Samsung Ativ Smart PC Pro review

Skips on style, converts into almost an Ultrabook

Samsung Ativ Smart PC Pro review
Samsung's Ativ Smart PC Pro could replace your work laptop

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Many of the Windows 8 tablets on the market are Atom systems, which do at least run faster than ARM-based Windows RT devices such as the Surface RT.

But like Surface Pro, the Samsung Ativ Smart PC Pro is an Intel Core i5 PC with 4GB of memory; an Ultrabook in tablet format, capable of running demanding programs such as Photoshop, Paint.NET, loading large raw files in Adobe Lightroom and HD video editing or running 3D modelling tools without showing the strain.

Samsung Ativ Smart PC Pro review

We're not sure whether it's the slightly different Core processor or the super-speedy 128GB SSD in the Surface Pro that gives it the edge, but the Samsung tablet is very slightly slower on our benchmark tests.

Cinebench: 11.5 OpenGL: 11.12fps CPU: 2.14pts
3D Mark 11: P583 graphics: 512 physics: 2760 combined: 513
Battery Eater: 2 hours 48 mins

You won't notice that in use though, and both boot (10 seconds) and shutdown (5 seconds) are so fast you'll forget you ever waited for a PC to start up. You won't be playing the very latest games at the very highest resolution, but gaming performance is similar to (though not quite as good as) Surface Pro.

Samsung Ativ Smart PC Pro review

The disadvantage of a Core i5 system is that it can't compete with ARM and Atom on battery life. Our battery rundown test (which cranks up screen brightness and runs the CPU and GPU at full speed with Wi-Fi on) showed a typical mid-range Ultrabook result, with the battery lasting only 2 hours 48 minutes.

Again, that's only a few minutes less than what we saw with Surface Pro. What about real life usage? As with Surface Pro, we tested that with the screen at a comfortable brightness for working next to a large window, running multiple desktop programs and Windows Store apps at the same time, with Wi-Fi on and the USB port in use, browsing the web and receiving and sending email, watching the occasional video.

Samsung Ativ Smart PC Pro review

Unlike the eight hours we regularly saw with Surface Pro, the battery life for the Samsung Ativ Smart PC Pro is just under five hours. Especially with the extra size and weight of the keyboard that's disappointing, although it's not dissimilar to most of the Ultrabooks we looked at last year.

The traditional vents on the back and side don't work as well as the innovative side vent on the Surface Pro to get the heat out of the way unnoticeably - but if you use the Samsung Ativ Smart PC Pro in notebook mode you'll never notice the heat, because it's nowhere near your hands or knees.

Samsung Ativ Smart PC Pro review


Mary (Twitter, Google+, website) started her career at Future Publishing, saw the AOL meltdown first hand the first time around when she ran the AOL UK computing channel, and she's been a freelance tech writer for over a decade. She's used every version of Windows and Office released, and every smartphone too, but she's still looking for the perfect tablet. Yes, she really does have USB earrings.