MSI Wind U135 Review

February 1, 2010 by Jerry Jackson Reads (84,251)

Performance and Benchmarks
System performance for day-to-day activities is good for a netbook but still falls short of a lot of the new ultra-portables coming out with the Intel CULV processors. The trade-off has always been power consumption, with increased battery life on netbooks. We didn’t have any problem surfing the web or going to sites with flash content, including YouTube. HD streaming content is still a problem but SD content showed no stuttering problems. Locally played HD videos in resolutions lower than or equal to 720P played fine, with 1080P content pushing it over the edge. Boot, shutdown, and standby times were very quick, letting you close the lid and pop it into your backpack without the concern that it is going to stay running while packed away. Compared to most netbooks we feel a lot of the speed increases for normal activities came from Windows 7 and not necessarily the faster Pine Trail platform.

wPrime processor comparison results (lower scores mean better performance):

PCMark05 measures overall system performance (higher scores mean better performance):

3DMark06 comparison results against netbooks @ 1024 x 768 resolution (higher scores mean better performance):

HDTune hard drive performance test:

Heat and Noise
The MSI wind U135 handled heat remarkably well but at the cost of the fan continuously running. Even when left idle for long periods of time the fan on the U135 would stay running at a slow but constant speed. The air blowing out from the exhaust vent was roughly room temperature, making us wonder why the fan wouldn’t just turn off with it being so cool internally. For users with sensitive ears or those who might be working in a small quiet classroom the fan noise is just loud enough to be heard by those directly around you. It is at or very near the volume of a whisper.

Battery Life
With the last Pine Trail netbook managing over 12 hours of battery life, we had high hopes for the MSI Wind U135. Sadly this is not the case, even though they shared the same hardware except for the wireless card and battery capacity (The U135 is 5Wh less). In our battery test with the screen brightness set to 70%, wireless active, and Windows 7 set to the “Balanced” profile the system stayed on for just 6 hours and 30 minutes. During the test the U135 consumed between 7.5 and 8.5 watts of power. During the same test the Eee PC 1005PE stayed on for 12 hours and 1 minute, consuming 4.5 to 4.7 watts of power. To bring the systems to an equal playing field we even swapped in the Atheros Wi-Fi card from the 1005PE to see if that was the culprit, but power consumption stayed the same. Our guess is the level of hardware tweaking on the MSI Wind isn’t as extensive as it is on the Eee PC 1005PE, showing that even with identical hardware you can have significant and tangible differences between netbook models.

Conclusion
The MSI Wind U135 fell short compared to the competition in terms of software support and battery life. Out of the box the U135 was missing any sort of touchpad software–including on the restore partition–greatly reducing the features. We later found the drivers included on the MSI support website, which brought multi-touch options, as well as simple features like scrolling. Another huge downside to this particular netbook is the battery life, having half the battery life of the ASUS Eee PC 1005PE with the same hardware and only a slightly larger battery. This massive difference in battery life comes from the increased power consumption: The U135 draws almost 8 watts at idle and the 1005PE uses less than 5 watts. Overall the MSI Wind U135 lacked a great deal of polish, but with improvements in power consumption and software out of the box, it would be a great little netbook.

Pros:

  • Good design
  • Capable touchpad with proper drivers
  • Nice keyboard

Cons:

  • Half the battery life of other Pine Trail netbooks
  • Missing touchpad software out of the box


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