Review MSI CR41-i587 Notebook

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MSI sends a 14-inch laptop dubbed CR41 into the race to win over customers. Intel's Core i5-3210M processor, 8 GB of working memory and a standard 1366x768 pixel screen on the hardware list does not encompass any surprises and compact Laptop Keyboard  . Other manufacturers have similar devices also for around 600 Euros (~$798) in their range. We will see whether the CR41 can stick out positively in our test report. We used Dell's Vostro 3460 (Core i5-3210M, GeForce GT 630M) and Asus' B43E (Core i3-2350M, Intel HD Graphics 3000) to compare and classify the laptop.

The CR41's entire casing is made of gray-black plastic. Most surfaces feature a polished matte color. Only the display bezel and keyboard gaps are reflective like the Lenovo Ideapad G570 (Black Frame) Keyboard  . The base unit's top looks are to imply brushed aluminum. However, this is not deceptive even for a second. The display's back is all over sleek and very susceptible to fingerprints at the same time. Most contenders also use plastic. However, they set contrasts by using higher quality materials. For example, the display backs of the Vostro 3460 and B43E are comprised of aluminum. 

The casing of MSI's laptop could be more rigid. The right part of the wrist rest can be dented quite severely. The base unit also easily yields in the touchpad's area and a cracking sound is audible from the casing. Also, the casing can be warped a bit too extremely when it is picked up at the base unit's front corners. The same applies to the laptop's lid. The hinges keep the lid firmly in position and it is not possible to open the lid with one hand. 

 

Right: DVD burner, Kensington lock slot, 2x USB 2.0, memory card reader, microphone in, headphone out

 

Minor manufacturing flaws also exist. For example, single irregular gaps are found and the touchpad's mouse keys are not parallel to each other. Furthermore, taking out the battery also proves to be awkward. A small recess for the finger is located in front of the battery compartment. Not only the battery's edge but also an edge from the casing is above this recess. When removing the battery the finger often snags at the edge.

The CR41's connectivity does not exhibit any surprises and corresponds to that found in most modern laptops. The number and type of interfaces is virtually the same as on the Vostro 3460. The only difference is that the Vostro features four USB 3.0 ports while the CR41 sports two USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0 ports and other Compatible Parts . The B43E features better equipment with an ExpressCard slot, an eSATA / USB combo port and a docking port in addition to those found on the contenders. The CR41's interface distribution is a bit adverse. Almost all interfaces are in the laptop's left and right front area.
Left: Power socket, Gigabit Ethernet socket, VGA out, USB 3.0, HDMI, USB 3.0
 

Communication  

MSI uses a Wi-Fi module from Atheros dubbed AR1111 in the CR41. It supports the 802.11 b/g/n standard. The transmission performance gave no reason for complaint.  The Windows Wi-Fi indicator displayed the full-scale deflection in both the router's immediate vicinity of approx. 3 meters as well as two stories below it. The router's transmission performance was roughly 50%. MSI sticks to a familiar Gigabit Ethernet model which is installed in many laptops with Realtek's RTL8168/8111 chip. MSI's CR41 even sports Bluetooth 4.0. Fans of video calls will be happy about the 1.3 megapixel webcam.

 

Accessories

The usual laptop accessories  are included with the laptop: a quick start poster, a leaflet with warranty information and very short instructions about a few Windows 8 functions. Compliantly, a driver DVD is included, although only with drivers for Windows 8.

 

The keyboard enables pleasant typing

 

Keyboard

MSI installs a chiclet keyboard in the CR41 like the  Lenovo Ideapad G570 (Black Frame) Keyboard  . There is no room for a number pad. The main keys feature a size of 15 x 15 mm and a slight concave curve. The keys exhibit a medium drop and provide the fingers with a pleasant resistance. The pressure point is clear. The keyboard barely yields anywhere. It only dents a bit stronger over the DVD burner. The enter, backspace and right shift key are regrettably a bit too small and thus easily missed.

Touchpad

The CR41's Elan touchpad has a size of 7.6 x 4.5 cm. The minute dots on the surface do not impair the finger from gliding. The multi-touch capable pad supports common gestures like pinch-to-zoom on pictures. The single gestures can be turned on and off in the setup menu. In our opinion, the touchpad is a bit too sensitive in the default settings. Unintentional mouse clicks were often triggered while moving the cursor. However, this should not be a problem since the responsiveness can be adjusted in the setup menu. A small button above the pad turns it on and off. Both mouse keys feature a short drop and a clearly audible and palpable pressure point. A minor blemish: the keys are not quite parallel. We cannot say whether this is a series fault or whether it is an isolated case.
   

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