Notebookcheck

MSI S12T-3MA441 Subnotebook Review

Sascha Mölck, Stefanie Voigt (translated by Liala Stieglitz), 10/29/2014

No endurance. The highlights of the small 11.6-inch laptop are the mSATA solid state drive and empty hard-drive slot. Our report reveals whether the subnotebook has more than that to offer.

For the original German review, see here.

11.6-inch laptops are not only suitable as portable typewriters. They are also frequently used as small browsing stations on the couch at home. MSI enriches the offer of corresponding devices with its S12T. The company wants to score with a solid state drive and an empty 2.5-inch hard-drive slot. Will it succeed?

All 11.6-inch laptops are basically rivals of the S12T. Examples would be Acer's Aspire V3-111P and Lenovo's ThinkPad Edge E145.

Case & Connectivity

The small laptop is shipped in a black plastic casing, and only the lid's back is made of brushed aluminum. Brushed aluminum is simulated on the base unit's upper side. The spaces between the keys are comprised of glossy plastic. The device proved to have a good overall build, but the base unit is easy to twist. The laptop laudably has a maintenance cover, and thus accessing the working memory and solid state drive is no problem. Furthermore, the laptop has an empty hard-drive slot. Consequently, the device could be upgraded with a 2.5-inch hard drive.

MSI has managed to install quite a few interfaces despite the tight space. Even a nowadays increasingly rarer VGA-out is among them. The interfaces are distributed over the entire length of both sides, and thus the areas beside the wrist rest will not remain free of cables.

MSI S12T-3MA441. (Picture: MSI)
MSI S12T-3MA441. (Picture: MSI)
The lid's back is comprised of brushed aluminum. (Picture: MSI)
The lid's back is comprised of brushed aluminum. (Picture: MSI)
Opened maintenance cover of the S12T.
Opened maintenance cover of the S12T.
Left: power socket, VGA-out, HDMI, USB 3.0. (Picture: MSI)
Left: power socket, VGA-out, HDMI, USB 3.0. (Picture: MSI)
Right: headphone out, microphone in, 2x USB 2.0, memory-card reader, Ethernet port, Kensington lock slot. (Picture: MSI)
Right: headphone out, microphone in, 2x USB 2.0, memory-card reader, Ethernet port, Kensington lock slot. (Picture: MSI)

Input Devices

MSI S12T input devices
MSI S12T input devices

MSI's little laptop is equipped with an unlit chiclet keyboard. The keys feature a roughened, lightly concave surface. The drop is medium and the pressure point is clear. The keyboard yields very marginally when typing on it, but it is not interfering. The multi-touchpad in the S12T has a size of approximately 6.5 x 4.1 cm. The brushed texture is continued on the pad, and thus its surface is rough so it does not have an adverse effect. Gestures can be used quite easily despite the pad's small surface. Both mouse keys have a short drop and clear pressure point.

Display

MSI equips the S12T with a glare-type, 11.6-inch screen that has a resolution of 1366x768 pixels. The screen only achieves a brightness of 175.9 cd/m², which is not a good rate. We expect rates of beyond 200 cd/m² here, particularly in a 500 Euros (~$637) device. However, the contrast of 569:1 and black level of 0.32 cd/m² are very satisfactory.

173
cd/m²
154
cd/m²
150
cd/m²
198
cd/m²
182
cd/m²
179
cd/m²
197
cd/m²
180
cd/m²
170
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 198 cd/m² Average: 175.9 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 76 %
Center on Battery: 182 cd/m²
Contrast: 569:1 (Black: 0.32 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 9.48 | 0.4-29.43 Ø6.1
ΔE Greyscale 10.37 | 0.64-98 Ø6.4
40% AdobeRGB 1998 (Argyll 3D)
Gamma: 2.64

The screen's color reproduction is only standard. An average DeltaE 2000 shift of 9.48 is on the normal level for this price range. The target range of DeltaE less than 3 is very remote. The screen also has an evident bluish cast.

