- Good performance
- Decent keyboard
- Runs cool and quiet
- Cheap build quality
- Small touchpad
- Washed out screen
- Limited battery life
The Samsung R540 combines good performance and lackluster build quality in an overpriced package.
Most of us don’t want to spend more than a few hundred on a notebook computer — Samsung’s answer is their $699.99 R540, featuring a 15.6-inch display and dual-core Intel Core i3 processor. We take a look.
Our Samsung R540-JA02 review unit has the following specifications:
- 15.6-inch 720p (1366×768) glossy panel with LED backlighting
- Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
- Intel Core i3-370M dual-core processor (2.40GHz, 3MB L3, 4.8GT/s QPI, 35W TDP)
- Intel HM55 chipset
- Integrated Intel HD graphics
- 4GB DDR3-1066 dual-channel RAM (2x 2GB)
- 500GB 5400RPM Western Digital hard drive (WD5000BEVT)
- Atheros AR9285 802.11n wireless LAN
- DVD burner (TSSTcorp CDDVDW TS-L633J)
- 1-year limited warranty
- 6-cell battery (11.1V, 4000mAh)
- Weight: 5.29 lbs.
- Dimensions: 14.9” x 10.1” x 1.17~1.42”
- MSRP: $699.99
This R540 model has entry-level specifications; competing notebooks with a similar configuration can be had for $100 – $150 less online. The R540 is also offered in a higher-end configuration featuring a Blu-ray drive, low-end ATI Radeon graphics card and a more powerful Core i5 processor for MSRP $999.99 (a little on the pricey side).
Build and Design
The R540 has a generic design with an attractive-looking faux aluminum finish. Design features are minimal; the R540 does not even have volume up/down buttons. The notebook is constructed entirely of plastic; as a result it weighs only 5.29 lbs. The chassis has an average thickness for a 15.6” notebook at about 1.4 inches. The R540 is covered in mostly glossy plastic, which smudges up quickly and is difficult to clean.
The build quality of the R540 is below average. The chassis of our review notebook was warped; the notebook did not sit evenly on a flat surface. The plastic covering the top of the notebook flexes easily under slightly more than normal pressure. Additionally, the entire chassis seems to cave downward when pressure is applied on the top of the notebook, indicating the internal frame lacks strength. Rounding out the list, the chassis flexes easily when twisted by the corners; flex is bad because it allows the circuit boards inside the notebook to bend. Circuit boards subjected to bending will not last that long.
The lid shares the lackluster build quality; it flexes easily when gripped by the corners. Ripples appear on the screen when pressure is applied from behind; the screen is not well protected. Overall, even for a budget notebook the R540 falls short of expectations.
Ports and Features
The highlight of the Samsung R540’s no-frills port selection is HDMI. There are three USB 2.0 ports, Ethernet, VGA, and a SD card-only reader. There is no ExpressCard slot and no eSATA or USB 3.0 ports for high-speed data connections. All picture descriptions are left to right.