MSI Wind U115 netbook
In our battery tests the MSI Wind U115 lasted longer than any other netbook we've reviewed
- Excellent battery life, SSD and conventional hard drive, 802.11n wireless networking
- Poor balance, some keys are too small, touchpad buttons are not well defined
For travellers — or anyone who wants to work for long periods of time away from a power outlet — the MSI Wind U115 is perfect. Its battery life is the longest we've seen in an Intel Atom-based netbook, lasting well over five hours. We also like the inclusion of an SSD drive, but we wish it had a larger storage capacity.
Price$ 999.00 (AUD)
While the MSI Wind U115 may not look special at first glance, this is not a typical netbook. It has a very long battery life, 802.11n wireless networking (Ralink 1t2r), Intel GMA 500 graphics, and two storage devices: a solid-state drive and a conventional spinning hard drive. As far as netbooks go, this one is a very interesting proposition but it's not without its problems.
The main issue is the netbook's balance. The 10.2in screen is heavy and makes the MSI Wind U115 fall backwards. This is especially a problem when you use the MSI Wind U115 on your lap while you are on public transport, for example. Taking your hands off the palm rest for a moment could spell disaster as the laptop topples over. This problem isn't unique to the U115, though. We have seen it in the Wind U100, Wind U120 and Wind U123T, too.
Apart from the balance problem, the MSI Wind U115 feels well built and it has a good keyboard with 16.5mm keys. However, the comma, period and slash keys are only 12mm wide and can initially make it uncomfortable to type for a prolonged period of time. You do get used to the undersized keys after a while. We don't like the placement of the Fn key at the bottom-left corner, as we are used to the Control button being there.
The touchpad is 5.1x3.8cm, so it's a little small. However, it's responsive and feels good to the touch. We wish its left- and right-click buttons were separated instead of being a single piece of plastic, and also that they were better defined against the palm rest (it is very hard to feel for them).
You can't easily upgrade the MSI Wind U115. To access its memory and storage devices you have to remove the base. The U115 ships with 1GB of DDR2 SDRAM by default, but can be expanded to 2GB.
The MSI Wind U110's solid-state drive has a capacity of 8GB (6.88GB formatted) and is used to run the operating system, which is Windows XP Home. When installing programs, you need to place them on the D drive or you'll quickly eat up the SSD. The D drive is a 5400rpm hard drive (a Western Digital 1600BEVT-22ZCT0) with a capacity of 160GB (145GB formatted). It was slow in our tests, recording a data transfer rate of only 10.92 megabytes per second.
However, the Wind U115 performed solidly overall. It took 7min 58sec to encode 53min worth of WAV files to 192Kbps MP3s, which is approximately 1min better than the average encoding time for a netbook. The CPU in charge of the Wind U115 is an Intel Atom N270 with a 1.6GHz frequency, a 533MHz front-side bus, and it has Hyper-Threading, which aids multitasking. You can run a Web browser while you chat on IM and listen to MP3s without noticing too much lag. Of course, you won't be able to perform taxing photo editing tasks, and the encoding or transcoding of media files will be very slow, but the U115 isn't designed for those sorts of CPU-intensive tasks.
What this notebook is designed for is surviving a long time away from a power outlet. It has a 58 Watt-hour battery (6-cell) that sticks out of the spine and contributes to the netbook's overall weight of 1.3kg. It lasted 5hr 22min in our video rundown test, in which we loop video files with the screen brightness at maximum and the wireless radio enabled. This is the longest battery life we've recorded from a netbook with an Atom CPU, and you should be able to get even more life out of it if you employ a sensible power-management scheme. For example, it lasted 5hr 39min when we switched off the wireless radio.
Balance problems aside, the MSI Wind U115 is one of the most desirable netbooks on the market. Its battery life is stellar, it has fast wireless networking and we like the inclusion of the SSD in addition to a regular hard drive (it means that the netbook can be up and running in 30sec from a cold boot).
Follow PC World Australia on Twitter: @PCWorldAu
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Samsung portable 1TB T3 drive
UE Boom 2 Bluetooth speaker
Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop
Epson EcoTank Expression ET-2500
Linksys AC5400 MU-MIMO Gigabit router
Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive
Smart LED Bulb LB130
Epson WorkForce ET-4550
Logitech G403 Prodigy mouse
Epson WorkForce DS-360W
Belkin MIXIT Metallic Lightning to USB Cable
Lexar® Portable SSD
Huawei Mate 9
3SIXT Ultra HD Sports Action Camera
Acer Swift 7
Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive
Google Daydream VR headset
HP Pavilion x360 13”
Blade 28 backpack by Arc’teryx
Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive
Surface Pro 4
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones
Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards
Garmin Fenix Chronos smartwatch
Dell XPS 13 laptop
Dell Inspiron 5000 series 2-in-1
HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Gigabyte Aorus GA-AX370-Gaming 5 AMD Ryzen AM4 motherboard review
- 2 Kogan curved 4K UHD 55-inch LED LCD TV review
- 3 Panasonic Blu-ray recorder PVR set-top box review
- 4 Garmin Fenix Chronos fitness tracker smartwatch review
- 5 Star Wars Death Star Bluetooth levitating rotating speaker review
Latest News Articles
- More iPad screen sizes unlikely to stop slump
- Android struggling in tablets as Windows 10 2-in-1s come on strong
- Samsung unveils Galaxy Book, a Windows 10 tablet aimed at the Surface-curious
- Everything we think we know about Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S3
- Lenovo's ThinkPad P71 will work with HTC, Oculus VR headsets
PCW Evaluation Team
A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.
I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
- Behind the scenes with Team Walkinshaw at V8 Supercars Melbourne 2017
- And the 2017 winner of the Formula 1 Best Pit Lane Boom Gantry is...
- First look at the Formula 1 2017 pit lane in Melbourne, Australia
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies
- FTSocial Media ExecutiveNSW
- FTTechnical ConsultantACT
- TPGIS Developer - 6 month ContractQLD
- FTApplication Support Analyst - Mortgage SolutionNSW
- FTPMO CoordinatorNSW
- FTPMO Project Analytics and Tools ManagerNSW
- FTLevel 3 Application Support AnalystVIC
- FTField Deployment EngineerNSW
- FTTest LeadNSW
- FTETL Informatica DeveloperNSW
- FTSenior .NET DeveloperVIC
- TPEngineer Desktop DevelopmentVIC
- TPSenior Business AnalystQLD
- CCLevel 1 IT Support OfficerACT
- FTDatabase Administrator - OracleQLD
- FTProject Manager - Financial Forecasting SystemsNSW
- TPSolution Architect - Transport DomainVIC
- FTSenior Network Specialist - Internet Edge Routing and SwitchingVIC
- FTTechnical Business AnalystNSW
- CCSenior Network Architect l CCIE R&S l Cisco ACINSW
- CCApplication Developer - FileNetQLD
- FTICT Security AnalystQLD
- FTData Storage Support Consultant (EMC)QLD
- CCOrganisational Change Analyst - Banking/Financial ServicesNSW
- TPTechnical ArchitectVIC