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Samsung Series 7 Chronos Notebook Review

, 15 Jan 2013
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Quick tour of the Samsung Series 7 Chronos Notebook

Introduction 

The wife usually is happy with my old laptops, for all that she uses it for they generally serve her well. My current laptop (Acer Aspire 6935) is due to be replaced, however, I do not think that it is going to last much longer, and despite replacing the hard disk already for a little boost (see this article: The Hybrid Alternative - Did it make a difference?[^]) there are some other issues, namely the screen doesn't always come on, and you need to wiggle the hinge and restart a couple of times to get it to come to life. It wouldn't be right to hand this one down. 

Her current laptop is a Dell Inspiron 1525. I bought it years ago for myself, infact I bought one for her (slightly lower spec) and one for me, but her one eventually packed in and I just hated the low resolution screens so mine sat idle until she inherited it from me. It is also starting to show its age. It is slow, the fans are noisy. A good fresh re-install would probably help, but from a hardware point of view it is tired and ready for retirement.

After much searching, and I do mean a lot of searching, I eventually stumbled across the Samsung Series 7 Chronos Notebook. The specification was good, the price was good and it is a Samsung. The Samsung brand over the years has really started to focus heavily in our family. Whether it is the Galaxy Tabs (mine, the wife's and the two kids), both the kids have Samsung Chromebooks, the various plasma and LCD televisions and not to forget the wife has a Galaxy SII smartphone and I have a Galaxy Nexus. The brand is one we now have come to love, so it did tick all the right boxes.

There was only one thing left to do.....buy it!

It promptly arrived, was unboxed and now ready to start the data transfer from the old to the new with a bit of spring cleaning of all the data the wife has accumulated along the way.

Shall we dive in and take a look at it? Good, let us begin.  

Packaging and Contents  

 

The notebook arrived in neatly laid out compact box with fresh minimalist artwork. Inside had good sturdy polystyrene internal packing, with the notebook wrapped in the usual spongy foam sleeve. It was supplied with a UK plug and power brick. Removing the notebook revealed a small cardboard box containing the the documentation. This comprised; 

  • Warranty Information 
  • Safety Precautions Leaflet
  • Quick Stat Guide
  • Windows 8 Apps Quick Guide  

There were no backup discs, installation discs or any other media. 

 

Specification  

The model purchased was a NP700Z5C-A02UK.

It was supplied as you may gather from above with Windows 8.

The hardware specifications is as follows;

  • CPU: Intel Core i5-3210M @ 2.5 GHz (3.1GHz Turbo) Dual Core (4 Threads) with 3MB cache
  • Graphics: Intel HD4000 (650MHz Base / 1.1GHz Dynamic), Max 3 Displays. 
  • RAM: 8GB DDR3 1600, 4GB Onboard + 4GB
  • Display: 15.6" 1600x900 (Non-Gloss)
  • HDD: 1TB 5400rpm (Samsung ST1000LM024 HN-M101MBB) plus 8GB SSD Sandisk Smartcache  
  • Optical:  DVD-DL-W Slot Loading 
  • Wired Network: 1GB 
  • Wireless: 802.11 abgn + Bluetooth 4.0  
  • Webcam: 1.3M HD 

Appearance / Keyboard / Sound 

The case is brushed aluminium effect plastic with a simple raised Samsung logo on the top, and quite like it. Inside the display look large with minimal bezel, at the top of the display there is the webcam. The keyboard had large keys with good travel and features a numeric keypad as well as back lighting  The back lighting can be adjusted or turned off as required. 

Just above the keyboard to the right there are a selection of status LEDs and the power button. Below the keyboard to the left is a small microphone hole. I thought this is an odd place for it, as imagine it might get plugged with grime over time. There is a large track pad and although it isn't obvious in the picture, there is actually a clicking action for the buttons to the bottom of the pad.

The dedicated numeric keypad makes use of the available space and is a lot better (and more use) than having the multimedia touch controls of the Acer (which were never used and rarely worked).

The speakers were loud, and didn't sound too tinny as standard, the settings provide plenty flexibility to adjust to the type of sounds, whether music, movies, games, teak the bass levels etc.

The fans also were adjustable in the settings via the Silent Mode, this could be 'off', 'low' or 'auto'. Tweaking this setting did change brightness levels of the screen etc, so it is clear there is more than just the Fans being adjusted. 

Portability 

As a 15.6" laptop, it is certainly lighter and thinner than my Acer, probably by about 1 to 1.5 kgs and 1/2". With the lid shut, it stands about 1" off of the desk which isn't bad really.

I really would not have any objection to carrying this back and forth from offshore all the time.  

Price 

At time of purchasing (Jan 2nd 2013), it was £660 (inc VAT @20%) from Amazon and comparing this to the £1000 (inc VAT @17.5%) I paid for the Acer (in a sale with £130 off) in 2009, I think this is a very good price, considering it is not your bog standard rubbish resolution display and has a decent 1TB storage. 

