Msi Wind U100 Review

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

Quite interesting to read, but based on your benches i’d probably given 0/5. :D

Cool review.

I compressed your video into a 6.4MB .FLV (Flash Video, can be viewed using VLC) and am temporarily hosting it here:

If you have your own webserver and want to host it yourself, say the word. This is temporary, i’ll probably take it down in a week or two.

Well, let’s put some things in perspective.

Back in the FT2-days, I was often day-dreaming of having a little portable device that could slip into my jacket pocket. Something the tracker could run on. Something I could just carry around everywhere I went and quickly record my ideas on. Today in 2009 that dream has finally become a reality. For the first time I see a product that is free from all those “non-perfections” I found on the other netbooks that were released in 2008 (by Asus, Acer, HP, etc). The MSI Wind is good enough. It’s comfortable to write on, and I bought it primarily for writing and surfing the web from anywhere (via 3G-modem). Via its in-built Bluetooth, I look forward to connect a couple of wiredless headphones as well. I’ll put a security screen filter on it soon too, just to shut out peaking eyes.

It has a 160 GB harddrive, 2 GB of RAM and is actually faster than my old HP 15" Intel Celeron based notebook. Its 6-cell battery lasts for 5 hours of tracking with Renoise. I’ve configured it to hibernate whenever I close the lid, and when I open the lid again, everything is right where I left off – in a matter of 5-7 seconds. I can play most of my favorite games on it. I can watch movies on it. It’s the perfect working tool, since productivity is an important issue for me. I’ve installed Apache server, MySQL and a the same forum system as this board is using, and Mediawiki (Wikipedia’s wiki software). (For what? For organizing information in my writing projects.)

Some people would argue that it’s hard to see what happens on the small screen. Take-care-of-your-eyes choir. But that’s not a problem, since this netbook has a built-in magnifier that works quite well.

Now let’s turn to the performance issues. Why should I rate it 0/5? Because it can’t compete with a Quadcore desktop system? This is a different context. It’s like comparing the portable mp3-player to your expensive stereo system, or your portable PSP device to the PS3 running GTA4 on a 50" TV with home theatre sound. OK, one might argue that if portability is so important, then why not add a couple of hundred dollars and get a faster laptop computer? Because of the size and price! As I said, my netbooks fit into my POCKET. My laptops don’t. And I don’t have to treat the MSI Wind with the same care, because it’s just a few hundred dollars.

I see it not as a substitute for a desktop system, but as an extended tool for that system. And it’s a damn fine tool! I’m very pleased with it, that’s why I still rate it 5/5. It’s by far the best netbook on the market today IMO.


Well you’ve misunderstood that comment slightly. I didn’t “compare” it to my Quad or some other highend system. Looking for a price of that model i did find them here for roughly 350 EUR to nearly 400 EUR. I’ve bought my Toshiba laptop, which has a DualCore CPU with 1,8 GHz per core for 420 EUR quite some time back. It has a 15,4" display with a resolution of 1280x800 pixels.

Now if i compare what one get’s for the money the laptop clearly wins in my opinion and one can actually do halfway decent compositions with it using quite a few plugins. One simply get’s more value for the money in my opinion with very few tradeoffs, like it’s slightly bigger and maybe a tiny bit more pricey. In my projects i do depend on quite a few plugins i got very used too and a netbook, which can’t even play most of the demo songs would be simply unusable so to say for me. So my personal rating is simply 0/5 if i’d done the benches here.

If it works for you, fine… but that’s something i’ll probably never understand. ;)

Yes, it’s true that if a person has a very limited budget and wants to maximize his overall Renoise experience, I would probably be the first one to strongly advice AGAINST investing in a netbook computer. Because, as you say, you get more power for the same buck with a regular laptop – and even more cream if you go for a desktop system.

But from where I stand, I already have a fast desktop system and a fast laptop computer. In practical reality, I don’t like dragging around the laptop. Yes, it’s too big, I can’t slip it into my pocket and always have it available to me wherever I am. So the netbook is a pure LUXARY item, something that adds a little bit of sugar to the cake. I see it as an extension of an already existing (optimized) system, not as a substitute for it. So it’s not really very difficult to understand the motives behind getting a netbook at all.

I must stress again that I wouldn’t recommend anyone to invest in a netbook computer as one’s ONLY way of interacting with Renoise. That would be INSANE, or at least I can’t find any good argument for making that choice. If composing complex songs for long hours is what you know you’ll be doing, then naturally I’d recommend a fast desktop system with a comfortable chair and a decent pair of monitors instead. In fact, I’d advice anyone who’s going to work for many hours straight with Renoise to invest in a comfortable (big/viewable, fast/operationable) system.

But for me, getting the MSI Wind U100 was one of the best investments I could make. I love it and it’s so cool to have RENOISE 5 seconds away in my pocket. Not Milkytracker, but Renoise. So I would even prefer to pay the double price for this netbook rather than getting a much faster laptop or desktop computer for the same price. :walkman:

Nice review.

