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Samsung R510 review

Verdict

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

Review Date: 6 Aug 2008

Reviewed By: Sasha Muller

Price when reviewed: £425 (£489 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
5 stars out of 6

Features & Design
5 stars out of 6

Value for Money
6 stars out of 6

Performance
4 stars out of 6

PCPRO Recommended

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.

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