Review MSI EX625 Notebook

MSI showed some good intuition when they added numerous notebooks with potent GPUs to their range in the first quarter of 2009. The MSI EX625 was the first laptop with ATI's 4600 series graphics card available on the European market. After reviewing it, we can say that MSI overtook its rivals in terms of technology and caught up with them in the field of design.

Many thanks to our Polish editorial staff, notebookcheck.pl, who tested this notebook and kindly placed their test at our disposal.

The MSI Megabook EX625 is not yet available here (apart from various imported devices), but is supposed to be released in the German-speaking area in the second quarter of 2009 (based on various information).

Case

MSI EX625

On the whole, the laptop does not diverge from common standards. Its build quality is good, even though the used materials are not first-class.

Following the phenomenon of imitating each new design idea thought to attract more buyers, the EX625 does not show off too much regarding this aspect and remains quite similar to its competitors. As a matter of fact, the laptop looks almost identical to HP's Pavilion or selected models from Asus. The association that comes up while taking a look at the black lid, embellished with a wavy pattern, is simply straightforward. A similar pattern, of brighter color here however, can be also found at the palmrest.  
Another common feature of this laptop is a touch sensitive panel placed just in front of its display. Based on numerous reports from  users of the EX625, we can confirm it to be springing quite intensively while pressing the sensors, especially in the area around the Eco button. The speakers’ grills, curved downwards in a distinctive and eye-catching way, make the EX625 stand out against other models.

Furthermore we have to mention that the case is pretty solid in general. The screen cover springs just a little bit. As far as the stiffness of the display’s lid is concerned, the situation is even better - it hardly bends at all.

The hinges are exceptionally wide for a MSI model, letting the drawbacks so often criticized in cases of former models from this manufacturer pale into insignificance. The screen was constructed in a sturdy manner, making it possible to move it in a convenient way; moreover, the lid offers a well-balanced resistance while opening it.

The EX625 weighs less than most of contemporary 15.4-inch laptops – nearly 2.6kg including the battery. The frame surrounding the screen drew our attention as well with its impressive slimness.

However, the lightness has been attained at some expense. A large service cover at the bottom is made of thin plastic, which is prone to some spring deformations to a rather noticeable extent. A guarantee seal has been stuck over the edge of it - however, one should not be worried about that as the user is allowed to exchange or install new components on his own without violating the warranty (as long as it is done skillful enough not to break or damage any components). As a matter of fact, the transport security seal we are talking about is to guarantee that the laptop arrives at the user without having been opened. To be honest, we find this solution a bit strange and unnecessary.

Front: CIR
Front: CIR
Left side: modem, optical drive, audio, USB
Left side: modem, optical drive, audio, USB
Right side: ExpressCard, card reader, USB, eSATA/USB, HDMI, LAN, VGA, power socket, antenna
Right side: ExpressCard, card reader, USB, eSATA/USB, HDMI, LAN, VGA, power socket, antenna
Rear side: Kensington Lock, vent, USB, battery
Rear side: Kensington Lock, vent, USB, battery

Input Devices

The MSI EX625 features a full-sized keyboard with an additional numeric pad. Unfortunately, there are a few shortcomings regarding the key's arrangement. The Fn key has been placed as the first key from the left in the bottom row, and the right shift key is small. Besides, it is worth mentioning that the comma, dot and slash keys are of normal size finally. However, one does accidentally press it instead of the upper arrow key from time to time. Some less disturbing drawbacks include the delete key (placed in way not allowing intuitively pressing it), and a pretty short space bar.

The truth is that it takes some time and effort to get used to the characteristics of the keys pressed and to learn to use them for fast typing, mainly because of their long strokes and their low resistance when pressing them. This is very likely to cause numerous mistakes by pressing the wrong key. 

The keys themselves are rather hard and of short stroke. They do not require much force to press them. The tapping sound they produce is also fairly acceptable.    

As far as the touchpad is concerned, one can say that its surface is a little rough, resulting in a less than perfect slide. Furthermore, the surface is not pleasant to touch, it feels like stroking starched fabric. However, the sensitivity and precision of the touchpad are good and satisfactory enough.

The area right behind the main keyboard has been used for placing some additional touch sensitive buttons responsible for controlling multimedia playback, turning on the wireless modules and the installed camera, activating the Cinema Pro mode and the power saving function (Eco mode). The programmable button is placed on the same panel. Its responsiveness and speed are just fine.

Keyboard
Keyboard
Touchpad
Touchpad

Display

MSI EX625

The MSI EX625 features a glaring 16" display with a resolution of 1366x768 (16:9), manufactured by Samsung. Previous MSI models were somewhat lacking brightness, but luckily the EX625 does not have this problem anymore. The average illumination value with the backlighting set to its maximum reaches a value of nearly 190 cd/m². The contrast's value, on the other hand, is not impressive at all with its 187:1 ratio (an average result).