You said that Renoise doesn’t quite fit on the screen, but could you explain in a bit more detail? Does it interporlate, or do you have to scroll?

I’d love a netbook B)

No, you don’t have to scroll anything. What you have to do, however, is to manually switch the upper and lower frame visability (clicking on the icons under Renoise’s clock in the upper right corner). Because of the 1024x600 resolution, one can’t have all three frames (upper, middle and lower) at the same time. It’s just possible to have either upper+middle or lower+middle. One can of course hide both upper+lower and have almost the entire screen showing the middle frame (pattern editor).

Another nice implementation by taktik for the 2.0 version, if I remember correctly. Works fine! :guitar:

Let me comment on this just a little bit further (you can tell I’m very satisfied with this machine just by the energy I take to write all this :rolleyes: ):

Since the netbook is configured to “hibernate” when I close the lid, it means that it will save everything in memory to disk – and there’s 160 gigs of it on my machine (quite enough for my sample collection…). So, let’s say I’m programming a particular sound patch in my favorite VSTi synthesizer (Zebra 2) – which I listen to via the wireless Bluetooth earphones btw, no cables whatsoever here – and then suddenly close the lid and put the netbook into my jacket pocket… ten minutes later I open up the netbook again and everything is right there, from where I left off. No need to boot up, no need to load Renoise or a particular song setup. Just continue… it’s actually a matter of just 5 seconds.

Is it too hard to view the screen when I enter the notes? Just put the built-in magnifier on a particular area and I can see the notes however big I want them to be seen. Do I need to transfer the xml to my desktop system? I just press a button and let AutoHotKey save it for me on my FTP-server, since I’m always connected to the Internet via the 3G-modem… and when I get home to the desktop system I just press a button and the stuff gets downloaded and pasted back into Renoise. Simple and convenient! B)

I’ve got an MSI Wind U100 and a Samsung NC10. I’d recommend the Samsung NC10 to anyone considering getting a new netbook. Better keyboard, screen, battery life, HD size and build quality.

Nice one. The global view presets would solve this problem in any case :)

Yes, the NC10 was my first choice. I loved the English keyboard layout version in black that I tested, it was actually close to perfect in regard to the keyboard and its layout of keys. The Nordic keyboard layout, however, wasn’t that good. And I need certain characters for my writing projects (after all, I didn’t buy the netbook for Renoise, it was just a nice bonus), so that’s why I decided the MSI Wind was the best choice for me anyway. The Wind has a battery lasting for 5 hours while the NC10 lasts for 6 hours. I don’t know about the build quality, but maybe the Wind feels a bit more “plastic” in a way.

Quite useful review. The original idea of mine was make possible to use Renoise on netbooks without scrolling. That would be great promotion for Renoise as I thought then. I even suggested to make special freeware version of Renoise for netbooks. Something like Renoise Compo or Renoise Scetch. Netbooks hardware is a quite good limitation base for compos and perfect for sketching without vsti usage. So, I quite fast found the panels toggle solution. Though it seems Taktik hasn’t found much time to consider my freeware version idea yet.

That’s a very vital concept: taktik compiling another executable that only launches in 1024x600 and have no support for VST… distributed freely… becoming the poor man’s default tool for audio productivity… yeah, could be worth considering from a marketing perspective. Great idea. B)

Hi,thanks for posting. My first purchase was a Pink Asus EEEPC 701,and actually im really not satisfied with it,just sold it half its original price :( :(


I bought an asus eeepc 900xp (1.6ghz athlon) … with intent of using it as a ‘sketchbook’ for roughing out ideas… programming the odd loop etc. - entirely based on the machines small dimensions (fits in car glove box)
With big buffers, no vsts/effects and turn it to ‘high performance mode’ with it plugged in my cars ciggarette lighter, it does what i want/need it too- (whilst out and about in between ‘work’). I did bang in 2 gigs of ram, (28 UK pounds). The solid state drives (12 and 8 gig) mean i don’t have to worry about the odd bump whilst travelling - it goes straight in the glove box without a case, it looks battered after 10 months but if it stops working tommorow, i am happy that i have had my moneys worth from it.

But - i would certainly say if your on a budget and only getting one portable machine, spend your money on a laptop. Running audio apps on a netbook really is flogging it to death.
I really wish i had room in the car to keep a laptop - but its just not practicle.

I did a fair amount of xp tweaking the moment i opened the box - i have no idea if it runs very well without these tweaks - but to be fair - making music on a netbook is pushing your luck a little.

It runs reason and reaper too - but beyond roughing out beats and melodies - forget it.
(the small keyboard and lack of a numpad is a pain really - i dont have a problem with the small screen size, the 900xp trackpad is one of the better examples).

Check linux based Laptop version. It’s the same machine. Bonus is bundled software and Turbo Mode…kii-laptop.html (overclocked Atom@2,0 Ghz).

Its good to see this post as I was about to buy one and now I know that I definitely should’nt do that.

damn yo thats lame, it cant even run the demo songs! :lol: