MSI X320 vs. the MacBook Air: Review

In January, 2009 MSI had launched the MSI X320, which looks an awful lot like a MacBook Air. It has a 13.4 inch, 1366 x 768 display

and its super thin and light, measuring less than an inch thick, and weighing about 2.9 pounds. But unlike the MacBook Air, the MSI

X320 runs on an Intel Atom Z520 CPU.

It features optional 3G / WiMAX module, 802.11b/g/n, three USB ports, an Ethernet port, VGA out, and a card reader. The presence of

connectivity options definitely makes it altogether enticing for those scouting a continually connected ultraportable.

The X320 (starting at $700) gets gifted with a less exciting 1.6GHz Atom Z530, which means two things: It would not exactly be a

speed demon but it will be a lot cheaper than the Air.

MSI X320 vs. the MacBook Air:

Graphic processor: MacBook Air sports Intel GMA X3100 graphics processor with 144MB of DDR2 SDRAM shared with main memory

whereas X320 has Intel GMA500 graphic processor.

Display: The X320 is a 13-inch laptop, meaning it houses a 13-inch widescreen. It uses the 16-by-9 form factor, as is common in

HDTVs, and its monitor is rated at 1,366×768 resolution; the Air, meanwhile, is designed in a 16-by-10 form factor with a 1,280×800

resolution. The LED screen is bright and pleasant to look at, not much different than the Air’s.

Weight: X320 weighs 2.9 pounds whereas Air is heavier with 3.0 pounds.

Thinner than a MacBook Air? It measures 1.98cm at its thickest point (the MacBook Air is a mere 1.94cm), slimming down to a skinny

6mm at its thinnest point (compared to 4mm for the MacBook Air).

Storage: X320’s hard drive is a 160-GB, 5,400 RPM expandable to 250 GB, whereas Air supports 80GB ATA 1.8” 4200-rpm HDD or

Processor: The X320 is powered by a 1.6 GHz, Intel Atom Z530 processor, which means it is using Intel’s Silverthorne platform

complete with the Intel Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 500 chipset. The Air sports a 1.6GHz or 1.8GHz Intel Core 2 Duo Merom.

Memory: Air has 2GB of 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM soldered to the logicboard, which is similar to the X320’s DDR2-667 up to 2GB


Wireless networking: Air has integrated AirPort Extreme supports 802.11a/b/g and draft-n, But X320 connects wirelessly using


Wired Ethernet: present in X320 but Air lacks it.

Battery life: MSI suggests that netbook can run for 10 hours whereas MacBook Air barely runs for 4.5 hours.

USB ports: three in X320 while Air has just one.

Camera: Air has Built-in iSight, 640×480 pixel resolution camera whereas X320 has 1.3 MP camera.

Dimensions: Air’s dimensions are 8.94 in D × 12.8 in W × 0.16–0.76 in H and X320 has 8.8 in D × 12.9 in W × 0.7 in H.

Keyboard: X320’s keyboard appears to be full sized, with standard proportions, instead of the non-adjoining keys that the Air uses, it

has Backlit full-size keyboard with ambient light sensor.

Bluetooth: X320 has Bluetooth V2.0 EDR, Air sports built-in 2.1 EDR.

Video Port: Air has one Micro-DVI video port (adapters are included for VGA or DVI monitors up to 1920 by 1200 pixels) whereas X320

also has D-SUB video port.

Card reader: X320 has 2 in 1 SD/MMC card reader, while Air lacks it.

Price: X320- started from $700 whereas Air costs $1799 for the present model which supports NVIDIA GeForce 9400M graphics

processor with 256MB of DDR3 SDRAM shared with main memory.

Color Available: The MSI X-Slim X320 will be available later this year. The X320 will come in three different colors “champagne gold”,

“pearl white” or “stylish black” models. But Air is available only in silver grey which consist of highly recyclable aluminum.


MacBook Air runs Intel Core 2 Duo thus coming as a performing machine whereas MSI X320 running on Atom can be taken as

netbook. Besides, this wireless connectivity options are coming with more latest options available like /n.

If processors are left unconsidered, MSI has many pluses on MacBook air. MSI supports better battery life of around 10 hours (related

sources say so), has a better web cam supporting 1.3MP against 640×480 pixel resolution iSight that Air supports. It is lighter than Air

and is just thicker than Air in terms of fraction of cm.

MSI has three USB ports where as Air has just one port. Against, NVIDIA GeForce9400M, MSI supports Intel GMA 500 graphics

processor but is also speculated that the X320 might also be equipped with NVIDIA’s Ion platform, which would slave in the GPU to

enhance multimedia processing power.

If keyboard typing comfort is accounted, typing is no problem with MSI X320. Also, MSI supports 160 GB hard drive which is

expandable to 250 GB whereas Air only offers 80 GB hard drive. 

The very basic offering by MSI is replaceable battery against the Air’s non removable battery.

The bottom line of all this discussion is you are paying half of the money as for MacBook Air. Air costs you $1,600 price and the

cheaper Intel Atom platform clone, the MSI X320 can potentially dip below $800. It’s the closest anyone has come to ripping off Apple,

which by itself deserves a lot of credit.

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