190.2
cd/m²
224.1
cd/m²
196.7
cd/m²
176.7
cd/m²
211
cd/m²
188.2
cd/m²
161.4
cd/m²
175.1
cd/m²
166.6
cd/m²
Information
Maximum: 224.1 cd/m²
Average: 187.8 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 72 %
Black: 1.2 cd/m²
Contrast: 176:1
Distribution of brightness

The screen offers good and vibrant colors. White has a bit of a blue tint, but the image is absolutely clear, and there is no visible grain effect. Black does not spark any excitement, but looks alright. 

The viewing angles leave much to be desired, especially with the display being tilted vertically. The first color changes can be noticed at  a deviation of about 15 degrees. Horizontal viewing angles are just slightly better, it takes a deviation of 50 degrees before the image gets distorted. 

MSI EX625
MSI EX625
MSI EX625
MSI EX625
MSI EX625
MSI EX625
MSI EX625
MSI EX625
MSI EX625

Performance

MSI EX625

The MSI EX625 is available in two versions: the first one is equipped with a Core 2 Duo T6400 (2.0GHz), while the second one (the tested model) comes with a Core 2 Duo P8600 (2.4GHz). However, the price difference is large enough for us to advise buying the cheaper one. Thanks to the information gathered from the users of the model featuring the T6400 CPU, we are able to say that the performance gap is not significant (6900-7200 points in 3DMark06 at a resolution of 1280x768 in the case of the T6400 and over 7600 for the P8600).

Although the manufacturer does not classify it as suited for gaming, the laptop comes with a pretty attractive graphics card: ATI's Mobility Radeon HD 4670. Although this card is rather mid-ranged, it is still better than the ones available in similar laptops, thanks to its up to date technology.

Seen from the technical point of view, the card is actually the Mobility Radeon HD 4650, known from the Compal KHLB2, but its chip and memory clock rates are better. The 55nm GPU is based on the RV730 chip, featuring 320 stream processors (including 64 five-dimensional shader cores). Their clock frequency amounts to 675MHz (550 in comparison to the HD 4650) and 800MHz for the GDDR3 memory (1600 effectively). The card is also compatible to the MXM standard; unfortunately, its replacement seems difficult, due to the small dimensions of the installed radiator.

Overall, the ATI HD 4670's performance is sufficient for playing most of the latest games at acceptable settings. The current benchmark results are listed below.

3D Mark
3DMark 2001SE26431 points
3DMark 0322967 points
3DMark 0513449 points
3DMark 06
 1280x768
7620 points
Help
3DMark 06 in comparison
Dell Inspiron duo (min)
 N550, Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 3150
150
   ...
Compal KHLB2
 P8600, Mobility Radeon HD 4650
7180
Acer Aspire 5940G-KAQB0
 720QM, Mobility Radeon HD 4650
7539
MSI EX625
 P8600, Mobility Radeon HD 4670
7620
   ...
HP Envy 15 (max)
 720QM, Mobility Radeon HD 4830
8380
PC Mark
PCMark 056540 points
Help
PCMark 05 in comparison
Acer Aspire One 751 (min)
 Z520, Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 500
692
   ...
Dell Precision M4400
 T9400, Quadro FX 770M
6498
Sony Vaio VPC-EC3M1E/BJ
 460M, Mobility Radeon HD 5650
6507
MSI EX625
 P8600, Mobility Radeon HD 4670
6540
Dell Precision M6300
 T9500, Quadro FX 3600M
6541
Schenker MG6
 T9800, Mobility Radeon HD 4650
6618
   ...
Fujitsu Celsius H710 WXP11DE (max)
 2820QM, Quadro 1000M
13842
Cinebench R10
 SettingsValue
 Rendering Single 32Bit2592 Points
 Rendering Multiple CPUs 32Bit4937 Points
 Shading 32Bit4701 Points
Quake 3 Arena - Timedemo
 ResolutionSettingsValue
 1024x768highest, 0xAA, 0xAF639.7 fps
F.E.A.R.
 ResolutionSettingsValue
 1024x768GPU: max, CPU: max, 0xAA, 0xAF62 fps
 800x600GPU medium, CPU medium, 0xAA, 0xAF65 fps
 640x480GPU min, CPU min, 0xAA, 0xAF127 fps
Crysis - CPU Benchmark
 ResolutionSettingsValue
 1366x768Low53.15 fps
 1366x768Medium33.06 fps
 1366x768High19.39 fps
 1024x768Very High14.92 fps
 1024x768High, 0xAA, 0xAF23.37 fps
 1024x768Medium, 0xAA, 0xAF37.86 fps
 1024x768Low, 0xAA, 0xAF59.4 fps
Crysis - GPU Benchmark
 ResolutionSettingsValue
 1366x768Low46.84 fps
 1366x768Medium36.28 fps
 1366x768High23.51 fps
 1024x768Very High17.92 fps
 1024x768High29.5 fps
 1024x768Medium, 0xAA, 0xAF41.18 fps
 1024x768Low, 0xAA, 0xAF52.52 fps
320 GB - 5400 rpm
Transfer Rate Minimum: 26.5 MB/s
Transfer Rate Maximum: 64.8 MB/s
Transfer Rate Average: 49.4 MB/s
Access Time: 17.2 ms
Burst Rate: 90.7 MB/s
CPU Usage: 3.9 %

