Inside the Samsung NP350–Preparing for an SSD Upgrade

Posted on 01 February 2012 by

I know the Samsung NP350 isn’t an Ultrabook but there’s a method in my madness here. SSD upgrade!

NP350 Inside (2)

I bought the Samsung NP350 before Christmas for a very low price of £436 (£363 pre-tax) which I’m beginning to think was some sort of mistake because soon after I bought it, the price shot up by about 30%. (It’s currently out of stock at Amazon UK for £479) In the USA there is a new 1.4 GHz Intel Core i3-2367M version (ULV, like an Ultrabook) for $679 and a 2.30 GHz Intel Core i5-2410m version  for $729. Yes, not quite as cheap as the £363 / $572 I paid but that ULV Core i3 version could be a prime candidate for a very long battery-life set-up.

Samsung NP350 naked pics below. NP350 Information page including review is here.

I chose the because it is light (1.4KG – same as the ASUS UX31,) has a good set of ports, has a small-bezel 12.5” matt screen and, although I didn’t know it at the time, has a great keyboard, can be silent, has great battery life, performs as well as an Ultrabook and even looks OK. I took it to CES and did the whole week without shutting down (standby and hibernation worked 100%) I can totally recommend it if you see it for a good price.

The only issue is that it doesn’t have an SSD so thanks to the guys at MydigitalSSD and MyDigitalDiscount, we’re going to see how it performs with an SSD upgrade.

The process will interest many of you that have a thin-and-light laptop that isn’t an Ultrabook because it’s likely to have a spinning hard drive inside. Those of you with the Acer S3 or Samsung Series 5 might also want to see the results.

For reference, the HDD in the NP350 performs at a max 85MB R/W rate. Importantly the seek speed and small-block R/W speeds are very poor compared to an SSD. We’ll also be losing some noise, about 100gm in weight, improving ruggedness and even improving efficiency and lowering heat.

I’m expecting the SSD to come in next week but for the time being, here’s the Samsung NP350 naked!

NP350 Inside NP350 Inside (1)

There are 9 cross-head screws to remove and two of them are behind the rear feet. Lift them away from the sticking pads with a screwdriver. Prise the casing apart by running your thumbnail between the two parts and levering it apart from front to back. The rear part is a little more difficult to prise apart.

NP350 Inside (2)NP350 Inside (3)

There are no wires or springs to worry about. The bottom part of the casing comes away to reveal averything. A 47Wh battery. Intel WiFi/BT card (Single antenna WiFi), the memory (accessible through a port on the casing so you don’t need to take it apart to upgrade the RAM) and the all-important SATA hard drive. The Chipset used in the NP350 is capable of SATA III but i’ll probably settle for a SATA II drive as the price/performance ratio is better.

 

NP350 Inside (4)NP350 Inside (5)NP350 Inside (6)NP350 Inside (7)

The hard drive sits in a casing. remove three screws around the casing and carefully (the SATA connector isn’t fixed to the case so hold on to it with a finger)remove the hard drive in its case. Remove the HDD from the case.

NP350 Inside (8)NP350 Inside (9)

 

As I mentioned, the SSD is probably going to be here next week so check back for final upgrade process and performance test. I’ll take the chance to re-install Win 7 from scratch too.

 

  • Leinfab

    Well then I pretty much got the deal of the century. I bought the i5 version directly from Amazon US late last week for $560. The $730 it’s listed at right now is only from resellers. I believe this model was cancelled & marked down to make room for the new i3-ULV version.

    • Chippy

      Interesting. it looks like they are positioning it further away from the Series 5 ultrabooks. I’d like to see an i3/SSD version for $649. Would make a great mobile package.

      • ldjjlchv

        I was wondering why the newer version had a lesser i3…it makes sense that they did so to position it further away from the series 5 about to be released. The reason i didn’t get the NP30u2b like Leinfab for $560 (which is a steal) is because of the terrible screen contrast and brightness. Do you know id the series 5 is going to have a better screen than the series 3, or will it be similar?

