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Samsung R580 review

Barry de la Rosa
5 Mar 2010
Expert Reviews Recommended Logo
Samsung R580
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
571
inc VAT

A well-rounded laptop that combines raw performance with gaming ability

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We've long admired Samsung's ability to make attractive laptops, and the R580 is no exception. The glossy black lid has a subtle red glow, and the edges are softened by cut-aways and gentle curves. The keyboard panel uses the same red glow motif, but with a wavy red pinstripe pattern on top that breaks up the straight edges around the keyboard and screen.

There's no flex in the keyboard, and remarkably little in the lid. The keys are well separated, with flat tops and rounded corners - what Americans refer to as "chiclet" keys, after a brand of chewing gum they resemble. The action is light, but has adequate feedback for touch-typists. A numberpad is squashed in to the right of the main keyboard, and has smaller keys but a full four columns, including page navigation keys.

Below the keyboard is a large, responsive touchpad made up of a translucent layer on top of the case. As it's almost invisible, Samsung has placed a small blue LED at each corner to mark it out, although running your finger over the case, it's easy to feel for it. The see-saw button is a bit disappointing, however as it's set flush with the case so it's hard to locate it by touch, but it has a very light action.

The R580 has a fairly comprehensive list of expansion ports, including an eSATA port (shared with USB) and an HDMI output, as well as a 34mm ExpressCard slot that can be used to add a TV tuner, for example. Both Bluetooth and 802.11n fast wireless networking are included. There's no S/PDIF audio output or FireWire port, and the memory card reader only supports SD cards and the older MMC format.

As with the vast majority of laptops, if you want to watch movies or listen to music you'd be well advised to attach the R580 to an AV amplifier or hi-fi system via the HDMI port. The internal speakers are clear and bright, but lack bass, and aren't loud enough to fill even a small room. On the other hand, the screen is bright and has vibrant colours, although with a glossy finish it attracts reflections from overhead lighting. It also has a slight red cast that makes blues seem a bit dull, but overall contrast is good.

At the heart of the R580 is Intel's newest mobile processor, the 2.13GHz Core i3-330M, and 4GB RAM. Although the processor has an onboard graphics processor, Samsung has chosen to ship the R580 with a dedicated Nvidia GeForce 310M graphics card that scored 16.6fps in our Call of Duty 4 benchmark. At 1,024x768 and with anti-aliasing turned off, it managed a more playable 25.8fps. This level of performance is fine for older or more sedate games, but the latest action titles won't run at their best.

The dedicated graphics chipset also boosted the R580's main benchmark scores, pushing it higher than similar Core i3-based laptops. An overall score of 79 is incredible at this price, beating £700 laptops from a couple of months ago. With a battery life of three hours and 18 minutes, you can reasonable use this power around your house.

With this incredibly power, great keyboard and screen, and low price, Samsung's R580 is an incredibly laptop and a Best Buy.

Basic Specifications

Rating*****
ProcessorIntel Core i3-330M
Processor clock speed2.13GHz
Memory4.00GB
Memory slots2
Memory slots free0
Maximum memory8GB
Size37x380x256mm
Weight2.6kg
SoundRealtek High Definition Audio
Pointing devicetouchpad

Display

Viewable size15.6 in
Native resolution1,366x768
Graphics ProcessorNvidia GeForce 310M
Graphics/video portsVGA, HDMI
Graphics Memory512MB

Storage

Total storage capacity500GB
Optical drive modelSlimtype A DS8A4S
Optical drive typeDVD+/-RW +/-DL

Ports and Expansion

USB ports4
Bluetoothyes
Wired network ports1x 10/100/1000
Wireless networking support802.11n
PC Card slots1x ExpressCard/34
ModemNo
Supported memory cardsSD, MMC
Other portseSATA (shared with USB socket), minijack audio output, minijack microphone input

Miscellaneous

Carrying caseNo
Operating systemWindows 7 Home Premium 32-bit
Operating system restore optionbackup and recovery software
Software includedMicrosoft Works 9, CyberLink PowerDVD 8
Optional extrasExtra battery, £96

Buying Information

Warrantyone year collect and return
Price£571
Detailswww.samsung.com/uk
Supplierhttp://www.lambda-tek.com/componentshop

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