Samsung Series 5 Ultra

8/13/2012 9:13:21 AM

Ultrabooks are the "in" thing this year. Ultra-slim, ultra-sleek designs that are both portable and functional.

Samsung knows how to play the game, especially with their Galaxy smartphone lineup. Which is why we were quite puzzled to encounter the Samsung Series 5 ULTRA 14-inch. It's form doesn't exactly conform to the Ultrabook style... And yet....

Description: Samsung series 5 ultra

Samsung series 5 ultra

1.    He ain't heavy

The Series 5 ULTRA 14-inch is thick for an Ultrabook. In fact, at a glance one might mistake it for a full blown laptop. It's also significantly heavier than most other devices in its class. Samsung doesn't see this as a problem, because the trade-off is a lot more processing power and flexibility than anything else on the market. A large part of the thickness comes from the on-board optical disk drive; this drive also makes up for the ultra's flexibility. DVDs are still very common and the ability to use them without resorting to an external reader is amazing.

Description: The Series 5 ULTRA 14-inch is thick for an Ultrabook

The Series 5 ULTRA 14-inch is thick for an Ultrabook

2.    Architecture

Like all Ultrabooks the Series 5 ULTRA is built with an aluminium body and given a steel grey finish; unfortunately its thickness doesn't allow it to share in the sleek reputation of its brethren. On the other hand, it does happen to be a very pretty machine. The chiclet style keyboard is quite common these days and the ULTRA makes good use of it. Typing is comfortable with the keys providing just the right amount of touch resistance. If Samsung had designed it to be backlit then it would have been great, but sadly they didn’t.

3.    Have the power!

Under the hood, the ULTRA 14-inch boasts an impressive statline. 8GB of RAM backed up by an Intel Core ¡5 processor gives it an impressive amount of power for something that's just meant for getting work done or surfing the Internet; which means... that it isn't just meant for mundane checking of email. This hypothesis is backed up by the inclusion of a 1GB Radeon graphics card and ExpressCache system. So how does this stack up? Quite well considering the platform. On the other hand, while you can push the system to the upper limits of computing power, it doesn't mean that you should. The Series 5 ULTRA just isn't capable of sustained gaming, even if it has the kind of processing power for it. Battery life is close to non-existent if pushed, although if not pushed it performs very well. We managed to review this Ultrabook for two weeks with only recharging it once.

Description: The Series 5 ULTRA just isn't capable of sustained gaming, even if it has the kind of processing power for it

The Series 5 ULTRA just isn't capable of sustained gaming, even if it has the kind of processing power for it

4.    Connectivity

Unlike its Ultrabook brethren, the Series 5 Ultra has an impressive array of connectivity options, starting off with a pair of USB 3.0 ports, and moving on to a VGA slot. The choice of including a VGA option is quite interesting, since not many things connect to VGA anymore. Although this might be for backward compatibility with offices that haven't updated their projectors in the last decade.

5.    Benchmark

The Passmark score, at 1102, looks a little low; and it is. Which was a bit of a puzzle until we took a closer look at the breakdown. The benchmarking software that we used refused to recognise the on-board Radeon, no matter what was done. Using a different benchmarking software was no help as Vantage PCmark just crashed half way through.

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