Samsung Q70 Review

by John Ratsey Reads (79,026)

by John Ratsey

The 13.3” Samsung Q70 is a new model to fill a gap in the Samsung product range. It is too large to be called an ultra-portable and, while it is reasonably light, it is not very thin. It is slightly larger than the popular Q35 and its successor, the Q45. The Q70 was not shown by Samsung at CeBIT. Was it still under development or were they deliberately keeping it secret to give the market a surprise? As well as increasing the display size, the notebook has acquired extra weight and thickness and at, 2.03kg (4.45lb) and a maximum 45mm (1.75”), it cannot be classed as either thin-and-light or ultraportable.

The Q70 comes with a shiny black cover, which is the current Samsung family styling. However, perhaps to set it apart from the slightly smaller Q45, it has been given a dark grey brushed aluminium palm rest and keyboard surround.


Top view of the 13.3” Q70 next to my 12.1” Q35.(view large image)

Reasons for Buying

I have been extremely happy with my Samsung Q35, particularly its ability to run for about 5 hours away from a power socket. This was bought for the occasions when I don’t want to carry my 2.5kg 15.4” Samsung X60plus. However, the 12.1” display is a little small for my old eyes at the default 96dpi setting. While there is the option in Windows to change the dpi setting, formatting starts to fall apart because boxes and columns are still sized assuming the 96dpi, but the text gets bigger and no longer fits. This is a known problem and one that Vista was announced as going to fix. But it didn’t, which left me little choice but look for a slightly bigger display, ie a 13.3” widescreen.

In the UK the 13.3” size has been dominated by Sony, but the SZ is too expensive and the Sony C series is too heavy. So when information started to leak about the 13.3” Samsung Q70, I was excited. Could they take all that was good about the Q35 (particularly its above-average battery life) and match it to a bigger display? Two other recent arrivals in this size range are the Rizeon (built on Asus) S37 and the Dell M1330. However, given that I was well satisfied with my Q35 I chose to buy the Samsung Q70.

On this occasion I purchased my new notebook from Free Range PC. This is a small company who offer very good personal service and were one of the first companies to get the Q70 into stock in the UK. I found the service and support from Free Range PC to be very good and I received the computer within 24 hours of placing the order.

What’s in the Box?

The box contents comprised:

  • The computer, in a plastic bag and held between two plastic foam spacers
  • The PSU, mains cable and battery
  • A system recovery DVD for Windows Vista Home Premium
  • A System software media DVD (Including Cyberlink DVD Solution)
  • A modem cable with RJ11 plug at one end and  UK phone socket plug at the other end
  • An Installation Guide leaflet
  • A Safety Instructions booklet
  • A Samsung Recovery Solution II / Reinstalling Windows Vista booklet
  • A Samsung Warranty Information booklet
  • AVStation Now recovery manual
  • Windows Vista Home Premium Quick Start Guide
  • A small micro-fibre cleaning cloth

Samsung does not normally include accessories such as a mouse or a bag.


The box’s label summarises the hardware

 

Hardware Specs: Samsung Laptop Q70 (Model NP-Q70AV02/SUK)

  • Intel T7300 (2.00Ghz) with Intel 965PM chipset
  • 13.3" WXGA SuperBright Gloss LCD
  • 2GB (2 x 1024MB) PC5300 RAM (667MHz)
  • 160GB 5400rpm SATA HDD (Hitachi HTS541616J9SA00)
  • nVidia 8400M G 128MB GPU (NB8M-SE)
  • Toshiba-Samsung TS-L632M DVD Super-Multi Dual Layer with Lightscribe
  • Marvell Yukon 88E8039 10/100 network
  • Agere Systems HDA Modem
  •  802.11a.g/n MIMO wireless (but missing from computer as supplied)
  • Ricoh RL5c476 CardBus Controller
  • Ports: 2 x USB 2.0, 1 x 4 pin Firewire, 100Mb/s network (RJ45), modem (RJ11), VGA, microphone, headphone / SPDIF, 1 x PC card slot type 1 or 2
  • Ricoh 6 in 1 memory card reader (MS, MS Pro, SD, MMC, xD, Highspeed MMC, but actually 7 in 1 since it also supports SDHC under Vista)
  • Realtek high definition audio with SRS
  • Widescreen format Synaptics touchpad
  • 6 cell battery (11.1V, 4800mAh = 53.28Whr)
  • 60W power supply with 3-pin connector
  • Silver Nano Technology keyboard protection
  • Dimensions: published:- 312×220.7×32.2~39.2mm, actual 311 x 240 x 35~45mm (including feet and battery)
  • Weight (published and actual are the same) : 2.03kg (4.47lb)
  • Travel weight including PSU and cables 2.54kg (5.6lbs)
  • 1 year collect and return warranty
  • Samsung software collection (see below)
  • 1 year collect and return warranty
  • Microsoft Office 2007 trial

A user guide is provided as a executable file with animated turning pages, with a link on the desktop. There is also a link to a Q45/Q46 user guide on the desktop (which tends to confirm a close family connection). A PDF version of the User Guide is available on the Samsung download website for those who prefer a more conventional presentation of imformation.


