Samsung R510 review

6 Aug 2008

A generous specification and preternaturally good looks make the Samsung R510 a solid budget buy.

Price when reviewed: 
489(£499 inc VAT)
5

Hot on the heels of Samsung's sub-£2kg portable, the Q210 (web id: 215352), comes yet another in its revamped lineup. This time, however, there's a different target market in mind and this, the R510, boasts an altogether more affordable price point.

The R510 has 15.4in screen, which makes it a comfortable halfway house between the more petite likes of Samsung's own Q210 or larger, more weighty desktop replacement laptops, such as our A-listed Value laptop, the Samsung R700. Weighing in at 2.66kg, we'd shy away from transporting it to and fro on a regular basis, but against its 15.4in brethren the R510 still finds itself resting at the lighter end of the scale.

And, for all it lacks in portability, the Samsung just about makes up for with its looks. The top to toe black of last year's models has been abandoned in favour of a striking two-tone silver and black combination. Fold back the glossy lid and the interior reveals a keyboard topped and tailed by a narrow gloss black strip, framed neatly by a silver keyboard surround and matching bezel. For a budget laptop, it has to be said, the Samsung is a rather handsome devil.

Lay hands on the R510 and it's clear that the light, more plasticky feel of the R510's predecessors, such as the R60 Plus (web id: 196719), is but a long and distant memory. Its 2.6kg weight is matched with a reassuring solidity; little flex is evident in the chassis itself and the lid, too, feels pleasingly stiff.

Ergonomics are top-notch. The full-sized keyboard has a light, responsive action, and while we couldn't put the the silver-nano bacterial protection to the test, it does at least give each of the keys a pleasantly strokable finish. There's equally little to complain about when it comes to the R510's trackpad; it's accurate, with unmarked vertical and horizontal scroll zones along its edges, and each of the two buttons respond with a light, dainty click.

The display still retains the commonplace native resolution of 1,280 x 800 pixels, but while we'd wish for a 1,440 x 900 panel to become standard on 15.4in laptops, the quality on offer is good for a budget display. Contrast is a little lacking, and the slightly bluish hue to skintones looked much less natural than Toshiba's A300-177, but it's still far from unacceptable.

Samsung is going to be selling the R510 in a three-strong range of different configurations, ranging from about £370 (exc VAT) up to a still reasonable £500. At £425, our review unit (part code NP-R510-FAA4UK) sits right in the middle of the group, but while its specification is far from the top of the line, it's nonetheless an impressive sight for the money.

A 2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5750 processor is a solid low-end choice, but the provision of 3GB of RAM to appease Vista Home Premium's more greedy traits and a generous 320GB hard disk really catches the attention. It's a capable enough combination too, as a score of 0.97 in our benchmarks testifies, even if it only marks a slight performance increase on last year's budget models.

The array of connectivity at the R510's disposal isn't quite so exciting, but it's still more than ample. HDMI rubs shoulders with a more traditional VGA socket and, neatly, the ports scattered around the Samsung's frame are easily located thanks to clear labels printed along the silver keyboard surround.

As you'd expect given the tight budget, Samsung have stuck with Intel integrated graphics. In its favour, though, the R510 touts the latest Intel GMA X4500MHD graphics chipset. Performance is still modest by any standards, and our Crysis benchmarks returned similar scores to the previous X3100 series, the action slowing to an average of 4.9 frames per second even at 1,024 x 768 and with all the detail settings tuned to their lowest settings. But stick to older or less demanding titles, such as the wonderful, and completely free, Trackmania Nations and the Samsung will cope admirably.

Details

Price ex VAT £425
Price inc VAT £489
Overall rating 5 stars
Features & Design 5
Value for Money 6
Performance 4

Warranty

Warranty 1yr collect and return

Physical specifications

Dimensions 358 x 265 x 36mm (WDH)
Weight 2.7kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core 2 Duo T5750
Motherboard chipset Intel GM45 Express
RAM capacity 3GB
Memory type DDR2
SODIMM sockets free 0
SODIMM sockets total 2

Screen and video

Screen size 15.4in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,280
Resolution screen vertical 800
Resolution 1280 x 800
Graphics chipset Intel GMA X4500MHD
Graphics card RAM 128MB
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 1
HDMI outputs 1
S-Video outputs 0
DVI-I outputs 0
DVI-D outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 0

Drives

Capacity 320GB
Spindle speed 5,400RPM
Optical disc technology DVD writer
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a support yes
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support no
Integrated 3G adapter no

Other Features

Wireless key-combination switch yes
Modem yes
ExpressCard34 slots 0
ExpressCard54 slots 1
PC Card slots 0
USB ports (downstream) 3
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports 0
Parallel ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 0
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
3.5mm audio jacks 2
SD card reader yes
Memory Stick reader no
MMC (multimedia card) reader yes
Smart Media reader no
Compact Flash reader no
xD-card reader no
Pointing device type Touchpad
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 1.3MP
TPM no
Fingerprint reader no
Smartcard reader no
Carry case no

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 274
Battery life, heavy use 66
Overall application benchmark score 0.97
Office application benchmark score 1.05
2D graphics application benchmark score 1.00
Encoding application benchmark score 0.81
Multitasking application benchmark score 1.01
3D performance (crysis) low settings 5fps
3D performance setting Low

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows Vista Home Premium
OS family Windows Vista