Samsung Series 5 NP550P7C review

29 Aug 2012

A good all-rounder with one key weakness: a very low-contrast screen

Price when reviewed: 
834(£835 inc VAT)
4

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.

Samsung Series 5 NP550P7C

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.

Samsung Series 5 NP550P7C

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.

Details

Price ex VAT £695
Price inc VAT £834
Overall rating 4
Features & Design 4
Value for Money 4
Performance 5

Warranty

Warranty 1yr collect and return

Physical specifications

Dimensions 409 x 270 x 32mm (WDH)
Weight 2.900kg
Travelling weight 3.4kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core i7-3610QM
RAM capacity 6.00GB
Memory type DDR3

Screen and video

Screen size 17.3in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,600
Resolution screen vertical 900
Resolution 1600 x 900
Graphics chipset Nvidia GeForce GT 650M
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 1.00TB
Hard disk usable capacity 931GB
Spindle speed 5,400RPM
Optical disc technology Blu-ray reader/DVD writer combo
Battery capacity 5,200mAh
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a support yes
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Integrated 3G adapter no

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) 2
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
Hardware volume control? no
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 1.3mp
TPM no
Fingerprint reader no
Smartcard reader no
Carry case no

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