Good looks and display, poor overall
Very poor across the board
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MSI is perhaps best known in the UK for its motherboards. However, the company also make graphics cards, TV tuners, MP3 players, routers, wireless access points and just about everything else you could imagine - including notebooks like the MegaBook S425.
So why isn't MSI a bigger name? There's no clue from the MegaBook itself: the black case, white and silver logo and relatively lightweight (2.4kg) design make it all look very attractive.
Turn the S425 on and you'll be impressed by the bright, clear 14-inch screen. It's powered by a GeForce Go G200 chipset, which gets you as close to gameplaying capability as you have any right to expect for this price.
That's not too close, actually, but you should be able to install most modern games and might occasionally get a barely acceptable 20-odd frames per second if you turn the quality settings down. All this seems very desirable, until you explore further. Then the problems start to appear.
The S425 doesn't have the most powerful of specifications. There's a feeble Dothan CPU (the second slowest here), a very slow hard drive that's only 60GB and only 512MB of RAM. Somehow it still fared acceptably in MobileMark, returning a score of 191, but we still wouldn't rate it performance-wise.
It also has an unresponsive trackpad which required tweaks to the default settings to get it close to acceptable. Even then, the buttons proved annoying: they're too small, difficult to distinguish by feel alone, and right up against the edge of the notebook, making every click a little fiddly.
There are plus points such as Bluetooth, a bundled 'glass' mouse and an extensive range of Cyberlink DVD and video software. Yet they always seem to be outweighed by the problems, such as the inclusion of a combo drive (reads, but doesn't write DVDs). Even the £699 price tag isn't an excuse, because HiGrade delivers a better system for £100 less. You're better off looking elsewhere. Mike Williams
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