Laptops

Samsung Series 5 NP530U4BI Review

The Samsung Series 5 Ultra is an ultrabook that attempts to sacrifice little in exchange for its size.

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Overview

The Series 5 is a heavy-weight in the laptop boxing ring, weighing in at 71.75 ounces. In this case, lots of laptop unfortunately does not mean lots of performance.

This Samsung finished below average in our application testing and showed dismal graphical abilities. However, usability and ergonomics were both excellent.

Design & Usability

Using the Samsung Series 5 Ultra was enjoyable, but it had a few quirks.

The number of keys on the Samsung 5 Ultra falls short of a piano by eight (for the unmusical, that's 80). They have a good tactile sensation and a slightly rough surface to prevent slippage.

It took us a while to get the multitouch gestures to function.

The Samsung 5’s touchpad has the same texture as its keys. The ELAN Smart Pad comes with the standard right and left click buttons. It’s all perfectly adequate. It took us a while to get the multitouch gestures to function correctly. The situation resolved after cycling through a few restarts—the Samsung 5 auto-updated and acquired the ELAN software. After that, the touchpad turned out to be large and comfortable to use, though the size did make it prone to false touches from the palm.

Performance & Features

An adequate, if boring, performer

The Samsung 5 Ultra offers one 2.0 USB, two 3.0 USB's, one HDMI, one VGA, and a 4-in-1 card reader slot. For networking, the Samsung 5 Ultra has a gigabit wired Ethernet jack, an 802.11 a/b/g/n, and a Bluetooth V 3.0 High Speed.

In terms of performance, the Series 5's major drawback is that it has everything—and yet it doesn't specialize in anything. It couldn't hit top marks in our applications, gaming, or processing tests, but it wasn't rock bottom either.

Our tests reflect the battery life you would get from common day usage.

What did stand out was the battery life—and not in a good way. We turned down the screen brightness and set the power control panel to the least power-hungry preset. Under these conditions, we got just three hours and 27 minutes of life—disappointing.

You may notice a disparity in our test results with that of the battery life touted by the manufacturer. The reason for this is simple: In our tests, the laptops are in constant use—browsing the web, creating a document, and running a simulated game. Most manufacturers let the laptops idle to stretch the battery life out as far as possible. Our tests reflect the battery life you would get from common day usage.

Conclusion

The Samsung Series 5 is a jack-of-all-trades and master-of-none.

The Samsung Series 5 didn't manage to excel at any of our tests, but it didn't flounder either. With an i5, the Samsung Series 5 had an impressive 500 GB hard drive. It was also fairly hefty—especially for an ultrabook—at 71.75 ounces.

The Samsung Series 5 Ultra would be perfect for a general user.

The whole design ethic of the Samsung Series 5 Ultra revolves around not sacrificing anything for size. The Series 5 has an optical disc drive, it has plenty of ports—including two USB 3.0 ports—and the keyboard is large and comfortable. This laptop could work as a replacement workstation or a computer for on the go.

The Samsung Series 5 Ultra would be perfect for a general user. Someone who does a little of everything, but not on an intensive level. This laptop is nothing brilliant, but it's a fair price for a fair machine.

Introduction

Simply put, this is a heavy-weight laptop that tries to do too much. Testing results will show you why.

Applications Testing

Faster than the Series 9

The Samsung Series 5 Ultra exhibited acceptable performance when going through our applications testing. It took an average of 23.8 seconds to get through a set of Photoshop filters—one of the slowest we've tested thus far—but going through a complex Excel spreadsheet, the Series 5 finished with flying colors, in 8.05 seconds. That's much quicker than its slimmer, more expensive sister, the Samsung Series 9, which took 9.17 seconds to finish.

To test the laptop's ability to deal with HD video processing, we had the Series 5 Ultra recompress an HD video using Handbrake. The Samsung had an average finishing time of 208.17 seconds.

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Travel Weight

A heavy-weight

Most manufacturers provide the weight of the unit only. However, we don't think that's the full picture.

Laptops on the move should go out with their chargers—travel weight. That's how we came up with the 71.75 ounce weight for the Series 5.

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