Samsung Series 7 Ultra review

26 Jun 2013

A high-quality touchscreen, stunning chassis and discrete AMD graphics make for a multitalented Ultrabook

Price when reviewed: 
1,000(£1,000 inc VAT)
5

Ultrabooks are all about luxury, and Samsung’s Series 7 Ultra is no exception to the rule: the brushed aluminium chassis looks every inch the stylish ultraportable. Scratch the surface, however, and Samsung’s latest offering ups the ante with a Full-HD touchscreen and, most unusual of all, dedicated AMD graphics.

It’s the screen that gets the Series 7 Ultra off to a flying start – the 13.3in Full-HD panel is superb. There isn’t even the tiniest hint of grain introduced by the touch layer, and the silky-feeling, gloss finish makes it a pleasure to flick, pinch and tap your way through Windows 8.

Samsung Series 7 Ultra

The image quality is deliciously vibrant, too. Photographs and movies flourish with natural skin tones and lifelike, saturated colours; the average Delta E of 3.1 also proves that colour accuracy is well up to par. The IPS panel’s brightness level of 322cd/m[sup]2[/sup] helps it to remain legible in bright conditions, and although the contrast ratio of 786:1 is a little behind the best Ultrabooks – the non-touch, Full-HD panel of Dell’s XPS 13 reached a stunning 1,034:1 – most people will be unlikely to be able to tell the difference. It’s a cracking all-round display.

Even before you dab the Samsung’s power button, it looks every inch the high-end Ultrabook. The brushed metal finish is honed to a silky-smooth sheen, and we love the minimalist, unfussy styling. Burly build quality extends all around, and the Series 7 Ultra feels flex-free and amazingly sturdy no matter how much you twist and press on the chassis. That hefty build adds a few hundred grams to the overall weight, though – at 1.6kg, the Samsung is considerably heavier than stick-thin laptops such as Sony’s 1.05kg VAIO Pro 13.

Samsung Series 7 Ultra

The Samsung also excels on a practical level. The Scrabble-tile keyboard is backlit, and quality is superb: the solid base and snappy action make up for the slight lack of travel, and we were quickly up to speed thanks to the full-sized, widely spaced keys. The sizeable trackpad is great, too – it feels lovely under the finger, and responds quickly to Windows 8’s variety of gestures.

On the inside, Samsung has included something that few of its Ultrabook rivals can match – a discrete GPU. The chip used here is a Radeon HD 8570M, but it isn’t exactly a high-end part: its architecture is based on last year’s HD 7000-series, and it has only 384 stream processors clocked to a modest 650MHz.

Details

Price ex VAT £833
Price inc VAT £1,000
Overall rating 5
Features & Design 6
Value for Money 5
Performance 5

Warranty

Warranty 1 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions 324 x 224 x 22mm (WDH)
Weight 1.600kg
Travelling weight 1.9kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core i5-3337U
RAM capacity 6.00GB
Memory type DDR3

Screen and video

Screen size 13.3in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,920
Resolution screen vertical 1,080
Resolution 1920 x 1080
Graphics chipset AMD Radeon HD 8570M
HDMI outputs 1

Drives

Capacity 128GB
Hard disk usable capacity 119GB
Hard disk LiteOn SSD
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
Bluetooth support yes

Other Features

USB ports (downstream) 2
3.5mm audio jacks 1
SD card reader yes
Pointing device type Touchpad
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Fingerprint reader no

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 8hr 38min
3D performance (crysis) low settings 60fps
3D performance setting Low
Overall Real World Benchmark score 0.66
Responsiveness score 0.80
Media score 0.69
Multitasking score 0.50

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows 8 64-bit
OS family Windows 8