CalMAN - ColorChecker
CalMAN - ColorChecker
CalMAN - Grayscale
CalMAN - Grayscale
CalMAN - Saturation Sweeps
CalMAN - Saturation Sweeps
The S12T outdoors (shot in overcast conditions)
The S12T outdoors (shot in overcast conditions)

The screen's reflective surface and its low brightness do not really allow outdoor use. Its very limited viewing angles also correspond to the laptop's price level. MSI only installs a TN screen.

Performance

MSI offers an 11.6-inch subnotebook/netbook with the S12T. The laptop is suitable for office, Internet, and video playback applications. Our review sample costs about 500 Euros (~$637), and other configurations are available.

Processor

MSI opted for an A4-5000 APU (Kabini) from AMD for its S12T. The APU has four CPU cores that clock with a maximum speed of 1.5 GHz. It does not have Turbo. The TDP is 15 watts, which is on par with Intel's Haswell ULV processors. The processor's full computing performance is available in both AC and battery modes. It always performed the CPU tests of the Cinebench benchmarks with 1.5 GHz.

Cinebench R10 Rendering Multiple CPUs 32Bit
3115
Cinebench R10 Shading 32Bit
2506
Cinebench R10 Rendering Single 32Bit
1169
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Multi 64Bit
1.46 Points
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Single 64Bit
0.35 Points
Cinebench R11.5 OpenGL 64Bit
11.11 fps
Cinebench R15 Ref. Match 64Bit
98 %
Cinebench R15 OpenGL 64Bit
11.96 fps
Cinebench R15 CPU Multi 64Bit
85 Points
Cinebench R15 CPU Single 64Bit
30 Points
Help
Cinebench R11.5 - CPU Single 64Bit (sort by value)
MSI S12T-3MA441
Radeon HD 8330, A4-5000, Hynix HFS128G3AMNB
0.35 Points ∼14%
HP Pavilion 11-n070eg x360
HD Graphics (Bay Trail), N2820, Seagate Momentus Thin ST500LT012-1DG142
0.29 Points ∼12% -17%
Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E145
Radeon HD 8240, E1-2500, Hitachi Travelstar Z5K500 HTS545050A7E380
0.35 Points ∼14% 0%
Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E145-20BC000UGE
Radeon HD 8330, A4-5000, Western Digital Scorpio Blue WD5000LPVX
0.39 Points ∼16% +11%
Asus F200MA-CT067H
HD Graphics (Bay Trail), N2815, Toshiba MQ01ABF050
0.4 Points ∼16% +14%
Acer Aspire V5-132P
HD Graphics (Ivy Bridge), 2129Y, Toshiba MQ01ABF050
0.45 Points ∼18% +29%
Acer Aspire V3-111P-P06A
HD Graphics (Bay Trail), N3530, Western Digital Scorpio Blue WD5000LPVX
0.48 Points ∼20% +37%
Cinebench R11.5 - CPU Multi 64Bit (sort by value)
MSI S12T-3MA441
Radeon HD 8330, A4-5000, Hynix HFS128G3AMNB
1.46 Points ∼5%
HP Pavilion 11-n070eg x360
HD Graphics (Bay Trail), N2820, Seagate Momentus Thin ST500LT012-1DG142
0.51 Points ∼2% -65%
Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E145
Radeon HD 8240, E1-2500, Hitachi Travelstar Z5K500 HTS545050A7E380
0.66 Points ∼2% -55%
Asus F200MA-CT067H
HD Graphics (Bay Trail), N2815, Toshiba MQ01ABF050
0.76 Points ∼3% -48%
Acer Aspire V5-132P
HD Graphics (Ivy Bridge), 2129Y, Toshiba MQ01ABF050
0.88 Points ∼3% -40%
Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E145-20BC000UGE
Radeon HD 8330, A4-5000, Western Digital Scorpio Blue WD5000LPVX
1.48 Points ∼5% +1%
Acer Aspire V3-111P-P06A
HD Graphics (Bay Trail), N3530, Western Digital Scorpio Blue WD5000LPVX
1.82 Points ∼7% +25%

System Performance

The system runs smoothly owing to the solid state drive, and we did not experience any problems. The PCMark benchmark scores are very decent. The laptop can benefit slightly from the SSD.

