Samsung Series 3 NP300E5A 15in notebook
Computing for the cost-conscious
Review Samsung’s NP300E5A-A01DX is the Core i3 model in its Series 3 family of notebooks and is priced accordingly, at around £400. Unashamedly aimed at the cost conscious end of market it has plenty of company including Acer’s Aspire 5749 that Reg Hardware reviewed late last year.
Samsung Series 3 NP300E5A
Both systems utilise an Intel i3-2330M 2.2GHz processor with 4GB of DDR3 RAM and 64-bit Windows 7 Home Premium, although the Acer has a 750GB hard drive, while the Samsung makes do with just 500GB.
To help keep the cost down there’s no discrete GPU, instead it relies on Intel’s integrated HD 3000 chip. Needless to say that gaming is more of a dream than a reality. If proof were needed, I ran the The Dark Tower map benchmark in Just Cause 2 at the screen's native resolution. It managed a result of just 6.15fps. Oh dear.
DVD writer on-board with a 500GB HDD, but no USB 3.0
While the Samsung NP300E5A sports three USB 2.0 ports, it is disappointing that there's not even one USB 3.0 port on offer and there's no eSata/USB combo port either. Still, you do get an SD card reader and there's an HDMI HDMI output, although the optical drive is only DVD, plus a VGA option on-board too, so you can connect to external displays easily enough.
The keyboard has well-spaced chiclet style keys, which are comfortable and easy to type on. The wide chassis even has room enough for a numeric keypad. The off-centre trackpad is huge and had just the right level of sensitivity for me and that the two mouse buttons operated with a reassuring, if very loud click.
Well spaced keys with room for a numpad too
Just like the Aspire 5749 – and so many other budget and beyond notebooks come to that – the 15.6in 16:9 screen has a 1366 x 768 resolution, so nothing too inspiring there, but at least this Samsung sports a non-reflective screen, which is a welcome change. Also, the colours aren’t quite as muted as some matt finished displays I’ve come across, while its viewing angles are quite good too.
The Samsung Series 3 range does standout in the sea of grey or black notebooks currently available and, to my eyes at least, the lid design resembles a huge Lambert & Butler cigarette packet of old. However, Samsung calls it a Duracase. The whole of the lid is corrugated, and it's apparently it scratch resistant.
Another reason behind this look is that it stops the lid from being a finger print magnet that so many other finishes are. The silver and black styling continues on the chassis top with the silver wrist pads and track pad being set against the black finish of the rest of the chassis top.
PCMark 7 Results
Longer bars are better
Battery life for the NP300E5A isn’t bad with the 4400mAh (48Wh) battery giving results in Futuremark's new Powermark battery test ranging from 100 minutes for the Entertainment profile up to 232 minutes for the Productivity option. I also tested the battery run down time for DVD playback and managed to squeeze out around four and a half hours – more than enough time to watch the latest Peter Jackson epic, just.
Affordable and capable, but forget about gaming
Samsung's website favours promoting the Core i5 Series 3 model with this Core i3 version of the NP300E5A appearing pretty much exclusive to Curry’s, Dixons and PC World – so, easy enough to find when you know where to look.
The Samsung Series 3 NP300E5A-A01DX is a nice enough budget notebook but it exists in an incredibly cluttered market. Indeed, just about the only thing that makes it stand out from the competition is its styling and the screen's matt finish, which is certain to find favour for many tired of seeing overhead lighting and typing manoeuvres reflected in a mirror display laptop. ®
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