Samsung X125 review

10 Sep 2010

Netbook performance at a laptop price, with not enough polish elsewhere to compensate

Price when reviewed: 
432(£432 inc VAT)
3

Intel's low-power CPUs are fine beasts, but we're seeing more and more of AMD's alternatives appear in thin and light laptops. We've already tested the dual-core Athlon II Neo K325 in the Dell Inspiron M101z; the Samsung X125 sports the other Neo II in the range - the single-core K125.

It's a 45nm part running at 1.7GHz, up from the 1.3GHz of the K325, yet both have the same 12W TDP. But any hopes that the clock boost would keep the Samsung's performance up there with the Dell were soon dashed. It managed only 0.46 in our benchmarks, slowing almost to a halt when faced with multiple simultaneous applications. With the Dell scoring a comfortable 0.67, that missing second core is alarmingly obvious.

Unfortunately, playing second fiddle to the lovely Dell is something the Samsung X125 had better get used to. Not only is its processor weak by comparison, but it also proves detrimental when paired with the same graphics chip as in the Dell. It's the Radeon HD 4225, which is hardly a gaming contender anyway, but an average in our Low quality Crysis test of just 8fps is down from the Dell's 13fps. It will decode HD video without a hitch, but don't expect much else in the way of entertainment.

Samsung X125

Thankfully, the X125 does at least deliver on battery life, lasting 6hrs 44mins in our light-use test and more than four hours when pushed to the limit. That's either a sign of the processor's excellent efficiency or an indicator of just how little power it has, depending on your outlook. Still, combine it with the Samsung's 1.57kg weight and you have a portable companion.

It's an 11.6in laptop with a glossy-black interior contrasting with the matte-white outer finish. We'd hesitate to call it attractive, and it feels a bit too plasticky for the type of stylish impact it's going for, but there's a stiffness to the chassis and lid that suggests it will last on its travels. The 1,366 x 768 screen is glossy and a bit too reflective for our office lighting, but colours are good and the backlight is even and bright.

The X125 is quite a deep laptop, so there's plenty of space for the keyboard and touchpad. Unfortunately, Samsung hasn't made much use of it, instead cramming tiny cursor and right-Shift keys onto the Chiclet-style keyboard. It isn't a particularly comfortable keyboard to type on, and the rocker-style mouse button sometimes needed a good push to respond.

Despite netbook levels of performance, this is meant to be a proper laptop, as the 320GB hard disk gives away. But compared to others around its £368 exc VAT price, the Samsung looks like a bit of a dud. A Dell Inspiron M101z with 4GB of RAM and a dual-core Neo will cost you around £50 more, yet gives 30% higher performance, won't grind to a halt if you open several applications, and has better build quality and a nicer keyboard. It's difficult to find a compelling reason to opt for this Samsung in its stead.

Details

Price ex VAT £368
Price inc VAT £432
Overall rating 3
Features & Design 4
Value for Money 4
Performance 2

Warranty

Warranty 1yr collect and return

Physical specifications

Dimensions 297 x 209 x 32mm (WDH)
Weight 1.568kg
Travelling weight 1.9kg

Processor and memory

Processor AMD Athlon Neo K125
Motherboard chipset AMD RS880M
RAM capacity 3.00GB
Memory type DDR3
SODIMM sockets free 0
SODIMM sockets total 2

Screen and video

Screen size 11.6in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,366
Resolution screen vertical 768
Resolution 1366 x 768
Graphics chipset ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4225
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
Hard disk usable capacity 276GB
Optical disc technology N/A
Optical drive None
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

Wired adapter speed 100Mbits/sec
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Integrated 3G adapter no
Bluetooth support yes

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switch no
Wireless key-combination switch yes
Modem no
ExpressCard34 slots 0
ExpressCard54 slots 0
PC Card slots 0
USB ports (downstream) 3
FireWire ports 0
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports 0
Parallel ports 0
3.5mm audio jacks 2
SD card reader yes
MMC (multimedia card) reader yes
Pointing device type Touchpad
Speaker location Above keyboard
Hardware volume control? no
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
TPM no
Fingerprint reader no
Smartcard reader no

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 6hr 44min
Battery life, heavy use 4hr 8min
Overall application benchmark score 0.46
Office application benchmark score 0.42
2D graphics application benchmark score 0.41
Encoding application benchmark score 0.63
Multitasking application benchmark score 0.39
3D performance (crysis) low settings 8fps
3D performance setting Low

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium 32-bit
OS family Windows 7