PCMark 8 Home Score Accelerated v2
1714 points
PCMark 8 Creative Score Accelerated v2
1814 points
PCMark 8 Work Score Accelerated v2
2386 points
Help
PCMark 8 - Home Score Accelerated v2 (sort by value)
MSI S12T-3MA441
Radeon HD 8330, A4-5000, Hynix HFS128G3AMNB
1714 Points ∼28%
Asus F200MA-CT067H
HD Graphics (Bay Trail), N2815, Toshiba MQ01ABF050
1324 Points ∼22% -23%
Acer Aspire V5-132P
HD Graphics (Ivy Bridge), 2129Y, Toshiba MQ01ABF050
1340 Points ∼22% -22%
Acer Aspire V3-111P-P06A
HD Graphics (Bay Trail), N3530, Western Digital Scorpio Blue WD5000LPVX
1451 Points ∼24% -15%

Storage Devices

A solid state drive in the mSATA format is the storage device in the S12T. The SSD has a capacity of 128 GB. The recovery partition uses approximately 20 GB of that. The SSD achieves good transfer rates in total, but it cannot compete with the swiftest SSD models, such as the Samsung 840 EVO and - with restrictions - the Crucial M500. It is possible to additionally install a conventional 2.5-inch hard drive into the laptop should the storage be depleted. MSI includes the needed frame.

Hynix HFS128G3AMNB
Sequential Read: 425.8 MB/s
Sequential Write: 310 MB/s
512K Read: 360.4 MB/s
512K Write: 279.4 MB/s
4K Read: 19.26 MB/s
4K Write: 38.6 MB/s
4K QD32 Read: 109 MB/s
4K QD32 Write: 84 MB/s
MSI S12T-3MA441
Radeon HD 8330, A4-5000, Hynix HFS128G3AMNB
Lenovo Miix 2 11
HD Graphics 4200, 4012Y, Samsung SSD PM841 MZMTD128HAFV mSATA
Nexoc M731
GeForce GTX 850M, 4810MQ, Mushkin Atlas mSATA MKNSSDAT240GB
Schenker XMG P724
GeForce GTX 880M SLI, 4810MQ, Samsung SSD 840 EVO 500GB mSATA
Schenker XMG P704
GeForce GTX 880M, 4910MQ, Crucial M500 480 GB CT480M500SSD3 mSATA
AS SSD
15%
-17%
96%
73%
Access Time Write *
0.105
0.054
49%
0.344
-228%
0.03
71%
0.053
50%
Access Time Read *
0.19
0.131
31%
0.158
17%
0.097
49%
0.114
40%
4K-64 Write
149.9
92.25
-38%
166.56
11%
270.54
80%
255.67
71%
4K-64 Read
234.55
182.54
-22%
83.36
-64%
355.24
51%
319.16
36%
4K Write
34.4
63.46
84%
81.99
138%
109.87
219%
114.9
234%
4K Read
16.15
25.12
56%
17.63
9%
40.83
153%
26.52
64%
Seq Write
200.93
113.43
-44%
204.34
2%
483.65
141%
385.34
92%
Seq Read
486.41
496.52
2%
396.27
-19%
503.58
4%
482.2
-1%

* ... smaller is better

Graphics Card

The graphics core used in the S12T is called Radeon HD 8330. The GPU supports DirectX 11.1 and clocks with up to 500 MHz. The graphics chip is located in the lower field of the performance chart. Nevertheless, the core easily outperforms Intel's Bay Trail GPUs, like as found in the Aspire V3-111P.

