Review Samsung Series 5 530U3C-A01DE Ultrabook
Building on the previous success of the 530U3B-A01DE ultrabook, Samsung has updated the line to feature the third generation of mobile Intel Core processors. SAMSUNG NP-RV415 Battery These processors, under the code name Ivy Bridge, feature the more powerful integrated Intel HD Graphics 4000 as the onboard GPU. The newly updated Samsung Series 5 530U3C-A01DE reuses the case of the previous model without any modification. As a result, we refer the reader to the previous model's review for our analysis of the case, connectivity, and input devices. SAMSUNG NT-RV415 Battery
In contrast to the change of processor, most other physical features of the ultrabook remain the same. The WXGA (1366x768) matte 13.3-inch display, thickness of approximately 18 millimeters (0.71 inches), and low manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) of 799 Euro ($999 USD) have been carried over from the predecessor. SAMSUNG RV515 Battery The ultrabook continues to use the 500 GB physical hard disk but the SSD Express Cache has been expanded from 16 GB to 24 GB. Starting in April, Samsung also offers the 530U3C-A01DE ultrabook in pink and brown as options instead of the standard silver (light titanium) model. The more colorful models carry an MSRP of 899 Euro ($1119 USD). SAMSUNG NP-RV515 Battery
The most notable difference between our test 530U3C-A01DE and the previous model is the 1.7 GHz Ivy Bridge ultra-low voltage Intel Core i5-3317U dual-core processor. Turbo Boost 2.0 technology allows the processor to dynamically overclock itself to a maximum single-core operating speed of 2.6 GHz. SAMSUNG NT-RV515 Battery In contrast to the previous generation, the Ivy Bridge processor is fabricated on the 22 nm fabrication process and uses 3D transistors. These 3D transistors allow for more computational performance and efficiency depending on application. As a result of the new processor, the 530U3C-A01DE has changed from its predecessor to use DDR3-1600 RAM instead of the DDR3-1333 used previously. SAMSUNG RV520 Battery Our test device had a total of 6 GB memory consisting of 4 GB of integrated memory and 2 GB in a single memory slot. The CPU and memory are supported by a 500 GB 2.5-inch physical hard disk with a complementary 24 GB ExpressCache iSSD.
Samsung chose not to install a dedicated graphics unit into the 530U3C-A01DE ultrabook and instead chose to make use of the processor-integrated Intel HD Graphics 4000. SAMSUNG RV520E Battery According to Intel, this GPU has a 60% higher performance than its preceding GMA HD Graphics 3000. At the launch of Ivy Bridge, we thoroughly tested both Ivy Bridge dual-core procesors and the Intel HD Graphics 4000. More information on these components can be found in the corresponding reviews.
We began our processor test with the Maxon Cinebench suite. In the Cinebench R10 (64-bit) multiple CPU benchmark, the installed Intel Core i5-3317U scored 7991 points, putting it behind comparable configurations. SAMSUNG RV520I Battery Its performance was 14 percent behind the Dell Vostro 3360 and 16 percent behind the Asus Zenbook UX32VD. The previous generation Samsung Series 5 530U3B-A01DE remained 23 percent behind our test unit with 6138 points. The newer Cinebench R11.5 confirmed our previous results, showing the Dell Vostro to be 28 percent faster than our test device. In this test, the previous model was 16 percent slower than our sample. SAMSUNG NP-RV520 Battery
These poor results prompted us to take a closer look at the CPU's Turbo Boost behavior during the Cinebench R11.5 tests. We observed that the processor clock dropped to the 1.7 GHz base clock, proving that Turbo Boost was not enabled. This might have been a consequence of the temperature issues mentioned in the Emissions section. SAMSUNG NP-RV520E Battery We confirmed the absence of Turbo Boost under load using Cinebench R10. This absence puts the 530U3C-A01DE at a considerably disadvantage when compared to other ultrabooks.