        • Chippy

          I wouldn’t call the screen terrible. It’s not top quality but for normal work, fine. The Series 5 appears to have a similar ‘mainstream’ style screen. Possibly slightly better contrast than the np350. I wasn’t amazed by it like I was with the Series 9.

    • Michael

      I bought my i3 version with 4GB for 340 pounds in Asia. It was definitely a mistake cause now, they have reduced it to 2GB and increased the price by 30% also. So, since you have now opened it up and confirmed it is a 47Whr battery, I am quite offended by Samsung that in their official website they quoted 66Whr. It was for this reason I bought this notebook.

  • Wouter

    Its certainly great value, a samsung Np350 with an SSD. And for some users it will be the solution.

    But I think a great deal of the peopple who want ultrabooks are not only searching for lightweight, battery life and power. They are searching for the total package. Outstanding design, great build quality, good keyboard, good trackpad, fast boots, usable AC adapters (no bricks). And everything that makes the total user experience so good.

    I think that they just want to be able to love their device, most like some have with their apple devices or with their phones. They don’t want another generic laptop. They want one that offers it all. they don’t want their laptop to be stuck in the middle. Offering some really great things, but lacking in others, because it was cheaper. It has to feel like the manufacterer has put lots and lots of care in the product.

    Then they are wanting to spend a bit more (up to 1000-1200) just to get that. Allthough, thats mainly my vision, but its certainly explainable in the poll you made. The UX31 was on top, while the Acer S3 and Toshiba offer much more value.

  • Talal

    Hi chippy
    I had the ULV 1.3ghz version for a week or so I tried an intel 320 ssd it was a great laptop, I felt more comfortable with it than a UX31.
    One thing is that it required a 7mm SSD drive !
    I hope you have this in mind !

    • Chippy

      Talal. Thanks. You’re one step ahead of me. I thought it was 9mm. I’ll check that with mydigitalssd. Again, thanks.

  • Rotoeu

    I have the US version, does anybody know of a keyboard shortcut that turns the screen off? This is the only laptop I have owned in years that didn’t have a Fn combo to do this..

    I use those shortcuts when on battery power all the time, it’s not as efficient to just walk away from the laptop & let Windows do it in “x” amount of minutes.

    • Chippy

      A backlight/screen off option would be nice but you can configure ‘Do nothing’ on ‘when I close the lid’ and it turns the screen off when closing the device.

      • James

        Since most lid sensors are based off a magnet, you can probably use a magnet to trigger the lid sensor as another option that doesn’t require actually closing the lid and risk heating the system up while it’s still running.

        Though there are 3rd party solutions to turning the screen off.

    • Heilie

      Only program I know of that turns the screen off is Wizmo & it’s terrible.

      In the US version I’m also surprised there is no FN combo key for sleep mode. They also wasted a dedicated key for the Samsung app.

      • James

        Wizmo is kinda old, you can find better these days. Some pay for solutions even provide a icon in the system tray for easy access or you could do a custom keyboard key combination shortcut.

        Strange they don’t provide even a sleep Fn key combination though. Seems to be a mounting number of design short comings for this model.

      • Rietebaze

        Hardware is great but the software is typical buggy Samsung junk. The Samsung Control Center forgets your bluetooth & fan settings at every boot. The only way to remember the settings is to install the Eco software. It also forgets your screen display settings (standard, movie, soft, sharp) everytime the screen goes off, into sleep, reboot (even though the UI selection stays the same).

        I’m sure there are alot more bugs I havent ran across yet. Normally I wouldn’t even install manufacture software but you have to for the Fn keys to map correctly. My guess is, none of this software will ever get updated & this laptop will essentially just be abandoned. This is a huge problem amongst Windows/Android manufactures as they simply do not care about the user experience once the sale has been made. The sad part is that I expect garbage from Acer but Samsung is suppose to a top tier manufacture.

        It’s really no surprise to me that over the last decade everyone I know has switched over to Apple & the trend is likely to increase if MS/Google don’t get some QC over their ecosystems.

        • Chippy

          Totally agree in the qc thoughts. 110%

  • Edouard

    Hi Chippy,
    What do you think of the Ethernet port on the NP350? Is it enough robust?

