MSI Wind U100 review
I’ve been observing the mini-laptop/netbook market for about a year now. My first purchase was an Asus EEE 701 with the Xandros Linux OS. My last purchase for 2008 was the MSI Wind U100 with WinXP Home SP3, which this review will be about. I’ve also played a lot with the other netbook models from Asus, Acer and HP that were released in the second half of 2008.
Out of all the netbooks I’ve interacted with so far, my favorite is definitely the MSI Wind U100. Although new models are coming out soon from MSI, with battery power that lasts for 10 hours along with other improvements, I’m very satisfied with the U100 model for many reasons. The best thing about this little computer is that its keyboard is very easy and comfortable to write on. It almost feels like a full sized keyboard and I seldom need to strike the Backspace-key.
So… I installed Renoise 2.0 (RC2) on it. The software launches quickly and the only thing that seems different from my desktop system is the screen resolution limitation. The MSI Wind runs at 1024x600 by default, so Renoise will look a bit different in its layout (also a new implementation for version 2.0). But everything is there, you don’t need to scroll anything except for long FX-chains and such. For those of you who want to see it running Renoise, I recorded a video. (Caution: Grab it only if you’re thinking about getting one of these machines yourself, since it’s a big file in the .avi format, ~114 MB… I’m too lazy to convert/compress it into something smaller.)
Next, I loaded all the demosongs that ship with Renoise. Here are the results:
DemoSong - BeatSlaughter vs Tenda - Psydrums.xrns
This song plays at CPU load ~50-60% until pattern 6 (“break starts”), when CPU load goes above 90% and Renoise halts the playback.
DemoSong - BotB - Jong Belegen.xrns
This song plays at CPU load ~30-40% the first 0-4 patterns, but then halts due to CPU overload at pattern 4 (“2 bass” marker) when it goes beyond 90%.
DemoSong - It-Alien - Life20.xrns
This song plays at CPU load ~70-80% until pattern 14, when Renoise halts the playback due to CPU overload.
DemoSong - It-Alien - ThePath 2.009.xrns
This song peaks its CPU load at ~65% near the end of the song, otherwise it stays at around 30-40% CPU load. No halting here.
DemoSong - Keith303 - The Masquerade.xrns
This song plays the first three patterns at ~70% CPU load, then halts at the 4th pattern in the arranger due to CPU overload.
DemoSong - Mr Mark Dollin - Ghost Debts.xrns
This song plays the first seven patterns with a CPU peak at 70%, then hits a CPU overload at pattern 8 and halts.
DemoSong - Neurotix - Nivi.xrns
This song plays at ~20-30% CPU load overall with a peak at ~40%. No halting.
DemoSong - Nt - Please Let Me Be.xrns
This song plays at 20-80% for eleven patterns, then halts due to CPU overload at the end of pattern 11 (just before “calm bridge” marker).
Out of the eigth demosongs, only two could play from start to finish without halting at some point during playback. Based on these performance results, I would conclude that the MSI Wind U100 netbook is quite OK for tracking if you value mobility and want to work on specific tracks such as a complex percussion sequence, melody or just layouting the skeleton structure of a full song. However, forget it if you want to compose full songs loaded with lots of VST instruments and effects. I was able to run 3 instances of the VSTi Zebra2 synthesizer and 5 tracks with just wav-samples (drums, basses, fx). But for me this is enough, since I intend to pimp the songs with more gun powder when I get home.
Verdict: 5/5 - Highly recommended mobile tracking device