Incredible performance; Gorgeous 17.3-inch full HD display; Powerful audio system; Mode Dial for switching power settings
Runs quite hot; Loud fan; Grainy webcam
Samsung's Series 7 Gamer marries an Intel Ivy Bridge processor with Nvidia's greatest graphics in a notebook that offers users pure gaming bliss. We just wish it ran cooler.
In the world of gaming notebooks, power is king. If your rig can't play the latest titles at smooth frame rates, you're as good as PWNED. The Samsung's Series 7 Gamer ($1,899) more than meets this challenge, a 17.3-inch gaming behemoth that packs Intel's quad-core Ivy Bridge processor and Nvidia's latest and greatest GeForce GTX 675M graphics chip. Oh, and let's not forget its 16GB of RAM and 1.5TB of storage space. If those specs have you drooling all over your keyboard, you haven't seen anything yet. So read on to see what makes the Series 7 Gamer one of the best gaming machines around.
Under the lid, the Series 7 Gamer has everything a gamer could ask for. Its enormous 17-inch screen is surrounded in a matte black bezel with a silver Samsung logo. Below that you'll find the Gamer's glossy silver speaker bar on the left side of which sit the Gamer's soft-touch volume, mute, Wi-Fi and keyboard backlight buttons.
The right side of the speaker bar plays host to the Gamer's main attraction, its four-way Mode Dial (see below). From here, users can quickly switch between four power modes ranging from the conservative Eco and Library modes to Balanced and the hold-on-to-your butt Game mode.
With its enormous display and gobs of power, it's no surprise that the Series 7 is one of the larger laptops on the market. Still, at 16.1 x 11.2 x 1.96 inches and 8.4 pounds, the Gamer manages to undercut the ASUS G75VW-DS71 (16.3 x 12.6 x 0.9-2 inches and 9.4 pounds) and the Alienware M17x (16 x 11.9 x 1.8 inches, 9.6 pounds).
The 1920 x 1080 display also has some of the best viewing angles we've seen on a laptop. A 1080p trailer for "The Dark Knight Rises" looked stunning. Gotham's grimy underbelly appeared exceedingly sharp, while the varying shades of black of Batman's cape and cowl were easily distinguishable.
Audio was equally impressive while playing games on the Series 7. The crushing sound of Batman's boots smashing into the face of one of Joker's henchmen in "Batman: Arkham City" offered a satisfying thud, while sword swings in "Trine 2" cut through our enemies with a sharp slicing sound. Adding to the experience, were the two red LED rings surrounding the volume and power buttons on the speaker bar that flashed each time we landed a blow.
Keyboard and TouchPad
The Gamer's keyboard was also surprisingly comfortable to type on. On the Ten Thumbs Typing Tutor test, we managed an average 69 words per minute, just one word short of our 70 wpm average.
The Gamer's 4 x 3.8-inch Elan touchpad was highly comfortable and accurate. Multitouch gestures, includes two-finger tapping, scroll, zoom and rotation, and three-finger swipe were all smooth.
Considering that users are constantly touching the keyboard and might well touch the volume slider a number of times during a session, these temperatures are particularly troubling.
Temperatures on the underside of the system reached a reasonable 95 degrees. The touchpad was much better, registering just 89 degrees. However, temperatures around the rear vents reached a scorching 150 degrees, among the highest we've measured. Though they didn't help much, the Gamer's fans ran loud enough to be heard over the games we were playing.
The Series 7 Gamer's 2-megapixel webcam captured surprisingly grainy images of our face. Although we were able to make out fine details, images and video had the look of a fuzzy cable television connection, even when sitting in a well-lit room. Images taken in a dimly lit room still offered a surprising amount of detail, but remained grainy.
Graphics and Gaming
Thanks to its GeForce GTX 675M graphics chip, using the Series 7 is absolute gaming nirvana. Not only did this notebook crush the competition in our real-world gaming tests, but it slapped them around in benchmark performance, too.
The system rang up 167 frames per second on "World of Warcraft" with the graphics set to auto-detect. That's slightly lower than the MSI GT60's 190 fps, but higher than the ASUS's 158 fps, as well as the category average 141 fps. But when we cranked up the graphics to max, the Series 7 proved its mettle, scoring 135 fps, compared to the MSI's 106 and the ASUS's 88.
