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Samsung Series 5 NP540U3C – Heat and Noise, Best Alternatives and Verdict

Andy Vandervell

By Andy Vandervell



Our Score:


Samsung Series 5 NP540C3C – Heat & Noise

If the middle-of-the-road performance of the Samsung Series 5 NP540U3C gives you pause, the fact it’s cool and quiet should cheer you up. There’s only one noticeable hot spot – a small vent around where your right knee sits when using the Samsung Series 5 NP540U3C on your lap. It doesn’t get too hot, around 39 degrees celcius during normal use and 44 degrees when playing games, and no other point exceeded 35 degrees during our benchmarks with most much lower than that.

Samsung Series 5 NP540U3C 2

We don’t measure noise as precisely, but in normal use the Samsung Series 5 NP540U3C is rarely audible and not bothersome when it is. Games and intensive tasks are another matter, but it’s no louder than other laptops in the same Ultrabook category.

See our best ultrbook round-up for comparisons.

Anything else to consider?

Connectivity is decent. There are three USB ports, one a USB 3 port that supports standby charging – useful for charging phones and tablets. There’s an SD card reader and HDMI, too, but there are a couple of wrinkles. The VGA video out requires an adapter (not supplied) and there’s just one combined headphone and mic jack – no use if you have a headset that needs one of each.

Samsung Series 5 NP540U3C 12

Like most laptops this size there’s no built-in optical drive and no external one, either. That’s not a big deal, but for the price a 500GB hard drive isn’t overly generous. It’s enough for one or two people's collections of videos and photos, but we've seen cheaper laptops have more space.

The speakers sound a little flat, but they reach decent volumes and are good enough for watching TV dramas and online videos. For most music, however, they’re too imprecise and muddled.

The battery isn't removable – a common trait these days. Batteries lose some capacity as they're used, though Samsung claims its Samsung BatteryLife Plus technology means the battery retains 70 per cent of its capacity after 1,500 cycles / three years.

Best Samsung Series 5 NP540U3C alternatives

There’s no shortage of 13-inch laptops, whether they’re Ultrabooks – Intel’s name for slim and light laptops – or not. The Toshiba Satellite U940 is £50 cheaper and noticeably faster, but its poor screen is a serious mark against it. If a touchscreen laptop is what you desire, Sony does a touchscreen version of the Sony VAIO T13 as well.

Perhaps the best alternative is another Samsung laptop, the near identical Samsung Series 5 NP530U3C. We haven’t reviewed it yet, but it’s basically the same laptop without the touchscreen. That means it has a non-reflective screen – it’s also 170g lighter (it weighs 1.52kg) – and costs just £530, £120 less. That’s a serious difference.

If none of those options appeal to you, take a look at our best Windows 8 laptop round-up for our top picks.


Does a touchscreen laptop make sense? If you think so then the Samsung Series 5 NP540U3C is a good bet – it delivers in most areas, even if the screen doesn’t inspire. But if, like us, a touchscreen laptop doesn’t work for you, there’s no shortage of better options.

Overall Score


Scores In Detail

  • Battery Life 7
  • Build Quality 8
  • Design 8
  • Heat & Noise 8
  • Keyboard 9
  • Performance 7
  • Screen Quality 6
  • Touchpad 8
  • Value 6


May 9, 2013, 12:03 pm

heh, got the screen resolution, closed the browser tab...when will they learn!


May 9, 2013, 12:07 pm

To be fair, I don't think that's much to complain about at this price. If it cost £750 / £800 or upwards, however, I'd agree.

David Gradwell

May 10, 2013, 5:04 pm

So, let's get this right Andy, you're opinion is that we need to pay £800 for a laptop with a decent screen? Why? The screen on my Nexus 7 is absolutely fantastic and it cost £200! It's crazy comments like this from reviewers that drive me potty. Like Chris Beach, I stopped reading the review after seeing the pathetic screen resolution.


May 11, 2013, 5:47 am

Hey, don't shoot the messenger. That's the reality right now in laptops. You have to remember that laptops are more expensive to make. The screen's are larger, which is more expensive, and most of the other components cost more as well. Comparing a smartphone or tablet to a laptop is comparing apples and oranges.

Do I think that's right? Of course not, I'm on your side here!

It's worth remembering that resolution isn't the be and all, too. For example, I'd sooner have a high quality panel with a lower resolution than a high resolution one that isn't any good. In the case of this laptop, if it had a high resolution but the reflections and viewing angles were just as bad, I'd have given it the same score. Conversely, if it had the same resolution but solved those two problems, it would have got a much higher score.

PS: Just to illustrate my point about size and cost a little more, remember that a diagonal measurement of screen size doesn't reflect the actual difference in size very well. Going by those, this laptop's screen is only 48% larger than the Nexus 7. Going by the actual area, however, tells a very different story. The Nexus 7 screen is 132.85cm2. A 13.3-inch laptop is 488.02cm2 - 73% larger by area than a Nexus 7. It all adds up - it's the same reason you can't buy a 4K TV for a decent price now.

PPS: On the plus side, I believe Sony is making the right noises about ditching 1366 on laptops. Not sure what the pricing will be, though, as it has never traditionally competed at the low-end of the market.


May 19, 2013, 7:13 am

Really??? I don't mean 1080p should be on the £400 laptops, but 1440x900, or similar should be. It was before this stupid HD branding appeared. If its £400+ and still 768p then it damn well better be an IPS too.

Given the *main* thing you use is the screen, letting them skimp out on it seems wrong.

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