The MSI CR630 is from MSI's Classic range of laptops and, while it's cheaper than the other similarly priced laptops, it lacks the power and portability to compete.

An AMD 2.1GHz Athlon II P320 chip provides the processing power here and, while there's 4096MB of DDR3 memory, initial benchmarking results weren't encouraging. Further testing proved that, while not as bad as originally thought, performance is on the basic side, and similar to that of the Medion Akoya P6512.

Everyday performance

You'll be able to run everyday office applications concurrently, but just not as smoothly or fast as the likes of the Packard Bell EasyNote TM98 or Fujitsu LifeBook AH530, for example - both of which feature Intel chips.

Like many other laptops, an integrated ATI Radeon HD 4270 graphics card makes this laptop unsuited to anything but the lightest of multimedia use. You will easily be able to carry out some light photo editing on your holiday snaps, however.

There's an integrated optical drive for watching and burning DVDs, although the 320GB hard drive could be better, with the HP Pavilion dv6-3040sa and others offering far more storage.

When power is sacrificed, portability usually benefits, as powerful components quickly suck the life from a battery. However, this laptop provides a poor 176 minutes of life, making it one of the least suited to travel.

At 2.5kg, it's not the lightest machine either. Those after portability should check out the Dell Inspiron M101z.

The laptop's 15.6-inch screen is good enough for everyday use, but we thought that colours lacked some vibrancy, meaning those who regularly watch DVDs or browse their photos might want to check out the Medion Akoya P6512 instead.

The firmly built chassis makes this a durable option, but the shiny plastics quickly attract smears and smudges. The weave pattern implemented is inoffensive.

We were very impressed by the laptop's keyboard. There's a little bit of sponginess, but generally we enjoyed using the isolated-style keys, which are spread just the right distance from each other, and this is a laptop that you can type comfortably and fluidly on for many hours.

MSI cr630

An ExpressCard slot is included, which is rare for this price, but unfortunately there are only two USB ports. Both are positioned rather inconveniently at the rear of the chassis, which makes quickly attaching peripherals a bit of a pain.

The MSI CR630 failed to win us over due to its poor performance and limited portability. Usability is better, however, and those on a budget who type regularly will enjoy using the keyboard.

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