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MSI's Turion 64 X2 dual core reviewed

First INQpression MSI mega book 271 at full load
Tue Jul 18 2006, 15:36
WE HAD a chance to play with one of the first Turion 64 dual core notebooks. The MSI 271 notebook is one of the very first 64 bit CPU with dual core capability out there. I don't know why would you like to install 64 bit Windows on it but you can if you want to.

MSI is well known for its motherboards and graphic cards and for some time it has made really nice notebooks as well. It has a huge line of Intel based notebook and now it wants to grab some of the AMD supporters too.

This early bird uses the Turion 64 X2 TL 52 CPU codenamed Taylor that runs at a maximum 1600 MHz and uses 0.8V. In using it, it dropped to 800 MHz as well. It uses a dual core CPU manufactured at 90 nanometre marchitecture and packed into a micro PGA 638 pin S1g1 mobile socket. The CPU has 512K of L2 cache and supports MMX+, 3Dnow!+, SSE, SSE2, SSE3 and of course X86-64. The FSB/HT works at 200MHz and the multiplier at maximum speed is set at eight. Cool'n'quiet marchitecture can lower it to four to save some energy when you don't need that much power. It is a 12-inch screen notebook and weighs 1.9KG.

This is probably one of the first AMD notebooks to support DDR 2 memory as well. The test model had just 512MB but it worked surprisingly well in our multitasking environment. I actually wrote a MSI P610 and MSI Megabook 271 reviews on the laptop and didn't see any problems with it. I would still recommend 1024MB of memory to be on the safe side, but as I write I have three browsers, two word documents, Acrobat Reader, Explorer, messenger and CPU-Z turned on.

The PC 5300, Transcend DDR 2 667 memory worked at 5-4-4-15 timing at 1T command mode at 159.6 MHz. The notebook used ATI RS485 mobile north bridge with integrated graphic and a SB460 south bridge that did the job. Many people know this chipset as Xpress 200. The eight cell battery has 4400 mAh capacity can last a little bit less than three hours. The test machine had Slimtype SOSW 8525 8X DVD multi recorder and Toshiba 60 GB hard drive spinning at 4200 RPM.

You can plug up to 120GB hard drive in there and up to 2GB memory and those are upgrades you might want to make at some point.

The notebook has an ATI integrated graphic card, you can not really play many games on it but you will at least have a decent picture. The display is 12.1-inch WXGA (glare type) and supports a native resolution of 1280x800. It is a 19:9 wide screen format factor notebook and the keyboard is just wide enough even for people with fat fingers. ATI calls its integrated graphic Radeon Xpress 1150. The integrated graphics can address 64, 128 or 256MB of the system memory.

The machine has a Realtek Wlan card that supports 802.11 a/b/g, Bluetooth that worked really well with my Nokia E61 mobile phone and a realtek HD audio device as well. It played the music just fine. The Wireless LAN didn't have any problems working in our office network even though we keep reminding ourself that we have to get rid of the first generation barely wap 128 capable 802.11b router. We were able to connect and stay connected just fine. Realtek interface is a bit difference from the usual Centrino one but you get used to it. Bluetooth works really nice and you can run the Wlan and Bluetooth together. If you don't need them there is a hardware button to turn them off and save some battery ;ofe. The machine also has a 10/100/ gigabit Realtek card and a modem. alt='m271a'
The right hand side hides an AC adaptor port, VGA out, a fan that blows the not so hot air out, LAN port, Modem port and two USB 2.0 ports. The front side has headphones and microphone ports and a small Firewire port. The left hand side hides a small MMC/SD/MS card reader. There is also a PC card slot, a single USB 2.0 slot and a DVD.

The keyboard is really easy to use. Windows key is between control and alt just were it is suppose to be. FN key can turn your small keyboard in numerical keyboard if you need it and you can also switch a display with a FN + key combination, you can set the brightness and turn the music up or down or even mute it. The enter and backspace keys are small but you get used to that. The touchpad is really nice and easy to use, not too sensitive, and the two mouse keys are integrated in the machine. You also have some indication LED keys as numerical key on / of led, caps lock, scroll lock, HDD, AC power on, battery status and Wlan / Bluetooth indicator. It takes about a minute and a half to have the machine booted and completely operational. The battery in heavy multitasking, with 10+ application running and Bluetooth and Wlan turned on can hold almost exactly three hours. You can probably get even more when you don't use the Wlan internet and Bluetooth and if you adjust your screen brightness. Bear in mind that we used a 4400 mAh battery that has the twice the capacity of the small 2200 one and probably it last twice as long. It adds 200+ grammes to the weight of your notebook but it still get you a decent battery life for a dual core machine.

The machine never turned the fan off, but the fan is not that noisy. I guess you need to ventilate a lot to get rid of the heat of the two cores. The notebook gets mildly warm but you don't want it on your lap when it is 30 Celsius outside but it is much better than a Pentium M 2 GHz that can get really hot.

In Short
Overall the notebook looks really nice to us and we managed to run it three hours with all features on and at 70 per cent display brightness. When we turned Bluetooth, W LAN and tune down the display brightness, it only worked for three and three quarter hours, which isn't bad for for a fast dual core machine.

At a price of around €1,200 it looks like a nice alternative to all Centrino notebooks around and it works flawlessly. I could not tell the performance difference in office work from my desktop machine.

AMD is getting its act together on mobile CPUs and it is really getting competitive to Intel. It would be great to compare this machine with Intel Core Duo dual core notebook but we could not get one at press time. That would be the real fight. ?


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