Samsung’s Series 5 is a mid-range 14-inch Windows 8 notebook with high-end finishes for about $800. Let’s take a closer look.
The Series 5 plumps for the minimalist style, following the current fad for lightish-colored mixtures of plastic and metal surfacing. In total the Series 5 extends 15.27 x 9.21 x 0.77 inches (388 x 234 and is 19.5mm), bringing it just under the official Ultrabook thinness benchmark. Everything weighs about 4 pounds (1821 grams). For all that, workmanship is first-class – flush edges – no rough bits, loose panels, crooked keys; this is Samsung after all.
Samsung Series 5 is run by a dual-core Intel Core i7-3337U, supported by 4GB of 1600MHz DDR3 RAM, with an AMD’s ATI HD8750M graphics painting the screen. The CPU is clocked at 1.8 GHz, Turbo-boosting to 2.5GHz across both cores and all four threads – its a very capable set-up and equal to everything but professional level computing tasks, full-on gaming aside. The 4GB RAM module is melded to the motherboard, but a free slot sits ready for a future upgrade and will accommodate anything up to an 8GB stick of RAM for 12GB in total.
Samsung has taken the the hybrid storage route, with a 24GB SSD for the OS and all your most important files, paired with a 500GB 5400rpm drive for all the rest. Taken together read and write data transfer averages out at 78 MB/s. With smaller files – text files, short clips – read and write averages give 143 MB/s transfer speeds. So popping a few typed docs will be taken care of in the blink of an eye, but DVD back-ups or photo collections will be relegated to speeds nearer the lower figure.
In the refresh, the VGA socket has disappeared, though anyone with old monitors unable to connect via HDMI can grab a converter for 20 euros or so. Otherwise, there’s an HDMI connector, Intel’s WiDi capability, two older-standard USB-2s, one USB-3 connector, and a 4-in-1 card reader for storage und suchlike. Radio-wise there’s a dual-band WiFi module, and Bluetooth 4 low-voltage wide-bandwidth for lightning-quick peripheral syncing.
The 14-inch display weighs in with 1366 x 768 pixels. Brightness lands up at 175 candelas. Dark tones register at 0.39 candelas. Together that brightness level and the inky darks combine for a 485:1 contrast ratio – punchy colors, vibrant movies. The Series 5 manages only poor coverage of the standard sRGB color spectrum.
The no-backlight keyboard of the Series 5 offers users a quick und precise typing experience. The Series 5 has a roomy clickpad which obeys gestures flawlessly. No complaints there then either. A 1MP camera sits out front, ready for Skyping, and capable of 720p capture.
In Mass Effect 3 with high settings the Series 5 chalked up 44fps at 1366 x 768 resolution. Or 32fps in Crysis 3 at the native 1366 x 768 res, settings on low. There are a staggering 11:50 hours of runtime awaiting lightweight users; light-browsing, document-editing, very occasional YouTube clip on a single charge. Taking a different approach, the 57W 4-cell battery stores up power for 2:12 hours of runtime with devil-take-the-hindmost cybergeddon usage on a single charge. Most of the tasks though allow for upwards of 5 hours on a single charge.
The Series 5 is on sale already priced at $850, and the manufacturer’s decription of it as a ‘multimedia Ultrabook’ is well justified.
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