Ivy Bridge-powered Samsung Series 7 Review
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Can this be the first 17-inch ultrabook on sale? Although it isn’t marketed as an ultrabook with a 17-inch, the revised version of the Samsung Series 7 does certainly meet the requirements to fit in this category. It has a starting price of $1,499 and for this money you’ll be getting a quad core Ivy Bridge Intel Core i7 processor and a dedicated GPU from Nvidia, a GeForce 650M, all wrapped in a body which is less than one inch thick. Here are the hardware components that can be found in this model.
To begin with, there’s a third-generation, Ivy Bridge-based Intel Core i7-3615QM quad core processor running at a clock speed of 2.30 GHz. The 17-inch laptop is configured with 8GB of DDR3 memory working at a frequency of 1,600 MHz, while for storage there’s a large 1TB hard drive spinning at 5,400 rpm. The chipset is an Intel HM77 while the GPU is an Nvidia GeForce GT 650M along with the integrated Intel HD 4000 graphics chip with shared system memory. The Samsung Series 7 runs on Windows 7 Home Premium, the 64 bit edition.
This desktop replacement from the Korean company measures 15.9 x 10.3 x 0.98 inches and comes with a large 17.3-inch screen. The laptop weighs 6.5 pounds while its AC adapter adds a pound to the ultrabook’s weight.
Finding a slim 17-inch laptop nowadays is a hard thing to do now since Apple has decided to stop making the 17-inch version of the MacBook Pro. This model from Samsung borrows a few styling cues from other Series 7 and Series 9 laptops launched by the company, which means that we are dealing with a sleek-looking 17-inch system that looks great from all angles. While the Series 9 has a curved silhouette, this Series 7 model has a more flattened look and comes with a sunken keyboard tray which is extended to both edges of the chassis, making it look just about the same as last year’s version of the 15-inch Series 7 model.
Even though it lacks the unibody construction of a MacBook Pro, nevertheless its big one-piece keyboard tray feels sturdy and solid. You will do notice a small amount of flex on the lid, while the whole lid will wobble a little bit when the elongated center hinge is moved. Since it has a chassis which is less than one inch thick, the Samsung Series 7 looks exceptional, especially when the lid is closed.
As we were saying earlier, the keyboard along with its number pad which sit on the right are spanning on almost the entire width of the laptop. The keyboard consists of island-style keys that have been raised and have rounded corners. These keys are wearing a matte surface and feature translucent white sides which will glow blue-white.
If we take a closer look at the touchpad sitting below, we immediately notice that it looks more like the one on a MacBook. It has a large surface and features integrated mouse buttons, instead of coming with separate left and right buttons. It manages to provide a suitable amount of drag thanks to its matte metallic surface.
Perhaps one of the best features of the laptop would have to be its great 17.3-inch display that benefits from the company’s own Superbright technology which Samsung says that it makes the screen 36-50% brighter in comparison to other laptop screens. This screen has a native resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels (full HD) and we appreciate that it has wide viewing angles while the image quality is spectacular. For a 17-inch system, the bezel manages to be very small, while the screen has a matte coating which makes it suitable for a bright room as it doesn’t catch glare.
In the audio department it comes with two JBL speakers as well as a subwoofer. The quality is slightly above average so if you’re interested in watching movies or playing games, we’d recommend using a set of headphones.
The list of ports and connectivity features is quite extensive on this Samsung Series 7 laptop as you get HDMI, VGA and DisplayPort for video connectivity, while for audio there’s a microphone and headphone jack. In the data area it comes with two USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports and an SD card reader, while for networking it packs Bluetooth, Ethernet jack and 802.11n Wi-Fi. There’s also an optical drive in the form of a regular DVD burner.
We should mention that this is a fixed-configuration notebook, but you can also opt for the Series 7 Gamer which costs $1,899 and comes with a thicker body, but it has 16GB of RAM and a large 1.5TB hard drive. In addition, it also packs a high-end Nvidia GeForce GTX 675 video card. The downside is that the Gamer is two pounds heavier and also almost twice as thick as the regular Series 7 model.
Given the size of the screen, you shouldn’t be expecting a very long battery life but you might be surprised to find out that the laptop is capable of surviving for about 5 hours and 40 minutes during the usual video playback test. This result is achieved thanks to the inclusion of Nvidia’s Optimus GPU switching technology which will use the integrated graphics chip (Intel HD 4000) whenever the dedicated Nvidia video card is not necessary. This performance is way better than the Gamer version of the Series 7 which can last during the same test for just two and a half hours.
All things considered, there aren’t a lot of 17-inch laptops available on sale today and only a few are as thin as the Samsung Series 7. With great looks and plenty of hardware power within its chassis, this should be a top priority if you are in the market for a desktop replacement. Although it won’t do a lot of travelling due to its respectable size, it’s nice to know that its battery is capable of lasting for almost six hours of use if you tweak with the power settings a little bit.