MSI CX62 2QD review — affordable performance
+ High performance i7 5700HQ CPU
+ Nicely textured keyboard with good tactile feedback
+ Touchpad is accurate, buttons offer audible feedback
+ Palm rest and keyboard area doesn't heat up noticeably even when gaming
+ Silent operation during light workloads
+ Capable of casual gaming
+ Killer e2200 LAN + Intel AC 3160 networking
+ Great value for money
- Poor 768p TN display
- Audio output from the speakers could be better
- Lid flexes under pressure
MSI is better known for their high performance gaming notebooks, but it seems that they are capable of putting their experience in making high end gaming laptops into designing an affordable multimedia laptop with sufficient horsepower for some casual gaming. Enter the MSI CX62 2QD, a budget-conscious mainstream laptop from MSI.
The CX62 actually shares the same chassis as the GP62 from MSI’s gaming series, which means generous use of plastics through out the construction.
The lid is made of plastic with a fine brushed pattern. The logo is simply painted on, unlike the members of the gaming series which usually have the logos inset into the lid. It looks pretty fine but expect to leave fingerprints all over it. You can also see that MSI placed the CX62’s single exhaust vent on the rear of the notebook, unlike other manufacturers which often place it on the left side, where a stray finger may accidentally get a toasty blast of hot air.
On the other side of the lid lies a 15.6″ TN display panel, pushing a rather paltry resolution of 1366 x 768. More on the display later.
The palm rests are made of aluminium, with a smooth brushed texture, similar to the lid. This texture is in contrast with the GP62’s sandblasted aluminium palm rests, which were much more resistant to fingerprints. As you can see I already left a few of my own right there. The keyboard is not back lit.
|CPU||Intel Core i7-5700HQ @ 2.7 GHz (up to 3.5 GHz)|
|RAM||4GB 1600 MHz DDR3L (upgradeable to 16GB)|
|GPU||NVIDIA GeForce 940M 2GB DDR3|
|Storage||1 x M.2 SATA slot (unoccupied)
1 x 1TB WD 5400 RPM SATA III 6.0Gbps HDD
|Software||Microsoft Windows 10 Home
358.87 WHQL NVIDIA Game Ready Driver
MSI Dragon Gaming Centre
Killer Network Manager
|Connectivity||Intel Wireless-AC 3160 and Killer™ E2200 LAN
3 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 2.0
SD card reader
|Display||15.6″ WLED TN FHD (1366 x 768) Anti-Glare Display
1 x Mini-DisplayPort v1.2
1 x HDMI 1.4
|Audio||Stereo speakers (two speakers per channel)
1 x 3.5mm microphone input
1 x 3.5mm audio output
|Power||120W AC adapter, 6 cell battery (non-removable)|
|Dimensions||38.8 x 26 x 3 cm|
The CX62 doesn’t come with an SSD, but is upgradable with an M.2 SATA SSD. Storage performance is as expected from a 5400 RPM HDD.
Note that for the following benchmarks, I have turned on the Cooler Boost feature on the CX62 to gauge the maximum performance offered by the CX62.
The i7-5700HQ processor is a member of the rarely seen Broadwell family, which was succeeded way too soon by the Skylake architecture. In Cinebench, we can clearly see that it is an upgrade over the older Haswell i7 4720HQ found in the MSI GT80 Titan which scored a respectable 642 in the multi-core test.
The NVIDIA GeForce 940M is based on Maxwell, which should mean improved power efficiency, but don’t expect stellar performance from a non-GTX GPU. Note the non-standard resolution. The Extreme preset entails a 1600 x 900 resolution is higher than the 768p native resolution of the CX62. Inability to display the full resolution results in this.
So we have the results from the synthetic. Let’s fire up the less intensive games in our library, CS:GO and DotA 2, to see how does the CX62 fare when used for gaming. The games will be tested at native resolution with all graphics settings maxed out.
CS:GO is quite playable on the CX62, with the 940M pushing on average 100 frames per second, a respectable figure. The experience is quite acceptable.
Performance in DotA 2 is less impressive, with the CX62 only capable of 56 frames per second on average. This is probably because of the new Ultra Shadow Quality setting which does take a slight toll on performance.
With these figures playing casual games, I am not even going to try any of the other games in our inventory. The laptop isn’t designed for gaming so I will not put this against it. CPU temperatures do go up to 91°C during gaming, but no throttling was detected. The 1TB 5400 RPM drive isn’t going to give you blazing fast boot times, but it does suffice for general usage. If you desire faster boot times you can always pony up the cash for a M.2 SSD. The M.2 SATA slot is an advantage that few laptops at this price range offers.
