Running performance test suites gives you a benchmark with which to roughly compare against other devices.
Samsung Series 5 (Core i5 1.6Ghz) PCMark : 2186 Marks (high performance mode, mains power.)
Samsung Series 5 (Core i5 1.6Ghz) PCMark: 1894 (high performance, battery power.)
- Toshiba Z830 (Core i5 1.6Ghz) PCMark7: 2885 (battery power, high-performance mode.)
- Acer Aspire S3 PCMark7:1967
- Samsung 900X1B (Core i3) PCMark7: 2508
- Asus UX21 (Core i7) PCMark7: 3358
Cinebench 11.5 CPU test (2 core)
Samsung Series 5 (Core i5 1.6Ghz Battery power, high performance mode): 1.55 points
Samsung Series 5 (as above): 0.79 points under ‘Samsung Optimised’ power mode.
Other Ultrabook results:
- Toshiba Z830 (Core i51.6Ghz): 1.89 (battery power, high-performance)
- Acer Aspire S3 (Core i5): 1.63
- Samsung 900X1B (Core i3): 1.25
- ASUS UX21 (Core i7): 2.11
Samsung Series 5 (Core i5 1.6Ghz): 8.03 (Battery power, high performance mode) (8.11 in second test)
Other Ultrabook results:
- Toshiba Z830 8.36 fps (battery power, high performance)
- Acer Aspire S3: 7.51 fps
Samsung Series 5 (Core i5 Battery power – high performance mode): 3416
Toshiba Z830 (Core i5 Battery power – high-performance mode): 3508 3D Marks (2nd-run:3518)
Acer Aspire S3 (Core i5): 2784 3DMarks
Samsung 900X1b (Core i3): 2373 3DMarks
ASUS UX21 (Core i7): 3182 3DMarks
The results show that the Series 5 lags behind most Ultrabooks with the exception of the good 3DMark score, in contrast to the low gaming performance score we saw which is likely to depend on CPU as much as GPU.
The tests have been repeated and checks have been made on Turbo and CPU usage and it appears that Turbo really doesn’t come into play much with the Series 5. We suspect that the thermal and Turbo 2.0 configuration in the BIOS is set to prefer a quiet operation rather than a hot, noisy but powerful one. We have connected with another tester who is also seeing these issues and together we will try feed back to Samsung and find out if this setup is intended or not.
We would be happy to hear of anyone else experiencing similar performance ‘issues’ in the comment below. For reference, the Samsung Series 5 we have here is a retail purchase German NP530U3B with BIOS 05XK
Samsung have installed a sensible range of software for the user although we did remove Wild Tangent Games and Norton Anti Virus trial software immediately. Samsung Revory Solution is useful for taking snapshot images of the system for easy restore – recommended! The ‘Easy settings’ application puts all the system controls under one roof and from there you can control Wifi, Express Cache, audio enhancements, battery charge and performance, quick-start settings, you get a Wifi hotspot application and much more. One problem we saw with this software is that it is called when you use the Wifi on-off function button effectively adding clicks and time to the process of turning off the Wifi. It’s very annoying. Software launcher is a toolbar that sits at the base of the desktop and can be loaded with favorite apps. It could be useful when Windows 8 arrives and the start menu disappears!
Intel My Wi-Fi and ProSet wireless software is also pre-installed.
During the tests our system was running 82 process after startup.
There’s no single battery life figure for a device that can operate in so many different scenarios. The battery drain figures range from 3.9W upwards to approx 30W in full-load scenarios but we’ve done a lot of tests, watched a lot of ‘perfmon’ graphs and have come up with the following for you.
All tests done on battery. Note: Samsung optimised power mode appears to lock CPU to 800Mhz (50%) under battery power.
- Absolute minimum (screen off, wifi off, idle, low-power mode) – 3.9W. Low brightness screen-on adds 1.5W, high brightness screen adds 4.5W)
- Internet Radio (Wifi-on battery saving mode, screen off, 30% volume, clean + idle system) – Average 4.9W drain = 9 hours (Screen on 50% in this mode – 7.4W)
- Web-based work. Wifi-on. Samsung optimised power mode, Screen-on 40%. Chrome mix of web apps and pages. Reading, input. – Average 9W drain = 5 hours
- Average office working scenario – Samsung optimised power mode, office apps, network file share access, photo gallery, media player and web as above = 10.5W: up to 4.5 hours continuous.