    • Chippy

      Seems OK. I’ve used it a few times and it feels solid. It’s not something i’m worried about although I don’t plug an Ethernet cable in every day like some do.

  • Edouard

    Well at the end I pre-ordered the NP530 (its cousin) that has the same Ethernet port. I hesitated a lot with the HP Folio 13 but its glossy screen and keyboard background were a deal braker for me even if its full SSD and its battery capacity were very interesting. HP ruined its beautiful product with those choices.

  • Adam

    Hmm… I can get the Core i5 2410m version of the Samsung 350U2b for $731 USD shipped, but then I’d want to install an SSD in it too…

    The HP Folio I don’t think is quite as attractive but it comes with an SSD for $899… The Best Buy version of the Toshiba Z830 is also a great deal, but the build quality is too low for me to pull the trigger on.

    HP’s not offering a corporate discount on the HP Folio 13 at ALL; same price as every where else. Lenovo’s pricing is completely unjustified.

    I REALLY want a UX31 and I get an AMAZING discount with them but its for my wife and she just won’t put up with less than an 8 hour battery life.

    Interestingly enough the corporate discount on a Macbook Air and the Asus UX31 make them almost identically priced; after seeing the side-by-side battery testing on Windows between these two, and seeing the perf numbers, and looking at the speaker reviews and screen res stats the Asus is still an amazingly priced machine if you can get by with a 5 1/2 hour battery life. The Asus UX31’s lack of WIDI is killing me, too…

    There’s just nothing compelling enough to make me pull the trigger right now; the new cheaper ultrabooks are coming out with spinning hard disks which I refuse to use so it doesn’t look like I’ll be making a purchase any time soon. (I’ll have to wait for IvyBridge mobile in June to knock the prices down on the current model.) The HP has the right specs for the right price but I can’t convince my wife because its’ too ugly and looks too much like my EliteBook work machine.

    The Samsung 350 and the Toshiba R (not Z) are definitely the value leaders in the thin, light, and 8 hours of battery life category. If Acer would’ve have increased the weight so much on the Timeline Series to replace the plastics with aluminum they’d be a definite option, too. 3.5lbs is a magic number I just don’t want to go over, though.

    If the LG XNOTE can deliver WIDI and a similar price to the UX31 it’ll be my winner in the ultra light and ultra thin 6-ish hour battery life category.

    I just wish there was a well-rounded 8 hour battery life Ultrabook that had a REAL SSD and didn’t look UGLY for $899. The HP is right there except on looks. The Dell might follow it with all the right specs and price but I’m afraid I’d have to use it with a paper bag over it. (If they can make the XPS 13 more attractive than the HP Folio I might be able to pull the trigger; they always have great corp discounts, too.)

    Adam

  • STVO

    So where’s the update with the SSD?

  • alex

    Guys, need help,
    im not satisfied with my wifi, its kinda poor in reception and not wide range, i had ferrari acer WITH ATHEROS wifi card (wc i think the best brand)
    1. i want to upgrade my wifi but i dont know what to get? what is the best ahteros wifi card for np350? any specific size?
    2. is there any atheros with bt included (coz what i know np350 has wifi+bt all in 1 card)

    • ldjjlchv

      Maybe you can get a wireless usb adapter. I got one and it works. AirLink101 AWLL5088

  • alex

    follow up,
    1.does samsung np350 u2b uses micro wifi card or mini wifi card.
    2. is there a way to increase its signal
    3. some samsung laptop version uses only one cord, like in this picture it uses two (black and white that attaches to the wifi card) pls explain more for geeks there

  • jt

    alex

    I setup one of these machines for my friend. it initially had problems with wifi. poor range and inconsistent downloads.

    In the power control settings, click on advanced options and inf the settings for wireless adaptor. By default it is set to maximum performance when plugged in and max power savings when on battery. change this to maximum performance!
    also, I updated the driver (can’t remember if it was from Samsung, check make and model in device manager).

    something I did definitely fixed the problem

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