For ten years I have been using desktops, throughout those ten years I have owned four desktops. Finally after ten years of desktop PC use I finally bought a laptop for myself. I have played with laptops in the past but I have never actually owned one, but now I am the owner of the MSI-1029 15.4″ screen AMD Turion 64 notebook and will be reviewing this notebook.
MSI-1029 Reviewed Specs:
- Processor – AMD Turion 64bit MT-30
- Graphics Card – ATI Mobility Radeon X700 128MB RAM
- Main Memory – 2x 512mb Corsair XMS DDR400
- Display – 15.4″ Glare WXGA LCD (1280 x 800) Glossy Screen
- PC Cards Slot – PCMCIA 2.1 Compliant, Type II x 1
- Card Reader – MMC/SD/MS 3-in-1 Card Reader
- Hard Disk Drive – Western Digital 60gb 5400 rpm
- Optical Drive – 8x Dual-Layer DVD Burner
- LAN/Modem – Built-in 10/100Mbps Ethernet LAN and modem Module
- Wireless LAN – 802.11b/g WLAN + Bluetooth ( Integrated )
- I/O Ports – VGA Port x 1 (D-Sub, 15-pin mini D-Sub), TV-out (S-Video) Port x 1, USB2.0 Port x 4, IEEE1394 Port x 1, Mic-in Port x 1, Headphone Out x 1, Modem Port x 1, LAN Port x 1
- Audio – AC’97 2.2, SoundBlaster Compatible
- Hot Keys – 5 instant launch keys for e-mail, internet, wireless, bluetooth and one user’s define key
- Battery Pack & Life – Li-ion 8 cells battery (4400mHh)
- AC Adapter – 19V DC, 75W/Input: 100~240V AC, 50/60Hz universal
- Dimensions – 13.98″ (L) x 10.04″ (D) x 1.18″ (H)
- Weight – 6.39 Lbs
Reasons for buying
First off, my spending limit was a measly $1,200 dollars. I have been a gamer since I was little so therefore I wanted a notebook that could handle today’s games and also not be a big bulky laptop designed only to be a desktop replacement. Windows Vista 64-bit is coming out next year so I wanted to have a 64-bit processor which narrowed down the searching. The ideal 64-bit laptop processor right now is the AMD Turion processor.
I was stuck with a dilemma, a choice between two notebooks: either the MSI-1029 or the Acer TravelMate 4402WLMi with similar specs and familiar price range. One problem with the Acer was that it only had an ATI Radeon X700 dedicated 64MB VRAM while the MSI-1029 had an ATI Radeon X700 dedicated 128MB VRAM. Another was that the Acer used the ML Turion line while the MSI used the MT Turion line. The difference between the ML and the MT is that the ML processor uses 35-watt power while the MT processor uses 25-watt power. So these differences tipped the balance toward the MSI-1029 and that was my final choice.
MSI-1029 Notebook (notice the glossy reflective nature of the screen)
There are several online companies that sell the MSI-1029 barebone laptop that is customizable with the usual main upgrade parts. I went to whichever was the cheapest. CyberPowerSystem gave me the cheapest price which was only $1,163.00 after a 5% discount with no operating system and no WLAN card. The WLAN card I bought from Buy.com which included WLAN with Bluetooth which was an additional $35.00. The total came out to be $1,198.00 including all taxes and shipping cost.
The bottom of the laptop is made of aluminum metal which creates a sturdy base for the notebook. However, having the metal can be disadvantageous because it seems to be hotter on the metal part compared to a typical plastic bottom.
While moving the screen about on its hinges there was no signs of tiny squeaks. After weeks of excessively testing it out, there are still no sign of squeaks. When typing the screen does not wobble around like some cheaper quality laptops. I tried pushing in on the lid and I saw ripples on the LCD screen so the lid could provide a little more protection, but overall the build quality is still good.
The MSI-1029 color base is mainly black with some silver accents on top of the notebook, on the keyboard and on the track pad. On top of the laptop there is a cut out that glows while the screen is turned on. This enables some type of miniature customization logo to stick on to the light and see it glow.
The keyboard looks nice and has well placed buttons exception for the touchpad. The touchpad gets in the way at times while typing which I find annoying because when I accidentally touch the touchpad the cursor goes to another section of my word document. The keyboard would be better if it had an on/off button for the touchpad.
Keyboard shown with battery
Keyboard shown without battery
The speakers for this notebook aren’t great when compared to my desktop speakers, but they do the job for listening to music. The volume levels at max aren’t great, but soundwise it sounds decent when at full volume. The sound can also sound better with a few tweaks from the program that comes with the audio drivers. I would recommend using headphones still because I’m the type that likes hearing things very closely, especially when playing games where clear stereo sound is important so you can hear whether the gunfire is coming from the left or the right.
The MSI-1029 features a glossy wide screen with a native resolution of 1280 x 800. I did not receive any dead pixels on my notebook. There are no signs of light leaks from this system. The screen’s brightness at max does not seem to be as bright compared to the ASUS W3V that I have.