I guess that animated turning pages is part of the Vista experience! (view large image)

There are several significant deviations compared to the specifications published on the Samsung UK website at the time of this review. The website refers to the 8400M GS GPU, an 89 key keyboard and a 90W PSU. Fort90W PSU would be inappropriate for a notebook of this size), the photos show only an 83 key keyboard, but the less powerful GPU will be a disappointment to some people. The published weight is correct but the published dimensions could be misleading because they do not include either the feet or the battery sticking out of the back. Some websites indicate that the Q70 has Bluetooth. This version did not.

Design and Build

The Q70’s colour scheme is black and more black with the exception of the medium to dark (depending on lighting) grey brushed aluminium palm rest. The display back / cover is a very shiny (until it gets dirty) black (which probably explains the inclusion of the small cleaning cloth). The Q70 has much in common with the smaller (12.1”) Q35 and Q45. In fact, if both machines are aligned at the back left corner then all the ports line up.


The colour of the palm rest depends on the lighting. (view large image)

The chassis is plastic but very rigid. There is no flex when picking up the open computer by one front corner. The display back is not as rigid as on my Q35 and it is easier to cause rippling by pressing on the back. However, it is impossible to tell whether the slightly greater flexibility increases the risk of damage. The hinges are very firm and stiff with no wobble. Opening the Q70’s display is a two-handed exercise, partly because the display is held closed by a latch-less mechanism and it is difficult to get finger-tips into the gap (the front corner of the Q35 display was chamfered, which provided a better finger grip). If anything, the hinges are a little stiff since pushing back on the display to adjust the angle will lift the front of the computer. However, since hinges tend to loosen up with time, this initial stiffness should delay the time when the hinges start to get loose.


There is less of a finger-hold on the Q70 for opening the display. (view large image)

The bottom of the computer is stepped, with protruding feet (about 5mm at the front and 7mm high at the back). These feet provide good airflow under the computer but are really needed to stop the middle of the Q70’s underside from touching the table. However, whereas the bottom of the Q35 had humps over the fan and optical drive, the Q70’s base is much more uniform. The feet will also stop the computer from sliding sideways when used as a genuine laptop. Overall, the Q70 is thicker than the Q35 (by 5mm at the back and 3mm at the front).  Perhaps the RAM slot under the keyboard caused the increased thickness, but there appears to be room for a double height RAM slot on the underside. The front of the palm rest is 25mm above the desk, which is quite high by current standards.


The Q70 (left) has a smoother base compared with the Q35. (view large image)

The bottom of the Q70 has three removable covers. These, and the various screws, are clearly labelled. One cover is for one RAM slot (there is another slot under the keyboard which is not considered to be user-accessible).  The second cover is for the hard disk drive (which sits tightly between some rubber pads), while the third cover is over the mini-PCI slot. This compartment also contains what appears to be a small lithium battery. The battery has a charge status indicator using 5 LEDs. There are also several air vents on the underside as can be seen in the photos. The underside of the battery (which is the identical part to the Q35’s battery) contains a shallow groove that forms a convenient finger-grip when carrying the computer. The loudspeakers are in the base of the computer near the back. One screw holds the optical drive in place. A modular bay battery would be a useful option but, so far, Samsung has not used this strategy for giving users more time away from a power socket.


Inside the RAM slot. There looks to be enough height to have fitted another module here. (view large image)


The mini-PCIE slot. Oops! No wireless card. (view large image)


The Q70’s hard disk. There’s a little tab to help lift it out. (view large image)

The Keyboard

The keyboard on the Q70 appears to be identical in size to that used on the Q35/Q45. Samsung did not take advantage of the wider chassis to provide either more or bigger keys. One set of specs refers to an 89 key keyboard, but this is wrong. The keys are mainly black plastic with light grey lettering (not the bright white of my Q35). The F7 and F8 keys are a dark blue .There are 83 keys which have very clear, large white (light blue for the Fn key operations) markings on a black background. Although Samsung say that it is a full-size keyboard, the keys are about 5% smaller than on the X60plus. The travel is adequate and is comfortable to use but is noisier than the X60. There is no significant flex and the keyboard is comfortable to use although it is not as good as the Samsung R20’s keyboard, which has more travel.