Connectivity / Ports  

To the left side of the netbook lies the main connectivity, from back to front we have;

 

  • Security Lock hole 
  • Power adapter connection 
  • HDMI port   
  • Wired Ethernet Port (pulls down to open to full RJ-45 height)
  • 2 x USB3 ports 
  • Mini HDMI port 
  • Combined Headphone / Microphone 3.5mm jack

To the right side of the notebook we have from front to back;

  • USB Port
  • Slot Loading optical Drive

On the front of the unit we have a simple SD Card slot (with provided plastic dummy protector); 

On the underside of the unit, things are kept very neat, with only a single removable cover to expose the SODIMM memory slot;

 

Performance

Windows Experience Index 

As you can see from the image below, the Windows Experience Index came in at 5.7. This isn't too bad for a notebook, and was let down by the onboard graphics. The next lowest score was the Hard Disk at 5.9.

There is not a lot you can do about the graphics, although there are other models of this notebook that come with Nvidia GT640 graphics, so If you are looking for mobile gaming etc, you should probably be looking at those.

As for the Hard Disk, I dare say you could replace the hard disk for one with a higher spin speed or even a SSD, but I have not look at whether this is possible or search online to see if anyone else has done this.

 

RDII Disk Benchmark

I am quite partial to testing my disk using a standard tool. This is a simple disk benchmark tool written by Ives Heymans, and released as freeware. It is a .NET application. This application does have the facility to use unbuffered IO, which means that system caches etc., shouldn't interfere with the results, and the disk's own caching and buffering can do their thing, as if it was just a normal drive. You can see in the image below, the option to use unbuffered IO and also the set size selector. It is simply a case of then double clicking the drive letter you want to benchmark.

 

I ran the benchmark against the C:\ drives with data sets of 20MB, 100MB, and 500MB, and ran these three times and took the average result. The full benchmark results are available in the Excel attachment, but I have simply shown the results for each average of the three datasets as a comparison below. There is a consistent write performance, but the smart cache SSD appears to be heavily influencing the read performance. The read results were all over the place even with the averaging of the multiple runs. I think it would be safe to say the Read/Write is in the region of 70MB/40MB/s. 

PCMark 7

The last benchmark I wanted to run against the notebook was the Basic Edition of PCMark[^]. I used this previously to benchmark the HDD upgrade on the Acer in the article mentioned at the start of this article, so I could use the results to compare performance of these two machines and give me a more meaningful comparison. The results are shown below.

Acer 6935  Series 7
PCMark Score394  2360 

The Acer is a Core 2 Duo @ 2GHz with GT9600M graphics, 4GB memory and running Windows 7. 

I won't go into the breakdown on the individual categories as don't think there is much point, but it was safe to say the disk and graphics activities were comparable to the Acer with it's Nvidia graphics and Hybrid HDD, but on compute power and memory the Chronos was miles ahead. 

Downsides 

The notebook came pre-installed with Norton Internet Security, as well as some games and a few other things that usually come with new computers these days. Needless to say I just went to the control panel and uninstalled these without any hassle.

Apart from that, can't really think of anything else to criticize. 

In Summary 

This looks and feels a very capable notebook. It has a relatively sleek profile for its size and features and I would much rather lug this around that the Acer.

The keyboard is very usable, I would just need to get used to using it after living on the Acer for years. Moving to different keyboards always throws me for a few weeks until I get the feel for them.

I think this is more than capable as a machine for the wife's purposes. I would be tempted to move to one of these for a development machine, but would probably look at one of the i7 variants with the dedicated graphics processor. 

So, this is the wife's notebook, but time for the big question, would I buy one for myself? I think the answer has to be yes, even in this specification. As I said earlier though, I would more likely go for the higher spec or make some adjustments, just because that is the sort of thing I do!

Anyway, I think that is enough of my ramblings. Thanks for reading! 

Disclaimer 

I have not been paid in anyway to present the material in this article. The notebook was purchased by me through my own selection processes. All information is believed to be accurate and correct.

Do not make product selections without first making your own assessments on suitability and requirements. As with all manufacturers, specifications can and do regularly change and prices fluctuate. 

License

This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)

About the Author

DaveAuld
Engineer
Scotland Scotland
I have been working in the Oil & Gas Industry for over 20 years now.
 
Core Discipline is Instrumentation and Control Systems.
 
Completed Bsc Honours Degree (B29 in Computing) with the Open University in 2012.
 
Currently, Offshore Installation Manager for the Beryl Bravo platform, which is located ~180 miles NE of Aberdeen, Scotland in the Northern North Sea.
Formely on the Forties Charlie platform, which is located ~110Miles NE of Aberdeen.
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GeneralMy vote of 5 Pinmembertyaramis15-Jan-13 20:57 

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