Battery life is pretty much as expected, getting only 1 hour 30 minutes with 25% battery left. I only used it off the plug for surfing and typing out this review with the display set to 80% brightness and the Balanced power plan active. Short battery life is expected as the CPU in the CX62 is a full powered 47W TDP unit, unlike the much weaker ULV processors found in most laptops in this price range out there.
Heavier tasks like video editing or serious mutlitasking will be limited by the 4GB of RAM. I find it baffling that MSI didn’t put more RAM into the laptop considering that DDR3L SODIMMs are really quite cheap nowadays.
The mostly plastic body of the CX62 isn’t as solid as its pricier brethen with metallic lids, but that is expected given the price difference. I do wish that the CX62 had a more solid lid though, as the lid flexes when pressure is applied. The CX62 is no Ultrabook, weighing 2.4 kg and measuring 3 cm thick. Portability isn’t an issue though as it will fit into any laptop bag that fits 15.6″ models.
The CX62’s keyboard gets no endorsement from SteelSeries, but it is otherwise indistinguishable from the GP62’s. The keys are nicely textured and offer just the right amount of travel for a rather enjoyable typing experience. In fact much of this review is typed on the CX62’s keyboard. The Windows key on the right is something that I don’t really like on the CX62. While moving it to the right side is justified in gaming systems, I prefer fast access to the start menu when I am working. The touchpad is accurate and usable, with the two buttons offering a very audible audio feedback when pressed. Even when gaming, the palm rest area and keyboard doesn’t heat up considerably, remaining very comfortable to use.
MSI threw in the Cooler Boost feature in the CX62 too, to keep things cool especially when handling heavy workloads that will make full use of the true quad core i7 5700HQ. During gaming, neither the CPU or GPU throttled with Cooler Boost on, and this is without a cooler pad. The laptop was laid flat on the table. The laptop is essentially silent when performing non-intensive tasks like surfing or typing out this review. Even with Cooler Boost on the noise is unintrusive. The middle button is a shortcut to the System Control Manager (SCM), an overlay that offers stuff like brightness and volume controls, ECO modes, etc.
The majority of the ports are on the left side. We have the Killer e2200 LAN, HDMI 1.4a, miniDP 1.2, gold-plated 3.5 mm microphone and headphone jack, along with 3 USB 3.0 ports. For added security there is also a slot for Kensington locks. I commend MSI for not cuting corners out and just putting in a generic LAN chipset but actually used the award winning Killer LAN for this budget laptop. MSI seems to pay a lot of attention to the connectivity of the CX62, as the WiFi chipset is no other than the Intel® Dual Band Wireless-AC 3160, which offers 802.11ac connectivity, a feature that even certain gaming laptops from competitors lack.
On the right side we have an optical drive, USB 2.0 port, card reader and the charger port. The USB 2.0 port on the right is just nice for connecting a mouse. The presence of an optical drive opens up the possibility of replacing it with a HDD for even more storage if necessary.
The display is a 768p TN panel, which really has no place in any laptop launched in 2015 – 2016. The colors are cold and washed out. The color cast can be overcome by adjusting with the built-in Windows color calibration utility, but there is no way to overcome the dull colors. The low resolution also makes it quite uncomfortable to work on it for extended periods of time, but there is the small advantage of everything appearing bigger, thus making them slightly easier to see from a distance. MSI really should have went with a 1080p IPS panel, or at least add an SKU that offers an upgraded display. I believe people would gladly pay the difference if they compare the difference. Viewing angles are poor, an inherent flaw of all TN panels.
Audio is pumped out of the stereo speakers on the edge of the lower half of the CX62, with two speakers for each channel. The output is loud, but lacking in bass, not really enjoyable to use for media consumption.
The MSI CX62 2QD is a worthy contender, especially given the budget-conscious price tag. However I feel like MSI cut one too many corners when they put a 768p TN panel into this laptop. The storage and RAM can easily be upgraded if necessary, but the display is something that isn’t easily swappable. The CPU in this laptop is really great for a laptop that retails for RM 3199, offering an affordable alternative for people who need a notebook with a powerful CPU for their work rather than gaming. Aside from the dismal display, the CX62 offers a pretty good value-for-money proposition, and for that I am giving it a Bronze Pokdeward.