Maximum PC Staff Aug 12, 2010

MSI Wind Top AE2220 Review

A bang-for-the-buck all-in-one option

Before you examine the benchmark chart to see how MSI’s Wind Top AE2220 fared against the bigger, badder competition, take a look at the spec chart: integrated multitouch screen, Blu-ray drive, HDMI input, eSATA…. Now look at the price tag: $950!

Are there trade-offs? To be sure. The 21.5-inch screen is substantially smaller—especially compared to Sony’s 24-inch panel (but it still delivers 1920x1080 resolution). MSI uses a mobile dual-core CPU—Intel’s 2.2GHz Core 2 Duo T6600—where the rest of the field sports quad-cores. And we’re more accustomed to seeing Nvidia’s Ion chipset in Atom-powered netbooks than in desktops.

MSI's Wind Top AE2220 is the slowest all-in-one we tested, but it includes a 21.5-inch touch screen, a Blu-ray/DVD-burner combo drive, and a $950 price tag.

Graphics and video decoding, meanwhile, are handled by a relatively weak integrated 16-core GeForce 9300 accessing a paltry 256MB of dedicated memory. Despite these modest specs, the machine played Blu-ray movies just fine. The 500GB hard drive is smaller than the 1TB drives found in the competition, but you can easily hide a more spacious external USB or eSATA drive behind the panel (unless you mount the machine on the wall or to an articulating arm using MSI’s optional bracket).

The rest of the Wind Top’s spec sheet holds up pretty well against the other contenders: There’s a Gigabit Ethernet NIC, an IEEE 802.11b/g/n wireless network adapter, an integrated HDTV tuner, a six-in-one media-card reader, and the same Realtek ALC888 audio codec used in the TouchSmart . MSI also deserves props for including not only an HDMI input, but a VGA input, too. The wireless mouse and keyboard, on the other hand, are nothing to write home about, and the integrated webcam is borderline crap.

It should come as no surprise that MSI’s rig brought up the rear in each of our benchmark tests. The Wind Top’s dual-core CPU was no match for the quad-cores the other manufacturers fielded. We pulled HP’s previous-gen TouchSmart 600-1005t (powered by Intel’s mobile 2.13GHz Core 2 Duo P7450) out of storage and re-ran our benchmark suite on it for the sake of comparison. The old TouchSmart, which is no longer available, delivered superior benchmark numbers with ProShow Producer and Adobe Premiere, but the MSI performed better with Main Concept and Adobe Photoshop.

The Wind Top’s touch screen is responsive and accurate, but unlike HP and Sony, MSI’s engineers didn’t produce any special software to take advantage of the technology. If you buy this machine, we recommend configuring Windows 7 to display at 150 percent of normal to make the icons, dialog boxes, and window controls large enough for fingertip use.

There’s one design decision, however, for which no excuses can be made: Why would any PC equipped with 4GB of DDR2/800 memory come throttled with the 32-bit version of Windows 7? As such, the Wind Top leaves approximately 750MB of RAM dangling their bits in the breeze. That’s just dumb.

Note: This article was updated to correct a typo related to the size of the competition's hard drives. --mb 8/12/2010

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MSI Wind Top AE2220

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