MSI manufactures everything from individual computer chips to full laptops and the CX640-018UK is a prime example of excellent components combining to form a great all round machine. Only a slight usability issue detracts from an excellent experience.

Intel's Sandy Bridge appears in the form of the Intel Core i5 2410M and provides excellent performance, as with the Dell Inspiron 15R and Lenovo G570. In fact, the MSI was only narrowly beaten by the Lenovo in our benchmarking tests, and this laptop can easily handle everything you throw at it.

Even when multi-tasking with several applications, there's no slowdown. A dedicated Nvidia GT 540M graphics card handles photo and video editing, and you can play the latest games if you turn down the graphical detail.

Benchmarks

Battery life: 333 minutes
MobileMark 2007: 255
3DMark 2003: 13,143

Only the Acer and Sony provide better multimedia performance. If you're doing more basic work, such as browsing the web, the graphics card shuts itself down to preserve battery power.

The resulting battery life is excellent, stretching to five and a half hours. If you want a laptop for the daily commute or to take on trips, this is a great option. The 2.6kg solid chassis is a little bulky, but still fits into most large bags.

MSI cx640

Like most modern laptops, the MSI's keyboard has an isolation-style design with keys protruding through individual holes cut into the laptop's chassis. Each key is well spaced from its neighbours, so you're unlikely to hit the wrong key when typing, although the arrow keys are tiny. A strange, blocky font has been used to label the keys, and they prove resistant when pushed, giving it a slightly rough look and feel.

Excellent touchpad

The touchpad is a lot better, with a subtle texture to the surface. A firm metallic bar is used for the mouse buttons, and multitouch gesturing is supported. As ever, we'd recommend trying out the laptop in a store if possible to check the keyboard and touchpad suit you.

With 500GB of storage, you'll have plenty of space for your files, software and media collection.

Movies look good on the colourful 15.6-inch screen, and the built-in SRS speakers are surprisingly powerful, although quality suffers at high volume levels. Features are rounded off by the USB 3.0 ports, which provide speedy data transfer with compatible peripherals.

Aside from a keyboard that lacks the quality we'd like to see, the CX640 has no significant downsides. The combination of excellent performance, long battery life, vibrant screen and solid build makes this a fantastic all-round laptop that will suit a variety of tastes and users. Most importantly, it will handle anything you care to throw at it.

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