Hands on: MSI X-Slim X320 review

MSI's new thin and light is clearly designed to ape the MacBook Air. But is it much cop? The short answer is 'yes', and there's certainly no denying this 13-inch widescreen model looks impressive.

However it is, essentially, a netbook and so a quick function vs. looks comparison will only disappoint.

In terms of build, aluminium is used heavily throughout, although the unit feels more plasticky than you'd imagine. It's also a bit too light, weighing in at a shade under 1.3Kg, which is just a bit less than the MacBook Air. Dimensions-wise, the unit is a space-friendly sub-2cm thick.

Unfortunately, the trackpad is small and the mouse buttons feel tacky, although the keyboard is nicely sized. The lid also seemed quite loose and shut too easily at a certain angles. The magnetised lid closer was strong though, and it needed a good pull to force it apart.

The feel might not quite match the looks, but we shouldn't judge too harshly, especially considering it was an early sample we played with.

Can the specs live up to the looks?

The X320 isn't an Air-a-like in its feature set. Three USB ports as well as VGA and Ethernet mean it's a thoroughly usable PC. There's also an SD slot in addition the complement of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.

Other specs? The hard drive holds 160GB, but you can get more space if you want it. Unlike the powerfully processed Air, MSI has decided to equip the X320 with Intel's 1.33 GHz Atom Z520 and Windows Vista Home Basic. The Z520 means the machine is using Intel's Silverthorne platform complete with Intel GMA graphics.

The X320 is ultimately disappointing then – it's a netbook, not a laptop. Mind you Sony is at it as well with its P series. It seems we might see some models of the X320 clock in at a $800 price point, with top-end versions running to $1,000. The Sony is currently slated to cost around $900.


Dan (Twitter, Google+) is TechRadar's Former Deputy Editor and is now in charge at our sister site T3.com. Covering all things computing, internet and mobile he's a seasoned regular at major tech shows such as CES, IFA and Mobile World Congress. Dan has also been a tech expert for many outlets including BBC Radio 4, 5Live and the World Service, The Sun and ITV News.