MSI Megabook L715 Review (pics, specs)

by Reads (27,412)

by Gabriel M., Chezch Republic

Reasons for Buying

I decided the time had come to change the desktop I owned for a portable notebook computer, so I researched the offers available and found the MSI L715 laptop would suit me best for its performance, screen size and good price.  I decided to buy and use the L715 the same as I would a desktop PC.  So far I’ve been very satisfied with my choice.


MSI L715 Specs:

  • Processor: AMD Turion 64 MT-34 processors (1.8GHz)
  • Operating System: Genuine Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition
  • Display:17″ WSXGA (1680×1050), Glare TFT LCD with MSI Color Bright Display (CBD)
  • Chipset: ATI RS 480M + ATI SB 450
  • Memory: 512 Mb DDR333/400 (max. 2GB)
  • Hard Drive: 80GB, ATA/100, 5400rpm
  • Built-in DVD Dual Layer Burner Drive
  • Graphics card: ATI Mobile Radeon X700, 256MB VRAM (8M*32 GDDR3)
  • Sound Card: Realtek ALC 882, SoundBlaster Compatible, 4 channel speaker + 1 subwoofer
  • LAN/Modem: Built-in 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet LAN and modem Module
    Wireless LAN/Bluetooth: Built-in Bluetooth function / Built-in 802.11 b/g wireless connection
  • PC Card: 1x PCMCIA 2.1 Type II
  • Card reader: 5-in-1 (MS/MS Pro/SD/MMC/xD)
  • Warranty: 2 years for the system and 1 year for the battery

Where and How Purchased

The MSI L715 was purchased directly in a store in Brno city, Czech Republic. I ordered it in a store there and 1 day after placing the order I went to pick it up. The site of the store is www.dinos.cz (the site is in Czech language, but I managed to find what I wanted, although I don’t speak Czech either).

Build & Design


MSI L715 above view (view large image)

The design of this notebook is very nice for a 17″ screen notebook. It has a backlight for the MSI logo and the case is slim and classy with a sturdy enough feel. The only negative comment I have is about the hinges which seem somewhat fragile because they are small compared to other models I owned and relative to the size of the notebook.  However, in use the hinges seem to work well and do their job despite appearances as I carried the laptop here and there and everything was okay.

In the package I received an MSI bag for the laptop, but I also bought the DICOTA MISSION XL backpack for it.

Screen


The L715 has a reflective screen — as you will notice by the picture (view large image)
 
The screen has vivid colors and good illumination also. I didn’t experience dead pixels with it, using Dead Pixel Buddy confirms a perfect screen. When exposed to sunlight the screen is quite reflective but nonetheless usable.  It has a large resolution,1680 x 1050, so you can imagine that everything looks absolutely gorgeous on it: movies, games, graphical applications.

Speakers

For a laptop the sound system is excellent, it gives you a 3D surround feeling.  Still, it’s not enough to throw a party without additional, more powerfull speakers. The L715 has a subwoofer too — woohoo!

Processor and Performance

The Turion 64 delivers enough power for all the taks I thow at it: application running, linux kernel compiling, games.  The graphic card also does its job and runs most of the latest games successfully. For the purpose of testing I benchmarked the demo of some games I found: Command and Conquer:

  • Renegade at 800 x 600 scored 58 FPS
  • Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory scored 43 FPS at 1024 x 768.

I measured those with FRAPS. Some friends played other games on my laptop, like NFS: Most Wanted for example, and everything worked smoothly. Of course the ATI X700 works best on resolutions between 800 x 600 – 1024 x 768, if you want higher game resolutions you need a better graphics card.

Benchmarks
 
These results were obtained with the stock configuration, no overclocking or tweaking. The ATI Catalyst driver was used.

SuperPi

SuperPi measures CPU performance by calculating Pi to a specific number of digits.

Notebook

Time to Calculate Pi to 2 Million Digits

MSI L715 (AMD Turion 64 MT-34 1.8GHz)

2m 02s

HP dv6000z (1.8GHz Turion64 X2 TL-56)

1m 54s

Compaq V3000T(1.6GHz Core Duo)

1m 26s

Dell Inspiron e1505 (2.00 GHz Core 2 Duo)

1m 02s

Toshiba A100(2.0GHz Core Duo)

1m 18s

Acer Aspire 5102WLMi(1.6GHz Turion64 X2 TL-50

2m 22s

Gateway E-100M(1.2GHz Core Solo ULV)

2m 02s

Dell Inspiron 600m (1.6 GHz Dothan Pentium M)

2m 10s

HP dv5000z(2.0GHz Sempron 3300+)

2m 02s

 

 

3DMark05 Results and comparison:

3DMark05 tests the graphics processing capabilities of a system:

Notebook  3DMark 05 Results

MSI L715 (AMD Turion 64 MT-34 (1.8GHz) ATI Radeon X700)

