MSI Wind U135 Netbook Review

Article Index

Summary and Conclusion

Performance Summary:  In our SiSoftware Sandra tests, the MSI Wind U135 put up decent scores, largely thanks to the new Atom N450 and more advanced GMA 3150 GPU. Both of these are at the top of the class in the netbook realm (for now, anyway). The 5400RPM hard drive held things back somewhat, and the choice to include just 1GB of DDR2 memory instead of 2GB definitely hurts application load times and multitasking. Overall performance within Windows 7 Starter wasn't noticeably quicker than the Atom N270/N280 / XP based netbooks that we tested throughout the course of last year, but multimedia playback was markedly better thanks to the newer hardware and software. Most Windows XP netbooks with integrated graphics couldn't play back 720p content very well, yet the U135 plowed through it with no real issues to speak of (though 1080p content was a no-go). Bootup time and wake from sleep were both noticeably quick, though loading major applications for the first time definitely took a few extra seconds. Overall, it's hard to complain much about the speed when you consider the bargain $315 price tag though, and the ability to play back multimedia is a huge plus when considering the U135 over older machines that shipped before Intel's Pine Trail platform was available.

If you have ever seen an MSI Wind netbook, you've pretty much seen the U135. Aside from the slightly more fashionable lid, everything else is standard fare. The chiclet keyboard was one of the better netbook keyboards that we've used, and the 20% boost in trackpad space was much appreciated (though still not enough). The port selection felt like an afterthought; we've had the same layout on Wind netbooks for months now, and with DisplayPort, HDMI and USB 3.0 gaining traction, it seems as if MSI could have added at least one of those three new standards in order to make this feel like an absolutely new machine rather than a simple refresh.

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It's an odd time to be in the market for a netbook. Smartbooks, MIDs and tablets are all making a new surge, and smartphones are getting larger displays and more potent innards seemingly by the day. It's not that netbooks don't have a place in the world anymore, but the question of "Do I really need this?" is certainly more relevant now than ever before. For just over $300, the Wind U135 offers a solid, though not remarkable, netbook experience. It doesn't make a cramped experience feel un-cramped, and it doesn't feel significantly faster than the netbooks of last year. The additional multimedia push is nice, but far too many elements of "last generation" are still present here for us to recommend this to current netbook owners looking for a netbook upgrade.

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If you're just now starting to look for a netbook, however, the U135 will serve your needs well. It won't blow away any expectations, but it probably won't let you down, either. The real questions are whether you should wait for a netbook with USB 3.0 and / or Bluetooth 3.0, or whether you should look into getting into another class of device entirely. The tablet is poised to take off this year according to some, and while an on-screen keyboard definitely isn't ideal, neither is a cramped one that's shoved into the frame of a 10" netbook. Smartphones are also becoming more capable of handling basic web needs, though they'll leave you wanting more when it comes using an application like Microsoft Word, for example. In summary, the Wind U135 is a fine step forward in the slowly progressing netbook space, but it doesn't set a new standard for all future netbooks to follow.

  • Nice Overall Design
  • Great Value At $315
  • Nice Chiclet Keyboard
  • Great Battery Life
  • Ultra Quiet And Cool
  • HD Playback Support
  • Atom N450 CPU


  • Glossy Display
  • Only 1GB of RAM
  • No Optical Drive
  • No Multi-Touch Trackpad
  • Only A 5400RPM HDD
  • No USB 3.0 Ports


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