- Video rendering at 75% screen brightness including above office apps running – High performance mode = 20W Over 2hrs. (CPU stays at 1.6Ghz – No Turbo effect seen)
- Gaming and other high-performance activities = 20-25W drain = 1.5 – 2 hours
The figures are generally OK but we have seen better on SSD-only systems. The total battery capacity in the Samsung Series 5 is a little low for it’s weight. Please note that the older a device gets, the less capacity a battery has. In addition the amount of software on a PC grows over time and this can have a significant impact.
Heat / Noise
The Samsung Series 5 never gets overly noisy although you can certainly hear the fans and feel the warmth underneath under load. Considering the heavy tendency towards throttling the CPU back from high Turbo clockrates one gets the impression that Samsung have configured the Series 5 Ultrabook towards office work scenarios where quieter operating and perhaps longer battery life is important. Those looking for the best performance from Turbo 2 while being able to accept more noise might want to look towards the Toshiba Z830 Core i5 model (the 1.7Ghz version being particularly peppy for a Core i5 Ultrabook.)
Recovery disks are included along with a recovery partition and a recovery imaging program. Top marks to Samsung here.
Stability and Quality
We saw no stability issues during the two-week test period and haven’t detected any weak points in the build quality. Overall the quality of the Samsung Series 5 is excellent with strong build and good looking materials.
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Samsung have a positioning issue with the Series 5. Their mainstream Series 3, NP350 with Core i3 @ 2.2Ghz offers the same silicon performance and battery life for less money. Only the WiFi, disk, screen and build quality separate it from this Series 5. On the other hand, Samsung already have a high-end ultralight series in the 2011 and 2012 versions of the Series 9. In Europe, the Series 5 appears to be tending towards a low-cost Ultrabook market where it sits just above the Acer S3 and offers better build, keyboard, Wifi and even some aspects of performance for just a little more money. A jump to the HP Folio, for example, is some 200 Euro more.
In the USA, the Series 5 is positioned a little higher in the Ultrabook market and Samsung may have a problem because in comparison with other offerings in the same price bracket if offers nothing special apart from being a solidly built option with no showstoppers. But then, so is the HP Folio which returns much better battery life and runs a 128GB full SSD. The Samsung NP530 is, at $850, too expensive in the USA.
The Samsung Series 5 is a quality offering for anyone looking for a thin and light solution with Ultrabook-like specs, a touch of class and build quality. Quiet-room writers will particularly like the keyboard and low noise levels. Those looking for the last drop of performance from ‘Turbo’ features need to look elsewhere while keeping an eye on BIOS upgrades. For those that are able to go to a slightly heavier laptop, there are some cheaper options out there, many with higher performance.
If the Series 5 drops in price in the USA it will get it’s key advantage over other Ultrabooks and if it gets a BIOS ‘tuning’ option then mobile tech-types might be interested too.
Like the Acer S3, the Samsung Series 5 is an honest Ultrabook. It offers a great keyboard and build quality with a good screen and good attempt at a hybrid SSD/HDD storage solution. It’s tuned towards the ‘quiet’ end of the performance spectrum though and that takes the edge of some of the performance tests. An annoying Wi-Fi on/off process is the only major complaint we have although naturally, a keyboard backlight and full-size VGA port would help buyers in bringing the Series 5 to the top of the list. At 1.5KG it’s not the lightest Ultrabook but it’s still highly portable among laptops. Styling is, like the tuning, a little on the soft side. We like it, we bought it, we’re keeping it but we’re aware that there are competitive options available in the market.
[The Series 5 has been bought as a daily drive for my wife so I better finish this review pronto so she can get her own hands-on. Her feedback, here on Ultrabooknews, in a few weeks – Chippy]
You can find a large gallery of Samsung Series 5 images in the gallery hosted over at UMPCPortal.
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Samsung Series 5 Videos
All the Ultrabooknews videos relating to the Samsung Series 5 are in a YouTube playlist. The playlist is embedded below.
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