This isn't the first time we've looked at the Samsung R530, but the JA02UK model we have here is a new version of this budget laptop that likely hopes to tempt the lucrative back-to-school and student markets. This much can be garnered by the sub-£500 price, but also from the decent spec that includes a capacious 500GB hard drive.
One rarely expects great visual splendour from budget laptops, but the Samsung R530 is better looking than most. Samsung's restrained approach to design helps, as the inside of the machine is clad entirely in textured, matt silver plastic that looks good and is far more durable than the gloss finishes of many laptops. Samsung has added a little colour to the lid, though, in the form of a graduated black to red finish with an imprinted pattern. It's nothing too alarming, but it does brighten things up a jot.
Thanks to its 15.6-inch screen, the R530 falls comfortably within the desktop replacement bracket. At 2.5kg in weight, however, it's not totally importable so long as you have a decent bag to carry it in (e.g. Pakuma Akara A1). If you take it out on the road, the R530 should survive a few bumps and scrapes. Rugged it isn't, but the basic build quality is sound and the comparative lack of scratch prone surfaces is a rare bonus.
Inside, the R530 employs a relatively low-end Intel Pentium T4400 processor - a minor downgrade on the previous R530 we saw. It uses previous generation Intel processor technology, but it's still a more than able performer. Its two-cores run at 2.2GHz and have a 1MB Cache to share, and Samsung hasn't held back in supplying 4GB of RAM and a 500GB hard drive to go with it.
It's baffling, however, that Samsung ships the R530 with a 32-bit version of Windows 7 Home Premium. This means only 3.5GB of the provided memory can be addressed, which is a bit of a waste. Don’t expect to enjoy too many games on the R530, either; the Intel integrated graphics can cope with only the most basic games.
At this price it's no surprise to discover there's no Bluetooth, and that the wired networking is of the slower 10/100 Fast Ethernet flavour. You do get 802.11n Wi-Fi, however, and other essentials like a webcam are present. There's nothing to get excited over here, but at least you're not paying for stuff you don't need.