53 of 53 people found the following review helpful
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This review is from: Samsung 355V5C Series 3 15.6-inch Laptop (Silver) (AMD A6 4400M 2.7GHz, 6GB RAM, 500GB HDD, DVDSM DL, LAN, WLAN, Webcam, Integretaed Graphics, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-Bit) (Personal Computers)
I purchased this laptop at a perhaps promotional price from Amazon and as such it was a simply stunning buy, but even at around 400 GBP this machine is still a 5 stars, although the version based on the AMD A8 chip may be an even better buy in the 400-500 pounds price range.
Built and look
The laptop feels very solid and extremely stylish thanks to a very well made construction and an impeccable metal cladding finish. I am not particularly keen on many such laptops but this is very nice looking. There is very minimal or no flexing for neither the chassis nor screen. It is quite thin for a DVD equipped laptop and it is fairly light for a non ultra-portable machine.
It has all the right features for a modern work and media laptop, except I would have preferred a higher resolution webcam. However it include HDMI and VGA video ports, 4 USB ports (two of which are very fast) Ethernet and WiFi, the latest bluetooth which is fast and supports all recent services, a card reader slot and the analog audio IN/OUT plugs. I used it with my iMac bluetooth mouse running both Windows and Linux with identical results in operation to the iMac.
It is excellent especially for a budget/mid-market machine. It is anti-reflective (a very good thing), bright and with good resolution. Colours are vibrant and with a good fidelity (I am a keen photographer). However the angle of view does affect greatly the contrast (which in turns affects the perceived colours) especially for vertical angles.
The keyboard feels solid and not cheap (although not top quality either). I found it easy and responsive to use. The touchpad looks and feels nice, although the buttons do feel a touch loose. I operation though it is not a real limitation.
Sound is a little bright and thin but basically it is on par or better than Beats Audio machines which is not a bad thing.
CPU and graphics processors
It is based on the latest AMD 64 bit APU architecture. A single chip includes a dual integer-core (with a single floating point core) and a Radeon HD 7520G Graphics Processor. Basically the latter is on par to the Intel HD 4000 graphics, whilst the CPU matches the best i3 and some of the i5 Intel processors. Extensive benchmarking exists for comparison on the web. Samsung fitted 6 GB of RAM in this unit which is very professional, as modern laptop with embedded graphics chips do share RAM between GPU and CPU and 4 GB is not that much these days.
Windows benchmarks (range from 1 to 7.9)
CPU 5.5, RAM 7.2, Graphics 6.6 Gaming 6.6 HD transfer 5.9 - Overall 5.5
Linux (in bracket the relative performance compared to an AMD E-450 based machine)
Blowfish 8.64 (160%), Cryptoash 198.46 (257%) Fibonacci 3.15 (142%) QUEENS 7.88 (315%) FFT 3.8 (178%) Raytracing 5.10 (329%)
Performance experience is excellent especially in Linux for day to day work.
I ran Mathcad 2000 in Linux using Wine virtual machine and it runs extremely fast. Big spreadsheets or large presentations load and perform very quikly.
However the graphics driver used by Ubuntu are not the latest (as often the case with AMD chips) and the graphics performance is impacted in some applications. VLC runs less smoothly than in Windows, whilst BBC HD iPlayer ran in Chromium (or Chrome in Windows) is equally fluid on both OSs.
Overall this feels as a very balanced machine, especially in Windows.
Battery and power
The chipset is energy efficient and the battery life is very good. I used it for more than 4 hours on heavy duty work in Windows and it showed still some 20% of battery charge. I believe that the 8 h claim is only doable on a extremely light use, although 5-6 hours will be typical. This is not bad.
Finally the sleep mode in Windows is worth noticing. The unit takes about three seconds to turn OFF and ON from sleep. I haven't tested how long the machine can stay in sleep mode running on battery.
All in all I am extremely pleased with this laptop.
