Samsung Series 5 Ultra 14-inch review: Samsung Series 5 Ultra 14-inch

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Typical Price: $1,499.00
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4 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Serves a market left behind by most ultrabooks. Matte screen. Good connectivity. Good keyboard and touch pad. Easy accessibility to upgrade.

The Bad Stretches the definition of ultrabook with weight and size. Battery life is outdone by the competition. Backlit keyboard is sorely missed.

The Bottom Line If you miss the trappings of a normal laptop — optical drive, large-capacity hard drives, discrete graphics — but want to get in on the ultrabook rush, then the Series 5 Ultra 14-inch will do you well.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

8.0 Overall

How much does 0.7 of an inch matter? Apparently a lot, if you're talking laptops.

This is Samsung's 14-inch version of its Series 5 Ultra, something that at first blush might seem a little weird in the face of its 13.3-inch brother. It quickly becomes apparent, though, that this is more mainstream focused than its slimmed-down sibling, the extra space affording it an optical drive, a full-sized VGA port and a Radeon HD 7550M. Just don't confuse this discrete graphics with being capable of modern games; it's nothing of the sort. Still, should you need a little 3D-accelerated grunt, it's got your back.

Connectivity

  • USB 3.0: 2
  • USB 2.0: 2
  • Video: VGA, HDMI
  • Ethernet: gigabit
  • Wireless: dual-band 802.11n, Bluetooth 3.0

We quite liked the smaller Ultra, and this one steps in time with it; a dark-grey interior, a matte 1366x768 screen and surprisingly capable speakers. We'd hoped for a little bit more, audio-wise, for the 14-inch version, but the volume is still nothing to sneeze at. For proper tone, though, you'll still want to break out your headphones.

You also get the same Core i5 2467M processor and 4GB of RAM, but the 128GB SSD has fallen by the wayside and been replaced with a 500GB HDD, paired with a 16GB SSD from SanDisk as a cache drive. All of these extra components mean more weight, and the 14-inch Ultra tips the scales at 1.79kg, an extra 400g on top of the 13.3-inch version. It doesn't sound like much, but it adds up over time.

Flip the laptop over, and you'll find that Samsung has designed things so a single door gives access to both the hard drive and the RAM. While the first 4GB is soldered to the motherboard, there's an extra slot free, should you wish to expand, and the 2.5-inch hard drive will give you access to higher capacities than the typical mSATA drives.

Application performance

Choose a benchmark: Handbrake | iTunes | Photoshop | Multimedia

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