Samsung Series 5 NP550P7C review
A good all-rounder with one key weakness: a very low-contrast screen
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.
|Price ex VAT||£695|
|Price inc VAT||£834|
|Features & Design||4|
|Value for Money||4|
|Warranty||1yr collect and return|
|Dimensions||409 x 270 x 32mm (WDH)|
Processor and memory
|Processor||Intel Core i7-3610QM|
Screen and video
|Resolution screen horizontal||1,600|
|Resolution screen vertical||900|
|Resolution||1600 x 900|
|Graphics chipset||Nvidia GeForce GT 650M|
|VGA (D-SUB) outputs||1|
|Hard disk usable capacity||931GB|
|Optical disc technology||Blu-ray reader/DVD writer combo|
|Replacement battery price inc VAT||£0|
|Wired adapter speed||1,000Mbits/sec|
|802.11 draft-n support||yes|
|Integrated 3G adapter||no|
|Wireless hardware on/off switch||no|
|Wireless key-combination switch||yes|
|PC Card slots||0|
|USB ports (downstream)||2|
|PS/2 mouse port||no|
|9-pin serial 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|
|Pointing device type||Touchpad|
|Hardware volume control?||no|
|Camera megapixel rating||1.3mp|
Battery and performance tests
|Battery life, light use||7hr 12min|
|3D performance (crysis) low settings||25fps|
|3D performance setting||High|
|Overall Real World Benchmark score||0.96|
Operating system and software
|Operating system||Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit|
|OS family||Windows 7|
|Recovery method||Recovery partition|