Samsung R540E

When we got the R540E in, I was pretty excited. I had to lend my laptop to someone else, so I got the chance to live with this bad boy from Samsung as my primary computer for three weeks.

NameMultimedia notebook: Samsung R540E
At a glance:4GB of RAM,Dedicated graphics with 512MB memory,Performance at a good price,Starts off very pretty, but loses its shine quickly
Summary:A great laptop for playing most new games with reasonably high graphics, but the jury’s still out on the brand’s reliability.

When we got the R540E in, I was pretty excited. I had to lend my laptop to someone else, so I got the chance to live with this bad boy from Samsung as my primary computer for three weeks. I used it on a daily basis for everything – gaming, browsing, HD video – and even carted it all over the country with me as I went about my Christmas holiday. Needless to say, I got to know it pretty well.

My first impression of the R540E was that it was very attractive – in fact, whenever I busted it out in front of fellow tech geeks, they all oohed and aahed over its simplistic, shiny chrome case.

But of course, wherever there’s a shiny case of any kind, you can also find the stuff of perfectionists’ nightmares – the dreaded fingerprints. This laptop, while beautiful, got covered in them, both on the outside cover and around the touchpad and keyboard on the inside. At the end of three weeks without cleaning, the whole thing was filthy. I had to scrub it before I was comfortable returning it.

The keyboard on the R540E is one of the best I’ve ever used on a laptop. It has its own number pad – a serious rarity – but the keyboard still felt large enough, and I was able to type very naturally. It was actually easier to use than my own laptop’s keyboard, which doesn’t have a number pad at all.

Under the hood, the R540E packs some bang for your buck. It’s a low-end multimedia laptop, with an Intel Core i3 processor, 4GB of RAM, and dedicated Radeon HD545v graphics with 512MB of video memory. Not bad at all for a laptop, given its $1,399 RRP (I’ve seen it as low as $1,299), and for an extra couple of hundred dollars you could upgrade the RAM for an easy performance boost – it’s upgradable up to 8GB.

How well does it actually work? Well if you’re looking for a very basic, portable gaming rig, this laptop performs pretty well. I played many hours of Civilization V over the Christmas break. If you’ve ever played it you’ll know that the game’s engine is a tad broken, so late in the game (after about your 250th turn) there are all kinds of graphics-related issues on almost every PC. On the R540E I still experienced these problems, but on the whole the machine coped pretty well. There was some lag, but no parts of the map went black, and there were no other serious graphical errors.

I also spent some time watching HD video. Of course, given that any new lower-specced machine should still be able to play HD video relatively cleanly, I was expecting that the R540E wouldn’t have any trouble. It didn’t – there was no skipping, and there were no problems with the synching of picture and sound.

Having lived with the R540E for a few weeks, I have to say it’s a great little computer for the price. Because Samsung laptops are new to the market, I couldn’t possibly say whether the laptops have longevity – laptops have a hard life and poorly-made ones die pretty quickly. All I can say is that this laptop did everything I wanted it to seamlessly and without slowing down.

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Siobhan Keogh

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