it's not as fast or as efficient as an Intel Core i3 CPU, but it's nevertheless competitive when performing office and multimedia tasks. This was shown in our Blender 3D rendering and iTunes MP3 encoding tests, in which it recorded 1min 39sec and 1min 23sec, respectively.

Its Blender score is around 40sec slower than a typical Core i3-based notebook at a similar price point, such as the Medion Akoya E6224 (MD 98630), and its iTunes time is only 7sec slower. This means it will be a little slow to perform taxing tasks, but not painfully slow. Its time to convert a DVD file into a 1.5GB Xvid file was 1hr 26min, which is only 13min slower than the Core i3-based Medion. Compared to other Pentium-based notebooks we've seen, such as the HP Pavilion G62, the MSI proved to be slightly faster overall.

In 3DMark06, the MSI's integrated Intel graphics recorded a score of 1747, which is faster than the HP's 1434. You can't use the MSI for gaming, but it's fine for viewing high-resolution photos and high-definition videos. You can even plug it in to your TV using HDMI to watch videos and view photos at Full HD as opposed to the screen's native 1366x768-resolution.

The rest of the A6200's configuration is solid: you get 4GB of DDR3 SDRAM and a 500GB hard drive. It's good for multitasking and it has plenty of space for photos and Internet downloads. You can add external hard drives via any of its three USB 2.0 ports, although the location of two of these ports at the back of the notebook is inconvenient. The rear of the notebook also has HDMI and VGA ports. You get a DVD burner on the right side, while the left side has a 10/100 Ethernet port, microphone and headphone ports, an SD card slot, and also an ExpressCard/34 expansion slot — it's rare to see this type of slot on a cheap laptop. You also get 802.11n Wi-Fi and a webcam.

Build quality and user comfort

The A6200's built quality isn't stellar, but for $599 that's hardly surprising. There is some movement along the edge between the top and bottom pieces of the chassis and this is noticeable when you rest your right hand on the palmrest. The hinges are a little too soft, but they are able to hold the screen in place without any problems. The keyboard is decent, but it does bounce a little as you type — after a while you get used to it. It comes with a number pad that has full-sized keys, but the right arrow key is located under the one key, which can be off-putting if you're used to hitting a proper number pad.

We're not fans of the touchpad, which sometimes felt very resistive in our tests and it also doesn't support gestures. Its left- and right-click buttons share the same button molding, which we don't like — if you press it too close to the middle, it will sometimes invoke the wrong button.

Like almost all cheap laptops we've seen recently, the MSI has a glossy screen that's very susceptible to reflections. Its vertical viewing angles also aren't great, and this can be annoying when watching videos. It has decent brightness and contrast though and it's fine for viewing photos and doing office work — as long as you angle it so that lights don't reflect off it.

Battery life

A 6-cell battery sits in the spine of the A6200 and it performed almost as expected in our rundown test, in which we disable power management, enable Wi-Fi, maximise brightness and loop an Xvid-encoded video. It recorded a time of 2hr 25min in this test, which is only 1min off the 2hr 26min that the HP Pavilion G62 recorded in the same test. However, the G62 uses a slightly faster CPU. You can get more battery life out of the MSI if you dim the screen and perform tasks that don't require too much CPU time (such as Word processing and basic Web browsing).

Conclusion

While the A6200 doesn't make use of Intel's Second Generation Core (Sandy Bridge) CPUs, its Pentium P6100 is still a decent processor and it will handle basic tasks without being sluggish. That said, you should only consider buying this laptop if you are on a strict budget and can't afford a Sandy Bridge-based model. Otherwise a Core i3-based Sandy Bridge model is preferred as it will give you better performance and battery life.

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