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 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.
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.
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.
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.