 2,377 3D Marks
Apple MacBook Pro (2.0GHz Core Duo, ATI X1600 128MB)  2,866 3D Marks
Alienware M7700 (AMD Athlon FX-60 Nvidia GeForce Go7800 GTX)  7,078 3DMarks
ThinkPad T43 (1.86GHz, ATI X300 64MB graphics)  727 3DMarks
 Asus V6Va (2.13 GHz Pentium M, ATI Radeon Mobility x700 128 MB)  2,530 3D Marks
 Fujitsu n6410 (1.66 GHz Core Duo, ATI X1400 128MB)  2,273 3DMarks
 HP dv4000 (1.86GHz Pentium M, ATI X700 128MB)  2,536 3D Marks
 Acer TravelMate 8204WLMi (2.0GHz Core Duo, ATI X1600 256MB)  4,157 3DMarks

 

3DMark06 Comparison Results:

3DMark06 tests the graphics capabilities of a system, it is more demanding than 3DMark05.

Notebook  3DMark 06 Results

MSI L715 (AMD Turion 64 MT-34 (1.8GHz) ATI Radeon X700)

669 3DMarks
Apple MacBook Pro (2.0GHz Core Duo, ATI X1600 128MB) 1,528 3DMarks

Dell Precison M90 (2.16GHz Core Duo, nVidia Quadro FX 1500M)

3,926 3DMarks
Alienware M7700 (AMD Athlon FX-60 Nvidia GeForce Go7800GTX) 4,085 3DMarks

Compal HEL80 (2.0GHz Core Duo, nVidia Go 7600 256MB)

1,654 3DMarks
Dell XPS M1710 (2.16 GHz Core Duo, nVidia 7900 GTX 512MB) 4,744 3DMarks


CPU-Z Screenshots


(view large image)

HDTune benchmark results screenshot


(view large image)

Heat and Noise

The laptop gets warm, but not exacly hot (you are not in danger of getting burned, like I read in some reviews about other laptops), most of the heat is found on the upper right corner of the keyboard.  I often keep the notebook on my lap and it feels alright, it doesn’t feel too heavy nor too hot although you can feel the heat dissipated through the bottom on the right side.

I counted four speeds for the fan. The first and second speeds on of the fan almost pass unnoticed, the third and fourth speeds are a bit louder, but not out of the ordinary. And of course the third and fourth speed are launched when you game, when you do multitasking, or use some very demanding applications.

Keyboard and Touchpad


(view large image)
 
The keyboard has a nice feeling, no flexing. It is fullsize, with a separate keypad, but (as usual) the Fn key and Ctrl are reversed. For me personally that’s not an issue, but maybe for other people it is.


(view large image)

The touchpad responds properly to commands, this coming from a person who uses the touchpad about 95% of the time.

Input and Output Ports

In the photos you will see the following ports:

  • VGA Port x 1 (D-Sub, 15-pin)
  • TV-out Port x 1
  • USB 2.0 Port x 3
  • IEEE 1394 Port x 1
  • Mic-in Port x 1
  • Headphone Out x 1
  • Modem Port x 1
  • LAN Port x 1


L715 left side view (view large image)


MSI L715 right side view (view large image)

Wireless

The version of the L715 notebook that I bought came with wireless, bluetooth and an infra-red port installed.  But of course there are different variants arround, depending on the re-seller or maybe the country from where you buy.

Battery

The battery life is somewhere arround 1h 30 minutes while in idle mode. Taking into consideration that this notebook is meant to be a desktop replacement, the battery life is not very long, but acceptable for the purpose of this laptop (personally I keep it plugged most of the time, just like a desktop PC).

Operating System and Software

The notebook came preinstalled with Windows XP Home. It also had preinstalled some Symantec tools, and on a CD the reseller gave me AVG antivirus and a license and subscription to their service for 6 months. However, I’m quite sure that this is specific for this re-seller. To be commendably noted is that the laptop was not full of bloatware.

One more thing, on the HDD there is a recovery partition of about 2 GB in size.

Also, as a note on the MSI site, you will find drivers for Windows XP x64 bits edition.
  
Customer Support

I tried to contact the MSI Global site to ask if I can myself add another 512 Mb of RAM which I bought separately without losing the warranty (because on the case there is a sticker which blocks access to the RAM and CPU on which is written “warranty void if removed”), and I have no answer yet. I posted my question to them 2 weeks ago. In any case there are centers (MSI certified center) which can do this operation for you.
 
Conclusion

I recommend this laptop as a great buy, the price was 1300 Euros with 19% VAT included which really doesn’t compete with anything I’ve seen so far out there for this notebook category. Build quality and performance, everything is very well put in place and I really have no complaints about this machine.



 
Pros:

  • Great performer for the price
  • The X700 has 256 Mb GDDR3 which really helps for the gaming fans
  • Fullsize keyboard with a nice feeling while typing
  • Thin design for a 17″
  • It has a 1.3 Mpx webcam which comes in handy for video conference, chatting etc

Cons:

  • None related to the laptop itself, but I feel that the customer support didn’t react very fast to my request.


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