Samsung SF510

More of Samsung's newly-released range of laptops keep showing up in our office, and we're more than happy to keep putting them to the test.

NameMultimedia laptop: Samsung SF510
At a glance:4GB RAM, 1GB dedicated graphics,Good looking, but underperformed in tests,Still capable of playing some modern games
Summary:If you don't need the portability, opt for a desktop - this laptop is never going to match up.

More of Samsung’s newly-released range of laptops keep showing up in our office, and we’re more than happy to keep putting them to the test (actually, we ‘stole’ this one during a visit to Samsung’s PR company –ed). The latest to rear its pretty head is the Samsung SF510. The SF stands for Shark Fin, named after the unique curved “fins” on the sides that fit together neatly with the closed lid. This might sound like a terrible, terrible idea to you, and to be honest the idea of fins on a laptop didn’t sound great to me either. It’s surprisingly attractive – in fact, when we opened the lid of the SF510 the editorial team suddenly became goldfish, momentarily distracted by shiny things until our short-term memories gave out.

The SF510 is a multimedia laptop with a 1GB Nvidia graphics card and an Intel Core i5 processor, so you’d hope it could handle some serious work. Imagine the desktop rig you could get for that kind of money: you’d expect decent framerates for gaming. Not even taking the specs into account, I’d expect to do pretty much whatever I wanted if I were willing to sink nearly $2000 into a laptop.

Alas, sometimes the reality of a device does not meet my expectations, and this is one of those cases. This laptop can play HD video smoothly – as long as it’s not a flash file, anyway, but I think I was missing a patch or two - and handle all of your GIMPing and video editing needs. That’s great if you’re a designer, but if you’re a gamer you’re probably going to be disappointed.

When I ran a test using the ultra settings in the benchmarking version of S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Call of Pripyat, I got an average of a measly 14 frames per second at 720p resolution. That’s not going to be enough to satisfy most gamers. I had to test it on the absolute minimum settings (although still at 720p) in order to get 27fps out of it, and even then I was getting warnings from Norton telling me the program was really putting the CPU to the test.

The good news is that S.T.A.L.K.E.R has a huge draw distance and is particularly hard on CPUs and graphics cards – much more so than most modern games. When playing Dead Space 2 (see our review on page 87), on the highest settings at 720p resolution, the frame rate averaged around 25-30fps. It looks like the 30fps limit is enforced by the game, and not a limitation of the SF510. Unless there was seriously intense action going on, the frame rate leaned toward the higher end of the spectrum. All in all, it was definitely playable and boy, did it look pretty.

If you want a gaming rig but you also want portability, you could look into the SF510, but it’s probably not the best option out there, and the fact is that games are only going to get more graphics-intensive, not less. It might run everything you want it to for the next year or so but if you’re seriously into gaming, a laptop like this one won’t keep you going in the years to come. Unless you really would prefer a laptop – and there are legitimate reasons for wanting one – spend your money on a desktop instead. Performance-wise, this computer can't compete.

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Siobhan Keogh

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