3DMark 11 Performance
598 points
3DMark Ice Storm Standard Score
23045 points
3DMark Cloud Gate Standard Score
2160 points
3DMark Fire Strike Score
308 points
Help
3DMark 11 - 1280x720 Performance (sort by value)
MSI S12T-3MA441
Radeon HD 8330, A4-5000, Hynix HFS128G3AMNB
598 Points ∼2%
Asus F200MA-CT067H
HD Graphics (Bay Trail), N2815, Toshiba MQ01ABF050
222 Points ∼1% -63%
Acer Aspire V3-111P-P06A
HD Graphics (Bay Trail), N3530, Western Digital Scorpio Blue WD5000LPVX
269 Points ∼1% -55%
Acer Aspire V5-132P
HD Graphics (Ivy Bridge), 2129Y, Toshiba MQ01ABF050
321 Points ∼1% -46%
Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E145
Radeon HD 8240, E1-2500, Hitachi Travelstar Z5K500 HTS545050A7E380
464 Points ∼1% -22%
Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E145-20BC000UGE
Radeon HD 8330, A4-5000, Western Digital Scorpio Blue WD5000LPVX
581 Points ∼2% -3%

Gaming Performance

It is quite possible to use MSI's little laptop for gaming. However, users should limit themselves to games from the Windows Store. Apart from a few exceptions, modern 3D games virtually do not achieve any playable frame rates on the laptop.

low med. high ultra
Tomb Raider (2013) 26.213.39.3fps

Emissions

System Noise

The laptop is already very audible in idle mode. The fan produces a permanent noise, and it speeds up considerably as soon as the laptop is loaded. We measured a consistent noise level of 44 dB(A) during the stress test. The rates are overall disappointing because the ThinkPad Edge also with the A4-5000 APU operates quieter over the entire load range. The Aspire does not have a fan and is consequently even quieter than its contenders. Only its hard drive noise is heard.

Noise Level

Idle
35.1 / 35.1 / 35.2 dB(A)
Load
41.1 / 44 dB(A)
  red to green bar
 
 
30 dB
silent
40 dB(A)
audible
50 dB(A)
loud
 
min: dark, med: mid, max: light   Voltcraft sl-320 (15 cm distance)

Temperature

MSI S12T-3MA441 in the stress test
MSI S12T-3MA441 in the stress test

The CPU performed the stress test (Prime95 and Furmark run for at least one hour) with 1.5 GHz in both AC and battery modes. The graphics core processed the stress test with 496 MHz in AC mode. The speed was throttled to 400 MHz in battery mode. The laptop did not have any heat issues. The temperatures remained below 40 °C at every measuring point even in the stress test. The same is true for the ThinkPad Edge. Only the Aspire surpasses this threshold on two points - after all, it does not have a fan.

 34.3 °C
94 F
29.6 °C
85 F
28.9 °C
84 F
 
 29.1 °C
84 F
29.9 °C
86 F
30.1 °C
86 F
 
 30.2 °C
86 F
29.7 °C
85 F
30.6 °C
87 F
 
Maximum: 34.3 °C = 94 F
Average: 30.3 °C = 87 F
26 °C
79 F
27.2 °C
81 F
30.6 °C
87 F
24.2 °C
76 F
26.4 °C
80 F
27.1 °C
81 F
29.2 °C
85 F
26.3 °C
79 F
27.3 °C
81 F
Maximum: 30.6 °C = 87 F
Average: 27.1 °C = 81 F
Power Supply (max.)  35.8 °C = 96 F | Room Temperature 24.1 °C = 75 F | Voltcraft IR-360
(+) The average temperature for the upper side under maximal load is 28.6 °C / 83 F, compared to the average of 30.7 °C / 87 F for the devices in the class Subnotebook.
(+) The maximum temperature on the upper side is 31 °C / 88 F, compared to the average of 35.8 °C / 96 F, ranging from 22 to 57 °C for the class Subnotebook.
(+) The bottom heats up to a maximum of 35 °C / 95 F, compared to the average of 40.1 °C / 104 F
(+) In idle usage, the average temperature for the upper side is 30.3 °C / 87 F, compared to the device average of 30.7 °C / 87 F.
(+) The palmrests and touchpad are cooler than skin temperature with a maximum of 30.6 °C / 87.1 F and are therefore cool to the touch.
(±) The average temperature of the palmrest area of similar devices was 28.6 °C / 83.5 F (-2 °C / -3.6 F).

