Samsung NP-Q35 Review Page 2

by Reads (22,108)

(Review Continued from Page 1)

Software

This Q35 came with Windows XP Pro SP2. The Windows installation is over 6 months old and Windows Update found over 50 updates to install. Samsung has made available Vista upgrades for some of its notebooks. I have applied for the Vista Business upgrade at the cost of 14.57 (of which 13.05 is for handling and shipping). This gives me the option of being able to try Vista at reasonable cost and, if I don’t like it, reverting back to XP.

The software supplied with the Q35 has been listed above. “Bloatware” is limited compared with some brands. A few comments on the less common software are given below:

AV Station Premium / AV Station Now: Samsung’s own multi-media suite but it is not as versatile as dedicated software. AV Station Now boots up without Windows but doesn’t, for DVD playing, seem to offer significant reduction in power consumption.

CyberLink DVD Solution: suite contains several components (I had to reinstall to get more than PowerDVD to appear):

  • PowerDVD V6
  • CyberLink Instant Burn
  • CyberLink Power2Go
  • CyberLink LabelPrint
  • CyberLink MediaShow
  • CyberLink PowerDirector
  • CyberLink PowerProducer

FirstWare Recover Pro: This creates system restore points on a hidden partition on the hard disk.

The Samsung software package contains several simple utilities but nothing outstanding. The absence of proper burning software is a deficiency, but I already have Nero.

Benchmarks for Samsung Q35 (Core Duo T5600)

SuperPi

SuperPi is often used as a test for raw CPU performance. The T5600 in the Q35 needed 1 minute 16 seconds to complete the calculation to 2 million digits. This is about 22% longer than for the T7200, so the cache size must contribute to the T7200’s performance as well as the faster clock speed. Perhaps the 533MHz RAM in the Q35 causes a slight reduction in performance.

The table below compares Q35’s SuperPi score with some other notebooks

Notebook Time
Samsung Q35 (1.83GHz T5600 with 533MHz memory speed) 1m 16s
Samsung X60plus (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo T7200 with 667MHz memory speed) 1m 02s
Dell Inspiron e1505 (2.0GHz Core Duo) 1m 16s
Lenovo ThinkPad T60 (2.0GHz Core Duo) 1m 18s
Fujitsu A6010 (1.66GHz Core 2 Duo T5500, with 667MHz memory speed) 1m 22s
Asus F3Jc (1.73GHz Intel T2250) 1m 28s
Samsung X60 (1.66GHz Core Due (T2300) with 533MHz memory speed) 1m 29s
IBM ThinkPad T43 (1.86 GHz Pentium M) 1m 45s

SiSoftware Sandra from http://www.sisoftware.co.uk/ is another software package which contains benchmarking modules and includes a database of test results.

The results graphs for the CPU tests are given below. These results suggest that the T5600 is less than 10% slower than the T7200.


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SiSoftware Sandra CPU test results

PCMark05

The table below compares the PCMark05 test results with some other notebooks.

Notebook PCMark05 Score
Samsung Q35 (1.83GHz Core 2 Duo T5600, Intel 945GM) 3,059 PCMarks
Samsung X60plus (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo T7200, ATI X1700) 4,555 PCMarks
Samsung X60 (1.66GHz Core Duo T2300, ATI X1400) 3,456 PCMarks
Asus V6J (2.16GHz Core 2 Duo, nVidia GeForce Go 7400) 4,265 PCMarks
Fujitsu Lifebook A6010 (1.66GHz Core 2 Duo T5500, Intel GMA 950) 2,994 PC Marks
HP dv6000t (2.16 GHz Intel T7400, nVidia GeForce Go 7400) 4,234 PCMarks
Asus V6J (1.86GHz Core Duo T2400, nVidia Go 7400) 3,646 PCMarks
Lenovo Thinkpad R60 (1.66 Core Duo T2300E , Intel 950) 2,975 PCMarks
Acer Aspire 5102WLMi (Turion 64×2 TL50 1.6GHz, ATI 1100IGP) 2,413 PCMarks

 

3DMark05

The Q35 managed a score of 447 3DMarks for 3DMark05. This seems to be comparable to the result for a fast Pentium M and the old 915GM chipset. No one buys the Intel graphics for their 3D performance. Fortunately, I’m not looking for 3D performance.

Notebook 3DMark05 Score
Samsung Q35 (1.83GHz Core 2 Duo T5600, Intel 945GM) 447 3DMarks
Samsung X60plus (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo T7200, ATI X1700 256MB) 4,150 3DMarks
Samsung X60 (1.66GHz Core Duo, ATI X1400) 2,264 3DMarks
HP dv6000t (2.16 GHz Intel T7400, nVidia GeForce Go 7400) 2,013 3DMarks
Fujitsu C1320 (2GHz Pentium M, Intel 915GM) 410 3DMarks
IBM Thinkpad T43 (1.86GHz Pentium M, Mobility Radeon X300) 727 3DMarks
HP L2000 (Turion 64 ML37, Mobility Radeon X200) 467 3DMarks

3DMark06

The 3Dmark06 score was a predictably low 106 given the fact this is an ultraportable with integrated graphics. I will leave readers to make comparisons and draw conclusions.