We tested the overall configuration using various system benchmarks. In PCMark 7, the 530U3C-A01DE achieved a fairly good 3272 points despite using a conventional hard disk. SAMSUNG NP-RV520I Battery This result places the Series 5 in the middle of the pack in our benchmark database. The 40 percent performance gain over the preceding 530U3B-A01DE is impressive. Surprisingly, the aforementioned Asus and Dell notebooks also scored lower than our test sample. It should be noted that all three comparison devices are equipped with only one hard drive. SAMSUNG RV511 Battery
The 530U3C-A01DE uses a 5400 RPM 500 GB Hitachi 2.5-inch hard disk as its storage device. This drive is supported by a 24 GB ExpressCache SanDisk i100 iSSD which is built into the notebook to reduce boot times. The reduced Windows load time is highly noticeable in routine use. Nonetheless, this hybrid array cannot match the performance level of a pure solid state drive (SSD). SAMSUNG NP-RV511 Battery The corresponding benchmarks confirm that the hard disk has a good transfer rate but the approximately 20 millisecond access times prove to be a bottleneck.
In Futuremark's synthetic 3D benchmarks, the CPU's lack of Turbo Boost was inconsequential. For example, in 3DMark06, the ultrabook managed 4560 points overall. By comparison, the Asus Zenbook UX32VD was 6 percent ahead when limited to the Intel GMA HD 4000 GPU and the previous generation 530U3B-A01DE fell behind by 33 percent. SAMSUNG NT-RV511 Battery Once we enabled the GeForce GT 620M in the UX32VD, the Asus ultrabook jumped ahead by 64 percent. From these benchmarks, it is safe to conclude that the Samsung 530U3C-A01DE supplies sufficient performance for most multimedia applications. However, complicated image and video editing should be avoided.
SAMSUNG P430 Battery It goes without saying that the Intel HD Graphics 4000 does not transform ultrabooks into gaming machines. We tested four popular games in our test and determined the 530U3C-A01DE's achievable frame rates. We found that many games ran smoothly using minimum settings but that the system became quite limited in higher settings. SAMSUNG NP-P430 Battery Moreover, we found the games to be considerably less fun at the required resolutions of 800x600 and 1024x768. Even causal gamers should look for a device with a dedicated graphics card. For example, the Asus Zenbook UX32VD offers the Nvidia GeForce GT 620M and correspondingly better performance rates.
SAMSUNG NT-P430 Battery While our 530U3C-A01DE was idle, we measured temperatures between 27.2 and 40.2 degrees Celsius (81.0 and 104.4 degrees Fahrenheit). These temperatures are on average higher than those of the previous model 530U3B with an average difference of between three and four degrees Celsius (five to seven degrees Fahrenheit). This difference while idle is quite significant considering that the only changes to the model from the previous model are the CPU and its chipset. SAMSUNG P530 Battery We particularly disliked the peak temperature of over 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) in this situation. The previous model reached a maximum of 33.2 degrees Celsius (91.8 degrees Fahrenheit) while idle.
SAMSUNG NP-P530 Battery During load, the fan became noticeably more audible and the case became noticeably warm to the touch on the top and bottom with a maximum temperature of 51.6 degrees Celsius (124.9 degrees Fahrenheit). While this heat was particularly noticeable and unfavorable in the area above the keyboard, the ergonomically important wrist rest remained within an acceptable temperature range. The keys were also noticeably warmer. Overall, the Ivy Bridge implementation was surpassed by the older Sandy Bridge configuration. SAMSUNG NT-P530 Battery
These results prompted us to assess the individual component temperatures during our stress test. The combination of Prime95 and Furmark pushed the system's components to their limits and quickly illustrated some potential problems. The CPU reached a temperature of over 90 degrees Celsius (194 degrees Fahrenheit) after a short time and HWiNFO recorded momentary throttling of core 2. SAMSUNG P580 Battery We found this interesting as the clock frequency was never reduced. As we recorded in our test, Turbo Boost 2.0 was not available during load. This reflects the performance loss under high, short-term load that we observed during our Cinebench CPU tests. We conducted a second stress test using 3DMark11 after the ultrabook had reached temperatures consistent with a cold start. In this test, we did not observe throttling due to overheating. SAMSUNG NP-P580 Battery
For all portable devices, power consumption is the most important influence on battery life when off AC power. While idle, we observed a power consumption between 7.2 and 11.8 Watts. This makes the 530U3C-A01DE a bit more energy-efficient than its Sandy Bridge predecessor. SAMSUNG NT-P580 Battery Under load, consumption increased and peaked at 39 Watts making the 530U3C-A01DE more power hungry under load than the previous model. The average consumption is nonetheless on par and comparable with similar devices from other manufacturers.
