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Samsung N510 review

Verdict

The Atom and Ion netbook combination is a success, and this is a solid, though dear, first attempt

Review Date: 29 Sep 2009

Reviewed By: Sasha Muller

Price when reviewed: £332 (£382 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
5 stars out of 6

Features & Design
5 stars out of 6

Value for Money
5 stars out of 6

Performance
4 stars out of 6

PCPRO Recommended

Netbooks might have been the big, or rather the endearingly tiny, new thing on the laptop scene for a time, but the initial excitement has all but evaporated. Now, with the Samsung N510, the company is seeking to reignite the passions of consumers by pairing Intel's Atom with Nvidia's much-touted Ion chipset.

The N510 doesn't impress right away, however, with a physique that's inoffensive rather than drop-dead gorgeous. But, resembling as it does the offspring of Samsung's NC10 and N110 netbooks, the N510 is certainly no ugly duckling. Blending a curvy, slimline physique with a silver strip that arcs around the edges, it's only once you set it against the sharply-tailored likes of the Asus Eee PC 1101HA that it begins to look ordinary.

Samsung N510 rear

But, underneath that Clark Kent exterior lays a superpower in the world of netbooks. We're not talking about the same old 1.66GHz Intel Atom N280 processor, the gigabyte of memory, nor the 160GB hard disk, but rather the presence of Nvidia's Ion LE graphics chipset.

Before you get too excited, be aware that Nvidia's Ion LE is no miracle worker. It does, however, add gaming capabilities where there were previously next to none. It won't turn an Atom-powered netbook into a gaming behemoth capable of taking on the likes of Crysis - but, nevertheless, the Samsung manfully struggled to an average of 17fps at 1,024 x 768 and the lowest detail settings in Crysis.

Fire up the likes of Trackmania Nations Forever and the N510 is in its element. Even at the 11.6in display's native resolution of 1,366 x 768, the Ion LE helped the Samsung along to a smooth 27.1fps.

And, more importantly, there's even enough poke to decode 1080p video. Install a media player that supports hardware acceleration - such as the free Media Player Classic Home Cinema - and in addition to enjoying high-definition files on the 11.6in display, you can also hook the N510 up to a large-screen HDTV or projector courtesy of the HDMI port on its left-hand edge.

The one stumbling block at the moment is the lack of acceleration for high definition YouTube and iPlayer video, although we hope that will be rectified soon.

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User comments

2GHz 2GB

Put a 2GHz Atom in it and add another 1GB of RAM and it would be a great netbook. Unfortunately Intel don't allow that do they. Sigh.

By ukdm09 on 29 Sep 2009

2GB is OK

The 1GB can be replaced with a 2GB module.

Not certain but out of the box 2GB may be an option.

By simmotech on 30 Sep 2009

Still no HSDPA?
I know they can do it since there's a HSDPA version of the NC10 available from a few online stored like Dabs.

By simbr on 1 Oct 2009

11 inch display?

10 inch displays should be the standard for netbooks.

Any larger and we have a laptop.

The ASUS 1005HA may be small… really small but do not underestimate the power of 802.11G, 2 logical CPU’s and Windows XP Home in a 1.1Kg package!

I even figured out how to overclock my netbook.

I ran some benchmarks and give more detail in this review: http://bit.ly/44CHFm

By rgathright on 2 Oct 2009

Windows 7

Is this going to be available in the UK with Windows 7 when it's out? I know they're holding off release in the US - I just hope we get it too.

By Mattallyc on 8 Oct 2009

Silver nano?

Does this have a silver impregnated keyboard like the NC10 or have they dropped that now?

By simbr on 14 Oct 2009

Windows 7

Any news on Win7 version as per Mattallyc request?

Also does it have any competitors yet ie any other netbook with nvida or other graphics chip ?

By MiniEggs on 29 Jun 2010

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