A look inside the MSI Wind

Taking apart an excellent ultraportable

  • At 10in, the MSI Wind is perhaps the perfect low-cost ultraportable laptop on the market. It possesses good speed for Web browsing and office applications and plenty of storage, and it's very comfortable to use. Because we're naturally curious about the way these types of laptops are put together, we opened the Wind and took a peek inside. The biggest surprise was the 2.5in SATA hard drive, which takes up the majority of the space.
    This is what the MSI Wind looks like after the bottom part of the shell is removed. It's held together by nine screws and it comes off fairly easily if a thin flat-head screwdriver is used to prise apart the clips that hold the top and bottom parts of the shell in place.

  • Located near the Atom CPU is the extraction fan, whose vent is located on the left-hand side of the laptop.

  • The biggest and heaviest single component inside the Wind is the 2.5in Serial ATA hard drive. That's right, no-solid state storage device for the Wind. The upside is the large capacity that it offers. The installed drive is 80GB in size and is located right near the wireless module on the right-hand side of the laptop. After both components have been in use for a while, you do notice some heat on this side of the laptop. We would've liked to have seen an iPod-sized (1.8in) drive, which would offer the same capacity, but also weigh less, run cooler, and possibly improve battery life further.

  • The Wind's keyboard is bigger than the Eee PC's, but it has smaller keys than HP's Mini-Note PC. It's very comfortable to type on.

  • A Realtek 802.11b/g networking module is installed, and you can see its two antenna cables snaking up towards the screen.

  • Lastly, here are the Wind's stereo speakers, which are located at the corners. They aren't very good, so plug in some bigger speakers or a pair of headphones for pleasurable listening.

  • One thing we didn't count on was the keyboard connector being so fiddly. After hastily removing the keyboard cable, it took us the best part of an hour to figure out how to re-connect the bloody thing.

  • Hiding under the thin cooling shield is the Intel 945G Northbridge chipset, which contains the Intel GMA950 graphics controller, as well as the memory controller.

  • In the same vicinity as the hard drive and wireless module on the right-hand side of the laptop is the SD memory card reader. Just above it are the audio ports and below it is one USB port.

  • This is what the inside of the bottom shell looks like once it has been removed. As you can see, it's one piece and there aren't any access panels. If you want to upgrade the RAM or hard drive, you must remove the whole bottom shell.

  • The Southbridge chipset is uncovered, and it's Intel's I/O Controller Hub version 7 (ICH7). It provides the audio functionality, and also controls the flow of data to and from the USB ports and the hard drive. The unit's 10/100 Ethernet port is controlled by a Realtek chip.

  • Like the Northbridge, the 1.6GHz Intel Atom CPU is also hidden under the aluminium cooling shield. It's located in the area that we've highlighted.

  • Unlike the Eee PC, the keyboard doesn't have to be removed in order for the bottom shell to come off, as there aren't any screws holding it in place form the top.

  • Here's the connector for the touchpad. It's protected by some clear tape.

  • You might be surprised to find the SO-DIMM memory slot empty when you open the Wind, but fear not, for it has 1GB worth of Samsung memory chips soldered directly onto the motherboard. They are located under the aluminium sheet just above the empty slot.

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