Speakers

The stereo speakers are on the underside of the front edge in the S12T. They can only offer a thin sound that lacks richness and bass. Speech is well-intelligible. Headphones or external speakers should be used when watching a movie on the laptop.

Energy Management

Power Consumption

The power consumption of the S12T is not surprising and ranges on the same level as identically configured laptops such as the ThinkPad Edge. The Aspire is overall more energy efficient than its contenders.

Power Consumption
Off / Standbydarklight 0.1 / 0.1 Watt
Idledarkmidlight 4.2 / 6.3 / 7.5 Watt
Load midlight 16.9 / 22.4 Watt
 color bar
Key: min: dark, med: mid, max: light        Voltcraft VC 940

Battery Runtime

Websites are automatically opened every 40 seconds using the energy-saving profile and a screen brightness of approximately 150 cd/m² in the practical Wi-Fi test. The S12T achieved a runtime of 3:14 hours - an abysmal rate. Both the ThinkPad Edge (7:44 h) and the Aspire (8:21 h) last more than twice as long. A look at the battery capacities reveal why MSI's laptop is drained so much sooner (MSI: 25 Wh; Lenovo: 63 Wh; Acer: 49 Wh).

Battery Runtime
WiFi Surfing
3h 14min
Battery Runtime - WiFi (sort by value)
MSI S12T-3MA441
Radeon HD 8330, A4-5000, Hynix HFS128G3AMNB
194 min ∼39%
Acer Aspire V5-132P
HD Graphics (Ivy Bridge), 2129Y, Toshiba MQ01ABF050
174 min ∼35%
HP Pavilion 11-n070eg x360
HD Graphics (Bay Trail), N2820, Seagate Momentus Thin ST500LT012-1DG142
217 min ∼43%
Asus F200MA-CT067H
HD Graphics (Bay Trail), N2815, Toshiba MQ01ABF050
301 min ∼60%
Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E145-20BC000UGE
Radeon HD 8330, A4-5000, Western Digital Scorpio Blue WD5000LPVX
464 min ∼93%
Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E145
Radeon HD 8240, E1-2500, Hitachi Travelstar Z5K500 HTS545050A7E380
499 min ∼100%
Acer Aspire V3-111P-P06A
HD Graphics (Bay Trail), N3530, Western Digital Scorpio Blue WD5000LPVX
501 min ∼100%

Verdict

MSI's S12T-3MA441 offers enough computing power for applications from the office and Internet fields. The system runs very swiftly owing to the SSD. Furthermore, the laptop barely heats up. However, it produces too much noise. More conservative fan settings would be more appropriate. The battery life is also anything but good. 11.6-inch laptops are by definition designed for mobility, and thus should provide a long battery life. Therefore, MSI's laptop is virtually only suitable for home use. The screen also deserves criticism. MSI has installed a very dark model. In a nutshell, the S12T cannot keep up with its contenders. The Aspire V3-111P is available for 380 Euros (~$484) and has a considerably better battery life. The ThinkPad Edge E145 features a matte screen, excellent keyboard, and long battery runtimes.

Read all 1 comments / answer
static version load dynamic
Loading Comments
Comment on this article
In review: MSI S12T-3MA441. Test model courtesy of Notebooksbilliger.de.
In review: MSI S12T-3MA441. Test model courtesy of Notebooksbilliger.de.

