Samsung R510 Premium versus Basic review

Does spending more necessarily mean better performance?


TechRadar Verdict

A good looking and well-priced laptop, but for value, you're best off with the basic model


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    Strong performance

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    Stylish design

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    Competitive price

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    Great screen

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    Impressive software package included


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    High-end model offers little on basic

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    Poor battery life

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Samsung currently provides some of the best systems on the market. The R510 is succeeds in delivering style and performance at an affordable price.

The 2.7kg chassis provides basic mobility, but is best suited to the office or home. The black and silver design looks great. Even the glossy finish – which has tended to be easily scratched on previous models – feels far more resilient than before.

High-quality build

Usability is excellent. The keyboard is firmly fixed and again feels of a very high-quality. Even when speed-typing, it is always comfortable and accurate.

Connectivity is limited. Three USB ports let you connect peripherals, but there is no FireWire port. This is somewhat compensated for by the HDMI-out port.

Particularly impressive at these prices is the use of Intel's latest Centrino 2 technology. This provides strong battery performance and dual-core power. It also future-proofs the laptops somewhat, so you won't need to upgrade soon.

Extensive software suite

The screen is bright and sharp, with great colour and contrast. It has a very limited range of movement, however, so can't be folded back any further than a few degrees. This won't restrict most users, but is worth bearing in mind.

Samsung also improves usability by pre-installing a range of proprietary software applications. Tools for multimedia use, updating your laptop software and setting up networks are all included as standard and make it easy for less-experienced users and to get started.

Building on its past strengths, Samsung has again impressed with the R510. Its cutting-edge technology, great usability and stunning screen are all outstanding, and made all the more impressive by the low prices on offer here.

Limited improvements

With a price difference of just £150, we weren't expecting much improvement in performance or specification. However, the difference was even less than we thought and provides little reason to upgrade.

On paper, the specification is improved. The Core 2 Duo processor runs at 2.26GHz and uses Intel's latest CPU technology. Memory is also upgraded to 3072MB.

In practice however, this upgrade delivers negligible benefits to the end-user. In our benchmark tests we saw a performance increase of around 4 per cent, which barely registers as an increase at all.

The same Intel graphics chip has been used in both models, but the high-end model uses double the system memory. However, yet again was little performance boost provided.

Reduced battery

Despite barely any performance increase, the battery of the high-end model runs for 27 minutes less than than its more affordable rival.

Storage is the only area that shows significant improvement. The 320GB hard drive doubles the entry-level model, and provides comprehensive space for multimedia files and family use.

In all other areas, however, this version of the R510 is identical to the entry-level specification, even down to the same optical drive and card reader.

Despite its improved specification, the high-end Samsung R510 fails to deliver a worthy increase in productivity. Factor in its shorter battery life, and the larger hard drive proves the only reason to upgrade from the impressive entry-level model.