Customer Review

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great performance, a few minor flaws, 9 Sep 2013
This review is from: Samsung Series 5 530U4B 14 inch Ultrabook - Silver (Intel Core i3 2367M 1.40 GHz, 6Gb RAM, 500Gb HDD, DVD SuperMulti DL, LAN, WLAN, BT, Webcam, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit) (discontinued by manufacturer) (Personal Computers)
I bought this laptop a few weeks ago, and I am now ready to provide feedback.

Pros:
* The Core i3 CPU is fast enough for a normal use, such as browsing, watching HD videos (including iPlayer and YouTube), Microsoft Office 2013 etc. Don't believe the marketing hype about Core i5 or i7 CPUs, unless you do some very intensive CPU tasks, such as video editing or games (but then an ultrabook is not the answer for those)
* 6GB of RAM is plenty of memory. Windows 8 only uses about 1.5GB when a few applications are running
* Due to the built-in expresscache Sandisk iSSD (16GB), hibernation/stand-by and resume is very fast (a few seconds) with Windows 7
* 500GB hard drive, despite being only Sata 2 and 5400 rpm, seems to be fast and quiet (no clicking or spinning noise)
* Laptop is very quiet, even when the fan is on
* Laptop is reasonably cool, at least the palmrest
* Very good sound quality from the speakers
* Non-reflective, mat screen is very appreciated. Too many laptops have shiny, highly reflective screens
* Screen contrast and colours are very good
* In such a small/slim laptop, very good for Samsung to have 3 USB port (two USB 3.0), full size HDMI and VGA ports, network port, plus a DVD drive!
* Not too much bloatware from Samsung out of the box
* Good multitouch touchpad (for instance, two fingers for vertical scrolling)
* Only reports to use around 7 watts in normal use
* very small power adapter
* Good built-in webcam

Cons:

* Built-in microphone seems to be a bit useless
* Center of the keyboard flexes a bit when typing
* Bottom of laptop and lid is plastic, does not seem like a very robust laptop compared to some Thinkpads
* lack of physical buttons for volume up/down (has to use FN key)
* No back light on keyboard

Additional points:

* While the hard drive included is only Sata 2, the motherboard is compatible with Sata 3 drives. The hard drive is just a standard model, and not a hybrid version
* The expresscache Sandisk iSSD included (16GB) is soldered on the motherboard and cannot therefore be upgraded. While it's much faster than a Sata 2 hard drive, it's slower than a proper Sata 3 SSD. It's not really possible to control what is cached on the iSSD: the service monitors and determines the files. Even when using some command lines to specify folders or files to be cached, the software can override those
* Easy to upgrade RAM and hard drive (compartment under the laptop, unusual for ultrabooks). However, battery cannot be replaced. Possible to restrict the charge to 80% to extend the battery life
* There is a recovery partition on the hard drive, and it's possible to restore as per factory settings in a matter of minutes
* By default, windows hibernation is disabled by Samsung and replaced by Expresscache and Intel Rapid Storage, meaning that the hardware takes care of the hibernation rather than Windows
* Some people have reported issues while installing windows 8 from a USB stick (setup gets confused with the iSSD drive), but there are no issues installing from a DVD

Conclusion: despite a few flaws, a very nice ultrabook with a large screen and built-in DVD drive, and also one that can be upgraded! Computer seems to be very stable, and has not suffered from poor wifi connections or other issues reported by some people.

Update 1:

* I have now replaced the hard drive by a Sandisk Ultra Plus SSD, along with Windows 8.1, and the computer is flying. Memory usage has also dropped significantly, from 3.3GB (Windows 7) to 1.5GB. I don't use anymore the iSSD for Expresscache (but just as standard storage), since the main SSD is faster. The Ultra Plus SSD achieves 470MB/s in sequential read and write, while the hard drive was less than 80MB/s, so a significant boost.
Windows 8.1 hibernation/resume is as fast as the solution with the iSSD on Windows 7 provided by Samsung.
* Windows 8.1 installation from a DVD created no issues, and all the drivers are available from Samsung (SW update). The software update application from Samsung has to be tuned with the compatibility mode in Windows 8.1 to make it see "Windows 8" (instead of 8.1), else it won't detect the type of computer automatically and will only allow the download of drivers and application, rather than their update
* The issue with the built-in microphone has been resolved, as it was probably picking vibration from the hard drive before (installed underneath), and working fine now.
* I have kept the 500GB hard drive in an USB 3.0 enclosure (achieving around 70MB/s), without deleting the Windows 7 Samsung recovery partition, if the computer has to be sent back for repairs under warranty in its original condition.
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