Samsung Series 5 NP550P7C review

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

4
Price when reviewed 
834

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.

Warranty

Warranty1yr collect and return

Physical specifications

Dimensions409 x 270 x 32mm (WDH)
Weight2.900kg
Travelling weight3.4kg

Processor and memory

ProcessorIntel Core i7-3610QM
RAM capacity6.00GB
Memory typeDDR3

Screen and video

Screen size17.3in
Resolution screen horizontal1,600
Resolution screen vertical900
Resolution1600 x 900
Graphics chipsetNvidia GeForce GT 650M
VGA (D-SUB) outputs1
HDMI outputs1
S-Video outputs0
DVI-I outputs0
DVI-D outputs0
DisplayPort outputs0

Drives

Capacity1.00TB
Hard disk usable capacity931GB
Spindle speed5,400RPM
Optical disc technologyBlu-ray reader/DVD writer combo
Battery capacity5,200mAh
Replacement battery price inc VAT£0

Networking

Wired adapter speed1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a supportyes
802.11b supportyes
802.11g supportyes
802.11 draft-n supportyes
Integrated 3G adapterno

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switchno
Wireless key-combination switchyes
Modemno
ExpressCard34 slots0
ExpressCard54 slots0
PC Card slots0
USB ports (downstream)2
FireWire ports0
PS/2 mouse portno
9-pin serial ports0
Parallel ports0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports0
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports0
3.5mm audio jacks2
SD card readeryes
Memory Stick readerno
MMC (multimedia card) readeryes
Smart Media readerno
Compact Flash readerno
xD-card readerno
Pointing device typeTouchpad
Hardware volume control?no
Integrated microphone?yes
Integrated webcam?yes
Camera megapixel rating1.3mp
TPMno
Fingerprint readerno
Smartcard readerno
Carry caseno

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use7hr 12min
3D performance (crysis) low settings25fps
3D performance settingHigh
Overall Real World Benchmark score0.96

Operating system and software

Operating systemWindows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
OS familyWindows 7
Recovery methodRecovery partition

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