MSI recently expanded its ultraportable offerings with the addition of two last generation X-Slim notebooks. Although they're designed to be lightweight and compact, the X460 notebooks also strive to be powerful, courtesy of Intel's Sandy Bridge processors. The flagship model comes with Intel's Core i7-2630QM, packing the quad-core chip while boasting an 8-hour battery life.

There's also the X460DX, which can come configured with Core i3 or i5 processors and the Nvidia GeForce GT 540M GPU. Both the X460 and X460DX share the same dimensions using a 14" LED backlit screen. While ultraportable laptops generally carry a 12 to 13" display, MSI says the X460 strikes a fine balance between mobility and performance.

With enough power to put the average desktop PC to shame, the MSI X460 flagship model costs roughly $1,100. Even so, that price tag makes the X460 one of the cheapest second-gen Core i7 notebooks money can buy. Meanwhile, the less-endowed X460DX can be found for around $750 with the Core i3-2310M, 4GB of RAM, a 500GB HDD and the Nvidia GeForce GT 540M.

Hardware Impressions

The X460 is a supposed to be slim and attractive, and I think MSI has achieved that. It measures 13.3" (339mm) wide, 9.4" (239mm) deep and just 0.87" (22.3mm) thick, while weighing 4.36lbs (1.98kgs) including the 6-Cell Li-Ion (5900mAh) battery.

The lid measures is just 5mm thick and features a thin aluminum backing that gives the screen a little extra protection and looks great in the process. Lifting the lid exposes the 14" LED backlit screen (1366x768), which features a gloss film – something I dislike.

I personally prefer matte screens, but as far as glossy panels go, the X460 does have an excellent picture quality. The screen has an embedded 1.3M HD webcam and is surrounded by small rubber feet that help avoid marking the screen on the keyboard when it's folded.

Speaking of the keyboard, MSI has included an 87 key 6-row chiclet-style non-backlit solution. As with most modern notebooks, there are function key combos to quickly enable or disable features such as wireless network, webcam, Bluetooth, track pad and so on.

The keyboard feels great and I'd happily use it on a daily basis. We also found it easy to avoid the trackpad, which measures 3.14" x 1.69" (80 x 43mm). The palm rest has an aluminum insert that feels nice to rest your hands on and doesn't mark easily.

A blue-lit power button is on the top left of the keyboard area, adjacent to two quick launch buttons that interact with the supplied S-Bar application.

Underneath the X460 there are various small grills to let cool air in, as well as eight small rubber feet that raise the laptop and stop it from marking surfaces such as a desk. Finally, there are two buttons that allow you to lock or unlock the removable battery.

As for connectivity, you'll find two audio jacks (headphones/in-put) next to a SD(XC/HC)/MMC card reader and a single USB 2.0 port on the right side. For the models that feature an optical device the drive will be accessible from the right side of the notebook.

Spinning around to the opposite side, there are two USB 3.0 ports followed by the Gigabit Ethernet port, a VGA output and HDMI output. There's also a large exhaust vent to expel hot air from the X460 and a circular power connector to attach the 90w AC adapter.