The Q70’s keyboard and palm rest with status lights under the left palm. (view large image)

There are two potential annoyances with this keyboard. One is the location of the Fn key in the bottom left corner. Some people, particularly those used to working at desktop keyboards, expect the Control key to be in the bottom left corner of the keyboard but Samsung’s keyboards put the Fn key in the corner. However, the Control key is extra wide. On this keyboard, Fn also doubles up as the Windows menu key (the normal Windows key is to the right of the space bar). The other potential annoyance is the very small right shift key. This key has a good size on the US version of the keyboard but has been shrunk to make space for the extra key needed for a UK keyboard. Hitting the \ key is a common side-effect. My Samsung X60plus has a small left shift key and that arrangement is far less troublesome. There are small page up and page down keys above the cursor left and right keys. It would be nice to have bigger keys. Some other 13.3” widescreen notebooks have managed to include a separate set of navigation keys on the right side of the keyboard. In fact, the Q70 has the space to do this, but I presume that Samsung preferred to simplify their logistics by using the existing keyboard.

I was worried that the front edge of the aluminium palm rest would form an uncomfortable corner, but the aluminium is slightly recessed into the chassis so it is flush with the plastic. However, the front edge of the chassis is not slightly rounded, as on the Q35. The power button is on the right side close to the back of the keyboard. Next to the power button is a smaller button for a quick launch into Samsung’s media player software. Under XP this was separate software, but under Vista it actually loads Vista, so the overall benefit is questionable.

There are seven status indicator lights are on the front edge of the left palm rest. In my opinion this is not a very clever location since I don’t have a transparent wrist and it is my right hand which more frequently leaves the keyboard. Why not put the lights in the middle? The power and battery status lights are repeated on the front of the computer so that they are visible when closed. The microphone is also on the palm rest.


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Each of the function keys has an additional function. Instead of me explaining them all, look at the extract from the manual. The “Silent” mode appears to change the fan operating rules so that the fan operates over a higher temperature range and put the computer into the Power Saver power profile. However, even under light use the fan runs some of the time. One very useful, but undocumented, feature is that pressing the Esc key during initial boot brings up a boot device menu. This is in addition to F2 for entering the BIOS setup.

The Synaptics touchpad is good and is generously sized with a widescreen aspect ratio (the pad is identical in size to the one on the Q35 although the buttons are larger. The touchpad includes a scroll area on the right side and it is possible to configure tap zones. Whereas on the Q35 the touch pad is slightly in front of the space bar, on the Q70 it is slightly offset to the left.

The Ports

As already noted, the ports are identical to the Q35/Q45. Samsung have failed to take advantage of the larger chassis to provide additional ports. As a minimum, an additional USB port would be welcome. Nothing competes for the mouse space (the area on the right side of the computer near the front). The fan exhaust vent is on the right side. This could be annoying for people who like to hold a mouse at arm’s length. It would have been useful to have provided painted symbols on the palm rest to indicate the various port locations.


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Q70 left side (with Q35 above for comparison) from back to front: Network (RJ45) port, optical drive, PC card slot and Firewire port. The blanked off port at the back is for a TV antenna in the Asian version. This space could have been used for another port (USB or S-video) in the non-Korean version.


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Back from left to right: Power socket, battery, USB port and security slot.


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Right side from back to front: Modem (RJ11) port, VGA port, USB port, fan exhaust. There are no ports near the front so nothing to get in the way of the mouse. The Q70’s ports are concealed behind a cover.


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Open the cover and you find that the ports are recessed by about 13mm (1/2”). This recess, plus the cover, makes them difficult to use.


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The front has the 6 in 1 memory card slot and the headphone and microphone ports. The “6 in 1” is actually at least 7 in 1 since it also supports SDHC (so does my Q35 when running Vista, but not when running XP).

The Display

The display is 1280 x 800 (WXGA) Super Bright Gloss LCD.  The device ID is SEC3841 which I believe is Samsung. It is brighter than my other Samsung notebooks and has excellent contrast with no obvious light bleed. On battery, the minimum brightness is readable and a brightness of 3/8 is quite usable. My eyes are happy with the default size of text and graphics, so I can avoid the unwanted side-effects of changing the standard display dpi settings.


