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Samsung Q320 - 13.4in Laptop review

Andy Vandervell

By

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

9

Samsung has a good track record where portable laptops are concerned. You can track this all the way back to the Q35 (one of which still knocks around the TrustedReviews offices even now), its successor, the Q45, as well as last year's two efforts the Q210 and Q310. All excellent laptops and most significantly they were affordable, something that can't often be said of machines below the 2.0kg mark. Curiously, the advent of the netbook might have made this reputation less prestigious, but Samsung hasn't missed the boat there either - its excellent NC10 set the benchmark for netbooks as far as we're concerned.

However, while many seem preoccupied with netbooks, nothing can beat a proper notebook PC as far as power to weight ratio is concerned and the Q320 is Samsung's latest effort. Based, as seems the fashion these days, on a 16:9 ratio display (13.4in in this instance) it continues Samsung's reputation for affordability, cramming a comprehensive specification into its £650 price point of our review model, the NP-Q320-AS02UK.

For this money you get an Intel Core 2 Duo T6400, which runs at 2.0GHz, has 2MB L2 Cache and runs on an 800MHz front-side bus. This isn't a Centrino 2 processor, so isn't the latest of Intel's mobile offerings, but it should offer enough processing punch for most needs. This is backed by 3GB DDR2 RAM and a 320GB hard drive, so the Q320 isn't lacking for system memory or physical storage, either.

Unlike many notebooks in this form-factor you also get discrete graphics courtesy of an nVidia G105M with 256MB dedicated memory. Like the CPU this is no speed demon, but it offers just enough to run older games fairly comfortably, as proved by the solid 34.1 frames per second produced in Trackmania Nations with detail set to Medium. In addition to all this you get both Draft-N Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.0, as well as Gigabit Ethernet for wired networking. Throw in a few other sundries such as a 1.3-megapixel webcam and you've got a system that offers all the features a typical user might need.

This includes decent connectivity. There are three USB ports in total, one of which also doubles as an eSATA port and another that remains powered when the machine is turned off - something that's ideal for charging mobile phones and the like. You get both HDMI and VGA video outputs, headphone (line-out) and microphone (line-in) jacks for audio, while a 34mm ExpressCard slot adds support for additional peripherals. A 3-in-1 memory card reader on the front supports SD, SDHC and MMC formats. Handily, all these ports are labelled on the main body of the machine. In a new departure for Samsung, the Q320 also features a slot-loading 8x DVD-Rewriter drive, though it's worth remembering it doesn't support (albeit rare) non-standard size disks.

There's little in the way of accessories in the box, with just a cleaning cloth and a software/driver CD supplied. No real attempt has been made to condense the power adapter, either. Measuring 123 x 29mm it weighs 270g alone, but combined with the attached wire and mains plug connection, you're looking at an extra 570g in your bag.

TheLostSwede

May 19, 2009, 12:00 pm

There is no Centrino "processor". Centrino is a name for when a notebook has an intel Core CPU, Intel chipset and Intel WiFi card.


Why is it that TR has bought into this crappy marketing thing from Intel, TR didn't use to make mistakes like this :(

Smit

May 19, 2009, 3:09 pm

Ordered one of these and should arrive in a few days :)


I like the more classic style compared to the Q310 colour and shine. It is a shame that it's only using a T6400 CPU but it should be more than enough for the web browsing and movie watching I will mainly use it for.

Andy Vandervell

May 19, 2009, 4:53 pm

@The Lost Swede: Thanks, Lars, but I'm quite familiar with the nomenclature relating to Centrino branding and what it entails. Yes, strictly speaking there is no "Centrino" CPU, but there is a defined set of processors that make a notebook a Centrino 2 branded one (as opposed to just Centrino) and the T6400 used in the Q320 is not one of them - hence "this isn't a Centrino 2 processor.





Now, you might consider the whole Centrino thing as a "crappy marketing thing from Intel", but that is its choice and I dare say regular readers are far more likely to understand the significance (or otherwise) of Centrino as opposed to the difference between the Penryn-3M, Penryn-2M, Penryn-3M, Penryn-3M (medium voltage) and so on. That's why I chose to use the Centrino 2 terminology, instead of using the processor's codename.

Ohmz

May 19, 2009, 6:06 pm

@ Andy, I didn't understand any of that!

TheLostSwede

May 19, 2009, 8:58 pm

@ Andy - Care to tell me what you base that on?


It's a Core 2 Duo, so why wouldn't it be a Centrino/Centrino 2 approved CPU?


Just because Samsung didn't go with all Intel gear inside the Q320 doesn't make the CPU any less Centrino 2 worthy.


But you can always prove me wrong with a link to Intel saying differently.

Ed

May 19, 2009, 9:06 pm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C...





Go to Montevina platform section.





Yes, it's not an official Intel page but you try finding a definitive reference in amongst all this lot: http://www.intel.com/products/...

