Samsung RF710 review
17.3 in 1,600x900 display, 2.9kg, 1.6GHz Intel Core i7-720QM, 6.00GB RAM, 1,000GB disk, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
With its glossy black finish and plenty of brushed aluminium, Samsung’s latest high-end laptop is a stylish looking desktop replacement with a huge 17.3in display and full-size keyboard. The RF710 has an imposing desk footprint, but the huge dimensions are justified by powerful internal components.
It might only run at 1.6GHz, but the Intel Core i7-720QM has four separate processor cores for increased performance in multi-threaded applications. Programs that run faster on a single core will benefit from Turbo Boost, which can increase the overall clock speed to an impressive 2.8GHz. It certainly helped the RF710 power through our benchmarks with an overall score of 102, which is almost on par with a desktop PC. Paired with a generous 6GB of memory, it should be able to handle almost any application.
An Nvidia GeForce GT330m provides the graphics horsepower; the dedicated card has 1GB of memory and is more than fast enough to play high definition video. It’s also no slouch when it comes to games, flying through our Call of Duty test at 29.2fps. Older games should run at the screen’s native resolution if you sacrifice anti-aliasing, but even with the beefy processor the graphics card isn’t powerful enough to play newer titles. Even after a lot of tweaking we couldn’t get a playable frame rate in Crysis.
Unsurprisingly for a desktop replacement, battery life isn’t particularly impressive; barely managing three hours in our light-use test you won’t be able to travel too far from a power socket. You wouldn’t want to carry it far, though, as it weighs a sizable 2.9kg.
During everyday use, the full-size keyboard was fantastic to type on. Despite having large, isolated keys, there’s still room for a number pad. Each key has plenty of tactile feedback, with none of the rattle we’ve seen in cheaper keyboards. There’s a small amount of flex in the keyboard tray itself, but it’s only noticeable if you press down with considerable force. The volume and WiFi hotkeys above the keyboard are suitably understated, matching the rest of the laptop’s design.
Although connectivity is limited to a multi-format card reader and four USB ports, two use the faster USB3 standard for speedier file transfers. The Blu-ray optical drive is a great inclusion, making this an ideal laptop for multimedia. Although high definition movies will look their best on a full 1080p external display, the laptop’s 1,600x900 resolution screen preserves an impressive amount of detail. Image quality on the glossy 17.3in display is superb, which makes watching films a pleasure. Colours are incredibly vivid and the brightness is very high. There isn’t a massive amount of tilt, but thankfully viewing angles are excellent. Unfortunately audio quality from the small speakers can’t match the quality of the display. Music sounded very weak, with limited mid-range and no bass notes.
If you have over £1,000 to spend on a laptop, you’ll definitely be looking to get the best performance for your money. With Intel’s new generation of mobile processors just around the corner, the core i7 in the RF710 will soon seem out-dated. We would also have expected to see a faster 400-series Nvidia graphics chip given the laptop’s price. Despite the attractive design and superb display, it makes more sense to wait until next month when new models start appearing.