The Asus W3V is shown on the left and the MSI-1029 is shown on the right
The battery life on this notebook gives an average of a little over 2 hours after 5 complete battery runs with normal usage of Excel and Word with Bluetooth and WiFi on. Some people may find this to be mediocre, but I do not care about battery life at all. Eighty percent of the time I’m plugged in.
The notebook Mini PCI WiFi card is specially designed for the notebook by MSI. It features an additional output plug for the Bluetooth antenna.
WiFi signals overall are excellent. I use this at home, in school and sometimes at WiFi hotspots. Overall the signals are good to excellent.
The addition of integrated Bluetooth further attracted me to buying this notebook. The notebook Bluetooth’s software is IVT BlueSoleil. This is my first time using Bluetooth so I’m still learning about it somewhat. The Bluetooth has great response and range, I tested my Bluetooth mouse (ANYCOM BTM-100) about 15 feet away from the notebook and it provides almost near fluent response. I also turned on Bluetooth on my Sony Ericson s700 phone and also tested it at 15 feet away and achieved clean file transfers with no disconnects.
I use this notebook in class and it proves to be very quiet in a small room of about 20 kids, during class the notebook is quiet enough that no one seems to notice it when I type. It is also fairly quiet while playing a game, which is when the computer uses the most power and the fan is at its full speed. I find this quietness to be a nice bonus to the already feature rich notebook. One problem is that the notebook’s fan is located on the right side. I am a right handed person so it is sometimes uncomfortable when using a notebook mouse while the fan vent is blowing onto my hand.
This is where this laptop shines because of its X700 video card with 128MB dedicated VRAM. The x700’s default clock speeds are 297 MHz for memory and 351 MHz for the core. These results are tested with no overclocking.
3DMark05 – 2180
3DMark03 – 5601
There is currently an issue which probably explains the lower 3Dmark scores compared to similar systems that uses the ATI X700 graphics card. Currently MSI is working on a new bios to fix the issue when using 2 SODIMM memory sticks. The system handles up to DDR400MHz, I have two DDR400 Corsair sticks of RAM and they are only operating at DDR233MHz speed. I borrowed a Kingston 1GB single stick system RAM and it was running at DDR400MHz speed. So the only fix for the problem as of now is buying a single stick or RAM so it can operate at your RAM’s full potential.
Comparison of notebooks using Super Pi to calculate Pi to 2 million digits (plugged in):
|MSI-1029 (1.6 GHz AMD Turion MT-30)||2m 10s|
|Fujitsu S6231 (1.6 GHz Pentium M)||2m 6s|
|Sony VAIO FS680 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)||1m 53s|
|IBM ThinkPad T43 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)||1m 45s|
|Asus Z70A (1.6GHz Pentium M)||1m 53s|
|Fujitsu LifeBook N3510 (1.73 GHz Pentium M)||1m 48s|
|Dell Inspiron 6000D (1.6 GHz Pentium M)||1m 52s|
|Dell Inspiron 600M (1.6 GHz Pentium M)||2m 10s|
|Sony VAIO S360 (1.7 GHz Pentium M)||1m 57s|
|HP DV4170us (Pentium M 1.73 GHz)||1m 53s|
|Sony VAIO S380 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)||1m 45s|
Right side of notebook:
- PCMCIA, Media Card Slot (MS, MMC and SD), Fan, S-Video, 2x USB 2.0 and VGA port.
Left Side of notebook:
- AC port, 2x USB 2.0, Lan Port, Modem Port and DVD Drive
Front side of notebook:
- IEEE1394, Mic-in Port and Headphone out port
Customer support for the company I bought it from was okay. I called because I had a problem using the drivers from ATI which locked up my laptop. The cyberpower customer service was horrible because they were filled with ill mannered people who had no patience. However, their tech support team was a whole different story, they were nice and had the attitude of wanting to help you.
- The keyboard is not easy to type on. While typing I seem to touch my touchpad a lot by accident so I found that to be very annoying at times as there is no button to turn off the touchpad.
- RAM issue is still unresolved at this time all sodimms that are paired in the MS-1029 are downclocking to 266 mhz. The MSI Company is aware of this and is trying to come out with a bios to fix the issue.
- Display could be brighter.
- Lid could have been made of a stronger less flexible plastic
Those are the only cons I find in the system.
- Integrated Bluetooth
- Clean simplistic look
- Powerful ATI x700 card
- Dedicated 128mb Video Ram
- 64 Bit Processor
- 8x Dual Layer DVD Burner
- Great power and value.
This laptop isn’t perfect but what laptop is? Would I recommend this? Yes I would, especially to the buyers that don’t have a fat wallet to spend $1,900+ for a gaming notebook with familiar specs. If you don’t care about the MS-1029’s simple looks then the MS-1029 would be great for you.