Samsung SF310 review

29 Oct 2010

Great design and good performance, but the SF310 is let down by a poor touchpad and an average display

Price when reviewed: 
794(£794 inc VAT)
4

Initially seen at IFA in Berlin, the first of Samsung's new laptop ranges has arrived in the PC Pro labs. The 13.3in Samsung SF310 blends Nvidia's Optimus graphics-switching technology with a slinky, new design.

Samsung has gone right back to the drawing board: gloss off-white is liberally splashed all over the lid and base, while the interior is a more sober mix of dark greys and glossy black. It's an acquired taste - reactions on PC Pro weren't universally positive - but it's good to see an attempt at a bit of pizzazz.

Grab the SF310 in both hands, though, and there's something amiss. Samsung's marketing describes it as "thin and light", but at 2.04kg and 33mm thick, it won't keep the MacBook Air awake at night. Admittedly, "reasonably thin and relatively light" doesn't quite have the same ring to it. And despite those two kilograms of heft, it just doesn't feel especially solid or well built. For this price, we'd expect a little more quality and reassurance.

Samsung SF310

Of course, there's solace to be found in the Samsung's specification. A 2.53GHz Core i5-460M processor takes pride of place alongside 4GB of DDR3 and a 320GB hard disk. The resulting score of 1.56 in our benchmarks shows the SF310 is sprightly enough.

Nvidia's Optimus technology switches the Samsung seamlessly between its discrete GeForce 310M chipset and Intel's integrated HD Graphics counterpart. Despite being far from cutting edge, the GeForce chip managed an average of 37fps in our Low detail Crisis test. It's powerful enough to take on modern games, albeit at modest detail settings, as well as smoothly play 1080p videos.

Another benefit of the Nvidia Optimus technology is extended battery life. With the power-hungry GeForce chipset stepping in only when needed, we eked out 7hrs 26mins of light usage before a trip to the mains socket was required. Heavy usage saw that figure dwindle to 1hr 29mins, but the Samsung's stamina is impressive, especially when you consider that it holds its own against Sony's expensive VAIO Z13. It's a shame that battery isn't user replaceable, though.

Details

Price ex VAT £676
Price inc VAT £794
Overall rating 4
Features & Design 4
Value for Money 3
Performance 5

Warranty

Warranty 1yr collect and return

Physical specifications

Dimensions 331 x 236 x 33mm (WDH)
Weight 2.040kg
Travelling weight 2.5kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core i5-460M
Motherboard chipset Intel HM55
RAM capacity 4.00GB
Memory type DDR3
SODIMM sockets free 0
SODIMM sockets total 2

Screen and video

Screen size 13.3in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,366
Resolution screen vertical 768
Resolution 1366 x 768
Graphics chipset Nvidia GeForce 310M/Intel HD graphics
Graphics card RAM 512MB
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 298GB
Spindle speed 5,400RPM
Internal disk interface SATA/300
Optical disc technology DVD writer
Optical drive TSSTcorp TS-U633J
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a support no
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 yes
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
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
Audio chipset Realtek HD Audio
Speaker location Above keyboard/Front edge
Hardware volume control? yes
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 0.3mp
TPM no
Fingerprint reader no
Smartcard reader no
Carry case no

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 7hr 26min
Battery life, heavy use 1hr 29min
Overall application benchmark score 1.56
Office application benchmark score 1.28
2D graphics application benchmark score 1.65
Encoding application benchmark score 1.51
Multitasking application benchmark score 1.81
3D performance (crysis) low settings 37fps
3D performance setting Low

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
OS family Windows 7
Recovery method Recovery partition
Software supplied N/A