May 21, 2009 at 6:55 pm
THE MSI Wind U115 Hybrid netbook has already seen a soft launch in the UK, where it is available from a few retailers. Right on cue, we’ve come across the first review of MSI’s unique netbook that comes with both SSD and HDD storage options, hence the ‘Hybrid’ name. Reg Hardware put a silver Wind U115 through its paces and came away very impressed, that is if you don’t consider its price tag.
The Wind U115 does come at a premium, but that is down to the Hybrid (HDD/SDD) storage solution and Intel’s latest Poulsbo chipset. To enhance battery times, the HDD can be disabled. The UK SKU comes with a 160GB hard-disk drive plus a 8GB solid-state drive, although 16GB SSD + 120GB HDD options are also on the way. Power efficiency is also helped by using a Z series Atom processor.
The battery tests showed that it offered the longest battery life (whether you disable the HDD or not) and good performance from the 1.6GHz Z530 Atom CPU. However, they felt it didn’t offer good value for money. At £450 it is significantly more expensive than its predecessor and placing it in the same price bracket as the luxurious Asus S101, which comes with a 32GB SSD and is much slimmer than the Wind U115. Click through for the key review points.
Key points from MSI Wind U115 review:
- The hybrid solution is quite unique. You can load the netbook’s OS and applications onto the faster SSD, while keeping files on the HDD.
- When connected to the mains, both are active, however when you switch to battery power you can disable the HDD. This means you wouldn’t have access to any files in this mode. Re-starting the HDD only takes around 10 seconds.
- Despite fitting two storage drives, the dimensions (260 (W) x 180mm (D) x 36mm – 46mm (H)) and weight (1.3kg) match the original Wind. It has the same curvy looks as the original Wind.
- The 10-inch (1024 x 600) matte display is surrounded by a thick bezel. A 1.3MP webcam sits at the top of the bezel, with a mic towards the right. The colours are a little less pronounced, but still reasonable.
- The card reader sticks out slightly from the edge of the machine.
- Keyboard is decent enough. It fills the width of the U115 and has decent-sized keys. However, the Fn key sits where the Ctrl is normally placed. This can cause problems if you tend to use a lot of keyboard shortcuts.
- The touchpad is a little small. This seems a strange decision given how much space there is to accommodate a wider one.
- In terms of benchmarks, it scored well in PCMark05, sitting between the best N270 Atom netbooks and those with N280 Atom CPUs. Memory performance was a little slower.
- As you would expect, the hard drive score was very fast and second only to the Asus Eee S101 which has a 32GB SSD.
- Battery life results were the best seen in a netbook. With both drives working, the Wind U115 lasted for 341 minutes and with the HDD disabled it lasted an astonishing 478 minutes. This was a video playback test, so for normal tasks you can expect significantly longer battery life.