Performance in games (fps over 60 seconds):

Call of Duty 4
Resolution of 1280x768, normal/medium details
min. 36, avg. 58,08, max. 101 fps

Company of Heroes
Resolution of 1024x768, high/medium details, AA on
min. 32, avg. 37,17, max. 44 fps

FIFA 07
default demo version settings
min. 58, avg. 59,60, max. 61 fps

Gothic 3
Resolution of 1024x768, high details
min. 14, avg. 32,60, max. 48 fps

Medal of Honor Airborne

1280x768 resolution, all settings switched to medium
min. 43, med. 64,30, max. 79 fps

Supreme Commander
Resolution of 1024x768, high details, AA on
min. 28, avg. 41,25, max. 56 fps

The Witcher
Resolution of 1280x768, medium details, AA on
min. 31, avg. 40,58, max. 85 fps

Emissions

MSI EX625

System Noise

The MSI EX625 runs at the same noise level as the older MSI GX620 (with a weaker GeForce 9600M GT) did, resulting in acceptable conditions for both work and entertainment.

Unfortunately, the fan runs at all times; however, its sound is rather faint during normal use, reaching a value close to 34dB and making it comfortable enough not to be disturbing.

The noise level remained comfortable under heavier load as well: the maximum noise level amounts to a modest 38dB with the fan humming quite intensively, but without  being bothersome.

Noise Level

Idle 33.7 / 33.7 / 34 dB(A)
HDD 34.1 dB(A)
DVD 35.7 / 46.6 dB(A)
Load 36 / 38 dB(A)
 
    30 dB
silent
40 dB
audible
50 dB
loud
 
min: , med: , max:     (15 cm distance)
MSI EX625

Temperature

The laptop case warms up less than the Compal KHLB2 (with ATI's MR HD 4650). After three hours of testing at 21°C surrounding temperature, the values for the area around the palm rest reached 37°C, and almost 40°C at the bottom of the case. The next test carried out at 23°C surrounding temperature indicated the spots to be warmer (2-3 degrees), with the maximum value of the laptop's bottom side remaining unchanged.  

The graphics card reached the value of about 80°C under load, while the main processor heated up to about 70°C.

The MSI EX625 could deal with higher temperatures, but the relatively small radiator prevents that.

Max. Load
 29.1 °C34.9 °C37.2 °C 
 28.8 °C33.7 °C35 °C 
 27 °C31.5 °C32.8 °C 
 
39.9 °C35.2 °C29.1 °C
36.5 °C34.5 °C30.1 °C
29.5 °C35.1 °C30.8 °C
Maximum: 37.2 °C
Average: 32.2 °C
 Maximum: 39.9 °C
Average: 33.4 °C
Room Temperature 21 °C

Loudspeakers

The MSI EX625 features speakers with a sub-woofer. The setup results in a quite tuneful sound, however just after activating the Cinema Pro mode, which switches on the installed bass. The sound then gains timbre and a wider frequency range. The sound is also pretty clear and well-defined.  

Battery Life

The MSI EX625 was given a battery of rather low capacity (4800mAh, 54Whr), which achieved a maximum run duration of 3.5 hours (216 minutes with Turbo Battery mode on, and 204 minutes in power saving mode). Activated WiFi gives the user 2.5 hours before the connection abruptly closes.

Battery runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
3h 24min
WiFi Surfing
2h 35min
DVD
1h 36min
Load (maximum brightness)
1h 05min

Power consumption

Idle 21.5 / 25 / 32 Watt
Load 56 / 68 Watt
 
Key: min: , med: , max:         

Verdict

MSI EX625
MSI EX625

First of all, the graphic cards performance the laptop offers is mostly better than the one to be expected from similar models at this price range. Available benchmarks indicate a noticeable advantage over Nvidia's GeForce GT 130M.

Secondly, there are two components contributing to the lack of heat and noise emissions – the 55nm GPU from ATI and the 45nm  P8600 processor, based on Intel-technology (featuring reduced heat emission). Additionally, the EX625 is able to run for up to 3 hours (with network connections up) using its built-in battery.