Tracked by 3 customers
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Showing 1-10 of 14 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 16 Sep 2012 00:39:36 BDT
J. Okerman says:
Looks like you got it for a good price. I see that John Lewis has it online for £429.95, and in store for £449.95 which seems a little strange.
I was interested in hearing what you said about the way images look, i.e. "good fidelity". I might just trundle down to JL and have another look at this machine.
Informative review BTW. Very helpful.
In reply to an earlier post on 20 Sep 2012 19:49:20 BDT
Last edited by the author on 20 Sep 2012 23:19:24 BDT
Thank you very much for the appreciation. Yes I did pay very little for this machine. I received it from Amazon on the 3rd September, but the item does not seem to be always in stock and perhaps it is worth waiting.
JL have both the A6 and A8 based machines. Both are worth a closer look especially as the JL price difference may not be as great.
On the screen fidelity... I am just comparing the same photo next to my iMac. Clearly the latter is better but it is also a very high standard for reference. The colours on the iMac are a little warmer.
I know the iMac colours match pretty well the prints of my Canon A3+ printer. The screen on the laptop has a little blue cast on direct comparison with the iMac, but the picture still look right. It is almost as the white balance is a little on the cold side. I would suggest to reduce the standard brightness level for photo-editing jobs which are certainly possible. In Windows there is also good customisation on offer by the Radeon SW and the screen turns on Movie settings automatically when watching movies.
The biggest issue is the variation in contrast with the angle of view. There are better screens on offer on other laptops but you must get into the £900+ range. The Samsung screen is also anti-reflective which is excellent in daylight for just about any job.
All the best
Posted on 21 Sep 2012 09:40:52 BDT
Hi, Just managed to snap one of these up at £279 again on Amazon (I hope!). It comes with 6gb of Memory but obviously, being a 32-bit Windows, it won't use all that memory. Do you know, or could you check in system properties how much of the memory is being used, or how much is shared with the graphics chip?
In reply to an earlier post on 21 Sep 2012 14:03:43 BDT
You are correct. Any Windows 32 bit machine is indeed limited to accessing a maximum of 4 GB of physical RAM. There is no point in getting more RAM than that in all such cases and I would discourage anyone to buy more RAM unless they install a 64 Bit version
However I very much believe that this machine runs Windows Home Premium 64 Bit.
To check this I
1. Clicked Windows Start button (Left Right Corner Icon with Windows Logo)
2. Right Clicked on <Computer> and selected "Properties" from the menu
3. The basic system info shows
3.1 System type: 64 bit Operating System
3.2 Installed memory (RAM): 6 GB (5.46 GB Available)
I also went to the detailed System Info panel (Control Panel>All Control Panel>Performance Information and Tools>Advanced Tools) the System summary additionally shows 4.06 GB of available Physical Memory (at this moment). There is also 10.9 GB of available virtual memory and the info on the page file is for 5.46 GB. All points in the direction that all the installed memory is actually used.
In Linux I definitely installed the 64 bit version of Ubuntu 12.04.
Linux is actually much less demanding in RAM as it has a small and fantastic kernel so the machine loads extremely quickly. Running the System info tools at the moment shows 5,561 MB of RAM with only 702 MB being used.
Linux is also an excellent and much better multitasking and real time OS compared to Windows and the machine does fly. The only problem are the generic drivers of UBUNTU vs the latest Catalyst 12.8 version of Radeon.
To be fair there is an option to install either the Fglrx drivers for UBUNTU or the latest Catalyst ones but I haven't done it yet and I am not sure I will bother.
I hope it helps
All the best
In reply to an earlier post on 21 Sep 2012 15:06:15 BDT
Many thanks for your time looking into this! If I had read the product title properly first time, I would have seen that it actually does state 'Windows 7-64 bit'! Doh!
This is great news that it can utilise all the memory installed :)
Thanks again :)
In reply to an earlier post on 21 Sep 2012 16:20:23 BDT
There's a workarounds kernel available to bypass 4GB limit.
I've been using it for a couple of months on my i7 desktop with 8GB ram running 32 bit Win 7 Premium. Google is your friend.
