Samsung’s Chronos certainly doesn't slow down when it comes to specs. Though a Core i5 model is available, our 700Z5A-S01UK version of the beast rocked a quad-core Intel Core i7-2675QM processor, which supports up to eight virtual cores and turbo clocks from its default 2.2 to 3.1GHz. In other words, this mobile powerhouse will run anything you’d care to throw at it, especially as it’s supported by a whopping 8GB of RAM.
Graphics performance is also nothing to sniff at, since in addition to the usual Intel integrated solution, there’s a discrete Radeon HD6750M graphics card with 1GB of dedicated RAM. While not a member of the League of Extraordinary Gamingcards (like the Nvidia GeForce GTX 460M found in the Medion Erazer X6831), it nonetheless manages respectable results even in somewhat demanding titles. This is demonstrated by a smooth 39.2fps average in Stalker Call of Pripyat at the screen’s native 1,600 x 900 resolution, albeit at medium detail.
Last but not least on the specs list is the Series 7’s storage, and here we have yet another powerful solution. Rather than forcing you to choose between a speedy-but-low-capacity SSD or a slow-but-roomy moving parts hard drive, Samsung tries to give you the best of both worlds with Diskeeper’s ExpressCache system.
This pairs an 8GB SSD with the generous 750GB 7,200rpm hard drive. Your most frequently used files will be cached on the SSD to speed them up, while the traditional drive means you still have plenty of storage. A significant advantage of this system over hybrid hard drives is that you can still (in theory) replace the hard drive with a larger model without losing the SSD.
In practice, ExpressCache results in faster boot times and quicker loading for most of your applications. Samsung’s claims of 20 seconds boot hold up nicely, as our 700Z5A-S01UK took just under 21 seconds to get to a working Windows desktop from a cold start. That’s about a third faster than your average hard drive-only laptop. Resuming from stand-by, meanwhile, took under three seconds.
Battery life is top of its class, with the non-removable battery in the 700Z5A managing over seven and a half hours before giving up the ghost in our light battery test (productivity at 40 percent screen brightness and with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth disabled) – more than adequate to power you through a day of light use. It’s worth noting that, like many laptops these days, Samsung incorporates battery conditioning – which it calls Samsung Power Plus – to ensure your battery will last for years. The claimed figure is 80 percent of original capacity for up to 1,500 charges.
Finally we get to value, and here the sub-£950 700Z5A also kicks some serious laptop rear ends. For example, a similarly-configured 15in MacBook Pro will set you back a whopping £1830. And that’s without the ExpressCache SSD system, with a lower screen resolution, no matt screen finish and no number pad. Only in style and build does the MacBook Pro win out, and even here the Samsung is lighter. In other words, there’s little justification for the extra £880, no matter how much you might prefer OSX (which can also be installed on a regular PC laptop, after all, though you would be entering a bit of a grey zone).
A more relevant Windows rival is the Dell XPS 15z, and here it’s a less clear-cut win for Samsung. Dell will charge you £100 more for a machine with a slower dual core Core i5 processor, less memory and no ExpressCache, but it will give you a Full HD screen. However, the 700Z5A also offers superior ergonomics in a lighter package that remains quieter under load, so it gets our vote all the way.
This is not to say you can’t get a more powerful laptop for the money, as the award-winning Medion Erazer X6831 goes to show. However, in its field the Series 7 700Z5A has few rivals.
Samsung’s sleek, metal-clad 15.6in Chronos laptop is the most impressive MacBook Pro rival we’ve yet seen, offering a lighter machine with better specs for nearly half the price - even if it’s not quite as attractive or well-built. A quad-core Core i7 CPU, innovative SSD and HDD hybrid storage, discrete gaming-capable graphics and a matt, high resolution screen are but some of the highlights of this portable powerhouse. And with good ergonomics and battery life thrown in, we have no hesitation in giving it our wholehearted recommendation.