But "World of Warcraft" is so two years ago. Naturally, we turned to the Dark Knight and his latest adventure, "Batman: Arkham City," to see how well the Gamer could hold up. With the graphics set to very high, DX11 and 4X MSAA switched on, the game ran at a smooth 30 fps, besting the MSI GT60 by 2 fps and the ASUS G75VW by 7 fps.
When it came to synthetic benchmarks, the Series 7 Gamer was just as impressive. On the 3DMark 06, the Gamer scored an epic 20,917. Only the MSI GT60 and its Nvidia GeForce GTX 670M came close, scoring 19,359. The ASUS G75VW, with its GeForce GTX 660M, managed 16,028, which is higher than the category average of 12,950, but nowhere near the Series 7. Samsung's juggernaut also crushed the competition on 3DMark 11, turning in a score of 3,502. The ASUS MSI GT60 once again followed with a score of 2,985, while the G75VW fell behind with 2,533.
At the heart of the Samsung Series 7 Gamer sits a third-generation (Ivy Bridge) 2.3-GHz Intel Core i7-3610QM quad-core processor with enough power to stand up to the toughest competition. Adding to the Gamer's arsenal are 16GB of RAM, dual 750GB 7,200-RPM hard drives with 8GB of Express Cache and Nvidia's top-of-the-line GeForce GTX 675M graphics chip packing 2GB of RAM.
All of that firepower makes for one serious performer. On the PCMark 07 benchmark, which measures a computer's overall performance, the Gamer scored 3,611. That's better than the ASUS G75VW-DS71 (3,041) and MSI GT60 (3,336), both of which sport the same processor as the Series 7 Gamer and 12GB of RAM. The category average was a decidedly lower 3,162.
The Gamer managed to transfer 4.97GB of mixed media files in 2 minutes and 33 seconds at a rate of 33.3 MBps. That's better than the ASUS G75VW's 29.9 MBps, but below the desktop replacement category average of 37.4 MBps and well behind the MSI GT60's blazing 74.8 MBps.
Samsung's gaming rig did offer a faster boot time than many of its competitors, thanks to its 8GB of Express Cache. The Series 7 took just 42 seconds to come to life, better than the ASUS G75VW's 53 seconds, the MSI GT60's 66 seconds and the category average 59.5 seconds.
Balanced mode, which is meant for everyday use, provides users with a light blue backlight for the keyboard and turns the volume back on, but lowers the display brightness.
At the top of the spectrum is Game mode, which kicks everything into high gear. The display brightness is turned up to 100, the keyboard backlight turns a sinister dark blue and the WASD keys are bathed in a unique red backlighting. The Turbo icon in the center of the speaker also lights up in a handsome dark blue and the desktop background switches to one of four animated backgrounds.
Software and Warranty
Samsung also equipped with Series 7 with the company's Recovery Solution 5, Microsoft Office 2010 Starter and the obligatory trial copy of Symantec's Norton Internet Security 2011.
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|CPU||2.3-GHz quad-core Intel Core i7-3610QM|
|Operating System||MS Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)|
|RAM Upgradable to||16GB|
|Hard Drive Size||Dual 750GB|
|Hard Drive Speed||7,200rpm|
|Hard Drive Type||Dual SATA Hard Drives|
|Optical Drive||BD-R DL/DVDRW DL|
|Optical Drive Speed|
|Graphics Card||Nvidia GeForce GTX 675M|
|Wi-Fi Model||Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6235|
|Touchpad Size||4 x 3.8|
|Ports (excluding USB)||Microphone|
|Ports (excluding USB)||Kensington Lock|
|Ports (excluding USB)||Headphone|
|Ports (excluding USB)||HDMI|
|Ports (excluding USB)||Ethernet|
|Ports (excluding USB)||VGA|
|Ports (excluding USB)||Audio-out|
|Ports (excluding USB)||USB 3.0|
|Card Slots||7-1 card reader|
|Size||16.1 x 11.2 x 1.29 inches|