Samsung Series 5 NP550P7C review
A good all-rounder with one key weakness: a very low-contrast screen
Review Date: 29 Aug 2012
Reviewed By: Sasha Muller
Price when reviewed: £695 (£834 inc VAT)
Features & Design
Value for Money
It isn’t often a laptop can be described as handsome, but the patterned silver chassis of this Samsung certainly falls into that category.
Another unusual and welcome feature is the Series 5’s matte screen. Most other manufacturers rely on glossy panels, especially on consumer machines, but we're pleased Samsung has gone against the grain - all glossy screens create distracting reflections to a greater or lesser degree.
The Samsung's appeal isn’t purely cosmetic: it’s seriously quick, too. The laptop’s 2.3GHz Intel Core i7-3610QM raced through our application benchmarks at a blistering rate, achieving a score of 0.96 - marginally quicker than the Asus N56VM, which scored 0.95.
Meanwhile, the Nvidia GeForce 650M discrete graphics chip provides enough juice for games, with few machines proving faster in our Crysis benchmarks. In the High quality test, an average of 25fps places it among the front-runners.
The standout test result for the Samsung is its battery life. A time of 7hrs 12mins is nothing short of astounding for a machine of this size, and although we can’t see it being carted outside the home very much due to its bulk, its stamina means that you won’t have to worry about looking for a mains socket all the time.
With a good-quality keyboard, a sensitive touchpad with separate buttons, a good range of connections, a Blu-ray drive and 1TB of storage, you might have thought the Samsung Series 5 would earn an award. However, there’s one critical weakness to the laptop: the 1,600 x 900 screen resolution is ample, but the image quality simply isn’t what we’d hope for on a machine of this price.
The contrast ratio is the main problem: at 154:1, images look flat and lack punch, and blacks look like dark grey. Watching movies on this screen, particularly during dark scenes, can be frustrating, since important details are completely lost.
For around £70 more, the Asus N56VM offers far superior screen quality with a Full HD resolution, and that nudges it ahead of this laptop. As an all-rounder, though, the Series 5 is a strong offering.
Author: Sasha Muller
No fingerprint reader?
In the market for a new machine but there seems very little choice with built in fingerprint scanners sub-£1000.
Why is that?
By kingct on 30 Aug 2012
Perhaps you're looking at consumer laptops when you should be looking at business laptops.
By TheBigM72 on 3 Sep 2012
at £729.99 do the problems with the screen diminish?
By markr4545 on 8 Sep 2012
I upgraded the screen on my np550p7c for the same reasons mentioned in the review. The new full HD screen (LG) has excellent contrast, superb color and punch and obviously a chrisper display. I also fitted a ssd drive and now its lightning fast.
By dr230 on 23 Nov 2012
I recently bought one of these after looking at several high end laptops.
My impression is that the display is good and I can't see any major lack of contrast - both viewing photos or watching video.
By chris1964 on 6 Jan 2013
I got so annoyed by the poor quality screen that I replaced mine with a full 1080p HD one, and what a difference! My model (NP550P7C-S05UK) was originally fitted with an AU Optronics (1600x900) screen and the contrast and viewing angles were awful, there were faint vertical lines all along the screen (I even went back to the retailer to check it out and the display model was the same). If you're looking to do the same with your model you won't go wrong with the Chi Mei Innolux N173HGE-L21 (Glossy) or N173HGE-L11 (Matte), they go for about £60 and its a perfect fit and it really is the finishing touch that seems to have been (unbelievably) overlooked by Samsung!
By themanwho on 29 Mar 2013
Well I love mine! Mine came with 8GB RAM rather than 6 but not sure how much difference that makes. I replaced the HDD with a 256GB Samsung SSD. It was a bit of a faff but it was definitely worth it. It is unbelievably fast.
I do have a question about the screen though: I'd like to upgrade to a 1080p screen. Anyone know if it's easy to do? I'm not that great technically. Themanwho, are you able to answer my question? If I buy that matte Chi Mei screen will I be able to slot it straight in? Will it recognise there's a new screen and update the resolution itself or will it be stuck on 1600x900?
Thanks for any help.
By AlexFreddie on 28 Apr 2013
Hi AlexFreddie, sorry for the delay - I love mine too, all apart from the screen! It is very easy to do and the system will recognize the new resolutions available. Have a look here, its not the same laptop but the procedure is pretty much identical - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oew-NdWutno
By themanwho on 5 Jun 2013
Worth a screen upgrade
Just got mine for £599 which is an amazing price for a core i7 laptop.
However I found the same problems with the screen ... there's no avoiding the awful vertical lines at close inspection - they even affect the readability of text ... the edges of text are colour blurred which is something I have only seen on old CRTs!
If you're handy with a screwdriver and don't mind voiding the warranty - get a 1080p for £60 and replace the screen - add a good SSD drive and you'll end up with an amazing laptop!
Other than that, the only other gripes are the horrible little cursor keys and slow speed hard-drive which drags it down.
The sound is amazing - very loud/clear - great bass. Keyboard is nice to type on, build quality is good and doesn't wear easily.
Overall, with an upgraded screen, this machine is amazing for the price - I love it.
By tipam on 19 Jul 2013
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