Andy Vandervell

May 19, 2009, 9:08 pm

This is the official Intel page - http://www.intel.com/consumer/.... CPU's listed in the drop down boxes.





FYI, the chipset and Wi-Fi are Intel, it's only the CPU that prevents this from being a Centrino 2 notebook. Hence it's just Centrino.

TheLostSwede

May 20, 2009, 8:32 am

That list is missing a bunch of processors, I don't believe that is up to date mate.


I had a look at Wikipedia, but there's no mention of any CPU models there.


Still looks like it's a Centrino 2 compliant CPU to me http://ark.intel.com/product.a...

TheLostSwede

May 20, 2009, 8:35 am

@Ed oh yeah, and Wikipedia states "a second-generation Intel Core 2 Duo (codenamed Penryn) 45nm processor with 800-1066 MT/s FSB with clock speeds ranging from 2 GHz to 3.06 GHz" which is exactly what the T6400 is, 2GHz, 800MHz FSB, Penryn core...


Anyhow, no point arguing with you lot, as I don't think I can prove you wrong.

Andy Vandervell

May 20, 2009, 1:57 pm

@TheLostSwede: Not sure why we're still on this, nowhere on the page you link to indicates the T6400 is a Centrino 2 processor - at least as far as I can see. Just because it's Core 2, doesn't make it Centrino 2 - as the page I linked to demonstrates!

rocket-dog

May 21, 2009, 3:27 am

Super laptop. Shame that TR is again taking pops at those who leave comments. Got to keep the hardware companies on side haven't we boys?



TheLostSwede

May 21, 2009, 12:15 pm

I know I'm going to get abuse for this, but I asked a friend at Intel who confirmed that it's Centrino 2.


I've done this stuff for a while guys...

Andy Vandervell

May 21, 2009, 2:13 pm

@TheLostSwede: Heh, you won't, but I still don't agree! ;)





@rocket-dog: Honestly, what we say here has no bearing on anything. Do you really think Intel has people sitting around monitoring comments all day? In any case, I find it a little irritating that some people feel it's okay to "take pops" at us, yet we're not allowed to reply? Granted, this is a...shall we say...lively debate, but debate never hurt anyone.

LetsGo

May 21, 2009, 7:09 pm

Andy how noisy is this machine and does it get hot?





This site is excellent, so why argue of such a small point.

Andy Vandervell

May 21, 2009, 7:17 pm

@LetsGo: It's pretty cool and quiet really, so you shouldn't have any fears on that front.

hunghey

May 26, 2009, 4:38 pm

quick question: there are two different Q320 models available, with the main difference being that the processor has been upgraded from T6400 (2.0GHz) to T6600 (2.2GHz) and the RAM from 3GB to 4GB. the lower spec model costs around £650 and the other £800. is this a worthwhile investment?





thanks for the quick and detailed review, ive noticed other technology news sites havent picked it up yet - good job!

Andy Vandervell

May 26, 2009, 4:50 pm

Hmm, hard to say without testing it, but my instinct says no. At £800 you start to compete with the likes of the Dell Studio XPS 13 and other more premium 13in laptops, plus the performance difference is likely to be negligible - you could also upgrade the RAM yourself fairly cheaply.

hunghey

May 27, 2009, 4:07 am

ok, you're right, thanks - i am on a student budget after all.





last question: does this system come with any bloatware?

vijay

June 7, 2009, 11:03 pm

I've become pretty keen on this machine. It seems to be a quite a powerful machine for its size. But I'm a little concerned with the graphics card. Is it suitable for HD video editting or will it struggle?

Andy Vandervell

June 10, 2009, 10:20 pm

That rather depends Vijay. In fact, the GPU only comes into play for video if you're using a GPU accelerated application, of which there aren't many. As such, until more applications support this, the CPU might be a larger factor. However, provided you are GPU software, it should do the job just fine.

vijay

June 12, 2009, 9:38 pm

cheers Andy. Looks like a winner. Although I've just heard that MS are offering a free upgrade to W7 for Vista users for new sales after june 26th... is this true? In which case I'll be waiting til then!

Welfymom

June 21, 2009, 8:45 pm

Can you say anything about Samsung's customer service?

Pam

September 10, 2009, 1:47 pm

I am thinking of buying this laptop for my 10 year old, the main criteria is that it runs the SIMS 3 properly!

S Lewis

October 6, 2009, 6:16 pm

Pam, I'm probably too late...but be wary of buying a laptop at this price for a 10 year old unless he/she is very careful with stuff! Desktops take up more space but a new keyboard is £15.

Simon 18

October 7, 2009, 2:40 am

I'm in the market for a 13"-14" notebook and my shortlist is this Q320 or a 13" Macbook Pro. On balance (as the price differential is not an issue), and assuming use including internet/web site design & maintenance on the hoof, office work and some media stuff like movie editing/playback, has anyone any thoughts? Main thing in favour of the Q320 is my existing Windows setup/network at home, but I'm prepared to throw caution to the wind!

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