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Viewing angles are typical for displays of this type. The horizontal viewing angle range is good and the vertical range moderate. For text work the vertical angle can be adjusted to minimise any reflections without serious impact on quality. Colour images are best viewed at 90 . They become darker when the top of the screen is pushed back and lighter if it is pulled forward.


A family photo with the Q70 between the X60plus (left) and the Q35 (right). All the displays were set to maximum brightness. (view large image)

Audio Quality

The loudspeakers mounted underneath the computer give surprisingly good volume when the computer is on a firm surface. The  Q70 has inherited the Q35’s good audio. Although the speakers are mounted on the bottom of the computer the volume is generous. There is an SRS enhancement with options for Wow XT (for music) and Trusurround (for DVDs). The mode is selected through the audio properties.

Software

This Q70 came with Windows Vista Home Premium pre-installed. The main bloatware is the Microsoft Office 2007 trial.

CyberLink DVD Suite V5: This suite should contain several components but only PowerDVD 7 and PhotoNow! are active as installed. It is unclear whether other components, including a reasonable DVD burning software, will become active upon registration or whether there has to be additional payment to upgrade.

Samsung Recovery Solution II: This creates system restore points on a separate partition on the hard disk. The first user restore point is made automatically once the computer is started and Vista configured to the user’s requirements.

The Samsung software package contains several simple utilities to improve the functionality. Play AVStation is Samsung’s own media viewer and player. The Q70 is also pre-loaded with McAfee Security Center.

Processor and Performance

This version of the Q70 came with the Intel Core 2 Duo T7300 CPU (2.0GHz) and 2GB of DDR2-533 RAM.

CPU-Z reports for Q70 CPU, mainboard and memory are shown below. The CPU is reported as 1.6GHz but 0.85V. The mainboard model is reported as “SQ45S70S” which tends to support my supposition that the Q70 shares the same board as the Q45 (although the latter is currently offered with the Intel X3100 GPU).


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The GPU

The GPU is reported by Device Manager as the Nvidia NB8M-SE. The nVidia control panel reports the GPU as the 8400M G with 128MB of dedicated memory and not the 8400M GS as suggested by some sources. There are no power management options in the nVidia control panel (before getting this notebook I had been quite impressed by nVidia’s claims about their PowerMizer software).

Optical Drive

The Q70 contains the Toshiba-Samsung TS-L532M optical drive that supports DVD-RAM and both +R and –R dual layer at up to 8 x burning speed. I have not tried burning any discs in this drive but it is the same burner as in my X60plus which has given me no problems once the original drive was replaced.

Benchmarks for Samsung Q70 (Core 2 Duo T7300)

Windows Vista Experience Index


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The Q70 scored 3.2 on the Windows Experience Index. The weak link was the graphics. All the other results are quite good. By comparison, the Samsung R20 with ATI 1250M integrated GPU scored 3.8 and my Q35 with the Intel 950GM integrated GPU managed 2.3.

SuperPi

SuperPi is often used as a test for raw CPU performance. The T7300 in the Q70 needed 57 seconds to complete the calculation to 2 million digits. This is 5 seconds faster than the T7200 in my X60plus and above average for this CPU.

The table below compares Q70’s SuperPi score with some other notebooks

Notebook Time
Samsung Q70 (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo T7300 with 800MHz FSB and 667MHz RAM) 0m 57s
Dell XPS M1330 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300) 0m 58s
Lenovo ThinkPad T61 (2.00GHz Core 2 Duo Intel T7300) 0m 59s
Samsung X60plus (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo T7200 with 667MHz FSB & memory speed) 1m 02s
HP dv2500t (1.80GHz Intel 7100) 1m 09s
Lenovo ThinkPad T60 (2.00GHz Core 2 Duo T7200) 1m 03s
Samsung Q35 (1.83MHz T5600 with 667MHz FSB and 533MHz RAM) 1m 16s
Samsung R20 (1.73GHz T2250 with 533MHz FSB and memory speed) 1m 23s
Toshiba Satellite P205-S6287 (1.73 GHz Core 2 Duo Intel T5300) 1m 24s
Samsung X60 (1.66GHz Core Due (T2300) with 533MHz memory speed) 1m 29s

It has been suggested that SuperPi should be superseded by wPrime which is multi-threaded. The T7300 completed the 32M calculation in 42.218s.

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 T7300 is slightly faster than the T7200.


