Kieran's Pick of the Week

Wednesday, 15 February 2012  |  Admin

Pick of the Week: Samsung RV511-A07UK

Verdict:

Impressive core components and performance to match, and makes an all round nice priced, well performing laptop on a budget.

 

This well-specified notebook is equipped with the latest Intel Core i3-380M processor, running at 2.53GHz, and has a nice 3GB of RAM. It also has a 320GB hard disk, which is more than enough for most home users. The fast processor, high RAM and bumper storage space point to a laptop that's ideal for editing photos or even videos.

Having said that, an overall score of 90 in our benchmarks means HD video editing will push the RV511 to its limits. While it scored 107 in the single-threaded image-editing test, the i3-380M's dual cores weren't able to keep up with our reference PC's four cores, and the score dropped to 78 in the multi-tasking test. That’s still an excellent result for a mid-price laptop, though.

A dedicated Nvidia GeForce 315M graphics chip with 1GB of memory provides 3D acceleration, although a score of only 16.3fps in our Call of Duty 4 test is disappointing. It's barely more than the Core i3's own integrated chip can manage, and it's only useful for older games or those optimised for network play. Even then, you'll find you have to turn off most of the eye candy to get playable frame rates. However, the Nvidia card will also speed up certain operations in graphics and video-editing software that supports CUDA.

Despite all this power, the RV511 lasted for almost five hours in our light usage battery test, thanks to Nvidia's Optimus technology, which switches from the dedicated graphics chip to the integrated one when running on battery power. This is more than enough to be productive on long commutes, although at 2.4kg the RV511 is pushing the limits of portability.

We found it hard to make up our minds about the RV511's screen. On one hand, it has one of the brightest LED backlights we've seen on a laptop, and it's evenly lit too. However, a glossy finish on the screen and tight vertical viewing angles made it hard to get a good picture. We either got great contrast or vibrant colours, but not both. There was also a strong blue cast that spoiled flesh tones.

Samsung has used the entire width of the case to cram in a numberpad next to the keyboard, but the keys are still a decent size and there aren't many compromises in the layout. We're not fans of flat-topped, widely spaced keys but the RV511's have a crisp, light action that provides tactile feedback for touch-typists. The spacious touchpad is smooth and responsive, with large, lightly-weighted buttons.

The RV511's snappy design, fast processor and generous storage make it an appealing laptop, but it falls into the common trap of including a dedicated graphics card that's hardly more powerful than the integrated chip, making it poor value.

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