Inside the X-Slim X460

As mentioned before, the MSI X460 is powered by Intel's Core i7-2630QM, while some models may come configured with the slightly slower Core i5-2410M processor. The mobile Sandy Bridge Core i7 range is divided into a number of categories including dual and quad-core models.

The dual-core range features low, ultra-low and standard power CPUs. Although the quad-core range only contains standard power chips, there's still some diversity. Some models are only designed for a specific socket (Socket G2 or BGA-1224), while others have a reduced 6MB or full size 8MB L3 cache.

The Core i7-2630QM used by the X-Slim operates at 2.0GHz, which can be boosted as high as 2.9GHz when using a single core using Turbo Boost. The 32nm chip can also support up to eight threads with Intel's Hyper-Threading technology.

The Core i7-2630QM is a 6MB L3 cache processor which uses the Socket G2 connector, making it the slowest of the quad-core mobile range. Nonetheless, we still expect it to deliver solid performance.

Accompanying the Intel processor is an unspecified amount of DDR3-1333 memory. The review sample we received came with a pair of Elixir 2GB PC3-10600 (DDR3-1333) memory modules for a total capacity of 4GB. However, the retail versions of the X460 we've found online are all advertised with 6GB of RAM.

Those hoping to kick back, relax and play a few games on the MSI X460 need to pay careful attention to the specifications. As we understand it, the X460 will only use Intel's HD Graphics 3000. As demonstrated by the Core i7-2600K desktop chip, this integrated solution is nearly useless for serious gaming.

Instead, gamers should focus on the X460DX, which has Nvidia's GeForce GT 540M (a 40nm GPU codenamed GF108). It's equipped with 1024MB of GDDR3 memory clocked at 1.80GHz while the core is clocked at 672MHz. The result is a bandwidth of 28.8GB/s and a texture fill rate of 10.7GT/s.

HDD, USB & LAN

MSI also advertises the X460 with a 500GB SATA 5400RPM hard drive, but our unit came with a 500GB 7200RPM Western Digital Scorpio Black. Interestingly, the $1,100 versions found online feature a larger 750GB hard drive -- the exact model and specifications are unknown.

MSI's press release made some noise about support for a second internal hard drive. The company claimed that both the X460 and X460DX could enlarge storage capacity by installing a second drive, while thrill seekers could drastically enhance performance with a solid state drive.

Although this was great news and certainly not a feature we expected from such a compact notebook, we were a little confused after examining our review unit that didn't have any space for adding a second drive. After contacting MSI, they explained that certain versions of the X460 would ship without an optical drive, and those versions could be fitted with a secondary storage drive. So to recap, any X460 notebook that features an optical drive cannot be configured with a secondary hard drive.

Something all MSI X460 models have in common is the Intel HM65 chipset. Codenamed "Cougar Point-M," this chipset supports eight PCI Express 2.0 lanes, two 6Gb/s SATA ports, four 3Gb/s SATA ports and a dozen USB 2.0 ports. That being said, the HM65 is fairly underutilized in the X460 as it uses a single USB 2.0 port and one of the SATA ports (presumably the 6Gb/s port). The additional USB support comes from the NEC PD720200 controller, which provides two USB 3.0 ports.

The X460 includes both wired and wireless network support via one Gigabit Ethernet port and an Intel Centrino Wireless-N 1030 mini-PCIe adapter with Bluetooth. The Bluetooth 3.0 support is capable of up to 24Mbps throughput and uses less power than Bluetooth 2.0.