Cinebench

Cinebench is a good rendering benchmark tool based on the powerful 3D software, CINEMA 4D. Its rendering tasks can stress up to sixteen multiprocessors on the same computer. It is a free benchmarking tool, and can be found at http://www.cinebench.com.  The basic CPU test provided the following results. The results for the T5600 in the Q35 are in the same range as other Intel dual core CPUs and demonstrate that the Q35 can handle CPU intensive tasks such as video processing.

 

Cinebench 9.5 Benchmark Samsung Q35 (1.83GHz Core 2 Duo) Samsung X60plus (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo) Sony VAIO C140 (1.66GHz Core 2 Duo) Lenovo ThinkPad T60 (Core 2 Duo 2.0GHz)
Rendering (Single CPU) 299 CB-CPU 322 CB-CPU 266 CB-CPU 327 CB-CPU
Rendering (Multiple CPU) 528 CB-CPU 582 CB-CPU 487 CB-CPU 592 CB-CPU

Hard Disk Performance

The supplied hard disk is a Hitachi HTS541010G9AT00 (100GB 5400RPM). The performance is above average for the current generation of 5400RPM 2.5” HDDs with a maximum transfer rate of over 40MB/s. HD Tune’s results for this disk are below. The CPU usage is relatively low and the maximum burst transfer rate is little over half the theoretical interface capacity of 150MB/s. I have noticed that this Hitachi HDD is quite noisy (“clattery”, if there is such a word) compared to the Samsung HDD that I put in my X60plus. I will probably use the Hitachi Feature Tool to change the acoustic management settings and trade off some performance for reduced noise.


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Optical Drive

The X60plus includes the Toshiba-Samsung TS-L532D optical drive that supports DVD-RAM and both +R and –R dual layer. It has burnt a CD without problems but refused to recognise a blank Ritek G05 DVD. However, it seems to be happy with Ritek R03 media

Nero reports the following information about this drive:


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Wireless

The X60 includes the Intel 3945abg wireless chip on a module under the memory slot cover. The signal quality was poor until I had updated to the latest drivers from Intel. Now performance is good but there are intermittent interruptions even when I am close to the router (so these may be router related). There is no hardware wireless switch. Fn+F8 toggles the wireless on and off. There is an option in the BIOS to set whether the wireless starts automatically on bootup, stay off or remember the previous status.

Bluetooth (version 2.0+EDR) is also provided and works well with my Trust bluetooth mouse. Using a Bluetooth mouse means that the two USB ports can be kept free for other connections (however, see the section below about battery life).

Batteryand Power Supply

The power supply deserves a mention because it is an acceptably small 60W (19V, 3.16A) unit with a two pin (“fig 8”) mains connector and a thinner mains cable than those provided with 3-pin connectors. Both leads are 1.8m (6ft) long. A Velcro strap is provided for tying up the cables for storage. The smaller PSU and the lighter mains cable mean that the total PSU weight is 0.16kg (0.36lb) lighter the X60’s 90W PSU and cables. The computer power connectors on both PSUs are the same and the 90W PSU will work with the Q35.


The X60’s 90W PSU on the left and the Q35’s 60W PSU on the right (view large image)

The 6 cell battery is rated at 11.1V, 4800mAH, 53.28WHr. As noted previously, the Q35 was originally supplied with a 57.72WHr battery but for some reason the capacity of current batteries has been reduced. The battery has an external gauge with 5 LEDs to give an indication of available power without having to turn the computer on. The battery is fixed securely by two latches. One is spring loaded by the other is not, which facilitates one-handed removal. The manual does not make any claim about the running time but the Samsung UK website claims “up to 7 hours”. However, so far I have been unable to figure out how they could manage such a long running time. 7 hours means an average power draw of less than 8W.

I have used a mains power meter to monitor what is going into the PSU and MobileMeter to monitor the power flow to and from the battery. For several days I have been trying to figure out how to exceed 4 hours on light load and 3/8 display brightness. Occasionally the battery drain dropped below 10W, but the average power drain under continuous light usage with the backlight at 3/8 is around 12 to 14W, which equates to 4 hours running time. Below are plots from MobileMeter. From left to right: Battery recharge at about 30W (it reaches 40W when the computer is off); The computer in idle mode dropping below 10W; Typical power draw when I was working in Word.