SAMSUNG P230 Battery As with the previous model, the 530U3C-A01DE features a built-in four-cell lithium polymer battery with a designed capacity of 45 Wh. Samsung guarantees this battery will last up to 1500 charging cycles. The notebook comes with a 40 Watt power supply. In light of the device's compact size, we would have appreciated a single-cable power supply as is included in the premium Series 9 family of notebooks. SAMSUNG NP-P230 Battery
To test battery runtimes, we used the BatteryEater test suite and constructed three scenarios. In the first scenario, we attempted to determine minimum battery life by enabling all mobile technologies, using the high-performance profile, and using maximum screen brightness. SAMSUNG NT-P230 Battery We disabled the integrated ambient light sensor to disable adaptive brightness for these measurements. We then used the Classic Test to load the system's components. In this scenario, we measured a runtime of 2 hours and 12 minutes.
In the second scenario, we used the Reader Test to simulate basic office and productivity tasks. The display was set to minimum brightness, energy-saving options were enabled, and mobile technologies were disabled in this test. Samsung AA-PBPN6LB We observed a runtime of approximately 9 hours in office use, an increase of over an hour compared to the preceding model.
In the third scenario, we used the "Surfing via Wi-Fi" configuration. We adjusted the brightness to approximately 150 cd/m2 and enabled the Wi-Fi adapter. In this scenario, we measured a runtime of five hours. We found this runtime to be acceptable but also noted that the previous model was able to run for 6 hours and 26 minutes under the same conditions. Samsung AA-PBPN6LS
Overall, we found the runtimes to be good and consistent with the expectations of a slim ultrabook lacking a large, high-capacity battery. Nonetheless, the shorter runtimes when compared to the previous model, especially in practical Wi-Fi use, are displeasing. Samsung AA-PBPN6LW
The Samsung Series 5 530U3C-A01DE ultrabook follows in the footsteps of the previous model which implemented many good features. The plain case and matte screen were inherited without modification. While the latter was convincing in terms of brightness and illumination, contrast remained weak. Samsung AA-PLPN6LB The Intel's Core i5-3317U dual-core processor showed impressive performance in our tests when compared with the previous model's Sandy Bridge equivalent but the obvious lack of Turbo Boost during load reduced this unit's potential power.
Samsung AA-PLPN6LS Other manufacturers often rely on considerably more expensive SSD drives in the mSATA form factor as the storage device for their ultrabooks. To avoid this price increase, Samsung combined a 24 GB ExpressCache iSSD and 500 GB physical hard disk to serve as the storage device, resulting in an MSRP of 799 Euro ($999 USD). While beneficial to the price, this hybrid solution cannot compete with pure SSD devices in terms of performance. Samsung AA-PLPN6LW Samsung also managed to reduce costs somewhat by reducing the complement of included accessories. The proprietary VGA adapter that was formerly included is now sold separately at a cost of approximately 40 Euro ($50 USD). Last but not least, we found the design allows for easy maintenance and we praise Samsung for this. The internal fan can be cleaned quickly and easily and even the hard drive can be replaced with a fast SSD without expertise.
SAMSUNG NC110 Battery The final question remains. Is it worth switching? For owners of the previous generation 530U3B-A01DE, the answer is a resounding no. However, for those currently looking for an affordable, slim consumer device with a matte screen, this device from Samsung is certainly a reasonable option.