On the hunt for an affordable Ultrabook which packs terrific build quality? Here we take a look at the Samsung Series 5 NP530U3C 13.3″ Ultrabook, which features an updated Ivy Bridge processor versus the aesthetically identical model it replaces.
Samsung’s first foray in to the Ultrabook market came in the name of the Series 5, of which all models packed Intel Sandy Bridge processors and hybrid-storage to keep costs down. Now, later in 2012, the Korean company have released updates to their Series 5 Ultrabooks which feature updated Intel Ivy Bridge processors, as well as added Bluetooth 4.0 support and a USB 3.0 socket.
Technically, the above added highlights are the only real changes made to the Series 5 Ultrabook since its release, however the Samsung Series 5 Ultrabook is a solid real-world contender for the title of best Ultrabook for under £700 (link to post), and also a solid ultra-portable fit for purpose within practically any environment.
Samsung Series 5 NP530U3C 13.3″ Ultrabook
The Samsung Series 5 Ultrabook is an excellent machine to both look at and hold. It is entirely silver apart from the keyboard, much like Apple’s range of Macbook’s are, and the build is a mixture of aluminium and high quality plastics. Unlike some machines the plastics feel extremely robust and well stitched together on the Series 5, adding re-assurance that the Ultrabook is built to last and won’t fall apart after a years worth of use.
Measurement wise you are looking at dimensions of 12.4″ (W) x 8.6″ (H) x 0.58″ (D) at its thinnest. In the real-world and not on paper, the machine is extremely pleasing to the eye aesthetically with thanks to the thinness of the machine and whilst you won’t win any bar banter versus the guy next to you who owns an incredibly thin Asus Zenbook, the added depth of the machine serves a very important purpose, and that purpose is an excellent keyboard.
The keyboard is excellent, and ideal for those who value typing
The keyboard on the Samsung Series 5 Ultrabook is pretty much as good as it gets for an ultra-portable in my book. With excellent travel, good grip to each key and no shallowness which is usually associated with Ultrabooks, the Series 5 NP530U3C is an excellent option to consider if you value typing speed and are willing to sacrifice a few millimetres to gain it. Unfortunately this keyboard is not backlit, however the decent size of the pad ensures that typing is mostly accurate in the dark, providing you familiarize yourself with the layout of the keyboard for a little bit.
Powering the machine in question is an Intel Core i5-3317UM 1.70 GHz Processor with 3MB L3 cache memory. This is a tried and tested processor with excellent reviews online, offering up the perfect blend of performance and power efficiency. Coupled with the processor is 4GB of RAM, ensuring that any multitasking is handled without hesitation. In my tests opening up multiple Google Chrome Tabs, running Paint.NET and outputting music from the Windows Media Player proved no problem at all. One thing to note with the machine is that if you are seriously bashing out word documents whilst running a heavy app at the same time, the Series 5 can get a little bit warm. It never got uncomfortable, however, and all machines generate heat anyway.
Storage made easy, boot up times made quick
Keeping in line with Intel’s requirements of what an Ultrabook is, the Samsung Series 5 features an SSD. That SSD is of the smaller capacity however, and works alongside a traditional HDD to create what is referred to as hybrid storage. The NP530U3C model ships with a 24GB Express cache SSD and 500GB HDD, which is a decent combination offering up plenty of storage for the average consumer.
Thanks to the express cache the Series 5 wakes up very fast. Waking up the Ultrabook took me just 4 seconds upon lifting the lid, whilst a cold reboot of the machine took 22 seconds which is a respectable pace overall. This kind of performance makes you smile at first, and in time you’ll wonder why SSD’s have taken to long to become a standard.
If there was ever a drawback that could be mentioned about the Samsung Series 5 NP530U3C 13.3″ Ultrabook, it would be the display. Samsung is well known for dishing out excellent screens as evidenced from the companies massive success in the TV industry and their Super Amoled displays in smartphones being raved over by reviewers. In the case of the Series 5, however, they don’t seem to have carried across their pedigree.
In this day and age, 1366 x 768 is old hat
It’s not that the screen is bad though, it’s just that it isn’t as good as it should be. The 13.3″ display is an LED backlit panel offering up a resolution of 1366 x 768 on a matte display. The good news about the screen is that viewing angles are pretty good, whilst colour reproduction is vibrant. Playing a 720p video on YouTube proved pretty good too, if a little washed out. The bad news is that resolution; I am a firm believer that in this day and age no laptop computer with a screen size over 11 inches should make do with a 1366 x 769 resolution, as it takes away brownie points from all machines that would otherwise be getting 5 stars across the board.
On the 13.3″ display of the Series 5 the 1366 x 768 resolution is passable however. For the most part this resolution seriously sucks on larger displays such as 14″ laptops, whilst manufacturers that release 15″ laptops with this resolution are crazy. Mind you, the consumers that buy them probably are too (crazy = not in the know, in this case). The matte texture of the display is a plus though, allowing easy usage outdoors or in a brightly lit environment.
Connectivity wise the Samsung Series 5 Ultrabook is not lacking in ports. Around the sides you will find 2 x USB 2.0 ports and 1 x USB 3.0 port, a HDMI port, a 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet LAN port and a 3-in-1 (SD, SDHC, SDXC) card reader.
The Samsung Series 5 Ultrabook is a very capable machine, which rocks great build quality and an aesthetically pleasing design. The keyboard is a stand out feature, whilst the display is passable however not too terrific. Performance is good though, with the Ivy Bridge Core i5 powering through tasks like a hot knife through silicone. Boot up times are good also, with the 500GB hard drive making saving a lot of files (or one massive file) a breeze.
All in all, you could do far worse than a Samsung Series 5 Ultrabook. Just makes sure you shop around for the best price (we have helped with that below).
Where to buy a Samsung Series 5 NP530U3C
If you like what you have read about the Samsung Series 5 Ultrabook and can’t resist taking your wallet out, Curry’s currently have the Series 5 on sale for just £649.99. They regularly have cashback offers too. John Lewis have a good selection of Ultrabooks also, and may be worth a browse.
Image credits: via Pocket Lint.