The 16:9 display's rating might be a little confusing: in spite of the limited vertical resolution, it works just great for the multimedia purposes. Moreover, the level of brightness leaves all previously tested models from the Chinese manufacturer (e.g. the GX620) behind. The narrow viewing angles are weak points that have to be mentioned.

Potential buyers will most likely depend on the quality of the general build to make their final decision on purchasing the EX625. Although the quality is still not as good as in the case of the Lenovo Y530 or the Dell XPS 16, the EX625 reaches a solid standard, as known from the Asus N50Vn. Another questionable issue is the way in which the impressively low weight of this laptop was acquired: by using a thin and prone to curving plastic in selected areas of its case.

The biggest disadvantage of the EX625 is its keyboard, but one has to say that the size of the keyboard and the keys' arrangement are better than those of previous models by MSI.

Reviewed: MSI EX625
Reviewed: MSI EX625

Specifications

MSI EX625

:: Processor
:: Mainboard
Intel PM45
:: Memory
4096 MB, DDR2-800, 2x 2GB, max. 8GB
:: Graphics adapter
ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4670 - 512 MB, Core: 675 MHz, Memory: 800 MHz, GDDR3, 55nm, ATI Catalyst 9.1
:: Display
16 inch 16:9, 1366x768 pixel, Samsung 160AT01-A04 / SEC304C, glossy: yes
:: Harddisk
320 GB - 5400 rpm, 320 GB 5400 rpm Fujitsu MHZ2320BH G2
:: Soundcard
Realtek ALC888
:: Connections
1 Express Card 54mm, 3 USB 2.0, 1 VGA, 1 HDMI, Agere Systems HDA Modem, 1 Kensington Lock, 1 eSata, Audio Connections: Audio-in, Audio-out, Card Reader: SD/MMC/MS,
:: Networking
Realtek RTL8168C/8111C Family PCI-E Gigabit Ethernet NIC (10/100/1000MBit), Atheros AR928X (), V2.0+EDR Bluetooth
:: Optical drive
TSSTcorp CDDVDW TS-L633A
:: Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 41.5 x 374 x 246
:: Weight
2.573 kg Power Supply: 0.535 kg
:: Battery
54 Wh Lithium-Ion, 4800mAh, 11.1V
:: Operating System
Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium 32 Bit
:: Additional features
carrying case and mouse, 2Mpx webcam, subwoofer

 

MSI EX625 is the first available notebook featuring ATI's Mobility Radeon HD 4670.
MSI EX625 is the first available notebook  featuring ATI's Mobility Radeon HD 4670.
It is of rather low weight and has a 16" screen in 16:9 format.
It is of rather low weight and has a 16" screen in 16:9 format.
The shapes of this notebook resemble some HP Pavilion or Asus models.
The shapes of this notebook resemble some HP Pavilion or Asus models.
Hints are for example the touch sensitive button panel behind the keyboard...
Hints are for example the touch sensitive button panel behind the keyboard...
... the bright wavy pattern on the palm rest...
... the bright wavy pattern on the palm rest...
... and a dark one on the lid.
... and a dark one on the lid.
One noticeable part of the EX625 are the curved loudspeaker grills.
One noticeable part of the EX625 are the curved loudspeaker grills.
The keyboard has a separate numeric pad, but its layout is not very useful.
The keyboard has a separate numeric pad, but its layout is not very useful.
The display features relatively well saturated colors, a bright image, but a below-average contrast ratio and mediocre viewing angles.
The display features relatively well saturated colors, a bright image, but a below-average contrast ratio and mediocre viewing angles.
ATI's HD 4670 GPU proved to be more powerful than the competing GeForce GT 130M.
ATI's HD 4670 GPU proved to be more powerful than the competing GeForce GT 130M.
The sound system has a subwoofer included, therefore the sound is acceptable.
The sound system has a subwoofer included, therefore the sound is acceptable.
If one looks closer, there is a warranty seal; however, it should not be disturbing, as the user is free to upgrade or exchange the hardware.
If one looks closer, there is a warranty seal; however, it should not be disturbing, as the user is free to upgrade or exchange the hardware.
Thanks to 55nm GPU and 45nm CPU the reviewed model does not get too hot...
Thanks to 55nm GPU and 45nm CPU the reviewed model does not get too hot...
... and it also does not emit too much noise.
... and it also does not emit too much noise.
The battery life is decent for a MSI laptop, but some competing models are better in this field.
The battery life is decent for a MSI laptop, but some competing models are better in this field.

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Compare Prices

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Pricerunner n.a.

Pro

+High performance
+Quality and brightness of the images
+Lightweight
+Not too noisy
+Low heat emissions
 

Contra

-Setup and characteristics of the keyboard
-Viewing angles of the screen
-Case sensitive to dirt

> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > Review MSI EX625 Notebook
Author: Sylwester Cyba, 2009-05- 2 (Update: 2013-06- 6)