Review: Samsung Series 5 Ultra Touch
Samsung's Series 5 Ultra Touch is a 13.3-inch Windows 8 Ultrabook -- in fact, it's the first Windows 8 laptop we tested in the PC World labs after the new operating system's release.
Harley Ogier | Tuesday, December 18 2012
Product type: Ultrabook
RRP incl GST: $1,699
- Intel Core i7-3517U dual-core CPU
- 8GB RAM
- 500GB 5400RPM HDD storage
- Great battery life
A great all-purpose touch-Ultrabook, though heavier than the competition and limited in its performance by cooling issues.
Samsung’s Series 5 Ultra Touch was the first true Windows 8 Ultrabook we had in the PC World labs – that is, an Ultrabook designed and sold specifically to run Microsoft’s latest operating system.
The laptop is sleek and attractive, with an aluminium and fiberglass exterior. It's styling isn't quite as aerodynamic as the Samsung Series 9, but it’s close. It’s also beautifully thin at just 16mm.
The 13.3-inch screen offers 1366 x 768 resolution. As with all Windows 8 certified touch-enabled Ultrabooks, there’s no raised border between the screen and its bezel. This makes it easy to perform edge-swipe gestures on the highly responsive, ten-point capacitive touchscreen.
The display is bright and clear – it doesn’t appear to suffer from the addition of touch, with no apparent dimming or distortion as you might have noticed on older resistive-touchscreen laptops. In fact, I didn’t even realise I was working with a touchscreen until a few hours into my testing.
The black island keyboard could be mistaken for a MacBook keyboard if not for its Windows layout. Typing is comfortable, and travel is adequate to avoid sore fingers. Unlike the screen, the touchpad is not borderless. Still, it’s flush with the surrounding palm rest, and it's easy to make Windows 8 multi-touch gestures on if you don’t want to fingerprint-up your screen.
Rather than the Core i5 CPUs usually found in Ultrabooks, the Series 5 Ultra runs atop an Intel Core i7-3517U dual-core CPU. It also sports 8GB of DDR3-1600 RAM, and a 500GB 5400RPM hard drive that Samsung touts as “ultra high capacity”. To be fair, compared to a 128GB SSD, I guess it is.
The Series 5 outperformed its Core i5-based counterparts in most CPU-based benchmarks, which we expected. However, in long-running benchmarks that make heavy use of both processor cores, such as PCMark 7’s Computation test and Cinebench R11, performance was disappointing. In fact, in Cinebench, it was the lowest we’ve seen from any current-generation Intel Core CPU.
The performance issues appeared to be caused by overheating: during those particular benchmarks, the laptop became uncomfortable to touch at the rear of the baseplate. We never experienced any kind of thermal shutdown, but it definitely had a negative impact on performance. Adding a large external fan provided a notable increase in performance: a laptop cooler seems like a good idea here.
Connectivity options are standard enough: two USB 2.0 ports, one USB 3.0 port, SD card reader, Ethernet, HDMI and VGA via an optional adapter. For wireless connectivity, 802.11a/b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0 are supported.
Battery life was good, at 4 hours 11 minutes in our demanding ‘productivity’ test.
The Samsung Series 5 Ultra Touch is an attractive laptop, with design and connectivity suited to life anywhere from the office, to the university library, to the home. However, its weight detracts from its portability. It's a great touch-based Ultrabook for Windows 8, as long as you don’t plan to push it to the limit with computationally intensive tasks.
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