The Q530 has everything you need - a decent display, dedicated graphics and near-desktop performance, plus a great design - but it's too expensive
15.6 in 1,366×768 display, 2.4kg, 2.26GHz Intel Core i3-350M, 4.00GB RAM, 500GB disk, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
The Q530 is another beautifully made laptop from Samsung, with a graphite-effect lid and silver keyboard panel that’s uncluttered by excess buttons or LED lights. Its beauty isn’t skin deep, either: inside you’ll find an Intel Core i3 350M processor with near-desktop performance, and an Nvidia GeForce GT 330M graphics chip capable of playing 3D games.
You can buy a laptop with larger screen for much less than £700, but the Q530’s 15.6in display makes up for it with quality. It has a bright and even LED backlight and, coupled with a glossy finish, colours were vibrant and contrast superb: as long as you get the vertical viewing angles right. The glossy finish is reflective, which is only a problem if there are bright lights behind or above you.
Below the screen sits a smart, Chiclet-style keyboard. The flat-topped keys have a matt finish that stops your fingertips sliding, but the action is a bit too light for our liking. The layout is standard, however, and there’s even a four-column numeric keypad. The touchpad is on the small side, but it’s responsive and its buttons have a comfortable, light action.
As we expected, the Core i3 350M performed slightly better than the Core i3 330M, which we see in many laptops at the moment. It scored 80 overall in our benchmarks. With 4GB of RAM, you’ll be able to open larger files, and if you’re using an application that supports GPU acceleration, you may notice a boost in certain operations thanks to the graphics card and its CUDA technology, which offloads some of the work from the main processor to the graphics card.
It also means you can play games, although a score of 29fps in our Call of Duty 4 test suggests that the Q530 could struggle with the latest titles. You may have to turn off quality enhancements in games such as anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering. If you want to play games, listen to music or watch films, you’ll either need to invest in a decent set of headphones, or connect a set of external speakers, as the internal speakers are typically tinny, although they do pump out a fair volume. For the full home-cinema experience, you could connect the Q530 to an AV amplifier via the HDMI port. If you opt for a set of USB speakers, bear in mind that there are only three USB ports.
With decent performance, a great-quality display and the ability to play games, the Q530 is a tempting package, and it looks great too. However, it’s expensive; MSI’s FX600 is similarly powerful, but has a Blu-ray drive and costs £77 less. Unless you can find the Q530 for less, it can’t compete with the MSI for value.
|Processor||Intel Core i3-350M|
|Processor clock speed||2.26GHz|
|Memory slots free||0|
|Sound||Realtek HD Audio|
|Viewable size||15.6 in|
|Graphics Processor||Nvidia GeForce 330M|
|Graphics/video ports||VGA, HDMI|
|Total storage capacity||500GB|
|Optical drive type||DVD+/-RW +/-DL|
Ports and Expansion
|Wired network ports||1x 10/100/1000|
|Wireless networking support||802.11b/g/n|
|PC Card slots||none|
|Supported memory cards||SD, MMC|
|Other ports||minijack audio output, minijack microphone input|
|Operating system||Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit|
|Operating system restore option||backup and recovery software|
|Software included||Microsoft Office 2010 Starter, CyberLink DVD Suite 8|
|Warranty||one year RTB|