MSI Decoder Ring: Understanding MSI Notebook Model Numbers

When it comes to naming products, the goal should be to make it as easy as possible for the consumer to understand what the letters and numbers mean.  After all, it's very hard to convince someone to buy something if they don't know the name of it. Yet, this concept is clearly over the heads of many laptop manufacturers who insist on lengthy,  multi-character naming schemes that sometimes even confuse the manufactures themselves.

In a effort to clear up the fog, we put together this MSI decoder ring to help consumers and business users find the right product for them.

Before you can understand MSI's naming conventions, you first have to know about the various product lines and what features and costs are associated with each one.

U Series

The ultra-affordable and ultraportable U Series features the top-notch Wind netbook. Depending on your configuration, prices can range from $349 to $480 and come standard with a 10-inch screen, Windows 7 Starter Edition, an Intel Atom Processor, and a webcam. For a little more money, you can also opt for the AMD CPU configuration and a choice of an 11.6- or 12.1-inch screen size.

X Series

According to MSI, the X Series is all about style and a super-slim design for a super-slim price. A perfect example is the recently refreshed MSI X370. For only $599, it sports 13.4-inch 16:9 display, AMD Radeon Graphics, 4GB of RAM, and an HDMI output for delivering content on your laptop to a compatible HDTV.

C Series

The C Series has been dubbed the “Ideal Notebook for Everyone," as it's power-efficient and provides a rich entertainment experience. You might be asking yourself, “How is this different from the X Series?" Good question. While the price points seem similar, the C Series comes with a larger 15.6-inch screen size as opposed to the 13.4-14-inch sizes of the X Series. A good example of a C Series laptop and its features is the MSI CR650 ($499), which includes HDMI out and MSI-exclusive ECO Engine Power Management System.

P Series

The P Series is all about professionalism and provides laptop configurations that help the end user increase productivity. Some of these features come in the form of a fingerprint reader, a textured multitouch touch pad,  and a dedicated button to disable the touchpad altogether to mitigate those annoying errors when hitting the touchpad while typing. If you're thinking about a P Series device, take a look at P600 priced at $799 with 4GB of RAM and a 500GB Hard Drive.

F Series

While most individuals don't consider MSI to be on the higher of end of laptop OEMs, the F line is an attempt to cater to the more premium-minded consumer. The F Series emphasizes quality design, performance, graphics, and functionality, all while maintaining am affordable price point. In this line of laptops, discrete graphics come standard in most of the configurations. Other goodies include USB 3.0, THX sound integration, and MSI's exclusive Cinema Pro technology.

G Series

The G Series is the most appropriately named line of laptops, as it caters to gamers. Laptops such as the MSI GT680R-008US really demonstrate the power and superior specs of the G Series in comparison to the other MSI lines with configurations that include 8GB of Ram and a Sandy Bridge Core i7 CPU. Exclusive specs to this line include Full HD Displays, top-of-the-line discrete NVIDIA graphics, and an ultra cool design.

What's in a Name

Once you have a grasp of all MSI product lines, you can take the next step of deciphering the alphanumeric code in the product names. For this example, we will use the CX640-071US. While it may a look like a bunch of numbers chosen at will, there is actually some logic (confusing though it may be) behind all the letters and numbers in the name.

The first letter is easy. Its starts with a C,  so we know this laptop is from the all purpose C Series. The next letter after the series identifier represents the type of graphics chip used in the system. There are four letters that users might see:

  • T = High-end discrete graphics
  • X = Mid-level discrete graphics
  • E = Entry-level discrete graphics
  • R = Integrated graphics

The graphics in the CX640-071US are mid-range discrete graphics because this product name carries an "X" after the C.

The next 3 digits represent the screen size of the laptop, but the only digit you have to pay attention to is the first one.

  • 1 = 10”
  • 2= 12”
  • 3 = 13”
  • 4 = 14”
  • 6 = 15.6’
  • 7 = 17.3”
  • 8 = 18.4"

Based on the screen size identifiers above, this laptop comes with a 15.6" LCD screen because the product name carries the number 640.

The last part of the product name after the dash represents the last three digits of the product number and the country where the product is being sold. In this case, the product number is 9S7-16Y112-071, and as you can see the last three digits of CX640-071US match up. And because this product is being sold in the United States, a "US" is added a the end of the product name.

And that's it. You have now become an MSI aficionado. Use your new found knowledge wisely.