Samsung Series 5: Performance

October 25, 2012 by Jerry Jackson Reads (109,024)
Editor's Rating

Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

    • Software & Support
    • 7
    • Upgrade Capabilities
    • 7
    • Usability
    • 7
    • Design
    • 7
    • Performance
    • 8
    • Features
    • 8
    • Price/Value Rating
    • 7
    • Total Score:
    • 7.29
    • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10

Our Samsung Series 5 (NP535U4C) review unit has the following specifications:

  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit (Windows 8 Ready)
  • 14-inch LED HD anti-glare display (1366 x 768, 300 nits)
  • AMD Quad-Core A10-4655M processor (2.1GHz clocks speed, 1MB cache) with AMD Radeon HD 7620G Graphics
  • 4GB DDR3-1600 RAM (8GB max supported)
  • 750GB 5400rpm HDD (upgraded to 128GB SSD – Samsung 830/MZ-7PC128)
  • 802.11a/b/g/n wireless network adapter
  • Internal Bluetooth v4.0
  • Integrated 720p webcam
  • DVD +/-RW Super Multi Dual Layer optical drive
  • 1-year standard parts and labor warranty
  • 8-cell Li-Po integrated battery
  • 45W power adapter
  • Weight: 3.99 lbs.
  • Dimensions: 13.1 x 9.0 x 0.82 inches
  • MSRP: $849.99 ($649.99 at many retailers)

Performance and Benchmarks
Samsung offers the Series 5 NP535U4C with the AMD A10-4655M which is a quad-core Accelerated Processing Unit (APU) with a TDP of just 25W (that’s 25W for both the processor and the graphics) meaning low heat and better battery life. The on-die Radeon HD 7620G graphics has 384 GPU cores with a variable GPU clock of 360MHz to 497MHz. It’s worth mentioning that some of the Samsung literature mentions this laptop comes with Radeon HD 7500G graphics, but that is a typo because the 13-inch Samsung Series 5 (NP535U3C) uses the dual-core AMD A6-4455M APU and that processor uses the 7500G graphics.

The included 750GB 5400rpm hard drive is something of a mixed blessing. For starters, this gives you a ton of local storage to archive all of your personal files, but the trade off is that this hard drive is unforgivably slow. When we first started testing the Series 5 we couldn’t figure out why it was taking so long to switch between applications and launch new applications after the notebook finished booting into Windows 7. As soon as we swapped the included 750GB HDD for a cheap ($100) 128GB Samsung SDD the Samsung Series 5 immediately became much faster; almost doubling the PCMark 7 benchmark score.

The only performance bottleneck we experienced with the Series 5 compared to a typical Intel-based Ultrabook of the same size and shape was the included 750GB hard drive. Since all Ultrabooks use a SSD or HDD with mSATA SSD for cache, it’s unfair to compare these laptops without spending the extra $100 to upgrade the Series 5 with a SSD. Once upgraded, the SSD allowed this AMD-based ultrathin to compete head-to-head with the latest Ultrabooks; generally exceeding the performance of the ASUS Zenbook UX32 Ultrabook equipped with an Intel Core i5 processor. Keep in mind that the ASUS UX32 is priced at $899, so for just $749 ($649 street price plus $100 SSD upgrade) you can have a laptop with better overall performance.

wPrime processor comparison results (lower scores mean better performance):

PCMark Vantage measures overall system performance (higher scores mean better performance):

PCMark 7 is a newer benchmark that measures overall system performance in Windows 7(higher scores mean better performance):

3DMark06 measures overall graphics performance for gaming (higher scores mean better performance):

3DMark 11 measures overall graphics performance in games using DirectX 11 (higher scores mean better performance):

CrystalDiskMark storage drive performance tests:


Gaming Performance
Although the Samsung Series 5 is not marketed as a “gaming notebook” it’s worth remembering that AMD actively promotes the A-series Trinity processors as having “discrete class graphics” so that you can actually play games that typically wouldn’t be playable on an ultrathin laptop. The AMD Radeon HD 7620G graphics built into the A10-4655M APU delivers a surprisingly capable gaming experience even with newer games like Max Payne 3 at a minimum frame rate well above 30 frames per second in DirectX 11 mode with detail settings on high. This is not something you can do with a budget Ultrabook and adds to the overall AMD value proposition.

Heat and Noise
Noise levels were mostly a non-issue with the AMD-based Series 5. We did notice some fan noise (sort of like a distant hair dryer) while playing graphics-intense games like Max Payne 3 or while running benchmarks, but most of the time we could only hear the fan if we held the bottom of the Series 5 up to our ears to listen.

We did record one hot spot on the bottom of the notebook near the heat sink for the APU and above the RAM; this area reached a peak exterior temperature of 103 degrees Fahrenheit while gaming but typically remained around 91 degrees while web browsing. Overall, we aren’t particularly concerned about “lap burn” from this notebook as long as you don’t keep it on your lap for an hour or more while gaming.

Battery Life
The Series 5 with AMD A10-4655M APU delivered 6 hours and 27 minutes of battery life with the built-in battery. This is perfectly on par with the battery life we’ve seen from most Intel-based Ultrabooks. Our standard battery life test sets the screen to 70% brightness, wireless active and continuously refreshing a website on a 60-second interval, and Windows 7 set to the “balanced” power profile. More than six hours of battery life while constantly web browsing is likely more than enough for the typical consumer, just be aware that battery life will drop if you’re doing more intense tasks like playing games or editing video.

Battery life test results (higher scores mean better battery life):


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