Core Intelligence is a new company to What Laptop and the M660 (£375 inc. VAT) is a standard budget laptop that offers a reasonable specification for an entry-level asking price.

The chassis is slim and light and weighs a semi-portable 2.8kg. The lid has a magnesium-alloy coating, but the body of the machine is made from plastic. We found it tough and more than sturdy enough for everyday use.

Basic graphics

The screen is a 15.4-inch Super-TFT panel that we found bright and easy to read. With an even tone and broad brightness spectrum, we even found it bright enough to use when on the move.

Graphics are provided by the integrated VIA Chrome9 HC2 IGP GPU, which is rather old and reaching the end of its lifespan.

This was reflected in 3DMark testing, with this system scoring a third of what we would expect from a current integrated solution. While it's fine for accessing the internet and watching DVDs, it won't handle anything demanding.

Even less impressive is the keyboard, which is on the small side and tends to rattle as you type. The keys are of a good size, but with little movement in them as you type, it's not the most comfortable of keyboards. The touchpad and mouse buttons are small, but proved accurate.

Budget spec

At this price, don't expect anything other than a basic specification. Powered by an Intel 1.73GHz Core 2 Duo T2370 and backed by 1024MB of memory, we found that it loaded and ran Windows XP Home, which it ships with, quickly.

As long as your needs are basic, this machine is more than satisfactory. The 120GB hard drive isn't exactly generous, but it will allow you to store plenty of media files.

When it came to testing, the M660 didn't fare too well in MobileMark 2007, scoring a mere 68 points, which is largely due to the use of an older processor and chipset.

Battery life proved better than we were expecting from such a budget machine, with the M660 lasting for 161 minutes, under test.

Minimal extras

You'll find extras are kept to a minimum, such as three USB ports but no Firewire. However, there is a webcam and you'll also be able to share files with your digital camera using the built-in card reader.

The optical drive is a DVD rewriter, which was rather slow to access discs, and you'll need to add your own burning software as none is supplied with the machine.

The Core Intelligence M660 isn't going to win any awards for style or originality, but as a cost-effective laptop there is a lot here to recommend.

True, the keyboard isn't as robust as we would've liked, but for a budget machine we found performance and battery life acceptable.