SiSoftware Sandra CPU test results. (view large image)

It is also worth checking up the memory performance of the 965PM chipset using Sandra’s memory bandwidth benchmark. The measured speed is over 4300MB/s. This is about 1000MB/s faster than I have personally measured for the 945PM chipset so it appears that the new chipset offers better memory bandwidth without increasing the bus speed.


Sandra’s memory bandwidth test result. (view large image)

PCMark05

The PCMark05 score was 4,491 PCMarks. The table below compares  the PCMark05 test result with some other notebooks.

Notebook PCMark05 Score
Samsung Q70 (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo T7300 and nVidia 8400M G GPU) 4.491 PCMarks
Dell XPS M1330 (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo T7300, NVIDIA 8400M GS) 4,571 PCMarks
Lenovo ThinkPad X61 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, Intel X3100) 4,153 PCMarks
Samsung R20 (1.73GHz T2250 and ATI 1250M chipset / GPU) 3,498 PCMarks
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 PCMarks
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
Lenovo ThinkPad T61 (2.00GHz Core 2 Duo Intel T7300) 4,084 PCMarks

Overall, this is a very respectable performance considering the GPU is the bottom of the 8400M series. If graphics performance is not one your priorities then the Q70 is a good performer.

3DMark05

The Q70 managed a score of  3DMarks for 3DMark05. This is well behind the result for the 8400M GS in the Dell M1330 but well ahead of the 1151 3DMarks which I measured for the Samsung R20 with the ATI 1250M integrated GPU. It is also ahead of the 911 3DMarks measured for the X3100 in the T61. The table below compares some results for 3DMark05.

Notebook 3DMark05 Score
Samsung Q70 (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo T7300 and nVidia 8400M G GPU) 1,939 3DMarks
Dell XPS M1330 (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo T7300, NVIDIA 8400M GS) 3,079 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
Samsung R20 (1.73GHz T2250 and ATI 1250M chipset / GPU) 1,151 3DMarks
Lenovo ThinkPad T61 (2.00GHz Core 2 Duo Intel T7300, X3100 GPU) 911 3DMarks
IBM Thinkpad T43 (1.86GHz Pentium M, Mobility Radeon X300) 727 3DMarks
Samsung Q35 (1.83GHz Core 2 Duo T5600, Intel 945GM) 447 3DMarks
Fujitsu C1320 (2GHz Pentium M, Intel 915GM) 410 3DMarks

3DMark06

The 3Dmark06 score for the Q70 was 969 3DMarks. This is slightly faster than the GeForce Go 7400.

Notebook 3DMark06 Score
Samsung Q70 (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo T7300 and nVidia 8400M G GPU) 1,069 3DMarks
Asus F3sv-A1 (Core 2 Duo T7300 2.0GHz, Nvidia 8600M GS 256MB) 2,344 3DMarks
Alienware Area 51 m5550 (2.33GHz Core 2 Duo, nVidia GeForce Go 7600 256MB  2,183 3DMarks
Fujitsu Siemens Amilo Xi 1526 (1.66 Core Duo, nVidia 7600Go 256 MB) 2,144 3DMarks
Samsung X60plus (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo T7200, ATI X1700 256MB) 1,831 3DMarks
Asus A6J (1.83GHz Core Duo, ATI X1600 128MB) 1,819 3DMarks
HP dv6000t (2.16 GHz Intel T7400, NVIDA GeForce Go 7400) 827 3DMarks
Sony Vaio SZ-110B in Speed Mode (Using Nvidia GeForce Go 7400) 794 3DMarks
Samsung R20 (1.73GHz T2250 and ATI 1250M chipset / GPU) 476 3DMarks
Samsung Q35 (1.83GHz Core 2 Duo T5600, Intel 945GM) 106 3DMarks

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 T7300 in the Q70 are in the same range as other Intel dual core CPUs and demonstrate that the Q70 can handle CPU intensive tasks such as video processing reasonably well although a little behind the faster CPUs.

Cinebench 9.5 Benchmark Samsung Q70 (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo) Lenovo ThinkPad T61 (Core 2 Duo 2.0GHz) Samsung X60plus (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo) Samsung Q35 (1.83GHz Core 2 Duo)
Rendering (Single CPU) 335 CB-CPU 331 CB-CPU 322 CB-CPU 299 CB-CPU
Rendering (Multiple CPU) 624 CB-CPU 616 CB-CPU 582 CB-CPU 528 CB-CPU


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Hard Disk

The supplied hard disk is a Hitachi HTS541616J9SA00 (160GB 5400RPM SATA). The performance is above average for the current generation of 5400RPM 2.5” HDDs with a maximum transfer rate of over 45MB/s. HD Tune’s results for this disk are below. The CPU usage is relatively low. I personally find the Hitachi HDDs to be slightly noisy, but this can be reduced using the Feature Tool software. Samsung’s installation routine for Vista provides the option to divide the hard disk into two main partitions during the input of user information.


