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Samsung SF310

Samsung's new thin and light is curvier than most, but can it marry performance and stamina with those seductive looks?

Samsung SF310
Can the Samsung SF310 really impress?

In practice, the Samsung SF310 isn't quite as impressive as it looks on paper. The Nvidia 310M is an improvement over the integrated Intel graphics, but only just – it lags behind true gaming power by a considerable margin.

The Alienware M11x certainly has nothing to fear here as far as its ultra-portable gaming niche is concerned.

3DMark06 returned a score of 3,805, while the more serious test, Cinebench 11.5, had the OpenGL performance at 8.57fps.

Neither score is particularly strong, although if you're looking for a machine that can play the odd game at lower settings and resolutions, this may just about get by (as a reference, World of Warcraft managed 17fps at medium settings at the default screen resolution of 1,366 x 768).

When it comes to real world use of the battery, you'll undoubtedly get more out of the SF310 than our punishing video playback test delivers, but at 187 minutes we were left feeling disappointed.

The promised eight hours may just be possible, but only if you're not really doing much with the machine at all. Those looking for a machine with serious stamina should check out the likes of the Asus UL30A.

Where the Samsung SF310 does impress, for now at least, is in the raw grunt on offer from the Intel Core i5 at its heart – encoding HD video at 12fps is nothing to be sniffed at.

The fact that the CPU boasts hyperthreading, and therefore can handle four threads at once, means that it's surprisingly punchy at handling several applications simultaneously. The PCMark05 score of 6,023 is certainly helped by this.

We found that the keyboard offers plenty of space for comfortable typing, although the narrow travel doesn't make for a particularly rewarding experience for prolonged bouts of work.

The touchpad is truly horrible, though, varying from unresponsive to simply skittish. The button-less design makes it prone to errors and it's huge size is annoying when typing. Turning it off and attaching a quality mouse is the only way to maintain any level of sanity here.