The MSI CR420 is by far the most affordable Intel Core i3 laptop out there. It features modest hardware, but offers everything that an office laptop requires. For starters, it offers a dial-up modem, multiple display options, good performance and an excellent price point.

As a standalone laptop, this machine has nothing extraordinary in terms of features and hardware. However, the moment you compare this machine to others that offer the same functionality and performance, this one trounces most laptops out there. So yes, it is definitely special, mainly because of its price-performance ratio. With a 14-inch screen (1366×768), good design, a not-so-heavy body, this laptop is idea for office use and for using mainstream applications such as Microsoft Office, Adobe design suites and such.

On the left-hand side, there are two USB ports, a DVD writer and audio jacks, and, on the right-hand side is a PC card slot, a memory card reader, HDMI, power jack and a Kensington lock slot. So there are three USB ports in all and you can even connect the laptop to an HD projector using HDMI. At the rear is a VGA connector, and, next to the Ethernet jack is a dial-up modem jack, which confirms that this is an ideal entry-level office laptop. The standard connectivity options include gigabit Ethernet and Wi-Fi N. So, while it has a modest feature set, which is common to most standard laptops, you’re getting almost everything at a good price point.

In terms of looks and design, it is almost identical to the MSI CX420 and CX620 models. It sports a black and light-grey color combination, where the lid is black with fine grey lines and the grey wrist rest has black lines. The entire unit is glossy, including the lid, wrist rest and screen frame. Thankfully, the touchpad and keyboard are matte, which makes the machine more reassuring to use, and ofcourse, though the mouse buttons are underneath a single button, they offer good tactile response too.

Overall, it’s a bulky unit, and unlike laptops from the MSI X-Slim series, this one sports a standard form factor and design. Nevertheless, it’s certainly a smart machine to look at and to carry around. The only downside we found was to do with the ergonomics. The Enter and Backspace keys are smaller than usual, and, the Shift key is almost the size of the arrow keys. Nevertheless, while typing, the chiclet keyboard is comfortable to use.

Hardware and OS
Built around an Intel HM55 chipset, the CR420 is powered by an Intel Core i3 330M CPU, it has 2 GB DDR3 DRAM, a 320 GB hard drive and it uses Intel’s onboard graphics. The machine comes pre-loaded with Windows 7 Home Premium (32-bit).

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