The sweet taste of AM2, in the form of an ultraportable powerhouse.
MSI gave us an early look at one of the very first AM2-based notebooks in Australia. We were instantly impressed with the build quality, size and styling. The stylish, matte black chassis is solidly built and weighs only 2.2kg. It might look thick at 40mm, but the protruding battery at the back raises the rear off the ground and it tapers down to 25mm at the front. In short, it looks very portable and the 12.1in screen perfectly crosses the divide between ultraportable and regularly usable.
Ergonomically, it fits the bill. The keyboard is crisp, if a little stiff, and the mouse pad is accurate although the buttons are too small and over-designed. The screen is bright and well lit, with a 1280 x 800 resolution which displays a clean and crisp desktop. The glossy coating enriches colours and makes watching films a treat, though you'd want to use headphones instead of the incredibly tinny speakers.
But it's the innards we're interested in. Our model used the lowest end TL-50 processor which runs at 1.6GHz, with each core using just 256KB cache. Despite this low spec, a score of 0.84 in our benchmarks is impressive - just 16 percent behind our fast desktop reference system. Battery life was modest rather than revolutionary. Three and a half hours under light use isn't particularly special, especially considering the size of the battery. One-and-a-half hours under intensive usage is mediocre too.
It uses ATI's Radeon Xpress 200 chipset with integrated graphics, which isn't quite enough to run games without drastically reducing details and resolutions. Other features impressively include a 60GB hard disk, 802.11g WLAN; BlueTooth and a dual-layer DVD-RAM writer.
The fact it's a pre-production model may explain the battery life, and it's important to remember the first Core Duo notebooks weren't great either. Looking beyond the performance, however, is the impressive price. You'll be able to pick up the full production version for well under $2000 which is outstanding for an ultraportable notebook with such a spec. We'll be keeping our eyes on this MegaBook.
This Review appeared in the July, 2006 issue of PC & Tech Authority Magazine