Specifications

MSI S12T-3MA441 (S12 Series)
Processor
Graphics adapter
AMD Radeon HD 8330, Memory: 500 MHz, 13.152.0.0
Memory
4096 MB 
, DDR3, single-channel, two memory banks (one bank filled)
Display
11.6 inch 16:9, 1366 x 768 pixel, 10 point multi-touch, TN LED, glossy: yes
Mainboard
AMD Bolton
Storage
Hynix HFS128G3AMNB, 128 GB 
, 70 GB free
Soundcard
AMD Hudson-2 High Definition Audio Controller
Connections
2 USB 2.0, 1 USB 3.0 / 3.1 Gen1, 1 VGA, 1 HDMI, 1 Kensington Lock, Audio Connections: headphone-out, microphone-in, Card Reader: SD
Networking
Atheros AR8161/8165 PCI-E Gigabit Ethernet Controller (10/100/1000MBit), Realtek RTL8723AE Wireless LAN 802.11n (n), Bluetooth 4.0
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 30.6 x 297 x 190 ( = 1.2 x 11.69 x 7.48 in)
Battery
25 Wh Lithium-Ion, 11.1 V, 2200 mAh
Operating System
Microsoft Windows 8.1 64 Bit
Camera
Webcam: HD webcam
Additional features
Speakers: stereo, Keyboard: chiclet, Keyboard Light: no, Magix MX Suite, MS Office (trial), Norton Internet Security (trial), Windows Essentials 2012, 24 Months Warranty
Weight
1.3 kg ( = 45.86 oz / 2.87 pounds), Power Supply: 268 g ( = 9.45 oz / 0.59 pounds)
Price
500 Euro

 

Similar Laptops

Similar devices from a different Manufacturer

Devices from the same Manufacturer

MSI GE75 Raider 8SF (i7-8750H, RTX 2070) Laptop Review
GeForce RTX 2070 (Laptop), Core i7 8750H, 17.3", 2.64 kg
MSI GE75 8SG Raider (i7-8750H, RTX 2080) Laptop Review
GeForce RTX 2080 (Laptop), Core i7 8750H, 17.3", 2.646 kg
MSI GL73 8SE (i7-8750H, RTX 2060) Laptop Review
GeForce RTX 2060 (Laptop), Core i7 8750H, 17.3", 2.7 kg
MSI GS75 8SG Stealth (i7-8750H, RTX 2080 Max-Q) Laptop Review
GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q, Core i7 8750H, 17.3", 2.278 kg
MSI PS63 Modern 8RC (Core i7-8565U, GTX 1050 Max-Q) Laptop Review
GeForce GTX 1050 Max-Q, Core i7 8565U, 15.6", 1.661 kg
MSI Aegis 3 8RD (Core i7-8700, GTX 1070, 16 GB) Desktop PC Review
GeForce GTX 1070 (Desktop), Core i7 (Desktop) 8700, ", 0 kg

Links

  • Manufacturer's information

Compare Prices

Pros

+mSATA SSD
+Empty hard drive slot
+Decent keyboard
+Low temperatures
 

Cons

-Dark screen
-Poor battery life

Shortcut

What we like

The mSATA solid state drive and the empty hard-drive slot.

What we'd like to see

A brighter screen and a better battery life.

What surprises us

Nothing.

The competition

Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E145, Acer Aspire V3-111P, HP Pavilion 11-n070eg x360, Asus Transformer Book T200TA, Acer Aspire E3-111-C6LG, Acer Aspire V5-132P, Asus F200MA-CT067H.

Rating

MSI S12T-3MA441 - 10/23/2014 v4(old)
Sascha Mölck

Chassis
77 /  98 → 79%
Keyboard
73%
Pointing Device
73%
Connectivity
63 / 80 → 79%
Weight
71 / 35-78 → 84%
Battery
77%
Display
71%
Games Performance
53 / 68 → 78%
Application Performance
46 / 87 → 53%
Temperature
92 / 91 → 100%
Noise
73%
Audio
30 / 91 → 33%
Camera
35 / 85 → 41%
Average
64%
73%
Subnotebook - Weighted Average
Please share our article, every link counts!
> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > MSI S12T-3MA441 Subnotebook Review
Sascha Mölck, 2014-10-29 (Update: 2018-05-15)