In reply to an earlier post on 21 Sep 2012 23:35:05 BDT
Last edited by the author on 21 Sep 2012 23:35:52 BDT
No troubles at all and thanks for the appreciation.
All the best
In reply to an earlier post on 21 Sep 2012 23:36:47 BDT
Last edited by the author on 22 Sep 2012 00:02:54 BDT
I think that whilst your system can see and address 8 GB of RAM it may not always be able to fully use it with a 32 bit OS.
The workaround is simply to enable Physical Address Extension or PAE (something that is certainly doable but may be technically a hack).
It is done by choosing some hidden register and hiding others. Actually the PAE enabling options are already included in Windows 32 bit OSs, and I think Windows simply blocks its use.
But the problem is that a 32 bit system can only address 4GB of RAM since 2^32 = 4GB. The PAE method allows to augment the addressable lines of memory creating a virtual address space of 36 bits by playing with index mapping of address tables. PAE can therefore enable 2^36 = 64 GB of RAM.
However in a true 32 bit system the maximum virtual RAM instances remain only 4 GB with or without PAE enabled.
In other words whilst more RAM will help multitasking, if Photoshops requires more than 4GB of RAM it cannot use it directly from the physical RAM, even if it is available.
I have the strong feeling that the same remains true also with 64 bit hardware when running a 32 bit OS, since the instruction set is 32 bit wide. That is why I suggests modern CPU are better served by a true 64 bit OS.
I am running out of depth here, but I think that even if a machine is preinstalled with a 32 bit OS, the user should still be able to obtain the full version of Windows by contacting the manufacturer.
Unfortunately upgrading from 32 bit to a 64 bit in Windows is a bit of a manual pain, involving file backups, reinstalling applications etc...
All the best
In reply to an earlier post on 22 Sep 2012 11:33:34 BDT
Great review, and we were also lucky enough to snap one of these up cheaply. The only disappointment was a lack of USB boot support. You can only boot from the HDD or a CD/DVD on our model. Shame.
Using a CD I installed Ubuntu 12.04.1 just fine, but I'm having an issue with the laptop's volume function key shortcut. When I tap Function + F8, the bar goes haywire and then the desktop locks up. The only way to resolve this is to hard reboot. I've tried other distros and they exhibit the same issue, so it's not just Ubuntu. Do you know of any solution to this issue?
In reply to an earlier post on 24 Sep 2012 14:59:53 BDT
Last edited by the author on 24 Sep 2012 22:39:41 BDT
Thanks for your appreciation! On your issues... The USB boot may be a bit annoying but given that there is a DVD drive in this machine I don't think is a big deal. I didn't even notice it as I tend to boot OS installers from the CD unless there is no drive...
The issue on the volume shortcuts is instead much more annoying... I didn't notice this either, since I tend to use the icons and mouse for controlling volume, but I confirm that is there, it is annoying and it puzzles me (see later).
However it is easily solved in practical terms. Before getting there just a question: are you using Gnome or Unity?
Anyhow in any case
1. Go to System Setting>Keyboard>Shortcuts> and select the <Sound and Media> Tab.
2. On the right pane you will see Volume Mute, Volume Down and Volume Up
3. Go on each of them with the mouse pointer and left click on each of them one by one.
4. In each case <New Accelerator> will come up... Press the backspace key to disable the shortcut.
5. Repeat this for all three keys
6. Repeat the same procedure all over again, but this time as <New Accelerator> appears press F6, F7 and F8 for each function
(I assume F6 for Mute, F7 for Volume Down and F8 for Volume Up).
IMPORTANT: DO NOT press the Fn key.
Your new reassigned keys will work. If there is any problem repeat the whole sequence but reboot after step 5
For some reasons the combination of Fn + F6 etc creates a strange conflict I never seen before.
I may do a bit of enquiry (if I find the time) just for the sake of curiosity as it is a strange conflict that puzzles me.
However for practical reasons I think this should be OK
All the best