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Battery, Power Supply and Cooling System

The power supply is an acceptably small 60W (19V, 3.16A) unit. However, whereas the Q35’s PSU had two pin (“fig 8”) mains connector and a thin mains cable, this PSU had a 3 pin “cloverleaf” connector and a thick 3 core mains cable which increases the travel bulk and weight by about 60g (2oz) – not much, but it all accumulates. A Velcro strap is provided for tying up the cables for storage.

The 6 cell battery is rated at 11.1V, 4800mAH, 53.28WHr. The battery is identical to that used in the Q35. 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 but the other is not, which facilitates one-handed removal.

I used a mains power meter to monitor what is going into the PSU. Under light load the Q70 is drawing about 24W from the mains socket. This is less than my X60plus which draws about 32W under light load but more than Q35’s 18W.  More power means more heat and therefore more fan activity. Whereas the Q35’s fan runs intermittently under light load, the Q70’s fan runs most of the time. However, the Q70 does stay cool on the outside with neither the underside nor the palm rest getting significantly warm, even during the benchmarking. This is one laptop which can be safely used as a laptop without heat-proof clothing. Under load during benchmarking the mains power drain peaked at just over 60W, which suggests that the Q70’s current hardware configuration is at the limit of the PSU’s rating. Whereas I am sure that the chassis and cooling system could handle a more powerful PSU, this would probably require a larger PSU to be supplied. I have heard the fan run at two speeds which I would describe as low and medium. Neither of these speeds provides very intrusive noise.

I carried out several tests on the battery run time since this is a critical factor for me. While I was not expecting to see the 5 hours or more which the Q35 could provide, I was expecting to get more than 4 hours. However, two tests while working in Word and web browsing via a wired connection with the display at 3/8 brightness both dies at around 3 hours. A DVD playback test indicates a playback time (again at 3/8 brightness) of just under 2 hours. I tired both the Samsung Optimised power profile and the Power Saver profile. There was no obvious difference in running time. Given that Intel have included additional power-saving features into the new CPU and chipset, I have to presume that the GPU is the cause of the disappearing power.

Warranty and Customer Support

Samsung provides a one year limited international warranty as standard. However, 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. I have had correspondence with Samsung UK technical support regarding my other Samsung notebooks computers. However, I am still waiting for the power management fix for the X60plus but I think that problem had to be passed to Korea. Other forum members have had variable quality of support and service from Samsung and there is evident potential for improvement. I have had contact with them regarding this Q70 because the absence of the wireless card means it is technically Dead on Arrival and has to be returned.

Conclusion

The Samsung Q70 is a well built notebook but it is a little bulky. It is responsive with good processing power and a large, but quiet fan. A benefit of the thick chassis is that the external surfaces stay acceptably cool. If lightly loaded, it can only run for about 3 hours off its 6 cell battery.

So where does the Q70 fit in the market? If the Dell M1330 had not appeared, then the Q70 would have got a good position relative to the Sony C series on account of similar price, significantly better specification and lighter weight. But with the arrival of the Dell M1330 which can also be configured to a similar specification, Samsung may need to reconsider their pricing.

I am certain that Samsung can interchange the motherboard with the Q45 so they could quickly introduce a model with the X3100 GPU and much better battery life. If mine had come in that configuration then I would probably keep it because my own priority is battery life and not graphics power. This Q70 has to go back on account of the missing wireless card and I am looking at other options in the 13.3” size range which have a less power-hungry GPU.

Pros

  • An excellent display with bright, uniform illumination and contrast
  • Effective and quiet cooling system
  • Good audio volume and quality for this size of notebook
  • Powerful CPU and generous RAM and hard disk capacity
  • The brushed aluminium palm rest adds a little style

Cons

  • Relatively fat for this size of notebook
  • Very small right shift key (on the UK version) with some other keys in non-standard places.
  • A limited selection of ports compared to other notebooks in this size range.
  • The provision of a PC card slot rather than Express Card may be a Pro or a Con depending on whether you want forwards or backwards compatibility.


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