Samsung – RF710 review

Powerful 17.3" desktop substitute
Photo of Samsung – RF710

The phrase ‘desktop replacement’ is often used to describe any large and heavy laptop computer that’s unlikely to be stuffed into a backpack – but in the case of Samsung’s RF710, a definite attempt has been made to provide many of the attributes of a tower-based PC.

What desktop features?
For a start, the Samsung comes with a 17.3in, 16:9 widescreen LCD display that’s designed with both practical work-related activities and entertainment in mind.

Some might be critical of the display’s native resolution maxing out at 1600×900, rather than going for the Full HD resolution of 1920×1080 – but on the other hand, you do get both a built-in Blu-ray player and an HDMI port to feed Blu-ray movies directly into your Full HD-enabled TV.

Understated appeal
At a time when so many other notebooks are going for funky stylised covers and curves to make an immediate impact, the RF710 by contrast is remarkably understated. It has a simple glossy black lid bearing the Samsung logo.

Inside are black keys mounted in a silver surround, alongside a grey workspace. Apart from a small smattering of indicator lights towards the front and a slim row of volume, Internet and power buttons above the keyboard, this is a machine that is determined to avoid being ostentatious.

A tour of the laptop’s outside reveals four USB ports – two of which are the latest USB 3.0 type – as well as VGA, Ethernet, the two usual sound inputs plus a very discreet SD memory card slot tucked under the front edge.

The keyboard layout is especially impressive, using the large chiclet style that is much favoured these days, with plenty of spacing between the keys and a full size number pad on the right. It’s a dream to type on, and the touch pad and mouse keys are equally firm and responsive.

Powerful performance
Samsung have ensured that you have plenty of power under the bonnet by using a quad-core Intel Core i7-720QM CPU clocked at 1.6GHz, allied to an Nvidia GeForce GT 330M graphics card with 1GB of DDR3 memory. As a result, Blu-ray movies are sharp with vivid colours and gamers can enjoy stutter-free frame rates in everything from relatively low-demand action games like Tomb Raider Underworld and F.E.A.R. through to heavy-duty actioners like Call of Duty (Crysis, as you’d expect, is a little too punishing though).

If you’re planning on doing lots of CAD creativity or video editing, then you’ll be pleased to know that the Samsung contains not one but two hard drives of 500GB each, which should be more than sufficient for most needs.

On the downside, battery life should not be a principal reason for buying this machine – you’ll be lucky to squeeze more than two hours out of this machine – though that’s not unusual for a laptop of this type, which is meant to stay grounded most of the time.

Also, we’re hoping to see a bit of bargain discounting, on the Samsung’s £1,100 RRP might just prove a little too restrictive for those dithering between buying a full-on desktop PC or a ‘desktop substitute’ like the RF710…

Company: Samsung

Contact: 0845 726 7864

Beneath its unassuming exterior, Samsung's RF710 has a tiger of a processor, a more-than-capable graphics card, and an impressive set of features that should have broad appeal - as long as you're willing to pay the hefty £1,100 price tag.