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Samsung RF510 review: Samsung RF510

The Samsung RF510 is a powerful, although not particularly portable, laptop that offers plenty of computer for your cash. Even though no particular feature blew us away, it's a great all-rounder.

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Luke Westaway
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Luke Westaway

Senior editor

Luke Westaway is a senior editor at CNET and writer/ presenter of Adventures in Tech, a thrilling gadget show produced in our London office. Luke's focus is on keeping you in the loop with a mix of video, features, expert opinion and analysis.

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We've been dead impressed by some of the laptops Samsung has spawned over the last few months, so our hopes were sky-high for the 15.6-inch Samsung RF510. It'll set you back a fairly reasonable £760 or thereabouts, but is this laptop machine enough to satisfy the hungry technophile?

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8.3

Samsung RF510

The Good

Strong performance; comfortable keyboard; really sensitive trackpad, well built.

The Bad

Screen could be more vivid; not particularly portable; battery life isn't great.

The Bottom Line

The Samsung RF510 is a powerful, although not particularly portable, laptop that offers plenty of computer for your cash. Even though no particular feature blew us away, it's a great all-rounder.

Radial blur

The RF510 has a really cool pattern on the lid. It's very subtle and you probably won't notice it at first, but there's a radial pattern that catches the light in an interesting way, much like the underside of a CD.

On the inside, there's a charcoal brushed-aluminium effect on the wrist rest, and a patterned, black glossy bezel. We also like the splash of silver that covers the power keys and a few media buttons along the top of the chassis.

The whole package weighs 2.6kg, which is on the weighty side. It also measures 380 by 37 by 256mm, so it certainly isn't the most portable laptop ever built. It feels very solid, but it isn't the perfect machine for chucking in a backpack and whisking away on your whirlwind adventures.

Rather, the RF510 is a sort-of-portable desktop-replacement machine. We can see this laptop squatting quite happily in your living room, using its array of ports and tasty hardware to take care of your home media needs, coming with you on your travels only if absolutely necessary.

We were impressed by the big keyboard that straddles the RF510 like some unholy monument to a long-forgotten god. It's spacious and comfy to type on, and doesn't rattle when you're typing with vigour.

The trackpad is also worth a mention -- it's really large, with wide, sensitive click buttons. This is also one of the only trackpads we've ever used that offers effective multi-touch support. It's not up to MacBook standards, but cruising up and down Web pages is a pleasant experience indeed.

The laptop's connectivity is really comprehensive. Around the sides of this beast, you'll find VGA and HDMI outputs, an Ethernet jack, two USB ports, two USB 3.0 ports, a multi-format card reader, two 3.5mm sockets for headphones and a mic, and a DVD rewritable drive. There's a webcam mounted above the display, and a 640GB hard drive spinning around inside too. 

The display could be more colourful, but that's one of our only gripes about this machine.

The display has a maximum resolution of 1,366x768 pixels, which is standard fare. The panel is crisp and sharp, but we have to say we've seen plenty of screens in our time that were more vivid. There's nothing wrong with the display, but images don't look as colourful on this panel as they do on some other laptops.

Gold stars

Inside, the RF510 plays host to a dual-core Intel Core i5-460M CPU clocked at 2.53GHz, with 4GB of DDR3 RAM and an Nvidia GeForce GT 330M graphics card acting as wingmen. A lethal triumvirate, that stack of hardware propelled the RF510 to a score of 7,276 in the PCMark05 benchmark test, and 7,509 in 3DMark06.

With scores like these, you can expect this laptop to handle hi-def video with nary a stutter, and to run most games with aplomb. It's not a proper gaming laptop, though, so, if you want to play cutting-edge titles, you may have to dial back the graphical settings.

When we brutalised the RF510 in the Battery Eater Classic test, which runs the CPU at full blast until the battery conks out, it held out for about 1 hour and 45 minutes. You'll get longer life with less punishing usage, but, as a minimum, this figure isn't too impressive, and reinforces the impression that this laptop isn't really built for lugging around.

Conclusion

We like pretty much everything about the Samsung RF510. It's well built, looks good and offers powerful performance. Our only gripes are that the display could be brighter and its battery life is underwhelming. No single aspect of the RF510 sets our hearts alight, but, as an all-round performer, we reckon this laptop offers several kilograms of computing success.

If you want something more portable, you can knock some cash off the total price and still bag yourself a surprisingly powerful little laptop by opting for the Samsung Q430.

Edited by Charles Kloet 

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