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Samsung Q430 review

Barry de la Rosa
2 Sep 2010
Samsung Q430
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
658
inc VAT

Decent Windows and 3D performance, over five hours battery life and an excellent screen make the Q430 a great lightweight all-round laptop.

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Specifications

14 in 1,366x768 display, 2.1kg, 2.26GHz Intel Core i3-350M, 3.00GB RAM, 320GB disk, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

Buying from a big-name brand like Samsung, you expect a certain level of quality, and the Q430 doesn't disappoint. The glossy black lid has a classy brushed metal finish, and it opens to reveal a silver interior with the same effect on the keyboard panel. At just over 26mm it's pleasingly slim, plus the minimalist design - refreshingly free of gaudy buttons and LED indicators - gives the Q430 an air of unassuming style.

It weighs 2.1kg, just over our 2kg limit for a laptop to be classed as an ultra-portable, but still easily light enough for day-to-day mobile use. Our light usage battery test showed the Q430 can last for five hours and 20 minutes away from the mains – very respectable given that it doesn’t use a low-power processor. In fact, it uses the now-common Intel Core i3-350M processor. Its overall score of 80 shows it’s capable of handling pretty much any task you could think of.

The Q430 also has a dedicated graphics card, the Nvidia GeForce 310M. This is a mid-range card, and its score of 16.6fps in our Call of Duty 4 test shows it’s up to running most games, although you'll have to reduce graphics settings to get playable frame rates. It may still struggle with fast-paced shooter, but a round of golf or a more sedate strategy game will be no problem. Nvidia's CUDA technology provides GPU acceleration for other applications, all the latest media suites, such as Nero, use this to accelerate tasks like video encoding.

Samsung Q430

The LED-backlit display has a glossy finish, which adds punch to colours but makes vertical viewing angles really tight, reducing contrast at the top and bottom edges of the screen even when you're square on. However, if accuracy isn't your primary concern, you'll find colours are vibrant and contrast is, for the most part, great. A 1,366x768 resolution is standard for a laptop this size, and provides adequate desktop space. Full HD (1080p) content will be downscaled to fit, whereas 720p content only needs upscaling slightly. Like most laptops, this one has a 16:9 aspect ratio, just like a HD TV.

Sadly, the internal speakers lack the volume to fill even a small room, although they are surprisingly clear and reveal a wider frequency range than most other laptop speakers. If you want the full home cinema experience, you'll have to connect an external set of speakers, or connect to an AV amplifier via the HDMI output.

There are only three USB ports, but cleverly, one of these can be used to charge devices even when the computer's switched – ideal for charging your smartphone overnight or even on the move (as long as the laptop’s battery has charge of course). The memory card reader only supports SD, SDHC and MMC cards, but that won’t bother most people. The network port only supports 100MB/s Ethernet, but there's also support for 802.11b/g/n wireless and Bluetooth 3.0.

Samsung has opted for a chiclet-style keyboard, with separated, flat-topped keys. Without a numberpad, there's plenty of room and the layout is standard, with a double-height Enter key and a column of page navigation keys on the left. The keys have a light, crisp action that provides plenty of feedback. Below is a responsive touchpad which supports multi-touch gestures. The buttons are large and have a light action.

With decent performance in both Windows and 3D applications, plus over five hours of battery life, the Q430 is a great alternative to last month's labs winner, the Dell Inspiron 15R. The Inspiron has better performance, plus a bigger hard disk and display; but its battery life is shorter and it's half a kilogram heavier. The Q430 is far better suited to use on the move then, and if you want an all-round laptop that’s easy on the shoulder then this is it. However, for most the cheaper Inspiron is still the better choice.

Basic Specifications

Rating*****
ProcessorIntel Core i3-350M
Processor clock speed2.26GHz
Memory3.00GB
Memory slots2
Memory slots free0
Maximum memory8GB
Size32x343x239mm
Weight2.1kg
SoundRealtek HD Audio
Pointing devicetouchpad

Display

Viewable size14 in
Native resolution1,366x768
Graphics ProcessorNvidia GeForce 310M
Graphics/video portsVGA, HDMI
Graphics Memory512MB

Storage

Total storage capacity320GB
Optical drive modelSlimtype DU8A3S
Optical drive typeDVD+/-RW +/-DL

Ports and Expansion

USB ports3
Bluetoothyes
Wired network ports1x 10/100
Wireless networking support802.11b/g/n
PC Card slotsnone
ModemNo
Supported memory cardsSD, MMC
Other portsminijack audio output, minijack microphone input

Miscellaneous

Carrying caseNo
Operating systemWindows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Operating system restore optionbackup and recovery software
Software includedMicrosoft Office 2010 Starter, CyberLink DVD Suite
Optional extras£89

Buying Information

Warrantyone year RTB
Price£658
Detailswww.samsung.com/uk
Supplierhttp://www.digital-fusion.co.uk

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