Samsung – R510 review

sensible all-round Centrino 2 performer
Photo of Samsung – R510
£440

Just to confuse people there are two types of Samsung R510 available to the consumer at the moment: a pre Centrino 2 model, which even more confusingly comes with the correct Centrino 2 chipset but without any of the launch processors and correct wireless card, and a true Centrino 2 model with all three parts of the equation (CPU, GM45 chipset and WiLink 5100/5300 wireless networking) to allow it to be badged as such.

Whichever model you decide on it’s finished in Samsung’s Black Aura design, combining the familiar glossy black piano finish lid with a silver and matt black chassis. It’s also pretty portable, weighing in at 3.1kg including the power brick.

So then, which did we get from Samsung to review? Well, they sent us a non Centrino 2 model but with the latest GM45 chipset, which does provide the notebook with the latest GMA X4500HD integrated graphics from Intel. But although the X4500HD is an improvement over other versions, it still doesn’t give you any decent gaming performance, as shown convincingly by the 2fps average frame rate result from World in Conflict’s built-in benchmark.

That was at the screen’s native resolution (1,280 by 800 pixels) with all details set to high, but even at a lower resolution and with all the gaming details set to the lowest level, you still wont get a playable frame rate.

Our review sample came with an Intel Core 2 Duo T5750 which is clocked at 2GHz and supported by 3GB of PC2-5300 DDR2 memory, so while the R510 is no speed demon, it will power the Vista Home Premium installed OS and all of the everyday applications a home user might need, without too many problems.

The 15.4-inch screen is particularly good for this price point, with sharp text and good bright colours and little in the way of backlight bleed, while the reflective coating doesn’t cause too many problems. To connect the R510 to an external screen there are VGA and HDMI ports built into the left-hand side of the chassis.

Unlike the true Centrino 2 model, the WiFi in our review R510 only supported 802.11a/b/g and not ‘n’, but there is Bluetooth 2.0 EDR if you want to communicate with other devices. Wired connections include Gigabit Ethernet and a 56kbps V.92 modem.

The keyboard is standard size without a separate number pad and features a second Function key on the right-hand side of the keyboard that allows you to control screen brightness and audio volume simply with one hand, as the arrow keys double up to control these functions. Like many of the latest Samsung laptops, the keyboard features the company’s Silver Nano anti-bacterial coating on the keys, so your notebook doesn’t become a home for nasty germs and bugs.

Besides the 160GB hard drive and 8x DVD-RW burner, you get a 34mm ExpressCard slot and an SD card reader. It’s a good job the card reader has a label on it, as being built into the lower front half of the chassis it’s quite easy to miss.

As with all Samsung notebooks this one comes with a host of Samsung software utilities and also McAfee Internet Security, a 90-day trial of Microsoft Office and CyberLink DVD suite in the software bundle. Samsung backs the R510 with a year’s international warranty.

Company: Samsung

Contact: 01932 455 000


Verdict
A well priced and well featured mid-range notebook ideal for the non-gaming home user or even for the small office, but it's at a price point with a lot of competition. Some of that competition offers even more features, so you might be better served shopping around. If you fancy a true Centrino 2 version of the R510 you need to budget around £600.