MSI enjoyed a successful year in 2010 producing a succession of impressive machines that ranged from excellent netbooks to high-end gaming kit. The CX623-258UK comes from the manufacturer's classic range and, despite a few design quirks, makes a competitive choice for the whole family.

The screen is one of the best we have seen around this price and is on a par with the Dell Inspiron 15R. Brightness is exceptional, as is colour reproduction, but it's the contrast and deep black levels that really impress. As a result, this laptop would certainly suit those for whom viewing videos and photos is a priority, as it makes them look great.

The keyboard is very spacious and uses isolation-style keys. The keys are also large and, therefore, hard to miss-hit, but the board is quite spongy, giving a slightly rattly feel to proceedings. Ultimately, however, we found the laptop very comfortable to type on for long periods.

Irritating touchpad

Unfortunately, the touchpad is very easy to brush when typing, meaning you're likely to spend a lot of time rearranging bits of text which you've inadvertently launched across the page. This is a big flaw and quickly becomes hugely infuriating.

Despite the flexible keyboard, the laptop is very well put together, featuring tough plastics. However, some potential purchasers may be put off by the unusual paint scheme used.

MSI cx623

Another strange design choice is to place the majority of ports at the back of the laptop's chassis, making attaching peripherals, for example, a bit fiddly at times.

Internally, an Intel Core i3 380M processor and 4096MB of memory provide average performance, judging by the benchmarking scores, but in reality we found the laptop to perform well, running everyday applications, such as email clients, with little issue.

Benchmarks

Battery life: 246 minutes
MobileMark 2007: 116
3D Mark 2003: 8911

However, if you're after the most for your money in terms of performance, you would do better considering the Dell Inspiron 15R.

Graphically the laptop is surprisingly powerful, thanks to its Nvidia GeForce 310M chip, and those wanting to edit their holiday videos and photos with high-end software will be well served here. The laptop will struggle to run the latest games, however.

The 640GB hard drive is exceptionally generous for the price, and will take the average user many years to fill, saving you from having to constantly move your excess data to an external drive to free up space. A standard CD and DVD rewriter is also in place for creating your own discs.

A few design quirks aside, we were quite impressed by the CX623-258UK. It may not be the most comprehensive option here, but it is certainly worth your consideration at this price.

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