Samsung's R480-i5-430M laptop is the latest in a line of
general purpose notebooks that blend features and pricing in an attempt to be
all things to all people. For the most part, this metallic red notebook succeeds
while still keeping its price to an affordable $1050 USD
($1100 CDN, £725 GBP). At first glance the Samsung R480 is just what any
student would want - a good sized 14" display, a good collection of hardware for
work and a bit of play, and all the connectivity features a modern notebook
Like most notebooks nowadays, the Samsung R480 features a
16:9 aspect ratio glossy 14" display that used LED backlights for enhanced
power efficiency. It weighs 5 lbs (2.3 kg) and offers a good
mix of portability and features, but is best sized for everyday
work rather than sheer travel portability. Built around Intel's Core i5 430M
mobile processor, Samsung up the ante by including discrete graphics care of
nVidia, an integrated 1.3MP web camera and some unique styling
Installed with Windows 7 Home Premium 32-bit, at the heart of Samsung's R480 notebook is
Intel's Core i5 430M, a dual-core mobile processor with native 2.26GHz clock
speed and 3MB cache. The Core i5 430M is based on the same Nehalem
architecture used in Intel's high-end desktop processors, it can use TurboCore
ability which lets single-threaded applications boost a single core up to
2.53GHz for faster processing. The CPU supports HyperThreading so its two
physical cores can simultaneously process four application threads between them.
The Core i5 430M CPU is paired with Intel's HM55 chipset, although integrated
graphics are ditched in favour of nVidia's discrete Geforce 330M - a better path
in our books.
Intel's investments in power-efficient processors have
paid off particularly well for its mobile platforms, and the latest generation
of Core i5 processors are capable of much greater performance-to-power draw
ratios than AMD's Turion II mobile processors or last generation's Intel's Core 2 Duo
mobile processors. As such, the Samsung R480 notebook has a good battery life
when tasked with productivity type work of about 221minutes (3hrs 41minutes) in
PCSTATS own lab tests.
Technical Details at a Glance:
- Intel Core i5 430M processor:
2.26GHz, Turbocore up to 2.53GHz
- Intel HM55
- Geforce 330M GPU with 1GB GDDR
- (2x) 2GB DDR3-1066 SO-DIMM
- 14" WSXGA+ TFT LCD display (1368 x 768
- 802.11bgn wifi, Gigabit wired Ethernet LAN,
500GB, 5400rpm, 2.5" SATA hard drive
DVD-RW/CD-RW slot loading combo drive
- Realtek audio,
built-in dual speakers and microphone, speaker/headphone
I/O Ports: 1x Express card, 4x USB 2.0, VGA, HDMI, Mic in,
Headphone, RJ45, SDHC/SD/MMC reader
- Weight: 5 Lbs
Size: 13.5" x 9.4" x 1.5"
Thanks to 1GB of dedicated GDDR3 memory and 48 shader
cores, nVidia's Geforce 330M graphics processor is actually capable of
surprisingly decent gaming performance in titles like the Sims 3 or
World of Warcraft. The Geforce 330M is the successor
to NVIDIA's Geforce GT 230M and 240M mobile graphics solutions and supports
DirectX 10.1. Samsung's choice of a dedicated GPU will definitely improve the R480-i5-430's ability to render 3D
graphics, but it will also increase the laptop's overall power consumption and
decrease battery life against pure IGP offerings.
Samsung equips its R480-i5-430 notebook with two SO-DIMM memory slots, both
of which are occupied by (2x) 2GB modules of Samsung DDR3 1066MHz RAM. Non-volatile storage on
the R480-i5-430 is handled by a 2.5" Seagate Momentus 5400.6 500GB SATA hard
drive and a SATA-based dual-layer DVD writer.
While it would have
been nice to see an option to spec the R480-i5-430 out with an SSD for faster
drive performance, such an addition would likely have involved cutting down hard
drive capacity and a vastly increased price.
Network connectivity is handled by a
802.11bgn compatible WI-FI adapter, which gives this mid-sized laptop great
mobile networking compatibility. The R480-i5-430 also has built in bluetooth
2.1 EDR connection if you want to sync it with your
cell phone or a bluetooth mouse. Wired connectivity options include four USB 2.0 ports,
an eSATA port and a wired RJ45 networking jack.
Samsung's R480-i5-430 is well suited to its role as a general-purpose notebook. The R480-i5-430's screen
measures 14 inches (or 355mm, measured diagonally) with a 16:9 aspect ratio. The display
has a native resolution of 1366x768, which makes the overall dot pitch high
enough to look sharp, but it's not so fine that you'll be squinting to
see text. Video output to an external monitor can be handled via a standard VGA
port or through HDMI output.
Samsung include a pretty good software utility for swapping between video
sources and displays - if you're use to stabbing the 'Fn+F10' key until something
shows up, you'll appreciate this detail. An Express Card slot for add-in peripheral
cards is provided and you can easily load photos or other media data directly
into the Samsung R480-i5-430 care of an integrated SDHC card slot located right under the
front lip of the laptop.
At 2.3kg (5 lbs) the R480-i5-430 is about an average weight for a 14-inch
laptop. It's a little bit heavy to be carrying around with you at all times, but
if you have it in a briefcase or backpack as you travel to work or to class you
should be fine. Physically the R480-i5-430 measures 343mm (13.5 inches) wide,
239mm (9.4 inches) deep, and at 37.9mm (1.5 inches) of thickness it's actually a
little chunky. Powering the R480-i5-430 is a six-cell rechargable lithium ion
battery, rated at 11.1V and 4400mAh capacitance.
Let's take a closer look at the display and several other
features of the Samsung R480 notebook next.