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Playing a DVD takes 16 to 20W. I have made three attempts and have been unable to get to the end of “Dances with Wolves” which is a 3 hour DVD, even with the backlight only on 3/8 (very dim for DVD watching). I have tried using Samsung’s AV Station Now Software, which runs without Windows but that still managed only 2hrs 55 minutes of play.

So how did Samsung get their 7 hours? One can only speculate and assume that they used the minimum display brightness and allowed some periods of inactivity. Other reviewers have managed more than 5 hours, but they may have been given the higher capacity battery. The battery capacity difference is equivalent to about half an hour at light load.

I spent several days wondering why my Q35 couldn’t consistently manage below 10W power drain. The wireless didn’t make much difference. A web browser with some flash animations used a little power, even when off line (there should be an option to disable flash when running on battery). Finally, I remembered that I was using a Bluetooth mouse. I disabled Bluetooth and the power consumption visibly dropped and 8W was in sight.


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This Mobilemeter plot shows (i) light use in left two divisions (ii) a power surge when I opened Firefox and enabled the wireless (iii) in the middle a step up in power while Bluetooth was switched on (iv) then Bluetooth off (v) wireless off (but Firefox open). The next step was to uninstall McAfee 2007 and install McAfee 2006. This significantly reduced the spikes in the CPU load.

Left half – power consumption while playing a DVD; right half – power consumption running Word (no wireless or Bluetooth). I don’t think the CPU fan ever started.

However, I still can’t quite reach 5 hours of light running as shown by the graph below. I will have to make more research on background processes which might be using any power unnecessarily. My eyes won’t tolerate the display on minimum brightness.

The battery recharge rate is 20 to 30W when the computer is running under light load (depending on what the computer is doing and subject to the maximum 60W output of the PSU) and up to 40W when it is off. But run 2 copies of Prime95 concurrently and the battery recharge rate drops to about 6W it would take many hours (this is the extreme worst condition. Consequently, the recharge time is about 2 hours with the computer off, normally 3 to 4 hours if it running but potentially more than 10 hours if the CPU is heavily loaded.

Heat and Noise

Under normal use the fan on the Q35 doesn’t run much and is very quiet when it is running. The “etiquette mode” will further reduce fan activity at the expense of slightly higher temperatures. There is some warmth around the middle of the keyboard but the palm rests stay cool. The bottom of the computer only gets slightly warm. There is the risk of the cooling airflow being impeded if the computer is placed on something soft. The hard disk is noisier than the fan and the optical drive is also sometimes noisy.

However, give the CPU some serious work to do and it will get hot. The CPU temperature went up to 89 C by running two copies of the Prime95 torture test and the bottom of the computer, particularly around the fan housing, got quite hot. The fan speeds up but never becomes noisy. That’s the extreme worst loading condition. The T5600 in this Q35 was set as 1.25V at 1.83GHz, which helped to explain the heat but evidently the cooling system isn’t as effective as on the larger X60. However, I decided that it was time to look into undervolting and install the RightMark CPU Clock Utility. This revealed that Intel has been somewhat generous with the voltage rating. One of the Prime95’s threw an error at 0.975V 1.83GHz but so far (which involved leaving two P95’s running overnight) 1.0V is looking stable. The side effects were that the CPU temperature is down to 69 C and and the battery recharge rate increased by 11W (ie 11W less being used by the CPU). If only I could unlock that 0.95V minimum voltage. This would be the key to the missing hours of running time.

Warranty and Customer Support

Samsung provides a one year limited international warranty as standard. I haven’t determined what the “limited” really means, but Samsung has fewer global service locations than many other computer manufacturers. Warranty extensions for one or two years can be purchased. The standard warranty is a collect-and-return service.

Conclusions

The Q35 is a well built smaller notebook which, at least in its red form, has a certain amount of style and charisma. It is responsive with good processing power and a large, but quiet fan. If lightly loaded, it can run for about 5 hours off its 6 cell battery.

Needless to say, I am disappointed that I cannot replicate Samsung’s claim about the battery running time, but I always suspected there some optimism. This review became diverted into a research project into power consumption and I hope my observations are of interest and use to others.

I think there is a slot in the market for the green Q35 with the lower power L7400 CPU. This would offer most of the speed benefits of the T5600, when speed is needed, while reducing battery consumption during the less busy periods. Maybe this is what Samsung had in mind when they derived their 7 hours running time.

Pros

  • Under 1.9kg for the computer and 2.33kg complete with PSU and power cables.
  • Effective and quiet cooling system
  • Good audio volume and quality for this size of notebook
  • Distinctive style
  • Generously sized touchpad
  • Powerful CPU but able to run for about 5 hours on the battery at light load
  • Lightweight power supply and cables

Cons

  • No RAM upgrade potential (unless a 2GB module works in the single slot)
  • Very small right shift key (on the UK version) with some other keys in non-standard places
  • Only 2 USB ports
  • No S-Video port
  • No built-in microphone
  • Limited 3D graphics capability

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