MSI’s 12 inch Wind12 U210 netbook is the very first one in its category to sport a AMD Athlon Neo processor. Check out our review below and see how it fares in the Atom-dominated world of netbooks.
The MSI Wind U210 is a pretty large netbook, weighing in at 1.45kg (3.19lbs) with the 6-cell battery while the 9-cell version that I bought is heavier at 1.6kg (3.52lbs). And though most of the other 12-inch netbooks have a diagonal screen size of just 11.6 inches, the U210 is larger at 12.1″.
In many respects, this model is like a cheap, full-fledged notebook without a built-in optical drive. I remember buying a similarly-spec’ed 12″ Compaq-Presario laptop 2 years ago worth Php55k.
The design is similar to the first generation Wind netbooks — glossy lid cover, glossy display screen and about an inch thick, not counting the protruding 9-cell battery at the bottom. It’s got a wide and textured trackpad with separate left and right click-pads which are pretty easy to use. There are 3 USB ports, a multi-card reader, LAN port, VGA port and and HDMI port to output HD videos to external monitors.
Standard specs of this unit is also above average with 2GB DDR2 RAM, 250GB HDD, WiFi draft-N, HDMI and option for 9-cell battery. Unfortunately, Bluetooth is missing (although the F9 function key has a Bluetooth icon printed in it) — prolly to save on production cost.
Most interesting part is the AMD Athlon Neo X2 processor that powers this unit. It’s a dual core CPU running at 1.6GHz.
On Windows 7 Ultimate, it scores high on Windows Experience Index with 3.0 as the lowest sub-score assigned on the graphics card (ATI Radeon Xpress 1270). The CPU alone got a sub-score of 4.1, the highest we’ve when compared to the Intel atom N270, N280 and Z530. Video performance is also good and capable of playing HD videos as well as streaming YouTube HD.
However, that extra juice that the dual-core CPU is pumping also becomes a problem when it comes to battery life. For a 9-cell battery, I was expecting between 6 to 8 hours of battery life on a single full charge. Even after several optimization and tweaks, I could not even get it to last more than 5 hours. On average, you’d get 4.5 hours with the 9-cell battery. I wonder how would the standard 6-cell battery perform? My guess is 3 to 3.5 hours.
So far, the MSI Wind12 U210 is one of the most responsive and powerful unit in the netbook category I’ve ever reviewed. The only drawback is that it’s also power-hungry so battery life is below average. Surprisingly, the unit does not feel hot even on prolonged use — probably due to the ventilation offered by the protruding battery at the bottom (PC Wizard records CPU temp between 53 to 57 degrees though which is high IMO).
Shops are selling this for a promo price of Php23k without an operating system so you’ll need to shell out a couple more thousand bucks for an OS license or you can get the version with Windows Vista for Php28k. Standard battery is 6-cell and the 9-cell model I got was during the promo period. If you have an old XP license or Windows 7 RC at home, maybe the Php23k price is a good deal.