MSI X460 (X460-095AU) laptop

MSI X460 review: A 14in laptop with a quad-core, Core i7 CPU and a 120GB SSD

MSI X460 (X460-095AU)
  • MSI X460 (X460-095AU)
  • MSI X460 (X460-095AU)
  • MSI X460 (X460-095AU)
  • Expert Rating

    4.00 / 5

Pros

  • Quad-core Core i7 CPU
  • 120GB solid state drive
  • Respectable battery life

Cons

  • Gets quite warm when under load
  • Touchpad texture
  • Glossiness

Bottom Line

The MSI X460 is a 14in laptop that's aimed at power users. It has a high-end CPU, loads of RAM and includes both a regular hard drive and a 120GB SSD. With all this good stuff in its chassis, it only weighs around 2kg, so it's a very portable unit that's perfect for anyone who needs to cart a powerful machine to and from a job site or classroom.

Would you buy this?

Weighing in at just under 2kg and housing an Intel Core i7 CPU, the 14in — and relatively slimline — X460 from MSI is perfect for mobile users who don't want to sacrifice speed, and who don't want to pay more than $1600 to do so. It's a reasonably good looking laptop with decent features and it feels mostly comfortable to use. However, it is a glossy laptop and its touchpad has a texture that we found to be annoying.

It's what's on the inside that makes this 14in MSI a worthwhile contender for your cash: it has a 2.2GHz, Intel Core i7-2670QM quad-core CPU, 8GB of DDR3 SDRAM, a 120GB Intel solid state drive (SSDSA2CW120G3) and a 7200rpm, 500GB hard drive (WD5000BEKT-22KA9T0). This configuration makes the X460 feel very zippy during everyday use and it's definitely fast enough to be used for tough multimedia tasks. In our Blender 3D rendering and iTunes MP3 encoding tests, the laptop recorded 22sec and 46sec, respectively. In our DVD-to-Xvid transcoding test, it recorded 41min. These are good times for these tests and they scale well when compared to other notebooks that we've seen with quad-core Core i7 CPUs, such as the ASUS N55SF and HP Pavilion dv7-6013tx.

The graphics performance of the X460 isn't super-fast. It doesn't rely on a discrete NVIDIA or AMD adapter, but instead on the integrated Intel HD 3000 graphics of the Core i7 CPU. In 3DMark06, this solution still provided a decent score of 5155. This isn't far off what a laptop with an NVIDIA GeForce GT 520M adapter gets in the same benchmark, and it shows that the MSI X460 can handle some gaming duties as long as you use low or medium detail levels in some games.

In terms of size, the MSI X460 isn't as small as other 14in laptops we've seen recently, such as the Acer TravelMate 8481G and the Dell XPS 14z, both of which claim to have a 14in screen in the body of a laptop that usually has a 13in screen. But that's not to say the MSI is huge; it merely has half a centimetre of extra depth and width than those laptops, and it's a smidgin thicker at its rear. At around 2kg, it doesn't feel too heavy, but it does ship with a sizable power brick (130mm long, 56mm wide and 30mm thick).

If you use the X460 for taxing work such as file transcoding or video editing, its fan will kick in to extract all the warm air generated by the internal components. It can get quite loud as the air is pushed out through the fins of the heat sink and the vent on the left side. It's not often that you find a quad-core CPU in a 14in laptop so naturally you should expect it to become quite warm. Some heat can be felt through the palm rest near the keyboard, but the majority of the warmth will be felt on the left side near the vent where the heat sink and fan reside. Using this model on your lap when the laptop is running at full bore will be uncomfortable; we recommend keeping the unit on a hard, flat surface if you will be undertaking tasks that make heavy use of the CPU. You'll also want to make sure that nothing impedes the air vent.

During normal usage, such as when Web browsing and typing up documents, the notebook stayed only mildly warm and was not at all uncomfortable to rest on our lap. We did find the glossiness of the notebook a little distracting though, as light sources reflected not only off the screen but also off the bezel and either side of the keyboard. The screen itself has a native resolution of 1366x768 and its colour was a little too yellow when we compared it to a few other notebooks lying around, such as the XPS 14z.

The keyboard has chiclet-style keys and includes dedicated Page Up, Page Down, Home and End buttons on the right side. The keys provided good travel and response when we hit them. The touchpad isn't as good as it can be, mostly because it has an annoying circular texture. It was very responsive during our tests, but sometimes it was a little too responsive. Our the three-finger gesture to flick back and forth in a Web browser was sometimes misinterpreted as a two-finger tap to open a link in a new tab. That said, if you can get over the touchpad's texture, and get used to its responsiveness, it's not bad at all.

Features in the base of the X460 include a DVD burner, an SD card slot, three USB ports (two of them are USB 3.0), microphone and headphone ports, Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI, and VGA. A removable 65 Watt-hour battery sits in the spine of the laptop. In our rundown test, in which we disable power management, enable Wi-Fi (it has a 2.4GHz Intel Centrino Wireless-N 1030 adapter), maximise screen brightness and loop an Xvid-encoded video, the X460 lasted 3hr 35min. This is good endurance for a 14in laptop with a quad-core Core i7 CPU, and you can get a whole lot more out of it if you turn down the brightness and only perform basic Web browsing and word processing tasks.

All up, this is a great laptop to consider if you want plenty of speed and a mobile form factor at a good price point. It could use some changes to its aesthetics (we don't like the glossiness) and touchpad texture, but these are only minor quibbles. For around $1550, the MSI X460 offers a quad-core Core i7 CPU, a 120GB solid state drive in addition to a 500GB hard drive, 8GB of RAM and pretty good battery life. We think it's deserving of a Best Buy award.

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